COVID-19 guidance in England updated
The guidance on COVID-19 testing and self-isolation changed on 24 February. Individuals are no longer required to:
- self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19;
- take daily tests when testing positive for COVID-19; and
- self-isolate after contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Since 17 March, employers with fewer than 250 employees, can no longer claim for COVID-19 related sickness absences (although they have until 24 March to claim for absences incurred up to and including 17 March). This legislative change will have potential ramifications for employers, namely ensuring the health and safety of their employees within the workplace.
Employment Tribunal Compensation Claims
From 6 April 2022 there will be an uplift in the basic and compensatory award for unfair dismissal in employment tribunals. The basic award will rise to £17,130 (an increase from £16,320) and the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will rise to £93,878 (an increase from £89,493). This new rate applies for employees whose employment is terminated on or after 6 April.
The weekly pay rate on which the basic award (and other statutory awards such as a statutory redundancy payment) will be calculated will also be uplifted from 6 April: the new rate will be capped at £571 (an increase from £544).
Right to Work checks – an update
The temporary adjustments to Right to Work checks as a result of Covid-19 are now due to end on 30 September 2022, rather than 6 April 2022, as previously indicated. The government notes that this should give employers enough time to update their processes and appoint a suitable service provider. The change allows:
- employers to continue carrying out checks via video calls;
- job applicants and existing workers to send scanned documents rather than original documents;
- employers to use the Home Office Checking Service in the absence of documentation.
For all business immigration advice, please contact our business immigration team.
We have developed a comprehensive training programme for companies so they can equip their managers with the skills and knowledge they need to run and develop their teams or departments. We can develop bespoke training to suit your needs, covering an extensive range of topics. We believe the maximum benefit of these training sessions or interactive workshops can be achieved by delivering them face to face. However, we are happy to discuss delivering this training remotely if this is more suitable for your organisation. Please follow this link for more detailed information on the topics we regularly cover and the cost. In the meantime, please contact Georgia Wood for more information.
Case Update: Unequal pay policy risks significant penalties and reputational damage
Macken v BNP Paribas
Readers may recall a case involving a female employee of BNP Paribas, Mrs Macken, who brought successful claims against the bank for equal pay and sex discrimination. At Tribunal, one of the more memorable revelations in support of her sex discrimination claim was that male colleagues would regularly leave a witch’s hat on her desk. Mrs Macken’s claim succeeded in 2019 but, due to the pandemic, the remedy hearing was postponed until February 2022. At the remedy hearing, the Tribunal awarded the Claimant compensation of more than £2,080,000 (of which £15,000 was awarded for aggravated damages because the bank’s apology was not sufficiently ‘genuine and heartfelt’).
Despite the above, there was an additional element which may not have been anticipated by BNP Paribas: the Tribunal ordered it to carry out an equal pay audit under the Equality Act 2010 (Equal Pay Audits) Regulations 2014. This is the first order of its kind to be imposed on an employer by the Tribunal - and one that all employers should be aware of. The Regulations stipulate that such orders should be made if there has been a breach of equal pay regulations, subject to certain exemptions none of which, as the Tribunal determined, applied to the bank. Indeed, although the Tribunal did acknowledge that the bank had made improvements, none were sufficiently convincing; for instance, its pay system was still held to be ‘opaque’, particularly its internal equal pay reviews.
This case serves as a timely reminder that following a successful equal pay claim Tribunals may order an equal pay audit (subject to any applicable exemptions). Such an audit is time-consuming, costly, may provoke other equal pay claims, and carries the additional risk of significant reputational damage. Employers are strongly advised to review their pay policy regularly and to ensure that it is transparent and not open to challenge.
As always, if you need any employment law advice, please contact a member of our team.