‘Good Work’ Report
In response to last year’s Taylor Review of modern working practices, the Government has produced its ‘Good Work Report’. Prompted by concerns about employment rights being eroded by the ‘gig’ economy, this Government report appears to be setting the agenda for future legislation around workers’ rights (including shadowing and unpaid internships), and sanctions against employers who breach those rights. The first stage is the launch of four consultations on employment status; transparency in the labour market; agency workers; and enforcement of employment rights. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/millions-to-benefit-from-enhanced-rights-as-government-responds-to-taylor-review-of-modern-working-practices
The recent revelations about the conduct of Oxfam staff, both in the UK and abroad, has intensified the pressure on all organisations to ensure they have clear guidance for staff on what is, and what is not, appropriate behaviour in the workplace. It is clear from the number of cases reaching the public domain that businesses cannot afford to be complacent. In November last year ACAS issued guidelines on the definition of sexual harassment and how to handle complaints. If you have any concerns about how to frame your policy, please contact a member of the employment team.
Do you know what is required of your business? How are you preparing for GDPR? Do you know that the UK Bill implementing the GDPR provides for personal fines for managers, officers and directors who should know, or simply don’t know, what steps should be taken for GDPR compliance? We have produced a short guide to the GDPR, who it will affect, its scope, the key changes it will make to our existing data protection regime, and the impact of leaving the EU.
Tesco – latest employer to face equal pay claim
Tesco is the latest retailer to be challenged over its different pay rates for its (largely) female shop floor workforce and its (largely) male warehouse workforce. If the workers bringing the claim are successful then Tesco may be facing a very large bill of backdated payments. With the gender pay gap reporting requirements coming into force in April, the whole issue of pay equality is likely to dominate headlines for the foreseeable future. Please contact our employment team if you would like a review of your pay policy.
Family friendly policies under scrutiny
The Department for Business has released figures suggesting that only around 2% of those eligible for shared parental leave are taking advantage of it. Commentators have noted that there are two main reasons: a general unwillingness on the part of men to take extended absence from the workplace, and the failure of many employers to bring paternity pay in line with enhanced maternity pay. Other headline grabbing news includes attitudes towards pregnant women – according to a survey by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, 60% of employers believe that women should disclose if they are pregnant when being interviewed for new a job. It is worth reminding readers that it is discriminatory to use pregnancy as a reason not to appoint someone. Please contact us if you would like refresher training on what does, and does not, constitute discrimination.
YEAR: your employment annual retainer
Reduce the time you spend dealing with HR matters, and make sure that you comply with an increasingly complex area of law, by joining our YEAR club. Membership offers the following benefits:
- An initial audit of your HR documentation
- Update of Staff Handbook and employment contracts
- Employment advice by phone and email
- Bespoke letters
- Discounted rates for face to face advice, training, and co-chairing meetings.
- Optional legal expenses insurance
For more information please contact Tina Chander.
We pride ourselves on our proactive approach to helping our clients resolve their HR issues and, as such, I would like to offer you a review of your current contract of employment for a fixed fee of £250+VAT. The review will include a written report of recommendations and information on recent, relevant legislation.
For more information please contact Georgia McDonnell.
Court of Appeal upholds ET decision on dismissing disability claim
A long running case in which an employee claimed disability discrimination has finally been settled by the Court of Appeal, which upheld the original ET ruling that the claimant’s employer had done everything it could be reasonably expected to do to get to the bottom of her health problems and support her at work. In 2009 Miss Donalien reported a number of health problems, resulting in a high level of absence, none of which fell within the definition of disability. Her employer investigated, using an occupational health adviser, and eventually dismissed her. The ET dismissed her claim for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal. Having lost her appeal to the EAT, she appealed to the Court of Appeal which found that the ET had concluded correctly that her employer had made reasonable adjustments and there had been nothing in the nature of her illnesses that might suggest she was disabled. This is another timely reminder that employers need to ask doctors and occupational health advisers to explain the nature of their employee’s illness so that they can make a reasonable judgment about whether or not it amounts to a disability.
Lopez Ribalda & ors -v- Spain
We reported on a case two years ago in which Article 8 was invoked over an employee’s right to privacy at work after he discovered his emails were being monitored by his employer. In this case, surveillance at work prompted five Spanish supermarket workers to take their case to the ECHR which found that their right to privacy had been violated under Article 8. The workers’ employer, concerned about incidents of theft, installed visible cameras trained on the entrance and exit to the store and covert cameras trained on the checkouts. The staff had not been informed that they would be subject to covert surveillance. After the installation, five employees were dismissed for theft and challenged their dismissals on the basis that they should have been informed that they would be subject to surveillance. They lost their challenge so took their case to the ECHR which found that the employer’s action had been contrary to Spanish data protection law and thus a violation of Article 8. The employees were awarded 4000 euros each. It is crucial that employers follow the correct process when undertaking any form of employee surveillance.
A final thought:
“Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don’t do that by sitting around”. (Katharine Hepburn, US actress, 1907 - 2003)