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Employment - Legal Updates

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May
01
2014

Men win equal pay case
#Employment

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) recently announced that it had conceded claims for sex discrimination and equal pay for a group of its male caretakers and maintenance staff. UWTSD merged with Swansea Metropolitan University in August 2013 to become the men`s employer and in so doing also became liable for the consequences of contractual changes implemented by Swansea in 2007...

Apr
24
2014

War Horse: interfering with the Royal National Theatre`s "artistic freedom"
#Employment

In the case of Ashworth & Ors v The Royal National Theatre, the High Court dismissed an application which would force the Theatre to re-engage musicians who were replaced with pre-recorded music for the production War Horse.  The court concluded that to do so would interfere with the Theatre`s "artistic freedom".   Originally the Theatre used live music during its productions of War Horse. Howe...

Apr
23
2014

Liability for claims for failure to inform and consult.
#Employment

The EAT in Allen v Morrisons Facilities Services Ltd has confirmed that the obligations to inform and consult employee representatives under Reg 13(2) of Tupe are vertical obligations between an employer (whether Transferee or Transferor) and its own employees. As such, any claims for failure to provide the required information must also be brought vertically by employees against their respective...

Apr
23
2014

The persistent whistleblower - can an employer dismiss?
#Employment

If an employee "blows the whistle", any subsequent disciplinary action taken can result in a detriment claim or an automatically unfair dismissal claim (if the employee is dismissed).  There is no upper limit on the amount of compensation that can be awarded in these cases.  This can present difficulties for employers when managing an employee who raises multiple grievances and/or raises a grieva...

Apr
17
2014

Zero hours contracts are "abusive and exploitative and should be abolished"
#Employment

Zero hours contracts allow employers to hire staff with no guarantee of work.  Under such contracts, workers only work as and when they are needed by employers, often at short notice, and are only paid for the hours that they work. On 19 December 2013, BIS launched its consultation on zero hours contracts, which sought evidence on the use of such contracts and views on possible options.  The co...

Apr
17
2014

When ignoring company principles can put you in breach of contract
#Employment

The case of IBM UK Holdings Ltd v Dalgleish shows that when it comes to making fundamental changes to employees` benefits and terms and conditions, the employer`s ethical standards and principles in dealing with its workforce can be relevant  when considering whether the changes were lawfully made.   IBM altered its pension arrangements to address a large deficit in the scheme.  The changes...

Apr
11
2014

Just when you thought you had heard them all! Top 10 excuses given for not paying the minimum wage…
#Employment

The national minimum wage (NMW) is a set minimum hourly rate of pay to which most workers are entitled.  All employers are obliged to pay NMW, irrespective of their size.   Despite being in place since 1999, it is hard to believe that some employers still do not pay NMW.  Interestingly, HMRC has revealed the 10 worst excuses given by employers, which include: "I don`t think my workers know an...

Apr
11
2014

Long term sick HR drafting error not discrimination but made dismissal unfair
#Employment

In the recent case of Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI) v Lawrence, the EAT held that a procedural error did not undermine an employer`s justification defence to a disability discrimination claim. However, it did make the dismissal unfair. Mrs Lawrence worked for CRI and, whilst on long-term sick leave, was assessed by Occupational Health as suffering from post-natal depression.  This was consid...

Apr
11
2014

UK law on industrial action does not violate human rights, Court says
#Employment

In a landmark case brought by the RMT union against the UK in the European Court of Human Rights, the Court has ruled that the UK`s laws banning secondary industrial action do not violate the right to freedom of association under the European Convention on Human Rights. RMT v UK. The judgment is not final as the decision could be referred to the Court`s Grand Chamber....

Apr
10
2014

UK law on industrial action does not violate human rights, Court says
#Employment

In a landmark case brought by the RMT union against the UK in the European Court of Human Rights, the Court has ruled that the UK`s  laws banning secondary industrial action do not violate the right to freedom of association under the European Convention on Human Rights. RMT v UK. The judgment is not final as the decision could be referred to the Court`s Grand Chamber. The case arose after the R...

Apr
04
2014

Key employment law changes from 6 April 2014 include power for tribunals to impose £5,000 fines on employers
#Employment

A number of key changes come into effect on 6 April 2014. They are: Power of employment tribunals to impose penalties on employers - In cases presented on or after 6 April 2014, the tribunal will have the power to impose financial penalties on employers who lose at tribunal. The fine will be between £500 - £5,000 and will be imposed where the employer has...

Apr
04
2014

Holiday pay survey: 80% of employers taking part may be underpaying holiday pay
#Employment

In our recent employmentbuddy survey, we asked employers how they calculate holiday pay. First, we asked whether when paying their staff, they pay additional sums to basic pay, in particular overtime, commission and other payments and enhancements such as shift allowance. Then we asked whether those sums are included in the calculation of holiday pay. It has long been understood that where emplo...

Apr
03
2014

Buddy Quiz March - how did you do?
#Employment

Thank you to everyone who completed the last Buddy Quiz, posted throughout March. We have posted the answers to the questions below so you can check how you did! 1. The rules that apply to ACAS early conciliation procedures will come into force on 6 April 2014. However, when will early conciliation become mandatory? 6 April 2014 6 May 2014 6 June 2014 2. Under the new TUPE changes, where...

Mar
28
2014

Small employers hit hardest by abolition of the recovery of statutory sick pay from 6 April 2014
#Employment

Since 1995, employers have been able to reclaim statutory sick pay (SSP) from HMRC, provided  he total SSP paid in a month exceeds 13% of their Class 1 National Insurance Contributions for that month. The government has now pushed through Parliament a draft order to abolish the recovery of SSP. This measure, announced in January 2013, is expected to take effect on 6 April 2014. According to the...

Mar
28
2014

Do you have clear redundancy terms? Employer had hidden liability for enhanced redundancy pay
#Employment

When does the enhancement of statutory redundancy pay become a custom and practice conferring a contractual right on employees to enhanced redundancy pay? An example of a consistent practice of an employer calculating redundancy payments without the statutory caps is found in the recent case of Peacock Stores v Peregrine, where the employer was found to be bound by an implied contractual right....

Mar
21
2014

Budget confirms major changes to childcare voucher scheme
#Employment

It was confirmed in the Chancellor`s budget yesterday that there will be new arrangements for working parents to provide tax benefits to help towards the costs of childcare. The new online scheme will come into effect from September 2015. It will apply to care for children up to the age of five at first, before extending to children up to the age of 12. Parents will buy vouchers from the govern...

Mar
21
2014

Government clamp down on false self employment
#Employment

The Chancellor announced in his budget yesterday that the Government will be clamping down on the use of intermediary companies being used to disguise employment as self-employment. The biggest sector affected will be construction. However, it seems that HMRC is also concerned about other sectors such as driving, catering and security in using intermediary companies as a payroll mechanism design...

Mar
14
2014

National Minimum Wage Regulations Published
#Employment

In January we reported that the Government had published draft regulations increasing the financial penalty for employers who fail to pay their workers national minimum wage.  The final regulations - The National Minimum Wage (Variation of Financial Penalty) Regulations 2014 - have now been published and came into force on 7th March 2014.  These regulations increase the financial penalty from 50%...

Mar
14
2014

Covert recording of manager`s "private" comments admissible in ET
#Employment

It`s easier than ever before for employees secretly to record disciplinary, appeal and grievance meetings, using their mobile phones. But are these secret recordings admissible as evidence before an employment tribunal? According to the EAT in Chairman and Governors of Amwell View School v Dogherty, that depends on whether the recording is of the ‘open` part of the hearing (i.e. the part during...

Mar
07
2014

ACAS early conciliation mandatory from 5 May 2014
#Employment

ACAS early conciliation for tribunal claims comes into force on 6 April 2014. It will be mandatory from 6 May 2014, meaning that from that date, all employment tribunal claims, with very few exceptions, must first go through ACAS conciliation before the claim can proceed. Transitional provisions cover the period between 6 April and 5 May 2014 during which the new early conciliation procedure will be available to prospective claimants, although not mandatory.The prohibition on issuing proceedings without an early conciliation certificate may apply if a prospective claimant commences early conciliation in the period beginning 6 April 2014 and ending on 5 May 2014, and presents a tribunal claim on or before 5 May 2014....

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