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Employment and HR

New report on non-disclosure agreements in discrimination cases

Nicola Cockerill
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A recent report entitled ‘The Use of Non-Disclosure Agreements in Discrimination Cases’ has been published been published by a House of Commons committee. It finds that pursuing claims through the employment tribunals system can be challenging,...

Allegations of misconduct in the workplace and unfair dismissal

Ewan Carr
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Most employers will have faced a situation where they have to investigate and potentially take disciplinary action in relation to allegations of misconduct against an employee. If the nature of the misconduct may warrant a dismissal, what questions should...

Court of Appeal dismisses discrimination claims concerning shared parental leave

Nicola Cockerill
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Two recent Court of Appeal cases have held that the respective employers of two male claimants had not discriminated against them by failing to pay enhanced shared parental leave pay. Such a payment would have been equivalent to that received by a woman on...

ECJ ruling requires employers to record daily working time

Giles Betts
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A recent ruling made by the European Court of Justice has confirmed that employers must record the daily working time of individual workers to meet the terms of the EU Working Time Directive. The Directive lays down maximum limits on weekly working time and...

Keeping in contact with an employee who is absent from work due to illness

Nicola Cockerill
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I recently read an article about a worker who had sadly committed suicide after repeatedly being contacted by his employer whilst he was signed off work with work-related stress. This reminded me of conversations that I’ve had with employer clients...

Post termination restrictive covenants - what are they and how far can they go?

Ewan Carr
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When an employment relationship ends, employers can sometimes have legitimate concerns that the departing employee will attempt to take clients and other employees with them, especially if they are moving to a competitor.  To mitigate this risk as far...

Directors held personally liable for breach of contract in relation to exploited workers

Giles Betts
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A group of former employees of DJ Houghton Catching Services, a ‘chicken-catching’ business, has brought a successful claim in the High Court following serious contractual and statutory breaches committed by the company. The breaches included the...

Mind the gap - gender pay inequality continues

Giles Betts
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Fewer than half of the UK's biggest employers have reduced their pay gap between male and female employees. In fact, according to the latest figures, the disparity increased in favour of men across 45% of firms, and there was no change to the pay gap in...

Government consultation launched on misuse of workplace confidentiality clauses

Giles Betts
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In a bid to remove barriers to the reporting of harassment or discrimination in the workplace, the government is considering measures to prevent the misuse of confidentiality agreements and has published a consultation document on the matter. At the...

Informal grievances - dealing with workplace problems before they escalate

Ewan Carr
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Naturally, nobody is happy when a grievance is submitted - the employer would rather not have unhappy employees and the employees would rather not be in a position where they feel aggrieved. And, after all, it generally follows that a harmonious workforce is...

Prime Minister offers workers' rights vote pledge in exchange for Brexit deal support

Giles Betts
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As we wait to see if there will be a third attempt to get the Withdrawal Agreement through parliament, the government has suggested that MPs would be allowed a vote on whether to adopt future EU legislation on employment rights after Brexit. The proposals...

Expired warnings - how should they be handled?

Ewan Carr
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Many employers will have faced a scenario whereby an employee was issued a time-limited warning following a disciplinary hearing, perhaps for an act of misconduct, which subsequently expired. But what should happen, in light of the initial warning, if the...

The mutual benefits of a sabbatical for employees and employers

Giles Betts
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For many, the thought of giving up the day job on a temporary basis to pursue other interests – be they personal or professional – can be tempting but often not followed up because of concerns over job security. However, the opportunity to take...

Tackling SAD in the workplace

Giles Betts
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Most of us will identify with the dampening effect that dark and dreary winter days can have on our mood. However, for as many as one in three people, this is more than just a temporary feeling and is a form of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder...

'Good Work Plan' provides blueprint for enforcing workers' rights

Giles Betts
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A series of legislative changes have been announced by the government to bolster workers’ rights. The raft of measures, set out in the ‘Good Work Plan’, aim to increase protection for agency employees, those on zero-hours contracts and gig...

Payslip processes set to change

Ewan Carr
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New payslip requirements requiring itemised calculations for variable rates of pay and hours worked are to be introduced in April 2019.  The two amendments to the 1996 Employment Rights Act will come into force from April, requiring that employees...

Addison Lee drivers have worker status, EAT holds

Giles Betts
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Private hire drivers at the company Addison Lee were ‘workers’, a status entitling them to the national minimum wage and paid annual leave, the EAT has confirmed. Despite the fact that neither the drivers in question were contractually obliged to...

Flexible working and the importance of a work-life balance

Ewan Carr
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Today, employees have competing responsibilities. Maintaining a work-life balance and good mental health is important, not least from the point of view of their employers. Achieving this can help avoid stress, high absenteeism and low productivity, and...

Recognising the gender agenda for trans staff

Giles Betts
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Trans campaigners are hoping for a simpler path to legal recognition of gender change following the government’s announcement that it is reviewing the process.  Elsewhere, the High Court has set an important precedent on the right to respect for...

World Cup 2018 - Employers must keep their eye on the ball

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So, England has qualified into the knockout round of the 2018 Fifa World Cup and fans are buoyant. With several games taking place during working hours, some have planned their holidays to be in Russia to support their team whilst most are following on...

Supreme Court dismisses appeal in Pimlico Plumbers case

Giles Betts
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The Supreme Court, which is of course the UK’s highest court, has dismissed an appeal against an original ruling that a plumber who operated as an independent contractor was entitled to workers’ rights. In Pimlico Plumbers Ltd and anor v Smith...

Immigration and Employment law - the rock and the hard place for employers

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In the wake of the Windrush immigration scandal, employers find themselves between a rock and a hard place when implementing checks on the rights of individuals to work in the UK.  Many who believed they were legitimately living and working in the UK...

The right to work and dismissal

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The terms of the Immigration Act 2016 require that every employee’s right to work in the UK must be checked before employment commences and repeat checks undertaken where the right to work is time limited.  It is only by carrying out these...

When mini-breaks just don't cut it

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The mini-break may have made the perfect date for Bridget Jones but, when it comes to employee rights, companies need to make sure they do everything to enable workers to take a full and uninterrupted 20-minute rest break. The warning comes after Network...

Statistics on employers' attitudes towards pregnancy raises concerns

Ewan Carr
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The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published statistics following a YouGov survey of 1,106 senior decision makers relating to the recruitment of women. Sadly, it appears that many businesses have not kept up with developments in UK...

Immigration law - what to expect in 2018

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With the UK in the midst of negotiations with the EU, the future of employment regulations and immigration rules following Brexit remain unclear. The outcome could seriously impact on many individuals and businesses in the UK. There have been many...

Government responds to Taylor review

Ewan Carr
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The government has issued a press release containing details of how it intends to respond to the independent review into modern working practices, concluded last year by Matthew Taylor. Whilst there is little in the way of legislative change proposed,...

Auto-Enrolment Pensions - employers' responsibilities

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As an avid quizzer, I found myself somewhat perplexed when recently asked: “Who is Workie?”  Clue 1: he first appeared on our TV screens in 2015 Clue 2: despite being huge and multi-coloured he is ignored by all around him Clue 3: he was...

Can the food you eat make you test positive for drugs?

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So, you are faced with an employee who swears blind they don’t take drugs, but they have failed a drugs test.  Do you trust your employee over the test results?  Particularly when that employee claims that the positive result was due to their...

Tier 2 - is the UK's immigration system ready for Brexit?

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Trying to get a Tier 2 work permit in the UK often results in a tangle of red tape and hoops to jump through. Tier 2 has been described as a logistical ‘fortress’, designed to disincentivise employers and reduce the number of migrant workers...

The importance of having a social media policy

Nicola Cockerill
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I was interested to read an article in the news last week about an employee who lost her job as a manager at a residential care home for posting pictures and videos on her Facebook page depicting a music night that was regularly held at the care home....

Mediation - how can it be useful to an employer?

Nicola Cockerill
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In any situation, it can be stressful when a dispute arises. This is particularly true when it happens in the workplace between colleagues as, ultimately, it can have a significant impact on individual livelihoods and personal well-being, as well as...

Employment tribunal fees dropped after Court ruling

Giles Betts
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The government recently faced a policy U-turn after the Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees were ‘inconsistent with access to justice’, and therefore unlawful. The decision has financial as well as legal implications, with potentially up to £32million of repayments to be made to workers intent on getting justice.

Gender pay likely to stay in the spotlight

Nicola Cockerill
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The gender pay gap is likely to continue drawing attention, given that larger employers are now obliged to publish their gender pay gap information. The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations came into force on 6 April and some organisations are already publishing their results. 

Breast cancer sufferer awarded nearly 50,000 pounds by Employment Tribunal

Nicola Cockerill
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A recent decision by the Central London Employment Tribunal serves as a reminder to employers of the importance of ensuring an employee with a disability is treated in a fair and consistent manner to minimise the risk of a successful claim for disability...

How to survive a heatwave in the workplace - keep cool and carry on

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A sweltering British summer, whilst a rare and welcome event, can leave employers and employees alike feeling hot under the collar. The BBC reported that a hospital porter, who had rolled his polyester trousers to ¾ length in an effort to cool down...

Complex wage regulations give employers sleepless nights

Giles Betts
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National Minimum Wage Regulations continue to cause headaches for employers, with an employment tribunal acknowledging their complexity, saying each case should be considered on its own merits. Recently, unintentional underpayments in staff pay packets have...

Termination of fixed term contract due to pregnancy

Nicola Cockerill
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I was interested to read an Employment Tribunal case recently whereby a woman who had been employed on a 12 month fixed-term contract has successfully pursued a claim for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination. It is reported that the woman had been...

Potential for discrimination associated with political beliefs

Nicola Cockerill
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In light of the recent General Election and Brexit, and given the heated discussions that have erupted within the media and across social media sites, it seems an appropriate time to remind employers of the legal position with regard to discrimination and...

Does my business need a social media in the workplace policy?

Nicola Cockerill
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With the increase of social media site (such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) users must be careful when posting articles and comments on these forums. There have been a host of cases where an individual has posted inappropriate comments whether about a...

Brexit and employment law

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In case you missed it (!) on 23 June 2016 the Brexit referendum took place which resulted in a 52% majority in favour of leaving the European Union. Since the results were announced, we have received quite a few queries about what Brexit means for employers...

Why employers should avoid the worst sort of hangover from the Christmas party

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'Tis the season to be merry, so it's time for the annual Christmas party; but for many employers it's often more fraught than fun, as wherever and whenever the event takes place, it's still an extension of the working environment. Whether...

Does an employee have the right to be accompanied at a disciplinary hearing?

Giles Betts
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There have been a few changes recently that seem to have 'muddied the waters' as far as an employee's rights to be accompanied at disciplinary hearings is concerned. Up until now, the advice from the employment team to businesses who had...

Did the BBC really have no choice but to let Clarkson go?

Giles Betts
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Jeremy Clarkson divides opinion like no one else. I for one must confess to being a big fan of Top Gear and the weird dynamic of Clarkson, May and Hammond on a Sunday evening is a national institution and probably the only television show that my kids seem...