Category: Employment Law

I’ve been sacked! – Unfair Dismissal – Employment Law

You’re fired – a saying made famous and used more recently by the U.S President Donald Trump when he “terminated” the employment of FBI Director, James Coomey. The termination has caused shockwaves in the States considering Coomey was currently investigating the ties to Russia with the Trump’s presidential campaign.

If your employment has been “terminated” and you feel that your dismissal has been unfair it’s incredibly important to act quickly. Being aware of what needs to happen and by when, can become a major tool in your belt should you ever be in the position of an unjustifiable dismissal. Your employer needs to make sure it meets the following criteria before dismissing you:

  • A fair reason that they can justify such as conduct, capability or redundancy
  • Acted reasonably in the circumstances

They must also

  • Be consistent with the dismissal reasoning and procedure and have investigated the situation beforehand.

This is not only for full time employees but also part time and fixed term workers.

 

I have been sacked - What next?

Fired Man

First things first, you should seek professional advice to see if you have a claim for unfair dismissal. (We cover this later)

There are strict deadlines for submitting a claim for unfair dismissal, usually within 3 months of your employment ending or the problem happening. You should also ask for a written statement from your employer giving you the reasons for your dismissal. (Your employer must give you this if you have completed 2 years’ service)

In the event of an unfair dismissal you will be able to file an employment tribunal claim.

Employment Tribunal claim

An employer would need a fair reason for dismissal which could be for any of the fair reasons listed below:

  • Capability
  • Conduct
  • Redundancy
  • Breach of statute
  • Some other substantial reason

If the employer can show a potentially fair reason for dismissal you may still have a claim if the employer fails to show a fair procedure.

 

Causes for dismissal

‘Discrimination was a factor when I was fired’

Discrimination can be an issue with many people for many different reasons. Sometimes discrimination can be misunderstood and cause confusion about what legally counts and what doesn’t. Here’s a list of the protected characteristics on which people may be discriminated against in the workplace:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership    
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Discriminatory treatment can range from a one-off act or comment to a prolonged series of bullying and unfair treatment. Under current employment legislation, the different forms of discrimination are classified as follows:

Direct discrimination – For example, paying someone less because of their sex or overlooking someone for a promotion because of their race.

Indirect discrimination – For example, a requirement that an applicant for a job has 20 years experience in the field could represent indirect discrimination on the grounds of age if it can not be justified.

Victimisation – For example, a person who raises a grievance about discriminatory treatment is then continually refused a pay-rise.

Harassment – For example, a manager continually makes inappropriate comments regarding a colleague’s appearance.

Aside from discrimination there are many more reasons in which a unfair dismissal could take place, some examples are listed below:

  • Refused to give up your working time rights – working longer or through breaks
  • Went on Strike
  • You have decided to join a trade union
  • Compulsory retirement – being forced to retire
  • If you were on maternity or paternity leave
  • Whistleblowing in the workplace

Whether or not you have been a victim of unfair dismissal it’s vitally important to seek help as soon as possible. If you leave it too long a case may be dismissed meaning you lose the right to bring a claim.

 

How can I protect my business against a claim?

For employer's who have disruptive employees or have a legitimate reason for needing to dismiss an employee you should not fear doing this. Whilst the law protects employees from being unfairly dismissed, it does recognise that there are occasions when an employee is dismissed for a fair reason. Our advice to employers is to make sure your employment contracts and staff handbooks are fully up to date and compliant.

“It's important that an employer follows a fair and reasonable procedure when dismissing an employee. Having fair grounds on which to dismiss is not enough in itself and a Tribunal will look at the resources available to an employer in determining whether the procedure followed is fair and reasonable. Unfairly dismissing an employee can be costly as the employee can claim compensation for the loss of their earnings for up to 12 months losses. This is subject to the Tribunal cap but none the less is an expense many employers would like to avoid.” Sara Ellison, Head of Employment Law

Sara is an experienced Employment Lawyer and deals with all aspects of employment law and advises a wide range of individuals and private, public and third sector clients with regards to employment law and HR issues. Sara's specialism includes unfair dismissal and discrimination. Sara participates in the delivery of our Charity/not for profit sector HR forums and runs interactive HR Workshops for our business clients, providing invaluable information and updates.

 

 

 

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

April 2017 – Key changes in Employment Law

April is always a significant month for employment lawyers as it is the month that changes to rates and limits (for things such as redundancy pay, statutory sick pay, and maternity pay) come into force. This year is perhaps even more significant than most as, in addition to the customary changes to rates and limits, April 2017 will also see the introduction of the long anticipated Gender Pay Gap Regulations and the equally anticipated Apprenticeship Levy. We summarise the key changes below:


1. Gender Pay Gap Regulations

On 6 April 2017 the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 came into force. This new legislation requires large employers (those with 250 or more employees) to report data about their gender pay gap, including bonus payments. Our Head of HR and Employment Law, Sara Ellison, has written in detail about exactly what the new legislation means for your business in this blog.

2. Apprenticeship Levy

The 6 April 2017 also marked the introduction of the new Apprenticeship Levy on UK employers to help fund new apprenticeships.

The Apprenticeship Levy is charged at 0.5% of an employer’s annual pay bill. However, under the scheme, employers have an Apprenticeship Levy allowance of £15,000 each year, meaning that only employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million will pay the levy.

The GOV.UK website provides some useful information as to when and how the Apprenticeship Levy will be applied.

3. Increase in Employment Tribunal compensation limits

From 6 April 2017 there were also new increased compensation limits for Employment Tribunal claims, which will included as follows:

  • The maximum compensatory award increased from £78,962 to £80,541;
  • The maximum amount of a week’s pay (used for calculating a redundancy payment and various other awards including the unfair dismissal basic award) increased from £479 to £489, with the maximum basic award or statutory redundancy payment increasing to £14,670; and
  • The minimum basic award for trade union, health and safety, working time representative, pension scheme trustee and employee representative dismissals increased from £5,853 to £5,970.

4. Statutory family-related pay and sick pay rates increase

With effect from 2 April 2017 the rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay increased to £140.98 per week.
From 6 April 2017, the weekly rate of statutory sick pay also increased to a rate of £89.35.

5. Increase in National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage

Increases to the national minimum wage and the national living wage took effect on 1 April 2017, with the new rates as follows: The rates from 1 April 2017 will be (figures in brackets show the current rate):

  • Workers aged 25 and over (the National Living Wage): £7.50 per hour (increased from £7.20).
  • Workers aged 21 to 25: £7.05 per hour (from £6.95).
  • Workers aged 18 to 21: £5.60 per hour (from £5.55).
  • Workers under 18: £4.05 per hour (from £4.00).
  • Apprenticeship rate: £3.50 per hour (from £3.40).

We’re here to help.

If you are unsure about these changes will effect you or your business or would like further information please do not hesitate to contact one of our employment experts on 0114 272 1884 or by email at employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Duty on employers to report their gender wage gap annually

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

From the 5th April 2017, gender pay gap reporting has been introduced for private and voluntary sector organisations that employ 250 or more employees. This is to illustrate the differences in the average pay and bonus pay between men and women in each organisation which has recently been reported as standing at 18.1%. The intention in doing this, is to publicly highlight any differences between male and female pay which in turn should encourage employers to respond to any differences and eventually eliminate the gap altogether.

Duty on employers to report their gender wage gap annuallyWhat is gender pay gap reporting and what does this mean for your business?

If you employ less than 250 employees then for now, this does not impact on your business. However, for those employers with more than 250 employees the new gender pay reporting legislation requires you to publish a report on your gender pay and gender bonus gaps. There are 6 calculations that must be published both on the company’s and the government’s website. You have 12 months from the 5th April each year to publish this information. The calculations are the:

  1. average gender pay gap as a mean average;
  2.  average gender pay as a median average;
  3. average bonus gender pay as a mean average;
  4. average bonus gender pay gap as a median average;
  5. proportion of males receiving a bonus payment and proportion of females receiving a bonus payment; and
  6. proportion of males and females when divided into four groups ordered from lowest to highest pay.

The calculations should be confirmed as accurate in a written statement by an appropriate person such as a senior executive and a narrative can be given explaining any differences including any positives.

For public sector organisations, gender pay reporting duties began on the 31st March 2017 and the report needs to be published by the 30th March 2018.

Whilst gender pay reporting is not mandatory for employers who employ less than 250 people, these employers can start reporting sooner and are encouraged to do so. This is good practice which can provide a positive image of the company as the results can be checked by customers, suppliers and contacts.

We’re here to help.

If you are unsure about your businesses obligations under the new legislation or would like further information about gender pay gap reporting please do not hesitate to contact one of our employment experts on 0114 272 1884 or by email at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

discrimination at work

Want to Stop Discrimination? Scrap the Fees

If the government wants to stop discriminatory dress codes and increase protection for new and expectant mothers, scrap the fees. 

If you were able to get past the drama of President Trump’s first days in office and the latest twists and turns in the Brexit saga, you would have seen that employment law has been in the news a lot this week.

Discriminatory Dress Codes

First came a parliamentary report on Wednesday (25 January 2017) calling for a review of the law surrounding discriminatory dress codes. The report was in response to a petition by Nicola Thorp (which attracted 152,420 signatures), who hit the news last year when she was sent home from her job as a receptionist for refusing to wear heels.

discrimination at workExtra Legal Protection for Expectant Mothers

Then, on Thursday (26 January 2017), came the announcement that the government was considering extra legal protection for new and expectant mothers who experience discrimination in the workplace. This announcement followed a report in August 2016 by the Women and Equalities Committee, which called for ‘urgent action’ to stop discrimination against new and expectant mothers in the workplace.

My Opinion

I very much commend the government for wanting to take action against these issues. Some of the cases that have been covered in the reports are truly shocking, with reports of women being required to dye their hair blonde by their employer or of being forced out of their job because they are pregnant. However, as has been acknowledged by both reports, laws providing protection against such repugnant discrimination already exist within the Equality Act. Yes, there are areas where the law can be improved and strengthened and I support such action, but I am concerned that this is somewhat of a smokescreen and distracts from what, for me, is the real issue – Tribunal fees.

Currently it costs an employee £1,200 in Employment Tribunal fees alone to pursue a claim for discrimination (if the matter goes all the way to a hearing). Whilst this figure can be reclaimed if the employee is ultimately successful, it is a huge outlay to make for someone who is potentially out of work and can be enough to dissuade victims of discrimination from pursuing a claim. The government can change and strengthen the law all they like, but if they continue to put in place financial barriers that prevent employees from accessing justice and enforcing these laws the same problems will continue to exist.

How can we help?

If you have any HR or Employment Law questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact Steven Conway on steven@taylorbracewell.co.uk or by calling 0114 272 1884.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Employee Dismissed Fairly for Historic Tweet

An Employment Tribunal has found that an employee with over 25 years service was fairly dismissed for making derogatory comments about his employer on Twitter, despite the tweets dating back some three years before his dismissal.

Social Media, TwitterA reminder for employees

As reported in Personnel Today in the case Creighton v Together Housing Association Ltd ET/2400978/2016 an employer was conducting an investigation into allegations of bullying by an employee and as part of the investigation discovered derogatory tweets sent by him over the previous years. One such tweet to two of his colleagues read “just carry on and pick up your wage, this place is f**ked. It’s full of absolute bell ends who ant [sic] got any balls”.

Whilst the employer rejected the allegations of bullying against Mr Creighton (which had prompted the investigation in the first place) it held that his tweets represented gross misconduct and dismissed him accordingly.

The matter progressed to an Employment Tribunal at which it was held that the dismissal was a fair dismissal for misconduct. The employer was entitled to take action for derogatory comments made on a public forum and the age of the tweets did not matter.

This case should be seen as a reminder for employees to use caution when expressing views on social media regarding their employers. Comments that are negative or inappropriate are likely to be viewed as having the potential to bring their employer into disrepute or to damage their reputation, which in turn is likely to be considered gross misconduct.

I have personally been involved in a number of similar cases relating to the use of social media by employees and, like in this case, my experience has been that the Employment Tribunal has had little difficulty in finding that inappropriate comments on social media (even when made outside of work time and on a personal social media account) can be sufficient to represent gross misconduct. The argument I have often seen used by employees is that their comments should be viewed as private as they were made only to their ‘friends’ on Facebook or ‘followers’ on Twitter. However, again, from my experience the Employment Tribunal have found little weight in this argument given that the employee is likely to have hundreds of ‘friends’ or ‘followers’.

Help for employers

For employers, to help avoid such incidents it is important to advise employees of your expectations with regard to social media and, ideally, to have a social media policy in the staff handbook. Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has published some helpful guidance in putting together a social media policy.

How can we help?

Should you require further advice or assistance in putting together a social media policy, or in respect of any other matter raised in this article, please contact Steven Conway, Employment Solicitor, at steven@taylorbracewell.co.uk or on 0114 2721884.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Gender pay gap closing, new legislation April 2017

Gender pay gap falls, but there is more work to be done

The gender pay is closing but still exists. To improve the situation new legislation this year will require larger employers to publish differences in pay and bonuses between men and women.

Gender pay gap closing, new legislation April 2017

A report published today (4 January 2017) by the Resolution Foundation has shown that the gender pay gap has narrowed for every generation of women over the past century. The sharpest fall has been seen within ‘millennials’ (employees born between 1981 and 2000), where the gender pay gap has halved to 5%.

Whilst this does represent a positive trend, the report also highlights the sharp rise in the pay gap after the age of 30 when woman are likely to have children. Laura Gardiner, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, states that it is ‘here the generational progress on gender pay shows signs of stalling. The pay gap at age 30 was 21 per cent for baby boomers, then halved to 10 per cent for women in generation X. For millennials age 30 it’s 9 per cent, only a touch lower. The suggestion is that the old challenges associated with having children endure for young women today. So millennial women should still expect to face a significant lifetime earnings penalty compared to their male counterparts’ (http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/media/blog/the-gender-pay-gap-has-almost-closed-for-millennial-women-but-it-comes-shooting-back-when-they-turn-30/).

During his tenure the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, vowed to end the gender pay gap in a generation and it is an issue that his successor, Teresa May, has continued to highlight. The Government will hope, therefore, that the introduction of mandatory gender pay gap reporting later this year will see the gap narrow further. The gender pay gap reporting legislation, which is expected to come into force on 6 April 2017 (subject to Parliamentary approval), will require employers with 250 or more employees to publish (by no later than April 2018) data showing the difference in the pay and bonuses received by their male and female employees.

 

How can we help?

If you need help with any employment issues, from contracts of employment to company handbooks, please talk to our Employment & HR Law specialists. Our experienced solicitors can also help you prepare for the new legislation, both from the point of view of reviewing employment contracts and salary levels to ensuring you comply with the new legislation.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

An Employer’s guide to surviving Christmas

With less than a week to go Christmas is almost upon us. Whilst Christmas creates a positive spirit for most, it can also be a cause for concern for employers. Below is our list of festive issues and how best to tackle them.

1. Be merry and bright

Employees may find themselves attending more social events than normal in December. This can impact on their attendance and productivity; there may be a sudden increase in sickness absences and staff arriving late for work. It is important that as a company you have a clear sickness policy that is readily available for staff and ensure it is applied consistently.

If you know employees will be attending networking events until late you may wish to offer flexibility around their hours. Sometimes allowing a later start or an earlier finish the following day can have a positive impact on your employees but will also give them time to recharge preventing tiredness impacting on their productivity across the rest of the week.

Some employees may get a little merrier than others at the Christmas party. Sending a gentle reminder to employees of the behaviour expected of them may limit inappropriate behaviour. If you are aware of any incidents it is important to address them as early as possible. By doing this you will remind staff that certain levels of behaviour in or outside of the workplace will not be tolerated.

What may be viewed by some as drunken banter may make others feel bullied, harassed or victimised particularly if the butt of the joke is around a protected characteristic and as an employer it is your responsibility to ensure that harassment and discrimination is prevented and not encouraged in the workplace.

2. ‘Tis the season …

… where everybody may want the same holidays!

If your business does not have shut down for the whole of the Christmas period you may find yourself inundated with annual leave requests. It can be difficult to authorise everyone’s leave whilst maintaining the necessary staffing levels. Consider your operating requirements and provide an early deadline for everyone to submit their holiday requests. Keep track of previous years cover to ensure the same employees are not covering the majority of the holiday period year on year.

If you do operate a full shut down ensure your contracts of employment are up to date and include this in it. Make sure you communicate with your employees about how many days leave they are required to take for the shut down at the start of the year to prevent employees from running out of holidays.
Be sure to inform employees of any requirement to use up all of their holiday in the same year to avoid receiving lots of last minute requests.

3. “Snow is falling”

The weather so far this year has been mild but there has been some speculation about heavy snow fall between now and February. As an employer you need to consider how you will handle days lost due to difficult weather conditions. Familiarise staff with your adverse weather policy highlighting whether they will need to work back any “snow” days, use holidays or take them as unpaid.

4. Frankincense, Myrrh or Gold

Client’s, customers, suppliers and business contacts may use this time of the year to buy gifts to show their appreciation and continue to build on your relationship. However, it is important that bribery is not mistaken for an act of hospitality. The key indicator is that bribery has the intention of obtaining an advantage. Typically, payments (facilitation payments) may be offered to get things done and these are not exempt from the Bribery Act 2010.
The Act makes it an offence for employers to fail to prevent bribery which is punishable by an unlimited fine. You can prevent bribery by ensuring you have a robust policy that employees are adequately trained on.

The UK Ministry of Justice has published a guide on compliance with the Act including six principles of adequate procedures to prevent bribery:

• “Proportionate procedures – the procedures adopted should be proportionate to the risk faced.
• Top-level commitment – the company should adopt a culture of zero tolerance through a commitment by senior management.
• Risk assessment – the company should identify its bribery risks and prioritise its actions in high risk areas.
• Due diligence – the company should take appropriate care when entering into relationships or markets with a risk of bribery.
• Communication – the company’s policy should be clearly communicated to all relevant parties, supported by appropriate training and “speak up” procedures.
• Monitoring and review – the procedures put in place should be reviewed and updated as the company’s risks change over time”.

5. How can we help you have a very Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year?

Join our bulletproof plan. We can help you with all your staff management issues and protect your company against costly employment tribunal claims with an insurance backed plan so that, in the event of a claim, all your costs are covered, but more than that, you will have access to face-to-face, telephone and e-mail support from a team of experts, whenever you need it.

If you are worried about any of the issues above or would like advice on any other HR & Employment Law matter, contact our HR & Employment team. You can call us in Sheffield on 0114 272 1884 or in Doncaster on 01302 341 414. Alternatively, you can email our team at employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

 

Support Gay Marriage cake and the Christian bakery

Businesses having their cake and eating it too…Not anymore!

In case you are not aware, there has been an ongoing case involving a bakery, Christianity and a cake for ‘Support Gay Marriage’ in Northern Ireland. This case essentially centred on a ‘Christian Business’ bakery who refused to bake a cake with the caption of ‘Support Gay Marriage’.

Support Gay Marriage cake and the Christian bakery

There was an initial judgment stating that this was directly discriminatory to the customers who wanted this cake and in direct contravention with Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006. This was further appealed and this decision has been recently upheld by the Northern Ireland Supreme Court. Now whilst it is likely that this will be appealed up to the UK Supreme Court it has highlighted valid risks for businesses.

Even though this is a case being decided in Northern Ireland it illustrates some of the problems that may be encountered by English, Welsh and Scottish businesses under the Equality Act 2010 (the Act). Businesses in the UK have a duty to ensure that they do not discriminate against anybody that holds a protected characteristic under the Act (which includes things like race, sex, sexual orientation etc). Whilst this is traditionally thought of in an employment context it also applies to businesses generally if they are selling goods or providing a service.

There are other duties also imposed on Businesses such as the duty to make reasonable adjustments for a person who holds a protected characteristic, if they would be discriminated against. It is vital for businesses to have sound policies and guidance in place and if there are any concerns then advice should be sought to save a compromising situation. As this judgement shows, you can’t have your cake and eat it too!

 

How can we help?

If you run a business and want to make sure that you are complying with all the relevant legislation that applies to you then give us a call, we would be delighted to help you.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Government Code of Practice on English Language Requirements for Public Sector Workers

Public sector language requirements – coming into force this month

Government Code of Practice on English Language Requirements for Public Sector Workers

From 21st November 2016 the new language requirements for customer-facing workers in the public sector are due to come in to force.

The new legislation, set out in the Immigration Act 2016, imposes a duty on public authorities to ensure that all staff working in customer-facing roles speak fluent English or Welsh to an appropriate standard. The new requirements will apply to both existing and new workers in customer-facing roles, including permanent and fixed term employees, apprentices, self-employed contractors, agency temps, police officers and service personnel.

The Government has published a code of practice to assist employers with the new language requirements – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/539802/code_of_practice_english_language_requirement_public_sector_workers.pdf

As can be seen, the code does not provide a set standard of language proficiency that must be met by relevant staff. Instead, the necessary standard is to be determined by the specific public authority, depending on the nature of customer-facing role. Specific factors to consider in determining the appropriate standard will include the frequency and length of spoken interaction and whether the communication is likely to involve any technical or ‘profession-specific’ vocabulary.

The code also provides guidance on the steps that a public authority can take where a person who works in a customer-facing role does not meet the necessary language requirement, including training, redeployment and, as a last resort, dismissal. Further, the code provides that ‘a public authority must operate a complaints procedure so that if a member of the public feels that a customer-facing public authority worker has insufficient proficiency in spoken English or Welsh for the performance of their role they can make a formal complaint to the public authority which is then investigated and a response provided’.

If they have not done so already, public authorities are advised to review and amend their HR practices to reflect the new language requirements. It will also be necessary to ensure that recruitment processes take into account these changes and that those responsible for recruitment are fully aware of the requirements.

Uber logo

What Does The Uber Ruling Mean?

Uber logo

On the 28th October, the Employment Tribunal made a landmark ruling against taxi firm – Uber who are now claiming they will appeal the decision that they have failed to pay national minimum wage and holiday pay.

Two of Uber’s drivers brought claims against the company for failure to pay holiday pay, pay the National Minimum Wage (currently set at £7.20 for over 25s https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates) and to allow rest breaks in line with the Working Time Regulations. These rights are basic statutory rights granted to both workers and employees.

Uber defended the allegations on the grounds that the drivers were self employed and that Uber is a technology company that facilitates independent drivers connecting with passengers rather than a traditional taxi company. The Tribunal disagreed. They found that Uber were in the business of transporting passengers and the drivers were workers of the company not self employed contractors. As a result they held that Uber had been paying its drivers less than the national minimum wage, had failed to pay holiday pay and the drivers were working long hours without the required breaks.

This clearly has a costly impact for Uber who claim their drivers want to be self employed and enjoy the freedom and flexibility around being self employed.

Cases around the issue of employment status are something that we are seeing more and more of. All too often the label applied to an individual is not a true reflection of the working relationship. It is no longer sufficient to simply label a worker as self employed and hold them responsible for paying their own income tax and National insurance. There are a number of tests which are used by the Tribunals in determining whether someone is an employee, a worker or is self employed. This includes how they are integrated in to the business, whether the individual is free to decline work without any repercussions (mutuality of obligation), the level of control over the work the individual does, how they do it and when they do and how they are perceived by others.

Employment status is a complicated issue and the Uber case is a reminder to employers of the need to have the correct contracts in place in order to avoid costly repercussions.

Carers claim for failure to pay national minimum wage

As widely reported in the news this week (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37350750), seventeen care workers are bringing a claim against their employer alleging a failure to be paid the minimum wage.

From the facts publicised, the amount of pay the employees received (£550 per week) does not appear to be in dispute. Instead, the case looks likely to focus on the number of hours the carers worked during each week. The carers, who were engaged as ‘live-in’ care workers, allege that they worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (and hence were only paid £3.27 an hour). The employer’s case is that the carers were not required to work 24 hours a day and were in fact paid for 10 hours a day, equating to £7.85 per hour (above the current national minimum wage rate of £7.20).

Considering these respective arguments, the outcome may depend largely on how the Employment Tribunal deals with the time the carers were sleeping and whether that is considered to be ‘working time’.

The question of whether employees should be paid for ‘sleep-ins’ is very fact specific and has seen differing outcomes in previous cases. In the most recent case of this nature (Shannon v Rampersad T/A Clifton House Residential Home) the EAT held that an on-call night care assistant at a residential care home was not working throughout each night shift and was only entitled to receive the national minimum wage during times when he was awake and working. However, in that case the care assistant was provided with his own flat on site. If, as reported in the present case, the carers were required to sleep on a bed in the same room as the person they were caring for, I would suggest that the employer may have difficultly arguing that this was not ‘working time’.

For more advice on the contents of this article, or any other employment law matter, please contact Steven Conway (steven.c@taylorbracewell.co.uk).

 

How can we help?

If you need help with issues regarding the minimum wage then talk to our HR & Employment team.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

When is a self-employed contractor an employee?

You may well have seen news items about tribunal claims brought by a number of self-employed bike couriers in London and a group of Uber taxi drivers, also in London, who are arguing that they are in fact employees and should therefore receive the same benefits of worker status.

One particular bike courier firm has been accused of trying to prevent similar claims by asking couriers to sign a contract stating that the couriers will not present any claim to either a civil or employment tribunal court that contends the courier is an employee or a worker.

Businesses who use the services of self-employed contractors need think very carefully before taking such a step, as such a contract clause would likely to be legally unenforceable. It is also possible that asking contractors to sign such clauses could add to the weight of evidence that there is an employment relationship between the two parties as the business would be asking the contractor to waive employment rights by signing the contract.

What is a self-employed contractor?

A self-employed contractor is an individual who is in business for themselves. They take control of their taxes and National Insurance. A self-employed contractor is not entitled to the same employment rights as an employee.

Self-employed contractors are:

  • Entitled to be protected against unlawful discrimination in relation to a protected characteristic
  • Not entitled to statutory sick pay
  • Not entitled to statutory paid annual leave
  • Not entitled to statutory employment rights
  • Not entitled to statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave, including statutory pay

Why use a self-employed contractor?

Choosing a self-employed contractor provides a business with more flexibility as there are no statutory obligations. Businesses should, however, be careful as the consequences of mistaking a person’s employment status could be detrimental in terms of tax and legal liability.

How can we help?

If you are worried about the status of your contractors or would like advice on any other HR & Employment Law matter, contact our HR & Employment team. You can call us in Sheffield on 0114 272 1884 or in Doncaster on 01302 341 414. Alternatively, you can email our team at employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: HR & Employment Law, Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing) and Dispute Resolution,

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Too Hot To Work Blog - picture of melting ice cream cone

Too Hot to Work?

Some may even suggest, or grumble that it is too hot to be at work. But when is it really too hot to work?

Today is reported to be the hottest day of the year so far and many employees may find the temperatures a little uncomfortable to work in.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines state that employers must make sure the working environment is at a reasonable temperature, which means for many it is unlikely to be too hot to work. This aside, the hot weather can have an impact on productivity as it naturally makes people more lethargic and employers may want to consider how they combat this.

Relaxing strict dress codes by allowing men to unbutton their collars and remove their ties or allowing women to wear summer footwear and not expecting them to wear a jacket can make them feel more comfortable and cool and less distracted by the heat. However, if you do have a policy on dress code now is a good time to provide a gentle reminder as to what is deemed to be appropriate.

Making sure employees can easily access cool drinks and fans will help cool them down and keep them hydrated, which in turn, should prevent them from feeling sluggish and carrying out their work slower.

Other cool treats can help provide an afternoon pick me up and this is something Taylor Bracewell has done by treating its staff to ice lollies for an afternoon boost.

Companies may also want to think about cooling their customers down. Customers will appreciate access to cold drinks when they arrive or a cold face cloth. Some local train companies have been quick to heat up their customer service by offering bottles of water and hand held fans to their passengers which has been a great way to get people talking about their service.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Brexit the impact on Employment Law

Sara Ellison, Head of HR & Employment Law, examines the likely impact of a Leave’ vote on UK Employment Law

Today is the day we get to vote on whether the UK should leave the EU, but what impact will leaving the European Union have on employment law?

Initially very little. An exit from the EU would not take place overnight as the EU treaty requires any member state wishing to leave to serve notice, and exit terms would need to be agreed. Exiting could take up to two years after giving notice and it is likely that employment policy and practices will remain the same throughout this notice period.

If the UK does leave the EU, the terms of the exit agreement may address employment law and until we have some information about the possible terms, we can only speculate about the possible effect on employment law.

At present, UK employment law contains a number of domestic and EU precedents. Those rights stemming from domestic legislation and particularly those that are more favourable, such as holiday entitlement, are likely to be unaffected but it will be interesting to see how more favourable rights due to EU rulings are affected especially those that have become custom and practice in the workplace. To remove these rights will require employers to seek their employees’ agreement and embark on a formal consultation process where the agreement is withheld. Not only is the process time consuming and with risk, it can result in a disgruntled workforce and a possible downturn in productivity.

For the moment, employers are advised not to do anything other than consider their own vote and await the outcome.

How can we help?

If you have any concerns about any impact on employment law and HR issues please contact a member of our specialist team of employment lawyers and HR consultants in Sheffield or Doncaster, by e-mailing employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk or calling 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Top tips for employers during Ramadan

Employment Lawyer, Jessica Lidster, shares her tips for employers during Ramadan

Monday 6th June marked the start of the Islamic holy month, which ends 30 days later on Tuesday 5th July. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year. It is a period of religious observation and it is important that employers do not discriminate against employees for their religious beliefs.

Be tolerant towards reduced levels of productivity

During Ramadan, those participating are required to fast from sunrise to sunset. As an employer, you should be mindful that the productivity of employees taking part may be affected. You must ensure that you do not unduly discriminate or criticise an employee whose productivity has suffered because they have been fasting during Ramadan.

Religious Observance Policy

If, as an employer, you fail show support to employees towards their religious beliefs, you could put yourself and the company at risk of accusations of discrimination. I recommend you set up a policy on religious observance in working hours; making allowances will have a positive impact on employees.

If you need assistance in putting a policy in place, speak to our employment team by calling 0114 272 1884 or emailing employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

Annual leave requests

There may be an increase in the number of annual leave requests around the period of Ramadan for those wishing to observe such religious festivals. It may not be possible to accept all annual leave requests; therefore employers should ensure they do not discriminate against employees who observe different religions.

My advise would be that you put a policy on religious holidays in place if you do not already have one. If you require assistance in putting this policy in place, speak to our Employment team.

How can we help?

If you’d like some practical advice and guidance regarding policies on religious holidays, discrimination in the workplace or any other Employment Law or HR matter, please get in touch. Employment Lawyer Jessica Lidster, or another member of our experienced team of employment lawyers and HR consultants in Sheffield or Doncaster, by e-mailing employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk or calling 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: HR & Employment Law, Business Law, Family Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), and Dispute Resolution. You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Mental Health, HR and Employment Law

HR Consultant Jo Cairns gives top tips for Mental Health Awareness Week

When was the last time you talked to someone else about your mental health and wellbeing?

The Mental Health Charity, Mental Health Foundation, have noted that mental health problems are the leading cause of sickness absence at work. This corroborates the findings of a 2015 CIPD Absence Management survey, which found that 2 out of 5 employers cited an increase in mental health problems in their workforces. You can also get access to a UK based guide on Free Mental Health Helpline.

As a HR professional, I have worked with organisations and fellow HR Managers to effectively manage numerous absences, including those reported to be due to mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, bi-polar, mania and obsessive compulsive disorder. I currently advise and support managers and businesses on how to respond to employees who are experiencing mental health difficulties.

The Taylor Bracewell HR & Employment Team is passionate about raising awareness of and supporting effective responses to mental health awareness. In February 2016, experienced Employment Lawyer and Head of Department, Sara Ellison and I ran a Meet the Experts event in Sheffield focussed on Employee Wellbeing. We addressed some of the issues usually avoided in organisations. Two guest speakers also talked about different aspects of employee wellbeing:

TOP TIPS for Effectively Managing Mental Health & Wellbeing

The importance of effectively managing our mental wellbeing and its direct impact on productivity cannot be overemphasised. Here are a few tips on how best to manage your mental wellbeing, your colleagues, and employees within your organisation.

  • Recruit people who have the skills, experience and knowledge to carry out a job or have the capability to learn quickly
  • Have a process in place for carrying out a base-line assessment of new employee health in general, including mental health and respond positively to any identified issues
  • Ensure line-managers are aware of mental health issues…including training, awareness raising, HR support and guidance
  • Include wellbeing in general as an agenda item for line-management meetings…make it normal to talk about mental and general wellbeing
  • Respond to any requests for help and apparent issues as soon as possible….don’t delay as it won’t help the employee or you!
  • Don’t be frightened to manage sickness absences reported to be due to mental health reasons
  • Be open-minded and flexible when responding to employee mental health concerns
  • Be mindful of potential discrimination, in particular disability discrimination
  • Engage with GPs and mental health specialists as and where appropriate
  • Seek advice and guidance from your internal or external HR specialist
  • Enjoy your days off and holidays…make the most of your work-life balance

How can we help?

If you / your company need practical advice / support / guidance regarding dealing with mental health and wellbeing at work or any other Employment Law or HR matter, please get in touch with Jo Cairns or another member of our experienced team of employment lawyers and HR consultants in Sheffield or Doncaster, by e-mailing jo.c@taylorbracewell.co.uk / employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk or calling 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: HR & Employment Law, Business Law, Family Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Employment Tribunal | Former Leeds United Employee Wins Sex Discrimination and Unfair Dismissal Case

Employment Lawyer Jessica Lidster shares her thoughts on the case

Former Welfare Officer at Leeds United, Lucy Ward, is claiming unfair dismissal and sex discrimination following her dismissal from Leeds United.

The tribunal has heard claims that Ms Ward was dismissed on the basis that she was in a relationship with the club’s former manager, Neil Redfern.

The club has stated that the dismissal was made due to Ms Ward exceeding her annual leave entitlement and denies improper conduct.

It has been reported that Lucy Bairstow, barrister for Leeds United, stated that Ms Ward had repeatedly failed to work on a Wednesday and had not been given the authorisation to do so.

Ms Ward argued My working pattern was well known and agreed with my line manager each season. Nobody ever said what I was doing wrong. I’m being disciplined for the working practices I’ve had for 11 years.

In a statement to the BBC after her successful hearing, Ms Ward stated I look forward to the rest of my career, hopefully back into football.

Jess’s opinion on the case

This is another case that highlights the importance of having a policy on workplace relationships! If the Club did have a problem with staff being in relationships, a clear policy on what the Club expects of its employees in this respect would have made it easier to manage the relationship.

The Club however claimed that Ms Ward was dismissed due to her unauthorised absence. This would have been a potentially fair reason to dismiss an employee, as long as the right procedure had been followed by the Club in dismissing Ms Ward. Even if the Tribunal had accepted that she was dismissed due to her exceeding her annual leave entitlement, Ms Ward could still have succeeded in her claim for unfair dismissal if the Club had failed to follow the correct absence management procedure.

What further complicated matters in this case was Ms Ward’s argument that this working pattern had been agreed and she had worked in this manner for the past 11 years. If this is true, it’s likely that custom and practice means that Ms Ward will have an implied term in her contract of employment that she doesn’t work Wednesdays. This is why it is important to review the contracts of your employees regularly to ensure that they reflect the true nature of their working relationship, particularly those who have been there a while and whose roles may have changed.

If the Club genuinely believed Ms Ward was taking annual leave it raises the question of why her leave was not being managed correctly in order for this issue to have been picked up sooner and not 11 years later!

Ms Ward was correct to argue that her contracted hours do not include Wednesdays, and to discipline and dismiss her for this was unfair. I would have also argued that in such circumstances, to go as far as a dismissal is unreasonable and goes beyond other reasonable responses the Club had available to them, further advancing her claim of unfair dismissal, as demonstrated by the Tribunal awarding in Ms Ward’s favour.

How can we help?

If you’d like some practical advice and guidance regarding unfair dismissal or any other Employment Law or HR matter, please get in touch with Jessica Lidster or another member of our experienced team of employment lawyers and HR consultants in Sheffield or Doncaster, by e-mailing employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk or calling 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Period Policy | The Start of Something New?

A UK company has recenty introduced a period policy’

A UK company has recently garnered media attention for officially introducing a period policy’ for employees. Coexist, as reported in the Guardian, believes that allowing female employees time off during their period will create a more efficient workplace, maximising employee productivity by understanding the natural cycle of the body.

Some women face severe pain during their monthly cycle, which renders them unable to work or creates a challenging environment for them to work in.

The period policy aims to reduce the taboo surrounding the menstrual cycle by creating a supportive atmosphere for employees to take time off without being perceived as unproductive.’

Time off during a period is hoped to encourage wellbeing at work, subsequently producing optimal work.

Director of Coexist, Bex Baxter states that It’s not just about taking time off if you feel unwell but about empowering people to be their optimum selves. If you work with your natural rhythms, your creativity and intelligence is more fulfilled. And that’s got to be good for business.

How we can help

For advice and support on implementing a period policy,’ and encouraging wellbeing at work, or any other Employment Law or HR matter, please get in touch with our experienced team of employment lawyers and HR consultants in Sheffield or Doncaster, by e-mailing employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk or calling 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

Leap Year | Who pays for the extra day?

29th February only comes around every 4 years, so what happens to payroll?

Today is 29th February. If it’s your birthday, you have probably heard all the jokes about having had a hard paper roundyou look a tad ancient for a 10 year-old’ etc!

There is another aspect to Leap Year that you may not have considered. What happens to the extra day in terms of salaries and wages?

This is not an issue for salaried employees, as they are paid the same amount each month, regardless of hours or days worked; their salary is based on an annual payment.

Payroll may develop a bit of a headache where hourly rate or day rate employees are concerned, though, as this could cause problems at year end: At the end of the financial year, which is usually 365 days long, the extra’ (366th day) may cause a problem.

How can we help?

If you are concerned about how the extra day may affect your pay or you have any concerns regarding your pay or any other matters relating to employment law and human resources, our experienced team of employment lawyers and HR consultants in Sheffield or Doncaster can help. E-mail us employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

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Employment Law | 12 Days of Christmas Day 4

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, Taylor Bracewell gave to me…

‘Fail to Seek Employment Law Advice…at Your Peril!’

The Taylor Bracewell Sheffield and Doncaster HR and Employment Law team have been busy! They have put together their very own ’12 Days of Christmas’ for you, packed full of useful information for your business, to help you have a successful 2016. We will post one Employment blog per weekday, Monday to Friday, until our last working day before Christmas (22nd December).

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, we aim to ensure you understand the importance of taking employment law advice and the pitfalls of not doing so.

As a business owner are you are fully aware of every area of employment law?

Employee conditions, work permits and visas, discrimination, unfair dismissal, breach of contract and sexual harassment…to name just a few! If you are busy running a business, you cannot realistically keep up to date with all these complex issues.

It is, therefore, always wise to seek professional and objective advice from an experienced Employment lawyer or HR professional. Failure to do so could have serious consequences for you and your business. The consequences could be:-

1. Facing a criminal prosecution for certain offences, such as failing to comply with Health and Safety Regulations, or failing to pay the minimum wage. This could cause serious damage to your reputation and that of your business. Financial penalties and, at worst, custodial sentences can be imposed. In very serious cases, businesses can be closed down completely.

2. Facing an Employment Tribunal claim, which can be costly in terms of legal fees, possible compensation awards but also in terms of time away from your business. Reputations can also be damaged during this process.

3. Facing court proceedings brought by an employee, for example in relation to a contractual dispute. Such proceedings would be costly and would require you to take time away from your business.

4. Having to deal with grievances raised by employees who consider that they have not been dealt with appropriately. Again, this process can be time consuming and can be damaging to employer/ employee relations, which in turn could impact upon the productivity and success of your business.

5. Having to deal with industrial action or the threat of such action, which can damage the reputation of your business and its productivity and success.

Quality legal advice is actually not as expensive as you might expect it to be. Take advice before you reach crisis point and this could save you not only a substantial amount of money in the long run but may also help you sleep soundly whilst still running your business effectively.

How we can help

If you’d like some practical advice and guidance regarding any Employment Law or HR matter, please get in touch with Rosie Finn or another member of our experienced team of employment lawyers and HR consultants in Sheffield or Doncaster, by e-mailing employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk or calling 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

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Are Commission Payments Included in Holiday Pay Calculations?

Employment Tribunal Reviews Lock v. British Gas Trading Limited

This week, the Employment Tribunal will review whether additional benefits, such as commission payments, should be included in holiday pay calculations.

This review comes after the European Court of Justice ruled that a certain amount of commissions should be included, but the ruling has been appealed by British Gas.

You can read the latest on this story in this article by The Guardian.

Sara Ellison, Head of HR and Employment at Taylor Bracewell in Sheffield and Doncaster, comments:

“The last couple of years have seen huge changes in how holiday pay is calculated for those employees who earn additional remuneration on a frequent basis, whether it be in the form of overtime, commission or bonus pay.

For some industries, some employees work overtime on a day-by-day basis and are placed at a detriment when they take their holiday and are paid their basic contracted hours. The recent changes in case law and, in particular, lead cases such as Bear Scotland v. Fulton and Lock v. British Gas, have sought to address this.

For many employers this has had a significant financial impact as it has increased their wages bills and they have had to review contracts and policies, as well as the costing for commercial contracts.

Employers and employees will await the outcome with bated breath, but there are many complications around this issue and it may be some time before there is certainty around what payments should be included when calculating holiday pay.

Let us help you navigate the murky waters of holiday pay calculations.

If you’d like some practical advice and guidance regarding holiday pay calculations or any other Employment Law or HR matter, please get in touch with Sara Ellison, Head of HR and Employment, or another member of our experienced team of employment lawyers and HR consultants in Sheffield or Doncaster, by e-mailing employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk or calling 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

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Employment Law | 12 Days of Christmas Day 3

On the Third Day of Christmas, Taylor Bracewell gave to me…

“Banter or Harassment?”

Banter
[ban-ter]

noun
1. an exchange of light, playful, teasing remarks; good-natured raillery.
Source: dictionary.reference.com

The Taylor Bracewell Sheffield and Doncaster HR and Employment Law team have been busy! They have put together their very own ’12 Days of Christmas’ for you, packed full of useful information for your business, to help you have a successful 2016. We will post one Employment blog per weekday, Monday to Friday, until our last working day before Christmas (22nd December).

On the Third Day of Christmas, we explain the risks when it comes to workplace harassment.

Banter is heard everywhere today, and while some people see it as a harmless laugh or joke, what are the consequences when someone in the workplace doesn’t take it that way?

Well, that’s when it can arguably be harassment. Harassment, under the Equality Act 2010 is any unwanted, physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct relating to one of the protected characteristics, which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.

Therefore, an offensive joke about women drivers on the shop floor of a factory can be perceived by some as a bit of a laugh between workmates but if that joke offends a female employee, both the Company and the individual can be liable for a harassment claim at the Employment Tribunal if left unchecked.

The costs to employers who don’t deal with these issues can be huge. If an employee is successful at an Employment Tribunal there is no limit on the financial award they could receive.

Even if matters don’t escalate to a claim in the Employment Tribunal, an employee suffering from harassment at work is likely to take multiple or extended periods of sick leave. Employees being harassed in the workplace are also unlikely to stay with the Company for long, causing more wasted time and costs, which are necessary in recruiting and training up a replacement.

To minimise the risk of a Company or Organisation having a harassment claim issued against them, they need to take all complaints and grievances raised seriously and not just brush them off as banter’ or a laugh between colleagues. An employer should also take care to ensure that any conduct or behaviour like this is nipped in the bud and a strong stand against it is taken, or they are at risk of appearing as though they condone the behaviour.

Employers should also remember:

  • A single incident can amount to harassment.
  • An employee can be harassed even if they are not the intended target.
  • An employee can be harassed about a perceived characteristic.

How can we help?

If you’d like some practical advice and guidance regarding dealing with harassment, ensuring you have the right policies and procedures in place, or any other Employment Law or HR matter, please get in touch with Sara Ellison, Head of HR and Employment, or another member of our experienced team of employment lawyers and HR consultants in Sheffield or Doncaster, by e-mailing employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk or calling 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

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Employment Law | 12 Days of Christmas Day 2

On the Second Day of Christmas, Taylor Bracewell gave to me…

‘Avoiding Bad Investigations – Keeping you Safe’

The Taylor Bracewell Sheffield and Doncaster HR and Employment Law team have been busy! They have put together their very own ’12 Days of Christmas’ for you, packed full of useful information for your business, to help you have a successful 2016. We will post one Employment blog per weekday, Monday to Friday, until our last working day before Christmas (22nd December).

On the Second Day of Christmas, we want to give you some advice on making sure you conduct disciplinary investigations properly to be fair to your staff and to protect you as an employer.

Key questions to consider:

  • What is the alleged misconduct?
  • Is it potentially gross misconduct?
  • Can I go straight to a disciplinary hearing or do I need to conduct a formal investigation?
  • Is there sufficient evidence to suspend?
  • Who is the best person to conduct the investigation and do my managers have the knowledge, experience and skills to do this?
  • What are the risks to my business if I get things wrong?

Our HR & Employment Team is very experienced at advising employers on how to carry out investigations and conducting investigations on behalf of employers.

Let us help you and ensure your business is protected.

If you’d like some practical advice and guidance regarding disciplinary investigations or any other Employment Law or HR matter, please get in touch with Sara Ellison, Head of HR and Employment, or another member of our experienced team of employment lawyers and HR consultants in Sheffield or Doncaster, by e-mailing employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk or calling 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

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Employment Law | 12 Days of Christmas

On the First Day of Christmas, Taylor Bracewell gave to me…

‘Managing Difficult Conversations’

The Taylor Bracewell Sheffield and Doncaster HR and Employment Law team have been busy! They have put together their very own ’12 Days of Christmas’ for you, packed full of useful information for your business, to help you have a successful 2016. We will post one Employment blog per weekday, Monday to Friday, until our last working day before Christmas (22nd December).

Do you find it awkward, painful and stressful to have difficult conversations with your staff about their attitude and or performance?

You are not alone! Many employers find such conversations challenging and would rather do anything, including that diversion tactic – cleaning the oven!- rather than having that difficult conversation.

Although understandable, particularly for small to medium size companies who are rightly focussed on service delivery and/or production, avoiding problems can be costly in the medium- to long-term.

You can avoid formal disciplinary and/or capability procedures, reduce the risk of staff appeals against disciplinary action as well as reduce the risk of employment tribunal claims by seeking advice on and support to have those tricky conversations.

Merry Christmas from the Taylor Bracewell HR and Employment Law team in Sheffield and Doncaster.

Let us help you with those difficult conversations.

If you’d like some practical advice and guidance regarding those difficult employer/employee conversations or any other Employment Law or HR matter, please get in touch with Sara Ellison, Head of HR and Employment, or another member of our experienced team of employment lawyers and HR consultants in Sheffield or Doncaster, by e-mailing employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk or calling 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

Zero Hour Contract

Our Head of Employment Law and HR explains the key points you need to know.

Zero Contract Hours are increasingly popular, with 744,000 people on a zero hours contract in their main job, as found by the Labour Force Survey.

What are Zero Hour Contracts?

A zero hour contract refers to employment in which work is not guaranteed by the employer. The employee accepts work when it arises and is paid depending on how many hours have been worked. Such a contract means that there is no obligation to be offered work, nor an obligation to accept work.

Although this may be ideal for some workers, such as students, to fit work around their study or other commitments, the contracts may pose difficulties to others. The nature of zero hour contracts is such that financial stability is not guaranteed. The flexibility and lack of formality of the contract may also result in the contract being abused, with some workers left vulnerable due to being unaware of their statutory rights and entitlements.

What rights are available to Zero Hour Workers?

All workers, regardless of their contract hours, are entitled to their employment rights, such as being paid the national minimum wage, annual leave entitlement and the right not to be discriminated against. However, as they are not employees they do not qualify for unfair dismissal.

Pitfalls for Employers

For employers who engage workers on zero hours contracts it is important that the contracts are drafted correctly and are issued to those who genuinely are zero hour workers. For workers who are working regular hours then it is likely that they will not be zero hours workers and could be employees. This will give them add employment protection which could pose a risk to employers who suddenly decide to stop offering the same level of hours or even terminate the workers contract.

The guide published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills provides guidance for employers to follow, including a best practice recommendation and highlights alternatives to zero hour contract for employers.

How can we help?

If as a Zero Hour Contract worker, you’d like some practical advice and guidance regarding zero hour contracts or any other Employment Law or HR matter, please get in touch with Sara Ellison, Head of Employment and HR, or another member of our experienced team of employment lawyers and HR consultants in Sheffield or Doncaster, by e-mailing employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk or calling 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.