Category: Uncategorised

Are you in breach of a restrictive covenant?

Are you in breach of a restrictive covenant?

You may have seen in the news recently that a Yorkshire development company is seeking payments of £100-£300 per household for consent after a covenant in their deeds was breached. The consent is required for such items as the erection of a shed or a satellite dish. The householders may have pay the developer as when they purchased their properties they promised not to erect any such items without obtaining the developers consent.

A restrictive covenant is often imposed on a property when it is sold by developers. The householders should have been made aware of this when they purchased.

What is a restrictive covenant?

A restrictive covenant is an agreement or promise which is included in the deeds and that limits what can be done on the property. An example of a restrictive covenant might be that no caravans can be stored at the front of the property or that no livestock can be kept on the property. The reason why they are often imposed by developers is to keep the estate looking presentable whilst the houses are being sold. Another reason for imposing a covenant might be to make sure that a property is only used for a particular use, such as residential use not commercial or it might limit the number of houses built on land.

Restrictive covenants may be imposed for a period of time, such as not to carry out any structural alterations during the first 5 years or they may be imposed for all time. This is why it is important to check your deeds and make sure you are aware of any that might bind your property.

The Legal Implications

While covenants are often ignored and as owners change are often forgotten about you may still be liable to abide by them. Some possible implications of this could be that you have to pay damages, or apply for retrospective consent or rectify any breach of the restrictive covenant which could have substantial cost implications.

What can you do?

Firstly, be aware. It is important you be made aware of any covenants when purchasing the property. A good solicitor will bring these to your attention when you purchase the property. It is always worth checking your deeds before commencing any substantive alterations or changing the use of your property.

Secondly, consider restrictive covenant indemnity insurance. If you become aware that there is a restrictive covenant which affects your property and that you may be in breach of, then we would recommend you put in place restrictive covenant indemnity insurance.  This is usually available for a one off premium and affords cover to you and future purchasers and your lenders. This will often be required if you do decide to sell or mortgage your property in any case.

Thirdly, seek help. If you are or may be in breach of a restrictive covenant or are unable to find suitable restrictive covenant indemnity insurance to cover any potential risk it would be wise to seek professional help to try and find a solution. This can include negotiating for the restrictive covenant to be removed. This is a complex area of law and we would recommend seeking help from a solicitor with experience in this area.

 

"It is important for all buyers to be aware of the do's and the don'ts in their title. This may have implications for them not only on a future sale or mortgage but when alterations are carried out. If you are unsure then we are more than happy to help." Alison Turner, Head of Commercial Property

Alison Turner brings an enviable wealth of experience and cool, calm professionalism to our Business Team. Having specialised in Commercial Property for more than 20 years, Alison’s level of expertise is hard to rival. 

 

 

 

 

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.

Kiziah was fantastic, she provided all the help we required to buy our first home. Easy process and we will be recommending to anyone buying new.

Mr Atkin 02/12/2016

We received excellent advice and service from Sue Platts. I was very astound, Sue picked up every phone call first time and replied to every question really quickly.

Taylor Bracewell will definitely be recommended to our friends and colleagues. Thank you very much to Sue and the team at Taylor Bracewell.

Mr & Mrs McKinlay 24/11/2016

It was nice to meet you Robert at the meeting you have given Cari much encouragement with your positive attitude about her potential claim.

Anon 11/11/2016

National Minimum Wage increase

From 1st October 2016, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) increased.

 

Details for the following age bands are:

  • 21 to 24 yrs old – £6.95 p/h (up from £6.70);
  • 18 to 20 yrs old – £5.55 p/h (up from £5.30);
  • 16 to 17 yrs old – £4 p/h (up from £3.87); and
  • Apprentices under 19 or 19 or over who are in the first year of apprenticeship £3.40 p/h (up from £3.30).

The National Living Wage, which was introduced on 1 April 2016 for all working people aged 25 and over, will remain unchanged at £7.20 per hour.

It is against the law for employers to fail to pay the NMW. As well as being publically named and shamed, employers who fail to pay the NMW could be liable for a fine of up to £20,000 per worker.

 

How can we help?

For further information on this, or any other employment law issue, you can contact Steven at steven.c@taylorbracewell.co.uk or 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: 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.

I was dreading doing this will etc, at a difficult time when I had lost my husband but I found Susan Fletcher very helpful in explaining things. Thank you.

Mrs Ferguson 15/09/2016

 

Thankyou, Taylor Bracewell we were very happy with the prompt service with our request and found Sarah Spencer a very kind and understanding person when dealing with such a delicate and personal matter for us. We would definitely recommend you to our friends and will use you again ourselves.

Mr Cufford 12/09/2016

Photos | Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards 2015

An inspirational day was had by all!

Sheffield and Doncaster Law Firm Taylor Bracewell – and its prestigious HR & Employment Law Division Taylor Bracewell – received a total of three award nominations for the prestigious Sue Ryder Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards that took place on Friday 15th May in Leeds.

Doncaster-based Sharon Beck, the firm’s Managing Partner, was nominated in the ‘Business’ category. Junior fee earner Jessica Lidster, based at Taylor Bracewell’s Sheffield office, was nominated in the ‘Young Achiever’ category and the firm’s Marketing Consultant Frederika Roberts, also based in Doncaster, was nominated for the ‘Jane Tomlinson Courage Award’.

“Although we didn’t take home any Awards that day”, says Managing Partner Sharon Beck “we were honoured to have been nominated amongst such exceptional women of achievement across all categories. The event was highly inspirational and we, along with the clients who attended as our guests, thoroughly enjoyed the day and are delighted that, by purchasing tickets and making additional donations on the day, we were helping such a worthy charity.”

Some photos of the day:

tb_at_ywoa_awards_400_01

Taylor Bracewell and Taylor Bracewell team members and guests at the Sue Ryder Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards
L-R: Gail Powell (guest), Danielle Barbereau (guest), Rebecca Aldren (guest), Alison Kitchman (Partner and Head of Family Law), Sharon Beck (Managing Partner and Head of Business Law), Jackie Spendlove (guest), Debbie Mactaggart (Head of Dispute Resolution and Senior Employment Solicitor), Sara Ellison (Head of HR & Employment Law), Karen Hilt (Probate Lawyer), Jessica Lidster (Employment Lawyer)

image2_400_01.

Nominees Jessica Lidster (L) and Sharon Beck (R) at the Sue Ryder Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards

Taylor Bracewell and Taylor Bracewell operate from offices in Sheffield’s Fountain Precinct and Thorne Road in Doncaster. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law, Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law.

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


A vintage-tastic and informative event

The Auto-Enrolment and Employment Contracts Seminar was a great success.

Yesterday, Martin Hibbert from Alexander Calder Financial came to our Doncaster office to join forces with our Head of Employment Sara Ellison to present two brief seminars on contracts of employment and auto enrolment.

The session took place over a fabulous vintage lunch with tea and coffee served in traditional china tea cups prepared by the Northern Vintage Tea Company.

Sara opened the session by explaining the structure of contracts and the pitfalls of mistaking and mislabelling workers. She offered guidance and practical tips on how to draft effective contracts of employment.

Following Martin’s explanation on “eligible job holders” and an employer’s auto-enrolment obligations to those job holders, it was clear that there is a great deal of information about auto-enrolment in the public domain that is conflicting and causing confusion to many employers. The key message is that companies need to seek professional advice and avoid facing expensive penalties if they get things wrong.

The event was fully subscribed and very well-attended, with some of the attendees staying around for further discussion after the seminars, prior to heading back to the office with a goodie bag made up of homemade cookies and rocky road.

Get in touch

We have a specialist team of very experienced HR & Employment Law solicitors at Taylor Bracewell / Taylor Bracewell. With expert senior employment law solicitors and our HR Consultant in Sheffield as well as a Senior Employment Solicitor in Doncaster we will provide you with skilful guidance and advice on any aspect of HR and Employment Law.

If you require any advice or support in HR & Employment Law matters, either in Sheffield or Doncaster, please contact debbie@taylorbracewell.co.uk or any other member of our HR & Employment Law Team on hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

You can call us on 0114 2721884 in Sheffield and 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

Everything you need to know about Shared Parental Leave | SPL

Shared Parental Leave legislation came into effect on 1 December 2014, and applies to children born or matched for/placed into adoption from 5 April 2015. Below, you will find a useful guide on what this means for you.

What SPL means for you as an employee

The Shared Parental Leave (SPL) legislation is designed to give new and adopting parents greater flexibility to share care between each other. This replaces the current Additional Paternity Leave provisions.

The legislation enables new and adopting parents to share time off work after a new baby is born or an adopted child is placed with parents and may encourage partners of birth mothers/adoptive mothers to share the responsibility for child care during weeks 3-52 of adoption/materrnity leave and may help women return to work more quickly from adoption/maternity if they wish to do so.

SPL pay, however, is for 37 weeks at the statutory rate. For working women who have any additional contractual maternity pay above the statutory SMP provisions, they may not choose the SLP option as it would not be financially advantageous to do so.

Click here for detailed information about Shared Parental Leave from Gov.uk

What you need to know as an employer:

  • All employers should draft a Shared Parental Leave (SPL) policy and at the same time, remove all Additional Paternity Leave policies from their Employee Handbook
  • The drafting should be done by someone either internally or externally who is an Employment Law or HR professional or be checked by an Employment Law or HR professional
  • The SPL policy need not be complicated or long. It should contain information on Shared Parental Leave, such as what it entails, the entitlements under the legislation, the qualifiying period and what an employee needs to do to request the leave

Information on which to base a SPL policy can be found at the following website addresses:

www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/shared-parental-leave

ACAS

Once the draft policy has either been drafted byor ‘okayed’ by an Employment Law or HR professional, employers should inform their employees of the draft policy, give a short period of time for any comments, and then implement.

Do you have any questions regarding Shared Parental Leave?

We have a specialist team of very experienced HR & Employment Law solicitors at Taylor Bracewell. Our expert senior employment law solicitors and HR Consultant in Sheffield, as well as our Senior Employment Solicitor in Doncaster, will provide you with skilful guidance and advice on any aspect of Shared Parental Leave, as an employer or an employee.

Our Bulletproof Protection Plan has been designed to make it as simple as possible for you to manage the demands of ever changing employment law. The plan can also shield your business against the cost of any future claims, via our tailored insurance.

If you require any advice or support in HR & Employment Law matters, either in Sheffield or Doncaster, please contact sara@taylorbracewell.co.uk or any other member of our HR & Employment Law Team on hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

You can call us on 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield and 01302 341 414 in Doncaster.

Zero Hours Contracts | Myths vs Reality

Zero Hours Contracts have become a political hot potato in the run-up to the general election, but what are the facts surrounding these types of contracts?

With the general election almost upon us and each political party aiming to win the hearts and minds of the nation, zero hours contracts have become a more hotly-debated topic than ever.

Ed Miliband has announced plans that, under a new Labour government, any worker on a zero hours contract for over 12 weeks would be automatically entitled to become an employee with all the rights this entails.

And there is the crux of it: What status does a zero hours contract worker hold? Is that person an employee with an employment contract?

“A zero hours contract is essentially a casual work relationship”, says Debbie Mactaggart, Senior Employment Solicitor in Sheffield and Doncaster. “People on zero hours arrangements usually fall within the worker category, which means they have more limited legal protection than employees. The main protection that employees get, however, is the right not to be unfairly dismissed and you need two years’ employment before that kicks in. It is therefore possible that the reason Employment Tribunals don’t see many zero hours contracts cases is that many workers on these contracts do not have regular work for more than two years so the question of what they are in law is not tested because claims are not being made.”

Status is clearly a great cause for confusion. According to a 2013 CIPD report:

“Almost two-thirds of employers (64%) classify zero-hours staff as employees, whereas only just less than a fifth (19%) describes them as workers. Only 3% of employers classify their zero-hours contract workers as self-employed. Perhaps reflecting the confusion that surrounds the employment status of zero-hours contract staff, 7% of employers have not classified their status and a similar proportion (7%) don’t know. The remaining 6% say that they employ zero-hours contracts on a variety of these arrangements.”

Are zero hours contracts all ‘bad’ and skewed in favour of the employer?

Zero hours contracts have, especially in high profile stories we see in the news, been used by employers taking advantage of the confusion these contracts still cause.

Confusion over the status and rights of zero hours workers has led to much of the controversy surrounding this type of employment. The recent legal settlement in the case brought by former Sports Direct zero hours contract worker Zahera Gabriel-Abraham means that Sports Direct now have to be very clear about what it means to be a zero hours worker in their business: from job adverts, to contracts, to their policies and how these are communicated to those working on zero hours contracts and to the managers in the retail stores that employ those staff, the settlement will ensure that there is now clarity for the 20,000 Sports Direct staff who work on zero hours contracts.

One industry where zero hours contracts are prevalent and can often lead to workers being at a disadvantage is the care industry. According to the 2013 CIPD report, care/social workers are the second-highest category of workers on zero hours contracts, representing nearly 20% of job roles for which employers use zero hours contracts.

“I have seen care workers employed on so-called zero hours contracts that clearly aren’t zero hours contracts; it’s just a way for their employers to avoid paying them for all the hours they work. There is a big issue in the care industry, caused by the way the businesses themselves are paid. Because they are not paid enough per call to enable them to pay staff appropriately, they try to circumvent the national minimum wage by using zero hours contracts, not paying for travelling etc”, says Debbie Mactaggart.

Sara Ellison, Head of HR & Employment based in our Sheffield office, agrees that the issue is around how zero hours contracts are used. “The problem and the bad press zero hours contracts get is due to some employers issuing zero hours contracts but then treating those engaged on them as employees but without the additional benefits and protection employees have. Recent issues have involved employers trying to include exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts, which completely goes against what they are designed to do.”

She adds “Zero hours contracts can be of huge benefit to those employers who have seasonal work, e.g. catering, events, etc. Naturally, they will have more work around Christmas, for example, and zero hours contracts allow them to rely on workers they have used before for the short period of time they are needed.”

Employers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from zero hours contracts, when these are administered correctly. According to the 2013 CIPD report, although flexibility to respond to fluctuations in demand is the main reason employers use these contracts, almost half of all employers who use zero hours contracts do so in order to provide flexibility for the employees concerned. About the same number of employees on such contracts are satisfied with the arrangement, though 27% of zero hours contract workers are dissatisfied at not having minimum contracted working hours.

Some facts & figures about zero hours contracts, from the Office of National Statistics (ONS):

  • The number of people who have a zero hours contract for their ‘main job’ is on the rise. Zero hours contracts represented 1.9% of all people in employment from October to December in 2013, versus 2.3% of all people in employment for the same period in 2014.
  • It is, however, not possible to say how much of this increase is due to greater recognition rather than new contracts, as not everyone understands or recognises the term.
  • The average zero hours contract worker works 25 hours per week.
  • Zero hours contracts are more prevalent amongst women, those in full-time education and those working part-time. They are also more widespread among those aged under 25 or over 65.

Zero hours contracts can be a legal minefield for employers and, whilst they are not necessarily as ‘bad’ as they might be seen to be in public opinion, they need to be managed carefully to ensure they are used for the right reasons and are fair to all concerned.

Do you currently employ, or are you thinking about employing, staff on zero hours contracts? Are you a worker on a zero hours contract unsure of your rights?

Our specialist team of very experienced HR & Employment Law solicitors can help. With expert senior employment law solicitors and our HR Consultant in Sheffield as well as a Senior Employment Solicitor in Doncaster, we will provide you with skilful guidance and advice on any aspect of zero hours contracts or other areas of HR & Employment law.

If you require any advice or support in HR & Employment Law matters, either in Sheffield or Doncaster, please contact our HR & Employment Law Team on hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

You can call us on 0114 2721884 in Sheffield and 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

What the Jeremy Clarkson ‘Fracas’ can teach us about Employment Law

Sara Ellison, Head of Employment Law at Taylor Bracewell comments on the Employment Law issues surrounding the Jeremy Clarkson media frenzy.

With workplace disputes and particularly those that involve violence or derogatory comments and acts, the likelihood is that these actions will amount to gross misconduct.

It should not, however, be presumed that it is definitely gross misconduct and a fair procedure should be followed in all cases.

As I listened to the Chris Evans Breakfast Show this morning, Chris commented on how he had been given 1:6 odds of being Clarkson’s replacement despite having no knowledge he was in the running or even having the desire to want his job.

Whilst I found this very funny, it does highlight how important fair and due process is when contemplating disciplinary action and how suspension, which should be a neutral act, should be only be used when absolutely necessary.

Whilst the BBC have suspended Jeremy Clarkson pending investigation into the alleged incident, there appears to be an assumption that he has been dismissed hence the online petition calling for his reinstatement.

His suspension should be discreet and confidential until an investigation has been completed to determine what, if any action needs to be taken next. Likewise the employee is also expected to not disclose damaging information that could make it difficult to facilitate his return to the workplace. Clarkson’s comments to the press that he is “off to the Job Centre” will not have helped his cause.

In a high profile case such as this one, the employer is in a difficult position whereby their actions are being scrutinised by millions of people – no pressure then!

The event was initially reported as a ‘fracas’ with the BBC issuing a very low-key comment:

‘Following a fracas with a BBC producer, Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation. No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday. The BBC will be making no further comment at this time.’

The press at large, however, is now reporting on this issue as though it has been established as fact that Jeremy punched a producer on the Top Gear team.

Getting a disciplinary process wrong could lead to expensive claims of unfair or constructive dismissal, breach of contract and possibly discrimination in some circumstances.

Taylor Bracewell once assisted a client during a disciplinary process where one employee had pulled another employee’s pants down very publicly in the workplace.

It would have been easy to assume that it was gross misconduct as the event happened so publicly and wasn’t open to speculation. It was, however, still important for the employer to suspend the employee concerned and investigate, as the full facts behind what had happened were not known at the time.

As it turned out, the person involved raised a grievance, so the employer, with support from our Employment Law & HR team, heard the grievance in the first instance, then investigated the matter fully before taking appropriate action.

Our client did the right thing by seeking professional legal advice to ensure they followed a fair and correct procedure in this case.

Do you need advice on an Employment Law / HR matter?

Sara Ellison is the Head of the Taylor Bracewell / Taylor Bracewell HR & Employment Law team.

With expert senior employment law solicitors and our HR Consultant in Sheffield as well as a Senior Employment Solicitor in Doncaster we will provide you with skilful guidance and advice on any aspect of HR and Employment Law.

Our Bulletproof Protection Plan has been designed to make it as simple as possible for you to manage the demands of ever changing employment law. The plan can also shield your business against the cost of any future claims, via our tailored insurance.

If you require any advice regarding disciplinary procedures, or any other advice or support in HR & Employment Law matters, either in Sheffield or Doncaster, please contact Sara Ellison on sara@taylorbracewell.co.uk or any other member of our HR & Employment Law Team on 0114 2721884 in Sheffield or 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

Image: By Tony Harrison [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Discrimination in the Workplace | Sex, Pregnancy and Working Mums

Backlash against Conservative MP

Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP has faced a back-lash this week for questioning whether Rachael Reeves, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, would be fit to be a member of the Government Cabinet on her return from maternity leave following the birth of her second child if Labour were elected to Government in May.

Politicians from all parties have denounced Mr Rosindell’s views.

Pregnant women and employees on maternity leave are protected from discrimination in the workplace under the Equalities Act 2010.

Employers risk tribunal claims for sex discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, unfair or constructive dismissal and bullying and harassment if they discriminate against women based on their gender, because they are pregnant or because they are on maternity leave.

How to avoid discriminating against pregnant women and employees on maternity leave

  • Have up to date and fair Maternity Leave (and Adoption Leave) and Shared Parental Leave policies and procedures in place and use them!
  • Make your employees aware of the policies and procedures
  • Respond to maternity leave requests in compliance with employment law, talk to your employee
  • Carry out pregnancy risk assessments for pregnant employees and take reasonable measures to reduce risks
  • Support pregnant employees to take their statutory paid time off for ante-natal appointments
  • Have a fair Flexible Working policy in place, consider flexible working requests fairly and respond to these
  • Communicate with your employee when she is on adoption/maternity leave about any changes at work
  • When making decisions about redundancies, pregnant employees and those on maternity leave have particular protections and must be considered for any alternative employment above other employees
  • Ensure that employees on maternity leave are aware that they accrue annual leave, pension and other benefits during maternity leave
  • Mutually agree how best to manage accrual of annual leave

Case Study – Sara Ellison, Head of HR & Employment at Taylor Bracewell / Taylor Bracewell in Sheffield and Doncaster

I studied to the point of securing my law degree and then I started work at Irwin Mitchell’s as a legal advisor. Once I became a paralegal at Watson Esam I then embarked on the ILEX route studying whilst working. I returned from maternity leave in November 2013 having had almost 12 months off but I had used many of my KIT days and had generally kept in touch with my colleagues so coming back was a good experience.

I initially found it quite difficult to balance a 3 day working week but following securing a promotion to Head of Department within 1 year of being back, I have increased my working week to 4 days. My experience is that having a child has had no detriment on my career whatsoever, in fact quite the opposite, I feel more engaged than ever, but that is helped by the Firm I work for. Taylor Bracewell offer flexibility and have provided the resources to enable working from home which helps me manage my work without sacrificing my time with my family. Employers who offer more flexibility and support will be those employers who are able to remove inequality in the work place. Removing inequality is about changing mindsets as well as looking at physical changes.

Having a young family can have its logistical problems if there are additional work commitments and little family support. This year, however, will see the introduction of government childcare vouchers which will make childcare costs easier to handle but employers can also look at providing these and for larger companies even looking at creche facilities may also assist in removing some of the difficult practical issues. All of these encourage women to return to work.

Other relevant articles you may find useful:

Shared Parental Leave
Shared Parental Leave – Are you ready?
Time off for Dependents
ACAS information about Sex Discrimination

Do you have any questions regarding Workplace Discrimination?

We have a specialist team of very experienced HR & Employment Law solicitors at Taylor Bracewell/Taylor Bracewell. Our expert senior employment law solicitors and HR Consultant in Sheffield, as well as our Senior Employment Solicitor in Doncaster, will provide you with skilful guidance and advice on any aspect of HR and Employment Law.

Our Bulletproof Protection Plan has been designed to make it as simple as possible for you to manage the demands of ever changing employment law. The plan can also shield your business against the cost of any future claims, via our tailored insurance.

If you require any advice or support in HR & Employment Law matters, either in Sheffield or Doncaster, please contact jo@taylorbracewell.co.uk or any other member of our HR & Employment Law Team on hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

You can call us on 0114 2721884 in Sheffield and 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

LGBT History Month | Avoid Workplace Discrimination

Doncaster and Sheffield Senior Employment Lawyer Debbie Mactaggart explains how to avoid falling foul of discrimination law.

The film, ‘Love is Strange’ opens with wedding plans and a wedding.

Shortly after the wedding, the main wage earner in the couple is dismissed from work because this is a gay couple and the employer doesn’t accept gay marriage.

That is discrimination and would be unlawful in the UK but in LGBT History Month we are reminded that, although there have been changes to avoid discrimination in the workplace, there is still a long way to go.

Often the legal rights are there but the employee feels inhibited, for various reasons, from enforcing them.

Put simply, it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their sexuality. The statement is simple but, as with everything, in practice this can mean dealing with ingrained behaviours and beliefs.

Employers need to consider the following:

  • Work place banter’: Jokes’ or remarks about sexuality can amount to harassment and can create an offensive environment. An Equality Policy can assist as can training to ensure staff understand their rights and your expectations of behaviour;
  • Ensuring confidentiality: There may be occasions where it is necessary for an employee to disclose information about their sexuality, such as providing details of a partner as their next of kin. This information should be kept to those who need to know. The employee may wish to keep details of their sexuality private.
  • Family-friendly benefits: Do they cover employees of all sexual orientations or do they make presumptions about a family? A shared parental leave policy for example should include provision for same sex partnerships.

Many of the cases involving discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation arise because of the behaviour of colleagues. Once an Equality Policy has been implemented and the employees understand and have received training on the behaviours required, if there are employees who refuse to change unacceptable behaviour enforcing change becomes a disciplinary matter.

How can we help?

We have a specialist team of very experienced HR & Employment Law solicitors at Taylor Bracewell / Taylor Bracewell. With expert senior employment law solicitors and our HR Consultant in Sheffield as well as a Senior Employment Solicitor in Doncaster we will provide you with skilful guidance and advice on any aspect of HR and Employment Law.

If you require any advice or support in setting up or updating your Equality Policy or for any other HR & Employment Law matters, either in Sheffield or Doncaster, please contact debbie@taylorbracewell.co.uk or any other member of our HR & Employment Law Team on hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

You can call us on 0114 2721884 in Sheffield and 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

Senior Doncaster and Sheffield Employment Solicitor quoted in The Times | File Encryption

Debbie Mactaggart, Senior Employment Solicitor at Taylor Bracewell, was quoted in The Times today.

Our newest Senior Employment Solicitor, Debbie Mactaggart, was recently interviewed for an article in The Times’s Raconteur supplement about digital security and file encryption.

The article was published in print and online today!

Find out Debbie’s views and experiences on digital encryption of client files: Read the full article here: How safe are files from hackers?

How Can We Help?

We have a specialist team of very experienced HR & Employment Law solicitors at Taylor Bracewell / Taylor Bracewell. With expert senior employment law solicitors and our HR Consultant in Sheffield as well as a Senior Employment Solicitor in Doncaster we will provide you with skilful guidance and advice on any aspect of HR and Employment Law.

If you require any advice or support in HR & Employment Law matters, either in Sheffield or Doncaster, please contact debbie@taylorbracewell.co.uk or any other member of our HR & Employment Law Team on employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk

You can call us on 0114 2721884 in Sheffield and 01302 341414 in Doncaster.

Collective Redundancies Update

According to a recent Opinion by Nils Wahl, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the term establishment’ in the Collective Redundancies Directive must be interpreted as meaning the unit to which the workers made redundant are assigned to carry out their duties’.

This interpretation would mean that the trigger for collective consultation obligations would be the redundancy of 20 or more staff in one establishment rather than the redundancy of 20 staff across all of the employer’s establishments.

Advocate General Wahl’s opinion was given during the ECJ’s consideration of the EAT’s decision in the Woolworths case, where it was decided that the term at one establishment’ should be disregarded if redundancies were to effect 20 people or more. While Advocate General Wahl’s opinion is not final if the ECJ agrees it could result in a reversal of this decision.

We will of course follow this case closely and provide an update in due course.

For advice and information on handling redundancies or any other employment or HR issue, please contact us on 0114 272 1884 or email hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

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, 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!

For expert and specialist advice on any HR or employment law matter and in particular, the effective management of mental wellbeing in the workplace, please contact us on 0114 272 1884 or email hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk. Taylor Bracewell is a niche firm of HR & Employment Law experts based in Sheffield and Doncaster. We will skilfully and knowledgeably guide you through every HR & Employment law issue regardless of the level of complexity.

Mental Health, HR & Employment Law

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

The mental health charity, Time To Change are holding this year’s Time To Talk Day on Thursday 5 February 2015, encouraging us all to take 5 minutes to talk about mental health issues.

Jill Miller, a researcher advisor with the CIPD recently wrote a blog in which she referred to the latest CIPD Absence Management Survey which evidenced that 2 out of 5 employers cited an increase in mental health reports. Jill Miller also blogged that 1 in 6 workers are dealing with a mental health problem. According to her:

“Overall it’s now estimated that 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health issue at some point in our working lives we talk about physical health quite freely, so why can’t we talk about mental health in the workplace? That’s why Time to Talk day is incredibly important, as it encourages more awareness about mental health issues and the ways in which we can support ourselves and others.”

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 and mania. I currently advise and guide managers and businesses on how to respond to employees who are experiencing mental health difficulties.

At Taylor Bracewell HR & Employment Law firm, we are very passionate about raising mental health awareness. In December 2014, vastly experienced Employment Lawyer and Head of Departmemt, Sara Ellison and I ran a HR Forum event focussed on Employee Wellbeing in Sheffield. We addressed some of the issues usually avoided in organisations. Two guest speakers also talked about different aspects of employee wellbeing:

  • David Bell, Waypoint Training Manager, Sheffield Alcohol Support Service talked about Alcohol Dependency and Wellbeing;
  • Rob Lawson, Training Co-ordinator, Sheffield Mind, talked about Mental Health and Wellbeing from a professional and personal perspective;

75% of attendees were very satisfied with the Forum event and 25% were satisfied. One attendee fed back that “this has been the best HR and Employment Law event I have attended. I really enjoyed it!”

So as we celebrate Time To Talk Day, let us all take time out to think about our mental health wellbeing as well as our colleagues and most importantly, employees within your organisation.

Happy Time To Talk Day!

Our specialist HR & Employment law firm, Taylor Bracewell HR & Employment Law, is based in Sheffield and Doncaster. Our experts boast many years of experience and an enviable wealth of knowledge. Contact us today on 0114 272 1884 or hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk and we will skilfully guide you towards achieving the best result for you and your company.