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The Coronavirus Act

Reggie Lloyd
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On 25 March 2020 the Coronavirus Act became law. One of its purposes is to ease the burden of frontline staff, both within the NHS and beyond. It provides for Emergency Volunteer Leave. The Act sets out a new statutory right for workers to take emergency...

COVID-19: Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

Julie Temple
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The Chancellor announced on 26 March 2020 direct cash grants to the self-employed. This is 80% of the average monthly trading profit over the last three years and up to £2,500 per month for at least 3 months.  About the Self-Employed Income...

Covid-19: Summary guidance for employees

Julie Temple
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Entitlement to pay and sick pay If you are ready, willing and able to work but for whatever reason are not provided with work or are sent home you are, in principle, entitled to full pay. If you are unwell you will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)...

Extension of IR35 postponed

Julie Temple
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The Chief Secretary to the Treasury announced on 17 March 2020 that the extension of the off-payroll working rules and IR35 will be postponed to 6 April 2021 . Broadly, IR35 was introduced to ensure that those who worked like employees paid broadly the...

Covid-19: Summary guidance for employers

Julie Temple
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  Entitlement to pay and sick pay If an employee is ready, willing and able to work, but for whatever reason the employer does not provide them with work or sends them home they are, in principle, entitled to full pay. If they are unwell they are...

Increased compensation limits for employment tribunals

Julie Temple
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From 6 April 2020, new increased compensation limits for employment tribunals will come into force. Under the provisions of the Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2019, the increases include a revised figure of £538 (currently £525) for...

Reforms to the off-payroll working rules

Julie Temple
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Government, on 27 February 2020, confirmed the reforms to the off-payroll working rules will be introduced from 6 April 2020. Nothing new there then. It has already been announced that the changes will apply only to services provided on or after 6 April...

Coronavirus guidance for employers

Julie Temple
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The Prime Minister has said coronavirus could spread 'significantly' and, potentially, a fifth of the workforce could be off sick at its peak. I understand the situation is of growing concern to individuals and employers alike.  At work, both...

Parental leave decision

Julie Temple
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Last year, in the case of Chief Constable of Leicestershire v Hextall, the Court of Appeal decided that it was not discriminatory to pay men on shared parental leave less than a woman received whilst on maternity leave. Hextall asked for permission to...

IR35: Government announces review into off-payroll working

Charlotte Holman
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The government has announced that it is launching a review into the implementation of changes to the off-payroll working rules. In an official statement, it said, ‘the review will determine if any further steps can be taken to ensure the smooth and...

Ethical veganism is a "philosophical belief" rules Tribunal

Charlotte Holman
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A Tribunal has determined that ethical veganism is a ‘philosophical belief’ and is capable of protection from discrimination. Jordi Casamitjana, an ethical vegan, claims that he was treated less favourably by his employer because of his...

Tupe applies to workers as well as employees

Reggie Lloyd
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The definition of 'employee' in TUPE is "an individual who works for another person whether under a contract of service or apprenticeship or otherwise..." In a judgement published yesterday, an employment tribunal held that the Acquired...

How much for legal advice on a settlement agreement?

Reggie Lloyd
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Often queries are raised when a solicitor is asked to sign a settlement agreement and they give a fee quote of £500 or more to do that work. It is sometimes assumed that the solicitor merely has to “rubber stamp” the agreement by signing...

Garden leave and restrictive covenants

Julie Temple
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Just over a year ago, I worked my last day at a firm I had worked at for 13 years. I had given notice and, in accordance with my contract, I was put on garden leave. I wasn’t able to say goodbye to clients how I wanted. I wasn’t able to hand...

Relationships in the workplace - what are your rights?

Julie Temple
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According to news reports, McDonalds has fired its chief executive for having a relationship with an employee. This relationship was in breach of its policy on conflict of interest. The reports don’t give any details about the other employee, but they...

Are you liable for your employees out of hours?

Julie Temple
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A recent case concluded that a business was not liable for a private social media post made by an employee out of hours and using their own equipment. We discussed the implications of this case at recent HR Forums and the reaction was, it’s fair to...

Banning out-of-hours email 'could harm employee wellbeing'

Julie Temple
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The University of Sussex has recently reported that banning out-of-hours email could actually be more harmful to some employees. They concluded, as I suspect most will have anticipated, that preventing access to work emails out of hours may help some but...

Contract termination: legal battle with Rugby Australia

David Feakins
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Israel Folau, a rugby player who was recently sacked by Rugby Australia following his homophobic comments made on social media, has had a controversial GoFundMe page shut down. Folau had his contract terminated by Rugby Australia in May, after he said,...

Supporting employees in the LGBT community

Julie Temple
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In recent times, gender pay, sexual harassment and especially mental health in the workplace have been under the spotlight for good reason and with positive effect. However, there is always more to be done and always other things which are just outside or...

Automatic unfair dismissal

Reggie Lloyd
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In most cases an employee must have acquired 2 years’ continuous service before they can make a claim for unfair dismissal. This is commonly known as “ordinary” unfair dismissal. However, there are over 25 exceptions to that rule where an...

Women in law: Progression to Partner

Julie Temple
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Julie Temple , Partner and Head of BLHR and Employment team at Birkett Long, tells us about her career in law, what has changed, and what needs to continue. When did you start your career in law? My career in law began when I started at Birkett Long...

Employment Tribunal compensation limits increase

Charlotte Holman
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From 6 April 2019, new increased compensation limits for employment tribunals will come into force. Under the provisions of the Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2019, the increases include a revised figure of £525 (currently £508) for...

Morrisons faces equal pay backlash

Charlotte Holman
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Female employees are claiming that they are not paid the same as male workers who are doing comparable jobs at supermarket giant Morrisons. The claims which are being made relate to the difference in pay between employees who work on the shop floor, who are...

Protection against redundancy for expectant and new parents

Julie Temple
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On 25 January 2019, the government launched a consultation on plans to tackle pregnancy and maternity discrimination. This is part of a series of measures being considered following the so-called Taylor Review. The consultation proposes to require...

Regulations coming into force

Julie Temple
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The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 come into force on 6 April 2020.  The Regulations implement some changes recommended in the ‘Good Work Plan’ published on 17 December 2018. So...

Directors are often also workers and employees

Alan Massenhove
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It can easily be overlooked that in England & Wales a person who is an executive director of a company will often also be a worker, under the Working Time Regulations 1998 and an employee of the company, under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and various...

How hot is too hot for UK workers?

Amy Scholtka
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“Unions say action needed to protect UK workers in heatwave’’    The Trade Union Congress is pushing for a legal maximum temperature in the workplace, with a high of 30 degrees for indoor work environments and 27 degrees...

National Minimum Wage (NMW)

Reggie Lloyd
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This month has seen two significant National Minimum Wage (NMW) issues in the headlines. On 6 July the gov.uk website stated that a record 22,400 workers would receive millions in back pay and on 13 July the Court of Appeal in Mencap and Tomlinson-Blake...

Parental bereavement: leave and pay

Charlotte Holman
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Parliament has passed a new law this week, dubbed ‘Will’s Bill’ in honour of the campaigning carried out by Colchester MP Will Quince. The Bill creates a statutory right to time off work for employed parents, with pay, where eligibility...

Auto-Enrolment - Minimum pension contributions increase

Charlotte Holman
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Under the Pensions Act 2008, the minimum pension contributions by both employers and staff are required to increase over time.  Currently the employer’s minimum contribution rate is 1% alongside the staff contribution rate which is set at 1%....

Discrimination towards pregnant women in the work place - are they a burden?

Charlotte Holman
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The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (the EHRC) survey reveals a worrying trend in employers’ attitudes towards the rights of pregnant women and new mothers. The EHRC has published the results of a survey with the aim of trying to...

A chill wind blows into employee relations...

Charlotte Holman
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With heavy snowfall across the country following the arrival of the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma, we are told to expect continued travel disruptions along with school and office closures. But what do the adverse weather conditions mean...

Employees prefer alternative working arrangements

Charlotte Holman
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Recent research published by YouGov has revealed that if workers had a choice they would prefer their working day to start and finish earlier, rather than work what has become the conventional ‘9 to 5’ pattern. This is not surprising in view of...

Gig economy - workers' rights to be enforced

Reggie Lloyd
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In response to last year's Taylor Review into working practices, the government has promised an overhaul of employment rights to improve conditions for those in the gig economy. The Business Secretary, Greg Clark, said the measures would "address...

Mental health and the workplace

Reggie Lloyd
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In October 2017, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Health published a review of mental health and employers. The review was written by Paul Farmer (the chief executive of Mind) and Dennis Stevenson (the former HBOS chair). They...

Tesco and Sainsbury's make changes which will cause job cuts!

Charlotte Holman
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This week both Tesco and Sainsbury’s announced changes to their business models which included a high number of job cuts; but what does this mean for those employees who now face the potential prospect of losing their jobs? Given that the number of...

The Controversy of Being Neutral

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The recent judgment of Achbita v G4S Secure Solutions NV C-157-15 on Tuesday 14 March 2017, saw the conclusion of the controversial case regarding prohibiting the wearing of headscarves for religious reasons in the workplace. Ms Samira Achbita was a...

Hot or Cold

Liz O'Mahony
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As Britain exceeds over 32c today a proposal has been made by MP’s to pass a law advising employers that if the temperatures should rise above 30c they should send their employees home. The proposal has been raised in a parliamentary motion lead by...

IDS, NLW, NMW, CBI and ROFL

Martin Hopkins
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In a surprise move yesterday George Osborne announced the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW). This will apply from April 2016 to workers aged 25 and over. The rate will be £7.20 per hour increasing to an estimated £9 per hour plus by...

Christian health worker says NHS made her 'look crazy'

Tim Ogle
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‘Christian health worker says the NHS made her look crazy’ A Christian health worker has said she was made to look “a bit crazy” when an NHS trust disciplined her for allegedly trying to convert a Muslim colleague. Miss Wasteney...

Employment law issues of the Jeremy Clarkson affair

Tim Ogle
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1. Was he employed by the BBC? 2. Assuming he was, the non renewal of a fixed term contract is a dismissal in law and therefore a sacking it was. 3. If the facts widely reported are true then a dismissal is, legally at least, not a surprising result, and...

Changes to flexible working

Tim Ogle
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It was announced on Wednesday that, from 30 June 2014, any employee with 26 weeks service can make an application to work flexibly.  Currently only parents of children under 17, or 18 if disabled, can make such an application. The basic right...

Equal Pay Act claims finally reach the private sector?

Martin Hopkins
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In a development which I have been warning my large employer clients about for some years, it seems that employees in the private sector are finally waking up to the potential to bring Equal Pay Act claims against their private sector employers. Over 400...

Will the Labour government abolish tribunal fees?

Tim Ogle
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I see today that there is Twitter talk about a Labour government abolishing employment tribunal fees… This has been something of a contentious part of the government’s recent tribunal reforms, with detractors saying that they are a barrier to...

Employment Tribunal Compulsory Conciliation rules

Tim Ogle
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The Employment Tribunal Compulsory Conciliation rules have been published, confirming that early conciliation will come into force on 6th April 2014. Under the new rules, claimants will need to contact Acas before issuing a tribunal claim, albeit there is...

Newsflash: Unison's challenge of tribunal fees rejected by High Court

Reggie Lloyd
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Unison’s challenge to the lawfulness of the introduction of tribunal fees is rejected by the High Court. The Court said that proceedings will be expensive but not to the extent that bringing claims will be virtually impossible or excessively difficult....

Unemployment in the East of England is falling

Tim Ogle
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It is good to see that unemployment in our region has fallen by 23,000. The government will no doubt say that this is due to the growth stimulus measures that have put in place recently, designed to encourage employers to take employees on without the fear...

Zero hours contracts - "a fair deal"

Tim Ogle
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I see that following the BIS’s information gathering on zero hours contracts, Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, has announced that the Government will launch a consultation on tackling suspected abuse, to ensure that employees get ‘a fair...

Rugby team heavily beaten

Tim Ogle
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Zero hours contracts are much in the news right now, but I certainly didn’t expect them to get on to the sports field. Apparently, part of the reason why Holyhead recently lost 181-0 to Llanidloes in the welsh rugby Swalec Div 3 North game was because...

New employment tribunal rules

Tim Ogle
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Most of the new employment tribunal rules will come into force on 29 July 2013, including fees for claimants to pay when presenting a claim. Will the introduction of fees for the first time in this way continue the downward trend of the number of tribunal...

The all-new, improved employment contract

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As part of the Government’s move to try to make things easier for employers and to get the economy moving, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has announced a new idea – the “Owner-Employee” contract. This is a new type...

Working overtime for no pay? You've spent the first part of this year working every day for free!

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Today, 24 February 2012, is the TUC’s “Work Your Proper Hours Day”. So if you often work unpaid overtime, and you worked all your unpaid overtime at the beginning of the year instead of spreading it out across the whole year, apparently you...

1,000 jobs feared to be lost in Essex

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Petroplus, the owner of the Coryton oil refinery in Essex, has appointed administrators following its Swiss parent company filing for insolvency proceedings. They employ hundreds in our region and supply around 20% of fuel for London and the South East. ...

Vince Cable announces proposals for biggest employment law shakeup in decades

Tim Ogle
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In an attempt to help businesses keep staff and employ others from the growing unemployment register, and after months of rumour, Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced the Government’s proposals for what is claimed to be the biggest shakeup of...

Solicitors and gay parenting

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I have just finished reading an article written by a solicitor about his experience of becoming a first time parent, via international surrogacy. He explains that he had not come out at work before the surrogacy process started. When he did, whilst his firm...

Challenge the red tape!

Tim Ogle
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We have all moaned about Red Tape and how it is preventing us from driving forward our businesses…but now is our chance to act! The Government has opened a three week consultation period for employment legislation under its ‘Red Tape...

Leading tomorrow's solicitors down a different path

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As someone that was fortunate enough to be given a training contract, and a job at the end of it, I do not envy those looking to a career in law in what is undeniably a highly contracted job market. Law firms of all sizes are reducing the amount of training...

Government update - employment changes?

Tim Ogle
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Interesting that as the Labour party talks about rewarding “good ” businesses and punishing “bad” ones, the Government has published on the internet (but not yet in any sort of press release) proposals to deregulate business.  ...

One notice period but two (unfair) dismissals?

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The EAT has held, in the case of M-Choice UK Ltd v Miss A, that where an employee is summarily dismissed whilst on notice then the summary dismissal trumps the notice period. The point had arisen because if the notice had run to its logical conclusion then...

Stigma Damages for dismissed NotW employees?

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Although no longer in circulation, the News of the World continues to dominate headlines both at home and abroad. Whilst I do not wish to make general comment I would like to discuss an interesting point, from an employment law perspective, of ex-NotW...

Different retirement ages for us all?

Tim Ogle
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Over the next few years, the state retirement is due to be harmonised between men and women, and increased for all. However, listening to Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago, I heard that some eminent thinkers believe that there shouldn’t be a fixed state...

"Just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love"

Reggie Lloyd
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Many taxpayers will despair at the news that the European Court of Human Rights has ordered the UK Government to present formal statements in four religious discrimination cases that have already gone through the English Employment Tribunals and Courts. ...

MEPs propose 20 weeks maternity leave at full pay

Martin Hopkins
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I note with interest, and some incredulity, the latest proposal coming out of the European Parliament that paid maternity leave be extended to 20 weeks full pay for employees in all member states. At a time when a number of European countries have crippling...

Summer Work and 'Interns': case update

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Summer is on its way (ignoring the odd shower) and that means the season of the ‘intern’ is here.  For many, unpaid work can be a fully rewarding and enjoyable experience, building confidence and affording the opportunity to make contacts...

Sickness absence going down

Tim Ogle
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I see from a sickness absence survey that from 2007 to 2010 there has been a steady fall in sickness absence, with the average employee now taking 5.0 days’ sickness in 2010 compared to 6.7 days in 2007, and 45% of employees took no days off through...

Don't waste your time!

Reggie Lloyd
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Employees thinking about taking their employer or ex employer to a tribunal should get legal advice on the merits (and potential value) of their claim from a qualified lawyer first. This would weed out the majority of weak cases or at least increase the...

Does everybody have the right to a double bed?

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The hotel that denied a gay couple a double room for the night has now been told that this was unlawful discrimination. The hotel owners argued that they did not refuse the couple the room because they were gay but because of their views as Christians about...

Are we protecting older employees in the future at the expense of those currently over 65?

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It appears to me that this is exactly what the Coalition Government is doing. It wants to protect older employees and so from October 2011 the Government is abolishing the default retirement age of 65, making it more difficult for employers to dismiss their...