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Employment

How the furlough scheme works for office holders and LLP members

Tracey Dickens
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On 4 April 2020, the government updated its guidance for employers in relation to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which enables employers to claim for employee wages, up to specified limits. The updated guidance addresses office holders, company...

COVID-19: how employers can reclaim Statutory Sick Pay

Reggie Lloyd
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The government will shortly set up an online service employers can use to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). HMRC will announce when the service is available and SSP guidance will be updated. The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay...

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...

Directors' personal liability - breach of employment contract

Tracey Dickens
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There are a number of circumstances where directors can be subject to personal liability arising from their wrongdoing while managing a company. These can include: breach of duties under the Companies Act 2006 wrongful trading under the Insolvency Act...

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...

Presenteeism - an increasing challenge for employers

Julie Temple
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Two recent reports, one by Vitality in January 2019 and one by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in April 2019, have highlighted increases in so-called “presenteeism”.  Presenteeism refers to employees attending...

Trustees - More time off work?

Tim Field
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As a charity trustee it can often be difficult to find the time to juggle your job, personal and family life along with the strict duties involved in being a trustee. In order to address this problem a group of MPs have put forward a proposed amendment to...

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...

Annual increases to family leave and sick pay

Julie Temple
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The following payment increases are expected to take effect from: 6 April 2019: statutory sick pay from £92.05 to £94.25 per week. 7 April 2019; statutory maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay and adoption pay from...

Cyclist failed to prove she was an employee or worker

Julie Temple
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There has been an increasing number of high-profile cases in recent years considering whether individuals are employees, workers or self-employed. Most have gone in favour of the individual, lending some weight to the idea (which has increasing support in my...

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...

The National Minimum Wage

Reggie Lloyd
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In July, the gov.uk website stated that a record 22,400 workers would receive millions in back pay. Employers who pay workers less than NMW must pay back arrears of wages to the worker at current minimum wage rates and face financial penalties of up to 200%...

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...

NON COMPETE CLAUSES

Reggie Lloyd
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Businesses should protect themselves with a review of restrictive covenants regularly, to make sure they are appropriate to the role which the employee is carrying out. Businesses often put restrictive covenants and non-compete clauses in contracts of...

The right to be forgotten

Tracey Dickens
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The Government is ramping up its visibility of this new law. Failure to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation could result in your business receiving a heavy fine.  Businesses that deal with consumers need to: 1. Be aware that their...

Lodge your tribunal claim now!

Reggie Lloyd
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Many claimants will have been put off from issuing a Tribunal claim because of the fee to be paid. Tribunal fees were abolished in July by the Supreme Court, which held that the imposition of fees was unlawful. It is highly likely that...

PHE commissioned the ONS to analyse suicide statistics

Reggie Lloyd
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Public Health England (PHE) is an agency of the Department of Health, with a brief to advise and support government, local authorities and the NHS in a professionally independent manner. PHE is  responsible for making the public healthier and reducing...

Preferred route for new Lower Thames Crossing announced.

David Rayner
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On 12 April the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, announced the long-awaited decision on the preferred route for the new Lower Thames Crossing, saying that it could create more than 6,000 jobs and boost the economy by more than £8 billion. The new...

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...

The challenge of Christmas

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Unfortunately for the mental health sector, the festive season is the busiest time of year. Sadly, with so many things reminding us of the ones we love, Christmas can be very challenging for those who have experienced loss. The Government were recently...

2016 Legal 500 results are out!

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"A standout name in Essex" quoted by Legal 500 2016 for Birkett Long! This year has been a great success for Birkett Long, 3 of our partners have again been ranked as "Leading Individuals". These are Claire Read, Head of Wills, Trusts...

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...

Pawternity Leave

Reggie Lloyd
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A recent television programme set out to demonstrate that employees who took their pets to work performed better. A recent survey undertaken by a pet insurance company found that 1 in 20 new pet owners were offered time off work to look after a sick or a...

Starbucks in hot water after being successfully sued by employee

Martin Hopkins
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“I‘m sure I was not the only one to take an interest in the recent news about Starbucks being successfully sued by one of its employees for disability discrimination. Meseret Kumulchew brought a claim against Starbucks alleging disability...

Sports Direct National Minimum Wage

Reggie Lloyd
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Sports direct has been branded a bad advert for British business in a debate in the House of Commons and MPs are calling on HMRC to investigate. A Guardian investigation into working practices showed some of the staff were earning less than the national...

Junior doctor dispute to go to ACAS

Tim Ogle
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The news today reported that the junior doctor dispute is to go to talks at ACAS. ACAS will broker talks between the junior doctors and the government over the junior doctors’ contracts. This will be something of a challenge for ACAS , probably...

Zero Contract Hours are back in the news

Reggie Lloyd
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The government has just published the draft Exclusivity Terms in Zero-Hours Contracts Regulations and Guidance on zero hours contracts aimed at employers. The main thrust of the Regulations to prevent the individual doing other work for a different...

Uber driver - employment status

Martin Hopkins
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Claims against the taxi hailing app operator Uber have recently been issued in the Central London Employment Tribunal. Supported by the GMB union Uber drivers are claiming protection including entitlement to National Minimum Wage and holiday pay. The claims...

Mourinho Faces Legal Claim From Eva Carneiro

Reggie Lloyd
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It has been reported that Jose Mourinho and Chelsea FC are to be sued by Eva Carneiro for constructive dismissal and it seems sex discrimination. What is noteworthy about this case is that it is based on an incident where a football player, Eden Hazard, was...

Subway worker trapped in fridge overnight

Reggie Lloyd
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The BBC reported that a worker was trapped in a walk-in refrigerator overnight for 8 hours .  Her employers admitted breaching the Health & Safety at Work Act and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay over £2,000 in court costs. It seems...

UK jobless total shows 10,000 rise - but what does this mean?

Tim Ogle
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According to a BBC news article , pay is rising at its fastest rate since 2009 whilst unemployment has risen by 10,000.  This might indicate a shift in the labour market with an increasing turnover of staff, whether driven by employer or...

School pays maximum protective award to employees

Tim Ogle
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I see in a recent school case which had to close down due to falling numbers that the employer was liable for the maximum protective award of 90 days pay per employee for failing to consult over collective redundancies – that is to say a minimum...

McDonalds defend zero hours contracts

Tim Ogle
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McDonalds have come out and defended their use of zero hours contracts (ZHCs), saying that their staff appreciate the flexibility since they are given two weeks notice of their work schedules and are allowed to work elsewhere.  If this is indeed the...

Elite firms exclude bright working class

Liz O'Mahony
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Elite firms 'exclude bright working class' A recent news item – covered by BBC news – pointed out that the five of the elite London law firms showed a clear bias towards the privately educated at their partner/associate/trainee...

Firm faith - letting God run your company

Reggie Lloyd
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From a recent BBC article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33405579  it seems that, before a Chinese real estate company’s board makes important decisions they pray to God; the chairman saying that it is not him but God who is running the...

Carcraft and whistl stories

Martin Hopkins
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The recent decision to close the Carcraft second hand car company and to suspend operations at Whistl, the postal delivery business, reminded me that trading conditions in some industries continue to be difficult and that in the circumstances redundancies...

RMT strike

Martin Hopkins
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32705376 With the dust of the recent election nowhere near settled, the new Conservative government is already promising to follow through on one of its manifesto commitments.  It is not unusual for employment legislation...

Olympic mountain bike track opening to public

Tim Ogle
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Original news item  – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-32509850 I see that the London 2012 Olympic mountain bike track is opening to the public. That’s great, but you won’t see me there I’m afraid. I can only watch...

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 issues as haulage firm is put into administration

Tim Ogle
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I was disappointed to read on BBC news that Deben Transport has been put into administration with about 200 staff to be made redundant. That will trigger the minimum 45 day redundancy collective consultation obligations (once 90 days) and hopefully those...

Zero hours contracts - something of a political football

Tim Ogle
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Zero hours contracts (ZHC) have become something of a political football. They are either unfair and oppressive, exploiting vulnerable employees, or a necessary part of a flexible and market driven economy, depending on your political shade. I am an...

Kingfisher to close stores brings in a timely focus

Tim Ogle
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The announcement today by Kingfisher that it is to close about 60 stores brings into timely focus the collective redundancy provisions, which require employers proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one location within a 90 day period to...

I'm still standing...

Tim Ogle
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In reply to BBC News article – Office workers ‘too sedentary’ Apparently, all us office workers are spending far too much time sitting down at desks at work and it is “one of the biggest” challenges in health today, risking...

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...

There ain't such thing as a free holiday

Tim Ogle
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The joys of holiday pay and calculating it have taken another step today with an employment tribunal’s decision that holiday pay should include an element for an employee’s commission. This is done by inserting new words into the Working...

Leeds score in High Court

Tim Ogle
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I have been a Leeds fan since the glory days of Harvey, Madeley, Reaney, Charlton, Lorimer, Clarke, the Gray brothers, Giles etc in the 1970s so was delighted to hear of their victory in the High Court recently. The court held that the club was entitled to...

Scarlett Anderson - Cadet Dinghy sailor

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During my first week here in Weymouth at the National Championships Hurricane Bertha decided to storm through Portland for most of the week so I was very reluctant to use my brand new spinnaker so that it wouldn’t get damaged. It turned out to be a...

Scarlett Anderson - championships week continued...

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Day 2 Didn’t go as well as yesterday as the tail end of hurricane Bertha came through and as Amy and I are quite light, we struggled and we finished with a 15th and 36th putting us down to 12th place. Day 3 Today saw the wind at 10 to 12 knots,...

Failure to wear a cycle helmet and the consequences of contributory negligence in personal injury claims

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With the Tour de France fast approaching, and the UK experiencing hot weather and sunny days, cyclists can be spotted out and about taking full advantage of the glorious weather. The temptation to get on your bike without a safety helmet seems to be high...

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...

Licensing and FIFA World Cup

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Pursuant to provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 the Secretary of State has issued SI 2014/1294 for the special occasion of Brazil hosting the FIFA World Cup. Many of the games kick off late in the evening and finish after 11pm. It is likely many pubs and...

Nuclear Rush 2014 - Kelvedon Hatch

Tim Ogle
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If you look carefully, you will see some of the tougher members of the BL team, about to take on the Nuclear Rush at Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood on Sunday. We chose either the 6 or 12 km run, through the mud, water and 55 obstacles that lay ahead of us, in...

Fall in employment tribunal claims - down to introduction of fees?

Martin Hopkins
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In some combative language, to say the least, Matthew Hancock, the Minister for Education and Business, has commented on the recent drop in the total number of tribunal cases. Recent figures show a 79% fall in the number of tribunal cases for the last three...

David Moyes - dismissed

Tim Ogle
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I see that David Moyes has finally been dismissed. I suspect that the ACAS code of practice won’t come into play on this one and that he will be richly paid off, with one report quoting as much as £10m. That’s £1m per month…...

Tim's campaign for better football commentating...

Tim Ogle
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A frequent sporting irritation of mine is sloppy football commentating. How many times will a commentator say “..and he beat the keeper but it went narrowly wide..”? Well, the fact is, it didn’t beat the keeper, as it didn’t, and...

Gemma Kersey - 2014 is off to a flying start

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So far 2014 has been good to me – I am gradually getting in the shape I’ve wanted to be in! I started 2014 with a County cross country win and I saw myself flying off to Seville to claim my second England cross country vest this winter! I began...

Tribunal claims take a dive

Tim Ogle
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The Ministry of Justice has just published its latest quarterly employment tribunal statistics for the three month period ended 31 December 2013, which confirms our suspicions that there has been a massive drop in the number of claims presented by employees...

Sexuality and sport

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When will this stop being an issue? Why can’t the UK lead the way? When will the rest of the World catch up? In a way, I feel that by writing this I’m contributing to the problem as, ultimately, we all want to get to a place where there...

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....

Zero hours contracts - consultation launched

Tim Ogle
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The government has launched a consultation on zero hours contracts. It seeks evidence on the use of such contracts and views on possible options. The consultation identifies the two main concerns posed by zero hours contracts as exclusivity clauses and a...

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 - Perhaps not the holy grail for employers!

Tim Ogle
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Zero hours contracts just can’t get out of the news! – although this time the nature of the contract is largely irrelevant to the point in issue which regards holiday pay, and whether a ‘relevant agreement’ can specify a token sum to...

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...