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Employment in a family owned business

Over the years I have come across all manner of employment issues in family owned businesses.  They range from a fallout between family members which might leave the business in complete limbo as no one person can make a decision, to non-family...

Government response on sexual harassment in the workplace

The government has published its response to the 2019 consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace.  The consultation was launched following the publication of the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) report on sexual harassment in the...

Health & Safety Dismissals relating to Covid-19

With the easing of lockdown, it is no surprise that there has been an increase in the number of Health and Safety dismissal claims relating to Covid-19. Section 100(1)(e) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996) provides a protection for employees who...

Working from home - Flexible Working Application

Many employees will have been working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic and given the recent Government announcements removing the work from home requirement and guidance (in England) some may not be looking forward to returning to the workplace.  ...

Death benefit where suicide is suspected

Blog updated 12/7/21 Some contracts of employment entitle the employee to a death in service benefit of two to three times the annual salary if they die in service. However, employers will often caveat the payment by drafting the clause in such a way...

The advantages of working from home

On January 5 2021, a third national lockdown was announced and the message that we have all come to know so well, ‘stay at home’, was reintroduced. Whilst individuals are allowed to travel to go to work, they should only do so if they cannot...

Direct employment in the construction sector

IR35 is due to come into force on 6 April 2021.  The Joint Industry Board (JIB) has issued a report on direct employment in the construction sector .  It suggests that contractors should be employed because it believes direct employment will...

Staff are the heart of every business

A big part of the success of every business is its staff. Do you look after yours? The idea is important, of course, and that came from inside the head of a person. The structure is also important; thought through by a person. Delivery, equally so...

The effects of Brexit when recruiting & retaining EU workers

The UK will be leaving the European Union on 31 January 2021 and will enter into a period of transition which ends on 31 December 2021. During the transition period, freedom of movement rights continue, but employers have naturally and sensibly been...

Second lockdown & flexible furlough (but not as we know it)

Announced on 31 October 2020, England will enter a second lockdown from 00:01 on 5 November 2020. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-ministers-statement-on-coronavirus-covid-19-31-october-2020 ...

Can Whats App be used in disciplinary proceedings?

A criminal investigation was being conducted into alleged sexual offences. A detective found messages sent via WhatsApp on a phone belonging to another police officer which included a photograph of a female suspect in a cell. The messages had been sent to...

What do the COVID-19 local alert tiers mean for work?

On 12 October 2020, the Prime Minister announced a three-tier local alert system: medium, high and very high and they came into force on 14 October.  This follows: the introduction of the so-called ‘rule of six’ from 14 September 2020 a...

No signed Furlough Agreement: can an employee make a claim?

During the ongoing Covid pandemic many employees were placed on furlough, paid in accordance with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and paid less than their employment contract provided. Prudent employers, before placing an employee on furlough,...

Do you have to make redundancies? Our advice

A redundancy situation arises when there are fewer employees required to do work of a particular kind. For example, redundancy can arise where: a workplace is closing or moving, or the business is ceasing trading altogether; or there is a diminished...

Deposit order

Employers are often irritated by weak claims being made in the Employment Tribunal, especially since an employee no longer has a fee to pay to commence the claim. However, if the claim is weak, an employer can make an application to have the claim struck out...

Pursuing an insurer of an insolvent employer

A claimant may have difficulties in pursuing an employment claim where his employer or former employer has become insolvent and the company has gone into administration. The Insolvency Act states that where a company is in administration, no legal process...

What is the Corporate Governance Reform and who will be affected?

The Reform will affect both public and private limited companies, if they meet the certain thresholds explained below. What changes do companies need to be aware of? Engaging with employees: All companies with 250+ employees must include, within their...

Holiday pay for permanent workers who work part of the year

A recent Court of Appeal decision (Harpur Trust v Brazel) has shown how holiday pay must be calculated for term time, casual or seasonal workers on irregular hours, and zero hours workers. It could have implications for the construction industry where...

Employers may be liable for employee's 'private' social media posts

Social media is prominent in today’s technological world. Whether it’s used personally, for business or both, social media and messaging services such as WhatsApp are rarely far from our fingertips. The rise of social media means it’s...

Effects of Brexit when recruiting and retaining EU workers

The current Brexit deadline is 31 October 2019. It is difficult to second guess what will happen between now and then but, stating the obvious, the UK will either come to an agreement, leave the EU without a deal or the deadline will be extended. How Brexit...

Gender pay gap reporting for public and private sectors

Public sector organisations with 250 employees or more on 31 March 2019 are required to comply with the gender pay gap reporting requirements. Private sector employers with 250 employees or more on 5 April 2019, also have to comply with these requirements....

Religious beliefs in the workplace

Employers will be aware that religion and belief is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) provides for the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This includes the right to manifest...

Employment tribunal claims are on the rise

The Ministry of Justice publishes quarterly statistics for claims in the employment tribunal, which is a mix of good and bad news. The latest statistics show single claims, for the period 1 January to 31 March 2019 in comparison to the same period in 2018,...

Specialist re-joins as Head of Employment Team

Employment law and HR expert Julie Temple has returned to her roots after 15 years – re-joining leading Essex law firm, Birkett Long, as Partner and Head of Employment and BLHR. She previously trained and qualified as a solicitor with the firm. ...

Disability discrimination

Disability discrimination can occur if an employer treats an employee unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of their disability and cannot show that the treatment was justified. The employee has to show the “something” arising...

Employers "aggravated" breaches of employment law - £20,000 penalty

Since 6 April 2014, a tribunal has the power to order an employer, who has lost a case, to pay a financial penalty to the Secretary of State where the tribunal considers that a breach of the employee’s rights had aggravating features. With effect from...

An employee's guide to mental health in the workplace

According to the World Health Organisation, good mental health is “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a...

Round up of employment law changes

There are a number of important employment law changes taking place this year of which businesses should be aware. I’ve set out some changes that are happening imminently below. All public sector organisations with over 250 or more employees as at 31...

Not well enough!

It is not uncommon, just before a disciplinary hearing or a tribunal hearing for an employee to say they are not well enough to attend the hearing and ask for the matter to be adjourned. Sometimes it is often suspected that the employee is not genuinely ill,...

Naming and shaming

A scheme exists where employers who have underpaid the National Minimum Wage (NMW) are named. This “naming and shaming” is done with a view to deterring employers from paying less than the NMW. Since April 2016, financial penalties can be...

Looking after your staff so you can get on with business

Managing your people, and making sure they operate as efficiently as possible, is time consuming and sometimes costly, but there is help out there to give you back control of running your business, profitably. Getting back to business When I was training...

Enforcing restrictive covenants

Employers who have restrictive covenants in their contracts of employment will appreciate the recent Court of Appeal decision in Dyson Technology Limited (Dyson) v Pellerey, where the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision to grant an...

Umbrellas shield you from the rain... but not your taxes

In 2014, the government indicated that it was concerned whether umbrella companies were being used to avoid employment obligations, tax or paying the national minimum wage. An umbrella company invoices the client (end user) for an individual’s...

When can an employer withhold wages?

Only in exceptional circumstances can an employer withhold wages . The fundamental terms of an employment contract are that the employee provides the services and the employer pays for those services.  What should you do before seeking...

Is a worker entitled to be paid for all hours whilst "on call"?

A recent decision of the European Court has brought this issue back into the news. In the case the Court heal that stand-by time spent at home but within 8 minutes travel of a workplace was 'working time'.   The question of whether a worker...

Millennials

By the year 2020, almost half of the workforce will consist of millennials. These individuals are talented, dynamic and have a very different outlook on work than the previous generation. They do not seek ‘jobs for life’ roles but instead seek...

Age discrimination and retirement of the older employee

Before the Age Discrimination Regulations came into force, an employer could include a retirement clause in the contract of employment stating that employment will terminate upon the employee reaching their 65th birthday. An employee aged 65 or over did...

Another busy year for employment law

2017 saw a momentous moment in employment law when the Supreme Court ruled that the fees regime could not continue in its existing form. Whilst I do not expect 2018 to see a similarly momentous change, I do see significant change as a result of this ruling...

Regulating artificial intelligence - The tortoise and the hare

Artificial Intelligence (AI) programmes have boomed in recent years, yet we are still a long way off the apex of this technology. Whilst the concept of AI covers a wide range of technological applications, the problem arises when trying to regulate and...

Understanding health issues - why you need to get it right for your business

Employers are increasingly finding that a failure to understand physical and mental health issues can have a significant detrimental effect on their businesses. This article  provides a good example of where an employer got it wrong and how this...

Perceived Disability Discrimination

Disability is one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 if  “A person (P) has a disability if P has a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his/her ability to...

Motive seems irrelevant when it comes to landlords and the courts

Business tenants can be refused a new lease if their landlord wants to redevelop the property.  Keith Songhurst examines a recent case that appears to strengthen the hand of the landlord. Business tenants are usually entitled to renew their leases...

An end to tribunal fees - The repercussions for employers

Between 2013 and July 2017, employees had to pay a fee if they wanted to take a case to tribunal.  Now that this fee has been abolished, Reggie Lloyd looks at the implications for employers and asks whether the number of claims will rise.   ...

Bar talk, watch what you say

When talking business in a pub, over a drink or two, could you inadvertently create a legally binding contract? For a contract to be binding there must be an offer, acceptance, an intention to be legally binding, consideration and certainty.  Contrary...

Holiday Pay - Employers working out 'Normal pay'

There have been a number of cases recently where the courts have determined when holiday pay is payable and what the worker should be paid whilst on leave. It was made clear that the worker was entitled to be paid “normal pay” when on...

Employment rights All change for sub-contractors

With the publication of the Taylor Review “Good Work” Report at the beginning of July, we see a number of proposals for reform of employment law.  Of particular interest are the proposed changes to the classification of employment status and...

Supreme Court ruling that Employment Tribunal fees are unlawful

Employment specialist Jo McKenna warns employers should ensure they pay even closer attention to ensuring that their contracts, policies and HR procedures are compliant with employment law. This morning the government lost its case in the long running...

PHE commissioned the ONS to analyse suicide statistics

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...

The Apprenticeship Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy came into force on 6 April 2017.  It will facilitate the funding of new apprenticeships across the UK and aid the Government in meeting its 2020 target of three million new apprenticeships. This will have an impact on the...

National minimum wage and sleeping on the job

It is often difficult to determine when an employee/worker who “sleeps in” when carrying out their duties, are “working” for the purposes of being paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW). Are they only entitled to be paid for the time...

Commencing early conciliation before the effective date of termination

Before a claimant can make a claim in the Tribunal, they must comply with the statutory duty to contact ACAS and engage in Early Conciliation (EC). When it ends, ACAS sends an EC Certificate and the claimant can issue a claim form. To ensure claimants are...

Due diligence under TUPE

Those who intend to buy a business, or who are bidding for a contract to provided services from a competitor (a service provision change), must undertake due diligence before completion of the transfer! When buying a business, the buyer will normally...

Gender pay gap reporting - what do you need to do?

Laws have come into force today that will require all employers, with 250 or more employees, to publish their gender pay gap. From today, large private and voluntary sector employers will need to be prepared to publish a gender pay gap report each April,...

Employment tribunal judgments now available online

The Ministry of Justice has launched a website where all Employment Tribunal judgments can be accessed.  Judgments from as far back as 2015 have been uploaded and from now on, all judgments will be available online. The website was created following...

Self employed or worker - the risks for the employer

Businesses sometimes choose to take on people who, ostensibly, are classed as “self-employed” or “independent contractors” or “sub-contractors”.  Two recent high profile cases demonstrate the risks, even when the...

BLHR - Employment Tribunals

We are proud of our reputation and record of success at Employment Tribunal hearings. We give you an honest assessment of the merits of the case and present your defence in the strongest possible terms. We draft and file your defence, conduct any...

Legal Expenses Insurance - BLHR

Birkett Long Human Resources is about managing and reducing your risks and protecting your organisation from claims. We successfully do so in many ways. We help you comply with legal obligations, but still achieve your commercial objectives. In doing...

Terms of settlement agreements must be drafted tightly

Claims against an employer can be costly – in both time and financial terms.  All the more important, therefore, to make sure settlement agreements are well worded. When a claim is made, the employer has an option to settle the matter through...

A bus driver's dilemma - disability discrimination

All of us who travel on public transport have seen seats and spaces allocated for disabled users. But what does that actually mean? What happened? In a recent case, a disabled person in a wheelchair wished to board a bus but the wheelchair space was...

Top 7 employment cases in 2017

During 2016 the Employment Tribunal heard a number of cases regarding employment status. For example, in the Uber case the Tribunal decided that the individuals in question were ‘workers’. It is likely that this decision will be appealed. ...

A new way to protect that sensitive information

When employees, directors, partners or shareholders leave a business there is often a worry that they will try to take their clients with them.  Often restrictive covenants will be in place to try to prevent this. However, they are not always...

Directors' disqualifications

The law is strict on misconduct relating to directors. Kevin Sullivan explains recent changes to legislation and how directors need to be clear on the circumstances that might lead to an allegation of misconduct should their company fail. What is...

Punch up at the Christmas party

With Christmas only days away, many employers will have invited their employees to the work's party.  A recent High Court case illustrates what can happen in situations such as these, when some staff consume large quantities of alcohol. In the case...

Judical assessment of tribunal cases

Last month, the employment tribunal introduced a process of judicial assessment. The aim of judicial assessment is to help in the settlement of employment tribunal litigation. It is a process whereby an employment judge will make an initial assessment...

Zero hours contracts back in the spotlight

In October 2015, Tim Ogle, published an article about developments in the law relating to zero hour contracts. In that article, he also reported on the news of 300 staff on zero hour contracts (ZHC) at Sports Direct being less than happy about being...

Fake sick notes

The Medical Defence Union has warned that there are various websites offering advice on how to forge a sick note or that allow a person to buy a replica NHS sick note. It also warns that it has become easier to forge doctors’ signatures with editing...

Dismissal must be clear and unequivocal

In most cases the termination of employment is clear and unambiguous. But when a dispute arises and a case is taken to the employment tribunal, the tribunal will require evidence  that the employer dismissed. In a recent case, Miss K was an agency...

Essex law firm behind major care homes deal

Essex law firm Birkett Long has been praised by client Runwood Homes after its specialist healthcare team advised on a deal that saw the Benfleet-based organisation buy three care homes in Northern Ireland, making national news there. Runwood Homes...

Vexatious claimants

In our litigious society more and more claims are being made against suppliers, manufacturers and employers. This has recently extended to the job interview process, where claims have been brought by people whose job applications have been rejected.  ...

Christian teacher suffers discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 was designed to protect people from discrimination on many grounds, one of which is their religion and/or belief. Recently, the courts decided that Mrs L, a female teacher, had suffered discrimination when she was dismissed for...

Law firm Birkett Long reconfirms its lofty position in Essex

Birkett Long remains as one of the “standout” names of legal firms in the Essex region, says the respected Legal 500 national directory. The firm, which has offices in Chelmsford, Colchester and Basildon, has a team of around 190 people and...

Nursing home fined £15,000 for data protection breach

Nursing homes, like every organisation, must have measures in place to keep personal information secure. In practice, this means they must have adequate policies and procedures relating to the encryption of data held within IT systems, how data is used by...

Employment law advice after EU vote

Now that the country is coming to terms with the outcome of the EU referendum vote our employment law expert, Martin Hopkins, who has 20 years’ experience in the field, has this advice for both employees and employers:  The legislative system...

Wearing a Hijab

On 31 May 2016 Advocate General Kokott gave an opinion in Achbita –v- G4S Secure that a Belgium company’s dress code, banning employers from wearing any visible religious, political or philosophical symbols in the workplace (thus preventing a...

Mind the gap

On 1 October this year, gender pay gap reporting is expected to come into force.  Employers with 250 staff or more from the 30 April 2017 will be required to annually publish their gender pay gap on their searchable UK websites, for both employees and...