New EU ruling – workers travelling to their ‘workplace’

Ellen Brown   
Sep 11

What are the rules for workers with no fixed workplace?

In this month’s edition of our HR magazine, Employers Only, our legal expert Ed referred to a case from the European Court of Justice, and rightly predicted that it would impact how travelling between jobs will make-up an employee’s day.

Ed’s take

An opinion of the Advocate-General in the European Court of Justice in a Spanish case – Federación de Servicios Privados del sindicato Comisiones Obreras v Tyco – indicates that ‘working time’ for staff who travel to customers (without having a fixed place of work) would include

Could Employment Tribunals work better?

Ellen Brown   
Sep 09

The Law Society suggests changes to Employment Tribunals to make them fairer for all

Employment Tribunals (ETs) are becoming an increasingly complicated system that strike fear into the hearts of employers and employees alike. Many have identified the problems with ETs, but solutions are harder to come by. Happily, The Law Society, following comments in June 2014 from David Latham, formerly President of the Employment Tribunals (England and Wales), have set out a discussion document which explains their proposed changes to ETS.

What’s wrong with Tribunals?

The Law Society identified a number of problems with the current

What happens if an employee is sick in the event of TUPE?

Ellen Brown   
Sep 07

Can an employee who is permanently off work sick be assigned to an organised grouping of employees in the event of a TUPE transfer?

According to the EAT in BT Managed Services Ltd v Edwards, the answer is no.

The details of the case

Mr. Edwards worked for BT as a Field Operations Engineer. His record of sickness began in 2006 when he was forced to take long-term sick leave due to a number of ailments, one of the most severe being a cardiac condition which seriously limited the work he was able to do. Despite

How to manage investigations

Ellen Brown   
Sep 01

An investigation will have to be conducted before an official disciplinary verdict has been issued. A few things you should keep in mind about investigations are:

  • An investigation is not part of the disciplinary process and this should be made clear to the employee.
  • It only becomes a disciplinary issue once the investigation has been carried out and it has been decided if formal action should be taken.
  • The investigation should be carried out by someone who will not ultimately be involved in any disciplinary action.
  • As an employer, you should never assume guilt or innocence.
  • Legally, an employee

How to manage disciplinary

Ellen Brown   
Aug 26

Dealing with disciplinary issues can seem daunting, but if handled well the procedure can help resolve issues before they become problems. Both managers and staff must be familiar with their company disciplinary procedure. As the employer, you also have to provide employees with a written statement of their employment, which must specify any disciplinary rules that would affect the employee. The standard disciplinary procedure is split into 3 steps:

Step 1 – Statement of Grounds for Action and Invitation to Meeting

  • You (the employer) must set out in writing the employee’s alleged conduct, characteristics or other circumstances

What rights do agency workers have?

Ellen Brown   
Aug 03

Agency worker regulations

A recent ruling from the EAT has highlighted the important distinctions between the rights of standard employees and the rights of agency workers. In the case of Coles v Ministry of Defence (MoD), the EAT ruled in favour of the MoD and dismissed the claimant’s case.

The details of the case

Mr. Coles was an agency worker on assignment for the MoD. After a round of redundancies, Mr. Coles’ position was filled by another permanent employee who had been placed in a redeployment pool, something Mr. Coles claimed breached his rights as an agency

A lesson in following disciplinary procedures

Ellen Brown   
Jul 20

Diced carrots: A lesson in following disciplinary procedures

A recent Unfair Dismissal case in Guernsey has received media attention after a hotel chef was found to have been unfairly dismissed, getting £11,000 compensation despite having been imprisoned for 18 months after biting two police officers called to deal with the chef’s violent behaviour in the hotel grounds and an attack on a work colleague. This is just another example of why it is so crucial to follow disciplinary procedures, regardless of the nature of the misconduct. Whilst Guernsey is an independent jurisdiction, its law on Unfair Dismissal has similar

What are the rules for working in a heatwave?

Ellen Brown   
Jul 01

What are employers obliged to do to accommodate such high heats?

Today is the hottest since 2006 , and while this is great news if you have the day off, work outside, or get to enjoy some sun rays; if you’re cooped up in an office, things can get uncomfortable very quickly! In fact, the TUC released a statement on Tuesday, advising workplaces to relax dress codes to avoid employees overheating in stifling shirts and ties. But what are the rules for working in a heatwave? The short answer is there aren’t really any. Given our country

Section 1 of the Education and Skills Act 2008 now in force

Ellen Brown   
Jun 26

Today is the day that the Education and Skills Act 2008, Section 1, comes into force.

From today, young people must be in education or training up until the age of 18.

What comes into force?

Today, 26th June 2015, Section 1 of the act comes into force. This section covers who part 1 (Duty to participate in education or training: England) applies to.

According to the Act…

This Part applies to any person who is resident in England and who: (a)has ceased to be of compulsory school age, (b)has not reached the age of

Does a provisional decision to close a workplace mean you need to hold a redundancy consultation?

Ellen Brown   
Jun 25

Should you hold a redundancy consultation when you make a provisional decision to close a workplace?

The decision from the EAT in E Ivor Hughes Educational Foundation v Morris was, yes.

The details of the case

The case centred around the provisional decision to close the school in February 2013 if pupil numbers had not improved by April. When April came around, pupil numbers had not increased, and so the decision to close was finalised. However, there was never any collective consultation over the decision, a breach of Section 188 of TULR(C) A 1992. According to

How to hire interns and avoid breaking the law

Ellen Brown   
Jun 22

How to hire interns and avoid the pitfalls!

While many firms will be bringing university students and graduates into their firm for internship programmes during the summer months, employers could be breaking the law by failing to give them the same rights as other workers. According to education think tank the Sutton Trust, there are an estimated 21,000 people carrying out unpaid internships at any one time. So here is what you need to know before you hire interns for your business.

Work experience or an internship?

There is a big difference between offering a week

MoJ to review Employment Tribunal fees

Ellen Brown   
Jun 12

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced it is to review Employment Tribunal fees, to determine whether they have been a success.

What were the fees?

The fees were introduced in 2013 and require a claimant to pay a fee to issue the claim and a further fee to claim the proceeds. The reasons for introducing the fees included relieving the taxpayer of the burden of the tribunal system by having the claimant help towards the costs, and also to encourage alternative solutions such as settlements and mediation. Currently, these fees are:

Should an employee disclose their own misconduct?

Ellen Brown   
Jun 11

According to the EAT in Basildon Academies v Amadi the answer is no.

The details of the case

The Claimant in the case, Mr Amadi, was a Cover Supervisor at the Academies. He breached his contract by not getting his employer’s permission to work at Richmond upon Thames College, where he was accused of sexually assaulting a pupil and suspended. However, after the police investigated, no criminal action was taken. But, when the Academies heard about the incident, they dismissed Mr Amadi, claiming he should have reported the allegation made at Richmond upon Thames College, and also for not seeking permission

DVLA says goodbye to paper counterparts – will it affect you?

Ellen Brown   
Jun 08

Employ drivers? These changes may affect you!

Starting today, the DVLA will no longer be issuing paper counterparts to driving licences, instead you’ll need to use their online service, Share Driving Licence and Check Driving Licence services. So what will this mean for you and your employees?

If you own a driving licence

If you, or your employee’s, licence was issued before the photocard was introduced (pre-1998) you shouldn’t destroy it, it will still be valid. However, if you change any details (i.e. address) the paper licence will be replaced with a photocard. If

Fine after unsafe machinery accident

Ellen Brown   
Jun 05

The dangers of unsafe machinery

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found an animal feed supplement manufacturer failed to ensure measures were taken to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery after a worker lost his arm when it was pulled into machinery. Frederick Sharp, 71, of Stamford, had to have his right arm amputated after the incident at UFAC (UK) Ltd’s plant in Oakham, Rutland on 14 January 2014. Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard today (4 June) that Mr Sharp was adjusting a belt on a production line conveyor feeding a bagging point. He

Exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts now banned

Ellen Brown   
May 27

Zero-hours must remain flexible

Until recently, employers could seek exclusivity from an individual when offering them a zero-hours contract. This meant that the employee was not guaranteed work, but could not work for other employers to offset this risk, obviously a poor deal for the employee. However, after 83% of respondents to the government’s consultation voted in favour of a ban on the exclusivity clauses, it is now a legal offence to prevent staff on zero-hours contracts from seeking other employment. Nick Boles, minister for state for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said: “Exclusivity clauses in zero

How to calculate pay deductions for striking staff

Ellen Brown   
May 27

How much pay can an employer withhold for a day’s strike by a salaried employer?

According to the Court of Appeal in Hartley v King Edward VI College, the answer is 1/260th. The appeal arose from a County Court claim by three striking teachers who alleged their employer had withheld more pay than it was entitled to, in response to their day’s strike.

The details of the case

The college based its calculation on a notional 5-day week, 52 weeks a year, making the sum 1/260th of the annual salary. The teachers argued that the nature

Time off for volunteering – what will it mean for you?

Ellen Brown   
Apr 13

You may have heard recent coverage of the proposals from one political party for employees to have the right to up to 3 paid days off a year for volunteering, provided that they work in the public sector or a private sector employer with 250 or more staff. There is no meat on the bones of the proposal yet, but it might be helpful to have a brief look at the current rights to time off work. The following are the main rights apply for time off work:

  1. Ante-natal care (with pay), this is well-known, and now

When short-term sickness is a problem

Ellen Brown   
Mar 18

Everybody gets sick now and then, and usually taking a day off work is a good idea to help people recover faster and to stop any bugs spreading to colleagues. But what if an employee is constantly off sick for short periods of time? You need to know how to spot suspicious sickness leave and how to deal with it!

When should you be worried about sick leave?

Persistent sick leave not only reduces productivity, but can also become a burden on other employees, risking increased levels of stress and possibly even more sick days! If you monitor absence

What is the Equaility Act?

Ellen Brown   
Mar 18

The Equality Act was created in 2010, replacing other anti-discrimination laws with one single act. It covers discrimination on the basis of age, disability, gender, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation.

What do I need to know about the Equality Act?

The Equality Act outlines your duties to your employees and prevents you discriminating against them. The Act covers both direct and indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination is treating employees less favourably because of a disability, their association with someone disabled, or a perceived disability. Indirect discrimination is treating an employee less favourably

What is SSP?

Ellen Brown   
Mar 17

Statutory Sickness Pay (SSP) is the standard payment you pay employees when they are unable to work. Currently, this is set at £87.55 a week and is payable for up to 28 weeks. It is payable in the same way your employee’s wages are normally paid, so the same pay date is used and the same tax and National Insurance amounts are deducted. You can reclaim SSP through your payroll. Employees can claim SSP if they’ve been ill for 4 consecutive days, give you the correct notice, are classed as an ‘employee’ and earn at least £111 per week.

Categories : Sickness

What is self-certification?

Ellen Brown   
Mar 17

Self-certification forms allow managers to record an employee’s reasons for absence in the employee’s own words. They are the first step in absence management documentation and can be followed on by a fit note and a medical report, if necessary. There isn’t a standard format for self-certification forms and they aren’t a legal requirement. However, they are a great way of formalising the recording of short-term absences and can prove valuable evidence if an employee’s absence rates reach unacceptable levels.

When should I ask for self-certification?

If an employee has been absent for fewer than 7 consecutive days,

What is a medical report?

Ellen Brown   
Mar 17

You might have heard of medical reports, and you might be wondering what they are. Medical reports are the most detailed reports on an employee’s health available to employers. If you have an employee on long-term sick leave, medical reports can be a good way of assessing an employee’s potential return-to-work date.

When to ask for a medical report

A medical report contains sensitive and personal information about an employee, so you should have a good reason to request one. You can get a report from a number of physicians, either the employee’s own personal physician, one retained by

What is a fit note?

Ellen Brown   
Mar 17

A fit note is a medical document, compiled by a physician, which documents the health of an employee. The fit note replaced the ‘Statement of fitness for work’ in 2010. While the Statement of fitness for work offered physicians the option of stating an employee was fit or not fit for work, fit notes have more room for detail. Fit notes allow for a physician to state an employee ‘may be fit for work’ and gives them the option of adding provisions for the employee’s return. These ‘amendments’ to the employee’s working life could be anything from a change of

What happens to holidays during sick leave?

Ellen Brown   
Mar 17

Holidays during sickness leave can become confusing if you don’t know the basic regulations to stick to.

Getting sick during holidays

If an employee falls sick during a period of holiday leave, you should let them reschedule, even if it means they carry some of their leave allowance into the next year. If the employee chooses, they can take their holiday and turn it into sickness leave. They don’t have to, though, it may work out financially beneficial for them to take holiday pay rather than sick pay. If they choose to reschedule their holiday and carry part,

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