Author Archives: pm

  1. January 2016 Newsletter

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    Happy New Year from the

    Premier Legal team

    Thank you to all our clients for
    their continued loyalty during 2015 

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    Early months of 2016 can bring

    adverse weather conditions

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    Below are answers to some key questions
    that can baffle employers

    Do I have to pay employees who are unable to reach their

    workplace due to adverse weather conditions ?

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    How should I deal with employees who have used bad weather as

    an excuse not to arrive at work ?

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    Do I have to pay employees if they stay at home with their children

    due to school closures ?

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    Can I force employees to take holidays from their annual holiday entitlement ?

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    What are my health and safety obligations towards my staff during

    bad weather ?

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    As a consequence of the bad weather my business has suffered

    greatly and will need to close or reduce is size what are the

    implications of this ?

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    New Protection For Zero Hours

    Workers

    From the 11th January 2016 workers on zero hours
    contracts now have a new right of redress against
    employers who include exclusivity clauses in their contracts of employment.
    Exclusivity clauses were rendered unenforceable in May 2015.

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    Staff Appraisal

    Workshop

    A Staff Appraisal Workshop is to be held on Wednesday
    10th February 2016, 9.30 – 4pm
    at Cumberland House, Nottingham.

      The workshop has been designed to provide in depth
    training on appraisals in the workplace and how they
    can be used as a management tool for training,
    succession planning, information gathering and work
    ethic analysis.

    The Workshop will be presented by Adrian Barnes,
    Employment Lawyer.

    Course notes,coffee, pastries and lunch will be
    provided.

    To book your place on the workshop please click the link below.

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    Join the team for New Year drinks
    and canapés on 27th January

    We are holding a drinks reception at Browns
    restaurant, Park Row, Nottingham to celebrate
    the start of the New Year on Wednesday 27th
    January 5.30-7pm.

    2016

    An ideal opportunity for you to network and meet the
    Premier Legal team and discuss employment law and
    human resource services that we can offer.

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    Premier Legal are delighted
    to introduce Page Kirk

    Premier legal would like to introduce the services of local
    chartered accountants and tax advisers, Page Kirk.

    Kelvin Eatherington, Head of Marketing and Business Development
    at Page Kirk commented:

    “We are proud to be associated with the team at Premier Legal and are
    looking forward to working with them in the future “.

    “We are fully aware of their fantastic reputation and their communication to
    offering first class client care and advice when it comes to Employment Law
    and were extremely pleased to discover that this matched our own
    commitment. Our aim is to provide a raft of services for our respective client
    bases, giving them the opportunity to access expert advice on their
    accountancy and employment law needs.”

    For more information on Page Kirk, please visit www.pagekirk.co.uk 

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  2. Employment Law Update – Summer 2015

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    THE RIGHT TO CARRY FORWARD PAID HOLIDAY FOR SICK EMPLOYEES IS CLARIFIED

    The Working Time Directive provides that member states must ensure that every worker is entitled to paid annual leave of at least 4 weeks. This is implemented in the UK by the Working Time Regulations 1998. The WTR state that holiday to which a worker is entitled must be taken in the leave year in respect of which it is due and may not be replaced by a payment in lieu except on termination of employment. Leave cannot be carried forward to the next leave year without express agreement, usually in the contract of employment.

    In the case of Pereda v Madrid Movilidad SA (2009) the European Court held that if workers do not wish to take their holiday entitlement during a period of sick leave then the holiday must be granted at a different time, even if that means it is carried forward into the next holiday year.

    In the recent case of Plumb v Duncan Print Group Limited, the Employment Appeal Tribunal clarified two points that remained unclear following the above decision.

    Mr Plumb was off on long term sick leave for 4 years following an accident. Upon the termination of his employment he claimed payment for 60 days accrued holiday for 2010, 2011 and 2012.

    His claim was dismissed by the tribunal initially on the grounds that he could not show that his medical condition was the reason why he did not take his leave. This decision was overturned by the employment appeal tribunal. They held:

    • Sick workers do not need to provide evidence that they were physically unable to take holiday. If they do not take or request holiday during sick leave it is to be assumed that they are unable or unwilling to take it and accordingly that leave may be carried over to a subsequent leave year. The right to carry forward unused annual leave applies only to the 4 week statutory annual leave entitlement. Employers are not obliged to allow any extra holiday entitlement to be carried forward.

    • The worker is permitted to take annual leave within 18 months of the end of the leave year in which it accrued. The Directive does not require national law to permit unused leave to be carried over indefinitely. At most it requires that workers who are on sick leave may take their annual leave within 18 months of the end of the relevant leave year if they were unable or unwilling to take it because they were sick.

    On this basis the EAT held that Mr Plumb was entitled to payment in lieu of annual leave for 2012 but not for 2010 or 2011. The right to take annual leave for 2010 and 2011 had been lost as it had not been taken or requested within 18 months of the end of the leave years.

    TORIES TO SEEK OPT-OUT FROM EU EMPLOYMENT LAWS

    IRecent reports claim that David Cameron is seeking the return of an opt-out from EU employment laws as part of his renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with Brussels. The opt-out was surrendered by Tony Blair in 1997 and since then the UK has become bound by far reaching directives that regulate many aspects of businesses from equal opportunities to health and safety. The laws are regarded by many businesses, especially small businesses, as costly, intrusive and complex.
    Mr Cameron wants sovereignty over employment laws to return to the House of Commons. As a minimum demand he will call for Britain to be exempt from two key European Directives on working time and equal rights for temporary workers. Estimates say that the rules cost the NHS alone billions because hospitals are forced to hire temporary staff to fill gaps in rotas caused by EU regulations to give junior doctors time off work.

    D0E03F8E-9C2E-4921-A644-797849E17674NEWS FROM PREMIER LEGAL

    Sarah, Adrian and Natalie Recently attended the Nottingham Food and Drink awards at the Nottingham Conference centre and enjoyed an evening hosted by MasterChef’s Greg Wallace.

    Premier Legal have a new team member. Claire Gibson has joined as our Marketing Manager.

    ACAS EARLY CONCILIATION IS PROVING TO BE SUCCESSFUL

    Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has published statistics showing the results of the first full year since the introduction of early conciliation.

    The requirement for employees to complete early conciliation before submitting an employment tribunal claim was introduced on 6 May 2014.

    The aim is to provide an opportunity to resolve disputes between employers and employees without the need for a tribunal claim.

    The statistics show that early conciliation is working effectively in reducing the number of claims that proceed to tribunal. Acas dealt with over 83,000 cases between April 2014 and March 2015 with over 1,600 cases being referred to them per week over most of the period.

    Of the cases that were received between April and December, 63% did not proceed to tribunal, 15% resulted in a formal settlement through Acas and 22% proceeded to tribunal. Of the 22% that proceeded to tribunal more than half were subsequently settled through Acas. Acas conciliation is still available after a tribunal claim has been lodged right up until the hearing date.

    Once a notification is made to Acas, there is a one month extension to the legal time limit within which the employee must bring a tribunal claim should they decide to do so. This ensures that there is time for discussions to explore a possible settlement.

    If you receive notification of a potential claim from Acas you are likely to require expert advice on the merits of the claim and potential value in order to make an informed decision regarding settlement.

    Please contact us and one of our specialist employment lawyers will be able to deal with this process for you with a view to minimising your exposure to costs and compensation and the amount of management time you need to spend on dealing with it.

    MAXIMUM PROTECTIVE AWARD FOR FAILURE TO COLLECTIVELY CONSULT

    An Employer has been ordered to pay 90 days gross pay to each employee after failing to collectively consult as regards to proposed redundancies. The Tribunal and EAT held that the fact that the employer was unaware of its legal obligation was not an excuse and they could not rely upon the special circumstances defence.

    The EAT’s decision also serves as a reminder that the award is not to compensate the employees for loss but it is rather a punitive measure levied towards the employer.

    AUTO ENROLMENT AFFECTED SMALL EMPLOYERS FROM 1ST JUNE 2015

    If you have less than 50 employees your staging date will be getting closer and will be a date between 1st June 2015 and 1st April 2017.

    If you are not sure of when your staging date is, you can check on the Pension Regulator’s website. You will need your PAYE reference to hand. Alternatively, please contact us and we can assist you.

  3. Should Zero Hours Contracts be Renamed?

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    Zero Hours or Flexible Hours contracts?zero hours contracts

    Zero hours contracts have attracted a lot of media attention in the last 12 months.

    Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has suggested that they should be renamed “flexible hours contracts”. His reason for this suggestion is because he feels that they enable employees to maintain a good work life balance.

    However, much of the criticism of zero hours contracts stems from the fact that employees have no guaranteed hours of work and so cannot be expected to live off such a contract.

    Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna MP’s response to the suggestion of renaming zero hours contracts was that it was a way of “trying to dress up insecurity as flexibility”.

  4. Are you prepared for the new Shared Parental Leave Regulations?

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    shared parental leave regulationsThe new and very complex Shared Parental Leave regulations are now in force.

    There are some very important procedural requirements for you to take note of; To convert maternity leave into Shared Parental Leave, the mother must give her employer a ‘leave curtailment notice’ (or return to work early) and

      • A notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL or
      • A declaration of consent and entitlements.

    The curtailment notice and one of the documents referred to above MUST be served to the employer at the same time otherwise it is invalid, and the employer will not be able to reclaim pay from the Government.

      • A leave curtailment notice must be in writing and must give 8 weeks’ notice of the date on which the mother wants her statutory maternity leave to end.
      • The mother may revoke the leave curtailment notice in very limited circumstances.
      • Three notices are required to be given by both the mother and Father (or partner) regarding their entitlement and intention to take SPL.
      • Requests for continuous periods of leave must be granted by the employer providing the employee has complied with all procedural requirements.
      • Requests for discontinuous leave do not have to be granted.
      • Only 50 weeks of leave can be shared because the first two weeks of leave must be taken as compulsory maternity leave.
      • Both the mother and father (or mother’s partner) can have 20 SPLIT days (days on which they can attend work and be paid without bringing their period of SPL to an end) during their period of SPL. This is in addition to the 10 KIT days that a mother is already entitled to.

    We strongly recommend that you attend one of our training courses on Shared Parental Leave regulations as this very complicated new area of law. Click here for details of our events.

  5. Equal Pay Act still sees a 19.1% gender pay gap

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    equal-pay45 years since the Equal Pay Act and there is still a 19.1% gender pay gap in the UK

    From March 2016, companies with 250 or more employees will be obliged to report their gender pay gap annually. Currently the average woman earns 81 pence for £1 that every man is paid.

    Whilst many companies are undoubtedly concerned about being obliged to publish these figures, there was really no other option. The three year voluntary scheme unsurprisingly was not taken up by many. Whilst more than 200 companies signed up for it, only 5 actually followed it through.

    It is quite simple, the statistics show that the gender pay gap is still too great.

    What do companies need to do?

    1. Conduct an equal pay audit even if you do not have 250 or more employees.
    2. Think about your organisational culture and how it could be improved.
    3. Look at structural barriers to advancement and promotion.
    4. Do not discount part time or flexible working. Being contracted to work fewer hours often means more effective and productive working.

    At Premier Legal we offer expert advice on all aspects of employment law. If you are an employer and would like advice on equal pay within your organisation, get in touch with us on 0115 9886211 / 0207 408 9427.

  6. Zero Hours Worker awarded £19,500 in harassment claim

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    sexual harassmentAn employment tribunal has made an award of £19,500 to a female zero hours worker in respect of injury to feelings for the harassment that she suffered at work.

    The Claimant worked for the Britannia Hotels group as a waitress in a hotel, and alleged that her line managed harassed her over an 8 month period. The Claimant was only 22 years of age at the time and had a history of mental health issues.

    Despite a witness verifying to the Respondent that the line manager had touched the Claimant’s bottom and kissed her neck, the Respondent did not take any disciplinary action against the employee. The Tribunal found the Claimant to be a very credible witness but the same could not be said of the Respondent’s employee whose evidence was vague and contradictory. The Respondent was held to be vicariously liable for the acts of its employee. The Tribunal came to this decision because the Respondent they decided had knowledge of the harassment and did nothing to prevent it from reoccurring. The Tribunal also held that the three separate investigations carried out by the Respondent had been wholly inadequate and flawed.

    This is an extremely useful example of how not to conduct an investigation into discrimination complaints.

    A case such as this is damaging for any business. Premier Legal offer expert training and employment law advice on how to deal with difficult situations such as harassment claims, and will help you to conduct a thorough investigation in the event of a claim. Our legal protection service protects your business and your employees, and helps you avoid costly tribunal claims.

    For more information on how Premier Legal can help protect your business, please get in touch. Call us on 0207 408 9427 or 0115 9886211, or you can send us your details here.

  7. Umpires bring Age Discrimination into Play

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    Age discrimination
    The English Cricket Board is facing a claim of unfair dismissal and age discrimination following a decision to force two respected umpires into retirement.

    Peter Willey and George Sharp have accrued 45 years of umpire experience between them, including officiating at high profile international matches. Both parties are First Class umpires, and the ECB have raised no concerns about either their competency or their eyesight, for which anyone undertaking this high profile role is required to undergo annual tests.

    Government legislation introduced in 2011 abolished the default retirement age. The rules meant that employers are unable to force male employees to stop work at 65 unless they can objectively justify the decision.

    Chris Kelly, Umpires Manager for the ECB, said at the tribunal, “it was perfectly justified in ending the men’s umpiring careers at the age of 65 while they are still relatively at the top of their game”.

    Mr Kelly also told the tribunal that another factor in restricting the age of umpires, is to enable the ECB to offer the vacant positions to retired players in their thirties and forties who are looking to pursue a career as an umpire.

    Representatives of Mr Willey and Mr Sharp argue that in addition to being competent in their roles, there are other ways in which vacancies can be created.

    The tribunal is now considering the case and an outcome is expected by the end of February.

    Premier Legal are a team of legal professionals who offer advice on all aspects of employment law, including age discrimination and unlawful dismissal. If you are an employer who would like advice on age related issues, please get in touch on 0207 408 9427 or 0115 9886211.

  8. Workplace comments – sexual harassment or just for fun?

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    0115 9886211An employment tribunal in the North East of England has hit the headlines after a female employee claims that a colleague made comments about her appearance, and the role of women in general.

    Ms Carney claims that she was forced to change the colour of her hair from blonde to brunette after her boss, John Clayton, made daily comments about the way she looked. Alleged remarks include whether or not he liked what she was wearing each day, commenting that she looked better on her social media profiles than in real life, and that he wished all employees looked like her, referring to her blonde hair and physical appearance. Mr Clayton also allegedly made comments that women were “best in the kitchen” and their role was better suited to “being at home”.

    Dawn Carney was an employee of Darlington-based Star Radio, and was dismissed for her performance in the role of Commercial Director after taking time off for hospital treatment.

    Mr Clayton now faces a claim of sexual harassment and unfair dismissal. The outcome of the employment tribunal is still unknown.

    Irrespective of whether or not the claim is settled in Ms Carney’s favour, lessons can be learned about remarks made in the workplace, and whether these, regardless of intention, could be construed as sexual harassment.

    Even comments made in jest can have a negative impact on one or more individuals, both male and female, which could have repercussions for not just the perpetrator, but also your business.

    To help avoid the risk of claims you should:

    • Provide staff with policies on equal opportunities and harassment, setting out what constitutes acceptable behaviour and what doesn’t
    • Provide training on equal opportunities and harassment
    • Set up clear procedures for employees to raise concerns
    • Ensure that discriminatory behaviour is not tolerated and is addressed through disciplinary action
    • If you are an employer and you need guidance on how the law relates to sexual harassment, or if you have a situation you would like to discuss, please call our legal experts at Premier Legal on 0207 408 9427 or 0115 9886211.
  9. Older People – a Valuable Asset

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    older-person-cvThe battle for employers to keep ahead of new technology and processes, while at the same time employing staff with valuable experience continues with the revelation that many older people are editing their CVs to avoid age discrimination.

    A recent article in the Sunday Times reported that some people looking for work in their early forties upwards have admitted to removing details about previous work history, and even changing their ‘O’ level qualifications to GCSEs in order to conceal their real age, in the belief that appearing younger will increase their chances of a new job.

    While honesty is usually the best policy, when it comes to looking for a new job, applicants are seemingly being penalised for showcasing their talents.

    It is inadvisable for potential employers to demand an applicant’s date of birth, as this could be regarded as evidence of unlawful age discrimination. Therefore, eliminating candidates on the basis of ‘historic’ information and the type of qualifications they hold seems to be a tactic employed by a small number of bosses to ‘weed out’ older job applicants.

    Ros Altmann, the government tsar for older workers says that privately, employment agencies have admitted to being “specifically instructed not to bother putting forward older people”, and that the assumption was that older people are inflexible, not creative and not likely to stay in the job for long. However, in reality the experience gained by older people means they have a host of creative ideas, bags of confidence and have gained a thorough knowledge of business processes.

    Whatever your views, employees with relevant experience, regardless of their age, are always a valuable asset to any organisation, and with this experience comes knowledge and efficiency.

    If you are an employer who would like more information about employment law regarding age discrimination, please get in touch.

  10. Ultra Low Hours Contracts – A Good Idea?

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    hourglass_blogTesco is caught up in more controversy this week, with the revelation of a new ‘ultra low hours’ type of employment contract for part-time employees.

    Workers are being offered contracts with minimal hours—as few as 7.5 hours of work per week—ensuring that employees’ pay stays under the legal threshold of the company’s tax contributions.

    The contracts are legal and can save businesses a lot of cash, but are they really a good idea?

    For those who earn less than £153 per week, an employer is not legally required to pay National Insurance, thus reducing employee overheads by 14%. It is estimated that this could see the troubled supermarket saving a staggering £100 million in tax.

    While these contracts offer flexibility to those who may have caring or educational responsibilities, the long-term implications for these employees could be serious. Those who fail to pay enough National Insurance throughout their working life are putting their state pensions in jeopardy.

    So while this type of contract can benefit Tesco’s customers by ensuring optimum staffing levels at peak times, the cost to its employees could be high in the long term.

    Tesco is certainly not alone in offering this type of contract, but it is the example investigated by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme. It is more unwelcome publicity for the supermarket who is facing difficult times in the wake of a profit scandal and the recently announced planned store closures.

    If you are an employer looking at ways of reducing your employee overheads, and would like legal advice on the best way to do this, please get in touch.