Author Archives: Adrian Barnes

  1. National Living Wage

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    National Living & National Minimum Wage 2020

    The National living wage will increase by 6+% in April 2020 – All employers must pay at least the National Living Wage to all employees or workers who are 25 years old or over. There are separate rates (National Minimum Wage) for younger employees or workers.

    The current National Living Wage is set at £8.21 per hour, this will increase in April 2020 to £8.72, all other increases are shown in the table below;

    National Minimum Wage for 2019/20

    Age Current April 2019
    21-24 £7.70 £8.20
    18-20 £6.15 £6.45
    Under 18 £4.35 £4.55
    Apprentices £3.90 £4.15

    N.B the apprentice rate is for apprentices under 19 or in their first year of an apprenticeship, otherwise normal rates apply

    More information on the National Living and National Minimum Wage 2020 can be found by clicking here 

  2. Employment Tribunal Awards Statistics – Year to March 2019

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    Tribunal Awards

    The Employment tribunal awards statistics for the year to March 2019 have just been released and make interesting reading as in general average awards are down again. There was a single huge payout in an Unfair Dismissal case of £947,585,* but other than that extraordinary award others seem to be at lower levels than previously, perhaps with the exception of Age discrimination.. These are the statistics for the first full year since tribunal fees were abolished by the supreme Court ruling in July 2017. In the year from April 2018 to March 2019 there were 121,111 applications to the tribunal and although this is an increase on the previous two years it is still nowhere near the 2013 figure of 191,541. Which, at the moment, might be a good thing as the tribunal service is currently overwhelmed and waiting times, to get cases heard is often over a year.

    Costs

    Getting costs in the employment tribunal is notoriously difficult and it would seem to be getting even more so. In 2017/18 costs were awarded on 479 occasions, but in 2018/19 costs were only awarded in 209 cases – yes only 209 times 0ut of 121,111. The median cost award was £2,400

    The full Ministry of Justice figures can be found by clicking here

    The chart below shows how awards were made in each jurisdiction

    Jurisdiction Maximum Award Median Award Average Award
    Unfair Dismissal £947,585 £6,243 £13,704
    Religion or belief discrimination £12,000 £1,500 £4,767
    Sex Discrimination £24,103 £6,498 £8,774
    Race Discrimination £33,660 £7,882 £12,487
    Age Discrimination £172,070 £12,365 £26,148
    Disability Discrimination £416,015 £12,156 £28,371

    There were no awards for Sexual Orientation discrimination during the year

    If you would like more information about tribunal awards and costs, please call our employment law experts on: 0115 856 1625

    * This is a rare one off – unfair dismissal is usually capped at just over £86k or your annual salary, whichever is lower

  3. Time Recording at Work

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    Time Recording at work – is it necessary?

    According to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) it is. In the recent case of Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) v Deutsche Bank SAE, the CCOO. A Spanish Trade Union had brought a group action suit on behalf of its members. It has been agreed that there is no legislation to suggest that a business needs to time record at work, but as the Advocate General and the CJEU both said, it would simply be impossible to comply with the Working Time Directive correctly without time recording. The Working Time Regulations are the UK’s interpretation of the Directive and it is clear that there is no onus on employers, to record time worked, in those Regulations either, but of course, the same reasoning applies.

    What this means is that, at some point, the UK Working Time Regulations will need to be updated in order that they comply with this interpretation of the Working Time Directive

    In fact most companies keep information about time off for sickness, holidays etc., what this information suggests is that we need to keep information about time on rather than simply saying that a person”must have been in, because they are not marked off as sick or on holiday”. Will this ‘new’ legislation be implemented post Brexit? Who knows, but for now we should be aware of the judgment and seriously look at the way time is recorded for staff.

    For anyone interested the case notes and judgment can be found by clicking here 

    If you are unsure of what all this means, please call one of the employment law experts at Premier Legal on 0115 856 1625 and they will be glad to help.

    Premier Legal offers a retainer scheme for employers – for a fixed amount each year, your employment law and HR problems can be taken care of. No business is too small or too big to benefit from our Premier Total Cover scheme, please click here for more information, or if you would like a, no obligation, visit please call Karen at our Nottingham Head Office on: 0115 856 1625

     

  4. Overtime or Goodwill

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    Overtime or Goodwill

    What is overtime and what is goodwill may come down to simple timing. While an employee might be happy to do a little extra, unpaid, work on occasions, if the relationship breaks down such goodwill might not seem so important.

    Take the recent case of Jozsef Fitz and Holland and Barrett Retail Ltd. Mr Fitz was a supervisor who was, on occasions, expected to lock up the store when the manager was not present. However, Mr Fitz was on a contract that ended at store closing time and to lock up meant that he would be working a little longer to reconcile the tills, put the money away and check the premises prior to locking up – effectively meaning that he would, on occasions, work longer than his contracted hours.

    I’m fairly sure that many of us have either expected this or done this ourselves, but an Employment Judge agreed with Mr Fitz that the extra time worked when he locked up was, in fact, overtime that he was entitled to be paid for.

    In this case Mr Fitz’s contract was for a fixed amount of hours, which left little wiggle room if he was expected to occasionally do a few minutes extra, the judge went back the full 2 years permitted by legislation and awarded Mr Fitz just over £1,000. Possibly not a lot in the big scheme of things, but if that is multiplied out by 50 stores, there is quite a healthy bill to be paid.

    This case may not be as exciting as some others I have reported, but it does demonstrate, very clearly, the need for contracts of employment to be fit for purpose. It also shows that contracts need to be updated as time passes and job roles evolve.

    At Premier Legal we can check to make sure your contracts of employment are able to do the job they are intended for. Members of the Premier Legal Total Cover Scheme would have their contracts check to confirm they were fit for purpose and updated to ensure they were compliant with current legislation

    For information about any of our services please call our Nottingham Head Office on: 0115 856 1625

  5. Employment Law Training with Tea

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    Spring and Summer Employment Law Training sessions with AfternoonTea start on 08 May 2019. Please note that this is also the date when Premier Legal hosts Nottingham’s Finest Networking. The training session on 08 May will look at the Employment Law changes that came into place in April this year as well as important changes for later on that may need planning now.

    The training session will start at 2.30 and end at 5pm – Nottinghams Finest will start to gather at 5.30, so you can smoothly transition from Afternoon tea to wine and canapés and a chance to meet and network other business people from Nottingham.

    Each of the topics for our Afternoon tea sessions have been chosen because the represent problems that our own clients have come across in  the last year. At each session there will be ample opportunity for you to ask questions and even gain advice on a specific problem.

    Details of all of the sessions and topics can be found by clicking here

    We will shortly be starting a series of 1 Hour webinars on Employment Law and HR issues – please watch this space for more details – members of the Premier Total Cover Retainer Scheme will be update automatically. For information about Premier total Cover, please click here or call Karen on 0115 856 1625

  6. Employment Law Changes for April 2019

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    Employment Law Changes for April 2019

    Employment Law changes or adapts every year and 2019 is no exception. Below are some of the changes that have taken place in April.

    Wages and Payments

    The National Living and Minimum Wage has just changed – the new rates are available by clicking here, where you will see that the new National Living Wage (employees 25 and over) is £8.21, almost a 5% increase.

    There are also the usual increases in SSP, SMP etc. Statutory Family Payments, maternity paternity adoption etc., increase to £148.68 per week and Statutory Sick Pay increases to £94.25 per week.

    Payslips

    An important change for April 2019 is that all employers need to provide payslips to ‘workers’ as well as employees and those payslips need to provide more information. All staff are entitled to a payslip for each pay period and that slip must now show the number of hours worked in that pay period, if the employee/worker is hourly paid. For anyone on a salary who receives extra pay for overtime, only the overtime hours need to be shown.

    Government guidance on the new payslip rules can be found by clicking here.

    Enforcement of this is going to be interesting, If an employee/worker does not receive a payslip they are entitled to raise a case with the employment tribunal. The penalty for the employer is that the tribunal can look back for 13 weeks and award the employee/worker any deductions that were made, even if they were completely lawful deductions.

    Worker status – employee or worker can be tricky – click here for the Government guidelines.

    For information on this or any other Employment Law or HR issue, please contact us at our Nottingham Head Office o: 0115 856 1625

  7. National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage for 2019

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    National living Wage

    The National living wage will increase by 4.9% in April 2019 – All employers must pay at least the National Living Wage to all employees or workers who are 25 years old or over. There are separate rates (National Minimum Wage) for younger employees or workers.

    The current National Living Wage is set at £7.83 per hour, this will increase in April 2019 to £8.21, all other increases are shown in the table below;

    National Minimum Wage for 2019/20

    Age Current April 2019
    21-24 £7.38 £7.70
    18-20 £5.90 £6.15
    Under 18 £4.20 £4.35
    Apprentices £3.70 £3.90

    N.B the apprentice rate is for apprentices under 19 or in their first year of an apprenticeship, otherwise normal rates apply

    More information on the National Living Wage can be found by clicking here 

  8. Veganism and Discrimination

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    Veganism and Discrimination – the Employment Tribunal is to be asked if Veganism is a Protected Characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

    Currently we have 9 protected characteristics, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, sex and religion or belief. It is the last one of these – religion and belief that is being put to the test – is Veganism a strong enough philosophical belief to meet the test criteria, which say it must be; genuinely held, be a belief as to a weighty and substantial part of human life and behaviour, attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance, be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not be incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others and it must be a belief, not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available.

    The person bringing the case is a vegan, of course, who believes that he was dismissed because of his stance on ethical Veganism and the fact that he complained about his employers, The League Against Cruel Sports, allowing pension funds to be invested in companies that allow animal testing.

    This case will be heard in March next year and if successful will add Veganism to the list of recognised philosophical beliefs. In the recent past, some of this type of challenge has succeeded, for instance a judge ruled that a belief in Man Made Climate Change was a philosophical belief. However, other challenges have failed, including, the belief that poppies should be worn for Remembrance Day and a belief that the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks were “false flag operations”.

    We will report back in March when we have the result on Veganism.

    If you need advice on any of the elements of the Equality Act 2010, please call our expert employment lawyers on 01215 856 1625

    The BBC has some more on this article if you click here

     

  9. Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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    Sexual Harassment and Sex Discrimination in the workplace

    Hardly a day goes by without us hearing about another incident of sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace. Some of these are historic incidents that only come to light when a celebrity is accused, but each week, almost without fail, we will be contacted because of a sexual harassment claim. I would have thought that the prevalence of such issues would be going down, but it is clearly increasing, perhaps because women feel more empowered to step forward than they have previously. Whatever the reason it is clear that all businesses need to have a strong policy and training in place if they want to avoid being responsible for someone else’s actions.

    Vicarious Liability

    If something happens at your business you are going to be responsible for it, under the doctrine of vicarious liability. In other words you are responsible for your staff member’s actions. Your only defence or mitigation is to be able to show that you took appropriate measures to make sure that all of the team were aware that what they were doing was wrong, that you had a policy in place and that you had provided sufficient training.

    What constitutes harassment?

    There is a very clear definition or what constitutes harassment in the Equality Act 2010, which tells us that it is any unwanted conduct of a sexual that violates the dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. So we can see from this that there is a fairly wide scope anything from unsubtle comments to unnecessary touching. Take a look at this recent report of a case involving a young lady at Pizza Hut who picked up £16,000 for unwanted attention –  click here to see the report at Personnel Today

    Our own recent case

    I can’t reveal names on one of our recent cases as the matter was anonymised by the Employment Judge, but we have a haulage company that offered a female driver a very well paid job, what they didn’t explain was the extras that may be required – after rebuffing her bosses advances and being told that she needed to be more “adaptable”, the driver was fired. Needless to say that the unanimous verdict of the tribunal was that there had been sexual harassment and that the dismissal was sex discrimination. In this case the claimant won on sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace.

    In the news

    There are dozens of cases of harassment in the news, from the high profile personalities to companies such as O2, Nike and various councils and while you might think that as a company you are not sexist in any way, can you be completely sure that the same applies to all of your staff.

    How can we help?

    Premier Legal can provide robust policies and procedures as well as diversity training for your staff – call us on 0115 856 1625 to discuss your needs.

    Click on the highlighted titles to see previous articles on Sexual Harassment and an Expensive Sexist Comment

     

  10. Changes coming for the Law on Tips?

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    The Law on Tips

    Can we expect legislation for how restaurant’s deal with tips left for waiting staff?

    Teresa May has told conference that there will be a change in the law on tipping in restaurants – Jeremy Corbyn says it was his idea, so finally something that both main parties agree on.

    There has been a fair bit of press over the last couple of years about how tips are accounted for and who gets them – does a tip go to the waiter or to the restaurant. Most of us probably expect that the tip goes straight to the waiters, but quite often this is not the case and some of the money goes to the restaurant either as an admin charge or for some other reason.

    All of tip money to go to staff

    There are several ways that tips can be split among the staff, but the new proposal from the PM is that all of the money provided as tips must go to the staff and nothing is to be held back for the restaurant. It has been illegal for some time to use tips to make up salaries to the National Living or Minimum Wage, but that has not stopped some businesses from taking a cut. Announcements at conference may not always find their way into legislation, but this is something that will be popular and something that the parties agree on, so there is every likelihood that we will see action on this in the future.

    Current Law on Tips

    It might be considered as interesting that HMRC considers tips to be income and, as such, taxable, but they are not considered income for the purposes of the National Living or minimum Wage, so tips, gratuities, service charges and cover charges do not count towards minimum wage pay. This is regardless of whether they are paid through your payroll or are given direct to workers by customers or a tronc master.

    It will be interesting to see how any legislation is framed and how this sits with any arrangements that your business may have currently, we will, of course, let you know as soon as any Bill is put forward.

    There is a fairly interesting note about the changes to the law on tips on the BBC New website, which you can see by clicking here

    Premier Legal’s experts can advise on this or any other employment issues, just call us on 0115 856 1625