Author Archives: Sarah Robinson

  1. Change to ACAS guidance -vulnerable workers

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    On 23 April 2020, ACAS made two revisions to its guidance for vulnerable and high risk workers.

    1.  Those who have received a letter from the NHS to say that they should take extra steps to protect or shield themselves because of an underlying health condition which put them at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus may request their employer to  furlough them where they cannot work at home while shielding.
    2. Details about a shielding employee’s or worker’s medical condition are confidential and must be treated as such by the employer unless the worker or employee has agreed for such information to be shared.

    It was already clear that employers can furlough vulnerable employees who cannot work from home whilst shielding but this revision provides that the individual may make a request to be furloughed and the provisions now apply to workers as well as employees.

  2. Coronavirus – Covid-19 in the Workplace Q and A

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    Coronavirus – Covid-19 in the Workplace

    coronavirus image

     

    With the UK and much of the rest of the world currently in the grip of the Coronavirus Covid -19 pandemic, businesses are having to confront unprecedented issues in the workplace.

    We have put together the following information to assist you to navigate these unchartered waters. This is an evolving situation so please also refer to the latest Government advice or contact us if you have any particular issues:

    Q:           What is furloughing or furlough leave?

    A:            This is the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which was introduced by   the Government on 20 March 2020. It is part of a package of support set up to protect     businesses and jobs affected by the crisis. Employers can apply to HMRC for a grant to cover             most of the  wages of their staff who are not working during the outbreak.

    Q:           Is my business eligible to apply for the CJRS?

    A:            Any employer in the UK is eligible irrespective of size or number of employees and this    includes charitable and not for profit organisations and recruitment agencies

    Q:           How do I make a claim under the CJRS?

    A:            If you outsource your payroll to a payroll provider, they will be able to submit claims on behalf of your organisation otherwise claims can be made online by using the following link;   https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

    Q:           How does the CJRS work and what I am entitled to claim?

    A:            If your organisation has been affected by the outbreak and can no longer maintain some or           all of your staff, you can decide to furlough staff and apply for a grant that covers up to 80%              of their usual monthly costs up to £2,500 a month per employee plus the associated costs of                 employer national insurance contributions and pension contributions.

    Q:           Does furlough only apply to those at risk of redundancy?

    A:            When the scheme was first launched the Government guidance stated that it applied to those who would otherwise have been made redundant or laid off. However, this wording has since been replaced with a requirement that the coronavirus must have “severely affected the employer’s business operations”. This means that there is now no specific requirement that furlough can be used only if redundancy is an underlying risk. Staff unable to work as a result of childcare responsibilities, for example, can be furloughed where there is no underlying risk of redundancy.

    Q:           Which staff should I furlough?

    A:            This will be a decision specific to your business but considerations will include which staff             the business has no requirement for or a reduced requirement during the outbreak. In the      hospitality sector, most staff will be affected and are likely to be furloughed unless the            business can be adapted to provide eg takeaway food in which case some or all staff may be      productive and retained. In other sectors the outbreak may have led to a reduced                 requirement for certain roles, at least for the time being. The residential property sector has       been particularly badly affected, for instance, and those employed in estate agencies or                             in residential conveyancing work will find themselves with little or no work until normality is        restored. Furloughing staff allows organisations to retain staff at almost full pay when they would otherwise have been redundant.

    Q:           How do I ensure fairness when deciding who to furlough?

    A:            Where there are a number of staff carrying out the same or similar roles and a reduced requirement for their services during the outbreak it may be necessary to select which staff      members you wish to retain. This may give rise to problems as those selected for furlough may consider that this is a sign that they are less valued than those retained and those retained may feel resentful that their colleagues are effectively being paid to stay at home while they may be working harder than usual.

    In particular, employers should be careful about any potential discrimination claims which could be brought under   the  Equality Act 2010 (‘EQA’) One solution to this is to rotate staff on          furlough. This can be done provided that each period of furlough is at least 3 consecutive weeks. Employees can be furloughed for 3 weeks and then brought back and a colleague can be furloughed for the next 3 weeks and so   on.

    Alternatively, employers can carry out a selection exercise using objective criteria as they               would in a redundancy exercise, when deciding who to furlough. We can advise you further                in relation to this process.

    Q:           I have a pool of several employees all of whom do the same type of role and I need to choose who to furlough. Am I allowed to choose those who are in the higher risk          categories given that it makes more sense for them to stay at home

    Whilst it might seem logical to simply choose to furlough those employees who have underlying health conditions, are pregnant or are older, businesses must be aware of the risk of potential discrimination claims.

    If an employer decides to apply a blanket policy of furloughing all employees who fall within the higher risk groups, someone who falls within the high-risk group who is also disabled, for example, might be able to argue that such a blanket policy is more likely to disadvantage disabled people. This could give rise to a claim for indirect disability discrimination or a failure to make reasonable adjustments. Such claims could only be successfully resisted if you could justify the decision so it will be necessary to consider the justification defence very carefully at the time of making the decision.  Are there any adjustments you can make for the disabled employee to enable them to              remain working at full pay but ensure they are not placed at risk?

    Similar considerations apply in respect of pregnant employees or older employees as there could be potential claims of sex/maternity or age discrimination. If an employee in a high-risk group requires specific IT facilities in order to continue working, could efforts be made to set these up at their home? If it is absolutely essential for a particular role to be carried out in the workplace, is it possible to arrange for such work to be done outside normal office hours such that the employee would not have to come into contact with others? A safer option would be to draw up an objective set of criteria which doesn’t target specific groups. If you are concerned about the implications in   respect of pregnant, disabled or older employees, you should seek legal advice.

    Q:           How long can I furlough staff for?

    A:            The scheme is temporary and is for a 4 month period starting on 1 March 2020. It may be             extended beyond the 4 month period in due course but we will have to wait and see. You can apply                at any time during this period.

    Q:           I do not run a business but employ a nanny. Can I furlough my nanny?

    A:            Yes, provided the nanny is paid through a payroll and had been prior to 19 March 2020 they can be furloughed.

    Q:           Is the furlough scheme “means tested” in any way?

    A:            No, all organisations are eligible to apply

    Q:           Does the furlough scheme apply to all employees or only full time staff?

    A:            Yes, any employee can be furloughed whether part time or full time or an agency worker

    Q:          Can I furlough my staff for part of the week only?

    A:            No, when on furlough, an employee cannot undertake any work for or on behalf of the   organisation or for any associated organisation

    Q:           Can staff I have furloughed work anywhere else during furlough leave?

    A:            This will depend on their contracts of employment. If, as is often the case, there is a        restriction on the employee working elsewhere during their employment then the fact that              they are furloughed will make no difference to this and, on the face of it they cannot work               elsewhere. If, however, they are being paid less than their usual salary eg 80% only then the               employer should consider any request from employees to work elsewhere. A flat refusal to allow employees to work elsewhere in these circumstances could amount to a breach of the implied term to maintain trust and confidence and potentially give rise to a claim for constructive dismissal.

    Q:           How much are furloughed employees entitled to receive?

    A:            Furloughed employees will receive the lower of 80% of their regular wage or £2,500 a month. Employees who earn under £3,215 a month will receive less than £2,500 a month. This is because for those earning £3,125 a month 80% of salary is £2,500. Employees who earn less than £3,125 a month normally, will get 80% of their salary for three months (or more).

    Employees earning in excess £3,125 a month will have the £2,500 cap applied. These employees will receive less than 80% of their salary for those three months (or more) unless the employer chooses to supplement it.

    Q:           What do I include when calculating my employee’s salary?

    A:            Regular wages, variable PAYE wages, fees and compulsory commission and bonuses can all be included in calculating the regular wage figure. Discretionary bonuses and commissions, tips, tronc shares, and the value of non cash benefits eg insurance or the use of a company car cannot be included.

    The calculation is based on an employee’s actual monthly wage before tax as at the last pay period before 19 March 2020. If the employee has variable pay then for those employed for 12 months prior to the claim, the claim is for the higher of either the same month’s earnings last year or the average monthly earnings for the 2019/20 tax year. For those employed for less than 12 months, the claim is an average of the monthly earnings of their period of work.

    Q:           What happens to annual leave/holiday whilst an employee is furloughed?

    A:            The employee’s entitlement to annual leave will continue to accrue during furlough leave. Employers may wish to consider requesting that employees take some of their annual leave either before their furlough starts or during the furlough leave. Employers can require employees to take holiday by serving a notice on the employee of at least twice the duration of the holiday it requires the employee to take, so, for example, if you require an employee to take a week’s holiday you will need to give at least 10 working days’ notice. It may be advisable to only request that a proportion of annual leave is taken at this time given the restrictions currently in place on travel and other activities. Special rules have been introduced to provide that employees can carry over up to 4 weeks of annual leave into the next 2 holiday years.

    Q:           Can I require my staff to undertake training whilst on furlough leave?

    A:            Yes, provided that they do not carry out any services for the organisation or generate revenue

    Q:          What about employees on the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage as their earnings will fall below this level if they are furloughed?

    A:           Employees are only entitled to the NMW or NLW if they are working. If the 80% will drop them below that threshold then employers can pay the lower rate if they are not working. If they are required to complete any training whilst furloughed they will be entitled to receive the NMW or NLW so the 80% would have to be topped up in those circumstances.

    Q:           Do furloughed staff have to pay tax and NI?

    A:            Yes, employees furloughed because of Coronavirus – Covid-19 will still pay income tax and national insurance and pension contributions (if applicable) on the reduced salary they receive.

    Q:           My company pays more than the minimum pension contributions required by auto enrolment. Do we still have to pay the increased level of contribution to staff furloughed?

    A:            You should top up to the level of the enhanced pension contribution as per the contract of employment unless you have reached an agreement to vary the contract with the employee

    Q:           Can I reclaim wages if I have asked staff to take a pay cut or work reduced hours?

    A:            No, the scheme is only for staff who are not working

    Q:           Can staff on long term sick leave be furloughed?

    A:            Yes, whether an employer wishes to furlough staff on long term sick leave may depend on what they are being paid. If they are being paid contractual company sick pay then this may make commercial sense.

    Q:           Can employees on maternity leave or other statutory leave be furloughed?

    A:            For those on maternity leave or parental, paternity, adoption leave, etc the rules regarding statutory payments still apply and they will continue to be entitled to receive statutory maternity pay where eligible.

    It would appear that if your business offers enhanced contractual maternity pay, then it would be possible to furlough that employee in order to receive financial assistance with the payment of any enhanced maternity pay. However, at present it is not entirely clear how this would work in practice. There is nothing in the guidance which would prevent a woman on maternity leave from agreeing to be furloughed, thus bringing her maternity leave to an end. This would be likely to  prevent her from returning to her maternity leave at a later date.

    Q:           How do I inform employees that they are furloughed?

    A:           You must consult with employees with a view to obtaining their agreement to a variation in their contract of employment. It is advisable to inform the employee of your proposal initially and explain that you will confirm the proposal in writing and seek their written agreement to it. A template letter notifying an employee of potential furlough leave is available on request at admin@premier-legal.co.uk.

    Q:           How do I end furlough leave and require employees to return to work?

    A:           You may wish to contact the employee informally first to advise them that their furlough is to end and of the date they are required to attend work and follow this up with a letter of confirmation. We have come across many situations in which furloughed employees have resisted attempts to bring the furlough period to an end and we have come across some astonishing excuses – that they have started decorating, for example, and want to finish it first! Unfortunately, some individuals seem to be regarding being furloughed as a period of extended holiday and forget that the purpose is to assist businesses to survive and to keep people employed at a time of national crisis. A request to return to work is a lawful and reasonable request and an employee who unreasonably refuses can be subject to disciplinary action in the usual way.

    Q:           I wish to bring staff back to work following a period of furlough but they are resisting on the basis that they are concerned for their health and safety. How should I deal with this?

    A:           It will be important for employers to address concerns that employees have about health and safety in the workplace and risks associated with returning to work. Employers will need to carry out a specific Coronavirus – Covid-19 workplace risk assessment. Employers will also need to be able to reassure employees that they are able to adequately implement social distancing measures in the workplace, that there are procedures and facilities in place for avoiding/minimising exposure by the use of personal protective equipment, sanitisers and regular hand washing and limiting interaction with visitors to the work premises. Employers should respond to any issues raised by employees and seek to reassure them. If it is possible for the employee to work from home then steps should be taken to implement home working. If this is not possible and if the employee refuses to return to work despite a safe system of work and safe working environment then an employer will need to follow the usual process for disciplinary action and may ultimately be able to dismiss if the employee refuses to work. We recommend that specific legal advice is sought in these circumstances.

    Q:           I need to introduce a pay cut for staff. Can I inform them that their pay will be reduced by 20% next month?

    A:           Many employers are having to implement cost saving measures in these difficult times. Whilst it is unlikely to come as a surprise to employees in the current circumstances, employers must still follow a process when implementing a pay cut. It is advisable to notify the employees first of the risk of a pay cut being introduced and then to write to them officially giving them notice of the proposal. Employers will need to obtain the agreement of employees to a pay cut. We recommend that legal advice is sought if you wish to introduce a reduction in pay and we can assist you with the process. It is not necessary and will not always be appropriate to introduce a company wide pay cut. In circumstances where not all jobs are affected, employers will need to give consideration to the criteria to apply and ensure that they do not inadvertently fall foul of discrimination law.

    Q:           If the furlough scheme ends in June, I shall need to make staff redundant. How and when should I start this process?

    A:           If it appears inevitable that redundancies will have to be made, employers may wish to start redundancy consultation processes in good time before the furlough scheme ends in order to minimise wage costs incurred. For employers proposing to make fewer than 20 employees redundant, there are no prescribed timescales for consultation. For those proposing to make more than 20 employees redundant at one establishment in a period of 90 days or less, there are collective consultation procedures that must be complied with failing which claims for unfair dismissal and protective awards are likely to arise. Where 20-99 redundancies are proposed, consultation must start at least 30 days before the first redundancy takes effect. Where more than 100 redundancies are proposed consultation must commence at least 45 days before the first redundancy.

    If you have any specific queries arising out of any of the above or the implications of Coronavirus- Covid-19 in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts at the Nottingham Head Office Number: 0115 856 1625 who will be pleased to assist.

     

     

     

  3. Taxation of Notice Pay after 6th April 2018

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    From 6th April 2018, new rules on the taxation of termination payments come into force pursuant to changes to the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act ITEPA 2003. All payments in lieu of notice (PILONS) will be both taxable and subject to Class 1 NICs.

    Current position

    Currently, if there is no provision in an employment contract that provides for a PILON an employer has the option to pay any payment in lieu of notice gross.

    This is in contrast to situations where there is an express right to make a PILON in an employment contract or a discretion to do so. Such a payment will be taxable and subject to national insurance contributions.

    New Rules

    From 6th April 2018 all payments in lieu of notice will be taxable and subject to NI and the employer will be deemed to have made a PILON, even where there is no PILON clause in the contract, in respect of basic pay paid for unworked notice.  Any pay and benefits over and above basic pay for the notice period can still benefit from the annual £30,000 exemption to tax on termination payments.

    Payments made before 6th April 2018 continue to be taxed as currently and benefit from the £30,000 annual exemption if they are non contractual.

    There is currently some confusion about how the new rules will apply initially.  It had been thought that if termination of employment happens before 6th April 2018 and pay in lieu of notice is made after that date that the new regime would apply.  However, HMRC has said that the critical date is termination of employment.  This is confusing as it is at odds with the legislation.  The general consensus of opinion at present is therefore to make any PILONS that are contemplated in the near future before 6th April 2018, where possible, in which case the existing rules will apply.

    Recommendations

    We recommend that contracts of employment are amended to include a PILON clause (if they do not already) as this may avoid the need to carry out a new statutory calculation which will otherwise apply where a payment in lieu of notice is made after 6th April.

  4. Annual Increase in Employment Tribunal Awards 2018

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    From 6th April 2018 the key increases in employment tribunal awards are:

    • Maximum week’s pay for redundancy payments and the unfair dismissal basic award increase to £508 per week from £489
    • Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases to £83,682 from £80,541
  5. National Minimum Wage Increase

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    With effect from 1 April 2018, National Minimum and Living Wages are increased as follows:

    1. 25 years of age and above – £7.83 an hour (previously £7.50)
    2. 21-24    £7.38 (previously £7.05)
    3. 18-20 – £5.90 (previously £5.60)
    4. younger than 18 – £4.20 (previously £4.05)
  6. Employment Tribunal and Acas Statistics published

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    90% increase in single employment tribunal claims submitted

    The Ministry of Justice has published employment tribunal statistics for the period from October to December 2017. This period follows the abolition of employment tribunal fees which were held to be unlawful in July last year.  The figures show that single employment tribunal claims have increased by a dramatic 90% following the abolition of fees.

    It is not thought likely that claims will rise to the same levels as before fees were introduced. The reason for this is that we still have Acas early conciliation and Acas effectively resolve a significant number of cases referred to them before proceedings are issued.

    Acas statistics

    In the most recent quarterly statistics for the period April 2017 to December 2017, Acas received around 1,700 notifications per week.  This rose to 2,200 per week following the abolition of employment tribunal fees.

    Early conciliation succeeded in 17% of cases and of the balance 26% proceeded to employment tribunal and 58% did not. Of those that became employment tribunal cases, 21% subsequently settled via a COT3 agreement with the assistance of Acas.

  7. Do employers have to pay staff to sleep in?

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    The case of Focus Care Agency Limited v Roberts and other cases 2017 considered three appeals involving workers carrying out sleep- in shifts where they were required to carry out duties if necessary.

    The crux of the issue in the three appeals was whether the employees who slept in so that they could perform duties, if needed, engaged in “time work” for the full duration of the shift or whether they were working for National Minimum Wage (“NMW”) purposes only when they were awake to carry out any relevant duties.

    The issue is particularly significant in the care sector where sleep-in shifts commonly arise. The three appeals raised the same broad issue: whether a worker can be carrying out time work in accordance with Regulation 30 of the NMW Regulations even in periods where he or she is permitted to sleep.

    The employees in the first and third appeals (Focus Care Agency Ltd v Roberts and Royal Mencap Society v Tomlinson-Blake) were support workers for vulnerable adults. During night shifts they had no specific tasks to carry out but they had to remain on the employer’s premises in case their help was needed. They were provided with sleeping facilities and were paid at a flat rate for the shift. Ms Tomlinson-Blake received additional pay if she was required to work for more than an hour during the night. The employees in the second appeal (Frudd and anor v The Partington Group Ltd) were a husband and wife team who worked at a caravan site and were required to live there. They were on call several nights a week and had to respond to emergency call- outs. They were paid a flat rate of £8.50 per person per call out.

    In Tomlinson-Blake the employment tribunal had held that the whole period of Ms Tomlinson-Blake’s sleep-in shifts at the employer’s premises amounted to “time work”, irrespective of whether or not she was sleeping. The employer was appealing that decision.

    In the Frudd case an employment tribunal had held that the workers were only doing time work while actually working because they were at home during periods when they were not carrying out duties. Their claim for arrears of pay under the NMW Regulations had therefore failed and they were appealing.

    In the Roberts case an employment tribunal had upheld claims of unpaid wages.

    The Employment Appeal Tribunal heard all three cases together as they raised broadly the same issue: whether a worker could be carrying out “time work” under the NMW Regulations even in periods where he or she was allowed to sleep ie he or she is nevertheless regarded as working by being present at the place of work.

    In Tomlinson-Blake the EAT upheld the tribunal’s decision that the worker was performing time work throughout her shift. The worker was required to be present on site and would have been subject to disciplinary action if she left her post. The employer was under a legal obligation to have a worker present. It was not a case where the worker was able to do as she pleased provided she remained contactable. It was held that the worker was not just available for work but was actually working and therefore entitled to be paid the NMW for the whole period during which she was present.

    In Frudd the EAT remitted the case to a fresh tribunal for a re-hearing.

    In Roberts, the EAT held that the worker was contractually entitled to be paid at a rate that was higher than the NMW for sleep- in duties.

    The ruling has been widely publicised as spelling disaster for an already overstretched care sector. Mencap has a liability of around £20 million as a result of the Roberts decision so it is not surprising that it is appealing to the Court of Appeal.

    The Government has accepted that its official guidance on the matter of payments for sleep-ins was misleading because it stated that this type of work did not qualify for the NMW. The guidance was amended in October 2016 and the Government has taken measures to support providers which not only owe arrears of pay but are also liable for significant underpayment penalties. In July this year, the Government announced that historic penalties in the care sector in respect of any underpayment for sleep-ins that occurred in a pay reference period that ended before 26 July 2017 would be waived. This followed HMRC’s investigations into allegations that employers in the social care sector were underpaying the NMW in respect of sleep in shifts. Employers found to have underpaid their staff after that date will face financial penalties in the usual way. HMRC’s enforcement activity in respect of sleep-in shifts in the care sector was suspended until 2 October 2017.

    In Focus Care Agency and Roberts, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that it was unable to lay down a bright line for those tasked with complying with the law and that a “multifactorial test” must be applied to determine whether sleep-in shifts attract the NMW.

    The EAT held that the proper approach is to start by considering whether the individual was working during the period for which he or she is claiming/claimed. Tribunals should consider the factual matrix and whether the contract provided for the period to be part of the worker’s working hours – whether an identifiable period was specified during which work was to be done.

    The case law authorities identify the following factors as potentially relevant to an assessment of whether a worker is working merely by being present:

    (a) the employer’s purpose in engaging the worker – eg if the employer was required to have someone present by regulatory or statutory rules;
    (b) the extent to which the worker’s activities were restricted by the requirement to be present and at the disposal of the employer including whether the worker is required to remain on the premises throughout the shift;
    (c) degree of responsibility undertaken by the worker. There is a distinction, for example, between the limited degree of responsibility in sleeping in at the premises so as to be able to call the emergency services in the event of a break-in or fire and a night worker in a home for the disabled or elderly where a heavier personal responsibility is placed on the worker to carry out duties that may need to be carried out at night and (d) the immediacy of the need to carry out duties if something untoward occurs.

    The following are various scenarios:

    On call away from home with no sleeping facilities

    In this situation the worker (assuming they are not actually working) is treated as working for the whole of the time that they are available at or near a place of work for the purposes of working and required to be available for such work. This could include cases where a worker is required to sit unoccupied at the workplace, or may leave the workplace but is required to remain near to it. It would not include cases where the worker is allowed to go home or is allowed to use sleeping facilities provided by the employer at or near the workplace.

    On call at or near work with sleeping facilities

    If the worker is on call (ie required to be available for the purposes of working but not actually working) at or near a place of work, and is provided with suitable sleeping facilities for sleeping, time during the hours they are permitted to use those facilities for the purpose of sleeping shall be treated as working time but only when the worker is awake for the purposes of working.

    Time when the worker is asleep, or is awake for a purpose other than work, is therefore not treated as work. Deciding what constitutes work can be difficult in cases where the employee sleeps overnight at the workplace or has their home there.

    On Call at Home

    If the worker is on call at or near the workplace, the on-call time would generally be treated as working time. However, there is an exception where the worker is allowed to be at home and their home is at or near the workplace. In such cases, the on-call time is not treated as working time and only actual work would be counted.

    On 2 November 2017 the Government resumed minimum wage enforcement for healthcare providers after having previously extended its suspension in respect of sleep-in staff. The Voluntary Social Care Compliance Scheme will give healthcare providers that have failed to pay the minimum wage three months to pay back pay to sleep-in staff. Those that opt-out will be subject to HMRC’s usual enforcement regime.

    It is important to point out that section 31 NMWA 1998 makes it a criminal offence to:

    Refuse or wilfully neglect to pay the NMW
    Fail to keep the required records
    Keep false records
    Provide false records or information
    Intentionally obstruct or delay an enforcement officer
    Refuse or neglect to answer questions or provide information to an enforcement officer

    Given the impact of the Roberts decision, any organisation that requires staff to sleep-in would be well advised to err on the side of caution and pay pending further clarification. If you would like further advice or information about this, please contact one of our team.

  8. Advice for Employers during the Olympic Games

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    Big sporting events often present dilemmas for Employers who need to maintain a healthy and productive staffing level.
    With the Rio games taking place between the 5th and 21st August 2016, Acas has issued guidance for those Employers who are concerned about the potential impact and problems that could arise.
    We summarise some of the key points from the Acas guidance:
    Flexibility
    Whether or not you currently operate a flexible working policy, it may be something to consider as a short term measure throughout the period of the Olympic Games. Employees could for example be permitted to come in a little later or finish sooner, provided that the time is later made up.
    Allowing staff to watch some of the more popular events at work or listen to the radio might be another option.
    It is important to remember the importance of applying a fair and consistent policy during this period.
    Time off
    Employees may wish to take time off to watch some of the sporting events. Whilst normally Employers require annual leave to be booked well in advance of the event, they may choose to relax the rules during this time, in order to consider late requests for work.
    Again, it is important for Employers to try to be fair and consistent when allowing time off. The games coincide with the summer holiday period so employers may also be receiving requests from parents who are trying to balance work and childcare. Employers may wish to adopt a “first come first served” policy for booking leave during this period.
    Sickness Absence
    Levels of attendance should be monitored carefully during this time and if there is a pattern of unauthorised absence noted then it could result in formal proceedings.
    Use of Social Media and Websites
    To avoid employees making increased use of their own personal devices and/or work equipment to watch coverage of the games, Employers may wish to remind staff of their social media and use of internet policies.

  9. Drivers take Uber to employment tribunal over employment status

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    The employment tribunal case, if successful, could have important ramifications for Uber’s operations in the UK.
    The facts basically are that Uber, a taxi booking app, makes use of self-employed workers, to whom they do not guarantee basic employment rights. Uber considers drivers self-employed “partners” on the basis that they are able to enjoy the flexibility of picking their own hours and being their own boss.
    Uber drivers supported by their union, are seeking to argue that Uber should be classifying them as having “worker status” rather than self-employed, because of the work that they do. If their claim succeeds this would entitle Uber drivers to basic employment rights such as the national minimum wage, paid holidays, and the rights to maternity and paternity leave, to name a few.
    There has historically been a lot of confusion between the status and rights associated with employees, workers and the self-employed.
    If you are self-employed then you are generally in business on your own account.
    European legislation introduced a broader category of “employee” by introducing the concept of a “worker”. Workers are individuals who carry out work or perform services for another party who is not a client or customer of any business or profession carried on by the individual so this will include short term casual workers, agency workers or contractors. They are guaranteed similar rights to employees, in that they are entitled to receive holiday pay, sick pay, national minimum wage and are protected from unlawful deductions from their pay.
    It will certainly be interesting to see how the Tribunal rules on this matter, given its wider implications. We shall be reporting on the outcome so watch this space for more updates on this case.
    If you require advice to determine the correct status of those you work with or employ then please do not hesitate to contact the Employment Law Team at 0115 988 6211

  10. Employment Tribunal orders Leeds United to pay £290,000.00 to Lucy Ward

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    Leeds United football club (“the Club”) have been ordered to pay their former employee Lucy Ward in the region of £290,000.00 following her successful employment tribunal claim, earlier this year.
    Ms Ward was employed as the club’s welfare and education officer for 17 years, claimed she was unfairly dismissed from her role by the Club’s owner Massimo Cellino on account of her relationship with her partner and former head coach Neil Redfearn. Mr Redfearn has previously been dismissed by Mr Cellino.
    Leeds United argued that Ms Ward was dismissed for exceeding her annual holiday entitlement. They claimed that Ms Ward had failed to work on a Wednesday and that she had been taking excessive unauthorised leave in order to work as a commentator for the BBC. Ms Ward’s legal team argued that her working pattern was well known and had been agreed with her line manager. Furthermore she had not been spoken to about these working practices which had been in place for 11 years.
    At the tribunal the Judge preferred Ms Ward’s evidence and ruled that the alleged reasons for the club terminating Ms Ward’s employment were a “sham” and agreed that the Club had taken a “sexist” view.
    Ms Ward is reported to be delighted that her case has concluded with a judgment that is reflective of the losses she has suffered. From the £229,000.00, the Club have been ordered to pay £127,229.81 for sex discrimination, £5,525.00 for unfair dismissal and £55,500 in respect of Ms Ward’s liability to pay tax to the HMRC. The club has also been ordered to pay Ms Ward’s legal costs which are reported to be in the region of £100,000. The judgment from the tribunal case also reveals that the Club’s senior staff including Mr Cellino & the club have been ordered to take part in equality training.

    If you are concerned by any of the issues raised in this article then please contact the employment team