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Employment Law

Avoid getting your fingers burnt with hot-desking

Posted on: May 10th, 2022 by Halborns Limited

A recent tribunal decision has shown that hot-desking policies need to be carefully drafted and implemented to avoid discrimination claims.

Background 

An employee required a specialist chair, desk and equipment whilst working due to a disability. On that basis, occupational health recommended that her desk should be her own and not used as a hot desk. Desk space was at a premium so the employer decided to allow anyone to sit at the desk (and in doing so disrupting her specialist equipment). The tribunal held that the employee had been put at a substantial disadvantage by the hot-desking policy and she was successful in her claim for disability discrimination.

Practical takeaways

Reasonable adjustments – don’t forget that disabled employees put at a substantial disadvantage by a policy have the right to reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. The law is complicated so take early advice.

Practice into policy – clearly, this case doesn’t mean the end for hot-desking but it’s a reminder that people trends need a robust review before turning into policy.

Inclusive policies – one-size-fits-all policies without mechanisms for review and flexibility can often lead to disadvantages being suffered by those with protected characteristics and subsequent discrimination claims.

We’re adding a new ‘hot-desking’ policy to our Intelligent Employment platform this week! Find out more about accessing Intelligent Employment. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (10 May 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Employment Bill to be delayed…again

Posted on: May 4th, 2022 by Halborns Limited

The government has once again postponed the Employment Bill meaning day-one flexible working and changes to carer’s leave (along with a host of other proposals) will be further delayed.

The Employment Bill included the following proposals – all of which are now delayed indefinitely:

Flexible working – the right to request flexible working arrangements without any qualifying service (currently 26 weeks).

Carer’s leave – a new ‘day-one’ right for unpaid carers to take up to five working days of unpaid leave per year from their usual employment. Employers would not be entitled to deny a request for a carer’s leave, only postpone in specific circumstances.

Neonatal care leave – providing up to 12 weeks’ paid leave for parents of babies requiring neonatal care.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination – extending redundancy protection from the point the employee notifies their employer of their pregnancy until six months after the end of their maternity leave.

Tips – all tips and services charges were to be passed onto workers in full on a fair and transparent basis.

Predictable working arrangements – a new right for all workers to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks’ service.

There’s nothing stopping you from implementing some of these ideas despite the government’s delay. In a challenging recruitment market, employee benefits setting you apart from competitors can only help to secure the best individuals.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (04 May 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Is it possible to stop employees moving to the competition?

Posted on: April 20th, 2022 by Halborns Limited

Clients often tell us that post-termination restrictions (otherwise known as restrictive covenants) are never enforceable – we beg to differ. We always explain that well-drafted, up-to-date covenants that don’t go beyond protecting ‘legitimate business interests’ are enforceable. A recent High Court decision shows that in some cases even non-compete clauses lasting 12 months are capable of enforcement in respect of senior employees.

Background 

A director had resigned from her role in order to move to a direct competitor and had created a ‘business plan’ for her new role with how she would transition clients worth £250,000 a year to the new employer. She tried to argue that her non-compete clause with her previous employer was unenforceable. The High Court disagreed – her previous employer was entitled to protect client connections that had been secured by her for 12 months.

Practical takeaways 

Legitimate interest – be clear about the specific interests you want to protect. In this case, the previous employer only sought to protect their legitimate business interests with a non-compete clause relating to the services that they provided and the specific geographical location in which they operated.

Be specific – casting the net too broadly will likely render restrictions unenforceable. In this case, the previous employer had limited their restrictions to prevent former employees from working in direct competition with them in the North West of England and Hertfordshire for 12 months. The High Court held that this was no wider than reasonably necessary to protect their interests.

Poorly drafted post-termination restrictions may not be worth the paper they’re written on – get in touch to review and update yours to ensure you’re securing the maximum protection possible. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was published (21 April 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Legal lightbulb – people law, policies, and practice

Posted on: April 6th, 2022 by Halborns Limited

As part of keeping you in our focus, our ‘legal lightbulb’ update ensures you’re on top of the latest changes in legislation, case law, and people trends.

Right to work checks reminder

From today, you must carry out an online right to work check for those holding Biometric Residence Cards and Permits or a Frontier Worker Permit. It will no longer be possible to carry out manual checks. Here’s more detail in our previous update.

Increase to SSP and more 

From 11 April 2022 weekly statutory rates/limits will increase for:

  1. Sick pay – from £96.35 to £99.35 per week
  2. Parental bereavement pay – from £151.97 to £156.66 per week
  3. Maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay – from £151.97 to £156.66 per week (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate).

Disability reporting consultation 

The consultation is looking for responses on improving transparency and reporting practices to help build a more inclusive working environment. You have until 08 April to have your say here.

Ethnicity pay gap reporting 

The government has confirmed they will not be legislating for mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting “at this stage” to avoid increasing reporting burdens on businesses as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic. This summer, new guidance is expected to provide support for employers wanting to report voluntarily.

People diary dates

May 01-31National Walking Month: can you get those steps in?

May 09-15Mental Health Awareness Week: focussing on reducing loneliness and creating connections

May 21World Meditation Day: finding the right tools to be healthier and happier

 

This update is accurate on the date it was published (06 April 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Offering the bonus bank holiday? Check your contracts

Posted on: March 24th, 2022 by Halborns Limited

If you’re thinking you might not offer time off over the additional bank holiday or might pay in lieu instead, you’ll need to consult your employment contracts. Here’s what you need to know…

Some employees will be entitled contractually to the bank holiday (taking the decision out of your hands unless they’re willing to agree to something different). In summary, if the employee’s employment contract says their holiday entitlement is:

  1. plus bank holidays – they’re entitled to the day off;
  2. plus eight or usual bank holidays – they’re not entitled to the day off;
  3. inclusive of bank holidays – they’re not entitled to the day off because the holiday entitlement already includes bank holidays in the calculation.

Of course, irrespective of what the contract says you can agree to a variation with your employees – so you could give them the extra day even if they’re not entitled to it or you could offer to pay them in lieu if they are. Make sure to confirm any variation in writing.

Get in touch if you need our support or advice. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was published (29 March 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.