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Employment Law

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.

What to do about employees who test positive…

Posted on: March 23rd, 2022 by Halborns Limited

Individuals are no longer legally required to self-isolate if they test positive for Covid-19 – can you require them to stay away from work?

It’s undoubtedly a tricky decision. On the one hand, you have an obligation to provide a safe working environment for all employees (particularly those who are clinically vulnerable). On the other there’s no legal requirement for those testing positive to remain at home – and if they’re feeling well enough to work should you even encourage that? How are you dealing with it – take our quick survey!

Usual precautions – obviously, your usual health and safety obligations apply, especially considering those in your business who may be more vulnerable if they catch Covid-19. If someone is asymptomatic they may not know they’re positive, so having continued communication, support and safety measures in place should reassure everyone that you’re managing risks.

Update risks assessments – don’t forget to update your health and safety risk assessment as the Covid-19 risks change. An up to date assessment with well-communicated actions should reassure employees that you’re taking continued wellbeing seriously.

Enforcing isolation – if you’re going to insist that those testing positive remain at home, be sure to check their employment contracts to identify whether the leave should be paid. Continuing to provide full pay during any enforced leave will minimise potential claims for unlawful deduction from wages. There’s also a chance, with or without paid leave, they could claim you’re in breach of contract if they’re ready, willing and able to work but you’re not allowing them to do so.

Evidently, managing Covid-19 risks continues to be a challenge for employers – get in touch if you need our advice. How are you dealing with employees testing positive? Take our quick survey!

 

This update is accurate on the date it was published (23 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.

 

Constant complainers – new tribunal decision

Posted on: March 16th, 2022 by Halborns Limited

A recent employment appeal tribunal (EAT) decision has held that it is possible to dismiss fairly an employee who raises repeated, frivolous grievances.

Background 

An employee raised multiple grievances against his senior managers. He was warned he could be disciplined if the grievances were found to be frivolous, to which he raised another grievance in response. Another grievance meeting was arranged which he refused to attend despite being told this was a reasonable management instruction. The process continued in his absence and he was ultimately dismissed for gross misconduct. The EAT held his dismissal was fair.

Practical takeaways

Consider the facts – this decision doesn’t mean that you can dismiss wherever an employee raises a number of grievances – it establishes that you must consider the entirety of the employee’s behaviour. In this case, the employee’s refusal to withdraw the grievances and attend the grievance meeting contributed to the EAT’s decision that the dismissal was fair.

Focus on the merits – always carefully consider the merits of each grievance raised and follow your grievance process to ensure a thorough investigation of the facts rather than focussing on the behaviour of the employee raising concerns.

Document decisions – if you do find that any grievances raised are frivolous or unfounded after investigation, ensure this is clearly communicated and documented with evidence of your decision-making process and the facts you relied upon at the time.

Take early advice – these kinds of cases are easy to get wrong, particularly if the grievances could amount to ‘blowing the whistle’. Take advice from us at an early stage to ensure you’re well placed to act appropriately and lawfully.

We can help train your teams to manage constant complaints more effectively and efficiently – get in touch to find out more.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was published (17 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.

Refusal to use preferred gender pronouns

Posted on: March 2nd, 2022 by Halborns Limited

An employment tribunal has found that a doctor’s refusal (due to his Christian faith) to use clients’ preferred gender pronouns is not a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010. Therefore his dismissal did not amount to discrimination. The decision is being appealed.

Background

A doctor was dismissed because he refused to identify clients by their preferred gender pronouns, instead insisting on using pronouns related to the sex clients were assigned at birth. He argued that he’d been discriminated against because his views were based on his Christian faith. The tribunal held that his view was not protected by the Equality Act 2010 (EQA) as it was “mere opinion” (as opposed to a philosophical belief). As a result the dismissal from his employment was not discriminatory.

Appeal

The appeal is being heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on 28 and 29 March so we’ll update you with the practical impact as soon as we know the outcome. The tribunal’s decision in this case does appear to conflict with an EAT decision last year where a belief in there only being two sexes in human beings was held to be a genuine philosophical belief and protected from discrimination under the EQA.

What next?

This case highlights the challenges in balancing the rights and views of different employees. Irrespective of the appeal outcome, ensuring you have a robust dignity at work and equal opportunities policy in place is a great starting point. Lead from the top, train regularly, and reinforce what’s acceptable, encouraged, and where to raise concerns.

We can help with the right policies and training – get in touch.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was published (03 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.