October, 2018

New law relating to itemised payslip

The Employment Rights Act 1996 (Itemised Pay Statement) (Amendment) Order 2018, which takes effect in April 2019, will require employers to provide additional information about the number of hours that are being paid within the payslip of employees with variable hours of work.

At the same time as this requirement to provide additional information, the Employment Rights Act 1996 will be amended to extend the right to receive a payslip to all workers. This means that all workers will be will be entitled to information about the number of hours they are being paid for in a pay period.

Payslips will need to state the total number of hours being paid for with separate figures for different types of work or different rates of pay.

The aim of this change is to help workers see whether the number of hours they have been paid for corresponds with the number of hours they have worked. It is intended to empower workers to challenge their employers if they think there has been an underpayment.

  • Posted on October 16th, 2018

Does your workplace suffer from “presenteeism”?

So called “presenteeism” which is when people come to work when they feel unwell, rather than remain absent, has more than tripled since 2010, according to a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Nearly 90% of over 1000 employers said they had observed presenteeism in their organisation over the past year, compared to just 26% in 2010.

Of the employers surveyed only a quarter had taken steps to discourage presenteeism. It is important that managers do not simply focus on reducing absenteeism figures through warnings and disciplinary action – if employees are coming into work ill, it is counterproductive and is likely to upset those staff are well and productive.

To drive down absence, it is also important to take positive steps to improve wellbeing and engagement. An open, supportive culture, with effective leadership and people management practices, is crucial so promote this by ensuring that senior managers act as role models, demonstrating healthy behaviours and a work/life balance. Finally, ensure that staff are guided effectively – ensure that they know they are not expected to attend work when ill.

  • Posted on October 16th, 2018

Be clear during disciplinary hearings, that mitigating factors are taken into consideration

A civil servant who was dismissed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after he posted “racist and political” tweets from a personal social media account was unfairly dismissed, according to an employment tribunal.

The DWP’s behavioural policy, confirms that employees must not signal any political affiliation, and must “avoid making any kind of personal attack or tasteless or offensive remarks to individuals or groups” in person or on social media accounts.  Employees are obliged to review the behavioural policy on an annual basis, and are warned that failing to comply can have serious consequences, including dismissal.

It was alleged that the employee had breached the standards of the social media policy in tweets from his personal Twitter account which included messages referencing far-right extremist Tommy Robinson; US president Donald Trump; and “white male Christian” gun owners. The employee was investigated, and shown nine tweets from his account that contained “tasteless offensive, racist and political” comments, which allegedly breached the policy. He accepted that some of the comments were offensive, but said that during a previous security presentation a trainer had indicated that if nothing on a personal Twitter account associated the writer with his employer, it did not matter what was tweeted.

He apologised for his actions, and said that he did not know he was breaching company policy. At the subsequent disciplinary meeting, the employee was not entitled to comment on each of the tweets and the disciplinary manager failed to look into what was said during the training sessions referred to.  The employee was dismissed for gross misconduct and a subsequent appeal was not upheld.

The tribunal found that during the disciplinary process, there was no investigation into the fact that the employee had been told that tweets would not breach the behavioural policy as long as there was no link with his employer.

What is clear from this case is that allegations must be made clear to employees so they are able to fully defend them. The employer did not take into account that the employee had expressed contrition. The failure of the employer to consider the mitigating circumstances led to the tribunal’s decision that ‘gross’ was not the correct label to attach to the misconduct. Employers must consider any detail which may differentiate the case with another which blatantly would warrant a finding of gross misconduct.

Factors such as a clean disciplinary record and admission of guilt will be taken into consideration by a tribunal and therefore must also influence the employer’s decision on dismissal.

  • Posted on October 16th, 2018

Morrisons appeals group litigation process in GDPR case

Morrisons supermarket is appealing a GDPR court case after a criminal breach made 100,000 people’s payroll details public. Details of salaries, bank details and National Insurance numbers were made public by a disgruntled employee who had legitimate access to the company’s entire payroll. Morrisons became the focus of a group litigation process – meaning 5,000 of the 100,000 workers affected by this data breach were able to sue their employer. The employee responsible has been sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for unlawfully disclosing personal data; and fraud.

Morrisons is fighting the judgement saying that the original ruling was divergent from data laws. Their barrister says the firm is “completely innocent” in the event. They argue that under the Data Protection Act 1998 they are excluded from liability.

However, under GDPR laws, introduced earlier this year, there new provisions were introduced, to cover data security including the need to report a breach within 72 hours, to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

  • Posted on October 16th, 2018

Following on from World Mental Health day, how can employers overcome stigmas and support staff suffering from mental health conditions?

Research has shown that 42% of UK employees call in sick citing a physical illness when the real reason is a mental health issue. The report found that over half of employees admitted suffering from stress, a third from anxiety and a quarter from depression. But, many workers suffer in silence and apparently only 15% would tell their employer the truth about having a mental health issue.

Open communication about mental health is essential and managers must reassure people that there are no stigmas around mental health. Ensuring that staff feel able to tell the truth will enable employers to properly support staff who have mental health issues at work.

It is important to talk about stress and mental health and in order to do this line managers will need guidance so that they are trained to recognise the early signs of stress and depression.  Employers should monitor absence and take short term absences seriously, conducting return to work meetings in order to allow employees space to discuss reasons for absence. During the return to work interview managers should feel equipped to probe the given reason for absence and to offer a listening ear to staff.

Ask if the employee needs support and let them know that the employer cares about their wellbeing.  If a mental health issue is identified, consider if flexible working arrangements or adjustments that might help. Allowing the employee to work from home one day a week, or come to work later might make all the difference to the issue and create stability to allow the employee to return to work.

Understanding employee issues and getting to the root causes of absenteeism can make a difference to the wellbeing of your teams and to promoting a healthy mental health culture at work.

  • Posted on October 16th, 2018

Make sure that maternity returners are treated fairly

A senior banker has won claims for sex discrimination, maternity discrimination and harassment at an Employment Tribunal, after she complained her job had been “marginalised” after she gave birth.

The employee joined Commerzbank in 2012. She became deputy to the head of market compliance in May 2014. She was identified as a potential successor for the current head of market compliance and when the role became available she was interviewed for the post. In November 2015, she announced that she was pregnant. An external candidate was offered the head of markets compliance role in December 2015.

In March 2016, the employee took maternity leave and a junior employee was designated her maternity cover. She returned to work in September 2016 but felt that her position had been “eroded” since she returned from maternity leave and she complained that she was “feeling marginalised”. She also wondered if she might have been successful for the promoted post, had she not been pregnant at the time of the recruitment process.

The tribunal found there had been “no real intention” for the employee to return to her duties and that, as suspected, she had not been fairly considered for promotion in 2015. This case demonstrates the importance of ensuring that pregnant employees are treated entirely equally – in every respect, including being considered for promotion; and that maternity returners are given their “old job” on their return.  Regardless of how effective maternity cover might be, returners must be treated fairly and be given credibility as a valued employee.

  • Posted on October 8th, 2018

Want to attract good candidates? Keep in touch is key!

Nearly three-quarters of jobseekers would abandon an online application if it took 15 minutes or longer to complete, according to a new report which also discovered that almost one in 10 job hunters would consider leaving an application after only five minutes.

The key is to make applications quick and easy to encourage applicants to proceed to completion of the process.  It is also vitally important to remember to send a response, even if this is automated, to all who apply and to keep them in the loop, even if it’s an email to say their application hasn’t been successful.

The report also found over two-thirds of applicants said having a contact who can update them on their individual applications was important. Of those applicants who reported having a bad experience with an employer’s career website, a third attributed this to not having a contact available during the process.

  • Posted on October 8th, 2018

Restaurants are to be banned from keeping tips

A recent Government announcement has suggested that new legislation will be introduced as part of the push to end exploitative employment practices, following a public outcry causes by some restaurants skimming off a share of tips.

A restaurant previously criticised for such practice is TGI Fridays, where workers held a series of strikes earlier this year over a new pay policy that redistributes customer tips from waiters to kitchen staff.

The Trade Union has said this action is long overdue and that they would seek assurances that the legislation delivered fair tips. The move forms part of the UK Government’s response to the rise of insecure work – which includes those freelancing, contracting, in the gig economy or staff on zero hours contracts.

  • Posted on October 8th, 2018

Is the tide changing for contractors?

Experts are expecting an onslaught of legal action from contractors who have been classified as workers, after a settlement was reached with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for thousands of pounds.

A marketing and business development consultant lodged a claim at the Employment Tribunal for £4,200 in unpaid holiday against HMRC and four other parties earlier this year. She argued that it was unfair to be treated as a worker for tax purposes whilst not being given workers’ rights in return.

Under the IR35 rules, which were introduced in April 2000, freelancers who work through a personal services company for a third party are required to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employees.

Initially, contractors decided whether they fell within IR35. In April 2017, the law was changed to require public sector organisations to determine the tax status of their freelancers instead. In this case, HMRC engaged a consultancy company for marketing services. When the tax rules changed in 2017, HMRC analysed the relationship using its Check Employment Status for Tax tool and determined that IR35 should apply. The consultant argued that, as she was now deemed an agency worker, she should be entitled to holiday as if she were an HMRC employee. The parties settled on the morning the tribunal was due to start.

This case sends a very clear message that if contractors are treated like workers then they should receive worker entitlements. Given the numbere of public sector contractors who are affected by this type of arrangement, it is expected that this settlement will give rise to a number of similar challenges.

  • Posted on October 8th, 2018

Mental Health Awareness Day – what should managers do to help their staff?

Today is Mental Health Awareness day and managers play an important role in supporting employee wellbeing. The sooner a manager is aware that a team member is experiencing mental health issues, the sooner support can be provided.

Possible signs of mental illness include the following:

  • changes in behaviour or mood – signs such as withdrawal from normal office acitivity
  • drop in productivity or quality of work or focus
  • appearing tired, anxious or withdrawn
  • absence from work

What is important is that managers create an environment where staff feel able to open up about feelings.

Talking to a team member with potential mental health issues is not easy but it is better to try to resolve concerns early, being approachable and sensitive.  This will allow both parties to agree a strategy of support and timelines for effective ongoing monitoring and support. Maintaining regular contact is vital and will provide regular opportunity for the manager to check in and demonstrate organisational support – which will ultimately assist in the improving health and well-being of the employee.

  • Posted on October 8th, 2018

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