January, 2022

Holiday Entitlements — Queen’s Platinum Jubilee 2022

To commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, there will be changes to bank holidays in 2022. The late May bank holiday which normally would have fallen on Monday 30 May 2022 will be moved to Thursday 2 June 2022 and there will be an additional bank holiday on Friday 3 June 2022.

If employees have a contractual right to paid time off on bank holidays, they will be entitled to take paid time off on Thursday 2 June, rather than the usual date in late May.

Whether employees are automatically entitled to the additional bank holiday on 3 June will depend on the wording of their employment contract. As an employer, if your business requires employees to work on bank holidays, then an employee wishing to take a bank holiday as leave would simply follow the annual leave procedure to book the day off. If approved, it would be part of their holiday entitlement and they would be paid for it.

However, you may be an employer who does not require anyone to work on bank holidays. In this instance, your contracts should be worded in a way that references entitlement to the bank holidays and states that employees can book off the remaining 20 (or more) days as they choose.

If your employment contracts specify standard bank holidays then in the event of an additional bank holiday such as the Queen’s Jubilee Bank Holiday 2022, the employee would not be entitled to it.

Employers should check the wording of employees’ contracts to understand their obligations; there won’t be the automatic right to the additional day, or to time off on fixed bank holidays. Instead, employers may be able to ask employees to work on 3 June 2022 but give them the day off at a different time in the year.

  • Posted on January 15th, 2022

Age Discrimination by an ‘inclusive’ employer.

A 75-year-old woman with dementia has won a legal claim against a well-known supermarket chain for age and disability discrimination and unfair dismissal.

The claimant had worked at the supermarket for 20 years but resigned in September 2020 after feeling “pushed out of the business” and “too old to be there,” according to an employment tribunal. Her co-workers had noticed her slowing down at work, becoming ‘flustered,’ and misplacing her personal belongings, and she had walked to work on one occasion because she couldn’t remember where the bus stop was. The claimant was asked by her manager twice if she wanted to retire from her job.

The tribunal judgement said: “The claimant was treated unfavourably in that she was asked on more than one occasion to retire, that her bag was rummaged in by someone else and that her symptoms were presented to her in a meeting which resulted in her becoming agitated.”

Citing age and disability-related harassment, the tribunal found the claimant resigned only after her employer breached “the implied term of trust and confidence” so was unfairly dismissed.

121 HR Solutions can assist in the training of managers in areas of Equality in the Workplace simply contact us and we will be happy to discuss.

  • Posted on January 15th, 2022

Is SSP too low?

New guidance from the CIPD has asserted that currently, the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) system is broken and needs urgent reform. This has been considering skyrocketing Omicron variant-related coronavirus cases, and warnings from the Government that the start of 2022 may be defined by absences.

The CIPD’s report ‘What should an effective sick pay system look like?’, includes a survey of over 1,000 employers, which found that nearly two thirds of employers agree that the SSP rate is too low and should be increased.

The UK SSP rate stands at £96.35 per week for up to 28 weeks, which the report from the CIPD states is significantly lower than most European nations. The COVID pandemic has exposed how financially inadequate SSP is, with many people still working when ill or needing to self-isolate.

Of the UK’s 32.5 million-strong workforce, 5.6million people do not currently qualify for SSP, including the self-employed and those who are unable to access SSP because they don’t meet the lower earnings limit.  Any increase in SSP rates will be subject to employer consultation and 121 HR Solutions will keep an eye on this subject and bring further updates as they occur.

  • Posted on January 15th, 2022

Direct Discrimination Unconscious Bias in the workplace can cost!

A civil servant who worked for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has won her claim for direct race discrimination.

As a civil servant for 33 years, the claimant was subjected to discrimination when she was questioned about her sex life by the FCDO.  The Claimant had been accused of having an affair with an employee of Nigerian charity, recently awarded a £2m grant. A charge she denied. She was subsequently accused of misconduct, including failing to disclose a relationship conflict of interest.

Documents show that an all-white FCDO team conducted a six-month investigation into the allegations and then sent the claimant a final written warning. The hearing was determined to have been inherently discriminatory with the team making assumptions about the claimant’s guilt without having properly investigated fact with the claimant herself.

The tribunal has not yet ruled on compensation although the remedy hearing is planned for February.

This case highlights the importance of conducting fair and consistent investigations and ensuring that discrimination is considered as a potential risk when leading investigations and reaching disciplinary conclusions.

121 HR Solutions can assist in the training of managers in areas of Equality and Diversity in the Workplace simply contact us today and we will be happy to discuss.


  • Posted on January 15th, 2022

Why does onboarding matter?

Frequently losing new starters hits your bottom line, leaves the remaining team short staffed, affecting morale, performance, and customer experience. It can do reputational damage, too. In an age of social media, sites like Glassdoor mean an unimpressed former employee can spread their message far more widely than they could through word of mouth alone.

A successful onboarding strategy isn’t just about supporting the person that’s arriving at your business – it’s about empowering all the people who can make that arrival a success. Everyone from the IT to team members, buddies, and line managers, needs to understand their place in delivering a brilliant onboarding experience.

The onboarding experience should start from the moment of job offer, and last for at least 90 days afterwards. Helping plan out a 90-day onboarding schedule in advance makes sure everyone has thought carefully about how the new person will integrate into the team, and how best use can be made of their skills and experience. It also helps relieve stress for the new joiner, who knows what’s happening when, and what objectives they’ll be working towards.

One size doesn’t fit all when you’re onboarding new joiners. The right mix company-wide, global information about history, mission or values, with region, city or site-specific pages. From a 3D tour of the office, to a video welcome from your head of division, a presentation on your department’s key objectives, or a photo wall introducing your team members, you can deliver highly tailored content in any number of languages, without sacrificing overall brand consistency.

People like people. Whether that’s because they’re learning from them professionally, enjoy socialising with them, or they feel part of a team where they can deliver good work, the human factor is a powerful one. Strong work relationships drive both performance and retention. That’s why helping new starters build connections should be at the heart of onboarding.

What’s working? What isn’t? Where can you make improvements? If you’re not monitoring your onboarding, you won’t know. Such oversight includes not only the onboarding process itself, but also the performance of key staff – especially the line manager. Accountability is key here and an assessment by new starters of their onboarding experience should feed into this.

121 HR Solutions can assist in with any questions you may have on this subject. Contact us at enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk and we will be happy to discuss.

  • Posted on January 15th, 2022

Cross necklace resulted in unfair dismissal

A Catholic nurse who was bullied out of her job for wearing a cross around her neck at work was unfairly dismissed by the hospital where she had worked for 18 years, an employment tribunal has ruled.

NHS theatre practitioner Mary Onuoha claimed that she had faced a ‘campaign of harassment’ at Croydon University Hospital to make her remove the small gold cross.

A tribunal found that although the hospital claimed there were health and safety policies behind their demand, this was inconsistent with the treatment of other staff who wore similar items of clothing and jewellery.

The panel found in her favour and ruled that she was forced to quit her role in 2020 after her employers created ‘an offensive, hostile and intimidating environment’.

The hospital trust has since issued an apology to Mrs Onuoha and said their dress code and uniform policy has been updated since the matter was raised.  Mrs Onuoha had been a staff member for 18 years but had worn the jewellery for 40 years to mark her devout Catholic faith.

But from 2015, she claims that managers told her to remove the item from around her neck. When she continued to refuse to remove the cross, she was suspended from clinical duties and demoted to working as a receptionist which left her feeling humiliated.

The tribunal heard she was forced off work with stress in June 2020 and believed she faced no alternative but to resign later that year.  She had been employed as a theatre practitioner wearing blue scrubs – a V necked short sleeved tunic and trousers on the bottom. In theatre working as a scrub nurse, she also wore a standard issue surgical covering which covered her from neck to wrist. Her cross necklace was visible when wearing scrubs but was covered when working as a scrubbed in nurse in theatre.

The tribunal said Mrs Onuoha is a devout Catholic and that wearing a cross is important to manifest her faith and confirmed that other members of staff were entitled to attend the mosque four times a day, Hindus wear entitled to wear red bracelets on their wrists and female Muslims wear hijabs in theatre.

An employment tribunal panel did not agree with the hospital that there were health and safety grounds for asking Mrs Onuoha to remove the necklace and found that Croydon Health Services NHS Trust constructively dismissed Mrs Onuoha and that the dismissal was unfair and discriminatory.

Furthermore, it has ruled that there was ‘no cogent explanation’ as to why other items of jewellery and clothing were permitted ‘but a fine necklace with a small pendant of religious devotional significance is not’.

  • Posted on January 11th, 2022

Courier won nearly £30,000 for unfair dismissal after he suffered heart attack

A courier who was told by bosses ‘we are not a charity’ after he suffered a heart attack and was refused sick pay has won nearly £30,000 for unfair dismissal.

The employee began working as a courier in 2002 and was transferred between different companies – the most recent being All Job Trading Ltd in Bathgate, West Lothian. He primarily carried out work for DX Document Exchange, a private business-to-business network.

In 2018, he suffered a heart attack and had to undergo surgery. While in hospital he suffered a focal seizure resulting in blackouts and a lack of awareness of what was happening around him.

He was required to disclose this to the DVLA and his licence was revoked for one year. The employee submitted sick notes and was paid sick pay – but in June the following year, the sick pay stopped.

The employee made several attempts to contact his employer to ask why his sick pay had been stopped but was not able to speak to anyone, being told repeatedly that they  were “too busy” to call him back.  He sent emails and texts to the directors and eventually was told by a director that “we are not a charity”.

The employee therefore considered that his employment had been terminated. The employment judge found that the employee had suffered disability discrimination and harassment and awarded a 10% uplift on the award due to the way they handled his case, stating that “The comments made to the effect that the respondent was not a charity were insensitive, inappropriate and unreasonable. The remarks were clearly unwanted conduct related to his disability and the tribunal had no doubt as to the impact of the comments on the claimant.The comments had the purpose or effect of violating the claimant’s dignity and created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him.”

This situation would have been likely to have ended in a capability dismissal had it been well handled and this is yet another reminder to businesses to seek proper advice before handling sensitive situations, likely to end up in an employment tribunal!

  • Posted on January 11th, 2022

What type of deduction might affect the NMW paid to employees?

There has been much publicity recently relating to deductions from pay, resulting in failure to pay the National Minimum Wage (NMW), according to HMRC.

If deductions are made from a worker’s pay they will reduce the national minimum wage (“NMW”) pay if they are made “in connection with the employment”. These amounts must be deducted by an employer when calculating whether NMW has been paid.

In a recent case involving a taxi driver the claimant paid £160 per week to his employer in fees for equipment which was required to enable him to carry out his job.  He rented a car from a company associated with the employer and repaid the cost of insurance, fuel and cleaning costs.  He also hired a uniform in order to be able to undertake additional jobs as a “gold driver”.

The claimant brought a claim to the employment tribunal that he had not been paid the NMW and the employer disputed that the deductions should be counted in the NMW calculation.  The employment tribunal found the fees, insurance, fuel and cleaning costs should be deducted, but decided the car hire and uniform hire were optional expenses and therefore did not take them into account when calculating NMW.

The claimant appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal who felt that that both the car and uniform hire should indeed have been included in the deductions as these deductions had been made “in connection with employment”.

This is a stark reminder to employers to be aware that any costs incurred by an employee that are “in connection with employment” must be deducted when calculating NMW, even if the costs are incurred by the employee by choice.


  • Posted on January 11th, 2022

Are you treating your part timers less favourably?

A recent case has brought the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulation 2000 (PTW regulation) into the spotlight. This legislation makes it unlawful to treat part-time workers less favourably on the grounds of their part-time status, unless the employer can show that there is objective justification for the difference in treatment.

In the recent case of Forth Valley Health Board v James Campbell  the claimant worked fewer hours than some of his colleagues, and the key question was whether he had been treated less favourably on the ground that he was a part-time worker.

The employee was a phlebotomist, contracted to work for an average of 16 hours per week. This was on a six-week rota during which his shifts varied in length.  On weekdays he worked four-hour shifts without a break. He complained about this and pointed out that his colleagues, who worked over six hours on those same days, received a 15-minute paid break.

The health board rejected his complaint and pointed out that he did get the 15-minute paid break when he did six-hour shifts over the weekends.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that there had been no causal link shown between the shift length and part-time status. That meant there had been no basis in law on which it could be concluded that the difference in treatment between the employee and his full-time comparators was ‘on the ground’ that he was a part-time worker, far less that his part-time status was the sole ground for such difference in treatment.

The fact that he, like other workers, did receive the benefit of the paid break when working at weekends on shifts that were of six hours duration or more demonstrated that there wasn’t the necessary link with his part-time status for the claim to succeed.

In order to avoid disputes arising, employers should take steps to ensure that opportunities and benefits that apply to full-time staff are proportionately applied where possible for part-time staff. Not only can unjustified differences generate claims under the PTW regulation, but they might also trigger claims in respect of indirect sex discrimination given that statistically women might find it more difficult to work full-time hours.

  • Posted on January 11th, 2022

Has employee loyalty increased in the pandemic?

The majority of employers believe staff loyalty has increased following the pandemic, despite only half of employees feeling the same way, research has found.

A poll of 491 senior managers and 1,061 employees, found that 64% of senior leaders believed staff became more loyal because of their company’s response to the pandemic. However, the same poll found just 45% of employees felt their firms handled the coronavirus pandemic well and were more loyal as a result. In comparison, a fifth of employees said they felt less loyal as a consequence of their employer’s response to the pandemic.

Senior managers were most likely to cite keeping staff happy as one of the top three business challenges followed by increasing staff turnover and involving those who work from home. Among employees, involving those who work from home was the top concern followed by keeping staff happy and protecting health and safety.

The research shows that employers who embrace flexibility and consider workplace support to ensure that employees are included wherever they work will have a significant advantage in attracting and retaining those employees.

Support can be as simple as informing all employees of job and training opportunities and inviting home-based colleagues to attend office-based meetings either in person or via online platforms. Ensuring that all employees feel valued, despite being remote, will build loyalty.  It is also important that managers are trained to conduct one to one meetings with their teams, ensuring that communication is maintained despite remote working and other operational difficulties which may have been caused by working through the pandemic.

121 HR Solutions can assist businesses with managers’ training, and can be contacted at enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk

  • Posted on January 10th, 2022

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