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19 November 2014 Employment advice

The staff Christmas party: what employers need to know:- Sexual harassment, assault and religious discrimination claims are often rife in the workplace, following the festive celebrations. Employers are likely to remain liable for any actions taken by their employees at work-related social events (including those taking place outside the office) even where the acts are without their knowledge or approval. Employers will have a defence if they took "all reasonable steps" to prevent the act or anything similar of that description before it occurred. Employers should therefore have a policy setting out the boundaries of acceptable standards of acceptable behaviour in clear terms, including examples of unacceptable behaviour and potential disciplinary sanctions. Case law shows that employers may be perceived as condoning behaviour where they provide a free-flowing supply of alcohol, given that incidents…
13 November 2014 Employment advice

Employees are entitled to receive 'trivial' benefits from their employer such as seasonal gifts tax free. There is no monetary limit set for gifts but HMRC suggests that larger employees should agree an upper limit each year with their tax office. HMRC guidance includes the following items as trivial: a turkey (but not a hamper), a box of chocolates, one or two bottles of ordinary wine (but not a case). Gifts to staff are tax deductible in the employer's accounts as staff welfare payments, whether trivial or not. Published: November 2014 Contact us: For further advice on your employment issues contact Gill Reid on 01904 716050 or Gillian.Reid@warekay.co.uk.
12 November 2014 Employment advice

There is no obligation to allow suspended employees to attend work-related functions. In fact doing so could be seen as inconsistent with the decision to suspend the employee in the first place. Employers should make it clear to employees that during the suspension period, they are not to report to work or contact colleagues or clients.  This should preclude them from attending functions as the guest of another colleague, for example. Employers should always be satisfied that they have reasonable grounds for suspension from the outset, so as to avoid breaching the implied term of mutual trust and confidence. Published: November 2014 Contact us: For further advice on your employment issues contact Gill Reid on 01904 716050 or Gillian.Reid@warekay.co.uk.
02 November 2014 Employment advice

In a judgment handed down by the Employment Appeal Tribunal on 4th November 2014 in the case of Bear Scotland v Fulton (and conjoined cases) the Working Time Directive requires holiday pay to be calculated so as to include overtime, including non-guaranteed overtime, as part of normal remuneration, and that it is possible for the Working Time Regulations 1998 to be construed accordingly. However, this only applies to the four weeks' annual leave derived from the Working Time Directive, not the additional 1.6 weeks provided by regulation 13A of the Working Time Regulations 1998. The Employment Appeal Tribunal also found that it was not open to employees to claim that they had suffered a series of deductions (for the purposes of the unlawful deductions from wages provisions of the Employment Rights Act (1996) by linking…
28 September 2014 Employment advice

Employers must avoid unlawful discrimination in any dress code policy. Employers may have health and safety reasons for having certain standards. Dress codes must apply to men and women equally, although they may have different requirements. Reasonable adjustments must be made for disabled people. Dress codes should relate to the job and be reasonable in nature. Consulting with employees over proposals may help to ensure that the dress code is acceptable to all. The dress code should be in writing and be communicated to all employees. Employees may dress in a certain way for religious reasons: any restriction should be connected to a real business or safety requirement. Employers should work with employees to allow them to manifest their faith in a suitable way. Employers should have sound business reasons for requiring tattoos to…
25 September 2014 Employment advice

The National Minimum Wage will change from 1 October 2014. The new rates will be as follows: The standard adult rate (for workers aged 21 and over) will rise by 3% to £6.50 an hour (up 19p from £6.31). The youth development rate (for workers aged between 18 and 20) will rise by 2% to £5.13 an hour (up 10p from £5.03). The young workers rate (for workers aged under 18 but above the compulsory school age who are not apprentices) will rise by 2% to £3.79 an hour (up 7p from £3.72). The rate for apprentices will rise by 2% to £2.73 an hour (up 5p from £2.68). The accommodation offset will rise by 3.5% to £5.08 a day (up 17p from £4.91).   The increases follow recommendations from the Low Pay Commission…
11 September 2014 Employment advice

Currently, unpaid parental leave is available to birth and adoptive parents and also to anyone who has, or expects to have, parental responsibility for a child and has been continuously employed for not less than one year at the time the leave is to be taken. The right applies in respect of each child: an employee with one qualifying child may normally take 18 weeks' leave, an employee with two children would be entitled to 36 weeks' leave in total. From April 2015 new mothers and their partners, who are eligible, will be able to share up to 52 weeks of leave in total, between them, either in alternating blocks or taken together (subject to final Parliamentary approval). The right will apply to agency workers as well as employees. Employees expecting babies on or after…
09 September 2014 Employment advice

A right for eligible employees and agency workers to accompany their wives, partners or expectant mothers to antenatal appointments is to be introduced from 1 October 2014. Qualifying individuals will be allowed to take unpaid leave to accompany a pregnant woman to two antenatal appointments, for up to a maximum of six and a half hours for each appointment. Employers will not be entitled to ask to see the actual appointment card or letter, but can ask the employee for a signed declaration stating the details of the appointment, how the employee is eligible to attend and confirming the time off is for the purpose of attending the ante-natal appointment which has been made following medical advice. The following employees and agency workers are eligible to attend: the baby's father; the expectant mother's spouse…
13 August 2014 Employment advice

From 1st October an employee or an agency worker (who has worked on an assignment for 12 continuous calendar weeks) who has a qualifying relationship with a pregnant woman or her expected child will be entitled to be permitted by his or her employer to take time off (up to 6 ½ hours in one day) on up to 2 occasions for a single pregnancy during the employee's working hours in order that he or she may accompany the woman when she attends by appointment at any place for the purpose of receiving ante-natal care. The employer can request a signed declaration from the employee confirming the date & time of the appointment that the time off is to attend an antenatal appointment which has been arranged on the advice of a registered medical practitioner…
26 July 2014 Employment advice

Does obesity qualify as a disability? If yes, then the duty to make reasonable adjustments might include employers having to provide bigger chairs and desks, car parking spaces near the front door, and duties involving less mobility. The Advocate General has, today, issued an opinion on this point in Kaltoft v The Municipality of Billund. The first part of the opinion held that obesity was not a protected characteristic per se under the Equal Treatment Framework Directive. Pretty obvious stuff. The main part of the opinion considered whether obesity, without more, fell within the definition of a disability. The Advocate General pointed out the EU definition of disability covers the situation when a physical or mental condition makes "carrying out of that job or participation in professional life objectively more difficult and demanding. Typical examples…
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