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Legal updates

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…
11 July 2014 Litigation

Courts and Tribunals exist to make decisions on disputes, but using them is expensive, time-consuming and stressful. For many years now it has been expected that parties using Courts and Tribunals do so as a last, not a first, resort. This is backed up, particularly in the civil courts, by the power of the courts to penalise those who do not make a reasonable attempt to resolve disputes before resorting to litigation. Traditionally negotiation, either in writing or by telephone or in meetings, has been the way of trying to reach a compromise, or at least reduce the areas which are in dispute. That remains the case. There are, however, now other options available, such as mediation (a form of negotiation facilitated by a third party) or arbitration (which can be binding or non-binding). Many…
07 May 2014 Employment advice

On 6th April Section 16 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 was brought into force. This adds a new section 12A to the Employment Rights Act 1996 which gives Employment Tribunals the power to order employers to pay a penalty if the employer has breached any of the worker's rights to which the claim relates and has one or more aggravating features. The amount of the penalty is 50% of the amount awarded to the employee subject to a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5,000. The Tribunal must have regard to an employer's ability to pay in deciding whether to order the employer to pay a penalty. There is nothing in the Act which says what would amount to an aggravating features, but the guidance notes published by the government suggest…
05 May 2014 Employment advice

Under section 80F of the Employment Rights Act 1996 Employees have the right to request flexible working if they have been employed for 26 weeks and have childcare responsibilities or responsibilities to care for an adult relative and there is a specified procedure which an employer must follow when such a request is made. From 30th June 2014 all employees who have been continuously employed for 26 weeks or more will have a right to ask their employer for a change to their contractual terms and conditions of employment to work flexibly. The requirement to follow the regulations when considering an application for flexible working will be replaced by a requirement to "deal with the application in a reasonable manner." From 30th June if an employer receives a request from an employee for flexible working…
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