Monthly Archives: February 2015

Seminar: Social Media in the Workplace

Social Media AppsSocial Media in the Workplace – in association with: Brackmills Industrial Estate

Date: Thursday 19th March 2015
Time: 8:00-9:15am
Cost: Free
Venue:
Holiday Inn Northampton,
Bedford Road,
Northampton NN4 7YF

Exploring some of the problems relating to social media and practical solutions for concerned employers such as:

  • What’s the problem?
    • time wasting
    • risk of civil liability
    • risk of criminal liability
    • reputational damage
    • spontaneity, reach and permanence
  • Fairness of dismissals
  • Writing a social media policy
  • Criminal offences
  • Who owns social media accounts?

To book your place at our Social Media in the Workplace seminar, please contact us using the details below:

info@fgsolicitors.co.uk

+44 (0) 808 172 93 22

If you feel this seminar would benefit other colleagues or companies please feel free to forward the details on.

Holiday Pay Seminar: 5 February – FAQs

Holiday Pay Seminar – FAQs

Holiday Planning

Q: I pay a car allowance of £500 a month on top of a salary of £2,000 a month to my employees.  Do I have to take the car allowance into account when calculating holiday pay? 

A: You would carry on paying the car allowance while the employee is on holiday as this is a normal contractual benefit. However, you would not take it into account twice when calculating the holiday; you would continue to pay £2,500 per month as you are already paying the allowance.

Q: We have an employee who is off on long term sick leave and living in Poland.  How can we manage this absence? 

A: You should try to keep in contact with the employee as much as possible. You should ask them for a fit note/medical certificate from a Polish medical professional and if necessary get it translated. These should be kept up to date. If they are unable to travel back to the UK for absence reviews, you should consider conducting these over the telephone or in writing. Please be aware that a fit note from a doctor outside the UK is evidence of the employee’s ill health. HMRC may arrange translations into English where you disagree with your employee on their SSP entitlement.

If unsure, you should take advice.

Q: We ask employees to reserve 3 days of their annual leave for the Christmas shutdown.  One employee put in a fit note the day before their annual leave, covering them for this period.  Do they have the right to take this annual leave at another time?

A: They may do. It depends upon your policies, how much holiday they are entitled to and when the holiday year starts and ends.  If they are only entitled to statutory holiday pay (28 days including bank holidays) then they are more likely to be entitled to take it at another time. If:

  1. they are entitled to contractual holiday (for example they are entitled to 31 days per year); and
  2. these 3 days are the last of the holiday year, which ends at the end of December and as such fall outside the statutory entitlement; then, depending upon your policies, there may be an argument that they are not entitled to take this holiday at another time.

Q: Is the law in force now in relation to taking into account overtime when calculating holiday pay?

A: Yes, it is in force. The case law is an interpretation of European legislation and UK regulations which were already in force.

Q: You said that there should be regulations coming into force in July 2015 in relation to limiting the amount of time employees can go back to claim unlawful deductions from wages (a backstop period).  Will this be retrospective and therefore get rid of any historical liability?

A: The new backstop period will apply to claims presented on or after 1 July 2015. The current law will apply to claims brought before this date.

Q: I am confused about what types of overtime should be taken into account when calculating holiday pay.  Can you help?

A: Please see the table below which sets out guidance for which types of overtime should be taken into account in the holiday pay calculation.

Type of Overtime Description Include?
Compulsory/ Guaranteed • Must be worked
• Regularly required
YES
5.6 weeks
Non-guaranteed • Regularly required
• Cannot be unreasonably refused
YES
4 weeks
Voluntary • Regularly worked YES – ?
Review all circumstances
Voluntary • Occasional
• Irregular
NO

STOP PRESS: New Tribunal Compensation Limits

Stop PressIt’s that time of year again when the compensation limits and minimum awards which are made in respect of successful tribunal claims are increased in line with inflation. The key increases to be aware of are as follows:

  • the limit on compensation for unfair dismissal is £78,335 (increased from £76,574)*
  • the maximum basic award is £14,250 (increased from £13,920)
  • the limit on a week’s pay is £475 (increased from £464)

*the maximum compensatory award remains 52 weeks’ gross pay if this is less than £78,335.

These increases will only apply where the cause of action (for unfair dismissal claims this will be the date of termination) falls on or after 6 April 2015.

The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2015 SI 2015/226 which sets out each of the new compensation limits can be accessed at the link below.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/226/contents/made

Collective Redundancy Consultation – When “10 + 10” Equals “20”

financial legal obligationsWhere the implementation of a business proposal may result in large scale redundancies a number of legal obligations arise; these include consultation with appropriate representatives and notification to the Secretary of State. Failure to comply with these legal obligations has financial implications which can prove extremely costly.

The Law

Collective redundancy law derives from the European Collective Redundancies Directive which was implemented into domestic law by the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULRCA). By virtue of section 188(1) of TULRCA employers are obliged to collectively consult where they propose to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within a period of 90 days or less.

Crucial Question:

The crucial question for those employers whose businesses operate over a number of sites is “what, for collective redundancy purposes, is one establishment?” There has been a raft of case law on the point. In a number of cases which it decided to deal with together, the ECJ has been asked does “establishment” refer to all of the employer’s establishments in which dismissals are effected or does it refer to each individual establishment?

In other words, if a business proposes to dismiss for redundancy 10 individuals at a site in Northumberland and another 10 individuals at a site in Cornwall are they added together to make 20 and thus trigger a collective redundancy or are they treated as two separate and distinct exercises?

Advocate General’s Opinion:

Ahead of the ECJ’s decision in these cases the Advocate General has given the opinion that the concept of establishment “denotes the unit to which the workers made redundant are assigned to carry out their duties, which it is for the national court to determine…” in which case it is not necessary to aggregate the dismissals across all of an employer’s establishments for the purposes of determining whether there is a collective redundancy. To therefore take the example set out above it may not be necessary to add 10 + 10 together and thus trigger a collective redundancy.

Employers do need to be aware that the Advocate General went on to add that the issue of what is a local employment unit is a question of fact which will need to be determined in each instance.

Implications for Businesses:

On the one hand the Advocate General’s opinion offers a glimmer of hope to employers that an establishment is the unit to which the redundant workers are assigned which means, in theory, there will be fewer collective redundancy situations. However before a definitive view can be taken it will be necessary to decide where there are multiple business premises whether those business units together constitute a single local employment unit – by way of illustration the Advocate General gave the example of several stores in one shopping centre potentially forming a single local employment unit.

This therefore still gives employers a degree of uncertainty. That uncertainty may be removed when the ECJ delivers its decision as, whilst it is often the case that the ECJ follows the Advocate General’s opinion, it is not obliged to do so. We will report this decision when it is delivered – we expect that to be later this year. Pending that decision the sensible approach for employers currently is the aggregation of potentially redundant employees across different locations when determining whether there is a collective redundancy situation.

Contact Details

If you are faced with a potential large-scale redundancy or business re-organisation and you have concerns about identification of an “establishment” for collective redundancies please contact:

fgmedia@fgsolicitors.co.uk

+44 (0) 808 172 93 22

This update is for general guidance only and does not constitute definitive advice.

How the Working Time Regulations Can Work for You

Web update picture - lunch breakIn an increasingly fast paced world in which KPIs and targets dominate, and technological advances can create a 24/7 365 days per year working culture it is maybe unsurprising that a BUPA study has shown that just 30% of workers take a lunch break and that 28% don’t stop for a break at any time during the day. Although it has been reported elsewhere that this results in an additional 19 working days per year which employers benefit from at a nil cost other studies have shown that the loss of the lunch break actually loses UK companies close to £50 million a day in lost productivity.

THE LAW:

With few exceptions all workers are entitled to a rest break of 20 minutes when a day’s working time is more than six hours – often contracts go beyond this minimum entitlement and specify a one hour lunch break.

THE IMPLICATIONS:

  1. Dip in productivity – reports have shown a dip of 40 minutes a day on average for those who skip lunch
  2. Increased number of sick leave days per year – it is reported that those remaining at their desk for prolonged periods are more likely to develop health problems ranging from back and neck pain to more serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease
  3. Increase in mistakes
  4. A loss in creativity

WHAT CAN EMPLOYERS DO?

In short, employers should lead by example and encourage the taking of breaks. This can be achieved in a number of ways for example setting fixed time lunch breaks or implementing a system of flexible timed lunch breaks. Employers may also want to consider some innovative ways of introducing well-being initiatives during break times such as partnering with fitness trainers or health practitioners such as physiotherapists. These initiatives may also increase the take-up of lunch breaks by employees and ultimately achieve a significantly more productive and cost effective workforce.

Contact Details

For more details on the Working Time Regulations and how contracts can be drafted to maximise the benefits from the employer’s perspective please contact:

fgmedia@fgsolicitors.co.uk

+44 (0) 1604 871143

This update is for general guidance only and does not constitute definitive advice.

STOP PRESS: Updated Guidance on Fit Notes

Megaphone - Hot Off the Press (123rf ref 8981071)In the October 2014 edition of FGazette – the quarterly newsletter of FG Solicitors, we reported on the launch of the government’s new Health and Work Service. To read this article please click here.

The government has since published updated guidance for employers and line managers on what to do when given a fit note by an employee.

The guidance document takes you through the different sections of the fit note and how the notes can be used to help your business.

To view the document, please click on the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/400128/fitnote-employers-line_managers-jan-2015.pdf