Category Archives: Employment Lawyers

All Employment Lawyers are not equal

Many employment lawyers demonstrate the following skills that are often accepted as the standard by clients:

  • Perseverance
  • Sound judgement
  • Analytical approach
  • Good communication

These personality traits, while indicating that the solicitor is effective at their job, don’t actually define what makes an ideal employment lawyer – and that’s where FG Solicitors considers that they can make a difference to their clients:

FG Solicitors epitomises the attributes that make the panther an incredible animal and make them the perfect choice for their clients:

  • Sensitive
  • Balanced
  • Determined
  • Sure Footed
  • Great Listener
  • Outcomes Focused
  • Calculated Aggression

These traits when used on your behalf, are the tools you need to ensure your desired outcomes and that your business goals are met.

FG Solicitors have a wealth of experience in employment law and welcome the opportunity to discuss your needs through a no obligation meeting.

To find out more contact 01604 871143.

Gather, Distribute, Process, Retain No Info!

3MonkeysIn terms of legal opinion on which others may place reliance it is often advisable to do away with the needle of innuendo and pick up the club of statement. In line with that adopted position, you are invited to consider the implications of the impending arrival of the General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”).

As the regulations have their origins in EU law, an immediate question is will they survive Brexit? The short answer is that even if the regulations do not survive intact post Brexit, the Government has confirmed that the UK will implement the GDPR when it comes into effect on 25 May 2018 because the UK will still be a member of the EU at that time.

The GDPR heralds the biggest shake up in privacy laws in 20 years and will have a seismic impact on the human resource data processing undertaken by employers and employment related entities.

There will be some fundamental changes to the current law and it is suggested that organisations need to be aware of those changes and should be actively developing a strategy for compliance ahead of the changes coming into effect in May 2018. This is especially because the cost for GDPR non-compliance has risen dramatically when compared to non-compliance with current data protection legislation, as the new fines will be based on a percentage of total annual turnover of a business in the previous financial year. It will become easier for individuals to claim compensation and group actions will be more likely.

THE KEY CHANGES…

As a minimum, the key changes for staff engagement purposes include:

Consent: No longer will it be sufficient to include in Contracts of Employment a blanket clause stating an employee is deemed to give consent to the lawful processing of their data. Instead, organisations will be obliged to demonstrate that consent has been explicitly given for each processing purpose of the data in question. Furthermore, the organisation will need to demonstrate the consent was freely given (potentially difficult in the master/servant relationship which is employment) and that the consent is “informed.” Also, the organisation will need to implement a mechanism for the withdrawal of such consent at any time.

Subject Access Requests: The information to which data subjects will be entitled under the GDPR is more extensive. The time for providing that information is reduced from 40 days to one month and there will be no longer be a right for organisations to charge a fee to provide this data.

Right to Erasure: Also known as “the right to be forgotten,” this is a new right where individuals can request that their personal data is permanently deleted in certain circumstances. This will cause organisations particular difficulties where personal files are held both centrally and locally (for example, by a line manager).

Right to Restriction: There are instances when organisations are obliged to restrict processing; this includes employee challenges to the accuracy of personal data. This could result in certain management processes being stalled.

Breach Notifications: Unless the breach is unlikely to result in a risk to the individuals concerned, organisations’ data processers will be obliged to notify the ICO of all data breaches without undue delay and, where feasible, within 72 hours of the breach.

DO WE NEED TO DO ANYTHING YET??

YES! 

Organisations could be forgiven for thinking that, as the GDPR implementation date (25 May 2018) is still the best part of 12 months away, and with Brexit looming, the matter can be left for now. But compliance with this legislation will require a good deal of planning and remapping of existing processes. The immediate steps for any organisation include:

  1. A comprehensive audit of existing systems and processes;
  2. Deciding whether additional personnel should be recruited to take on specific roles and responsibilities;
  3. Designing systems that will assist with GDPR compliance (including breach notification compliance);
  4. Identifying appropriate training for staff – for example, general awareness training for staff with more specific training for those with greater compliance responsibilities (including the IT Department and HR managers); and
  5. Reviewing and upgrading current Contracts of Employment and policies to manage risk.

We can undertake your audit and assist you with preparation for GDPR implementation. For a non-obligation consultation, please call a member of our team on 01604 871143 or email us on info@fgsolicitors.co.uk

5 minutes with Floyd Graham

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1)   How has employment law changed over the last 5 years?

Employment law has changed in emphasis. There appears to be a focus on clarifying and simplifying legislation, whilst at the same time striving to make it easier for contentious matters to be resolved without the need for following a full legal process through to resolution by the Courts. With the right support, employers can now create the right blend of performance optimisation and risk management to suit their organisations.

2) How many employees do businesses need to have before they have an employment law strategy?

Even employers with only one employee have employment law obligations and mistakes can be costly! The strategy should focus on legal compliance first, followed closely by achieving enough lawful flexibility to manage the business profitably and efficiently.

3) What advice would you give our readers who need to reduce their headcount over the next 6 – 12 months?

Plan properly to ensure that you do not end up keeping the employees you should be losing and losing the employees that you need to keep! A bit of effort in the planning stage, and the right guidance will ensure that your selection decisions work for your business and that your process will withstand any objective scrutiny. It is important that exiting employees, and those being retained, accept that fair processes have been adopted as this is a crucial part of managing risk.

4) What advice would you give our readers that are planning to increase head count over the next 12 – 18 months? 

Firstly, evaluate and streamline your operational infrastructure to ensure that the increase in headcount adds value and does not just fill a vacancy that has arisen. Next ensure that your recruitment and selection process is capable of selecting the right candidates for the role not just in terms of competence, but also in terms of team fit. Miss-hires are costly! Lastly, spend some time getting the “on boarding” process right, after all your new recruit is not the only one who needs to make a good impression!

5) Finally, one of our readers has 35 employees. They have a member of staff who has been with them for 10 years, who has made significant career progression and is now Sales Director. However, the Managing Director has noticed a “different” person in the last 12 months and believes it would be in the best interest of the company for the Sales Director to leave. How does the Managing Director achieve this as quickly, cost effectively and amicably as possible?

As an advisor, I would be focused on establishing the reason for the change, after all for 9 of those 10 years he has been a good employee and has an invaluable historic working knowledge of the business. The reason could be linked to domestic circumstances, ill-health or becoming disillusioned with the work environment. An accurate assessment of the reason will greatly assist the decision on which “legal tools” are chosen to remove him. Commerciality and risk are the twin stools on which most removal strategies are based.

The law now permits the option of having a protected discussion with the employee to explain the Company’s position and to allow the employee to state his. If the differences are irreconcilable, a protected discussion is generally quicker than a formal process, but can be a more costly option. It is likely that a dismissal on performance grounds is likely to be contentious unless supported by significant evidence. If this option is chosen, great emphasis needs to be placed not only on the reason but also the process, which should be vetted beforehand to ensure that it is legally compliant. This is generally a longer route. Lastly, it may be less contentious and faster to restructure that part of the operation for which this employee is responsible and remove him on this ground. Again, if speed is of the essence, this option may be the most suitable. I note that the employee is a Sales Director and therefore prior to dismissing him, consideration should be given to safeguarding the business against post dismissal competition from him and protecting confidential information.

2017: Looking Ahead to Changes in Employment Law

FG_ImageBy the time you read this the turkey will have been eaten, Christmas trees returned to storage or recycled, Christmas jumpers packed away and New Year’s resolutions very likely broken. However, with confidence amongst businesses reportedly riding sky high, employers have plenty to look forward to in 2017!

Undoubtedly the big news of the year will be the unveiling of whether “Brexit means Brexit,” and employers could be forgiven for thinking there is little else on the horizon in the people management department for the year ahead. Not so – there is plenty to keep employment law and HR Practitioners busy.

2017 heralds a number of changes. One such change is the introduction of a tax free childcare scheme to replace the current system whereby employers can provide employees with childcare vouchers. The new system will allow working families to claim 20% of qualifying childcare costs for children under 5 (and for disabled children under 17) up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year. To be able to benefit from the scheme, the general rule is that both parents in the household must earn at least £50 per week. However, if one parent is an additional rate taxpayer, the family will not be eligible.

The gender pay gap reporting regulations are scheduled to come into force in April 2017 with the aim of closing the pay gap between male and female employees. The regulations apply to large private and voluntary sector employers with more than 250 employees, and will require employers to annually publish figures showing the average hourly pay of male and female employees, pay gaps at different levels of seniority within the business and information about bonus payments over a 12 month period.

The gender pay gap report must be published on the employer’s own website and a Government sponsored website. The first reports do not have to be published until April 2018. However, employers should begin their preparations now by initially identifying if they are likely to be caught by the regime, and if so by conducting a provisional audit to establish any areas of concern. The Government will produce guidance to assist employers with compliance in due course.

In addition, the Government plans to introduce an apprenticeship levy in April 2017, which will change the way apprenticeships in England are funded. This will require all employers with an annual wage bill of more than £3 million, to invest in apprenticeships by paying 0.5% of their annual wage bill (minus an annual levy allowance of £15,000) towards the cost of apprenticeship training. The employer will then be able to access funding for apprenticeships through a new digital apprenticeship service account. The Government is also considering introducing an “Institute for Apprenticeships” tasked to ensure apprenticeships are of high quality.

Additionally, the National Living Wage rate will be reviewed in April 2017. It is anticipated this will increase from the current rate of £7.20 per hour to £7.50 per hour in line with the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission.

Overall, we predict that 2017 will be a busy year in employment law and HR matters. Employers should ensure they are fully briefed and are fully prepared to save being caught by surprise!

CONTACT DETAILS:

If you would like more information about planned changes for 2017 or would like to discuss a specific concern in relation to your business, please contact us:

Call: (01604) 871143 Email: fgmedia@fgsolicitors.co.uk

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