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Archive for January, 2016

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Employment Law Bulletin January 2016

Welcome

The year ahead in Employment Law 

Every Government says it wants to simplify employment law – but bitter experience suggests that, when it comes to it, no Government can resist the temptation to make it more complicated.

This year we will see a new ‘National Living Wage’ applying to employees aged 25 or over, which will make paying employees the right amount more complicated than it has ever been. We will also see the Trade Union Bill passed by Parliament, making it even more complicated than it already is for a union proposing to take industrial action – although we are unlikely to see many complaints from employers for that particular increase in red tape.

Disclosing Confidential Information

Employees have a duty to serve their employers in ‘good faith’, which includes respecting confidential information.

In Farnan v Sunderland Association Football Club, Mr Farnan was the Club’s International and National Marketing Director on a starting salary of £190,000 plus a discretionary bonus. He began to fall out with the Club, however, when their appointment of Paulo Di Canio as Manager caused difficulty with the Club’s potential sponsors. He felt that he was being ostracised and undermined by the Club’s leadership.

Speaking English in the workplace

One issue that often concerns employers with a diverse workforce is the impact of employees speaking languages that may not be understood by their managers. Can an employer legitimately insist on employees speaking English while at work?

The answer depends on the reason why the employer is concerned. If a rule is motivated by a hostility towards non-UK staff then that will probably amount to race discrimination.

Reasonable adjustments and sickness absence

One of the most difficult employment law issues currently facing employers is the link between sickness absence and the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees under the Equality Act 2010. The duty to make reasonable adjustments arises when an employer applies a ‘provision criterion or practice’ which puts a disabled employee at a substantial disadvantage when compared with employees who are not disabled.

Paying Part-timers

We don’t see too many cases on the rights of part-time workers. Most employers are quite comfortable with the idea that, on a pro-rata basis, part-time workers should enjoy the same terms and conditions as their full-time colleagues.

 TUPE – tasks of short-term duration

A change in contractor does not give rise to a transfer under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (“TUPE”) transfer if the contract at stake is one for performing a task of short-term duration. So if you are not happy with your builders and employ another firm to finish building your house, then you should not find that the same builders turn up the next day having been transferred to a new employer! However, judging what is meant by ‘short-term duration’ is not straightforward.

Early conciliation – adding new claims

Before bringing an employment tribunal claim, an individual must first contact Acas so that attempts can be made to settle. If no settlement is reached then Acas will issue a certificate giving a unique reference number, which must be included in any subsequent tribunal claim. If the claim does not include that number reference, then it will be rejected.

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