Equal Pay for Equal work 
Asda equal pay claims 
 
In the case of Asda Stores Ltd v Mrs S Bierley & Others the Employment Appeal Tribunal ("EAT") confirmed that a group of lower paid, mostly female, employees who work in Asda's retail stores can compare themselves to higher paid men who work in the distribution centres for the purposes of equal pay. The claim was brought by over 7,000 former and current employees of Asda, claiming pay dating back to 2002. The store workers argued that they carry out work of equal value to the men in the distribution centres, but are paid less. 
Disciplinary investigations 
 
A recent case has demonstrated that the investigating officer conducting an alleged disciplinary offence should only take guidance on procedure and the Employment Law from an HR supporter and that his/her recommendations should be their own and not be influenced by the views of the HR person. 
 
Sickness cases 
 
Recent dismissal cases based upon ill health dismissals have confirmed that Occupational health assessments should be undertaken. 
Sick pay faces overhaul under government plans 
 
Review into disability and long-term sickness suggests need for greater flexibility over returns to work; ‘fit note’ regime also likely to change 
 
Ministers are proposing an overhaul of statutory sick pay, and the system of ‘fit notes’ for employees suffering ill-health, as part of a new focus on helping disabled people and those with long-term conditions into work. 
 
Work and pensions secretary Damian Green is today unveiling a Green Paper that is expected to contain proposals for sick pay to be made more flexible, allowing for phased returns to work for long-term absentees where they would be paid a proportion of the statutory rate for working restricted hours. 
The reaction to the referendum result and subsequent predictions has left us to wonder how it is going to affect us and when. 
 
Since the result of the referendum on 23 June 2016 there has been a multitude of predictions as to how our separation from the European Union will affect us at work and will affect our workforce. 
 
Currently nothing has changed and we await formal negotiations. All present laws remain intact, and the UK remains a member of the EU, but we know that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and at some point Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union will come into play and changes are highly likely to occur after the exit negotiations have been completed. 
Do you have an expertly written social media policy in your staff handbook? 
 
Social media usage in the workplace is a complicated subject. In the fast paced, ever changing world of social media and networking employers are finding that they need to protect themselves, their reputation and their company information from abuse. Related problems also include time spent on social media activities whilst at work and potential damaging usage in out of work hours. 
Risk Assessment and Method Statements 
Controlling Risk 
 
Employers have a duty to assess risks and take steps to avoid or control risks. In order to control risk you need to fully understand what they are. Risk assessments will help to achieve identify them and are a useful tool to open up understanding and conversations about the following: 
 
involving workers when considering potential risks and measure to control them 
taking steps to ensure risks are removed where possible or putting in control measures 
instruct, train and supervise your staff 
identifying tasks which are too dangerous to be carried out by an unaccompanied worker 
ensuring a lone worker has back up as and when needed and is not undertaking work alone when it has been identified dangerous to do so 
CONFIRMATION STATEMENT REPLACES ANNUAL RETURN AND THE PSC REGISTER 
PSC - ‘People with Significant Control’ 
 
Since 6th April 2016 UK companies, incorporated charities and LLPs have been required to keep a register of people with significant control over them (a Register of People with Significant Control, or a ‘PSC’ register). After 30th June 2016 at the anniversary of their incorporation, companies must file this information with Companies House in their Confirmation Statements. This information will then be publicly available. 
Pre-Tribunal applications now have to go to ACAS. Under this new system employers and employees can take dismissal cases to ACAS for a period of one month in order to attempt conciliation. If this conciliation is successful then the complaint will not go forward to an actual Employment Tribunal. In the event that the conciliation was unsuccessful ACAS would issue a certificate to the ex-employee applicant which would enable them to then formalise an application to the Employment Tribunal. Settlements at the conciliation stage would result in a binding agreement being signed by both parties. This recent initiative has dramatically reduced the number of actual employment tribunal claims and means that neither part would need to go to court. 
DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE? 
 
Do you have employees over the age of 25 years? If the answer is yes you should be aware a new National Living Wage is being introduced. 
 
National Living Wage 
 
The National Living Wage will be introduced on 1 April 2016 and will be payable to workers aged 25 and over who are not in the first year of an apprenticeship. The current rate is £7.20 per hour. The current National Minimum Wage for those under the age of 25 still applies. Rates previously increased annually in October, but from April 2017 will change every April in line with the National Living Wage. 
The maximum basic award for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payment (30 weeks’ pay subject to the limit on week’s pay) will rise from £14,250 to £14,370. 
 
The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases from £78,335 to 78,962 (or 52 week’s pay, whichever is less) 
 
The maximum amount of a week’s pay used to calculate redundancy payments and basic and additional awards for unfair dismissal cases increases from £475 to £479 per week. 
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