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Carers Rights Day – how can you support your employees who have caring responsibilities?

In absence, business principles, contracts, Employment law, Equality, family, Uncategorized on November 25, 2021 at 11:25 am
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Thursday 25th November marks ‘Carers Rights Day’ – an opportunity to recognise all that carers do, as well as for employers to find out more about how to support carers in the workplace.

Research by Carers UK and Age UK shows the importance of employers engaging with employees who are carers. One report found that 10 hours of caring per week can make it a significant challenge to stay in work. Their recent research in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic also tells us that:

  • Four in five unpaid carers are providing more care for relatives
  • 78% reported that the needs of the person they care for have increased during the pandemic
  • Two thirds (67%) worried about how they will cope through further lockdowns or local restrictions.

Those in their late thirties to fifties, known as the ‘sandwich generation’ may be balancing caring for elderly parents whilst also bringing up children and working. They are also likely to represent a higher proportion of those at the peak of their profession – talent that businesses want to retain.

According to Carers UK, leading companies, such as Centrica, have demonstrated strong business benefits to supporting carers and have suggested that, cumulatively, UK companies could save up to £4.8 billion a year in unplanned absences and a further £3.4 billion in improved employee retention by adopting flexible working policies to support those with caring responsibilities.

How carer-friendly is your business? Do you have policies in place to support those who wish to more flexibly?

For short-term temporary arrangements, an employee may seek time off for dependants.

The length of this leave is meant to be short and no longer than two days in most situations. It can be longer in some circumstances. An employer is not permitted to require an employee who has requested or taken time off for dependants to rearrange their working hours or make up the time that has been lost. What is reasonable time off will depend on the specific circumstances.

Trial periods, temporary changes, or even career breaks / sabbaticals, in support of retaining a skilled and knowledgeable worker who would otherwise be lost to the business could be a possibility. However, employers should seek advice if they intend to amend terms or have a break in the relationship as continuity of employment needs to be specifically addressed as well as arrangements to return back to previous terms and conditions if that is the intention.

For permanent changes to the working relationship an employee can make a request for flexible working.

Employees, part time or full time, with 26 weeks of service, have the right to request a flexible working arrangement. However, currently, the Government has launched a consultation into changing current flexible working legislation, with the proposal to make the right to request flexible working from day one of employment.

Flexibility is commonly around times of work, or days of work; however, this can also include the type or pattern of work, or even the place or work. The employer has a duty to consider the request in a reasonable manner and respond in writing as soon as practically possible no later than three months after a formal request. An employee making a request has protection from any dismissal or detriment due to their request being made.

If you would like help reviewing your employment policies, please get in touch – 01462 732444  www.robbryanassociates.org.uk 

For further reference: https://www.employersforcarers.org/resources/research/item/1460-juggling-work-and-unpaid-care-a-growing-issue

Be Ready for Bad Weather

In absence, business principles, contracts, Employment law, family, pay, Uncategorized on November 25, 2021 at 10:06 am

Snow. Love it or hate it, if you’re an employer bad weather can cause all sorts of problems. It pays to be prepared.

As we approach the end of a mild November, low temperatures and the possibility of ice and snow are forecast across much of the country. Indeed, bad weather such as flooding or severe winds can disrupt work at any time of the year. Here are some of the common questions employers ask us:

What if the workplace can’t open?

If the workplace can’t open, or there is no work available, staff are entitled to pay in full for any hours they would have worked, unless there is a contractual right to lay-off.

What if the workplace can still open?

If the workplace is able to open, staff are expected to try to make it in to work unless otherwise informed by their employer. If they do not arrive at work they are not entitled to pay.

You also have a responsibility to make sure the workplace is safe for staff to attend. Paths may need to be gritted, for example.

What if employees are unable to travel to work?

There may be travel disruption which makes it difficult or impossible for staff to arrive at work on time, if at all. There is no legal obligation for employees to be paid for time they have missed but alternatives such as making up the time could be offered. Employees should inform their workplace as soon as possible if they are going to be absent or delayed. The employer also needs to consider their duty of care in asking employers to attend the workplace in dangerous weather. Extra consideration may need to be given if you have an employee who is at extra risk e.g. if they are pregnant or have a disability.

If employees are unable to travel to work consider the alternatives:

  • Working from home
  • Flexible start/finish time
  • Working from an alternative site
  • Using annual leave
  • Using banked time-in-lieu
  • Making up the time at a later date

What if schools are closed?

Employees may be absent if their children are unable to attend school or if they are carers and a nurse does not arrive. Employees have a statutory right to a reasonable amount of time off to deal with emergency situations involving dependants and this will cover the breakdown in care arrangements. This time off is usually unpaid, although this will depend on the organisation’s policy. Employees should keep their manager informed of the situation.

Be Prepared:

  • We advise that you include a ‘Bad Weather Policy’ in your Employment Handbook so that management and staff are clear on your company’s protocol should severe weather strike.
  • If you already have a policy make sure staff are aware of it in advance of expected bad weather
  • Consider how you can communicate with your workforce in the event of severe weather

If you would like guidance on implementing this in your workplace, contact us at Rob Bryan Associates Limited Main Office: 01462 732444  www.robbryanassociates.org.uk

Recent Cases of Interest

In business principles, contracts, Employment law, Equality, Uncategorized on September 27, 2021 at 10:54 am

Forstater v CGD Europe and Others – Discrimination on the Grounds of Philosophical Belief

The Equality Act 2010 protects against discrimination based on 9 protected characteristics, namely age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity.

In the recent case of Forstater v CGD Europe and others, Ms Forstater registered a claim with the Employment Tribunal that her contract with CGD Europe, who are a registered research or think-tank charity, was not renewed because of her gender-critical beliefs.

Before deciding whether there was any wrongdoing on the part of CGD Europe, the Tribunal had first to consider whether her belief was indeed protected by the Equality Act.   

In a complex scenario centred around transgender rights and identity, Ms Forstater’s viewpoint was, in a nutshell, that biological sex was real, important and unable to be changed. Her claim raised the debate about the scope of trans rights and the relevance of an individual’s biological sex, versus their gender identity.

Initially the Tribunal found that Ms Forstater’s beliefs were contrary to trans rights previously established by the European Court of Human Rights. However, the Tribunal’s decision has now been overturned by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, who considered that Ms Forstater’s views were deserving of respect and that only the most extreme beliefs should be excluded from protection under the Equality Act.

Ms Forstater’s claim has therefore now been referred back to the Employment Tribunal for them to consider whether CGD Europe’s original decision not to renew her contract was discriminatory.

Follows v Nationwide Building Society – Indirect Associative Discrimination

Ms Follows had been employed by Nationwide Building Society as a Senior Lending Manager and for the last 7 years had been home-based allowing her to look after her disabled mother.

As a result of a re-structuring exercise the society decided to reduce the overall number of Lending Managers and stipulated that those to be retained must be office-based. As a result, Ms Follows made a claim to the Employment Tribunal of unfair dismissal, indirect associative discrimination and indirect sex discrimination.

The tribunal upheld all of these claims against the Nationwide on the basis that the stipulation about office working put Ms Follows at a disadvantage because of her association with her disabled mother and that her dismissal had taken place without reasonable steps being taken to avoid that disadvantage.

This is the first time that a claim of indirect associative discrimination has been upheld since the introduction of the legislation in the UK.