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Posts Tagged ‘employment’

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.  

Proposed Flexible Working from Day One

In business principles, contracts, Employment law, family, government on September 27, 2021 at 10:47 am

The Government has launched a consultation into changing current flexible working legislation. This is open until 1 December 2021. Its proposal is to make the right to request flexible working from day one of employment.

Its aims to bring more employees in to the scope of the legislation and believes it will benefit productivity, motivation, retention and help attract more talent to organisations.

Its proposal is to introduce measures to help make flexible working the default, unless employers have good reasons not to. The consultation will also assess whether the current 8 business reasons for refusal are still valid. The process of managing flexible working requests and the time scales will also be assessed. There is also consideration to allow employees to submit more than one request per year, which is currently all they are entitled to do.

We will await the outcome of the consultation and if the proposal is approved we can assist you with amending your current policy within the handbook to ensure you continue to be legally compliant.

Until then, all current rules and processes will remain in place as usual.

What are the rules about self-isolation and pay?

In absence, covid-19, pay, Uncategorized on September 27, 2021 at 10:42 am

Sick pay for self-isolation

Staff must be paid at least Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they cannot work because they’re self-isolating for any of the following reasons:

  • they have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have tested positive
  • they are not fully vaccinated and someone in their household has symptoms or has tested positive
  • they are told to self-isolate by an NHS test and trace service
  • they have been advised by their doctor to stay at home before going into hospital for surgery

To be eligible for SSP, they must be off work for at least 4 days in a row, including any of their usual non-working days.

They’re entitled to be paid at least SSP for every day they’re off work. This is different to the usual rules for SSP where the first 3 days are unpaid waiting days.

Pay for self-isolating or quarantine after travel

Employees are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they’re in self-isolation or in quarantine after travel abroad in circumstances where they cannot work from home. But the employer could choose to make up their pay if they wanted to.

Preventing Illegal Working

In Employment law, government, workers on January 24, 2019 at 11:41 am

Updates to procedures from January 2019

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All employers have a responsibility to prevent illegal working and must therefore carry out ‘right to work checks.’ Businesses can be fined up £20,000 if they are found to have employed an illegal worker and hadn’t followed the checking procedure. Knowingly employing someone without right to work can result in a jail term and unlimited fine.

From 28th January 2019 employers will be able to use the Home Office’s online checking system to determine a prospective employee’s right to work in the UK without the need to receive documents from the individual. This applies to non-EEA nationals who hold a biometric residence permit/card or EEA nationals who have been granted immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme. EEA nationals without settled status will still need to provide appropriate documentation.

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes called it “another step we are taking to simplify and modernise the immigration system,” and said it would make it easier than ever for migrants to view and prove their right to work in the UK.

When using the online system the employer is required to:

  • Check each applicant and only recruit, or continue to employ, if the online check confirms their right to work
  • Carry out a visual identification using the photo supplied with the online check
  • Retain the result of the check during the individual’s employment and for two years following

If an online check cannot be carried out, the Home Office Employer Checking Service should be contacted and applicants will need to supply the required documents.

Changes will also be made to the checking of UK Nationals in order to accommodate those who do not hold a passport. List A documents allow UK individuals to provide full or short-form certificates alongside an official document containing their National Insurance number.

 

Links:

https://www.gov.uk/employee-immigration-employment-status

Employee screening – are you up to date with changes to DBS ID checking?

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2018 at 10:00 am

From the 3rd September 2018 the documentation accepted for DBS checks for non-EEA nationals will be changing. This is to better align the system with Right to Work checks. The current guidelines will continue to run until 3rd December 2018 to allow employers a transition period to adjust their internal procedures.

The changes will apply to all levels of DBS check.

It will no longer be necessary to supply a Passport as an additional item to the following 3 documents:

  • A current Residence Card (including an Accession Residence Card or a Derivative Residence Card) issued by the Home Office to a non-European Economic Area national who is a family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland or who has a derivative right of residence.
  • A current Immigration Status Document containing a photograph issued by the Home Office to the holder with a valid endorsement indicating that the named person may stay in the UK, and is allowed to do the type of work in question, together with an official document giving the person’s permanent National Insurance number and their name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.
  • A current Immigration Status Document issued by the Home Office to the holder with an endorsement indicating that the named person is allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK or has no time limit on their stay in the UK, together with an official document giving the person’s permanent National Insurance number and their name issued by a Government agency or a previous employer.

The following documents  have been added to list of items that can be used as the Primary Document for non-EEA nationals seeking paid employment:

  • A Permanent Residence Card issued by the Home Office to the family member of a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland – added to documents available for Non EE applicants.
  • A Positive Verification Notice issued by the Home Office Employer Checking Service to the employer or prospective employer, which indicates that the named person may stay in the UK and is permitted to do the work in question – added to documents available for Non EE applicants.

The document below has been added to  the Group 2b document options for all applicant types (UK, EEA and non-EEA nationals):

  • Irish Passport Card

Guidance on the list of supporting documents that can be used by countersignatories in the ID checking process can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/dbs-identity-checking-guidelines/id-checking-guidelines-for-countersignatory-applications 

Do you need advice regarding your employee screening processes? Contact RBA to discuss how we can help. 

Rob Bryan Associates Limited Main Office: 01462 732444  rob@robertbryan.co.uk 

 

 

Heatwave Hot Tips

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2018 at 9:00 am

The good weather helps put a smile on people’s faces, but it can also raise a number of workplace issues.

Here are some tips to help you:

• You may hear from employees, “it’s too hot to work, you have to send us home.” However, the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 state a reasonable temperature must be maintained at work. There is no mention of a maximum! In very hot weather you need to carry out a risk assessment. This should look at the environment, type of work being carried out and the impact on any staff with particular needs, such as a pregnant employee. You should then address any issues. For example, could outside workers start earlier or later to avoid the midday sun?

• Faced with employees arguing that wearing a low-cut dress or shorts and flip flops will keep them cool when it’s ‘too hot’? Perhaps it’s time to relax the dress code a little, but standards of decency must be maintained. So, no very short skirts or shorts. Casual, smart, loose-fitting clothing, and a temporary relaxing of suits and ties so that the company image is maintained may be more appropriate. If staff work outside, watch out for them failing to wear protective clothing to keep cool. High-factor sun cream for those working outdoors would also be a sensible approach.

• Use fans and try keeping blinds closed. Have plenty of cold water available so staff remain hydrated.

• The warm weather can increase the risk of sickness. However, don’t jump to conclusions regarding an employee’s sickness absence on a hot sunny day as they may have sunstroke or hayfever. We always recommend that you should carry out a return-to-work interview.

Although some employees may believe a bit of sun relaxes the workplace rules, you need to manage consistently and fairly.

 

Avoid Scoring a Workplace Own Goal During the World Cup

In Uncategorized on June 21, 2018 at 6:33 am

World Cup

The second round of matches of the World Cup is underway. Dreams are still alive for almost all the teams, and employers are already reporting an increase in absence as football fever takes hold.

But how can employers maintain productivity without being kill-joys? Can you boost morale by allowing staff to participate?

A Flexible Approach

  • One way to facilitate employees following the World Cup is to allow games to be screened or listened to in the work place if your type of business allows. Remember not all employees will be fans so consider a football free zone as well.
  • Allow employees to start or finish earlier or work later to fit in around key games.
  • Consider your internet/social media/mobile phone policy – can this be relaxed to allow employees to follow the game?

Annual Leave Requests

  • More organised fans may have already requested time off but as teams progress to the next round you may get a flurry of leave requests. Follow your usual policy and be fair and consistent in how requests are granted.

Absence

  • An employee calls in sick or fails to arrive on the day of the big game? Follow your usual procedures.

Hungover Staff

  • Football and a few drinks often go hand in hand. But what if your employees are turning up for work in an unfit state? Again, your usual policy should be followed. You should also have a policy in place regarding drinking during working hours.

And as we head to the final whistle…

  • Don’t forget it’s not all about England. You may have staff supporting a number of different teams so make sure any flexible arrangements include them as well.
  • Some people hate football! Avoid them becoming resentful by being open in your communications and not allowing them to have an increased work load due to others taking advantage of a flexible working approach.

 

If you need advice on developing or implementing your workplace policies RBA would be pleased to hear from you.

 

Rob Bryan Associates Limited Main Office: 01462 732444 www.robbryanassociates.org.uk

Dressed for Work?

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2016 at 8:14 pm

When summer does arrive in the UK employers often begin to notice more relaxed dress standards. Now is the time to remind employees of your guidelines on what you regard as acceptable. Dress codes should help Manager’s avoid misunderstandings with employees about what attire is considered appropriate for the work place. Written guidelines will also assist Manager’s in enforcing dress codes in a consistent, non-discriminatory manner.

Employers establish dress codes for a variety of reasons, including to present a positive image to clients, to prohibit employees from coming to work with offensive, distracting, or inappropriate attire, and to avoid clothing that would present a health and safety risk. While business attire was the norm at companies for many years, employers have relaxed dress codes in an effort to improve morale and retention. Casual dress policies have become more common at work in response to employees’ demands for flexibility and a relaxed work environment.

We would advise having clear, fair and enforceable policies on dress in the workplace. You also need to ensure that your workplace actions and expectations are not discriminatory.

You have probably recently seen in the press reference to the London receptionist sent home for not wearing heels. You can understand how a number of professions have to wear particular pieces of uniform for health and safety reasons, but for what logical reasons should women be required to wear high heels?
As the law stands, employers can dismiss staff who fail to live up to “reasonable” dress code demands, as long as they’ve been given enough time to buy the right shoes and clothes. They can set up different codes for men and women, as long as there’s an “equivalent level of smartness”.

Aside from the reasons above, employers should be aware that by dictating dress codes to women, they could find themselves at the wrong end of a discriminations claim if an employee was treated “less favorably” than a colleague of the opposite sex as a result. Simply, where the dress code could result in some disadvantage to the female employee which other male employees do not face, they may have a case on the grounds of sex discrimination

Employers are right to insist that their staff are presentable, neat and professional and appropriately dressed for work, but should not insist that females wear high heels to conduct their working day or shift.

There has also been in the press, details of a Belgian case regarding the treatment of religious observance and dress in the workplace.

In Achbita v G4S Secure Solutions NV the employee – a Muslim woman – was dismissed for insisting on wearing a hijab (or headscarf) when at work. The employer had a blanket rule forbidding any customer-facing employee from wearing visible religious symbols or dress in order to preserve a strict ‘neutrality’ in its dealings with customers. The Belgian Court referred the matter to the European Court of Justice asking whether a dismissal in such circumstances amounted to direct discrimination.

The case has yet to be decided however, it is unlikely that a UK Employment Tribunal could be persuaded that a policy of ‘neutrality’ is a sufficient reason to dismiss a Muslim woman who feels a religious obligation to wear the hijab at work.
Any dress code should be non-discriminatory and should apply to both men and women equally. If you need help to review your dress code please contact us and we can ensure that your workplace policies are not discriminatory and appropriate for your business.