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15
Oct 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Buzz About Carer's Leave

This month the Government confirmed that it will introduce a 'day one' right to statutory carer’s leave. The new entitlement to statutory carer’s leave will:

1. be available to the employee irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer (a day one right);

2. rely on the carer’s relationship with the person being cared for  – a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household as the employee or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care; and

3. depend on the person being cared for having a long-term care need. This would be defined as a long-term illness or injury (physical or mental), a disability as defined under the Equality Act 2010, or issues related to old age. There would be limited exemptions from the requirement for long-term care, for example in the case of terminal illness.

What can the leave be used for?

Personal support, helping with official or financial matters, or accompanying someone to medical and other appointments.

How can the leave be taken?

Either as a single block of one week, or more flexibly in individual days.

How are employee's to notify their employer?

The notice requirement will be in line with that of annual leave, the employee must give notice that is twice the length of time being requested as leave, plus one day in order to enable employers to manage and plan for absences. Employers will be able to postpone, but not deny, the leave request for carer’s leave on grounds that the employer considers that the operation of their business would be unduly disrupted. Employers will be required to give a counter-notice if postponing the request to take Carer’s Leave.

Is there protections for those undertaking carer's leave?

Those taking carer's leave will be protected from suffering a detriment for having done so, and dismissals for reasons connected with exercising the right to carer's leave will be automatically unfair.

When will carer's leave be introduced?

According to gov.uk this right will be introduced into legislation when Parliamentary time allows. In the meantime employers should start to prepare a written policy to introduce this new requirement once introduced.

Related Articles:

Annual Leave Post Covid

Care Home Workers & Mandatory Vaccinations: The New Regulations

Posted in Annual Leave, Company handbook, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Employment Update

27
Sep 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) & Isolation

The government has decided to bring the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) to an end on the 30th of September 2021. This means that, from the 1st of October 2021, small employers who are currently eligible under the Scheme will no longer be able to claim back statutory sick pay (SSP) for employees unable to work due to COVID-19. Alternatively the employer will have to cover the full cost of SSP which is currently £96.35 a week.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers covered the full cost of up to 28 weeks’ SSP for their employees who met the relevant SSP criteria. By law, employers must pay SSP to employees and workers when they meet eligibility conditions.

The scheme only allows you to recover up to two weeks' SSP per employee and is payable from the first qualifying day the employee is off work as the usual rules about 'waiting days' don't apply.

Employees could be entitled to receive SSP if they are self-isolating for any of the following reasons:

  • They have tested positive for covid-19
  • They have been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that they are a close contact but of course since the 16th of August fully vaccinated close contacts do not need to isolate.
  • They have been advised by their doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery.

It is important to note that employees are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay if they're in self-isolation or quarantine after traveling abroad and they cannot work from home.

Record Keeping
Employers need to keep records of SSP if they have paid an employee who was off work because of COVID-19 if the employer wants to reclaim it. They'll need to keep the following records for 3 years after the end of the tax year they paid SSP:

  • the dates the employee was off sick
  • which of those dates were qualifying days
  • the reason they said they were off work
  • the employee’s National Insurance number

Employers do not need to keep records of SSP paid to employees who are off sick for another reason. Employers can choose how to keep records of their employees’ sickness absence. The HMRC may need to see these records if there’s a dispute over payment of SSP.

Related Articles:

Annual Leave Post Covid

Redundancy in the UK: A Guide to Avoiding Unfair Selection

New Self-Isolation Rules: What the Employer Needs to Know

Posted in Coronavirus, Employment Update, Health & Safety

5
Jan 18

Posted by
Laura Murphy

What lies ahead for employers in 2018?

2018 looks set to be another busy year. We take a look at some of what’s coming down the pipeline.

April 2018 - Gender Pay Reporting

Private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees will be required to publish information about the differences in pay between men and women in their workforce, based on a pay bill ‘snapshot’ date of 5 April 2017, under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017. The first reports must be published by 4 April 2018.

Legislation in Northern Ireland mirror the above, except they also include fines of up to £5,000 for non-compliance, and a requirement to report on ethnicity and disability pay gaps, as well as gender.

April 2018: Termination Payments

The government plans to make changes to the taxation of termination payments from April 2018. The proposals include:

• removing the distinction between contractual and non-contractual PILONs (payments in lieu of notice) so that all PILONs are taxable and subject to Class 1 NICs]
• ensuring that the first £30,000 of a termination payment remains exempt from income tax and that any payment paid to any employee that relates solely to the termination of the employment continues to have an unlimited employee NICs exemption
• aligning the rules for income tax and employer NICs so that employer NICs will be payable on payments above £30,000 (which are currently only subject to income tax)

A government consultation on the issue closed in October 2016.

April 2018 – Restricting Employment Allowance for Illegal Workers

The government plans to introduce a further deterrent to the employment of illegal workers. From April 2018, employers will not be able to claim the Employment Allowance for one year if they have:

• hired an illegal worker
• been penalised by the Home Office
• exhausted all appeal rights against that penalty.

A consultation containing draft regulations closed in January 2017.

25 May 2018 – General Data Protection Regulations

The much anticipated General Data Protection Regulation will come into force from 25th May 2018. For those who haven’t already started preparing, now is the time. The GDPR will apply to ALL companies and sole traders that process personal data, the definition of personal data is broad and can include anything from a name, an email address or an IP address.

With possible fines of €20 million or 4% of annual turnover – which ever is higher, businesses need to sit up and take heed.

For further information of GDPR sign up to our employers webinar here or read our blog here.

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Posted in Customer Update, Dismissals, Employment Update, GDPR, General Data Protection Regulation

25
Oct 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Government have launched Employment Tribunal fee refund scheme

Following the ruling in July this year which saw the Supreme Court rule employment tribunal fees as unlawful, the Government is now ready to start repaying the thousands of people that were charged.

The ruling, which was heralded as possibly the biggest employment law decision ever in the UK, saw the Supreme Court unanimously ruling that the Government was acting unlawfully when they introduced the fees back in 2013. Fees of up to £1,200 were introduced resulting in a dramatic fall from 5,847 employment tribunal cases the year before the fees were introduced, to 1,740 the following year.

The first steps

The first stage of the refund process will see up to around 1,000 people contacted individually and invited to complete their forms before the full scheme is opened up in the coming weeks. The Government is also working with Trade Unions who have supported large multiple claims, potentially involving hundreds of claimants.

People who were ordered by the Tribunal to reimburse their opponent their fee and who can show that they have paid it are also eligible to apply for a refund under the scheme.

Successful applicants to the scheme will be refunded their full fee and will also be paid interest of 0.5% calculated from the date of the payment right up to the date of the refund.

The opening phase of the refund scheme will last for around 4 weeks. Further details of the scheme will be made available once the scheme is rolled out fully.

For further details please see gov.uk

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Posted in Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Tribunals, Employment Update

18
Sep 17

Posted by
Debbie Clarke

National Work Life Week – 2nd to 6th October

Organised by Working Families in their yearly campaign National Work Life week will run from 2nd to 6th October 2017. This annual campaign is to encourage both employers and employees to discuss work life balance and talk about wellbeing in the workplace.

On Wednesday 4th October “Go Home on Time Day” takes place, which encourages all employees to leave work on time and have the opportunity to contemplate achieving a work and home life balance. Research carried out by Working Families shows a large number of employees working more than their contracted hours every week. Working Families are encouraging employers to advise their employees to leave work at the correct time on “Go Home on Time Day”.

A toolkit can be downloaded by employers for ways on how they can take part in the National Work Life Week. It can be downloaded by clicking here. This gives employers an opportunity to display to employees and stakeholders that their organisation aims and encourages a healthy work life/home life balance for employees.

The National Work Life Conference for employers takes place in London on 2nd October and employers can register here. The conference aims to provide employers with best practice examples and tools to take back to their workplace.

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Posted in Employment Update

23
Aug 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

233 employers to pay back £2 million to underpaid workers

233 employers have been ordered to pay back almost £2 million to 13,000 of the UK’s lowest paid workers, as part of the Government’s scheme to name and shame employers who fail to pay the National Minimum Wage and Living Wage.

A list that identifies these employers has been published by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. As well as paying back the money owed, employers on the list have also been fined £1.9 million by the Government.

The sectors that featured frequently on the list included:

Hair and Beauty: approximately 60 employers, in arrears of £121,000 for circa 200 workers
Hospitality: approximately 50 employers, in arrears of £77,000 for circa 220 workers
Retail: approximately 20 employers, in arrears of £1.5m for circa 12,200 workers

Employers in this round fell short by failing to pay workers overtime hours, deducting money from wages to pay for uniforms and wrongfully paying apprentice rates to workers.

Business Minister Margot James said:

“It is against the law to pay workers less than legal minimum wage rates, short-changing ordinary working people and undercutting honest employers. Today’s naming round identifies a record £2 million of back pay for workers and sends the clear message to employers that the government will come down hard on those who break the law.”

This is the 12th round of Government naming and shaming with so far £6 million recovered for 40,000 workers with 1,200 employers being fined £4 million. Employers need to be aware of the National Minimum and National Wage and Apprentice rates. Employers who fail to comply with these rates could face substantial fines and risk their business being named and shamed. To view the current rates click here.

To view the full list click here.

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Posted in Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Update, Pay/Wage, Staff Handbook, Wages

9
Aug 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Employers must now include voluntary overtime when calculating holiday pay

A landmark legal victory for Unite union means that employers must now include normal voluntary overtime when they are calculating holiday pay. The ruling is of major significance to workers who receive payments for working voluntary overtime but these payments are not reflected in their holiday pay. The union says that the ruling has set a legally binding precedent which employment tribunals across the UK are obliged to follow.

The Case

The case against Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council was brought by 56 council employees who worked on maintaining Dudley’s housing stock as electricians, carpenters, and plumbers. The employees worked regular voluntary overtime, beyond their fixed contractual hours, including Saturdays and they also elected to go on a standby rota every four weeks, to deal with emergency call-outs and repairs. The loss of earnings from holiday pay underpayments varied between £350 and £1,500 a year depending on each worker and how much voluntary overtime they carried out.
The decision by the employment appeal tribunal is the first to confirm that payments for entirely voluntary duties, such as voluntary overtime, standby, call-out work and travel-time linked to that work, should be included in the calculation of workers holiday pay.

Learning Points for Employers

The area of whether overtime should be included in employees holiday pay is a hot topic. This ruling echoes that of Fulton & Baxter v Bear Scotland Ltd when the ET found that overtime and other payments should have been included in the calculation of holiday pay.

Employers who do not pay employees normal voluntary overtime as part of their holiday pay are urged to reconsider this and make a change otherwise they might see themselves in hot water if a case were brought against them.

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Posted in Annual Leave, Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals, Employment Update, Pay/Wage, Staff Handbook, Wages

28
Jul 17

Posted by
Laura Murphy

The biggest employment law decision ever in the UK?

This week saw the Supreme Court rule employment tribunal fees as unlawful. The ruling has been heralded as possibly the biggest employment law decision ever in the UK.

Employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 were introduced in 2013. Consequently, we saw a dramatic fall in a number of tribunal cases being brought. In the year before the fees were introduced, there were 5,847 claims taken to employment tribunals. This fell to 1,740 in the year after fees were introduced.

The ruling has been welcomed across the board and is seen as a win for justice. In welcoming the ruling, the CIPD has said that fees were denying access to justice for many people, consequently, it is highly likely that some perfectly valid claims have never been heard.

What does it mean now?

First and foremost, any employee who brought a claim since 2013 will be refunded any fees they paid.

Going forward it is likely that we are going to see a significant rise in the number of claims being brought. Although there might be an initial rush, over time it is doubtful that claim levels will reach the dizzy heights seen pre-tribunal fees. There are two main reasons for this; we now have the Acas mandatory conciliation scheme, as well as the fact that unfair dismissal rights now accrue after two years service rather than one.

To help prevent being caught in a precarious tribunal situation or with a costly settlement, employers should at the very minimum ensure they have robust policies and procedures in place to rely on in such situations.

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Posted in Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Tribunals, Employment Update

28
Mar 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

April sees an increase to statutory payments

This year will see the first increase in 2 years to statutory rates for maternity pay, shared parental pay, paternity pay, adoption pay and sick pay, as these rates have been frozen since April 2015.

Statutory Maternity, Shared Parental Pay, Paternity and Adoption

On 2 April 2017 the weekly amount of statutory maternity pay, statutory shared parental pay, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay will increase from £139.58 to £140.98.

  • Statutory maternity pay and statutory adoption pay is paid at 90% of the employees weekly wage for the first 6 weeks and at 90% of their weekly wage or £140.98 (depending on which one is lower) for the remaining 33 weeks.
  • Employees taking paternity pay can choose to take either 1 or 2 weeks consecutive leave and are paid at 90% of their weekly wage or £140.98 (depending on which one is lower).
  • Shared parental leave is paid at 90% of the employees weekly wage or £140.98 (depending on which one is lower).

Sick Pay

On 6 April 2017 the weekly amount for statutory sick pay is set to increase from £88.45 to £89.35 and will be paid by the employer for up to 28 weeks.

To be eligible for the above payments the individual average earnings must be equal to or higher than the lower earnings limit which is also set to increase from £112 to £113 in April 2017.

It is important for all business owners to be aware of the changes that are coming into place and make sure that these changes are implemented by the relevant dates.

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Posted in Employment Update

19
Sep 15

Posted by
Brian O'Keeffe

EU court rules travelling to work 'is work' for employees with no fixed office

Large numbers of workers could be entitled to more pay or a reduction in hours due to a ruling by the European Court of Justice. The ECJ has ruled that time spent travelling to the first and from the last appointments by workers without a fixed office should be regarded as working time.

The adjudication comes in a case brought by the Spanish trade union workers at the security firm Tyco. However, because the ruling covers the European Union working time directive, it is expected to affect workers across the bloc. The court said its judgement was about protecting the "health and safety" of workers as set out in the European Union's working time directive. One of its main goals is to ensure that no employee in the EU is obliged to work more than an average of 48 hours a week.

The British government tried to intervene in the case, arguing that allowing travelling time to be counted as working time would lead to substantially higher business costs. However the European court dismissed this argument and sided with the Spanish employees. This means time spent by tradesmen, sales representatives and carers driving to their first job of the day and home from the last job of the day will count as time spent in work. The ruling has angered some business groups such as Business for Britain who argue European courts are too powerful and have too much influence over British affairs.

The court ruling said: "The fact that the workers begin and finish the journeys at their homes stems directly from the decision of their employer to abolish the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.

"Requiring them to bear the burden of their employer's choice would be contrary to the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers pursued by the directive, which includes the necessity of guaranteeing workers a minimum rest period."

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Posted in Employment Update

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