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You Don’t Have to be Awake to Receive the Minimum Wage

Normally, sleeping on the job would be at the very least frowned upon, maybe even grounds for dismissal, but in a test case in the care sector the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has given guidance on receiving the National Minimum Wage (NMW), even whilst sleeping.

The EAT was dealing with three appeals from Employment Tribunals which concerned three employees, including two care workers. In the case of the care workers, they were required to be at the client’s home at night, so that they could respond to emergencies and perform night duties. The question that arose was whether or not they should be entitled to the NMW for the whole of their shift, or just the hours during which they were awake.

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Employment Law Newsletter December 2010

 

This is our December 2010 newsletter. You can download/view it by clicking on the link below and following your browser’s instructions.

Employment Law Newsletter Dec 2010

Welcome to Oxford Employment Law Solicitors

 

Welcome to Oxford Employment Law Solicitors. We are a professional and dedicated team of hard working solicitors who are dedicated to providing you with a comprehensive service to resolve any legal issues.

Acas review of Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures

 

Acas has published a paper evaluating the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. The research analyses interviews with employers, employee representatives and employees to assess the Code’s use, impact, and the extent to which it is understood. The research concludes that more can still be done to encourage early resolution of disputes and increase employer – especially small employer – awareness of the Code.

In 2009 the statutory dispute resolution procedures were repealed and replaced by the Acas Code of Practice on discipline and grievance. The Code places less emphasis on the mechanics of how to manage disciplinary issues, grievances and dismissals, instead providing greater flexibility for parties to resolve problems at an early stage.

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Employment Law Newsletter March 2011

 

This is our March 2011 newsletter. You can download/view it by clicking on the link below and following your browser’s instructions.

Employment Law Newsletter March 2011

Employment Law Newsletter February 2011

 

This is our February 2011 newsletter. You can download/view it by clicking on the link below and following your browser’s instructions.

Employment Law Newsletter Feb 2011

ACAS issues guidance on Olympics

 

Acas has issued guidance on how to deal with issues arising from the Olympic Games in the summer.

It starts by assuming that employees will fall into one of two groups: those who plan to take time off (to attend or volunteer at the Games) and those who don’t have any plans to take time off, and who either may want to watch some of the Games while at work or who have no interest in the Games at all.

There is useful information for both employers and employees.

Government’s response to consultation

 

The Government’s response to its ‘Resolving Workplace Disputes’ consultation gives additional detail of its reasoning on already announced decisions such as the increase in qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims from one to two years. The response also contains a number of reforms such as plans to allow employment judges to sit alone in unfair dismissal cases, and judges to sit alone in the EAT, and to allow tribunals to award costs of up to £20,000 against vexatious claimants. The Government intends to implement the changes in April 2012.

The increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal is one of the most controversial employment law decisions yet announced by the Government. In the response the Government explains that, although the majority of consultation respondents disagreed with the proposal, it considered that business stakeholders, who were supportive of the move, were best placed to evaluate its likely impact on job creation. Although the Government accepted that an increased qualifying period would not reduce the number of claims by as much as it had originally forecast, it did not think it would lead to an increase in discrimination claims, as there is little evidence that, where there are grounds for a discrimination claim, individuals currently choose to pursue an unfair dismissal claim instead. The Government believes that extending the qualifying period would improve business confidence to recruit and retain staff.

The Government also intends to allow employment judges to hear unfair dismissal cases alone, unless they direct otherwise. The proposal is simply a money saving measure. The Government will use pending academic research on the value of lay members to evaluate the first year of judges sitting alone in more cases, to see whether a reversal or extension of the policy is necessary. It will also alter the default constitution of the EAT so that judges will always sit alone unless they direct that members should be involved.

The Government also intends to allow tribunals to levy financial penalties, payable to the Exchequer, on employers found to have breached employment rights where the employer’s behaviour in committing the breach had ‘aggravating features’. The Government expects penalties will be imposed where the breach involves unreasonable behaviour, e.g. negligence or malice. The financial penalty will be half the amount of the total award with a minimum threshold of £100 and an upper ceiling of £5,000. Where a non-financial award has been made, a tribunal can ascribe it a monetary value to enable a financial penalty to be made. The penalty will be reduced if there is prompt payment, by 50 per cent if paid within 21 days.

Other measures contained in the Government’s response include:

  • increasing the limit for deposit orders from £500 to £1,000
  • increasing the limit for cost awards from £10,000 to £20,000
  • requiring witness statements (where provided) to be taken as read, unless a judge or tribunal directs otherwise
  • granting tribunals the power to direct parties to bear the costs of witnesses’ attendance, where a witness has attended pursuant to a witness order; and that the party ultimately losing a case should reimburse the successful party for any such costs already paid out
  • clarifying S.147 of the Equality Act 2010 to address uncertainty as to the validity of compromise agreements covering discrimination issues.

The regulations to implement proposals in relation to increasing the maximum amounts for costs and deposit orders, witness statements, witness expenses, judges sitting alone in unfair dismissal cases and extension to the unfair dismissal qualifying period will be brought forward shortly. The Government intends these regulations to have effect from April 2012, subject to Parliamentary procedures.

Fees Introduced for Tribunal Claims

 

The Government has announced that fees will be introduced for lodging tribunal claims, and for taking a case to a hearing. Workers will face a fee of between £150 and £250 for lodging any claim against their employer, and a further £1,000 for proceeding to a hearing.

The introduction of fees is aimed at reducing vexatious claims. The exact amounts of the up-front fees and the arrangements for their payment are the subject of a consultation which will start at the end of November; fees will then start to be charged from April 2013. There may be higher fees for cases where the compensation claimed tops £30,000. Any individual who wins their case will see the fees refunded.

The scheme is expected to have arrangements for less well-off people to have the fee waived or reduced, but the reality is that it is likely to deter some such people from pursuing meritorious claims.

The median award for unfair dismissal claims in 2009/2010 was just under £5,000, so a fees of £1,250 could well act as a deterrent when the uncertainty of any tribunal claim is considered.

Extension to qualifying period for unfair dismissal

 

Government to extend qualifying period for claiming unfair dismissal to two years

The Government has announced that the qualifying period for the right to claim unfair dismissal will be extended from one to two years on 6 April 2012. The Government’s announcement pre-empts its response to its consultation ‘Resolving Workplace Disputes’, which proposed the increased qualifying period. While business groups have welcomed the move, some commentators have expressed concern that the change may lead to an increase in the number of discrimination claims, for which there is no qualifying period.

The Government claims that increasing the period to two years, combined with other proposals in the ‘Resolving Workplace Disputes’ consultation, should see the number of unfair dismissal claims drop by around 2,000 per year.