Severely obese staff may gain disability rights

The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) stated that morbid obesity may come within the meaning of “disability” under EU law, following his opinion on the case of Karsten Kaltoft v Billund.  The Advocate General’s opinion is not binding on the ECJ. However, if the ECJ agrees its decision will be binding on UK national courts and tribunals, which will need to consider morbid obesity as a potential disability under the Equality Act 2010.

Implications for employers

If morbid obesity is deemed to be a disability under UK law, employers will be obliged to make reasonable adjustments for morbidly obese staff who are placed at a substantial disadvantage by their medical condition.  Which will mean employers will find themselves under a legal obligation to make adjustments, such as providing parking spaces close to the workplace entrance, special desks, duties which involve reduced walking or travelling or possibly even ensuring healthy meal options are provided in the staff canteen.

We await the decision from the ECJ

30th June – The right to request flexible working is extended.

From the 30th June 2014 the Children and Families Act 2014 extends the right to request flexible working to all eligible employees.  Employers will need to ensure that requests are considered reasonably and fairly to avoid the risks of discrimination claims.

Briefly, the right is extended to all employees whether or not they are parents or carers provided that:

  •  They have 26 weeks’ continuous employment at the date the request is made.
  • They have not made a request to work flexibly in the preceding 12 months.
  • They are not agency workers or office holders.

The current procedure for handling requests is abolished but employers must now deal with the application in a reasonable manner and notify the employee of the decision within 3 months.

It is therefore time to revise current policies to reflect the change to include all eligible employees.  You may also want to revise the procedure you take but if it reflects the current statutory procedure you may only want to make minimal changes as the process is already conducted in a reasonable manner.

One point to remember is that the legislation states only that an eligible employee can request a change to the hours they are required to work which means eligible employees can request reduce hours but also those on a flexible hours contract my also request to increase their hours.

Increase to National Minimum Wage – 14th October 2014

The government has announced the following rates will come into effect on 1 October 2014:

  • a 19p (3%) increase in the adult rate (from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour)
  • a 10p (2%) increase in the rate for 18-20 year olds (from £5.03 to £5.13per hour)
  • a 7p (2%) increase in the rate for 16-17 year olds (from £3.72 to £3.79 per hour)
  • a 5p (2%) increase in the rate for apprentices (from £2.68 to £2.73 per hour)

Right to request flexible working to be extended

It’s almost time to up date those Flexible Working Policies.

From 30 June, the right to request flexible working is to be extended to all employees with 26 weeks’ service.  This is currently only available to those with children under 17 (or 18 for parents of disabled children) and carers.

The current statutory procedure for dealing with requests will be replaced with a duty on employers to consider any request in a reasonable manner and within a reasonable period of time.  (There will be no obligation on the employer to agree to a request, just to consider it.)

For guidance or help to amend or implement a new flexible working policy (or any employment policy) please contact us on info@mbhrsupport.co.uk or call 0845 0179830

Free HR Advice Clinic – 21st May 2014

Mandy Brearley will be at the Witney Business & Innovation Centre from 10am to 12 noon on 21st May 2014 giving free advice on any HR issue.

  • Are you taking on your first employee and want to know where to start?
  • Are staff issues taking up too much of your time?
  • Are you sure your HR documents are up to date & legally compliant?
  • Do you just want to ensure you have got it right?

If you would like free advice and guidance drop in on the day.

 

2013 Key Changes in employment law every business needs to know

Already implemented:

Parental leave entitlement

The entitlement to parental leave increased from 13 to 18 weeks March 2013.

Changes to collective consultation on redundancy

Since April 2013 employers putting 100 or more employees at risk of redundancy must start the consultation at least 45 days.

Changes to law for dismissals due to political opinion

Since 25th June 2013, if an employee is dismissed for holding a political opinion, they will be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal even if they do not have the 2 years service to bring a “standard” unfair dismissal complaint.

Changes to whistleblowing law

This law gives employees and workers protection against dismissal and victimisation if they blow the whistle on illegal or unsafe practices.

Since 25th June, worker can only rely on disclosures to bring a whistleblowing claim if, in the reasonable belief of the worker, the disclosure is made in the public interest. However, another change has been introduced which helps whistleblowers. It is no longer necessary for them to be acting in good faith when they blow the whistle.

Employers will also be liable if their employees victimise a colleague for whistleblowing. 

Due for implementation on 29th July:

Unfair dismissal awards to be reduced.

New regulations will be implemented to stop tribunals making awards that are higher than 52 weeks of the employees pay (currently capped at £74,200). This will apply to all dismissals after the date when the regulations come into force.

Compromise agreements to be renamed

Compromise agreements will be renamed settlement agreements but the purpose will remain the same.

Pre-termination negotiations

Employers will be able to have pre-termination negotiations, which are offers made or discussions held between the employer and employee before termination of employment with a view to employment being terminated on agreed terms. This allows an employer to have a conversation with an employee with the aim of terminating the employment under a settlement agreement without the employee being able to rely on details of the conversation as evidence in an unfair dismissal claim. 

The parties cannot make use of these provisions in claims for automatic unfair dismissal (such as whistleblowing) or discrimination. 

Tribunal fees

Tribunal fees will be introduced and for all but very simple claims, such as for wages and holiday pay, claimants will have to pay £250 to issue their claim and a further £950 for a hearing.

There is a system for those with low means to be exempt from the fees.

Proposed for the autumn

Employee shareholder status

The idea is to give employees a share of the business in exchange for them giving up certain employment rights. In exchange for giving employees shares worth £2,000 to £50,000, employers will be able to make employees contract out of the right to bring an unfair dismissal claim (but not an automatically unfair dismissal claim like whistleblowing), certain rights to request flexible working and training and a statutory redundancy payment and they will have to give longer notice to return early from maternity leave.

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The Queen’s Speech has unveiled a number of announcements aimed at helping employers

The National Insurance Contributions Bill will introduce a new employment allowance, giving all businesses a reduction of £2,000 per annum from their employer national insurance contributions. It will take effect in April 2014.

The proposed Deregulation Bill will set out to reduce the burden of excessive regulation on businesses. These include changes to employment tribunals and health and safety regulations.

The speech also included proposed changes to childcare for working parents, increased access to traineeships and apprenticeships, and an increase in the level of fines for businesses employing illegal workers.

( ref Personnel Today)

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Free HR Seminar for growing companies at Harwell Innovation Centre

HR  & Employment Law Basics

for Growing Companies

You are invited to a free employment training event

at the Harwell Innovation Centre

on Tuesday 21st May 2013

Starting with lunch at 12 noon, the event will finish at 1.30pm with networking opportunites until 2pm

Whether you are hiring your first employee, or expanding your team, it has never been more important to ensure you are legally compliant and managing your staff’s performance effectively and fairly, so they are actively engaged in promoting your business.

This event will be presented by Rebecca Ireland, Employment Law Partner at Morgan Cole LLP and Mandy Brearley, Independent HR Specialist at MB HR Support.  It will cover the main HR and employment law basics you need to consider as your organisation grows; from recruitment, through the probationary period, dealing with poor performance and misconduct issues, managing sickness absence and grievances, and touching on health and safety and data protection.

If you are a growing company, or just want to ensure you have everything covered already, then book your place at:                      

http://hrbasicsatharwell.eventbrite.co.uk

Contact:Mandy Brearley at mandy@mbhrsupport.co.uk or call 07766665665

Venue address: Harwell Innovation Centre, Building 173 Curie Avenue, Harwell Oxford, Didcot  OX11 OQ

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Key Legal changes for 2013 – timetable

1st April 2013

Legal aid removed for the majority of employment claims – Legal aid will be withdrawn for most employment claims with the exception of some areas, including advice and assistance in relation to claims under the Equality Act 2010 and representation in the Employment Appeal Tribunal for claims under the Equality Act 2010.

6th April 2013

Real time information introduced
- Employers are required to report PAYE deductions to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) prior to, or at the time of, paying employees rather than at the end of the year, under the new real time information scheme

Statutory sick pay increases
 increase from £85.85 to £86.70 per week.

Collective redundancy consultation period reduces from 90 to 45 days where an employer proposes to dismiss as redundant 100 or more employees

Changes to income tax thresholds and rates come into force
 -The income tax personal allowance increases from £8,105 to £9,440. The basic rate limit decreases from £34,370 to £32,010. The additional rate of income tax is reduced from 50% to 45%.

Social Security (Contributions) amended to:  the lower earnings limit for primary Class 1 national insurance contributions to £109 and the upper earnings limit to £797.

7th April 2013

Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increase
 £135.45 to £136.78 per week

Summer 2013

Fees for tribunal claims introduced
- 

Claimants who issue a claim against their employer in the employment tribunal are required to pay a fee. There are two levels of claim, depending on the complexity of the case. The claimant pays an initial fee to issue a claim and a further fee if the claim proceeds to a hearing. submitted to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Portable DBS checks introduced-

Once a Disclosure and Barring Service (previously Criminal Records Bureau) check has been conducted, the results will be available online to enable employers to confirm that no new information has been added since the check was originally made. This means that an employee will not have to obtain a new check each time he or she starts a new job.

Compensatory award limit for unfair dismissal amended -

the amount may be no less than the median annual earnings and no more than three times the median annual earnings, or no less than 52 times the claimant’s weekly pay.

Compromise agreements to be renamed settlement agreements

Plan for pre-termination negotiations to be inadmissible in unfair dismissal claims - Conversations between an employer and an employee or an offer made prior to the termination of employment, with a view to terminating employment on agreed terms, may not be taken into account by an employment tribunal when determining an unfair dismissal claim.

Autumn 2013

Employee-owner contract introduced-
The "employee-owner" contract, a new type of employment contract, is introduced. Employee-owners will be given between £2,000 and £50,000 of shares in the business, which will be exempt from capital gains tax, in exchange for foregoing certain employment rights. Employee-owners would not have the "ordinary" unfair dismissal protection after two years’ continuous service. Employee owners would be unable to make statutory requests to work flexibly or in relation to study or training, and would not be protected against dismissal for making either of these statutory requests, except in relation to a flexible working request on return from parental leave. Employee-owners would not be eligible for statutory redundancy pay, and would also have to give 16 weeks’ notice to return early from maternity or adoption leave, as compared with eight weeks for employees.

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Workshop for SMEs – HR basic hints & tips

The Career Boutique and MB HR Support are running an informative workshop aimed at SMEs, who don’t have the luxury of an inhouse HR department, covering HR basic hints and tips.

This event will take place at the Innovation Centre, Milton Park, OX14 4RY. Starting at 8am with complimentary pastries & tea/coffee and finishing at 9.30am.

The topics being covered will be:

Find the right people

Keeping up to date with employment law

Absence management

Engaging employees

Performance management

Diversity

Reward

Staff Development

Communciation

HR documentation

Please email Mandy Brearley at mandy@mbhrsupport.co.uk or phone 07766665665 to book your place.

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