Category Archive Employment Law

ByMichael Morrison

Retail Property Purchases Will Add Fuel to Strengthening Employment Market

Commercial property solicitors in London have ‘inboxed’ their employment departments to brace themselves for a substantial increase in contract work.

Purchasers have spent £1billion on retail space in central London in the first six months of this year originating particularly from Singapore and Hong Kong. The City unfortunately is not faring as well due to the Brexit vote and the uncertainty of its position with the European Union.

 

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ByMichael Morrison

Investment Banking Redundancies

Employment solicitors in London are bracing themselves for a flurry of activity in the preparation and reviewing of settlement agreements and tribunal proceedings.

Banks such as Credit Suisse, Barclays and Deutsche are reducing their investment banking departments and some are reducing staff numbers by thousands. Challenging market conditions, unprecedented low levels of client business, exposure to illiquid inventory and an inflexible cost base have together conspired to create an extremely depressing scene.

 

 

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ByMichael Morrison

Start-Up Economy is Expanding

Commercial solicitors in London with strong employment departments are bracing themselves for a surge in fresh instructions as new retail ventures, food and tech businesses commence trading weekly.

There is a strong bullish sentiment as to hiring new staff currently in this sector.

Romford in Essex is the start-up capital of Great Britain with 6,188 new business start-ups last year.

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ByMichael Morrison

Employment Law Changes From 1st October 2014

The following employment law changes come into force on 1st October 2014:-
Tribunals to have power to order equal pay audits
Employment Tribunals will be able to order employers to carry out equal pay audits where there has been an equal pay breach.  Employers should note that the legislation includes a requirement that they publish the results of the audit on their website (unless they can show that doing so would result in a breach of a legal obligation) for a period of at least 3 years.
National Minimum Wage
The National Minimum Wage rates applying from 1 October:

  • The adult rate for workers aged 21 and over will increase by 19p from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour.
  • The hourly rate for workers aged 18-20 will increase by 10p from £5.03 to £5.13 per hour.
  • The rate for workers aged 16-17 will increase by 7p from £3.72 to £3.79 per hour.
  • The hourly rate for apprentices will increase by 5p from £2.68 to £2.73.

Time off to accompany a pregnant woman to ante-natal appointments

This new right will be available to employees and qualifying agency workers.  It applies to the pregnant woman’s husband, civil partner or partner (including same-sex partner), the father or parent of a pregnant woman’s child, and intended parents in a surrogacy situation who meet specified conditions.

The entitlement is to unpaid leave for up to two appointments, capped at 6.5 hours per appointment.  Employees will have the right to bring claims in the Employment Tribunal if their employer unreasonably refuses to let them take time off for this purpose.

Employers can offer provision more generous than the statutory entitlement and also decide to make the leave paid, if they wish to do so.

The Government has issued guidance for employers on the new right.  See also our comments on it here.

A similar right for adopters will come into force in April 2015.

Employment Law Changes from 1st October 2014

 

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ByMichael Morrison

Unfair Dismissal: Blame culture at the BBC

A culture of blame-shifting permeated the upper echelons of the BBC and contributed to the unfair dismissal of its former technology chief when a high-profile IT project went badly wrong, an employment tribunal found today.

John Linwood, who was paid a salary of £280,000 after being recruited from Yahoo! in 2009, was sacked in the wake of the £98.4m collapse of an attempt to integrate the BBC’s digital production system.

The Corporation, which announced that it had suspended Mr Linwood as its chief technology officer at the same time as it scrapped the project last summer, claimed that he had overseen a “massive waste of public funds” and had shirked responsibility for the failure of its Digital Media Initiative (DMI) to end all use of “tape”.

But Mr Linwood claimed he had been made a “scapegoat” for the failure and the troubled project – described by one executive as an attempt at “boiling the ocean” – need not have been entirely scrapped. The employment tribunal sided with him by finding that he had been unfairly dismissed from his post and subjected to a “fundamentally flawed” procedure to investigate alleged misconduct.

In a swingeing ruling, the tribunal found there existed in the BBC, still recovering from the Jimmy Savile at the time, a “deeply ingrained cultural expectation” that when something went wrong “on your watch” that executives deemed responsible for any failure would resign.

This in turn meant that the Corporation was suffused with “sensitivities, fears and anxieties” that managers would be left “carrying the can” for any fiasco and accordingly took action to ensure they avoided being singled out for responsibility.

The tribunal found: “This culture and climate gave rise to avoidance strategies, no doubt including, on occasion, the steering of the spotlight of blame in other directions, on the part of those who felt themselves to be in danger of association with a sinking ship”.

The 66-page judgment said the buck passing culture had been highlighted by the “quite extraordinarily unattractive” content of emails sent by Mr Linwood’s boss, Dominic Coles, and the BBC’s then creative officer, Pat Younge.

In one memo sent as the Corporation finalised the ending of DMI, Mr Younge said Mr Linwood could “just spin in the wind” while Mr Coles could “position yourself as the man who took it over, reviewed it and called time [on DMI]”.

The tribunal found that at a meeting of the Corporation’s executive board on 13 May last year, shortly after Tony Hall had arrived as the new director general, a decision had been made that “one way or another, [Mr Linwood] must go”.

It added it was likely this had flowed from an earlier meeting of the Corporation’s governing body, the BBC Trust, which it considered had effectively asked the Corporation’s executives to “find the culprit” for DMI’s failure.

When Mr Linwood refused to resign from his post and was subjected to a formal disciplinary procedure, the tribunal found the BBC breached its own rules and subjected its employee to an “apparently cavalier disregard for any of the accepted norms of a fair disciplinary process”.

In one incident, Mr Linwood asked for the postponement of a hearing to allow him time to read “thousands of emails” that had been disclosed to him shortly beforehand. The Corporation responded by bringing the meeting forward.

One of the human resources executives responsible for assessing Mr Linwood’s case – Clare Dyer – may not have read some key documents and had “appeared to regard the detail and the documents as a tiresome and unduly time-consuming distraction from the task in hand”, the tribunal found.

The former technology officer, who was found to have been 15 per cent responsible for his own dismissal, said the ruling was a “complete vindication” of his decision to fight the Corporation.

His employment solicitor in London said: “The judgment gives an unedifying insight into the inner workings of the BBC at senior management level.”

The BBC said it was “disappointed” but accepted the ruling. In a statement, the Corporation said: “We had a major failure of a significant project, and we had lost confidence – as the tribunal acknowledges – in John Linwood. At the time we believed we acted appropriately. The tribunal has taken a different view.”

Original reporting by The Independent 7/8/14

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ByMichael Morrison

Employment: Tribunal cases are now 55% Sex Discrimination claims

The proportion of employment tribunal cases relating to sex discrimination is growing, research has shown.

The proportion of discrimination cases as a whole in the Employment Tribunal workload is at the highest level for four years.

But while some cases are dwindling, sex-based claims now make up more than half, 55 per cent, compared with 38 per cent two years ago.

The employment solicitors in London, which produced the figures, say the trend is in part down to employers continuing to make mistakes over maternity leave.

There is also an increasing number of potential claimants as more women decide to stay in work after having children. The number of women in the UK workforce has risen by over 300,000 in the past year, to 14.16 million from 13.85 million last year.

The solicitors said: “Employers who are not up to speed on the rights of their employees can easily fall foul of employment laws.

“Over recent years there’s been a big effort in the City to improve equality at a senior level.

“Some City women perceive that while every effort is made to promote and support female superstars, women who are not quite part of that elite are less valued than their male peers and find it harder to  progress.”

The figures appear just a month after two sales executives who won their sexual harassment employment tribunal case urged other women to stand up to abuse in the workplace.

Diana Nicholl-Pierson and Anna Mazover are in line to receive substantial compensation. The tribunal found their boss Darren Scott was “fixated” on Miss Nicholl–Pierson’s breasts and groped her bottom, and also fondled Miss Mazover, whom he falsely accused of being a sex worker.

The rise in the proportion of discrimination claims comes as the total number of claims being filed has fallen by around 80 per cent since tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013.

The fees are deterring many potential claimants from pursuing cases where the value of the prospective compensation is limited.

For example, compensation for unfair dismissal claims is capped at £76,574 or one year’s pay, whichever is lower.

But there is no upper limit on the compensation that can be claimed in a discrimination case.

For guidance from a specialist employment solicitor in London contact us.

Original reporting by the London Evening Standard 24/7/14

A mother-of-two has won nearly £30,000 compensation after an employment tribunal heard how she was groped by her boss and compared to a bondage model.

Recruitment manager Jennifer Newman, 34, told how she was called “proper top totty” in front of clients and accused of dressing like “someone who works in a dubious establishment.”

Widowed Ms Newman was subjected to a sustained campaign of harassment by Steve Hoad, managing director of cleaning firm Hydro Cleansing.

The Croydon tribunal panel unanimously upheld her claims and ordered Mr Hoad to pay £29,526 in damages and more than £12,000 in legal costs.

After her victory Ms Newman spoke of her relief at “justice prevailing”. Her problems had begun when Mr Hoad emailed her a picture of a semi-naked woman in bondage gear, asking: “Have you got a suit like this?” She told the tribunal she then had to endure the laughter of colleagues when he added: “She does look like you.”

On another occasion he threw a pen to the floor in front of clients and asked her to pick it up. When she refused and walked off he said “Look at that: proper top totty” to laughter from the  clients.

She said the final straw came when Mr Hoad groped her bottom when she asked for a salary  advance to take her two daughters on holiday.

Ms Newman, whose husband died in a car crash in 2009, said: “I felt absolutely violated, upset and demeaned.

“It was as though Steve felt that by asking for an advance on my salary it gave him the right to touch me.”

Ms Newman, who earned £32,000 a year, reported the incident to the firm’s human resources department, but the details were leaked to Mr Hoad’s wife Carol, who also worked for the firm.

Mr Hoad’s  inappropriate comments escalated, Ms Newman  said,  after she underwent breast enhancement  surgery shortly after joining the firm.

Referring to the bondage email, she said: “I did not report this at the time as I was relatively new in my position and I really needed this job due to my personal circumstance and did not wish to rock the boat.

“I kind of hoped that after a while Steve would get bored making such comments and sending offensive emails.”

But when she decided to approach him to ask for a loan to pay for her family’s holiday in Cornwall she said he groped her left buttock in his private office at the firm’s Croydon depot.

She reported his behaviour to HR manager Nicole Moore in confidence but said  Mr Hoad’s wife found and “put two and two together” and believed the pair were having an affair, the  tribunal heard.

On returning from her holiday Ms Newman, from Croydon, was told “within an hour” she had been made redundant.

Kayleigh Long, representing Ms Newman, told the hearing: “She was pushed out of the company because of her rejection of behaviour by Mr Hoad”. She said a letter sent during the  litigation referred to Ms Newman  wearing a crop top without a bra after her breast enhancement and said she dressed like “someone who works in a dubious establishment. Ms Newman found this very upsetting and degrading.”

She said after the verdict: “This means a lot to me…I’ve made a stand for lots of women who are afraid to speak out”.

The benefits of employing a competent employment solicitor in London cannot be stressed highly enough.

Original reporting by the London Evening Standard 5/8/14

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ByMichael Morrison

Employment Status: Limited Liability Partnerships

The Supreme Court has held (Clyde & Co LLP and another v Bates van Winkelhof [2014] UKSC 32,) that a former equity partner of a law firm incorporated as a limited liability partnership (LLP) was clearly a worker and therefore eligible to bring a whistleblowing claim against the LLP. As a result of this decision, LLP members will become entitled to a range of other statutory rights which are available to workers, but not the genuinely self-employed. These include the right to paid annual leave, limits on working time and protection from less favourable treatment if they work part-time. This significant judgment extends protection to many thousands of members of firms, often those working in heavily regulated industries such as law, accountancy and financial services.

A checklist explaining the significance of the distinction between an employee, a worker and a self-employed contractor has been produced.

This has been produced by one of our recommended solicitors.

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ByDavid7SB

Employment Law– Right to Request Flexible Working

Employment Law is always changing, and this year is no exception. These changes normally come into effect in April or October. This year, however, there does seem to be a variety of changes coming in outside of these times. Notably, after a short delay earlier this year, on 30th June 2014 the modifications on the Right to Request Flexible Working come in to effect.
The changes in themselves are not comprehensive, but could have substantial effects for some businesses.

Exactly what is Flexible Working?

Flexible working is where, as an example, hours of work are varied or staggered. Requests might not always be in the form of a decrease in working hours to a company, as employees could not want or have the ability to afford to decrease their pay, so it could be, for instance, flexi working, compressed hours, working from house or yearly hours; there are numerous options available.

What are the main modifications?

Flexible working will now be available to ALL employees, with certifying service.
As of the 30th June, all employees who certify can make a formal written request for flexible working. The existing statutory procedure is being gotten rid of and companies will now be needed to hear requests in an affordable manner. The previous business grounds for declining requests will remain.

Exactly what should an Employer do if they receive a request for Flexible Working?

On receipt of all formal demands, employers ought to always act fairly and regularly. Preferably following the summary steps below in an affordable way.
– Employers ought to organize to meet with the worker to discuss the formal request in more information, in line with their company’s Flexible Working Policy
– After the meeting, the company ought to take time to think about the request and conversations, which took place during the course of the conference
– The employee must then be notified of the result. This can be done in person first, and then follow-uped in writing.
– The worker has the right of appeal ought to the request be decreased
Summary
As a company, you could now get formal flexible working requests from ALL staff members with qualifying service. All applications should be treated fairly and regularly, and be taken care of in a sensible way.
As a company you will want to ensure that you have all the right paperwork in place to support your business at present and in the future. Therefore if you have issues or want to discuss your current and future contract of employment you ought to consider getting in touch with an employment solicitor. WhichSolicitor.info can suggest the best solicitor in your area.

For a recommended employment solicitor in London contact us at Which Solicitor? – The Solicitors Information Service on 020 7483 4833.

 

Original Article

Recommended Reading

flexible-workingCOVER1[1]

Advice leaflet – The right to apply for flexible working (for requests made before 30 June 2014)

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