Employment Law Explained

Conciliate not Litigate

Early Conciliation  (EC) via ACAS has now been with us for over a month, and it has been mandatory since 6th May for all new disputes to be referred to ACAS before an Employment Tribunal claim can be commenced.  ACAS will, for free, try and resolve the dispute.  If it can’t then the Claimant can issue his/her claim.  If it does settle then job done.

The ACAS website has a useful flowchart which gives an overview of how the process works

Protect Your Business – Handling Disciplinary Procedures

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Last Wednesday  my firm hosted the second in our series of events aimed at employers and how they can protect their businesses by following the correct processes and procedures in employment law.  We were delighted to welcome Barristers Smair Soor and Ben Isaacs from 7 Bedford Row Chambers in London to present an interactive role play session on how to handle disciplinary situations in the workplace.

Not Waving but Drowning

Blogging about emplaw is a bit like being a hamster on a wheel. Always some new case, stature, initiative, consultation, debate or controversy to write about and in trying to keep up you go quicker and quicker. Then you fall off when real life gets in the way or the sheer volume of new “stuff” crushes you.

Getting back on is harder. So much to write about, where to start? What to say? It reminds me a bit of the Stevie Smith poem “not waving but drowning”. ,http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/not-waving-but-drowning

ET Fees and Early Conciliation

According to statistics from the Ministry of Justice published last week, the number of ET claims issued since the introduction of issue fees has fallen off a cliff.  In the quarter October to December 2013 there were 9,801 claims issued, which was 79% fewer than the corresponding period in 2012 and 75% less than the previous quarter.  ET fees were introduced on 29th July 2013 and the level of fee depends on the type of case – for unlawful deduction of wages claims (for example) the issue fee is £160 whereas for unfair dismissal and discrimination the fee is £250. There is a fees remission system which is complex and under review.  Furthermore, there are also additional fees for taking a claim to a final hearing (£230/ £950) meaning that in an unfair dismissal claim total Tribunal fees might be as much as £1200 to enable an employee (who may well be out of work) to get the claim before an Employment Judge for a decision.

Social Media, Employees and the Public Interest

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Most discussion about the use of social media in the workplace focuses on employees making abusive or inappropriate comments on Facebook or Twitter, or the need for employers to have a social media policy to educate or guide employees on what is acceptable.  Many employees who do fall foul of such policies and subsequently get dismissed claim that their right to freedom of speech or right to privacy has been infringed.  The Courts and Tribunals tend to give these arguments short shrift.

What Can You Ask in Job Interviews?

At the moment, my esteemed and beloved wife, Mrs Jobsworth is recruiting.  She works for a large corporate in a finance role.  She needs to take on someone for a role to report in to her.  We got talking about the guidelines her HR department has given her about what should not be asked of candidates.

Now, she knows (and wouldn’t) ask a woman if she had children or had plans in that direction. Neither would she ask a man the same question and with  shared parental responsibility on the horizon many more men may want to avail themselves of the opportunity to be involved in the early months of their children’s lives meaning that the whole workforce may, at some stage, be liable to .  That is certainly the intention behind the government’s Modern Workplaces consultation process.

How Do They Get Away With It?

Just before Christmas I was interviewed on LBC Radio’s Drivetime programme by Iain Dale about the acquittal of the Grillo sisters in the fraud trial. The focus at the trial and in the media afterwards was not on whether the defendants had stolen £665,000 from their former employers, but on Nigella’s less than Goddess like domestic circumstances, as well as receiving high-profile support mid-trial from the Prime Minister. As you will recall the Grillo sisters were acquitted of any wrongdoing.

Getting an Employment Agreement Commercially Right

When a company employs someone new, you have to make sure that you have everything covered, so they don’t find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Future disputes are a real pain. It’s best if you have a solid foundation for a happy employment. Consider the following, when you’re knocking up the contract which is applicable both for commercial / business law and employment law matters.

Compensation

Always consider any annual base salary increases – will the employee be receiving any? Sometimes, to incentivise entering a new role, companies will offer benefits to secure the job change. Is the employee entitled to any bonuses? If so, how regularly?

Have I Been Unfairly Dismissed?

Being dismissed from your place of employment can be extremely stressful whether it is unfair or not. However, if it is an unfair dismissal, claiming compensation may not be your first thought despite the fact that you could be owed a substantial amount.

Once you have identified whether or not you have been unfairly dismissed, your next decision will be whether you would like to go ahead with claiming compensation from your former employer.

This can be difficult as you may have had an amiable relationship for a long time, however, as you are now facing an uncertain time as a newly unemployed person, having some financial stability could be of benefit.

Happy Christmas!

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simply having a wonderful Christmas time …

Another Christmas Eve, another long night of expectation and excitement: will the kids ever go to sleep so that we can deposit the presents round the tree and I can neck the sherry and mince pies?   Last year it was 2 a.m before they finally nodded off.  I’m wondering if it would be really, really bad to put a nip of something strong in the bedtime milk.