November 2017

Welcome

Hello, we would like to share the latest news within Cluer HR as well as keeping you up to date with developments in the world of HR and employment law as they occur.

It’s all part of the service. We hope you find it useful. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Glasgow firm first in UK to offer term-time only jobs in the private sector

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A Scots firm has become the first private sector business in the UK to offer term-time only jobs. The move by Glasgow-based Pursuit Marketing aims to encourage more parents into the workplace and offer a better work-life balance. Those taking up the 10 jobs on offer will be able to work 9.30am – 2.30pm during school terms, and won’t be required to work during holiday periods. It is the latest incentive to be rolled out by the firm, along with giving employees the chance to work a four day week for full time wages, daily fitness classes and guaranteed family holidays.

Bosses at the company, which specialises in boosting business for the IT and technology industries, said the flexible arrangements have seen productivity “soar” since they were introduced last year. Lorraine Gray, Operations Director at Pursuit, said: “Last year we introduced a four-day week for our staff, without cutting pay, and productivity soared so this is a natural progression of that policy. Parents often feel torn between work and spending time with their children, especially during their early years, and this solution resolves that dilemma, allowing them to be at their desks during term time and at home with their children during the various school holidays.”

Do you have jobs that could be worked under this arrangement? If you’re struggling to recruit, this has the potential to tap into a whole new group of people who otherwise would discount themselves. Maybe your business fits with a ‘term time’ schedule so this would work well for you. Talk to us about re-writing roles for your business, call us on 01386 751 740 or email us [email protected]

Make big brands liable for supply chain non-compliance – Matthew Taylor

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Major companies should be jointly liable for non-compliance with employment regulation uncovered in their supply chains, Matthew Taylor – lead author of this summer’s Taylor review – urged while giving evidence to a joint hearing of two House of Commons select committees. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee and Work and Pensions Committee had invited Taylor, who is chief executive of the RSA, to probe various recommendations he made in his review, published in July.

MPs also examined his recommendations to apply minimum wage piece-rate legislation to on-demand working, to apply a premium minimum wage rate for non-contracted hours, and the issue of substitution in relation to employment status. Representatives from Uber, Deliveroo and Hermes gave evidence to the committees.

Taylor began by relaying an idea from Sir David Metcalf, director of labour market enforcement, which he had heard since the review. “We should think hard about the idea that liability for non-compliance within a labour supply chain should go up to the primary contractor, to the top of that supply chain,” he said. Joint liability at the top of the labour supply chain would be an important way of addressing problems further down, he shared an example of a road haulage company, which was run by a couple of “cowboys”. It had encouraged all its drivers to be self-employed. When the company then went bust, the owners “ran off” with the money. “These drivers, not only did they lose their job, but they then found themselves pursued by HMRC because they had clearly not been paying the tax they ought to pay,” he explained. “The question I want to ask is, who were they delivering for? Whose goods were in those lorries? Arguably the idea of joint liability would have meant that the companies at the top of that tree, which might be major brands, would have wanted to make sure that that kind of practice wasn’t taking place at the bottom of the supply chain.”

Taylor warned the committees that there had to be a level playing field. “Lots of technology can provide really good opportunities for new forms of flexibility, for new forms of work, to carry on a very good record we’ve got in this country of creating flexible work for people throughout the life’s course. If we get it wrong, there’s a genuine danger of a race to the bottom.”

Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

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If you have a Modern and Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement, it needs to be updated to reflect the amendments to the Government’s guidance on producing a statement, covering: sign-off at Board level; online retention of historic statements; and voluntary reporting by smaller orgs. (We will send an amended version to our retained clients).

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires some organisations to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year, setting out the steps that the organisation has taken during the year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in its supply chains or its own business (or setting out that it has taken no such steps).

An employer is covered by the duty to prepare a statement under s.54 if it:

· is a body corporate or partnership, wherever incorporated or formed

· carries on a business, or part of a business, in any part of the UK

· supplies goods and services

· has a total turnover of at least £36 million per year

Whilst, as we said back in 2015 when the legislation came out, this doesn’t directly affect a typical client of ours, if you are the supplier, or in a supply chain where the Company at the top meets these criteria, then you may find that you need to in order to tender/remain competitive. Please get in touch if you have any queries on this issue.
Taylor began by relaying an idea from Sir David Metcalf, director of labour market enforcement, which he had heard since the review. “We should think hard about the idea that liability for non-compliance within a labour supply chain should go up to the primary contractor, to the top of that supply chain,” he said. Joint liability at the top of the labour supply chain would be an important way of addressing problems further down, he shared an example of a road haulage company, which was run by a couple of “cowboys”. It had encouraged all its drivers to be self-employed. When the company then went bust, the owners “ran off” with the money. “These drivers, not only did they lose their job, but they then found themselves pursued by HMRC because they had clearly not been paying the tax they ought to pay,” he explained. “The question I want to ask is, who were they delivering for? Whose goods were in those lorries? Arguably the idea of joint liability would have meant that the companies at the top of that tree, which might be major brands, would have wanted to make sure that that kind of practice wasn’t taking place at the bottom of the supply chain.”

Taylor warned the committees that there had to be a level playing field. “Lots of technology can provide really good opportunities for new forms of flexibility, for new forms of work, to carry on a very good record we’ve got in this country of creating flexible work for people throughout the life’s course. If we get it wrong, there’s a genuine danger of a race to the bottom.”

Mental Health At Work

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An independent review on how employers can better support the mental health of employees, including those with mental health problems or poor well-being, was published on 26th October. The Stevenson/Farmer review, Thriving At Work, contains 40 recommendations, which include:

· All employers should adopt certain mental health core standards, set out in the report.

· Public sector and private sector employers with over 500 employees, should take additional steps (as set out in the report)

· Employers should be encouraged by legislation to report publicly on their workforce’s mental health

· Professional bodies should implement training and support measures for their employer members.

We’ll keep an eye on these findings and update you as and when they become available, watch this space!

Unpaid internships should be ‘consigned to the novels of Dickens’, says peer

A survey released ahead of a House of Lords debate finds three-quarters of UK public backs ban on stints over four weeks. Proposals to ban unpaid internships and work experience lasting more than four weeks are due to be debated by the House of Lords, as one peer said they should become a thing of the past. The House of Lords will have its second reading of a private member’s bill which, if it becomes law, would ban longer stints of unpaid work experience and internships. “Unpaid internships leave young people in a catch-22 situation; unable to get a job because they haven’t got experience, and unable to get experience because they can’t afford to work for free,” said Lord Holmes of Richmond, who introduced the private member’s bill. “The practice is clearly discriminatory, crushes creativity and competitiveness, and holds individuals and our country back. It’s time we consigned them to the past, to the novels of Dickens.”

“Unpaid internships shut out young people who cannot afford to work for free, especially those without family in London, where the majority of internships take place,” said Carys Roberts, IPPR research fellow. “Today’s polling shows that the British public believe this is unfair. Lord Holmes’ and the commission’s call for a ban on unpaid internships lasting longer than four weeks would provide clarity on the law, and would increase employers’ awareness of and compliance with their legal responsibilities to pay interns.”

We’ll update you on this story as it develops, but please bear in mind for internships you may have in mind.

Admin officer fired over desk move disagreement wins £75,000

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A woman who was sacked after a disagreement over a desk move led to extensive time off with mental ill-health has been awarded £75,000 by a tribunal. Leeds Employment Tribunal heard that L Bannister had been employed by The Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) since April 1990 as an administrative officer. She initially worked in counter avoidance but, around December 2013, her team was disbanded and she was told she would have to move floors. Shortly afterwards, Bannister phoned one of the managers to tell them she was unable to cope with her life and, a few days later, called back to explain she was an alcoholic and her mental health condition was preventing her from moving desks.

Bannister eventually agreed to return to work following a conversation with another manager and, although she apologised for allowing the desk move to become a “big thing”, she explained it was because she felt settled in her original location. Then, in a letter dated early 2014, an occupational health adviser noted that Bannister had said she had been suffering with depression for three years and that she was vulnerable to future episodes of mental ill-health, but determined she was fit to work. However, Bannister went on to have problems with attendance. She was issued her first written warning on the matter in April 2014 and continued to have several periods of absence until March 2015, when she was signed off work by her GP for alcohol dependence, anxiety and depression. She continued to be signed off under a string of notes for similar issues until she was dismissed in January 2016.

In April 2015, it was decided that Bannister would move teams again. Bannister protested, but was ultimately told it was not possible to reverse the decision about the move. At one point, a team leader told her that “in fairness, he was not aware of issues around previous moves and, to be honest, he had no interest”. Bannister kept in touch with her employer about her return to work throughout the time she was signed off, but the tribunal heard that the conversations about the desk move quickly became strained.

After carrying out a report into Bannister’s sickness absence in August 2015, HMRC concluded that she should be dismissed. It was also decided, in October 2015, that Bannister should not receive any compensation under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme. Although Bannister appealed both the decision to dismiss her and the decision not to award compensation, she was told in January 2016 that both appeals had been unsuccessful.

Allowing the claim for disability discrimination, Judge Keevash decided that HMRC had failed to make reasonable adjustments – such as allowing Bannister to work at her old desk for a short period of time while she prepared herself to move – to help her return to work. In particular, the tribunal found that Bannister had given several examples of evidence that suggested she “needed the security of an established routine at the workplace and that any change posed a threat that unsettled her”. For example, Bannister explained how she would not board a bus if she felt there were too many people already on it and would avoid joining a supermarket checkout queue if there were already three people in it.

HMRC has been ordered to pay Bannister £75,294.89, including £38,000 for pension losses, £17,152.22 for lost earnings and £15,000 for injury to feelings.

If you are struggling with an employee who has ill health, please get in contact at [email protected] or call 01386 751 740

Are you up to date with our blogs?

This month we checked if you are ready for the General Data Protection Regulation? It comes in to force May 2018, so read the link above for a brief run-down. Is your office attire pretty easy going? We gave a quick guide to setting up a Dress Code – even if you’re all on the same page when it comes to your sense of office style. This may just help you wriggle out of a few awkward situations.

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