There have a been a few things happening in the world of Employment Law recently and a few things that are due to be implemented shortly so I thought I round up of some key points would be a useful.
There has been an increase in claims for discrimination based on compassionate leave, some cases have made the news where compassionate leave was not granted when One Direction split up causing much grief to some workers, or in the cases where pets have died and employers have not understood the impact that losing them has had on employees. There is currently no legislation stating that compassionate leave must be given in such cases but clearly as an employer it would be sensible to adopt a policy that can be used across the board to deal with requests as they arise taking into account the impact that the grief will have the productivity of the worker and whether any other options are available for leave. It is vital to be consistent however as it is inconsistency that gives rise to feelings of discrimination and opens the door to disgruntled employees and potential claims.
Parental Bereavement Leave
This will be brought into employment law in April 2020 for all parents and primary carers who lose a child under 18 years of age or a still birth after 24 weeks pregnancy. This will allow for 2 weeks bereavement leave at any time within 56 weeks of the bereavement on full pay if they have been employed for at least 26 weeks.
Good Work Plan
This is the government’s vision of the future of the labour market and many of it’s proposals are being introduced gradually with full implementation to continue through 2020.
I will do separate post looking at this area
Equality Act Update
Symptoms of the menopause are now recognised as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act and must be borne in mind whenever it is necessary to in any way consider disciplinary or dismissal proceedings against female staff. If in any doubt, as this is a sensitive area, use the services of an Occupational Health Specialist.
It will be unlawful to dismiss an employee during pregnancy, maternity or up to 6 months after their return to work. This includes redundancy. This can be difficult if there are genuine reasons for dismissal including gross misconduct but if it can be connected in any way to the pregnancy there could be a claim.
There will be a new statutory code of practice around Sexual Harassment. There has been discussion of a total ban on any physical contact in the work place including handshakes, more on this when the code is published.
There has been an increase in discrimination claims based on job adverts. Pay attention to what you are putting in your adverts bearing in mind, age, gender, race, ethnic origin, ability, sexual orientation, religion or belief or language.
ACAS Code of Practice
If your disciplinary process is not up to this standard it will be considered unfair.
Breach of Statutory Requirement
If a tribunal upholds a claim and finds that an employer has breached a statutory obligation the award to the claimant will be increased by 25%
Protecting Employers Rights
Contracts and policies are the best way to protect employers rights and layout exactly what the terms of employment are. Remember to keep the actual contract to the fundamental terms for individual employees and use appropriate policies for your business which can be changed without the need for agreement, so long as reasonable notice is given, as required.