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National Minimum Wage – Latest rates

Hello, it’s the last Friday of the month and that means it’s time for your monthly Employment Law Update. Last month we looked at Bank Holiday working, the gig economy and the Byron Burger scandal and last week’s case examined Early Conciliation.

This month we have lots for you, including forthcoming changes to the minimum wage and the apprenticeship levy. We also would like to draw your attention to a recent post about former England manager, Sam Allardyce, who has since had his contract terminated by mutual consent, in relation to bribery policies and consistent disciplinary sanctions.

From 1st October the minimum wage rate for some age groups will rise. The new rates are as follows:

21-24 year olds – £6.95

18-21 year olds – £5.55

Under 18 years old – £4.00

Apprentices under 19 years old – £3.40

The national living wage for over 25s will be unchanged after being introduced in April this year but all future changes to minimum wage rates, for all age groups, will be introduced in April, beginning in April 2017. Therefore beware that this current rate will only be applicable for six months.

Posted: Sep 30, 2016 by admin in E Learning

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Apprenticeships – Apprenticeship Levy lowdown

From 6 April 2017 there will be an Apprenticeship Levy for any business whose payroll exceeds three million pounds a year. The levy means these companies will have to put 0.5% of their wage bill into the levy via PAYE with the aim that the levy will create millions of new apprenticeships by 2020. However, the new apprenticeships created from the levy will also be available to smaller businesses who did not pay the levy.

Furthermore, large public sector employers with over 250 employees will have an apprenticeship target that ensures at least 2.3% of their workforce (6 employees) are currently apprentices. These apprenticeships must be statutory apprenticeships and not other schemes given the apprenticeship title or common law schemes. This is part of an ongoing government initiative to encourage youth employment via apprenticeships.

Posted: Sep 30, 2016 by admin in E Learning

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Modern Slavery – Have you got your statement sorted?

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires any company turning over £36 million or more to publish a statement each financial year in a prominent place on its website. This statement should include:

The structure of the business and its suppliers

The policies in place in relation to modern slavery and human trafficking

Any due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking

Any risks of slavery and human trafficking and how those risks have been addressed

Any measures to make sure slavery and human trafficking isn’t part of the business

Any training available to staff in relation to slavery and human trafficking

-  The signature of a Director

Any eligible businesses should now have a statement in place and business that do not have one should now be drafting one as soon as possible to be compliant with the Act.

Posted: Sep 30, 2016 by admin in E Learning

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Tattoos – ACAS announces new guidelines

The conciliation service ACAS has recently said that employers could be missing out on recruiting talented staff due to outdated policies towards tattoos. It is currently estimated that 1/5 of UK adults have a tattoo with that figure dropping to as many as 1/3 for younger people.

Whilst previously associated with criminals and other sub-cultures such as bikers, tattoos have now become common place and many celebrities including Angelina Jolie (co-ordinates of children’s birth places), Samantha Cameron (Dolphin on her ankle) and David Beckham (Numerous, including Victoria’s name in Hindi, spelt incorrectly) have them.   

Following the recent case of a PWC worker who was sent home without pay for refusing to wear high heels, ACAS has released new guidelines for business dress codes. They state that the dress code should not be stricter towards either gender and that employers could adopt a casual dress code during the summer, something this firm also advises clients.

ACAS has suggested that any alterations to dress codes should be based on consultations with staff as to what is and isn’t acceptable and that the decision maker’s personal preferences shouldn’t be the be all and end all of what is allowed. Whatever your opinions on tattoos it seems that due to the sheer amount of people with them, a no tolerance attitude is almost like trying to fight the tide.

Posted: Sep 30, 2016 by admin in E Learning

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Gig economy – Hermes latest company to face minimum wage investigation

The gig economy has been a recurring theme of recent newsletters. Previously we have said that delivery drivers for Hermes were reported to earn as little as £5.50 an hour. It has also been reported that staff are so scared of having their shifts withdrawn they have worked sick with sick buckets in their cars and that other staff have received threats from the company after missing shifts to be with their dying children. These sort of conditions you would expect at a Sports Direct warehouse and nowhere else!

Any employer who uses similar arrangements may need to remember that if an employer initially starts on a self-employed basis the amount of work they are offered and the obligations of both the employer and employee towards said work can result in their employment status changing as the working relationship progresses. Failure to acknowledge this and consequently a failure to pay the minimum wage could result in similar sanctions.

Posted: Sep 30, 2016 by admin in E Learning

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Case Law – Sacked for not reporting the birth of royal baby

A recent ET case concerning final written warnings raised a few ears this month due to the nature of the case. Chandana Bandara, the Claimant, was a producer for BBC Sri Lanka with 18 years’ service and no prior disciplinary issues.

Upon the birth of Prince George in 2013 he decided to prioritise reporting the 30th anniversary of Black July, a solemn moment in Sri Lanka’s history where thousands of Tamil people were massacred. The Claimant was given a final written warning for the incident and was then sacked a year later for using offensive language towards a colleague.

The ET held that the initial warning was manifestly inappropriate and had an impact on the BBC’s decision to dismiss the Claimant. The Claimant was awarded over £100k but this was reduced by fifty percent due to contributory fault. The ET also rejected the Claimant’s race discrimination claim on the grounds he was treated less favourably due to his Tamil heritage.

Posted: Sep 30, 2016 by admin in Unfair Dismissal

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Lighter side of the news – McDonald’s bully sacked for taunting homeless man with burger

Every month we like to include an outlandish sacking that falls into the grasp of sensationalist tabloid newspapers. This month a McDonald’s employee was sacked after taunting a homeless person about being hungry and then throwing a burger on the floor for him to eat.

The incident took place outside of work but the employee filmed it as a ‘good deed’ and then uploaded a video of it to social media. Not only does such a video damage the employer’s reputation it is also a most likely a breach of their social media policy.

Case law is littered with cases of employees being dismissed for misusing either their own or company social media and this is another example of what not to upload.

Posted: Sep 30, 2016 by admin in E Learning

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PJH Law News – Discrimination double whammy

To round off this month’s newsletter we would like to announce that the firm has settled two discrimination cases this month. The claims were for race and disability respectively and very positive outcomes were achieved for both clients.

If you would like advice on any of the issues discussed in this newsletter please contact us. If you enjoyed it please forward it to colleagues.

Posted: Sep 30, 2016 by admin in Employment Tribunal

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Sam Allardyce – Bribery, corruption and consistent disciplinary sanctions

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It seems not a month goes by where football regulatory authorities aren’t linked to some sort of corruption scandal. This week new England Manager, Sam Allardyce, was reported to have met with undercover journalists disguised as businessmen allegedly to advise them on how to circumnavigate player ownership rules in exchange for £400,000.00. The fee appears to have been dressed up as a fee to be a keynote speaker.

Whilst the full content of the discussion is not currently known it also believed that Mr Allardyce insulted his predecessor, Roy Hodgson’s, speech impediment and made insulting comments about another FA coach and criticised the decision to rebuild Wembley Stadium. He also said any deal would have to be approved by his bosses.

As England Manager, Mr Allardyce is employed by the English Football Association (FA), who have been staunch critics of FIFA’s corrupt nature. To have such a high profile employee embroiled in a corruption scandal is not only damaging to their reputation but also a real glass house scenario that could also leave the FA liable.

Under the Bribery Act 2010 any business that is incorporated or trades in the UK is liable for prosecution if it is found to have broken the law. The Act covers bribery committed by an organisation, or on its behalf, anywhere in the world.

It is one of the world’s toughest anti-corruption laws and bribery offences now carry a penalty of up to 10 years’ in prison. The punishment for business and corporations is equally serious with unlimited fines a potential consequence.

Bribery can include many common business practices, such as providing clients with gifts, hospitality and entertainment on a quid pro quo basis. The Act provides for corporate and personal criminal liability by introducing four new criminal offences; bribing another, being bribed, bribing a foreign public official, and failure by a commercial organisation to prevent bribery.

The other issue is Mr Allardyce’s future. Even if not found guilty of bribery this is not the first time Allardyce has been linked to a corruption scandal. In 2006 he was linked to a scandal involving many managers accepting bribes from talent agents for buying certain players. Furthermore his comments about former colleagues and the national stadium could be misconduct offences on their own. This leaves him and his employer in an uncomfortable position.

The FA prides itself on integrity and honesty and these comments do not keep to those standards. This incident took place before Mr Allardyce had even taken his first training session as England manager and shows a lack of judgment. However it does not want to lose a manager so soon into his contract, especially given the job is a difficult one to recruit for. Our previous post about the Top Gear Steakgate scandal identifies that any disciplinary sanction for a high profile staff member should be consistent with that of a normal employee.

At the very least he has brought the FA into disrepute. To moonlight as an adviser to advise on rules set by your employer does suggest gross misconduct and a breach of trust and confidence. Mr Allardyce was working for the gamekeeper, the FA, whilst seeking to moonlight for the poachers. Despite Mr Allardyce’s nickname (Big Sam)  this is one occasion where he can’t have his cake and expect to eat it.

Expect more to follow.

Posted: Sep 27, 2016 by admin in E Learning

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Apprenticeships framework

Apprentice

There are two types of apprenticeship, statutory and common law. The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 (ASCLA) governs statutory ones, however, apprenticeships date back hundreds of years and the common law concept, that has evolved over time, runs concurrently with the recent statute.

The main difference between the two is that statutory apprenticeships are employed under a contract similar to a normal employee and can be dismissed more easily. Meanwhile common law apprentices have greater protection and larger compensation available should they be unfairly dismissed.

In practice common law apprenticeships can be very informal and can be formed in an oral contract. They do not even require the term apprenticeship to be used so long as they are for a fixed term and training is the main focus of the agreement. These agreements cannot be terminated early unless the apprentice commits a serious gross misconduct offence.

On the other hand a statutory apprenticeship have to comply with the framework laid down by the government, this includes:

- a written agreement that is governed by the law of England and Wales

- an obligation on the part of  the apprentice to work for the employer

- the requisite information regarding the basic terms and conditions of employment required as per s.1 of the ERA 1996 (start date, hours of work, pay etc.)

- stating the skill or trade the apprentice is being trained in

To avoid doubt it would also be prudent to state that the agreement is governed by ASCLA and not common law. This could also mention a clause for the termination of the agreement, whether through misconduct or by giving notice.

Regardless of this employers should tread carefully when handling a potential termination of an apprentice and they are also at risk to age discrimination issues either directly (age limit on applications) or indirectly (different wage/treatment for normal employees).

For advice on apprenticeships please contact us.

Posted: Sep 27, 2016 by admin in Age Discrimination, E Learning, Unfair Dismissal

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