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The Cabinet Re-shuffle and Employment Law

This Cabinet reshuffle is interesting from an employment law perspective.

The casualties so far are:

Dominic Grieve (Attorney General)

The Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP (Minister without Portfolio)
The Rt Hon David Willetts MP (Minister of State, BIS)
The Rt Hon Alan Duncan MP (Minister of State, DFID)
The Rt Hon Hugh Robertson MP (Minister of State, FCO)
The Rt Hon Sir George Young Bt MP, (Chief Whip and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury)
The Rt Hon Andrew Robathan MP (Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office)
The Rt Hon Gregory Barker MP (Minister of State, DECC).

 

To borrow a phrase once used by a HR Director at a well known PLC, the victims of the re-shuffle appear to be mainly “male, pale and stale.”

 

Those achieving advancement and promotion appear not to fit that description.

220px-NickyH&SJan10 esther-mcvey-img Liz Truss is to become environment secretary

 

With the re-shuffle widely being trumpeted as Cameron’s way of appealing to the female demographic where his support is low, the re-shuffle and the way it has been spun does appear to be at the very least an interesting take on the Equality Act 2010 where positive discrimination is only permitted in certain prescribed circumstances around genuine occupational requirements.There is always a fine line between addressing discrimination where it exists by promoting and recruiting under-represented groups and actively discriminating against the advantaged groups-here men.

It’s not an easy issue to tackle. There are still vast swathes of public and private life  (eg Board Directors at PLC) where female participation is low. It is remarkable that in an advanced democracy we have had one female prime minister and no prime ministers from a BME background.

A more gender balanced executive can only be a good thing and let’s hope a more diverse cabinet brings with it a more diverse range of viewpoints and experiences. Not everyone may agree – has this re-shuffle crossed the line? Should positive discrimination be allowed? Has David Cameron cynically sought electoral advantage or boldly addressed an inequality? Have your say below the line.

 

Posted: Jul 15, 2014 by admin in Unfair Dismissal

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Cognitive biases and employment law:

The full list of cognitive biases is here

A cognitive bias is a tendency to think in the same way. Lawyers and Judges have to be very alert to the possibility of cognitive biases affecting their day to day work and judgment.

Reading through the list so many of the biases can impact.

Loss aversion bias might be part of the explanation for the dramatic drop in employment tribunal claims – the prospect of an immediate but temporary loss of £250.00 outweighs the prospect of future gains.

The planning fallacy is particularly important when drafting High Court Precedent H forms.

When summing up it is vital that some rhyme is injected into the submissions to ensure that the client potentially benefits from the Employment Judge having the keats heuristic cognitive bias.

When faced with a client carrying a lever arch full of papers detailing extensive grievances against his employer, the tendency you have to guard against is to think back to previous cases and then use them as a starting point for the one in front of you.

Every single case is different and unique and that should be the lawyer’s starting point.

Coming to a preliminary conclusion without having immersed and absorbed the detail can be dangerous as given the potential of confirmation bias a subsequent immersion into the detail may lead you to seize on evidence that supports the preliminary conclusion whilst eliding detail that does not support that conclusion.

Obviously when advising we need to be aware of the curse of knowledge bias which Solicitors and our friends at the bar sometimes suffer.

When negotiating we need to be aware of the anchoring effect which then sets the bar for the negotiation.

Looking through the lists of biases can you see any others which could impact the Employment lawyer’s day to day work? let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

 

Posted: Jul 2, 2014 by admin in Unfair Dismissal

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Constructive dismissal – all in good time?

It’s trite law that, in order to bring a successful constructive dismissal claim, the resignation must be in response to the breach.  It is therefore imperative that employees do not delay in resigning.  In the EAT case of Mr Chindove v Morrisons the Claimant resigned 6 weeks after the alleged breach.  The ET held that this was too late for the Claimant to be entitled to accept the breach.  The EAT held this decision was in error, namely because no reasons were given by the ET for this decision and, crucially, had there been reasons these should have considered the fact the Claimant was off sick at the time and this issue of delay has to be considered differently where an employee is not actively working.

The lesson for employers?  A 6 week delay in resigning may be sufficient lapse of time to sound the death knell for a constructive dismissal claim but not necessarily so, particularly if this period includes time absent from work.

Posted: Jun 20, 2014 by Olivia in Unfair Dismissal

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Some other substantial reason dismissal

Hot off the EAT press.  A dismissal of the Claimant for refusing to agree to a rescheduling of her working hours (due to operational need to change the office rota) was a dismissal for SOSR (The Cornerstone Practice v Mrs Crockford)

Posted: May 16, 2014 by Olivia in Unfair Dismissal

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Where there’s an Interested Party ………

there is usually a juicy case and that is no exception in the EAT case of Innospec Ltd and Others v Mr Walker with the Interested Party being the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

This is a recently reported EAT sexual orientation discrimination case regarding occupational pensions.  Mr Walker succeeded in his claim at Tribunal on the grounds that a pension scheme which provided survivor’s benefits to spouses but not to those in a civil partnership, insofar as those benefits derived from service prior to the day the Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force (5 Dec 2005) was discriminatory.

The ET accepted that the Equality Act 2010 appeared to permit this but held those provisions incompatible with European law.  The ET said that civil partners should, therefore, benefit from service at the time before it was unlawful to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation.

The EAT held the ET was wrong to hold the provisions incompatible and even if it hadn’t been wrong could not have properly interpreted the provisions.  No wonder the DWP were interested …………

 

Posted: Mar 27, 2014 by Olivia in Employment Tribunal

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Bribery Act e-learning

Both employers and employees can face serious penalties for breach of the Bribery Act. Employers can be made to pay an unlimited fine and employees can even go to prison! PJH Law’s Bribery Act e-learning trains employees on their responsibilities under the Bribery Act with a view to raise awareness of what amounts to a bribe and what the potential penalties for bribery are. The course will also help employers establish a defence to prosecution for breach of the Bribery Act – if an employer can demonstrate it has adequate procedures in place to prevent Bribery, it will not be fined.

For only £79 plus VAT per month with unlimited users, PJH Law can provide employers with Bribery Act training as part of its Virtual Arm service. ARM will monitor which employees have passed the course and report to the employer if any employees fail to take or fail to pass the course.

Also included in the £79 plus VAT per month is PJH Law’s learner management system pre-loaded with online learning on Dignity at Work, Display Screen Equipment, Social Media, Computer Use, Manual Handling and more.

If you’d like to know more call Philip or Liam on 01780 757589 or 08448 505805.

Posted: Mar 25, 2014 by liam in E Learning

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Social Media E-learning

Social Media is becoming a hot topic in many businesses. As well as being a valuable business tool for marketing and staff recruitment, social media can present a number of risks – both legal and reputational to organisations when used inappropriately.

Those risks can be mitigated by ensuring all employees understand their employer’s rules on the use of social media – both in work time and outside of work time where the latter impacts on their job. There are numerous examples of dismissals for misuse of social media being found by Employment Tribunals to be unfair because of the employer’s failure to communicate a clear policy on what is and what is not permitted where social media is concerned.

PJH Law’s Virtual ARM service can help by providing an online training course on social media. Employees’ are assessed at the end of the course through a multiple choice quiz and the results of that quiz are logged as evidence that the employee has been told and understands what is expected of them where social media is concerned.

For only £79 plus VAT per month with unlimited users, PJH Law can provide employers with Social Media training as part of its Virtual Arm service. ARM will monitor which employees have passed the course and report to the employer if any employees fail to take or fail to pass the course. All that’s needed to use the ARM service is a computer with an internet connection. A learner management system is not needed as this is provided as part of the Virtual ARM service.

Also included in the £79 plus VAT per month is PJH Law’s learner management system pre-loaded with online learning on Dignity at Work, Display Screen Equipment, Bribery Act, Computer Use, Manual Handling and more.

If you’d like to know more call Philip or Liam on 01780 757589 or 08448 505805 to arrange a free, no obligation, demonstration.

Posted: Mar 11, 2014 by liam in E Learning

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Display Screen Equipment E-learning

Employers are responsible for ensuring their employees know how to use their workstation and display screen equipment safely and can be fined if their employees are injured by defective equipment. Common injuries from defective workstations include RSI, back injuries from faulty or incorrectly setup chairs and desks and eye strain from flickering monitors or incorrect use of monitors.

The risk of all these injuries can be reduced by requiring employees to undertake display screen equipment e-learning which includes the correct setup and use of workstations.

For only £79 plus VAT per month with unlimited users, PJH Law can provide employers with online Display Screen Equipment e-learning for their employees. PJH Law’s system will monitor which employees have passed the course and report to the employer if any employees fail to take or fail to pass the course.

Also included in the £79 plus VAT per month is PJH Law’s learner management system pre-loaded with online learning on Dignity at Work, the Bribery Act, Social Media, Computer Use, Manual Handling and more.

If you’d like to know more call Philip or Liam on 01780 757589 or 08448 505805.

Posted: Feb 28, 2014 by liam in E Learning

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Maximum Unfair Dismissal Award & Redundancy Pay/Basic Award Increase

With effect from 6 April 2014, the maximum unfair dismissal compensatory award will increase from £74,200 to £76,574. Should employers lose sleep? Not really – the 29 July 2013 cap of a year’s pay still applies to those who earn less than £76,574 per year which means the change will only affect claims made by a very small number of highly paid employees.

Of more concern to employers, is the cap on a week’s pay which will increase on 6 April 2014 from the current £450 to £464. This may seem a strange number and strange date to experienced HR practitioners used to nice round numbers – £400, £430, £450 etc. which increase on 1 February each year. This figure is now index linked and reflects the 3.2% rise in the RPI and will in future rise on 6 April rather than 1 February.

A full list of the increases can be seen in the Increase in Limits Order 2014.

 

Posted: Feb 26, 2014 by liam in Employment Tribunal, Redundancy

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Harassment

It’s all very well amending, reviewing, replacing (etc etc) the law on harassment (Equality Act and third party harassment provisions) to deal with this in the workplace but if discriminatory taunts/jibes, jests are run of the mill outside of the workplace, particularly in places where our children may be, then can we ever expect to rid the workplace of such behaviours?  This comes in light of a report today by the Kick It Out Organisation that reports of racial and homophobic abuse and discrimination at football matches are up by 43 per cent this season.  Just like in the workplace, abuse via social media such as Twitter and Facebook has become a serious problem in the game.

There is a debate tonight on this on Radio 5 Live.

And I’m not just bitter that the Magpies lost 4-0 to Spurs last night ……………………….

Posted: Feb 13, 2014 by Olivia in Employment Tribunal

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