Author Archives: Adrian Barnes

  1. Suspended from work – is it fair?

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    Have you been suspended from work, perhaps that was not the right or fair course of action?

    Suspension letters always say that the suspension is a neutral act, which does not indicate the guilt or innocence of the suspended employee. However, it is easy to see why someone might feel aggrieved at being suspended and recently the courts have agreed, that far from being a neutral act, being suspended my cause an employee to lose trust and confidence in their employer.

    Some suspensions have been described by the courts as knee jerk reactions that were unnecessary. So when should we suspend someone? The traditional thought was that there are 4 reasons to suspend:

    1. If the employee is a danger to the business
    2. If they were a danger to someone in the business
    3. If they were a danger to a client, and
    4. If they were a danger to themselves<

    Following the case of The Mayor & Burgesses of the London Borough of Lambeth v Agoreyo, which has been through the County Court, the High Court and recently the Court of Appeal, the decision has pinged backwards and forwards as to whether or not Mrs Aroreyo’s suspension after she was accused of manhandling a child.

    The original decision said that the suspension was reasonable, but the High Court felt that it was an unnecessary knee jerk reaction, and this has been the position for a while. However the case has finally been decided by the Court of Appeal who have agreed with the original decision.

    However, what this case demonstrates is that suspension should not be the norm or a routine action, it should only be used in appropriate circumstances.

    Suspension should always be for as short a time as possible, so if you have been off for an extended time you may be able to raise a grievance against your employer. Equally suspension should be on full pay, so that you do not lose out during this time. Full pay may also include an element of commission or bonus payments, following a recent EU decision

    If you have been suspended from work give the experts at Alpha Law a call on 0115 856 1625 to see if your suspension was reasonable or unfair

  2. Payslips

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    Payslips

    An important change for April 2019 is that your employers need to provide you with a payslip whether you are an employee or a worker and those payslips need to provide more information. All staff are entitled to a payslip for each pay period and if you are hourly paid that slip must now show the number of hours worked in that pay period.i For anyone on a salary who receives extra pay for overtime, only the overtime hours need to be shown.

    Government guidance on the new payslip rules can be found by clicking here.

    Enforcement of this is going to be interesting, If you do not receive a payslip you are entitled to raise a case with the employment tribunal. The penalty for the employer is that the tribunal can look back for 13 weeks and award you any deductions that were made, even if they were completely lawful deductions. Of course, you should ask your employer to provide the payslip before you try to instigate court proceedings and only if you are refused or you still don’t get the payslips should you start legal action.

    It is also important that you keep a copy of your payslips, they may become useful if there is ever an argument about a payment or deduction. It also makes sense to check you payslip against any money that is paid into your bank account.

    You have always had a legal right to receive a payslip if you are an employee of a firm, the new legislation strengthens that right, improves on the information that the payslips must provide and extends the right to ‘workers’ as well as employees. If you are unsure about your employment status the Government has proved a comprehensive guide which you can find by clicking here, or you can call the experts at Alpha Law on 0115 856 1625.

    Increases to the National Living and National Minimum Wage from April 2019 can be found by clicking here

  3. National Living Wage

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    The National Living Wage increased by 4.9% in April 2019 – All employers must pay at least the National Living Wage to all employees or workers who are 25 years old or over. There are separate rates (National Minimum Wage) for younger employees or workers.

    The current National Living Wage is set at £7.83 per hour, this increased in April 2019 to £8.21, all other increases are shown in the table below;

    National Minimum Wage for 2019/20

    Age                      2018            2019
    21-24                  £7.38           £7.70
    18-20                  £5.90          £6.15
    Under 18            £4.20           £4.35
    Apprentices       £3.70           £3.90

    N.B the apprentice rate is for apprentices under 19 or in their first year of an apprenticeship, otherwise normal rates apply.

    If you think you may not be getting the wage you are entitled to, call the experts at Alpha Law on 0115 856 1625 to find out what your rights are.

    You should remember that these rates are not discretionary, your employer must pay at least these rates or they can face serious fines or naming and shaming.  If you are in the hospitality industry or anywhere else that tips are provided, your employer is not allowed to count the tips towards the National Living or National Minimum Wage.

    To make it easier to see how your pay has been made up, your employer must also provide an itemised payslip which shows the hours worked and amount paid. Everyone that works is entitled to a payslip whether they are employees or workers. If you are not sure about whether you are an employee or a worker, you can check by clicking here and looking at the Government website which explains the difference – or you can call us at the number above.

    More information on the National Living Wage can be found by clicking here 

  4. Employment Tribunal Fees Quashed

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    All Employment Tribunal Fees Quashed

    In a landmark case at the Supreme Court all tribunal fees have been quashed, so if you have a claim against your employer or ex-employer it will no longer cost you up to £1,200 to have your case heard.

    Since 2013 it has cost £250 to issue a claim in most cases and a further £950 for a hearing fee. In one fell swoop the Supreme Court has said that these charges are unlawful and must cease immediately. Anyone who has paid fees over the last 4 years will have their money refunded to them.

    Employment Tribunal Fees were seen as a major stumbling block to many people and tribunal claims were down over 70% during the 4 years of the fee regime, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

    The good news for employees is that they can make a claim without having to worry about finding the money to fund the fees.

    If you have any questions about this or any other aspects of employment law, call the experts at Alpha Law on: 0115 988 6211 in Nottingham or 0207 408 9427 in London

  5. Pension Auto Enrolment

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    Pension Auto Enrolment 

    By now you must have seen the adverts on TV and in he papers about the new Pension Auto Enrolment scheme. Lots of employers have now reached their staging date – the date at which they must enrol you into a pension that meets certain criteria. Some employers may not have reached their date yet, but lots will be included by next year. All employers must be up to speed by 2018.

    It is important that you know your rights with regard to the pension and although your employer must join you into the scheme, you have a right to opt out if you want to, but only after you have joined. If you opt out within 30 days you will not lose any money, but after that anything paid into the pension will sit there until you retire or, of course, until you decide to add to it.

    There are lots of rules around the pensions, for instance your employer must never try to induce you, or coerce you, not to take the pension. You must have a free choice, but the pension provider should give you plenty of information so that you can make an informed choice. On thing that it is important to note is that your employer will be contributing to the pension as will the tax man, so it may be well worth taking.  Remember though, if you decide not to contribute then your employer (or the tax man) won’t contribute either.

    At Alpha Law our employment experts can advise on the legal aspects of your pension as well as any contractual issues, however you need to speak to your financial adviser for information on the merits of your particular pension and its worth to you in retirement. One thing you can be sure of is that each pension in the system must reach certain government guidelines.

    You can find lots of information, as well as an introduction to pensions from Theo Paphitis by clicking here – Workplace Pensions

  6. National Minimum Wage – National Living Wage

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    National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

    This month should see a pay increase for anyone on the National Minimum Wage as the top rate increased from £6.50 per hour to £6.70 per hour on 1st October. It would seem that apprentices did the best out of this round of increases as they had an increase from £2.73 to £3.30. This is, of course still a fairly pathetic rate, but it is moving in the right direction and it is a rate that may encourage employers to take on trainees.

    The good news for anyone over 25 and on a low wage is that from April next year your rate will increase from the National Minimum Wage rate of £6.70 to the new National Living Wage rate of £7.20  – an extra 50p an hour. This is part of the government’s pledge to have anyone over 25 years of age earning at least £9 per hour by 2020. The National minimum Wage will still apply to anyone under 25.

    If you think that you are not being paid the correct wage, you can contact the employment law experts at Alpha Law and someone will be happy to talk through your issues and help you to understand what you should be paid and how to make a complaint if you are not getting the correct amount.

    You should know exactly what you are being paid by looking at your payslip and remember you have a legal entitlement to receive a payslip every time you are paid, so contact us if you are not getting one.

    The government website on NMW Rates can be found by by clicking here and you can see all of the various rates.

  7. Further challenge to cap on unfair dismissal compensatory awards

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    cap on unfair dismissal

    Compromise Agreement Ltd are once again challenging the cap on unfair dismissal compensatory awards.

     

    As you will recall, on 29th July 2013 the compensatory award limits in the Employment Tribunal changed from the statutory cap to the lower of;

    1.       The statutory cap (currently £78,335)

    2.       52 weeks gross pay.

    Compromise Agreement Ltd felt that this decision would adversely impact older people who, they said were more likely to be out of work for more than 52 weeks. Their argument was therefore based on indirect age discrimination.

    In May 2014 the High Court rejected their application for a judicial review of the decision.

    They have now applied for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal who, on 19th May 2015, will decide whether to not to grant permission.

    If Compromise Agreement Ltd are successful and the decision is quashed, then the law would revert to the previous position, which was that compensation for unfair dismissal claims was just subject to the statutory cap. This meant that employees who were low to medium earners could in many cases recover more than 52 weeks’ pay.

    We have recently had a case where although our client was successful in the Employment Tribunal and had ongoing losses, he could only recover 52 weeks gross pay under the compensatory award element of his claim.

    Watch this space for further updates.

  8. English Cricket Board face unfair dismissal and age discrimination claim

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    unfair dismissal and age discriminationTwo respected cricket umpires have attended a tribunal as part of a claim for unfair dismissal and age discrimination against the national governing body for Cricket, the English Cricket Board, after it forced the pair into retirement.

    Peter Willey (65) and George Sharp (64) have a combined total of 45 years of umpire experience, and as members of the high profile First Class Umpire list, they have also officiated at international matches. First Class umpires are required to undergo annual eye tests, and as such no concerns about the standard of their eyesight — or indeed their ability to competently do their jobs — have been questioned.

    Government legislation introduced in 2011 abolished the default retirement age, so employers were no longer able to force male employees to stop work at 65 unless they could objectively justify the decision.

    Chris Kelly, Umpires Manager for the ECB said at the tribunal, “it was perfectly justified in ending the men’s umpiring careers at the age of 65 while they are still relatively at the top of their game”.

    Mr Kelly also told the tribunal that by restricting the age of umpires, the ECB can offer those vacant positions to cricket professionals in their thirties and forties who have retired from playing and would like to pursue a career as a cricket umpire.

    Representatives of Mr Willey and Mr Sharp point out that both parties are fully competent in their roles, and the ECB is able to create umpire vacancies in other ways.

    The outcome of the tribunal is expected by the end of February.

    Alpha Law are a team of legal professionals who offer advice on all aspects of employment law, including unfair dismissal and age discrimination. If you are an employee who would like to talk to someone about age related issues or unfair dismissal, please get in touch on 0207 408 9427 or 0115 9886211.

  9. Workplace comments – sexual harassment or just for fun?

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    0115 9886211An employment tribunal in the North East of England has hit the headlines after a female employee claims that her boss made comments about her blonde hair and physical appearance, along with the role of women in general.

    Ms Carney claims that she felt she had to change the colour of her hair from blonde to brunette after her boss, John Clayton, made remarks about the way she looked. Alleged comments include whether or not he liked her clothing or appearance each day, commenting that he preferred the way she looked on her social media profiles than in real life, and that her appearance should be the benchmark when recruiting new employees, referring to her blonde hair and physical appearance. Mr Clayton also allegedly made comments that women were “best in the kitchen” and their role was better suited to “being at home”.

    Dawn Carney was an employee of Darlington-based Star Radio, and was dismissed for her performance in the role of Commercial Director after taking time off for hospital treatment.

    Mr Clayton is now facing a claim of sexual harassment and unfair dismissal. The outcome of the employment tribunal is still unknown.

    Whether or not the claim is settled in Ms Carney’s favour, lessons can be learned about remarks made in the workplace, and whether these, regardless of intention, could be construed as sexual harassment.

    The nature of office chit chat, and even jokes, can have a negative impact on one or more individuals, both male and female. Some comments could have serious repercussions for not just the perpetrator, but also the entire workplace.

    If you have experienced sexual harassment or unfair dismissal, please call our legal experts at Alpha Law on 0207 408 9427 or 0115 9886211.

  10. Are you an older person looking for work?

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    older-person-cvThe battle for employers to keep up to speed with new technology and processes, while at the same time employing a diverse workforce continues, with the revelation that many older people are editing their CVs to avoid age discrimination.

    The Sunday Times recently reported that some people looking for work in their early forties upwards are removing details about previous work history, and even changing their qualifications from ‘O’ levels to GCSEs so that any potential employer cannot detect their real age. These older workers believe that appearing younger will increase their chances of being recruited — or even just interviewed — for a new job.

    While honesty is usually the best policy, when it comes to looking for a new job, applicants are seemingly being penalised for showcasing their talents.

    Potential employers are not advised to demand an applicant’s date of birth as this could be regarded as workplace age discrimination. So eliminating candidates on the basis of ‘historic’ information and the type of qualifications they hold could be a tactic employed by some bosses to ‘weed out’ older job applicants in a minority of organisations.

    The government tsar for older workers, Ros Altmann, says that privately, employment agencies have admitted to being “specifically instructed not to bother putting forward older people”, and that the assumption was that older people are not flexible or creative, and are not likely to stay in the job for long. In reality, the previous experience gained by older people means they have a host of creative ideas, bags of confidence and have gained a thorough knowledge of business processes.

    Whatever your views, employees with relevant experience, regardless of their age, are always a valuable asset to any organisation, and with this comes knowledge and efficiency. A diverse workforce is proven to be a factor in how successful a business can be.

    Have you suffered discrimination because of your age?  Get in touch with Alpha Law for expert legal advice on age discrimination.