That time already. Sorry that this month’s Employment Matters and HR Update is late, but I had to attend a family funeral in Canada last week, as my uncle passed away very suddenly at 58.
Life is defiantly too short and this applies as much in life as it does in HR and Employment issues. It’s too easy to put these difficult matters off and refuse to deal with the issue, but they don’t go away.
There are changes afoot to UK Employment Law as always and Vince Cable as Business Secretary has been looking at ways of making changes to the UK Employment Tribunal laws.
At Absolutely Towers, looking out of our lighthouse above, we think these changes are worthwhile and long overdue. They are not however a panacea to simply wave a magic wand and ensure that when something goes wrong you never end up paying for it.
There is as always, no substitute to getting good advice and whenever you have an HR issue, please ensure you call us, day or night. Remember as we always say, no such thing as a stupid question, only the one you never ask.
On with the show this month. – Our new website at WWW.absolutelyhr.co.uk is now open for business. Please visit and let us know what you think. Lots of info on there as well. In addition, our new blog is open as well, which again, you can leave comment on, should you wish.
As always, updates are also on our Facebook business page https://www.facebook.com/AbsolutelyHRLimited.
We have moved, which is a little bit more news. Please note our new address, as below. If you are sending us something in the mail, please ensure you do so to our new address.
So, to other Employment Law and HR matters for September and early October.
Lord Justice Elias, Court of Appeal (Crawford v Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust) said this: “It would be an interesting piece of social research to discover to what extent those conducting disciplinary hearings subconsciously start from the assumption that the employee suspended in this way is guilty and look for evidence to confirm it. It was partly to correct that danger that the courts have imposed an obligation on the employers to ensure that they focus as much on evidence which exculpates the employee as on that which inculpates him.”
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to go it alone. If you are one of our monthly HR supported clients, call us to deal with all disciplinary matters and we will give you initial phone support, followed by onsite support to carry out the hearings required, holding your hand every step of the way. If you are not one of our monthly HR supported clients – Why not. Call us to find out what this means and for a comparative no obligation quotation.
Changes, Changes, Changes – first up: National Minimum Wage
It’s now the 3rd of October, and that means that the National Minimum Wage has changed.
|From 1 October new rates came into force for the National Minimum Wage.
For workers over the age of 21, the new minimum wage is £6.19 per hour up from £6.08 per hour.
The rate for apprentices rises from £2.60 to £2.65 per hour.
In a move designed to tackle high youth unemployment by encouraging recruitment of young workers, the development rate for 18 to 20 year olds is frozen at £4.98 per hour and the young workers rate for those under 18 (but above the compulsory school age) remains unchanged at £3.68 per hour.
Next on the docket is Employment Tribunal Statistics:
The Employment Tribunal award statistics have just been published for the period from 1 April 2011 to 31 May 2012. The Employment Tribunals service received a total of 186,300 claims, a 15% fall from the previous year. However, the average cost to defend a claim is still circa £10,000. Much better to put in place good practice where it comes to all HR matters, using the service you are paying for.
The highest award made by the Tribunal was £4,445,023 in a race discrimination claim.
The highest unfair dismissal award made was £173,408. This is higher than the statutory maximum, but it must be noted that the maximum does not apply in cases of whistle-blowing, or dismissal for raising health and safety concerns. The lowest award in unfair dismissal cases was £4,560, fairly static from last year, with the average award being circa £7500.
There was a substantial increase in the number of cases where costs were awarded against one of the parties from 487 to 1,411, although these numbers are skewed by one case involving 800 claimants, in which all the claimants were ordered to pay costs. Removing the 800 from the equation, the figures still show an increase from 487 to 612. As an overall percentage of the number of claims brought the number of costs awards remains low, this is by no means an easy way to look at mitigation of any claim, in that the Tribunal are still not minded to make awards against the claimants. Tribunals will always look at the ability of the claimant to pay any potential award.
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, is still going through Parliament at present, so although this contains potential information on what changes Vince Cable is looking at, it is still to be read before the House of Lords and as such, still subject to change.
More news on this as we get it. However, there are several new potential points to this which make interesting reading:
Don’t believe all you read in the press. No fault dismissals are not coming. There is no white knight riding to your rescue if you get it wrong. What may be coming is linked to a new form of compromise agreement in effect.
There is also a proposal to look at putting every new Tribunal Case to ACAS before it goes to Tribunal, but they all go to ACAS at present anyway. What this may do, is sift some cases out before they cost too much, although there will still be a time cost involved no matter what.
The Government had previously announced the possibility of reducing the cap on Employment Tribunal awards and the increased use of settlement agreements but a consultation paper has now been issued providing more detail and inviting feedback. The consultation is open until 23 November 2012.
Views on the following proposals are invited:-
• A proposal to reduce the cap on the award in unfair dismissal claims (currently £72,300). The new cap could be set at an amount of between one and three years annual median earnings (currently £25,882- £77,646) or twelve months salary, whichever is lower. These proposals do not affect claims which currently have no cap on compensation such as whistle-blowing, discrimination and dismissal due to raising health and safety concerns claims. Although this proposed change appears potentially significant on paper, it is possible that these proposals will not make any substantial difference in practice given that only 2% of compensation awards were greater than £50,000, with the median award being only £4,560 according to last year’s employment tribunal statistics. One possible positive outcome from this proposal could be that both parties have a clearer expectation of the value of any claim from the outset which could help encourage settlement.
• The use of settlement agreements to help end the employment relationship in “a fair and consensual way”. The Government are looking for views on how best to make settlement agreements work in practice including a proposed new ACAS code of practice on this issue, a model settlement agreement, a guideline tariff designed to help the parties involved agree on the settlement payment and sample letters which the employer can use to encourage settlement with an employee without the recourse to lawyers.
So, there you have it, this months update, more to come as it changes.
Any questions from this, please call or email us.
Andrew & Lindsay