Equality Act

THE EQUALITY ACT 2010: WHAT RIGHTS DOES IT GIVE YOU?

The Equality Act 2010 is legislation which aims to tackle certain types of discrimination. There are nine protected characteristics which are incorporated into the Equality Act 2010. This Act makes it illegal to discriminate against or disadvantage an individual due to one of the nine protected characteristics. They are: pregnancy and maternity, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, sex, religion/belief, and race. Continue reading

Equal Pay

Equal Pay

We are making great strides towards a culture where everybody is equal regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation or ethnic background. As a society this makes us stronger, more modern and fairer than other parts of the world because we acknowledge that we all have a right to equal treatment and equal opportunity. However, whilst we are making progress in all these areas, sadly equal pay is an area that has been slower to progress. Continue reading

Whistleblowing law

Whistleblowing

What is whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing (also known as ‘making disclosure in the public interest’) is the act of bringing attention to someone’s misconduct. It is most common with regards to employment relationships where an employee blows the whistle on his or her employer without losing his or her employment rights. The aim of whistle blowing is to encourage people to react if they see malpractice in their workplace.

Who is protected?

To be protected as a whistle blower you need to:

  • Be a worker;
  • Believe that misconduct is happening, has happened in the past or will happen in the future;
  • Reveal the right kind of information: make a ‘qualifying disclosure’ (explained below); and
  • Reveal the information to the right person (‘protected disclosure’). Continue reading

Sick pay law

Sick pay law

Sick employees must be treated fairly and are normally entitled to receive pay in their absence from work caused by illness.

Types of sick pay

There are two types of sick pay. These are:

  1. Statutory sick pay (SSP)

To be entitled to the SSP you need to be an employee who is sick for at least four days in a row (including weekends and bank holidays) and you have average weekly earnings of at least £102. Continue reading

PILON clauses

PILON CLAUSES: HOW TO AVOID LIABILITY FOR STATUTORY NOTICE PERIODS IN EMPLOYMENT

Generally speaking in employment contracts, there is a statutory right to a notice period of one week minimum (having worked for that employer for a minimum of 4 continuous weeks). If your employer has included in your contract a notice period which is shorter than this, it is not valid, as your statutory right overrides the shorter time period. Please note that if your employer has included in your contract a notice period which is longer than the statutory minimum, this will override.

For every year of employment you fulfil after the 4 weeks continuous employment, you will receive an extra week’s notice period (which continues increasing for 12 years). Continue reading

Sex discrimination

THE LEGISLATION

Sex Discrimination Act 1975 was implemented into law on 12 November 1975. The Act set a basic legal framework for protection of men and women against discrimination based on sex or marital status; ensuring equal treatment and opportunities for men and women in society, workplace, education, training, harassment, the provision of goods and services and the disposal of premises. Although, the Act was repealed by the Equality Act 2010 on 8 April 2010, the core anti-discrimination laws under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 are also applicable under the Equality Act 2010.

WHO IS PROTECTED?

Both the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Equality Act 2010 apply to men and women regardless of age. The Acts cover apprentices, employees, self-employed and in certain cases ex-employees. Continue reading

Bullying at work

Everyone in our society deserves to be treated fairly and equally with a certain level of dignity and respect. Unfortunately, harassment and bullying at workplace are not uncommon in the UK. In fact, the main UK body for improvement of employment relations – Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) estimates that 1 in 10 employees experiences workplace bullying and harassment. With that in mind it is worth knowing  your rights. Continue reading

Constructive dismissal advice

Constructive Dismissal

What is Constructive Dismissal?

Constructive dismissal is when an employee argues that he or she has no other choice but to resign because an employer’s or colleague’s conduct or behaviour has lead to a fundamental breach in that employee’s contract of employment.

A breach in a contract of employment which could lead to constructive dismissal which may amount to a “fundamental breach” could be :

  • Demotion of the employee for no apparent reason
  • Withholding an employee’s pay
  • Forcing an employee to work under dangerous conditions
  • Forcing an employee to accept unreasonable changes to their working conditions without that employee’s agreement – This may include making the employee work shifts which are not in their contract
  • Allowing an employee to be harassed and/or bullied by other colleagues

In order to file a case of constructive dismissal against an employer the employee will first have to prove that a serious breach of their employment contract has taken place.

Take Steps to Try to Avoid Resignation

Constructive dismissal is not always easy to prove and the initial burden of proof is on the employee. as with most employment law issues, subject to the level of sheer intolerability and/or effect on a person’s health and wellbeing, it is generally advisable to still seek to resolve the issue, subject to also being aware that it is risky to leave an employer’s breach of contract as is for any period of time, as otherwise the employer may argue that you have waived the breach of contract.

Talk with a Senior Member of Staff

When an employee is suffering a breach of their contract of employment due to either the employer’s conduct or work colleagues’ behaviour the first step to take is to speak to the manager. If this is where the problem lies then the employee should approach a more senior member of staff.

It may be possible that, by discussing the contract breaches with a senior member of staff, the issues in question can be resolved without the need for the employee to resign from their job.

Bring in a Mediator

In some situations mediation can work and may help the employer or colleagues see how unreasonable they are being. Mediation involves a third party being brought in to hear the issues and try to work through them with the employee and employer. However, in many cases it may be felt that the situation has gone too far to be resolved by mediation.

Grievance Procedures

All companies should have a grievance procedure and if talking to the manager or senior member of staff has proved fruitless then the employee should raise the issues in question through the grievance procedure.

In many constructive dismissal cases the employer will more than likely have been required to take this route anyway before filing the case with an employment tribunal.

Employment Tribunal

The last resort for an employee if they have no successful outcome through the grievance procedure is an employment tribunal.

The employee will need to seek legal advice to help put the case together and will need to be able to prove:

  1. That a breach of contract did actually take place
  2. That the employee felt compelled to leave their employment because of that breach
  3. That the employee in no way gave any indication to the employer that they accepted the breach of contract

Once legal advice has been sought and it has been established that the employee has a case for constructive dismissal then the employee should leave his/her job immediately.

If an employee continues to work under the conditions he or she is making a complaint about then the employer may claim that the employer has accepted the breach which could make it harder to bring a case of constructive dismissal against them.

Once the case has been filed with an employment tribunal the employee will need to present all the evidence to the judge who will decide if the case is one of constructive dismissal and, if so, will award the employee compensation based on his/her salary and length of service within the company.

It should be noted that if an employee wants to put in an application for a claim for constructive dismissal they will be required to do so within 3 months of the effective date of dismissal. This is technical term and legal advice should be sought if in doubt. Employment Tribunal deadlines are rigid so you really don’t want to take any chances or leave it to the last minute.

Automatic unfair dismissal

What is Automatic Unfair Dismissal?

Automatic Unfair Dismissal occurs when an employee is dismissed from their job for exercising one of their statutory employment rights.

Generally, in order to be able to file a complaint of dismissal against an employer, the employee will have been required to have served at least one year’s continuous service within the company but this is not the case for Automatic Unfair Dismissal and a claim can be put in regardless of the length of service.

All employees have or should have statutory employment rights in place which they have the right to exercise. If however an employee is dismissed for exercising or trying to exercise one of these statutory rights they can then take their case to an employment tribunal. Continue reading