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The apprenticeship levy explained

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is common practice for an employer to be held vicariously liable for discriminatory acts that their employees commit during ‘the course of employment’. Imposing strict liability on employers encourages them to maintain standards of “good practice” by their employees.

Employment contracts – what to look out for when starting a new job

When starting a new job, many employees will often overlook the crucial part of reviewing the finer details of their employment contract.

Contracts of employment are important documents as they set out the key terms of your employment with your new company. It is therefore vital to check these terms carefully before you agree to them. In particular, you need to query the following before you sign on the dotted line.

Can my boss ask me to return earlier or later from maternity leave?

It is always recommended that notifying your employer be done in writing at least 15 weeks before your baby is due. If this is not possible, for example because you did not realise you were pregnant, you should inform your employer as soon as possible.

All employees have a right to 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave, making 52 weeks in total.

Key employment law changes for April 2017

The shifting business environment of the ‘gig’ economy provides a difficult arena to achieve a degree of legal clarity as to the employment status of those within it.

Many employers use freelance and self-employed sub-contractors believing that such workers do not have the same employment rights as ordinary employees. However a flurry of recent cases has illustrated the significant risks that employers run in engaging workers on a self-employed or freelance basis.

Employers at risk when hiring self-employed sub-contractors

The shifting business environment of the ‘gig’ economy provides a difficult arena to achieve a degree of legal clarity as to the employment status of those within it.

Many employers use freelance and self-employed sub-contractors believing that such workers do not have the same employment rights as ordinary employees. However a flurry of recent cases has illustrated the significant risks that employers run in engaging workers on a self-employed or freelance basis.

Protective Award claims – what are they and how much could you be entitled to?

A Protective Award is an award of compensation of up to 90 days’ gross pay, that can be awarded by an Employment Tribunal, for failure by your employer to collectively inform and consult you where you have been dismissed on the grounds of redundancy. This applies to dismissals of 20 or more employees, within a 90 day period.

If such dismissals should occur, your trade union or employee representatives (if any) can put forward a claim to the tribunal on your behalf. If there is no trade union or elected employee representatives, then you can pursue the claim yourself or in conjunction with your fellow workers.

Workers rights in the ‘gig’ economy

The gig economy is part of a shifting business and cultural environment in which temporary employment positions are common. Businesses contract with independent workers for short-term or distance engagements – ‘gigs’.

Often on top of a salaried job, workers get paid for each gig they do such as a taxi journey or food delivery. However, similar to zero-hours contracts, workers aren’t guaranteed set hours and have little job security or benefits from their employer such as sick or holiday pay.

Tattoo taboo – should they stay undercover in the workplace?

The days of tattoos being considered as a form of expression favoured by specific subcultures and social groups are gone, as throughout western society body art and modification has become a part of everyday life.

According to research cited by the British Association of Dermatologists, one in five people in Britain now has a tattoo. Despite this, employers have widely failed to keep up with changing attitudes.

Avoiding vicarious liability at the office Christmas party

Christmas is almost upon us, as are the much awaited office Christmas parties. Whilst no one wants to be the office scrooge and detract away from the positivity of such an event, employers should be aware of their potential liabilities and consider the management of such an event with great care.

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers can be held vicariously liable for any acts of sexual harassment committed by their employees during the course of their employment, including any events outside the working day such as office Christmas parties (which are considered as an extension of the office environment). This applies regardless of whether the acts are done with the employer’s knowledge or approval.

One in five cancer patients face discrimination at work

Research by the charity MacMillian has revealed that one in five people diagnosed with cancer experience discrimination at work.

The survey of 1,000 cancer patients who were still in work when diagnosed found that nearly a fifth (18%) of those returning to employment said they faced discrimination from their employer or colleagues. Others added that they felt guilty for having to take time off work for medical appointments, while 15% said they went back to work before they felt ready.

Proposed changes to taxation of termination payments

More than a year ago the Government started consultation in relation to changes to the taxation of termination payments, which it considered as overly complicated and in desperate need of revision.

The Government has now published its report with proposed alterations to the current tax position, which should be introduced in the form of a Finance Bill. This is expected to come into force in April 2018.

Settlement agreements help to resolve disputes without the stress and cost of litigation

On 29 July 2013, Section 23 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 renamed compromise agreements and compromise contracts as settlement agreements in all relevant pieces of UK legislation.
A settlement agreement, in employment law, is a legally binding document between an employee (former or present) and an employer (former or present). They are used to approve terms of termination of employment where an employee receives a financial payment in return for the waiver of all genuine and potential statutory claims against the employer.

One in five working mums refused flexible working

According to the findings of the Workingmums Annual Survey, almost 20% of working mothers have been forced to leave their jobs because their request for flexible working has been denied.

In addition to flexible working hours, other barriers highlighted as hindering their career progression and development included the high cost of childcare. The survey of 2,000 women reported that half of mothers currently on maternity leave believe high childcare costs could inhibit them from returning to work.

TUC study reveals stress is now a top health and safety concern at work

A study published to coincide with World Mental Health Day by the TUC suggests that 70% of workplaces now have a problem with stress.

Asking over 1,000 health and safety reps around the UK to identify hazards in the workplace that most trouble them and their workforce, the survey of found that 70% cited stress as a problem. This is an increase of 3% since the last survey in 2014 and was the highest proportion recorded in the biennial study, with public sector employees particularly affected.

The importance of client trust when choosing a solicitor

With Russells Solicitors issuing an apology for the leak over JK Rowling’s pseudonym; identifying her as the real author of the debut thriller by ‘Robert Galbraith’, the importance client confidentiality has been brought to the fore in the legal profession. Reported to be very unhappy with the leak (and understandably so!) Rowling said in a…

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