Irwin Mitchell | Focus on Employment | Summer 2016 - News in Brief

Institute of Directors predicts that Brexit will cause widespread hiring freeze

A snap poll by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has found a quarter of companies will impose a hiring freeze after the UK’s decision to leave the EU. It surveyed 1,000 of its members, revealing that one-third would keep hiring at the same pace, and 5% would cut jobs. One in five are considering moving some of their operations outside of the UK.

Presenteeism - not such a bad thing?

A report by the Institute for Employment Studies has challenged the idea that workers have to be 100% fit before going back to work. It argues that returning to work can have a beneficial effect on rehabilitation and recovery, even for workers with more serious health conditions.

Court of Appeal to hear holiday pay case

The on-going saga of whether commission should be included in holiday pay, in the case of Lock v British Gas, has been heard by the Court of Appeal.

Despite an ECJ judgment in favour or Mr Lock, British Gas is seeking to argue that UK legislation cannot be interpreted to give effect to EU law.

The outcome of the case will be reported in the autumn edition of Focus on Employment.

Toolkit helps to manage older workers

An interactive resource developed by Age Action Alliance has launched a toolkit to help employers manage older workers. It includes information relating to retaining, retraining and recruiting older workers and also provides legal advice on flexible working applications.

Review of tribunal fees says they are too high

The House of Commons Justice Committee has published its review into court and tribunal fees. It suggests that Employment Tribunal fees should be “substantially reduced”. The Ministry of Justice has conducted a separate review and findings will be released shortly.

House of Commons gathering evidence on workplace dress rules

The House of Commons has launched an inquiry into high heels and workplace dress codes after a disgruntled worker collected almost 150,000 signatures calling for a ban on employers being able to force women to wear heels at work.

The joint inquiry, held by the House of Commons Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committee, also includes the wider issues of gender dress codes and discrimination. Once all evidence has been collated it will make recommendations to the Government. Read more on the petition.

Banning Muslim headscarf justified

The Advocate General has given an opinion that a Belgian company’s dress code banning employees from wearing any visible religious, political or philosophical symbols in the workplace, which was used to prevent a Muslim employee from wearing an Islamic headscarf, did not amount to direct discrimination. The ban affected all employees equally; it was not based on stereotypes or prejudice against one or more particular religions or against religious beliefs in general. The European Court of Justice will determine the issue in due course.

Court finds UK gangmaster liable for modern slavery victims

A British company has been found liable for six victims of modern slavery it engaged to catch chickens. The judge ruled that the men were owed compensation for the company’s failure to pay the agricultural minimum wage, for the charging of prohibited work-finding fees, for unlawfully withholding wages, and for depriving the workers of facilities to wash, rest, eat and drink.

The amount of compensation will be assessed at a future date but is expected to run to hundreds of thousands of pounds for unpaid wages. Read more details in The Guardian.

Crackdown on legal highs

The fate of so-called legal highs has taken a new turn. The Psychoactive Substances Act is now in force, making it an offence to make, supply, offer to supply, import or export any of these substances where they are intended for human consumption.

The legal highs include stimulants, ‘downers’, or hallucinogens. They are dangerous and while the use of some may be less easy to spot than others, employers are advised to keep a close eye on workers’ changing behavioural patterns. ACAS has provided useful information on the matter.

Summer 2016

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