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News in brief – December 2018

New guide published to help managers recruit and manage people with disabilities

The Department for Work and Pensions has published a practical guide to help line managers recruit, manage and support people with a disability or long-term health condition. It provides a "quick and easy reference tool" to improve knowledge and confidence. 

It's easy to read and provides some helpful tips on reasonable adjustments, using appropriate language when discussing disability and helping managers deal with performance issues and sickness absence. 

Organisations can also sign up to the Disability Confident programme to receive accreditation and access to additional guidance, peer support groups and specialist events. 

Improvement required? ACAS launch new performance management guide

According to research undertaken by ACAS, only 25% of organisations adapt performance management processes to consider staff with disabilities. It has published new guidance to help organisations get the basics right. 

Government launches employer toolkit about UK Settlement Scheme

The government has issued a toolkit to help organisations support EU staff and their families apply for settled status. The toolkit signposts users to where they can find information, including leaflets, posters, presentations, videos and guidance.

The introduction states that, under the EU Settlement Scheme, employers:

  • Have a duty not to discriminate against EU citizens
  • Are not expected to pay/support the cost of the scheme application for their EU citizen employees, but are welcome to do so at their own discretion
  • Have no legal obligation to communicate the scheme, but may wish to signpost the information
  • Don’t have to interpret government information and must not provide immigration advice.

The document also says that current "right to work" checks (eg EU passport and/or national ID card) apply until the end of 2020 and there will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK until 2021.

Home Office to “name and shame” businesses failing to publish annual Modern Slavery Statement

Nearly 17,000 chief executives of UK businesses with an annual turnover of more than £36m have received a letter from the Home Office asking them to publish an annual Modern Slavery Statement, regardless of whether they are currently compliant. Those that don't risk appearing on a published list.

Home Office statistics suggest only 60% of companies have complied with the publishing of a statement at all and many of these do are poor in quality or fail to meet the basic legal requirements.

Drive to employ ex-offenders attracts over 120 businesses

Six months ago, the government launched an initiative to encourage businesses to employ individuals with criminal records. A number of high-profile organisations, including Virgin Trains and DHL, have registered their interest and will start to work with offenders whilst they are still in prison. 

The government is keen for other employers to follow suit.

New National Minimum Wage guidance on trial shifts

The issue of whether employers must pay individuals working “trial shifts” was debated in parliament earlier this year. Unions and some MPs asked for a blanket ban on the practice.

The government has, for the first time, provided guidance on trial shifts. This suggests that employers may not have to pay individuals if the trial shift is set up to determine if they have the relevant skills and qualities required for the job. There must be a vacancy, and the skills being tested must relate to the job. It suggests that unpaid trial shifts should not last longer than one shift.

HMRC will continue to assess whether individuals are entitled to be paid for trial periods on a case-by-case basis. Employers who operate unpaid trial shifts should take advice as the fines for getting this wrong are steep.

Research reveals high numbers of interns are not paid

The Sutton Trust has published a report on internship pay, quality and access in the graduate jobs market. It reveals that 48% reported offering unpaid internships, 27% offer expenses only internships and 12% offer no pay or expenses whatsoever. The report also points out that, although awareness of issues around pay has improved, unpaid internships remain rife. The report makes a series of recommendations for employers, such as paying interns the living wage of £9 an hour.

The Sutton Trust is backing the Unpaid Work Experience (Prohibition) Bill, which is due to have its second reading on Friday 25 January 2019. This will prohibit unpaid work experience for periods exceeding four weeks and place an obligation on employers to pay interns at least the national minimum wage or national living wage for those over 25.

Key Contact

Shazia Khan