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Employment claims continue to increase

Employment tribunal fees were abolished last year. Since then, the number of employment claims has steadily increased. This has resulted in severe delays as the tribunal service struggles to keep pace.  

The Ministry of Justice has published its most recent quarterly statistics for the period of January 2018 to March 2018. Compared to the same period last year (when fees were in place), single claims – those made by an individual relating to alleged breaches of their employment rights – have increased by 118%. In particular, unauthorised deductions from wage claims have seen a significant surge. This indicates that, now that fees are no longer a barrier, individuals are willing to issue relatively low value claims, such as underpayment of holiday.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/tribunals-and-gender-recognitions-certificates-statistics-quarterly-january-to-march-2018

Menopausal woman awarded £19,000 following discrimination

The Sunday Herald has reported that a woman who (ironically) worked for the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service has suffered disability discrimination.

Ms Davies was sacked following an incident involving a water jug that she used to dissolve tablets prescribed to help her with cystitis. At the time, she had substantial medical problems related to menopause, with symptoms including heavy bleeding along with stress, anxiety, palpitations, memory loss, and pins and needles in her hands and feet. She also endured tiredness, light-headedness and was at a risk of fainting. 

The tribunal found that these symptoms amounted to a disability and that her employer had failed to consider the impact of her disability on her conduct. It ordered the employer to reinstate her to the position she had held for over 20 years and to pay her compensation.

The case demonstrates that menopause is not a disability in itself, but its side effects can be. 

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16245132.Woman_s_menopause_ruled_a_disability_in___19_000_tribunal_claim/

28% decline in the number of new apprenticeships

The government has released new statistics that reveal that the number of new apprenticeships has dropped by 28% – to 261,200 – in comparison to last year.

Since April 2017, employers with a payroll of over £3 million have been required to pay 0.5% of their payroll costs to HMRC to fund the Apprenticeship Levy. It was anticipated that the funds collected would be used by businesses to recruit new apprentices. However, the scheme has been criticised by businesses as being overly bureaucratic and operating as another tax.

In May, we reported that the Think Tank Reform believed that the Levy has also “diminished the quality of apprenticeships” and had made a number of recommendations to improve the scheme.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/apprenticeship-and-levy-statistics-june-2018

Government guidance published on Dress Codes and Sex Discrimination

The Government Equalities Office has published new guidance on dress codes that reminds employers that dress policies for men and women do not have to be identical, but standards imposed should be equivalent. It also warns that requiring any gender-specific items, such as high heels, make up or manicured nails, are likely to be unlawful.

It also warns against requiring both men and women to dress provocatively as, whilst that might not be direct sex discrimination, it raises the risk of harassment.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/709535/dress-code-guidance-may2018-2.pdf

Acas guidance on religion and belief

Acas has launched new Guidance on Religion and Belief to help prevent discrimination at work. As well as an explanation of the law, it contains practical guidance on a variety of issues, including:

  • Talking about religion at work
  • Unacceptable language
  • Food and fasting
  • Washing and changing rooms.

http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/a/p/Religion-or-belief-discrimination-key-points-for-the-workplace.pdf

Government publishes FAQs relating to new corporate governance reporting requirements

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a list of frequently asked questions relating to the draft Companies (Miscellaneous Reporting) Regulations 2018 to help companies understand how they will be affected by the new corporate governance reporting requirements in the Regulations.

The draft Regulations will have to be approved by Parliament before they become law.  

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/corporate-governance-new-reporting-regulations

Guidance given for publishing trade union facility time data

The Cabinet Office has published supporting guidance for the Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017, which took effect from Saturday 1 April 2017. The guidance includes information on publication requirements, data collection requirements and other resources of use for those publishing the information.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/713318/Public_Sector_Facility_Time_publications_requirements_guidance.pdf

New start-up visa route announced for entrepreneurs 

The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has announced details of a new "start-up" visa category, which will increase the speed and ease at which non-EEA nationals can obtain a visa to start a business in the UK. 

The new visa will be available from spring 2019 and will replace the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa category, which is currently reserved for graduate applicants only. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-start-up-visa-route-announced-by-the-home-secretary

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Sybille Steiner