0370 1500 100

News in Brief – March 2019

Do your job ads say you are “happy to talk about flexibility?”

All employees who have worked for the same employer for at least six months have the “right to ask” to work flexibly. Despite this, there hasn’t been any significant increase in the numbers of people working flexibly. The government wants to change this and has launched a campaign to persuade employers to advertise jobs at all levels and pay grades as being flexible. 

Are you struggling to calculate holiday pay for staff without fixed hours or fixed rates of pay?

We still receive many enquiries from employers asking for advice about how to calculate holiday pay – particularly for workers whose hours are not fixed, work term-time only or have annualised hours.

The law is tricky. If you don't have a payroll system that does the hard work for you, you need to understand the basics.

The government has recently published some very helpful guidance on how to calculate statutory holiday for workers engaged under zero hours contracts, working irregular hours or on short contracts.

It explains: 

  • What to do if you don't have 12 weeks of pay data to use
  • The date the holiday pay reference period should start from
  • How to calculate holiday pay for those leaving a job.

Gender pay gap grows at hundreds of big firms

The deadline for reporting your gender pay gap for 2018 is fast approaching. Public sector employers have to publish theirs by Saturday 30 March 2019 and private sector employers by Thursday 4 April 2019. So far, around 1,200 organisations have done so and, according to the BBC, the gender pay gap has increased for four in ten employers. 

Utilities company Npower blamed the increase in its pay gap from 13% to 18% on more female than male employees opting for a salary sacrifice scheme. Kwik Fit explain the significant difference in its figures (it’s gone from having a gender pay gap of -15.2%, meaning female employees were paid more to a 14% median gender pay gap in favour of men) because a number of senior female employees have left the company.

The median gender pay gap is 8.4% for those that have reported, down slightly on last year’s figure of 9.7%. Of those, 74% have a pay gap that favours men, while 14% have a gap that favours women.

Husband of locum practitioner on zero hours contract was not entitled to a death in service payment because she died on a non-working day

The Pensions Ombudsman has rejected a complaint by the husband of a locum dietitian for death in service benefits. His wife was engaged on a zero hours contract and died on Christmas Eve – a day she was not scheduled to work. 

The Ombudsman considered the wording of the scheme which provided that locums would only be entitled to death in service benefits if they were "engaged" under a contract for services at the time of death. The locum wasn't due to work on the day of her death and wasn’t therefore “engaged”. 

Limits on tribunal awards and statutory payments to increase from April 2019

Tribunal compensation limits will increase on Saturday 6 April 2019. The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will rise from £83,682 to £86,444. The maximum amount of a week's pay, used to calculate statutory redundancy payments and various awards (including the basic and additional awards for unfair dismissal), also rises from £508 to £525.

Labour announces plan to give workers right to choose working hours

Shadow Women and Equalities Minister Dawn Butler has revealed new plans from Labour to give workers a day-one right to select their working hours. The plan encompasses job-sharing, working from home, part-time, annualized or compressed hours, or flexi-time. The announcement comes as part of a plan to create a “presumption in favour of flexible working.”

Four-day week trial reveals record high work-life balance levels and 20% rise in productivity

A study into a New Zealand financial services company that trialled a four-day week has revealed that there was a 20% rise in output, with employees feeling less stressed and more engaged. As productivity increased in the four days worked, there was no drop in the total amount of work done. Perpetual Guardian put its 240 staff on a four-day week in November 2018 but did not reduce their pay. 

The study, which was carried out by academics at the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology, compared scores given by workers about leadership, stimulation, empowerment and commitment in 2017 against those provided after the eight-week trial. The most notable increases in scores were in commitment and empowerment, whilst work-life balance scores increased from 54% to 78%. The study also showed that stress levels decreased from 45% to 38%.

Key Contact

Jo Moseley