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News in Brief – May 2019

Ten ways to make gender pay gap information more reliable

The Royal Statistical Society has published a list of ten recommendations in a bid to improve the accuracy and usefulness of gender pay gap reporting, calling the current system “flawed in principle.” It noted that numerous employers are making mistakes when submitting gender pay gap data, with some employers reporting statistically impossible results.

Key recommendations:

  1. Publish the gap in pounds and pence, rather than as a percentage
  2. Provide free online calculators to help increase the accuracy of reporting with built in “sanity checks” to make it clear when mistakes have been made and prevent statistically implausible entries
  3. Calculate the gender pay gap within each quartile to make it harder for employers to publish misleading figures
  4. Publish each employer's annual results side-by-side to facilitate comparisons and the identification of trends.

Unless the government makes changes to gender pay gap reporting, you don't have to do anything differently (provided your data is correct). However, it might be sensible to adopt some of these changes (particularly publishing data in pounds and pence) on your website to make the information easier to understand.

Union campaigns for one National Minimum Wage rate

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) has been in force for 20 years. To mark its anniversary, the union UNISON has launched a campaign to get rid of the age bands and pay the same rate to everyone.

It believes that the government can't justify paying less to younger people and that everyone should be paid the same rate for doing the same job.

Its campaign, #OneWageAnyAge, appears to be supported by the Labour Party, who attended the launch and said it was committed to raising the NMW to £10 per hour.

The NMW and National Living Wage increased on Monday 1 April as follows:

The National Living Wage increased from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour.

The National Minimum Wage increased:

  • Workers aged 21 to 24 – from £7.38 to £7.70 per hour
  • Workers aged 18 to 20 – from £5.90 to £6.15 per hour
  • Workers aged over compulsory school age under 18 – from £4.20 to £4.35 per hour
  • Apprentices – from £3.70 to £3.90 per hour.

Worried about the impact of Brexit on your workforce? New ACAS guidance may help

Acas has published new guidance to assist employers and employees in understanding the impact Brexit may have in their workplace.

It explains the potential changes to employment law stemming from the UK leaving the EU and provides links to the government’s technical guidance. The guidance also explains the impact of Brexit on EU citizens working in the UK, provides links to government materials on their rights and goes on to offer advice to employers when talking to their employees about how they may be impacted by the UK's exit. 

The guidance confirms that tribunal and court decisions appealed to the European Court of Human Rights won’t be impacted by Brexit.

Court of Appeal will hear term-time only holiday pay case in May

Regular readers of this column will be aware of the important case of Brazel v The Harpur Trust, where the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) made it clear that part-time staff without normal working hours must have their holiday pay calculated by reference to their average earnings over the previous 12 weeks and not by applying a fixed formula of 12.07%.

Following this decision, many organisations have changed the way in which they calculate the holiday pay of part-time staff to avoid expensive claims.

The Court of Appeal is due to hear the school’s appeal on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 May 2019.

New job support scheme for people with mental health conditions

A new scheme has been launched to help those with mental health issues return to work. The individual placement support service aims to help 55,000 people per year within the next five years.

The support service will enable patients to access advice from employment specialists, and may even enable them to have experts searching for jobs on their behalf. Dr Jed Boardman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists claims that those with mental health conditions are more likely to struggle to find employment, something which excludes them from “the benefits that a good job can offer for their personal recovery.” It’s hoped that the scheme will help to break that dangerous cycle.

Union appeals High Court decision in case on outsourced workers' rights

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has applied to appeal the decision made by the High Court in March to reject IWGB judicial review challenge to extend the employment rights of outsourced workers.

The union has submitted its application to the Court of Appeal and has said that if permission is refused, it will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

HMRC publishes guidance in preparation for changes to the off-payroll working rules (IR35)

HMRC has published new guidance to help organisations prepare for changes to the tax rules for engaging individuals through personal service companies. The new rules will come into force on Monday 6 April 2020.

The responsibility for deciding whether the amended off-payroll working rules apply will fall on the organisation receiving the individual's services. The guidance lays out the four key steps an organisation should take in order to ensure a smooth transition, including identifying affected individuals and implementing new processes to ensure the organisation is prepared.

Permission for Supreme Court appeal granted to Morrisons in data breach case

In October last year, we reported the Court of Appeal’s decision that Morrisons was vicariously liable for the actions of a “rogue” employee who deliberately and maliciously breached the data of 100,000 staff members. 

The Supreme Court has now granted permission for Morrisons to appeal the Court of Appeal's judgment.

Productivity loss of 14 million days annually due to menopause symptoms

Research commissioned by Health & Her and supplemented by the Office of National Statistics has revealed that time taken off work because of menopausal symptoms causes a productivity loss of 14 million working days annually. Women aged 50 to 64 “are the fastest growing economically active group,” and also the most affected by this issue.

The study revealed that almost one third of working women aged 50 to 64 were taking time off work to relieve menopause symptoms. Over half were then working in their own time in order to make up the time. Perhaps most starkly, over 370,000 women admitted they had either left or had considered leaving their career owing to the difficulties of going through the menopause in the workplace. Menopause at Work Trainer and Health & Her expert Julie Dennis proposes three ways that organisations can attempt to alleviate the position for women suffering from menopausal issues, including greater education, opening up conversations, and electing champions and ambassadors to lead change.

Key Contact

Jo Moseley