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Business leaders urged to help run schools

Schools need help from leading businesses to offset skills shortages on their governing bodies, according to Education Secretary Damian Hinds.  

The National Governors' Association says about 10% of school governor and trustee posts in England are empty, with larger shortages in poor areas.


Funding for 16-18 students to drop to a 30 year low

Analysis conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that spending per student in Further Education (FE) and school sixth forms will drop to the same level as 30 years ago by 2020. It also found that there has been a 15-20% real time cut in total spending on this group since 2010.

The Children’s Commissioner commissioned the report, which can be found here: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/publication/public-spending-on-children/

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 January 2018 to March 2018. Compared to the same period last year (when fees were in place), single claims have increased by 118% – single claims are defined as those made by an individual relating to alleged breaches of their employment rights.

In particular, unauthorised deductions from wage claims have seen a significant surge – indicating that now fees are no longer a barrier, individuals are willing to issue relatively low value claims, such as underpayment of holiday.


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 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 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.


Numbers of new apprenticeships down by 28%

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 organisations to recruit new apprentices. However, the scheme has been criticised as being overly bureaucratic, and operating in reality as another tax.

Our May News in Brief reported that Think Tank Reform believed that the Levy has also “diminished the quality of apprenticeships,” and it made a number of recommendations to improve the scheme.


Government publishes guidance 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.


Acas publishes new 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.


Key Contact

Jenny Arrowsmith