We round up the latest employment news.
Coronavirus: Statutory Sick Pay to apply from day one
The Prime Minister has
announced that workers who fall ill with coronavirus or who are advised to self-isolate will be entitled to receive statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day of their illness or isolation.
Currently, SSP is payable from the fourth day of absence. It's paid at a fixed rate of £92.25 per week (increasing to £95.85 from 6 April 2020) and is only payable if someone earns at least £118 per week.
We understand that the government is going to introduce emergency legislation to make the changes which, we think, will only apply to coronavirus – not to other conditions or illnesses.
We'll keep you updated.
Increase in unfair dismissal cap and other rates
From Monday 6 April 2020, rates are going up for certain employment claims. A week's pay, for the basic award and statutory redundancy purposes, will increase from £525 to £538 for all dismissals on that take place on or after Monday 6 April 2020.
Plus, the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases from £86,444 to £88,519.
Other increases appear in this
table. First UK GDPR fine for company who ‘carelessly’ stored customer data
The Information Commissioner has issued its first fine to a UK company following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018.
Doorstep Dispensaree Ltd was
fined £275,000 for failing to ensure the security of special category data. The company, which supplies medicines to customers and care homes, left approximately half a million documents in unlocked containers at the back of its offices. The documents included names, addresses, dates of birth, NHS numbers, medical information, and prescriptions belonging to an unknown number of people. Company cars – new advisory fuel rates from March 2020
HMRC has published
revised advisory fuel rates for company cars, applicable from Sunday 1 March 2020. The rates are to be used only where employers either reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars or require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel. HMRC updates manual with IR35 changes
HMRC has recently updated its
Employment Status Manual with new guidance on the off payroll working changes due to come into effect from Monday 6 April 2020.
In the section on ‘reasonable care’ in relation to status determination statements, HMRC confirms that it will ‘expect a higher degree of care to be taken by a large multi-national company with its own internal finance function than of a much smaller entity’.
The new regime applies to organisations that meet two or more of the following criteria:
Turnover above £10.2 million
Total balance sheet assets above £5.1m
An average of more than 50 employees.
Government employee wins £400,000 for race and age discrimination
A female employee working in the Department for Work and Pensions has been awarded substantial compensation after a tribunal decided she had been the victim of a hostile environment because of her race and age. This included £42,800 for injury to her feelings, which is at the highest end of the scale and is only given in the most serious cases.
Ms Giwa-Amu was bullied. Colleagues used derogatory and racist language to describe her, suggested that she smelled, and undermined her confidence. She became ill and was dismissed six months later. The BBC has
covered the case.
The DWP has been ordered to contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission for diversity training and its permanent secretary Peter Scholfield must directly review her case.
‘Whistle-blower’ ordered to pay £170,000 after his claim was rejected
The Employment Appeals Tribunal has recently confirmed that an Employment Tribunal was entitled to order an employee to pay £170,000 in costs to his employer following the dismissal of his complaints of whistleblowing detriment.
The tribunal held that the surgeon had acted unreasonably in pursuing the claims when no reasonable and objective person looking at the evidence would have considered there to be an arguable case.
The case of
Brooks v Nottingham University Hospital is significant because costs aren’t usually awarded in an Employment Tribunal, whether a party wins or loses. Costs can only be awarded in specific circumstances, and this case provides useful guidance about when an order might be made. Apprenticeships under fire
According to the
BBC, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has attacked employers in England who use apprenticeship funding to pay for qualifications for senior managers. He wants to stop firms using the apprenticeship levy to subsidise Master of Business Administration (MBA) courses for “highly paid” managers. Instead he wants to direct funds towards helping to kick-start careers or level-up skills and opportunities.
He’s ordered a review of the senior leader apprenticeship.
Digital apprenticeship service open to all from November 2020
The Education and Skills Funding Agency has
announced that the government’s digital apprenticeship service will be available to all non-levy payers from Sunday 1 November 2020.
The digital apprenticeship service was introduced in 2017 as part of the apprenticeship reforms. The online portal was purpose built for employers paying the apprenticeship to give them one place to manage their payments, access funds, and search for training providers.
New scheme to ‘name and shame’ employers who break NMW law
The government has recently announced that it intends to re-start naming and shaming employers who fail to pay the national minimum wage (NMW).
National Minimum Wage Law: enforcement indicates that employers who don't pay the NMW will be given a Notice of Underpayment from HMRC, detailing the names of staff who have been underpaid, the amount they are owed and the penalty imposed. Employers have 28 days to pay the total amount. There's an incentive to paying earlier as the penalty (which can be as much as £20,000 per worker) is halved if payment is made within 14 days.
Under the previous scheme, HMRC referred the names of employers to the government to consider naming once all arrears had been paid to workers and the penalty had been paid. Employers that didn't pay were sued, but wouldn't be named until that process had ended – which could be many months later.
Now, naming will take place more quickly. Non-compliant employers will have 28 days to appeal or pay otherwise their names will be referred to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Employers will be named where the total arrears owed to workers are £500, but a lower threshold of £100 applies if the employer has received a Notice of Underpayment within the previous six years.
Guidelines to help employers accommodate vegan staff
Last month, the Employment Tribunal in
Casamitiana v The League Against Cruel Sports ruled that 'ethical' vegans have a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010.
The Vegan Society has provided short
guidelines, which aim to help employers create a 'more welcoming and non-discriminatory workplace' for vegan employees. They cover storing and preparing food at work, uniforms and footwear, corporate and social events and discrimination. Are any of your staff having problems at home?
People are key to the success of any organisation. If your staff are struggling at home and in their personal lives, in terms of divorce, separation, relationship breakdown or difficulties regarding children, they won’t be effective at work. This can affect the efficiency of your organisation.
In this world where we should very much focus on the wellbeing of our people, we offer a free 30-minute session giving initial guidance and support on any of their family law issues to your employees, shareholders or directors. We’ll then signpost them to what they need, which could be counselling, mediation, or support from a family lawyer.
We believe it’s good to talk. We can work with you to help your people and your organisation.
Contact one of our experts for more information.
Read more – March 2020
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