How much do you know?

Keeping up to date with changes in employment law is important for any employer. So, when we exhibited at a recent Shropshire Chamber of Commerce business expo, we decided to test the knowledge of attendees at the event. Almost 50 people completed a short “Employment law quiz” – with interesting results.

HR Services - wearing many hatsThe Questions

  1. When must an employer issue an Employment Contract to a New Starter?
  2. What is the minimum recommended notice for an employee required to attend a disciplinary meeting?
  3. What is the upper limit compensation for unfair dismissal?
  4. What service must an employee have to make a claim for unfair dismissal?

 

The Results - the number of people answering correctly:

  • Question 1 – a contract must be issued to a New Starter within 8 weeks. This was answered correctly by 10 participants (20%).
  • Question 2 was answered correctly by 22 (44%) people - 48 hours.
  • Question 3 – £76,574 is the upper limit, correctly answered by 16 (32%) participants.
  • Question 4 – this was answered correctly by 22 (44%) people – 2 years service is required.

 

The results show a reasonable level of HR knowledge but only 5 people got all the answers correct. To avoid risking a potentially expensive mistake, employers need to protect their interests by making sure they are on top of the relevant legislation.

At Triangle HR, we share our knowledge with our clients to keep them up to date with new regulations, HR innovations, best practice and the latest developments in employment law.  To stay on the ball with your HR needs, call the Triangle HR team on 01743 444007 or email us at info@trianglehr.co.uk

Employment Tribunal Fees Challenge Dismissed

Red cardLast December saw the High Court dismiss the Trade Union Unison’s appeal against the new fees for employment tribunals introduced in July 2013. The courts view was that there was “insufficient evidence to show the fees are making it more difficult to bring cases to a tribunal”.

Here in Shropshire and the West Midlands we have noticed a reduction in the number of tribunal claims and a noticeable increase and interest in the alternatives. This includes greater use of mediation, negotiations as well as agreements utilising ACAS.

Triangle HR is involved in facilitating a number of these alternatives and the results have been constructive for local employers. Involvement in these does require experience and expertise.

If you have a similar situation with an employee that you’d like to discuss, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01743 444007 or email info@trianglehr.co.uk

HR News in Brief – CIPD Surveys

1) CARING RESPONSIBLITIES LEAD TO ABSENTEEISM AT WORK

chairA recent CIPD survey has highlighted that at least a third of employers have experienced a rise in absenteeism because of staff finding it difficult to balance caring responsibilities with their job commitments.  However, despite this significant trend, only one in six organisations offer support – such as flexible working arrangements or carers’ leave – to accommodate the needs of employees who are also caregivers.

Call us on 01743 444007 to discuss any specific absenteeism issue you are experiencing.

armwrestling 22) BE RESILIENT IF YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE AT WORK

Further research from the CIPD has revealed work relationship difficulties and office politics to be “the biggest energy drain for three quarters of employees”.

With only 6 per cent of workers feeling they get support from their employers when it comes to coping with work-related pressure, the report recommends that employers should be proactive in helping staff improve their skills in networking and building relationships.

12-Month Automatic HR Update Service For £149.00+VAT

KEEPING OUR CLIENTS COMPLIANT WITH EMPLOYMENT LAW MATTERS 

red tie and penWe’ve been busy with lots of clients updating Employment Contracts and Employee Handbooks, and we would like to offer you the opportunity to receive our regular updates and new policy documents as and when things change throughout the year.  Therefore ensuring that you are always up to date and legally compliant.

Though our clients are fully compliant at the present time, in the world of Employment Law, things change very quickly and already we are thinking about the changes scheduled for 2015, some of which are; duty to participate in education or training, changes to adoption leave and pay, shared parental leave changes to name a few.

We are currently offering a 12-month automatic update service for a flat fee of only £149.00+VAT.

If you would like to take up this opportunity, please get in touch as soon as possible so that we can ensure you are up-to-date with all the latest changes. Call us on 01743 444007 or email us in confidence at info@trianglehr.co.uk
 for peace of mind.

 

3 Points For Triangle HR In Football Club Contract Win

We’re delighted to have been appointed by Shrewsbury Town Football Club to take on all of its human resources activity on a retained basis, a partnership which will see the firm provide ongoing strategic advice to members of the senior management team as well as look after all day-to-day HR requirements.

triangle-hr- STFC

Justine Vaughan, Founder and Director of Triangle HR, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be partnering with the team at Shrewsbury Town. As a local firm ourselves, and keen football fans and regular visitors to Greenhous Meadow, it is fantastic to be supporting our very own club.

We’re extremely proud of the close working relationships we have with our clients and are very much looking forward to working alongside the club’s management team to deliver our specialist service over the coming months.”

Triangle HR’s professional partnership with Shrewsbury Town has been further cemented in recent weeks with the firm becoming an official corporate sponsor of the club in an initial season long deal.

Matt Williams, Chief Executive of Shrewsbury Town Football Club, commented: “We’re delighted to be working with Justine and her team at Triangle HR who are not only already delivering a fantastic service to us, but who are right here on our doorstep. As a club, we are immensely passionate about our county town and are hugely committed to building relationships with local businesses wherever possible.

We’ve been approached by a number of national HR companies keen to work with us, but deciding to partner with such an experienced, dynamic and local team as Triangle HR, was the obvious choice.”

EAT Ruling – Overtime To Be Included In Holiday Pay

The Employment Appeal Tribunal’s (EAT) recent groundbreaking decision that overtime should be included in holiday pay attracted widespread publicity.

This decision has been described as having ‘changed the law’ because of the requirement to include guaranteed and regular overtime payments.

The Government has estimated that about five million workers receive overtime payments but the actual number of people entitled to claim as a result of this ruling is likely to be much more limited.

Triangle HR Case studyIt applies when calculating holiday pay for the minimum four-week annual leave entitlement, as required under EU law; until now, only a worker’s basic pay had counted towards this calculation.

Union representatives were delighted with the outcome, hailing it ‘a victory for workers’ rights’. From an employer’s perspective the decision has been viewed as one that ‘could cost industry billions’; some trade associations have said their members would have to reduce investment plans and that this decision could affect the vast majority of the manufacturing sector.

The new rulings came about because of claims that there was a conflict between British and EC employment laws regarding the calculation of holiday pay. European legislation states that employees are entitled to a minimum of four weeks annual leave, but doesn’t stipulate how this should be calculated.

A previous ruling from the European Court of Justice stated that holiday pay ought to be calculated from ‘normal remuneration’ including ‘any payments linked intrinsically to the performance of the worker’s tasks’. The EAT’s judgment leaves the position on voluntary overtime unclear.

There have been several recent employment tribunal decisions permitting holiday pay claims – due to the fact that employees were not receiving their full entitlement for their four-week EU annual leave entitlement; a breach of EU regulations.

Employers had expressed concerns (which could remain valid) that employees would be entitled to submit claims dating back to 1998, the year the Working Time Regulations were implemented. The new ruling is intended to restrict opportunities for staff to pursue retrospective claims for any outstanding holiday pay and to exclude the linking of historic holiday periods.

Reports in the media included views from legal experts, including Glenn Hayes, an employment law partner from law firm Irwin Mitchell. Hayes said, ”The Employment Appeal Tribunal appears to have shut down the argument that employees could backdate claims on the basis that they had suffered a series of deductions from their wages when taking holiday, albeit there remains some uncertainty as to what denotes a ‘series’ and how this can be broken.”

This ruling is unlikely to be the end of the matter however. It may be referred to the Court of Appeal by employers against this interpretation of Working Time Regulations – although the EAT has expressed the view that it would not have a reasonable prospect of success. Employees would argue the right to pursue claims relating to previous periods of annual leave. Either way a quick outcome may not be likely.

The questions over calculation of holiday pay are not going to be resolved definitively in the near future. This ruling applies not only to overtime payments, but other payments such as commission (on which there is a separate case pending). It is premature for businesses to change their holiday pay arrangements now or enter into negotiations about backdated compensation for employees.

Rather, in the meantime, employers are recommended to undertake a thorough review of their current arrangements and working practices to assess any potential financial impact of this ruling so they can anticipate how they can absorb any increased costs related to holiday pay.

For more information on how the new regulations will affect your business and advice on making sure your HR policies and procedures are up to date, please call Justine and the team on 01743 444007 or email info@trianglehr.co.uk

Employment Law Update 2014-15

Keeping up to date with employment law changes is preoccupying for HR personnel – let alone business owners with dozens of other responsibilities.  However it is a responsibility that cannot be ignored and the consequences can be severe in reputational and financial terms for employers. Not paying the minimum wage (which changed from 1st October 2014) being just one example, and one that some leading retailers have recently fallen foul of.

The main issues outlined in the latest employment law update below include shared parental leave and changes affecting pay. Here at Triangle HR we ensure our client’s employment policies and procedures are up-to-date and continue to remain in line with new developments. If you require assistance with this important task please call the Triangle HR team on 01743 444007 or email us at info@trianglehr.co.uk

 

Shared Parental Leave and Statutory Shared Parental Pay

Leave and pay entitlements are to change for parents of children born or adopted on or after 5th April 2015.  Additional paternity leave will be abolished and employees will have the option of more flexible working arrangements, including sharing their entitlements between the two parents. The new rules took effect from 1st December 2014.

pregnant businesswoman at deskMothers will still be required to take a minimum of 2 weeks maternity leave following the birth (4 weeks for factory workers). However, under the new rules, parents who qualify can opt to take Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) instead of continuing with maternity leave/pay, maternity allowance or adoption leave.

This will allow them to take:

  • The remainder of their 52 weeks of leave as SPL (up to 50 weeks)
  • The remainder of their 39 weeks of pay or maternity allowance as ShPP  (up to 37 weeks)

They must give 8 weeks notice to their employer (in writing) to end their maternity/paternity/adoption leave and confirm their eligibility in order to start SLP (unless the child is born more than 8 weeks prematurely).

Employees who are eligible are those who can show:

  • They have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks before the end of the 15th week prior to the date the child is due (or before the date they are matched with their child) and they will continue to be employed by the same employer for the duration of the period of SPL
  • They are to share the care of the child with their spouse, civil partner, joint adopter, live-in partner or the other parent
  • They, or their partner, is entitled to maternity pay/leave, adoption pay/leave or maternity allowance

For their partner to be eligible, they can be employed, self-employed or an agency worker but they must have:

  • Worked for at 26 weeks during the 66 weeks prior to the baby’s due date
  • Earned at least £30 per week

Employees will be entitled by law to request to take their SPL in up to three separate blocks. Employees can request that each block of leave is split into several shorter periods of work and leave, however employers can agree to more at their discretion. This discontinuous working element is likely to be an aspect of the new legislation that employers may find challenging in that some will need to make other adjustments to accommodate the more flexible working arrangements.

In addition to the current provision for KIT (Keeping in Touch) days, each parent can also opt to work up to 20 days during their SPL as SPLIT (Shared Parental Leave In Touch) days.

 

Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)

ShPP will be available to employees who are eligible for:

  • Statutory Maternity Pay or Statutory Adoption Pay
  • Statutory Paternity Pay, Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay

ShPP has been set at £138.18 per week (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower). Be aware that this differs slightly from Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) in the first 6 weeks where the rate of SMP is 90% of the employee’s pay regardless of how much.

From April 2015, employees who are parents will see their right to take unpaid parental leave extended to cover children up to 18 years old.

 

National Minimum Wage Increase

1st October 2014 saw an increase in the national minimum wage. Hourly rates have now been set at:

  • Age 16-17 yrs. – £3.79
  • Age 18-20 yrs. – £5.13
  • Age 21 yrs. and over –  £6.50

Apprentices for those aged 19 and over who are in their first year of their apprenticeship are to be paid a minimum of £2.73 an hour.

 

Equal Pay Audits

With effect from 1st October 2014, employers who are found to have breached the equal pay requirements outlined in the Equality Act 2010 may well be ordered by an Employment Tribunal to carry out an Equal Pay Audit. This process will need to show details of the employer’s plan to avoid breaches occurring or continuing to occur in the future. This requirement will apply to businesses that have been in existence for over 1 year who have 10 or more full-time employees (or part-time equivalent).

Not something to ignore as your business could face a costly fine. The tribunal will also be able to issue a penalty of up to £5,000 to employers who fail to comply with the order with a further £5,000 fine if they continue not to do so.

 

Time off for ante-natal and adoption appointments

Pregnant employees and eligible agency workers are entitled to paid time off work for ante-natal and adoption appointments.  As well as medical appointments, this can include relaxation and parentcraft classes if a medical practitioner, midwife or nurse has recommended them.  Do note however, this is government guidance rather than a statutory right.

From 1st October 2014, fathers (or partners in same-sex relationships) are now entitled to unpaid time off to accompany a pregnant woman to up to 2 ante-natal appointments lasting up to 61/2 hours.

Refusing to allow a pregnant employee time off, withholding payment or penalising them if they take the time off without permission could be classed as ‘unlawful pregnancy and maternity discrimination’ under the Equality Act 2010 and considered ‘a detriment’ under the Employment Rights Act 2008.

Please be aware also that the basic level of compensation for pregnant employees who are judged to have been unreasonably denied permission (or payment) to attend ante-natal appointments has been increased from a payment reflecting their usual pay amount to double that amount. Another change you may not have been aware of.

 

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014-2105 is currently going through Parliament. As announced in June earlier last year in the Queen’s Speech, legislative reform is being debated covering areas that affect the ability of small businesses to compete including:

  • Amendments to the Companies Act
  • Penalties for employers not paying at least the National Minimum Wage
  • Tribunal awards, settlements and postponement of hearings
  • Disclosure of information from whistleblowers whilst protecting their anonymity
  • Zero hours contacts

We will keep you updated on developments and progress of the Bill and its impact on smaller businesses, with a particular focus on changes in legislation and best working practices.

 

For more information on how the new regulations will affect your business and advice on making sure your HR policies and procedures are up to date, please call Justine and the team on 01743 444007 or email info@trianglehr.co.uk

We Have the Answer to all your Recruitment Headaches

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Employment Legislation Update – Spring 2014

 A number of changes in employment legislation that have taken place already in 2014. Details of those particularly relevant to employers are set out below. The announcement included the launch of a number of consultations on further proposed regulatory changes. A summary of these changes can be found below: (more…)

Free Health Check of your Employment Policies in November and December

Businesses across the region are being encouraged to take advantage of a limited offer from Triangle HR which will help ensure you have the correct employment policies and procedures in place. It’s a free health check of your employment policies and procedures throughout November and December 2013. (more…)