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Entries in Employment Law (28)

Friday
Nov092018

Government considering re-introducing Employment Tribunal Fees

Having recently attended the Employment Tribunal User Forum, we’re aware that claims have more than doubled in the period April to June 2018 (up by 165%) compared to the same period in 2017. The most likely reason for this is due to the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of R (on the application of UNISON) v Lord Chancellor quashing tribunal fees on 26 June 2017. In that case, the Supreme Court concluded that many people found the fees unaffordable and had been denied access to justice. The Court declared that the level of tribunal fees was unlawful and prevented access to justice. 

Tribunals are (understandably) struggling to cope with the increased workload, with an increasing backlog of cases (of up to 8 months in some instances). This has resulted in applications being missed/delayed and hearings being postponed etc. 

Perhaps with an eye to these issues, it is being reported in the Law Society Gazette that the government is considering reintroducing tribunal fees. Whilst no detail is given, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said it is confident that a fee system can be found which does not deny claimants access to justice. This follows on from a written answer in Hansard in the summer, where the MoJ said it was reviewing how (not whether) it would reintroduce fees. Richard Heaton, permanent secretary at the MoJ stated “We have to get the fee level right. I can see a scheme working that is both progressive and allows people out of paying fees where they can’t afford to.”

Since the fees were quashed, individuals have been able to apply for a refund. In 2017/2018 refund payments totalled £7.1m and since the end of the financial year in April 2018 the MoJ has, on a cumulative basis, made refunds totalling £15.8m.

Whilst there are no immediate plans to re-introduce tribunal fees we will keep you updated as the debate unfolds.

If you have any questions on employment law please contact Selene Holden (seleneholden@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717436), Greg Jones (gregjones@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717446) or Angharad Ellis Owen (mailto:aellisowen@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717453).  

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Thursday
Nov082018

Data breach by rogue employee – are you insured?

Last week the Court of Appeal handed down a significant judgment in the case of WM Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants.

The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the High Court that Morrisons was vicariously liable for a data breach caused by a rogue employee.

In 2014, Mr Skelton, a senior IT auditor (who had a grudge against his employer following disciplinary action the year before), published personal and confidential information of almost 100,000 Morrisons employees on the internet; the information was also sent to three newspapers.

Mr Skelton’s role involved the receiving, storing and disclosing of payroll data to auditors. However, the breach occurred when he published personal data from his home, on his personal computer and outside of working hours.

Over 5,500 employees brought claims against Morrisons for damages for misuse of private information and breach of confidence.

The Court of Appeal agreed that what happened was a ”seamless and continuous sequence of events” and was within the field of activities assigned to Mr Skelton by Morrisons.

What is novel about this case is that it is the first reported case in which the motive of the employee was to deliberately harm the employer, rather than for any personal gain.

The Court of Appeal was not persuaded by the argument that a finding of vicarious liability in this case would result in ‘Doomsday’ or ‘Armageddon’ for employers. The Court of Appeal recognised that data breaches may, depending on the circumstances, lead to a large number of claims against companies for potentially ruinous amounts. However, it observed that a solution would be for employers to insure against catastrophes, and losses caused by dishonest or malicious employees.

It is understood that Morrisons intend to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Mr Skelton was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment in July 2015 for his actions.

If you have any questions on employment law or data protection please contact Selene Holden (seleneholden@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717436), Greg Jones (gregjones@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717446) or Angharad Ellis Owen (aellisowen@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717453).  

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Wednesday
Jan102018

A year of equal pay

It is a century since women first won the right to vote in Britain. Let us honour that brave generation by making this the year we win equal pay.” Carrie Gracie, Journalist.

The Equal Pay Act 1970 was introduced 48 years ago to ensure equal pay for men and women who do equivalent or ‘like’ work, yet women are still earning less than men. 

The Government has pledged to ‘end gender pay gap in a generation.’  Consequently, gender pay gap reporting is now mandatory for all organisations with 250 or more employees.

We predicted that one of the consequences of publishing the gender pay gap would be an increase in grievances about pay which in turn could result in equal pay claims; our prediction was right!

Last year the BBC published a 10.7% gender pay gap. As a result, according to BBC Women, a group of about 150 broadcasters and producers made complaints about equal pay.  

Carrie Gracie, who worked as the China Editor for the BBC learned that in the previous financial year, the two men earned at least 50% more than the two women”.  She maintains that “this is not the gender pay gap that the BBC admits to.... It is pay discrimination and it is illegal.” The BBC maintains that there were differences between roles which justified the pay gap. Carrie Gracie resigned as a result of a “dismayingly incompetent and undermining grievance process which still has no outcome.” It is said that the BBC have commissioned PwC to conduct a pay audit of all ‘on-air’ staff. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also recently announced that it will consider whether further action against the BBC is required.

The BBC is not however the only organisation which has identified a gender pay gap.  Based on the data published to date (of approximately 500 organisations); PwC themselves have a high gender pay gap, with a 33.1% difference in women’s pay compared to men. Based on published data, the highest is Phase Eight with a 64.8% difference. Virgin Money, Ladbrokes Coral and Easy Jet have all been in the news recently as a result of their high gender pay gap.

The pressure for transparency and equal pay is growing; is your business ready for this change?

Links:

http://carriegracie.com/news.html

https://gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk/Viewing/search-results

 Contact Us

If you have any questions on gender pay gap reporting, equal pay or employment law generally please contact Angharad Ellis Owen (aellisowen@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717453) or Greg Jones (gregjones@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717446).

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Wednesday
Jan032018

Update on Gender Pay Gap Reporting

Employers with 250 or more employees have until 4 April 2018 to publish their gender pay gap reports. To date, only 502 employers (out of an estimated 9,000) have reported on their gender pay obligations.

If you require any assistance in order to comply with your obligations under Gender Pay Gap Reporting (GPGR) please get in touch with our Employment Team.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR) has launched a consultation on its proposal to use enforcement powers to take action against employers who do not comply with the requirement to publish information on their gender pay gap.

The consultation for the planned approach to enforcement will run until 2 February 2018.

In summary the ECHR’s proposal includes:

  • Encouraging overall compliance, such as posting the number of compliant and non-compliant employers on social media before and just after the compliance date.
  • Promotion of enforcement work in order to encourage other employers to comply with the GPGR.
  • Informal action and cooperation is the preferred option but formal enforcement action will be pursued where employers do not comply.
  • In 2018/19, the intention is to focus enforcement work on employers who do not publish the information required by the GPGR. If they have the capacity to do so, they may also take action against employers for publication of inaccurate data.

Further information about the proposal and responding to the consultation are available by following the link below.

https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/what-we-do/our-consultations/our-plans-enforce-gender-pay-gap-regulations-have-your-say

Contact Us

If you have any questions on employment law please contact Angharad Ellis Owen (aellisowen@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717453) or Greg Jones (gregjones@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717446). For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Friday
Dec152017

Tribunal Claims up by 64% 

The Ministry of Justice published the tribunals’ quarterly statistics on 14 December 2017. In the period of July to September 2017 the number of single claims received increased by 64% to the highest rise in the past four years. By way of comparison, the increase in claims in the previous quarter (between April and June 2017) was only 2%. This sharp increase can only be as a result of the abolition of tribunal fees on 26 July 2017.  This culture change highlights the importance for employers to follow fair procedures and make sound decisions when it comes to their employees.

Contact Us

If you have any questions on employment law please contact Angharad Ellis Owen (aellisowen@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717453) or Greg Jones (gregjones@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717446).

 For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Thursday
Dec072017

Employment status – raising the stakes!

On 29 November 2017, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered a judgment in the case of King v The Sash Window Workshop, which concluded that a worker was entitled to backdated holiday pay from the start of his appointment.  

Mr King had worked on a self-employed, commission-only contract. Upon his retirement Mr King sought to recover payment for annual leave from the start of his appointment, a total of 13 years.  

Mr King was determined to be a worker. The Court of Appeal sought a preliminary ruling from the ECJ. The ECJ found that there should be no limitation imposed on the right of workers to claim backdated holiday pay where they have been denied the right to take or be paid for annual leave.  The ECJ judgment will now be considered by the Court of Appeal. 

The ECJ observed that it was beyond Mr King’s control that he was not able to exercise his right to paid annual leave before his retirement.  This situation was distinguished from workers who have accumulated entitlement to paid annual leave due to sickness absence (which is limited to a carry-over period of 15 months). Interestingly, the ECJ commented that an employer that does not allow a worker to exercise his right to paid annual leave must bear the consequences.

This decision is going to be particularly relevant to those in the gig economy or those where their employment status has been wrongly labelled and they have been denied the ability to take holiday.

This could open the flood-gates to lengthy backdated holiday pay claims for those in the gig economy and is another blow to the likes of Uber.  The Deduction from Wages (Limitation) Regulations 2014, which limits any claim for unlawful deduction from wages (including holiday pay) to two years of back pay, is likely to be challenged in light of this ECJ ruling.

Employers who are concerned about the employment status of their workforce need to re-assess the potential exposure to the risk of lengthy backdated holiday pay claims.

Contact Us

If you have any questions on employment status or employment law generally please contact Angharad Ellis Owen (aellisowen@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717453) or Greg Jones  (gregjones@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717 446).

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.