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The Latest Brief - Week Ending 4 December 2015

Frozen

No, it’s not about Elsa and Anna, but rather frozen rates! The Government is proposing no increase to the rates for flat rate Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay and Statutory Shared Parental Leave Pay, so that they all stay at £139.58 a week for the year 2016-2017. Statutory Sick Pay is also to stay at £88.45. All of these payments rely upon the employee earning over £112 a week. The reason for the lack of increase is due to the fall of 0.1% in the consumer price index in the year to September 2015.

 

An Employment Tribunal has found that the dismissal by London Zoo of one of its zoo-keepers for fighting another zoo-keeper at a Christmas party was unfair. The altercation arose when the meerkat handler fought with a monkey specialist over their love for a llama keeper! The Tribunal found the dismissal was unfair due to the difference in sanctions given to the zoo-keepers involved in the fight and their reasoning for this. However, it awarded her no compensation.

 

This case highlights the type of issues which can arise at Christmas parties, when food and drink are flowing. Without sounding like a party pooper, it is always worth reminding staff that reasonable standards of behaviour are expected at Christmas parties/ work socials. As these events are likely to be classed as an extension of the workplace, an employer may be held liable for discriminatory acts of its employees.

 

Sweetest job in the world….

 

Mackies, the Scottish chocolate manufacturer is "on the hunt to find Mackie’s first ever Chief Chocolate Taster! it’s the #sweetestjob in the world!" If you’re thinking that would be right up your street, you’d better know that the salary is "paid in…chocolate, a steady stream of Mackie’s chocolate to taste and test, with extra supplies to share with friends and an allowance to buy other chocolates". Perhaps, I won’t move North of the Border.

 

Christmas party mayhem

Latest Brief - Week Ending 23 October 2015

Are we back to where we started in whistleblowing cases?

It used to be possible for employees to raise concerns about their own terms and conditions of employment and then rely upon this as a protected disclosure to bring a claim for whistleblowing.  However, we all thought that this type of claim had been closed off by virtue of the amendments to the whistleblowing legislation which meant that in order to gain protection, the disclosures had to be in the public interest.  

There have been 2 recent cases which seem to open up these types of claim once again.  The first case, Chesterton Global Ltd v Nurmohamed UKEAT/0335/14 considered the meaning of "public interest" in the amended legislation and found that it was not necessary for the disclosure to be of interest to the public as a whole, as it was inevitable that only a section of the public would be directly affected by any such disclosure. In this case, 100 senior managers were sufficient to satisfy the public interest test.

The later case of Underwood v Wincanton plc UKEAT/0163/15 has gone even further to hold that a dispute between an employer and a group of only four employees, was capable of being a protected disclosure!   

 

Chersterton is being appealed to the Court of Appeal but won’t be heard until October next year.  It is therefore extremely likely that we will have more cases on this issue. Watch this space……