the latest briefs.....

Check here for the very latest news on all employment issues…

Latest Brief – Week Ending 28 August 2015 

Employee? No thanks, you’re too expensive!

The Citizens Advice Bureau has published a report which investigates workers who have been told they are self-employed when they should really be classed as employees.

According to their report, of the 500 CAB clients surveyed, the CAB suspected that one in ten were falsely labelled as self-employed, taking into account the legal definition of an “employee”. If scaled up, they say this could translate into as many as 460,000 people nationwide.

The report estimates that these people could be losing on average £1,288 a year in holiday pay, as well as being denied benefits such as company sick pay and pension contributions. Of course employers also pay employer National Insurance contributions for employees, which some seek to avoid by making those who “work” for them class themselves as self-employed.

It’s not all bad news though, 75% of CAB clients who are self-employed are happy with their status and do not wish to challenge it but apparently there is a steady increase of clients seeking advice from the CAB about their ‘employment’ (or not) status.

235,000 more people aged between 50 and 64 in work than there were a year ago

New figures have been released by the government showing that there are 235,000 more people aged between 50 and 64 in work this year than there were a year ago. The figures show that the number of people in this age group who are employed rose by 50,000 during the last quarter and that there are now more than 8.2 million people aged between 50 and 64 now in work.

The report says that the government is committed to changing perceptions of older workers amongst employers and promoting the business benefits of maintaining an age-diverse workforce.

Reasons for these statistics are likely to include the abolition of the default retirement age, the extension of the right to request flexible working and the ageing population in Britain.

Latest Brief - Week Ending 21 August 2015

No English, no job!

Consultation is underway concerning new legislation and a new code of practice which will make it a legal requirement for all public sector employees who work in a customer facing role to speak fluent English. This will include social workers, police officers, teaching staff and assistants, Jobcentre Plus workers and local government employees. 

The legislation is due to be introduced in September this year and the requirement, subject to the nature of the role and the profession of the employee, will be an ability to communicate effectively in English at an equivalent of a grade C at GCSE.

Saved by the Appeal Hearing

A recent EAT case (Biggin Hill Airport v Derwich) has served as a helpful reminder that a procedural defect in an earlier disciplinary hearing (which could make a dismissal unfair) can be remedied at the appeal stage.

In this case, the employee had been dismissed for gross misconduct but had not been sent copies of all of the witness evidence in advance of the hearing. She had not therefore had an opportunity to prepare her case and did not know the case against her. However, she had appealed against her dismissal and in advance of the appeal hearing, she had been sent all of the relevant evidence 6 days before the appeal hearing took place. 

The EAT allowed the employer’s appeal against the finding of unfair dismissal. The case is to be reheard by a further Employment Tribunal. However, what was emphasised by the EAT decision was that the reasonableness of the dismissal had to take into account the whole disciplinary procedure i.e. the disciplinary hearing and the appeal combined. This means that a procedural defect in the disciplinary hearing can be put right at the appeal hearing and it is important for those hearing appeals to look out for any procedural defects from the disciplinary process which they might be able to rectify at the appeal stage.

Scottish Female Solicitors paid less than Male Colleagues

According to an article in the Guardian, research has been carried out by the Law Society in Scotland concerning the pay gap between female and male solicitors in Scotland. Apparently the research has shown that female solicitors earn 42% less than their male colleagues.

In the early stages of their careers, the research showed that the difference in pay was minimal. However, as female solicitors reach the age of 36, they are paid an average of £18,000 less than their male counterparts. The biggest pay gap appears to occur when solicitors have between 16 and 20 years’ experience and it then narrows again after 20 years.

Interestingly the research showed that women were earning less on average whether or not they had taken career breaks to have children. The findings showed that women tended to remain associates or assistants, rather than being promoted to partners where the pay rise would occur.