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What changes will there be to Employment Law in 2020?

What changes will there be to Employment Law in 2020?

Whether you’re an employer or employee, it’s crucial that you remain up to date on the UK’s employment law.

2020 is almost here and with the New Year comes changes. In this post, our specialist employment law solicitors explore the changes in employment law any business owner, employee or self-employed person should expect in 2020. This includes:

  • The publishing of executive pay gap reports
  • Parental bereavement provision
  • Changes to the IR35 rule
  • Introduction of the ‘Good Work Plan’
  • Termination tax changes

Executive pay gap reports set to be published

As of 1 January 2019, UK-listed companies with more than 250 UK employees were legally obliged to annually disclose the salaries of their chief executives and compare them against the average UK worker.

What information needs to be reported?

Companies need to report on the pay difference between a CEO and the full-time UK employees from the 25th, 50th (median) and 75th pay percentile. In addition, this pay gap must be justified, meaning that directors have to show what effect an increase in share price will have on executive pay and whether they are doing enough to earn their pay packets. They also have to justify any changes to the ratios compared to the previous year and whether the current median ratio is consistent with the company’s broader policies on employee rewards, pay and progression.

As this requirement applies to the financial year beginning on or after 1 January 2019, companies should start publishing their pay ratios in 2020. There isn’t a fixed deadline for all companies’ reports to be published.

Parental bereavement provision

In October 2017, the government confirmed its plans to pass a new workplace right of leave for bereaved parents. The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act entitles employees who have lost a child under the age of 18, or have suffered a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy, to two week’s unpaid leave from the start of their employment as a right. The leave is set to be paid at the statutory rate if the employee has accumulated 26 weeks’ service. This Bill is set to come into force in 2020.

Changes to the IR35 rule

From 06 April 2020, the IR35 tax rule will be extended to private sector businesses with an annual turnover of over £10.2 million or more than 50 employees. The IR35 tax rule makes sure that intermediary workers’ pay broadly the same tax and National Insurance contributions as permanent employees.

This rule may apply to you if:

  • You provide a service through an intermediary
  • You are an agency providing workers’ services
  • You are a client who receives workers’ services through an intermediary

It is the government’s aim to cut tax avoidance for off-roll payroll contractors working for personal service companies (PSC). From April 2017, it has been the discretion of public sector employees to decide whether the IR35 rule applies.

The Good Work Plan

The Good Work Plan is a commitment to a range of policy and legislative changes that work to improve workers access to fair work.

Agency workers – on the 06 April 2020, the Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 will come into full force. This will abolish a legal loophole known as the ‘Swedish derogation’ rule that allows agencies to opt-out of equalising the pay of agency staff with permanent employees.

Seasonal workers – the reference period for calculating an average’s weeks pay will be extended from 12 weeks to 52 weeks from 06 April 2020. This should improve holiday pay for seasonal workers.

Written particulars – rights to receive a written document setting out basic terms of employment and conditions will be extended to workers, as well as employees. This is intended to improve the clarity for many workers regarding their contractual agreement. Presently, employers have two months to provide written particulars; it is moving to become a day-one right.

Tax on termination payments

On 06 April 2020, a measure comes into force that aligns the rules for tax and employer National Insurance contributions (NICs). According to CIPD, any part of a termination payment above £30,000 will be subject to employer NICs. The £30,000 threshold guarantees that no statutory redundancy pay on its own will be affected.

Talk to an employment law expert

As an employer, understanding employment law is crucial to your business’ success and retaining employees. We can give you impartial legal advice on any of the following issues:

  • Contracts of employment
  • Employee handbooks and policies
  • Defending employment tribunal claims pursued by employees, i.e. unfair dismissal and discrimination
  • Advice on redundancy procedures
  • Disciplinary and grievance issues
  • Dismissing or disciplining an employee
  • Drafting and dealing with settlement agreements
  • Variation of contract terms
  • Discrimination
  • Business transfers (TUPE)
  • Breach of restrictions by an employee

Our expert employment law advice applies to employees as well as employers. If you are an employee and you want to know what you are entitled to, contact the specialist employment solicitors for employees at Foys Solicitors. We will help you understand your rights as an employer and how they are going to change in 2020.

To find out more, get in touch by filling out our Online Form, or contact your local office for a free initial consultation.

Alternatively, you can email us at enquiries@foys.co.uk.

If you found this useful, take a look at:

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Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

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Concerned businesspeople argue with colleague or client dissatisfied with contract terms

Bonus payment disputes: arguing rights and discretion

Bonus payment disputes: arguing rights and discretion

Bonus payments are a welcome boost for many employees, but sometimes, employers take away bonuses for their own unexplained reasons. Despite what many think, you do have some rights when it comes to bonuses, and the Foys employment law team are here to explain some of them.

A bonus payment is a form of compensation that is over and beyond the amount specified as base salary. Some companies may include bonuses as part of their work package or contract, and some may offer them on a random basis to those they may wish to thank or reward for good work.

The two types of bonuses an employee can receive

The first thing to understand is that there are two different types of bonus payments: contractual and discretionary. These are broad definitions, and bonuses can often be a mix of the two.

  • Contractual – Your contract will define these bonuses. An employer must make this payment if the employee meets certain criteria laid out in the contract. For example, if an employer lays out clear performance targets and you meet them, you will be entitled to your bonus.
  • Discretionary – These bonuses are controlled by your employer. They decide who will be paid and when and why it will be paid out, as well as the amount that is to be paid.

Generally, there are very few disputes concerning contractual bonuses; this is because they are laid out in writing and end with the written promise.

However, discretionary bonuses can cause far more problems. This is because they are ultimately down to the will of the employer, and not backed up by any form of written agreement. However, that does not mean to say that they have full control, as some court cases have proven.

The laws governing discretionary bonuses

For starters, discretionary bonuses though strictly oral and usually not written down, are fully binding once declared. Many points of contention between employer and employee occur when an employer unfairly exercises their discretion and reduces or terminates a bonus. There are a few key factors that come into play when deciding whether you have a case, if you feel that you have lost your bonus unfairly.

Discretion – Discretion must be exercised rationally – an employer cannot legally remove a bonus if it can be proven that the employee had earned it. In the case of Clark versus Nomura International plc, Mr Clark wasn’t granted his performance-based bonus because he was dismissed for misconduct, despite having earned the company almost £6 million in profit. This was found to be an irrational and perverse exercise of contractual discretion.

Discrimination – Bonus disputes can also come about as a result of discrimination. If your employer is withholding payment due to your race, gender or other physical factors, then you are entitled to fight them for it. In the case of Land Registry versus Houghton and others, Ms Houghton and four of her colleagues didn’t receive bonuses due to excessive absence, which was a result of their individual disabilities. This was found to be discriminatory and unjustified, even though the bonus was discretionary in the first place.

Bonus clauses – In the case of Farrell Matthews & Weir versus Hansen, Ms Hansen left her job shortly after her bonus was declared, and the company refused to pay as a result. The court found this to be an unlawful deduction from wages, and she received her bonus.

It must be noted that while these cases set precedence, the law surrounding discretionary bonuses remains in a grey area. Many of these decisions came after lengthy court battles.

Are you missing your bonus?

If you’ve had your bonus removed unfairly, then you may be eligible for a claim to get it back. Get in touch with the team at Foys Solicitors – we have experience in all aspects of employment law, and we can advise you on whether you have a case or not. And even if you think you don’t, there’s no harm in checking with our free initial consultation.

To find out more about whether you have a case, fill out our Online Form, or get in touch with our employment law solicitors at your local office.

Retford – 01777 703 100
Worksop – 01909 500 511
Doncaster – 01302 327 136
Clowne – 01246 810 050
Rotherham – 01709 375 561
Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

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Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

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Office Christmas Party

The office Christmas party: Employer responsibilities

The office Christmas party: Employer responsibilities

The office Christmas party is the highlight of the year. Your employees are busy planning and getting excited about the festivities, but do you know what responsibility you have as an employer?

At this time of year, your calendar quickly fills up with invites to festive dinners, cocktail parties and corporate Christmas events. As an employer, you may be organising your own function and planning a night of fun for your employees. However, you may have many questions – how much control do you have over your employees? Are you responsible for their actions outside of work hours? Should you even try to get them in on time the morning after?

These are all questions that surprisingly have a legal basis, which is why the employment law team at Foys Solicitors have put together a handy guide on where you stand and what you should do to prepare for the big night.

Employer obligations

The first thing to remember is that as an employer, you have a duty of care towards your staff. Under the Equality Act 2010, you are liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation committed by your employees. In other words, you are responsible for ensuring that they behave appropriately, even outside normal working hours.

Any social event organised by the employer is, in essence, an ‘extension of the workplace’. Without proper planning, attention to detail and legitimate workplace policy, your party can quickly turn into an HR nightmare. So, before you pop the champagne, you must be prepared and aware of any employment issues that could arise as an unwanted Christmas surprise.

Workplace policy

Office parties are legally considered to be work, even if they are held outside of office hours and away from your base of operations. As such, your responsibilities as an employer still hold. Any actions conducted under what is legally defined as ‘the course of employment’ are what you should be keeping your eye on.

The best way to manage this is to ensure that your workplace policy is clearly visible and seen by all staff prior to and during the event. An email highlighting expected behaviour before the big night probably wouldn’t go amiss either. A gentle reminder of the rules is often more than enough to keep staff from behaving too wildly, with the added benefit of showing them clear boundaries, where they can still have fun. You can emphasise any unacceptable behaviours, such as:

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol and drunkenness
  • Drug-use
  • Any discrimination or harassment
  • Violence, verbal abuse and inappropriate language

Making sure all managers are aware of the workplace policy will also help maintain rules of conduct and minimise any inappropriate conduct. You can designate a member of staff to be on the lookout for such behaviour on the night.

Alcohol

Although Christmas is the perfect time to let your hair down and celebrate the successes of the year, businesses should be aware that office parties can often go awry due to excessive alcohol consumption and high emotions. A lot of Christmas parties offer free, unlimited drinks, which can encourage excessive drinking and result in an employee doing something they will regret later.

If you plan on having a free bar, consider limiting the number of drinks staff can order before needing to purchase them. Giving out a set number of free drinks tokens can set a ‘soft’ limit, encouraging them to stop before they become too intoxicated. You can also appoint someone who isn’t drinking to be a ‘defuser’ of escalating and potentially inflammatory situations.

Finally, make sure you include snacks and entertainment around the room – with nothing else to do, attendees will naturally gravitate towards the bar. Having other options can reduce the amount they drink.

In addition, you are responsible for the health and safety of your employees, including any making sure they get home without incident. If there are difficulties getting there and back, organise taxis or have phone numbers readily available – ensure that there are alternative options for those who are too drunk to drive. Don’t forget that they need to be in work the next day, perhaps not entirely free of hangovers but well enough to work. Planning ahead is vital.

Be considerate to your guests

A Christmas party should be suitable for everyone and taking into account the special needs of your staff is of paramount importance. Your aim is to get all of your invited employees to come and enjoy themselves, and for that to happen, you cannot afford to miss out on any requirements that would otherwise hinder their enjoyment.

Dietary requirements are one of the most important things to think about. Fortunately, most of the foods prohibited for religious reasons are meats or animal products like eggs, so it’s important to include vegetarian and vegan options for your guests. Similarly, make sure there are non-alcoholic beverage options for those who do not drink alcohol. This option will also encourage staff to remain sober.

Make sure that the venue is suitable for employees with disabilities. Accessibility is a top priority when considering staff who use a wheelchair or need assistance getting to the venue. Failure to consider these factors may limit who can attend and cause potential claims of discrimination. At Christmas, it is important that you consider everyone’s needs.

If you are allowing employees to bring their partners, you cannot discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or marital status; invitations must be open to all. In addition, remember that Christmas is a Christian holiday and as such, some may choose not to observe or celebrate it due to their religious beliefs. This is a normal part of the holiday season, and many may choose to celebrate their holidays separately.

What if things go wrong?

If the worst comes to worst, and you need to talk with an employee about misconduct, contact our employment law team at Foys before you have the discussion. We can advise you on how best to proceed and help you to solve the issue as efficiently as possible. Our mediation services can also assist with resolving the issue out of court, far away from any expensive legal fees.

To find out more about how we can keep you partying the right way, fill out our Online Form or get in touch with your local office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

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Two businessmen shaking hands

Employment solicitors for employers

Employment solicitors for employers

With the assistance of our employment law solicitors, advisors and experts, business owners can rely on us for sound legal support and advice regarding employment and employee-related issues.

As an employer, you must be mindful of your employees’ rights, your responsibilities to your employees, and how best to manage them. It is also in your best interests to know how you can protect yourself if necessary.

At Foys, our employment law solicitors can help employers with all of the above. Our drive for advising employers in employment law led us to update our ‘Employment Law for Employers’ page with up-to-date information about our services.

On this page, we explain the areas of employment law that we cover, including:

  • Contracts of employment
  • Employee handbooks and policies
  • Defending employment tribunal claims pursued by employees (i.e. unfair dismissal and discrimination)
  • Advice on redundancy procedures
  • Disciplinary and grievance issues
  • Dismissing or disciplining an employee
  • Drafting and dealing with settlement agreements
  • Variation of contract terms
  • Discrimination
  • Business Transfers (TUPE)
  • Breach of restrictions by employees

Contact Foys Solicitors for employment law advice today

For a free initial consultation or more information on our employment law services, give us a call on 01302 327136. Alternatively, you can email us at enquiries@foys.co.uk or complete our Contact Form.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below


Employment law for employees

Employment solicitors for employees

Employment solicitors for employees

You can rely on our employment experts for employees for advice and support in protecting your career and employment rights.

We believe that every employee should have the ability to protect their employment rights and safeguard their career. That’s why we provide employees in need with reliable and sound legal advice regarding employment law.

To ensure that we provide our customers with reliable information on how we can help, we’ve updated our ‘Employment Law for Employees’ page.

On this page, you will find out how we can assist with:

  • Unfair or constructive dismissals
  • Discrimination
  • Redundancy
  • Settlement agreement
  • Change of contractual terms
  • Disciplinary and grievance hearings
  • Breaches of contract
  • Bullying and harassment at work
  • Retirement

Contact Foys Solicitors for employment law advice for employees

For a free initial consultation and a discussion on how our employment law services can help you, call us on 01302 327 136 today. Alternatively, you can fill out our Contact Form or email us at enquiries@foys.co.uk.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below


Workplace stress - can you take sick leave?

Dealing with workplace stress – Can you take sick leave?

Dealing with workplace stress – Can you take sick leave?

Labour force surveys in 2018 showed that 595,000 workers in the UK suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

If you think that you may be experiencing workplace stress, hear what the employment solicitors at Foys have to say on what your rights are, and what steps you can take with regard to your employer.

What is workplace stress?

While every job comes with some level of pressure, workplace stress is any type of harmful reaction people experience from excessive demands placed on them at work. It can cause mental and physical problems like anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue or insomnia. When employees try to relieve the stress with alcohol, cigarettes, tranquillisers or other drugs, more serious health issues may arise. They may suffer ailments like heart disease or ulcers if the stress persists. Some factors that can trigger workplace stress include:

  • long hours and shift work;
  • lack of control or insecurity;
  • lack of job satisfaction, boredom or isolation;
  • hostile superiors or colleagues;
  • poor working environment such as noise, overcrowding and poor facilities;
  • low pay.

What are your employer’s responsibilities in regard to work stress?

While there is no specific law addressing workplace stress, employers are responsible for the general safety and well-being of their employees at the workplace under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 Act as well as under common law. This means that they have an obligation to:

  • identify foreseeable risks to the employee’s health;
  • prevent harm to their health that can be predictably caused by work;
  • consider any physical or mental disability that has a substantial or long-term effect on the employee’s ability to work.

All these legal obligations should cover an employee’s workplace stress problems, but you will need to bring your situation to the attention to your employer as soon as possible. Unless it is obvious, you should not assume that your employer is aware of your difficulties, and this may weaken any claim you may make against them in the future.

Steps you can take to address workplace stress

  • Speak to HR or a line manager. Do keep written or electronic records of your requests, even though you are at an informal stage. This will count towards evidence that you have brought your problem to the employer’s attention.
  • Seek clarification on your exact roles and responsibilities. This will help ascertain whether you are working in excess of the scope that your position calls for.
  • Ask for training or support for your overload at work.
  • See if new channels of communication or reporting structure can be set up. Regular work meetings may help here.
  • Failing all the above, file a formal grievance in accordance to the organisation’s HR policy.
  • Request a flexible working arrangement if this will alleviate your stress at work.

Your rights and remedies under the law:

  • Sick leave – If work stress is negatively affecting your health, you may want to visit a General Practitioner (GP) to apply for sick leave. You are legally entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for a period of up to 28 weeks from your employer.
  • Personal injury claim – If you can demonstrate that you have suffered a recognised psychiatric illness such as clinical depression, as a result of work stress alone, you may bring a personal injury claim against your employer for failing in its duty of care to provide a safe work environment.
    In the event that you resign from your job as a consequence of workplace stress, you may bring a claim of ‘constructive dismissal’ where the employer was in breach of the terms of contract to provide a safe workplace.
  • Non-work related stress – If the source of your stress comes from outside the workplace, such as relationship problems, bereavement or physical disability, you should notify HR or your line manager. If the stress is serious enough to classify as a “disability”, you may qualify for protection under the Equality Act 2010, where the employer must make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to accommodate your condition.

Foys can help with employment law

If workplace stress takes a heavy toll on your well-being, you may choose to agree on a mutual termination of your employment on suitable financial terms with your employer. It is recommended that you seek professional advice from a qualified employment solicitor such as Foys before taking this step, as you are very likely to be asked to sign a settlement agreement setting out the full terms binding the two parties.

To find out how we can help you, fill out our Online Form – or call your local Foys Solicitors office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

This post is not legal advice and should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. It is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below


Parents on shared parental leave

Employment Law - Statutory shared parental leave

Employment Law - Statutory shared parental leave

Traditionally, only a mother who has given birth has the option to take paid time off work to look after a newborn.

But with Shared Parental Leave (SPL), eligible parents of all newborns and adopted children born or adopted on or after 5 April 2015 can spend quality time with their child in those exciting first few months. Our employment solicitors explain exactly how shared parental leave works.

Understanding shared parental leave

Shared parental leave allows a second person (a married partner, a civil partner or partner to the mother) to share 50 weeks of additional leave, which would have otherwise only be used by the mother as maternity leave.

It is worth mentioning that shared parental leave does not change the existing maternity and paternity leave. For example, it does not replace the two weeks of leave that a mother who has given birth receives following the birth of her child (four weeks for factory workers). It also does not change the one or two weeks’ paid paternity leave. However, it does replace ‘additional’ maternity and paternity leave.

The 50 weeks of shared parental leave – of which 37 weeks is paid – are only applicable to parents who meet the eligibility criteria, and can only be used during the first year of the child’s birth or adoption.

Why does shared parental leave matter?

The law reflects the modern roles of women and mothers, allowing them the choice to return to their careers earlier if they want to, giving the new dads a greater share of childcare. It is designed to let two people ‘take turns’ in looking after a newborn, or helping an adopted child adapt to the new surroundings and familial structure.

At present, the UK government is trying to raise awareness of shared parental leave, as current statistics show that less than 10,000 parents used the scheme in the last tax year. Experts argue that the low uptake is indicative of the gender pay gap. This may be due to many families relying on the higher income of men, which would likely lead to a significant reduction in household income if shared parental leave was used – thus making it an unappealing option when compared to maternity leave.

How it works

The parents are able to split up the 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between each other in a flexible manner.

For example, a mother may want to return to work after 16 weeks of maternity leave (equating to two mandatory weeks + 14 additional weeks). This would leave 36 weeks of leave which can be shared between the mother and her spouse/partner.

This flexibility allows, for example, the mother to return to work if there is a busy period expected in her workplace without having to worry about the care of the child during that period.

It is worth noting that not all leave has to be taken in one block. Rather, parents can book up to three blocks of leave during the child’s first year – but they must give employers at least eight weeks’ notice before any block of leave to ensure that the request is not rejected.

Eligibility

This is where things can get a bit complicated as there is different criteria for birth parents and adoptive parents.

For birth parents, this gov.uk page lists three scenarios: both parents want to share the SPL and ShPP (Statutory Shared Parental Pay), the mother wants to take the SPL and ShPP, or the mother’s partner/spouse wants to take the SPL and ShPP.

For adoptive parents, they must show that they share responsibility for the child and meet the work and earnings criteria as listed on this gov.uk page.

Self-employed fathers aren’t eligible for shared parental leave. However, a self-employed mother who qualifies for maternity allowance (up to £140.98 a week for 39 weeks) can use the maternity allowance or exchange it for shared parental leave and pay for her employed spouse/partner.

Can your employer refuse your request for shared parental leave?

If you are a new parent and plans to take shared parental leave, you must give your employer eight weeks’ notice. If an employee requests leave for one continuous block or period of time, the employer cannot dispute or deny this – even if that period happens during an inconvenient time for the employer.

However, if an employee requests their leave in multiple blocks (examples: one week in May, two weeks in June and one week in August), the employer can refuse the request and suggest dates that are more suited.

If you feel that you have faced shared parental leave discrimination or have been unfairly dismissed due to shared parental leave, use our free initial consultation to talk to us about your situation today.

Returning to employment after shared parental leave

As an employee, you have the right to return to the job that you have left, although it doesn’t mean that role remains the same. In your absence, the company may make some changes to your role and you may return to a new set of responsibilities.

Contact Foys today

At Foys, our team of employment solicitors have helped many employees with their employment rights throughout South Yorkshire.

Get in touch using our Online Form – or call your local Foys Solicitors office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

If you liked this, you might also like:

This post is not legal advice and should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. It is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below


Employment Law book-tribunal in background

What changes will there be to Employment Law in 2019?

What changes will there be to Employment Law in 2019?

2019 is here and with the New Year comes changes.

In this post about changes to employment law, the employment law solicitors at Foys explain a number of topics and developments in 2019, including:

  • The introduction of executive pay gap reporting
  • Brexit and EU Settlement Scheme
  • The increase in the national minimum wage
  • Payslip changes

Executive pay gap reporting

As of 1 January 2019, UK-listed companies with more than 250 UK employees will be legally obliged to disclose the salaries of their chief executives and compare them against the average UK worker. To be precise, they must report on the pay difference between a CEO and the full-time UK employees from the 25th, 50th and 75th pay percentile. In addition, this pay gap will have to be justified, meaning that directors will have to show what effect an increase in share price will have on executive pay and whether they are doing enough to earn their pay packets. As this requirement applies to financial year beginning on or after 1 January 2019, meaning companies will start publishing the pay ratios in 2020.

Brexit and EU settlement scheme

The official exit date for the UK from the EU is 29 March 2019. Although the current plan involves having a transition period of 21 months, the UK government has published the EU Settlement Scheme where EU citizens and their families will need to apply for their settled status in the UK before 30 June 2021. To be eligible for settled status, proof of continuous residence is key – one will need to prove that one has lived in the UK for at least six months in any 12-month period over a total of five years.

If your EU employees have lived and worked in the UK for less than five years, they can apply for pre-settled status first, then apply to change their status after reaching five years.

Minimum wage

The national minimum living wage will increase, with the following being the official values from the 2018 budget:

  • Workers aged 25 and over – £8.21 an hour (National Living Wage)
  • Workers aged 21-24 – £7.70 an hour
  • Development rate for workers aged 18-20 – £6.15 an hour
  • Young workers rate for workers aged 16-17 – £4.35 an hour
  • Apprentice rate (workers under 19 or in the first year of apprenticeship) – £3.90 an hour.

These will come into effect on 1 April 2019.

Payslip changes

On 6 April 2019, two major changes will come into effect for employee payslips. The first is a change to the information they display: they must now show the total hours worked in cases where the pay varies according to the hours worked, like for variable-hour or zero-hour contracts. Secondly, all workers must receive payslips, including contractors and freelancers rather than just employees. The aim is to make wages more understandable and easier to challenge, especially in the case of zero-hour contracts.

Talk to an employment law expert

As an employer, understanding employment law is crucial to your business’ success and retaining employees. We can give you impartial legal advice on any of the following issues:

  • Contracts of employment
  • Employee handbooks and policies
  • Defending employment tribunal claims pursued by employees, i.e. unfair dismissal and discrimination
  • Advice on redundancy procedures
  • Disciplinary and grievance issues
  • Dismissing or disciplining an employee
  • Drafting and dealing with settlement agreements
  • Variation of contract terms
  • Discrimination
  • Business transfers (TUPE)
  • Breach of restrictions by an employee

Our expert employment law advice applies to employees as well as employers. If you are an employee and you want to know what you are entitled to, contact the specialist employment solicitors for employees at Foys. We can help you understand what your rights are, and how they are going to change in 2019.

To find out more, get in touch by filling out our Online Form, or contact your local office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below


Colleagues wearing Christmas hats and clinking champagne glasses

The office Christmas party: Employer responsibilities

The office Christmas party: Employer responsibilities

The end of the year is fast approaching, and your employees are planning the ever-present Christmas party.

How much control do you hold over what they do? Are you responsible for their actions outside of work hours? Should you even try to get them in on time the morning after? These are all questions that surprisingly enough have a legal basis, which is why the employment law team at Foys Solicitors can show you exactly where you stand and what you should do.

How does the workplace policy apply?

The first thing to remember is that as an employer, you have a duty of care towards your staff. Under the Equality Act 2010, you are liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation committed by your employees. This means that you are responsible for ensuring that they behave appropriately. Office parties are legally considered to be work, even if they are held outside of office hours and far away from your base of operations, and as such, your responsibilities as an employer still hold. Any actions conducted under what is legally defined as ‘the course of employment’ are what you should be keeping your eye on.

The best way to manage this is to ensure that your workplace policy is clearly visible and seen by all staff and to bring attention to the policy before the party. A gentle reminder of the rules is often enough to keep staff from behaving too inappropriately and reminds them of the boundaries lay between having fun and crossing the line.

Take responsibility for alcohol intake

Having a member of staff make unwise and possibly dangerous decisions while intoxicated is often a significant cause for concern for an office party planner, especially the employer. As the employer, you are responsible for the health and safety of your employees, including any accidents that may occur from any alcohol-induced behaviour.

If you plan on having a bar, consider limiting the number of drinks staff can order. One thing you can do is establish a rule that says the first two drinks are free and any additional will need to be bought. You can also appoint someone who isn’t drinking to be a ‘defuser’ of escalating and potentially dangerous situations.

Regarding driving under the influence, ensure that there are alternative options for those who are too drunk to drive home. Finally, make sure you also include snacks and entertainment around the room – with nothing else to do, attendees will naturally gravitate towards the bar. Having other options to divert their attention can reduce the amount they drink.

Be considerate to your guests

A Christmas party should be suitable for everyone, and taking into account the preferences of your staff is of paramount importance. Your aim is to get all of your invited employees to come and enjoy themselves, and for that to happen, you cannot afford to miss out any requirements that would otherwise hinder their enjoyment.

Dietary requirements are one of the most important things to think about. Most of the foods prohibited for religious reasons are meats or animal products like eggs, so it’s important to include vegetarian and vegan options for your guests. Similarly, make sure there are non-alcoholic beverage options for those who do not drink alcohol.

If you are allowing employees to bring their partners, you cannot discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or marital status; invitations must be open to all. In addition, remember that Christmas is a Christian holiday and as such, some may choose not to observe or celebrate it due to their religious beliefs. It is not acceptable to force someone to attend if they do not wish to for religious reasons, and you cannot legally do so.

What if things go wrong?

If the worst comes to worst, and you need to talk with an employee about misconduct, contact our employment law team at Foys before you have the discussion. We can advise you on how best to proceed, and help you to solve the issue as efficiently as possible. Our mediation services can also assist with resolving the issue out of court, far away from any expensive legal fees.

To find out more about how we can keep you partying the right way, fill out our Online Form or get in touch with your local office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

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Employer reading a reference

Is it legal for employers to give a bad reference?

Is it legal for employers to give a bad reference?

References can make or break an employment opportunity. A good reference can get you into otherwise unattainable positions, but a bad one can seriously hinder your career. But is it legal for an employer to be able to affect your future in this way? The employment law solicitors at Foys Solicitors discuss what you need to know.

The laws behind references

There are relatively few laws regarding the references themselves, considering the impact they can have. Generally, an employer is not obligated to provide information about a former employee’s performance, whether it is good or bad. The exception to this is if the work is in a regulated industry such as financial services, which requires a reference by law.

If your employer does give you a reference, then it must be a fair and accurate representation of your work. As bad references can be detrimental to a career, there is the option of claiming for damages if you believe that your reference is misleading or inaccurate. However, there are several different claims you can make.

Defamation

Defamation is one of the most common claims made in regards to job references, and also one of the most misunderstood. The definition, in a legal sense, amounts to an untrue statement designed to harm the reputation of the target.

Defence against defamation hinges on whether the information was knowingly incorrect and whether or not it was provided with malice, but not necessarily on the actual validity of the information. Defamation is a surprisingly complex law, and before attempting to pursue a defamation case, you should contact our employment solicitors for sound legal advice and to ensure that your claim is worth taking further.

Unfair dismissal

There are cases where employees have been sacked or otherwise made redundant because their employers have been asked for a reference. Usually, this is a sign of the employee leaving for another job, prompting the employers to take the initiative. However, this can amount to unfair dismissal.

There are strict time limits on pursuing these types of claims, and every communication between you and your employer will be taken into account. Therefore, it’s important to start on the right foot by getting in touch with our unfair dismissal solicitors. We’ll help you pursue this case effectively and efficiently.

Negligence

This is based on the fact that your previous employer has failed to take the proper care required to ensure that the reference is written correctly and the information is accurate. If you can prove that this is true and that it has caused damage to your future career as a result, then you have the basis for a negligence claim.

Negligence claims revolve around whether the employer can prove that they have made an effort to ensure that the information is correct. Proving that the reference is false will not necessarily win you the case if the employer demonstrates that they have taken sufficient measures to attempt to keep it truthful.

Call Foys today

Our solicitors are specialists in this field, which is perfect when you consider the complexity of the employment laws you’ll be forced to deal with. We also deal with business employment law, giving us a complete understanding of both sides of the case.

To find out more about how our employment solicitors, fill out our Online Form – or call your local Foys Solicitors office:

  • Doncaster – 01302 327 136
  • Retford – 01777 703 100
  • Worksop – 01909 500 511
  • Clowne – 01246 810 050
  • Rotherham – 01709 375 561
  • Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
  • Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

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Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

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