Hot topics in the land of employment news!

Have the floodgates been opened to historic claims in this new case law?

The EAT, bless ’em, has ruled that an employee who submitted a claim 6 years late must be allowed to proceed!  Tribunal claims are subject to strict time limits, for example, if an employee wishes to claim unfair dismissal they must do so within 3 months of their employment ending. In the case of Higgins v Home Office 2015, however, the employee had only been allowed to proceed with her (unusual) case because medical evidence indicated she had not been mentally capable of bringing a tribunal claim at the appropriate time and for 6 years afterwards.

Withouth going in to all the detail, I’ll cut to the chase and you’ll be pleased to hear, it does not open the floodgates to other historic claims!

A tale about the wee crops in the farmers field…

There were recent reports about a farm worker who had been sacked on the spot after he was photographed having a wee near some crops!  A passer by caught him on camera and was so disgusted by this he sent the snap to the mangers at the farm.  The good old media later picked up on this incident, contacted the farms owner and after they issued a statement, it was revealed the worker was sacked with immediate effect.

The morale of the story is, whilst technically possible, on the spot dismissals are highly risky as the employee may be able to claim unfair dismissal, automatic unfair dismissal and/or discrimination.  Be sure to always follow a fair and reasonable disciplinary procedure.  Do remember however, an agency worker’s services can be terminated with immediate effect.

Here’s a brief round up of some proposed and forthcoming changes to employment law

  • Holiday pay arrears – from 1 July 2015 employees will no longer be able to issue unrestricted deductions from wages claims, such as for unpaid wages and holiday pay, new regulations came into force to prevent claims of arrears of holiday pay going back more than 2 years.  There’s no need for you to alert your employees to these pro-employer Regulations. Many employees won’t bother bringing unlawful deduction from wages claims at all.
  • Managing sickness absence – ‘fit for work’ service becomes available for employer referrals during Autumn 2015.
  • NMW rates increase with effect from 1 October 2015:-
    • workers aged 21 and over rates will rise to £6.70 per hour
    • the development rate for workers aged 18 – 20 will increase to £5.30 per hour
    • young workers rates for those aged 16 – 17 will rise to £3.87 per hour
    • apprentices under 19, or over 19 in first year apprenticeship increases to £3.30 per hour
  • Sikh exemption – with effect from 1 October 2015, turban-wearing Sikh workers will be exempt from having to wear a safety helmet at any workplace

If you require further details on any of the above changes or news stories, please do get in touch – Employment law is complex and trying to muddle through on your own will lead to high risk!

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