Keeping you up to date …

A brief overview of the latest news from Kiss HR

NEWS, SICKNESS ABSENCE – hurrah, employer friendly ruling from the EAT – malingerers beware, the EAT has just made it easier for you to be dismissed, but don’t get too excited! In March the EAT handed down its ruling in Metroline West (M) v Ajaj (A) 2015.

(A) reported he had slipped on water in the toilets at work and suffered an injury.  Although he was signed off sick, (M) grew concerned about (A’s) alleged injuries and arranged for covert surveillance when (A) attended one of its sites for a sickness absence interview.

There appeared, from the footage, to be inconsistencies between (A’s) mobility and his sickness claims. The upshot is, (A) was dismissed and claimed unfair dismissal.

(A) won at the tribunal, (M) appealed to the EAT and ruled in (Ms) favour! The EAT concluded that when an employee claims to be unable to attend work due to sickness, yet they are not actually ill or not as sick as they claim to be, their actions amount to dishonesty.

However, never jump to conclusions. You must be able to show that the employee has, in all likelihood, made a dishonest representation about their condition and inability to work. This could be via medical evidence, social media posts or a direct admission. Do tread carefully all the same.

NEWS, FLEXIBLE WORKING – awarded £11,000 for refusing flexible working? Or did the media give the wrong impression? When the tribunal awarded a female police officer just over £11,000 media reports gave the impression that this was because her flexible working request was denied. Are you surprised that wasn’t the real story?

Hayley Burden (B) was given a promotion by Hampshire Constabulary (HC) but that meant relocating to a different police station – which was over an hour’s drive away from B’s home, and this posed a problem. In her new role B was expected to start work at 7am meaning she would have to leave her house by 5.30am.  At that time of day B had nobody to look after her two small children and she advised her bosses of this; so to enable her to provide childcare she requested flexible working in her new role.  This was refused by HC and B felt she had no option but to turn down the promotion.

However, B didn’t leave things there and she lodged a tribunal claim and was awarded £11,621 for injury to feelings, aggravated damages, loss of earnings and loss of pension. The media reports however suggested that this amount was awarded purely because B was denied flexible working – but this isn’t true.

Whilst the full facts aren’t clear, HC made a much bigger mistake; through its actions it prevented B from taking up a promotion specifically because she had children and this was deemed to be indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of sex and that’s what B was actually awarded compensation for.

Never make the terms of a promotion inflexible, e.g. full-time only, unless you can prove why this is necessary.

NEWS, TIME OFF – a right to paid menstrual leave? In March 2016, there were some interesting reports about Coexist, a Bristol based company, who it is believed to be the first employer in the UK to introduce a “period policy” that gives all of its female employees paid menstrual leave if and when they need it! On the back of this, the Government has been asked to follow this company’s lead by making paid menstrual leave a statutory right for women.

Whilst many female MPs support the concept, the Government is reluctant to introduce any new paid statutory rights.  Even if it’s persuaded to bring in paid menstrual leave, take up would probably be low purely because they wouldn’t want their employer to have knowledge of such personal matters. I wouldn’t worry about this one just yet but if anything changes I’ll let you know!

PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT – to tackle the serious health problems causes by prolonged periods of sitting, employers are being urged to participate in “On your feet Britain”.  It’s been dubbed as a ‘silent killer’ since research has revealed that prolonged periods of sitting can have serious health implications for employees. If you missed the date this year, here’s a link to what it’s all about

It’s difficult to see why you shouldn’t remind staff about the health risks associated with prolonged periods of sitting and encourage them to take regular standing breaks, but you can’t force employees to do so.  However, those who are unwilling may be interested if they see Get Britain Standing’s online sitting hours calculator – a sobering thought when you see your total daily sitting hours and the risks it brings with it!

The benefits for you are lower sickness absence levels and increased productivity. So come on Britain – get on your feet!

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