Supporting Staff During Ramadan – Avoiding Discrimination

All staff have the right not to be discriminated against because of a protected characteristic. Religious beliefs are one of the nine protected characteristics recognised in Employment Law under the Equality Act.

An employer could find themselves facing an Employment Tribunal claim if they are seen to have discriminated against a member of staff.  Religious discrimination is the unfair or unfavourable treatment of a person because of their religious beliefs. This can include policies or practices.

To help to avoid discrimination employers can have policies or Equal Opportunities, Bullying Harassment and clear Grievance procedures.

Ramadan is a religious period observed by many Muslims. This year, Ramadan began on 5th May and ends on 4th June.

Ramadan happens every year, in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During this 29 or 30 day continuous period, Muslims will not eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset (known as fasting).

Ramadan is seen as one of the five pillars of Islam. Most Muslims (there are exceptions for the young, the elderly and the sick) will fast between sunrise and sunset and will also partake in prayer, reflection and charity work.

For the majority of Muslims, Ramadan will not have any effect on their day-to-day work. However, others may very well be greatly impacted. Therefore, it is very important that employers give consideration as to how they can assist their employees during Ramadan.

  • Fasting may very well affect the employee in certain ways. They may become a little irritable or slightly tired during the latter parts of the day. Therefore, some understanding from managers and colleagues is helpful.
  • It may be obvious to your other employees that the employee isn’t eating and if they do get a little irritable, which can be natural, why they are not their usual self. Therefore, it would be a good idea to suggest that the employee informs their manager and colleagues that they will be fasting.
  • With the above in mind, the employee may wish to start work earlier in the day and finish earlier, so that they can rest during the latter part of the day at home. The employee may also wish to work from home, and you should consider allowing them to do this.
  • It can also help to hold meetings and undertake more challenging work in the mornings and perform more routine tasks later in the day.
  • Although the employee should still take their breaks, a shorter lunch-break could make it easier for the employee to manage their workload if they wish to take time off to carry out additional prayer or worship.
  • The employee may also wish to use some of their annual leave entitlement during Ramadan, especially during the final ten days, as this is a particularly special time for Muslims.
  • It is a good idea to suggest to colleagues that they should refrain from offering food and drink to those who fast, and also ask other staff to not eat during meetings.
  • It can also be helpful to avoid social events and even full team meetings during Ramadan.

 

Understanding the employee’s experiences and accommodating their particular needs shows great management skills and will also help to ensure that staff perform to the best of their abilities. Putting in place policies that are accommodating to all religious events can also lead to a better mutually trusting relationship with your staff and ultimately lead to higher staff retention, better morale, more effective teams and greater productivity.

If you would like help with policies or training on avoiding discrimination please contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk.

We can also assist with HR meetings such a grievances and Employment Tribunal representation for employers.

For all Employment Law or HR matter contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

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6 Questions Employers Should Not Ask During an Interview.

It is always important to ask questions of a potential employee. How else will you know if they are the right fit for your business otherwise?

However, you should ensure that your questions don’t delve too deep into the potential employee’s personal details. After all, you don’t want a discrimination case brought against you, even if you did not intend to discriminate.

Therefore, it is important to know what questions are a definite no-no. So, here goes: –

 

  1. Are you married?

 

Any questions about marital status, children or future family plans are simply not permissible.

Such questions are too much of a personal nature and could even be potentially discriminatory. Asking a potential employee if they are married could be seen as trying to determine their sexual orientation and this has absolutely no bearing on whether they have the ability to do carry out the job or not.

  1. Were you born in the UK?

 

Yes, you have a legal obligation to ensure that your employees are eligible to actually work in the UK. But you should not ask questions about their race, religion or native language.

A question of whether or not English is the potential employee’s first language is irrelevant, even if your employees are required to speak fluent English.

If the potential employee can speak and write in English to the standard that you require, and they can provide proof of their legal right to work in the UK, then they may well be the perfect person for your business.

 

  1. How old are you?

This question might seem innocent enough, but there are very few reasons why you need to know a potential employee’s age.

Yes, some businesses require their employees to be a certain age for legal reasons, i.e. to sell alcohol, but otherwise, a potential employee’s age should not affect their ability to carry out the job effectively.

Instead, you can ask the potential employee for their date of birth on a separate Equal Opportunites Form, but remember that the interviewer is not be allowed to see this.

 

  1. How many sick days did you take in your last job?

Questions along the lines of health, sickness or indeed disabilities should always be avoided at all costs.

The only time you may need to ask such questions is if you need to find out if the potential employee might need an assessment to establish their suitability for the job, or to establish whether adjustments need to be made in order to accommodate their needs (e.g. fitting a lift or disabled toilet).

 

  1. Do you have any previous criminal convictions?

Potential employees are not required to advise of any criminal convictions if they have already served their sentence.

Therefore, you should not ask such questions, nor refuse employment because of a previous crime. The only exception to refusing employment is if the position relates to teaching, childminding, financial matters etc.

Remember that criminal records checks can be requested from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for certain roles (e.g. working with children, healthcare etc). However, these should be requested before the interview stage.

 

  1. Are you a member of a trade union?

The Government website advises that an employer must not use the fact that a potential employee is a member of a trade union for or against them when deciding whether they are suitable for the position or not. This includes not employing them because they are a trade union member, or insisting that they join a trade union before you offer them the job.
The above questions are the big red flag ones that should not be asked of a potential employee during an interview. If you would like any further information on what you can and cannot ask or any other Employment Law query please get in touch via our website at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

Thinking of Hiring An Apprentice?

National Apprenticeship Week 2019 (NAW 2019) will take place between 4th and 8th March 2019.

The aim of NAW 2019 is to celebrate the various Apprenticeship schemes throughout the country and aims to bring the whole apprenticeship community together in order to celebrate the impact of apprenticeships on both individuals and employers and also on the economy as a whole.

An Apprenticeship is a way for someone to gain the skills, knowledge and experience which are needed if they want to get into a specific career. They combine work, training, and study, letting the apprentice earn while they learn.

There are a variety of different apprenticeships available throughout various different industries and for a wide range of job roles. As a paid employee, each Apprentice works at the same time as studying.

Another advantage for the Apprentice is that there are no student fees. These are covered by you as the employer and by the Government.

 

Employing an Apprentice

It’s not just the traditional industries and larger organisations that are opting to go down the route of having an apprenticeship program in place. Smaller businesses are also discovering that it is an advantageous way of recruiting and training staff.

Now, apprenticeships cover more than 170 different industries and 1,500 different job roles, from entry level all the way up to degree level.

So, whatever business or industry you are in, there are all sorts of different benefits that apprentices can bring to you and your business. Employing an apprentice could definitely be a wise investment move for the future of your business.

 

Wages For An Apprentice

You must pay the Apprentice at least the UK National Minimum Wage for the Apprentice’s age group, which are currently as follows: –

 

CURRENT RATES

Apprenticeship Rate = £3.70

Minimum Wage Rate for Under 18s = £4.20

Minimum Wage Rate for 18 to 20 = £5.90

Minimum Wage Rate for 21 to 24 = £7.38

Minimum Wage Rate for Over 25s = £7.83

 

However, don’t forget that these rates will change in April 2019 to: –

 

NEW RATES FROM APRIL 2019

Apprenticeship Rate = £3.90

Minimum Wage Rate for Under 18s = £4.35

Minimum Wage Rate for 18 to 20 = £6.15

Minimum Wage Rate for 21 to 24 = £7.70

Minimum Wage Rate for Over 25s = £8.21

 

The Apprenticeship Rate applies to those Apprentices who are: –

 

  • Aged 19 years or under;
  • Aged 19 years or over and in the first year of their Apprenticeship.

 

For example, an Apprentice aged 22 years who is in the first year of their Apprenticeship will receive a minimum hourly rate of £3.70.

 

Apprentices are entitled to the Minimum Wage Rate for their age group if they: –

 

  • Are aged 19 or over; and
  • Have completed the first year of their Apprenticeship.

 

For example, an Apprentice aged 22 years who has completed the first year of their Apprenticeship is entitled to a minimum hourly rate of £7.38.

 

Of course, if you wish to pay the Apprentice more than the minimum requirement, then you can certainly do so.

 

Don’t forget the Rate Change in April 2019 though.

 

In order to complete their Apprenticeship, the Apprentice must: –

  • Work with experienced staff;
  • Learn job-specific skills;
  • Study during their working week (e.g. at a college or a training centre).

 

What Are The Benefits Of Employing An Apprentice?

“Hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way for any organisation to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. Employers who have an established apprenticeship programme reported that productivity in their workplace had improved by 76%, whilst 75% reported that apprenticeships improved the quality of their product or service.” – National Apprenticeship Service

 

There are also many other benefits of hiring an Apprentice, including: –

 

  • 90% of apprentices will stay on in their place of work after completing their apprenticeship;

 

  • Businesses are able to customise the training that their apprentice receives according to the needs and requirements of their business;

 

  • An apprenticeship allows businesses to diversify and freshen up their workforce;

 

  • Businesses can employ apprentices aged 16 years and over, up to any age and from any background.

 

So, if you have thought about hiring an apprentice, perhaps now is the time to do something about it.

Things To Look Out For In 2019

It’s hard to believe that we are already in 2019.

This year, there are a few different changes to legislation that will come into force and which you should be aware of in your business.

There will, of course, be more new laws and other legislative amendments throughout the year, but for now, here is a summary of the changes that we already know about.

 

National Living Wage Will Increase

From April, the UK National Living Wage will increase from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour. This will benefit around 2.4million workers and is an average £690 annual pay rise for full-time employees.

Other National Wage Rate changes are as follows: –

Age Group New Rate Current Rate

25 & Over £8.21 £7.83

21 to 24 £7.70 £7.38

18 to 20 £6.15 £5.90

Under 18 £4.35 £4.20

Apprentice £3.90 £3.70

 

Income Tax Thresholds Will Increase

The tax-free Personal Allowance will increase by another £650 in April to £12,500 – this is the amount you earn before you have to start paying income tax.

This means a basic rate taxpayer will pay £1,205 less tax in 2019-20 than in 2010-11.

And the amount that someone will have to earn before they start paying tax at the Higher Rate Threshold of 40% will increase from £46,350 to £50,000 in April, meaning that there is an additional £730 for people who earn above £50,000.

However, those earning more than £100,000 will not benefit as much, or even at all.

 

National Minimum Wage For Sleep-Ins

Last year, the Court of Appeal decided that people who work sleep-in shifts, i.e. nurses and care workers, are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage for any time that they spend sleeping and are ‘available for work’ but not ‘actually working’.

A request to appeal this decision was lodged with the Supreme Court and a decision is expected in 2019.

 

Pension Contributions

The minimum contributions for auto-enrolment pension schemes will increase for both employers and employees from April.

Current legislation means that employers must contribute a minimum of 2% of an employee’s pre-tax salary, with the employee contributing 3%.

Under the new legislation, employers and employees will now have to contribute a minimum of 3% and 5% respectively.

 

Itemised Payslips

From 6th April, a person’s legal right to receive a payslip will be extended so as to include workers as well as employees, such as contractors and freelancers.

Employers will also be required to include the total number of hours worked on payslips for employees whose wages vary depending on how much time they have worked. The payslip will also need to include the total number of hours worked for variable pay rates.

 

Sick Pay and Statutory Family Pay Rates To Increase

Statutory Family Pay Rates are likely to increase to £148.68 in April. This rate will apply to Maternity Pay, Adoption Pay, Paternity Pay, Shared Parental Pay and Maternity Allowance.

The weekly rate for Statutory Sick Pay is likely to increase to £94.25 from 6th April.

 

Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

It was confirmed last year that the Government will be introducing a right for bereaved parents to take paid time off work.

Under the current proposals, parents who have suffered a bereavement will be able to take leave as a single two-week period, as two separate periods of one week each, or as a single week.

They will be entitled to take such leave within 56 weeks of their child’s death.

It is expected that this new legislation will come into effect in April 2020, but employers should start preparing for it this year.

Employers may also decide to introduce their own Bereavement Leave Policy if they do not already have one.

 

Further Changes To The Apprenticeship Levy To Support Employers

From April, larger businesses will be able to invest up to 25% of their Apprenticeship Levy into supporting apprentices in their own supply chain.

Further, some employers will only be required to pay half of what they currently pay for apprenticeship training – down from 10% to 5%. The Government will be paying the remaining 95%.

 

The Annual Investment Allowance Will Increase

The Annual Investment Allowance increased from £200,000 to £1million on 1st January 2019. This will end on 31st December 2020 and will help businesses to invest and grow.

In addition to this, from October 2018, businesses are now able to deduct 2% of the cost of any new non-residential structures and buildings from their profits before they pay tax.

 

Post-Brexit Immigration Rules

What are likely to possibly be the most significant changes to occur in 2019 are those relating to the employment of EU nationals, regardless of whether a deal on the UK’s exit from the EU is agreed or not.

Once the UK leaves the EU, free-movement will end. However, it is highly likely that this will be delayed pending legislation to repeal current laws. It will also take time to put into place the practical arrangements necessary to make these changes possible.

The Government has introduced a scheme in which EU workers who are already living in the UK will be able to apply for “settled status”, in order that they will be able to continue to live and work in the UK indefinitely.

However, employers should be aware that, moving forwards, the employment of EU nationals is highly likely to be subject to the same restrictions as those involving the employment of other foreign nationals. Employers will, therefore, need to adapt their recruitment processes as a result.

If you would like any further information on how these changes will affect you and your business, please email us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk We’d be happy to help.

Things that employers should be thinking about leading up to Christmas

Not long now until we start hearing Christmas jingles and seeing Christmas adverts on the TV and everyone starts talking about mince pies and mulled wine.

Of course, there are some people who think November is too early to start talking about Christmas, whilst others are literally counting down the days. And some have even finished all of their Christmas present shopping! 

We have a few tips to help you, as an employer, get through the Christmas period, and get your staff motivated and productive, instead of wishing the days away until they get a break.

Christmas Opening Hours

First of all, you should be confirming to your clients and customers, as well as your employees, what your Christmas opening hours are. If your business provides services all year round, inclusive of bank holidays, you need to start letting your employees know when they will be working in order to avoid poor attendance over the festive period.

Payroll

Secondly, start planning your Christmas payroll. Will you be paying your employees early? Does payday fall on a Christmas bank holiday? Will your employees be paid after Christmas?

Be organised in this regard to avoid delays in paying your staff.

 

Christmas Parties

Whether you are organising an official or unofficial Christmas party, it is always wise to remind your staff about what you expect from them.

Send an email or memo to your staff to gently remind them to behave appropriately, drink responsibly and arrange appropriate transport. No one wants to come back to work after Christmas without their driving licence or having to face a disciplinary over events that took place at a work party.

Also, remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas, so you need to be mindful to not exclude or discriminate against any staff members.

 

Bonuses

Many businesses reward their staff with Christmas or end-of-year bonuses and this is a great way to help staff morale.

However, we would always advise employers to have a policy in place regarding bonuses, in order to avoid being sued for discrimination or non-payment of a bonus.

This policy should state that bonuses are non-contractual and it should also clearly set out qualification terms, including that staff members must still be working for you at the time of payment in order to receive the bonus.

 

Adverse Weather

It happens every year. Snow, ice, frost and fallen trees can cause havoc on our roads and also on public transport, so much so that you could have staff who are late to work or even unable to make it into work at all because of the winter weather.

You are under no obligation to pay staff who are unable to attend work, but it is always a good idea to put things in place which allow your staff to maintain pay and also for your business to continue to function.

Think about allowing staff to arrive later at work, work from home or make up their hours on another occasion.

If you do decide to pay staff who cannot attend work, ensure that they are told that it is an act of goodwill and is not intended to be contractual.

 

Sickness

Coughs, colds, sniffles and maybe even the flu are inevitable at this time of year, and this can mean that businesses experience higher absence levels than normal.

November and December are the perfect time to promote good hygiene in the workplace. Provide your staff with hand sanitisers, sweet-smelling antibacterial soaps, telephone wipes and keyboard wipes to help reduce germs spreading and to keep staff healthier for longer.

Now is also the perfect time to review your sickness policy and remind employees who, how and when they should contact work if they are sick.

 

Annual leave reminders

Some businesses have their holiday year starting on 1st January and ending on 31st December. If this is the case for your business, now is the perfect time to remind staff about their unused annual holiday allowance.

You do not have to allow staff to roll over their unused holiday into the next year unless there are exceptional circumstances such as maternity leave or illness. Remind staff that unless they use up their holiday entitlement, it will not roll over into 2019. As the saying goes, use it or lose it.

And believe it or not, you are also able to refuse holiday if it is not a convenient time for your business or if there are too many staff off.

That being said though, it is good to give staff time to rest so you should be reasonable when receiving holiday requests.

Many employers are also unaware that they can impose annual leave. So if your business has a down period or if your staff have unused holiday you can simply give them a day off. Remember to give notice though.

We hope that these tips help you to get through the festive period smoothly and efficiently.

But remember to have fun as well!

For any help with staffing issues, Employment Law or HR you can contact us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

A quick overview of Sick Pay

Although we are currently enjoying the Indian Summer we will, at some point, start experiencing cooler weather. With this, it is common to have staff off work with coughs, colds, sniffles and maybe even the flu so this month we are blogging about sick pay.

There are two types of Sick Pay and they are often referred to as Statutory Sick Pay and Company Sick Pay.

Here is a quick guide to sick pay.

Statutory Sick Pay

If an employee is unwell and too sick to work, they could be entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). As an employer, it is your legal obligation to pay this to your employee.

There are certain criteria which need to be met for an employee to receive SSP, including: –

  • They must be classed as an employee and must have carried out some work for you;
  • They must have been ill for at least four days in a row (including non-working days);
  • They must earn an average of at least £116 per week;
  • They must tell you that they are sick before the qualifying deadline – or within seven days if they do not have one.

Agency and casual workers, part-time staff and staff on fixed-term contracts are also entitled to receive SSP (as long as the above criteria are met).

Of course, there are exceptions to the above. An employee will not qualify for SSP if: –

  • They have received the maximum amount of SSP (28 weeks) in any one year;
  • They are receiving Statutory Maternity Pay.

An employee will still qualify for SSP if they started working for you recently but have not yet received eight weeks’ pay.

If your employee has regular periods of sickness, these may be classed as ‘linked’. In these situations, the periods of sickness should: –

  • Last for four or more days each;
  • Be eight weeks or less apart.

However, the employee will not be eligible to receive SSP if they have a continuous series of linked periods that last for more than three years.

Your employee is only required to provide a doctor’s fit note (previously called a sick note) if they are off sick for more than seven days in a row (including non-working days).

Statutory Sick Pay is paid at a rate of £92.05 a week (as at October 2018), for up to 28 weeks in any one year. As an employer, you cannot pay less than this amount. However, you can pay more if you have a Company Sick Pay Policy (see below).

SSP is payable from the fourth ‘qualifying day’ (the day on which the employee is normally required to work). The first three qualifying days are called ‘waiting days’. SSP is not normally paid for the first 3 qualifying days unless the employee has been off sick and getting SSP within the last 8 weeks. Payment of SSP stops when the employee returns to work.

Remember that the employee’s period of sick leave does not stop if they are on annual leave/holiday during their illness.

If the employee has worked for just one minute before going home as sick, you cannot count that day as a sick day. If the employee works a shift that ends the day after it started and becomes sick during the shift or after it has finished, the second day will count as a sick day.

It is entirely up to you how you record your employees’ sickness absence. However, remember that HMRC may need to review your records if there is any future dispute over the payment of SSP for a particular employee.

You can no longer claim back SSP for sick leave from the Government.

 

Company Sick Pay / Contractual Sick Pay

Some companies have a Company Sick Pay Policy, sometimes called a Contractual Sick Pay Policy. In these cases, the employee’s Contract of Employment must state what the company’s sick pay policy is and how much they will be paid.

For example, the employee’s contract may include provision for payment of the employee’s normal salary in circumstances when they are off sick. Alternatively, the Contract of Employment might state that the employee will receive their normal salary less the amount of statutory sick pay.

If under the terms of the employee’s contract, contractual sick pay is not payable at all, the employee will only be entitled to receive SSP.

Why monitor sickness

Monitoring sickness can help you to identify trends. It may be that your staff member is off sick every Friday or at the end of the month.

You might find that sickness levels are related to stress or that the staff member has a disability.

By monitoring sickness levels you can reduce absences and help your staff.

If you would like more information about matters relating to Employment Law or HR, please contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

What should employers know about Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, to raise awareness of the devastating disease that is Alzheimer’s, with the aim of challenging the stigma that surrounds Alzheimer’s and Dementia. 

There are over 100 types of  Dementia and Alzheimer’s is a form of Dementia. This year (2018) marks the 7th World Alzheimer’s Month.

World Alzheimer’s Day is on 21st September each year and 10th October is Mental Health Awareness Day.

Dementia in the Workplace

People can live well with Dementia, however, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease automatically qualify as a disability so employers need to be aware of disability discrimination. Some employers choose to have an Equal Opportunities policy, Bullying and Harassment Policy and an Anti Discrimination Policy to help prevent discrimination from occurring. It also helps staff to know what they should do if they feel they have been discriminated against.

According to the ACAS website, “More than 40,000 people under the age of 65 have been diagnosed with Dementia in the UK – and 18 per cent of them continue to work after a diagnosis. As the number of people with Dementia is forecast to increase (to over 1 million by 2025 and 2 million by 2051), and with a greater number of people expected to work later in life, it’s an issue that’s bound to become increasingly significant in the workplace.”

The future is unclear on the matter of Dementia in the workplace, but it is highly likely that businesses will see an increase in employees who have Dementia over the coming years, and this could become an issue because some employees may find it difficult to cope with this syndrome whilst at the same time still trying to perform their work duties. 

Being aware of the symptoms of Dementia and Alzheimer’s and the different stages of this disease will be invaluable to both employers and employees, in order to improve the response to supporting affected employees in identifying their symptoms and moving forward and helping them to live well.

Although memory loss is a well-known symptom of Dementia and Alzheimer’s, some other early signs of Dementia could include: –

  • Loss of initiative;
  • Changes in mood and behaviour;
  • Changes in personality;
  • Problems with abstract thinking;
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks;
  • Poor judgment;
  • Disorientation of time and place;
  • Misplacing things.

With improved awareness, employers (and their staff) can reduce the likelihood of misinterpreting some of the early signs of Dementia and mistaking them for capability or misconduct issues.

The Alzheimer’s Society says that “Employers must be prepared to support … people aged under 65 with Dementia, many of whom continue to work following diagnosis …

“The Equality Act (2010) requires employers to avoid discrimination and make reasonable adjustments to ensure people with Dementia are not disadvantaged in the workplace. Employers are also obliged to consider requests for flexible working from carers under the Flexible Working Regulations (2006).

“Employers should provide appropriate support throughout the journey of a person with Dementia. As the condition advances, employees will require information, advice and guidance about finishing work.”

Supporting people with Dementia is going to be an ongoing matter for employers, but employers do have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for staff with Dementia in order that they are not disadvantaged at work.

Such adjustments could include clear signage, having quiet areas, and installing visual barriers to minimise distractions. They might also include a review of the employee’s current job description, reallocation of duties, a change of working hours, or redeployment to another position within the business.

Of course, at some point in the future, it may not be possible for the employer to continue to make adjustments to accommodate a Dementia employee, and the time may come that the employee will no longer be able to continue with their duties. However, when that time does come, employers should avoid using capability and disciplinary procedures, and should instead follow a ‘dignified exit package and strategy’.

The diagnosis of Dementia will be a difficult time for the employee. However, honesty about options over a long period of time will ease some of that difficulty and help them to continue with their working commitments as much as possible.

If you would like any further advice on Dementia and Alzheimer’s in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk or give us a call on 01634 564 136.

Flexible Working Uncovered

What is flexible working?

Well, in short, flexible working is a different way of working which will suit an employee’s needs and requirements, e.g. having a flexible start and finish time, or working from home.

All employees have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers. This is known as ‘making a statutory application’. However, an employee must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks in order to be eligible.

Are there different types of flexible working?

Yes, there are indeed different types. These include: –

1. Job sharing

This means that two people carry out one job and split the hours between them.

2. Working from home

Sometimes, it can be possible for employees to do some or all of their work from home or somewhere away from the office.

3. Part-time

I think we all know what this means, but to clarify, it is working less than full-time hours (usually by working fewer days).

4. Compressed hours

This means that an employee could work full-time hours but over fewer days, e.g. instead of working 9am until 5pm Monday to Friday, an employee could work 9am until 7pm Monday to Thursday.

5. Flexitime

In this example, an employee can choose when he or she wants to start work and when to finish work (within agreed limits) but could still work certain ‘core hours’.

6. Annualised hours

In this instance, the employee is required to work a specific number of hours over the course of the year, but they have some flexibility about when they actually carry out that work. There can be certain ‘core hours’ which they work regularly every week, and the rest they work on a flexible basis or when there’s extra demand.

7. Staggered hours

Here, the employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.

8. Phased retirement

In this example, older staff can choose when they want to retire, and so they are able to reduce their hours and work gradually.

A flexi-time case study

Employee perspective

Orchard Employment Law’s Personal Assistant, Lucy, works part-time and does flexi-hours at home. This is what she has to say about flexible working: –

“The one thing that I dreaded about going back to work after I had my son, was that my previous employer wouldn’t be flexible about the hours that I wanted to work and also that I would potentially need to take time off if my son was poorly etc. I basically didn’t want to be held ransom or made to feel guilty because my child needed me.

I have been working with Jemma since December 2017, working from home on Mondays and Fridays and in the office on Wednesdays.

My now three-year-old toddler goes to nursery on Mondays and Fridays (and to Nanny and Grandad’s house on Wednesdays) so working from home gives me the flexibility to be able to take him to nursery and pick him up, without the worry of having to battle rush-hour traffic and potentially being late for work.

During the nursery/school holidays, I work around my son, so will do an hour here and there when he is entertained by his toys or his own books, or I start at 7am before he wakes up and in the evenings when he has gone to bed. I also sometimes stagger my hours so that instead of doing all of them on Mondays and Fridays, I spread them out over Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. This means that I don’t miss out on spending quality time with my son, but still get my hours done.

Another advantage of flexible working and working from home is that if my son (or

myself for that matter) is poorly, I can still do my work but be at home to look after him without having to take time off sick or as a holiday.

The downside of working from home is that it can get a bit lonely at times. But Jemma and I always make sure that we talk at least once a day on the phone. And when I’m in the office on Wednesdays, I actually get to speak to adults and have a proper conversation.

I also know that if I have any issues that need to be dealt with urgently, I can email, text or phone Jemma (depending on the urgency) and not have to worry that problems won’t be dealt with until I’m actually in the office.

As some of you may know, Jemma and I have an office in a co-working space in Chatham, so when we are in the office we are able to not only bounce ideas off each other but also our co-workers, who will give us their honest opinions on our ideas and tell us if they think they will work or if we should scrap the idea completely. There are also always lots of treats in the kitchen area, which is never good for the diet, so it’s probably a good thing that I’m only in the office once a week!

Even though I only work in the office once a week, I still feel like part of a team. I do think that if I was always working from home then I would feel quite isolated and not part of a team but thankfully that’s not the case.

Flexible working with Jemma was the answer that I was looking for when I decided to get back into law after having my son. Working from home two days a week and in the office once a week is the perfect situation for me.

 

Employers perspective

Prior to starting the busienss, I had experienced the benefits of working flexibly and so I knew that I wanted to use some of those principles when I became an employer. By hiring Lucy on family-friendly terms has been beneficial in many ways.

I was able to secure a high calibre employee with over 15 years of legal experience because I was forthcoming in offering a family friendly method of working. I also believe that we have less absenteeism because Lucy is able to work extra hours in her own time.

However, this way of working only works because we have the correct systems in place. We have a good, real-time computer system which allows both myself and Lucy to keep abreast of work done with clients. We keep in contact by phone regularly and we have weekly face to face meetings to discuss client updates, business development and personal development.

I would recommend flexible working to any business.

If you would like more information about flexible working or any other HR matter. Please contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

 

 

 

 

A Managers Guide To Surviving The Summer Holidays

The summer holidays are upon us and you may very well be tearing your hair out at the thought of having to accommodate staff who need to juggle childcare with continuing the smooth running of your business.

We have a few hints and tips to help you cope with the inevitable challenges that the summer holidays bring: –

 

  • Flexible working

 

Business isn’t all about working 9am to 5pm. By allowing your staff to work flexible hours during the summer holidays, you’re making their lives easier as well as making sure that they are still productive and working hard for your business. Think about allowing staff to work condensed hours or take annual leave by the hour rather than by the day. This allows them to spend time with their children as well as continuing to work.

 

  • Home working

 

Another way of solving staff absences during the school holidays is to allow your staff to work from home. Many employers find that employees are more productive when they work at home and this can help employees who struggle with childcare. It’s not a suitable solution for all types of work or industry but it’s definitely worth thinking about.

 

  • Temp staff

 

Yes, temporary and agency staff will come at a cost but they can be a great help to the workplace when there is a staff shortage. Hiring agency workers or students during the holiday period could be the answer you’ve been looking for.

  • Use a Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistants can help keep your business running over the holiday period. Whether you need a telephone answering service, someone to keep an eye on your emails or some extra admin support they can help you out.

 

 

  • Manage the workload

 

It’s important not to burn out staff who are left behind during the holiday season. Remember that not everybody has children, but the holiday period can be as equally hard for those staff as it is for those that do have children. Try not to overload one person with all of  the work. Where possible, spread the workload evenly to help prevent the quality of work being compromised. This will also help to reduce staff illnesses and a feeling of resentment.

It might also be worth using the summer holidays as a time to reflect on your business. Catch up on jobs that you’ve been putting off, like your accounts or refining some processes. Get ahead before everybody gets back in September and things start to pick up again.

 

 

  • Refusing Holiday Requests

 

Remember that you can refuse a holiday request from a member of staff if it’s at a time which is inconvenient for your business. However, you shouldn’t be unreasonable and you should try to accommodate staff requests as much as possible.

But don’t treat parents differently to non-parents. Yes, parents obviously have childcare arrangements to think about, but non-parents are also entitled to a break and some, if not most, would like to be able to relax and enjoy some time off in the sun as well.

 

 

  • Ban on Holidays During Specific Periods

 

You can also put a clause in your Employment Contracts that bans staff from taking holiday during particular times of the year, e.g. during January for accountants, during the Christmas period, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day for florists etc.

 

 

  • Bring Your Child To Work Day(s)

 

If you have staff members who have children aged between 8 and 16 years old, why not allow your staff to bring their children into work for a few days throughout the summer holidays? It’s a great way to give some educational, interactive and inspiring experiences to school-aged children, and also takes the pressure off their parents a bit as well.

Get them involved in simple tasks and keep their minds occupied. But make sure that your insurance covers you when children are in the workplace.

 

 

  • HR Management System

 

To make life easier for yourself and your staff, why not invest in an online HR management system? It helps staff to find documents and policies or your staff handbook, without the need to actually ask you for a hard copy of it (thus saving on paper and printing!). You can also incorporate a holiday calendar within that HR management system so that staff can see exactly how much holiday they have left to book, and can also see who else has already booked time off and when. This will save time on having to work out remaining holiday entitlement and work around already booked holidays.

 

 

  • Overtime and Commission

 

If your staff undertake regular overtime, whether it’s guaranteed or voluntary, you need to make sure that you’re including this overtime in that staff member’s holiday entitlement and pay. Also, if you pay your staff commission you will need to include this commission in their holiday pay.

If you need any further advice on anything HR or employment law related, drop us an email at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk or give us a call on 01634 564 136.

Worker rights for Pimlico Plumbers

A case heard at the Supreme Court last week could have a lasting effect on the so-called “Gig” economy here in the UK.

What is the “Gig” Economy?

The “gig” economy is described as “the labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs”.

People who work within the gig economy will only be paid for the work that they carry out, e.g. couriers etc. Though sometimes they may be entitled to holiday pay.

Background

Plumber Gary Smith worked solely for Pimlico Plumbers and was classed as self-employed for tax purposes. Mr Smith paid self-employed tax and was VAT registered.

Mr Smith worked for Pimlico Plumbers for six years but after suffering a heart attack, he requested a reduction in his working hours from five days per week to three days. Pimlico Plumbers denied this request and Mr Smith was dismissed.

During his time working for Pimlico Plumbers, Mr Smith was required to wear the company’s uniform, drive the company’s branded van, work when he was told to, and could not pass any work to anyone else of the same qualification and experience.

Original Hearing

Mr Smith brought proceedings against Pimlico Plumbers at an Employment Tribunal in 2011, alleging that: –

  • he had been unfairly dismissed;
  • Pimlico Plumbers had unlawfully deducted amounts from his wages;
  • he had not been paid for a period of statutory annual leave; and
  • he had been discriminated against because of his disability.

The Employment Tribunal made the decision that Mr Smith had not been an employee under a contract of employment, and therefore could not complain of unfair dismissal.

However, the Employment Tribunal did decide that: –

  • under section 230(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996, Mr Smith was a ‘worker’;
  • under Regulation 2(1) of the Working Time Regulations 1998, Mr Smith was a ‘worker’; and
  • under section 83(2) of the Equality Act 2010, Mr Smith had been in ‘employment’.

This meant that Mr Smith could proceed with the latter of his three complaints.

The Employment Tribunal made directions to consider these complaints substantively at a later date.

Pimlico Plumbers appealed this decision at an Appeal Tribunal and then at the Court of Appeal, but were unsuccessful at both attempts.

The Court of Appeal ruled that Mr Smith was a worker because of his lack of control over the work that he carried out (he was contractually obliged to do a minimum number of hours work per week) and also because he did not have the right to transfer his work to a subordinate.

Supreme Court Ruling

Pimlico Plumbers then appealed again to the Supreme Court but this did not go in their favour again.

The Supreme Court was asked to consider whether or not Mr Smith had the right to send a substitute to carry out any work he was given by Pimlico Plumbers. The Supreme Court found that Mr Smith was entitled to do this but that any substitute had to be under contract with Pimlico Plumbers.

Therefore, the leading feature of Mr Smith’s contract was one of an obligation of personal performance.

Another issue asked of the Supreme Court was whether or not Mr Smith was marketing his services elsewhere or whether he was an integral part of Pimlico Plumbers, and as such, whether Pimlico Plumbers was a client or customer.

The Supreme Court held that Mr Smith had some independence in terms of operational and financial obligations but that his services were marketed by Pimlico Plumbers. He was also subject to Pimlico Plumbers’ strict regulations (e.g. he was required to wear the company’s uniform, drive the company’s branded van, and work when he was told to etc). Therefore, Pimlico Plumbers was not a client or a customer.

This meant that Mr Smith was a worker and therefore had various employment rights including the right to be paid minimum wage and holiday pay.

Mr Smith’s complaints will now be sent back to the Employment Tribunal for it to make the final decisions.

Implications

This case will have a far-reaching effect on the gig economy and the rights of all independent contractors.

Other businesses who use independent or self-employed contractors could see a huge wave of claims made against them as a result of this ruling.

Charlie Mullins, CEO of Pimlico Plumbers, said “… thousands of companies across the UK, who use contractors in an honest and responsible way, remain exposed to huge potential claims in the future.”

However, it is highly unlikely that other cases, like those involving Uber and Deliveroo, will be stopped in their tracks.

All businesses have different ways in which they work. They also have different contracts and make different demands on their staff.

For example, some businesses will allow a worker to ask someone else of equal qualification and experience to do the job instead, but others don’t.

And that is one of the key tests of employment status.

If you would like any advice on the gig economy and how this ruling may affect you and your staff, contact us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk or call us on 01634 564 136.