Planning for changes in Employment Law for 2020

2020 is another year of changes to the world of employment law and HR. In this blog, we are talking about some of the changes that we know are already going to happen, and, of course, that much discussed and debated subject that is Brexit.

Written Statement of Terms and Conditions (Contracts)

First up, we have the Written Statement of Terms and Conditions, also known as a Contract.

Currently, an employer has up to eight weeks to supply Terms and Conditions of Employment to all employees who have been continuously employed for more than one month.

From 6th April 2020, all new employees and workers will have the right to a Statement of Written Particulars from their first day of employment. Additional information will also need to be included as part of this new extended right.

Employers will need to prepare for this change during their recruitment process and have the Employment Contract sent to their chosen candidate before ‘day one’ of employment.

Employers will also need to consider who will qualify as a worker, and issue Employment Contracts to employees whilst using a separate template when issuing particulars for workers.


Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

There is currently no law regarding bereavement leave and pay for parents.

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 is due to come into force in April 2020. However, this has not yet been confirmed.

If it does come into force, parents who suffer the loss of a child under the age of 18 years or a stillbirth after 24 weeks’ of pregnancy, will have the right to two weeks’ bereavement leave and, in some cases, pay.

We have not yet received any details of the new entitlement or those who will qualify and these will be set out in separate regulations.

However, we do know that bereaved parents will be entitled to take this leave in one two-week block or in two separate blocks of one week and that the leave must be taken before the end of a period of at least 56 days beginning with the date of the child’s death.

Bereaved parents who have been continuously employed for a minimum of 26 weeks will also be entitled to receive Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay. Parents with less than 26 weeks’ continuous service will be entitled to take two weeks’ of unpaid leave.


Agency Worker Rights

There are three important changes to Agency Worker Rights which will come into effect on 6th April 2020: –

  • Currently, the Agency Worker Regulations 2010 entitles agency workers to receive the same pay and basic working conditions as direct employees once they have completed 12 weeks’ continuous service working in the same role.

Under the Swedish Derogation (sometimes referred to as ‘pay between assignments’ contracts), agency workers are able to agree to a contract which removes this right.

From 6th April 2020, the Swedish Derogation will be abolished and these contracts will no longer be permissible. All agency workers, after 12 weeks’ continuous service, will be entitled to the same rate of pay as their permanent coworkers;

  • From 6th April 2020, all agency workers will be entitled to receive a Key Information Statement which sets out more clearly what their employment relationship is and the terms and conditions with their agency;
  • From 6th April 2020, all agency workers who are considered as employees will be protected from unfair dismissal and/or suffering a detriment if the reasons are in relation to asserting rights linked to The Agency Worker Regulations 2010.


Holiday Pay Calculations

The current way to calculate holiday pay can be complicated, especially for those employees with variable hours and variable rates of pay. The current holiday pay reference period is 12 weeks.

From 6th April 2020, this holiday pay reference period will increase to 52 weeks, meaning that employers will need to look at the previous 52 weeks where a worker has worked and received pay (disregarding any weeks when the worker did not work or where no payment was received) in order to calculate the average weekly pay.


National Minimum Wage Amounts

National Minimum and Living Wage amounts always change in April of each year and 2020 is no different.

The current rates are as follows: –

Age Rate

25 years and over £8.21

21 to 24 years £7.70

18 to 20 years £6.15

Under 18 years £4.35

Apprentice £3.90

From 6th April 2020, these rates will change, as follows: –

Age Rate

25 years and over £8.72

21 to 24 years £8.20

18 to 20 years £6.45

Under 18 years £4.55

Apprentice £4.15



First of all, we all know that the UK is due to leave the European Union at midnight on Friday 31st January and when this happens, it is likely to bring about changes to the way the employment law world works, although any changes are unlikely to happen straight away. However, businesses will still need to be prepared.

At the moment, existing legislation and case law still applies and will continue to do so until new legislation is brought in.

Whether or not the UK is able to withdraw from current EU legislation and requirements will, ultimately, depend on the UK’s relationship with the EU and other countries. It is possible that trade agreements with other countries will be based upon some if not all, current EU employment legislation.

Any changes that do come into force will not necessarily be immediate or even significant, for the following reasons: –

  • A lot of EU employment law is based on UK legislation, meaning these will remain in place until amended;
  • Many UK employment rights, such as National Minimum Wage Amounts and unfair dismissal rights, do not arise from EU legislation.
  • In many other cases, UK legislation provides protection which far exceeds the EU minimum, for example, maternity leave and the right to 5.6 weeks’ holiday (EU law states a four-week minimum).
  • Changes to primary legislation need the approval of Parliament, and so the Government at the time of any changes will need to consider whether any amendments are politically favourable.

If you have any questions or queries about anything in this blog, or if there is anything employment law or HR related that you need help with, please get in touch with us by emailing 

Hiring a self-employed Freelancer

When thinking of getting some additional help from a freelancer to help with a big
project, a little planning will help to avoid any problems that may crop up.
The first thing to think about is that hiring a self-employed freelancer means that some
employment legislation that normally applies to UK workers (National Minimum
Wage, Working Time Regulations etc) don’t apply to genuine freelancers and quite often a freelancer will set their own rate of pay.

It is very important to find out exactly what the freelancer’s employment status is before you start signing them up – you don’t want to be neglecting their worker rights.
Be clear with them from the very start – explain exactly what it is that you need
them for. How long will the work take? Will there be an ongoing requirement for the
job, or is it a one-off? Will they need to work in your office or can they work

Be specific, honest and clear about your needs.
Also, make sure that you listen to the freelancer’s needs as well. They may have
their own ideas that you, your business and the project in question could really
benefit from.
Put it in writing
Once you’ve found the right person, it’s important that you get the right paperwork
in place. Having a contract drawn up and signed means that both you and the
freelancer are legally protected should things go wrong at any point.
What would happen if you paid the freelancer half of the cost of the project upfront,
but then the freelancer disappears?  If you have a contract then they can still be held
legally accountable. It can be very risky for small businesses and freelancers to work
without a contract in place, so it is very important to have a signed agreement in
place before any work begins or money changes hands.
Finally, make sure you communicate with the freelancer during the project. Schedule
regular meetings, ask how they’re finding the work and discuss any ideas the two of
you may have about improving the project. It’s important not to come across as
overbearing and to show the freelancer that you trust them to work independently,
but communication is important.
Practicalities of Working with a Freelancer
Once you have chosen the person that you wish to work with, you need to ensure
that you do not treat them as anything other than a self-employed contractor. If you
do otherwise, you could be liable for worker rights etc.
To ensure that the contract is one of the services provided, make sure that the following
is undertaken: –
1. The Agreement between you and the Freelancer should specify that they are
self-employed;2. In an ideal world the Freelancer will have their own limited company;
3. The Agreement should state how much the Freelancer will be paid;
4. The Freelancer should invoice you after the completion of the services
5. The Freelancer should be able to subcontract work to other people with the
relevant skills, qualifications and insurance. However, they should not do this
without your prior written consent, which should not be unreasonably
6. The Freelancer should provide evidence of indemnity and insurance for the
services which they will provide;7. Try not to fall into the trap of treating the freelancer as an employee, e.g. do
not pay holiday pay, sick pay or give a bonus;
8. The Freelancer should be able to do work for other businesses.

For more help and advice with self-employed Freelancers contact us at

Getting ready for Autumn

October is almost upon us (yes, it really is!) and so now is a good time to start
preparing for the colder months. We have a few hints and tips for you for coping
with the colder weather: –
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 in 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.
School Closures
The weather is also a factor when it comes to schools and sometimes, even if staff
can travel, their children’s schools may decide to close, meaning that staff have no
childcare and, therefore, might be unable to get into work.
Again, you are under no obligation to pay staff who are unable to attend work but it
might be a good idea to think about what staff could do if they have no childcare.
As above, think about allowing staff to arrive later at work, work from home or make
up their hours on another occasion, and perhaps even allow them to bring their
children into work (as long as they are aged between 8 and 16 years old). This is
also 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 the children involved in simple tasks and keep their minds occupied. But make
sure that your insurance covers you when children are in the workplace.
Staff 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.
October, November and December are the perfect months to promote good hygiene
in the workplace Provide your staff with hand sanitisers, sweet-smelling
antibacterial soaps, telephone 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 2020. 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.
With October comes Halloween, and one of the associated acts of Halloween is
dressing up as ghosts and ghouls and maybe even a few clowns. Some businesses
even use dressing up as a motivating factor.
In a similar vein to dress-down Fridays or dressing up for Children in Need,
managers still need to set some expectations of what is and isn’t considered
appropriate behaviour if they are going to facilitate a dressing up day.
In particular, employees should be reminded that Halloween is not an excuse to
cause an offence.
A few years back Tesco and Asda withdrew two Halloween outfits from its shelves as
they were named ‘Mental patient’ and ‘Psycho Ward’. The outfits were seen as
offensive to those with mental illness and so Tesco and Asda donated £25,000 to
Time to Change.
Outfits such as these could give rise to a discrimination and harassment claim and as
an employer, you would be liable.
It isn’t sufficient to simply tell your staff not to wear outfits which might cause
offence. You should give your employees examples of scenarios of acts or clothing
which may be considered harassment or discriminatory.
You may want to tell your staff about tribunal cases surrounding fancy dress so that
they see what consequences could arise from their actions.
Also, remember that not everyone celebrates Halloween, so you need to be mindful
to not exclude or discriminate against any staff members.
Trick or Treat?
Another common action during Halloween are pranks and the trick or treat custom.
Whilst no employer wants to be the grim reaper of fun, you need to take care to
ensure that staff do not feel threatened or intimidated by the acts or behaviour
around them.
That being said, employers should be aware that they need to strike a balance. It
has been known for a pagan employee to bring a discrimination claim against their
boss for not taking Halloween as seriously as other beliefs. In 2011, there was in
excess of 50,000 people in the UK who identified themselves of pagan.
If you would like any other information on things to deal with in the run-up to
winter, drop us an email at

The Pro’s and Con’s of using HR Software

Have you ever wondered what an Online HR Information System is? Or why it could
be beneficial to use one?
Well, put simply, a Human Resource Information System (HRIS) is an online
software solution for data entry, data tracking and data information for the Human
Resource department of a business, including payroll, management and accounting
functions. It is an incredibly useful tool for all processes that a business wants or
needs in order to track and from which to gather useful and purposeful data.
As your business grows, you may find that managing your business’s human
resources can become more and more complicated as the number of employees increases.
In a lot of businesses, the HR person or department often face a dilemma with managers
wanting to be able to improve the overall work environment for employees but also
needing the time to be able to deal with the paperwork and routine administrative
tasks that come with the job.
To address these routine tasks, many businesses will use a Human Resource
Information System (HRIS) to help improve productivity.

Benefits To The Employer

There are many different benefits to using an HRIS, for both employer and
employee. These include: –
Faster Integration
With many businesses growing rapidly, it is obvious that new employees are
required. But with new employees comes more employee integration into the
business, and this can mean that many, many hours are eaten up with paperwork
and processes and administrative tasks, simply to get that employee up and running.
By using an HRIS, the integration process can be a more efficient and consistent
one. Such a system provides easy access to training materials and handbooks for
new employees, and employee information can be stored in one convenient, easy-
to-access place.
Access To Information
How often do you or your HR team need to access employee information? We can
imagine that this is a fairly regular need and if you keep employee records in a well-
organised filing cabinet in the office then this won’t necessarily take up vast amounts
of time. However, if your files are kept in a storage room, or a highly disorganised
filing cabinet, you could be losing hours and hours of productivity. Your files are also
at a high risk of being lost or compromised.
An HRIS system can eliminate paper and turn all of your employee records into
easy-to-access online data, which can then be retrieved by anyone with the correct
Recurring Tasks
Many businesses will have various different tasks that recur on a regular basis and
which could be easily automated by the right HRIS.
For example, by automating your payroll system with your HRIS, you can take back
hours of work for your HR department.
Tasks such as holiday requests and employee time management can also be
approved or denied automatically, saving even more hours for your team.
Employee Tracking
Your business will always run more smoothly when you know who is working where
and who is unaccounted for.
An HRIS will allow your HR team to know exactly where your employees are in case
they are needed or if there is an emergency.

Benefits for the Employee

An HRIS id not only a benefit to your HR department. Your employees also
get added benefits and a more flexible work environment.
Quicker Access to Information
Employee self-service is on the rise within a lot of businesses at the moment. But, of
course, employees will always have questions about the terms and conditions of
their employment, salaries, holiday and other types leave, and many more things.
This means that your HR department will always be busy answering these questions
for each and every employee in your business.
The correct HRIS will provide a better employee self-service and, thus, higher
employee satisfaction.
Of course, with pros also come cons, and online Human Resource Information
Systems are no different.

Cons Of Using an HR Information System

High cost
Most people are pleasantly surprised to find that HRIS is not very costly. Although there is a cost attached it does save you and your business money in the long-
Not all HRIS’ are perfect for all businesses
There are also many different systems available, all offering different solutions to
different problems and they may not always be the best fit for your business. This
can mean changing systems until you find the right one for your business
Therefore, if your business is lacking in sufficient upfront funds, this can prove to be
difficult to achieve.
Some businesses may see an HRIS as very impersonal and may decide to stick to
the traditional way of doing things.
Of course, this may be an issue and we would, therefore, suggest having regular
meetings or catch-ups to ensure that you keep the personal side of things going.
Perhaps hold a monthly staff meeting to find out if any employees have anything on
their minds, or if they have any suggestions to help the business move forward
Wellbeing meetings are always a good idea as well. The purpose of these
meetings, held individually, is to ensure that each employee is happy and there are
not any issues that need to be dealt with.


The benefits of having a Human Resource Information System are vast for both your
HR team and the rest of your employees.
You need to make sure that you choose the right system for your business and once
you have done so, you will save both time and money, as well as provide a cutting
edge work environment that your entire team will benefit from. We are happy to say that both we and many of our clients are already using an online HRIS and we absolutely love the simplicity of it.
We sell a system provided by Breathe HR which is available as part of our packages
or stand-alone. If you would like any more information, contact us at

How hot is too for work? Keeping work going during Summer.

Summer is here and the sun is shining brightly. But it’s still business as usual for all of us and that means knowing how to cope in the hot weather when we still need to be working inside.

We have a few hints and tips for you for dealing with the working environment during the summer months: –

Office temperatures

There is no law for there to be a minimum or maximum working temperature in a workspace (i.e. if it is too cold or too hot to work).

However, during working hours, the temperature in all indoor workspaces must be reasonable. Guidance suggests a minimum of 16ºC (or 13ºC if employees are doing physical work).

There is no guidance for a maximum temperature limit within a workspace but employers must adhere to the laws contained in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, including: –

  • keeping the temperature at a comfortable level; and

  • providing clean and fresh air.

Ask your staff to talk to you if they feel the workspace temperature isn’t comfortable.

Dress code

We know that sometimes it’s important for your staff to wear a suit and tie or formal attire for business meetings. But when your staff are simply in the office, allow them to remove these and cool down a bit. Perhaps suggest to staff that they wear natural fibres and light colours to avoid attracting the heat so much.

Ice, ice and more ice

If you have a freezer, keep it stocked with ice cubes and ice lollies for your staff. If you don’t have one, perhaps think about investing in a small one specifically for this reason.

Fresh fruit

Although your staff may still want to munch on cakes and cookies, keep a selection of fruit in the fridge as well, in case they want something fresh and cool instead.


Hydration is important for the mind as well as the body. A well-hydrated employee is likely to be more productive. Keep a selection of different fruit juices and squashes in the kitchen for a nice cool, refreshing drink for your staff.

Cool breeze

It might sound counter-productive but instead of having all the windows and doors open, keep them closed, pull the blinds or curtains and put the air conditioning or fan on. The closed windows and doors will prevent the hot air seeping in and the closed blinds or curtains will keep the direct sunlight out.

Outdoor meetings

Instead of holding your staff meetings in a stuffy, uncomfortable office, head into the garden or over to the park instead. Staff will enjoy sitting outside in the sun (or shade) and will appreciate a break from the office.


Perhaps think about having a weekly or fortnightly staff picnic outside. This will help boost morale and get staff socialising and relaxing.

Summer hols

Remember that with the summer months also comes the summer holidays for parents. Juggling childcare with work can be a stressful time for parents. Think about allowing staff to work from home or do flexi hours so that they can still work but look after the kids at the same time.

Some businesses start the business day an hour earlier to allow for an earlier finish but be mindful of this if it is not in your contract.

Bring your child to work day(s)

With the above in mind, 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 the children involved in simple tasks and keep their minds occupied. But make sure that your insurance covers you when children are in the workplace.

Summer break

Unless it’s essential for business reasons, don’t reject staff holiday requests unless it’s absolutely necessary. Everyone needs a holiday and will always be more productive once they’ve had a break.

If you would like any further tips or guidance on dealing with the working environment during the summer months, drop us an email to

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Work Experience with Orchard Employment Law – By David Nagy

At first, I was a bit nervous coming into work experience, I did not know what the people were going to be like, I didn’t know what the environment will be like. Knowing that I would be going into an office I expected to enter into a quite strict environment as it is an office at the end of the day. I expected it to be a quiet and calm place where people can get their work done nicely.

However, I was wrong. The people here are really nice and the place is really nice and enjoyable. I did not expect this place to be a co-working area so I did not expect it to be what it really is. However, I am happy that it is like this because I can socialise with everyone here because they are really friendly and kind. The place, in general, is really nice and I like the style of it. The fake grass area and then the kitchen and lunch area. This all adds up to a nice co-working area where we can all get our work done.

We do have trips here and there, for example, I didn’t expect this either. I did not expect to go on trips like going to radio shows, networking and training sessions that Jemma runs. This is all a great addition to work experience because this gives an insight into how a smaller business works and how to market your business as this is something I am interested in doing in the future.

I now understand more about Employment Law and how it works and what will be taking part next year. I now understand more about employment contracts, National minimum wage, auto enrolments, and HR. This is a really good experience for me as I have a better insight into what the future will look like for me when I start up my own business.

The entire thing is not what I expected. But this is a good thing. This is something I could have wished for as work experience because I get to have a good time and do some business work as well. At first, I was a bit nervous to talk to some people and just to be here in general. Now I feel much more confident in being here and talking to everyone in fact. People here are really kind which makes it a good environment to do my work experience.

I really enjoy the lunch breaks that we have here at the office, this is because we get to have a break from work and just have a nice chat with everyone who decides to join in and it is just some good fun. We usually sit down at the couches and eat our food while having a nice chat and then go back to the office’s and do some more work until the day is finished.

The trips that the work experience has to offer is a really good addition because I get to see what goes on behind the scenes while owning and managing a smaller business. I now understand how I can get my name around the area and get some people to check out what I would have to offer and maybe get some clients in the meantime.

We also looked at my CV, Jemma had a look at my CV and told me what’s good about it and what could be improved from an employers point of view. This was helpful and good because now I could improve my CV so I have a better chance of an employer looking at that and it sticking out so they would want to contact me.

My work experience here is really good and helpful for me as I take Business class in school, so this just further enables me to get higher grades in school.

On the 3 of July, I joined Jemma on her training session that she holds on about once or twice a month. While at the session I got to see how one of these training sessions works and what goes on during the session. This adds up to the experience of how the whole thing works.

The radio show was amazing. A new experience that was really fun, I have never experienced something like this before. It was a lot of fun and was interesting. We had a laugh and talked about business, the things that you hate the most in the business industry and at last, I interviewed Roland about Dragon Co-Working. This was good as well as we all got to learn a bit more about Dragon and why he has started it up in the first place.

You can come and listen to future radio shows at

You can also go to that website and download and listen to our radio show with Me, Jemma and Roland.

Supporting Mature Employees in the Workplace

This month, Jemma and Lucy attended a roundtable discussion hosted by CXK to discuss the importance of supporting older workers and the free services which CXK and the National Careers Service offer, including information, advice and guidance to help businesses to retain, retrain and recruit older workers.

CXK is a charity that delivers a range of services to empower young people and adults across the South-East to build the skills and confidence they need to move into education, employment or training.

We learnt a lot on the day and were pleased to be able to add to our knowledge base.

Did You Know

The average person aged 25-34 years will only stay in a job for 2.8 years and the average person aged 35-44 years will stay in a job for 4.9 years.

But the average person aged 55-64 will stay in the same job for 10.1 years. This is more than three times that of a younger worker.

The “Older Employee” is considered to be more experienced, more dedicated, more motivated and more eager to learn than those of the younger generation.

Older employees value having a job that gives them meaningful work and social interaction. With most of their financial commitments behind them, older employees choose to work because they want to, not just because they have to.

However, evidence shows that a high proportion of people aged 50 and over who left the workforce in the last eight years have done so due to factors that are likely to have pushed them out against their will. The main reasons for this are health, caring responsibilities, lack of skills and redundancy.

Twenty per cent of older employees are support-carers for their elderly parents or disabled children. However, it is felt that support from employers is inadequate and needs significant improvement.

It should also be noted that the Law protects carers from direct discrimination or harassment if they are treated less favourably because of their caring responsibilities. This is because carers are counted as being ‘associated’ with someone who is protected by the Law because of their age or disability under the Equality Act 2010.

By the time a person reaches age 55-59 years, nearly 40% of those in work want to reduce their working hours compared to just 7.7% who wish to increase them.

And a lack of skills can also be a hindrance to a person working longer.

With fewer young people than ever deciding to venture into the labour market, the older generation will represent an increasingly significant proportion of the workforce in the near future.

Employers, therefore, will need to rely on the skills and experience of older workers if they want to remain competitive, increase productivity and growth, and avoid skills shortages in the future.

How are you supporting the older workforce?

Older workers are fundamental to the future of successful businesses.

Businesses can benefit from retaining, retraining and recruiting older workers through: –

  • Increased staff loyalty and retention;

  • Improved productivity;

  • A workforce which reflects their demographics in terms of customer satisfaction;

  • A wide range of skills, ideas, experiences and ways of thinking which come with the older generation;

  • Reduced recruitment costs – the average cost of recruiting and training a new member of staff is estimated to be at least £4,000.

CXK and the National Careers Service offer a FREE service which supports employers and their staff in order to retain, retrain and recruit the older generation.

For more information, visit

Are Men Being Discriminated Against For Taking Shared Parental Leave?

Employees may be entitled to receive Shared Parental Leave (and Statutory Shared Parental Pay) if they have recently had a baby or adopted a child.

Employees can begin Shared Parental Leave as long as they are eligible and they or their partner end their Maternity or Adoption Leave early. The remaining leave would then be available as Shared Parental Leave.

Shared Parental Leave can give parents more flexibility in how they share the care of their child in the first year following birth or adoption.

Parents are entitled to share up to a maximum of fifty weeks of leave and up to a maximum of thirty-seven weeks of pay. They can also choose to take the leave and pay in a more flexible way, such as each parent taking up to three blocks of leave, rather than in one full block.

Eligible parents can be off work together for up to six months or alternatively stagger their leave and pay so that one of them is always at home with their baby in the first year.

Discrimination Against Men?

In May 2018, two decisions were made by the Employment Appeal Tribunal on the question of whether a man taking Shared Parental Leave is entitled to the same rate of pay as a female employee taking Maternity Leave.

Case One – Hextall v Chief Constanble of Leicestershire Police (1) and Working Families (Intervenor) (2)

Leicestershire Police paid eighteen weeks’ Enhanced Maternity Pay to mothers who were on Maternity Leave. However, they only paid Statutory Pay to those parents who chose to take Shared Parental Leave.

Mr Hextall took fourteen weeks Shared Parental Leave. If he had been a woman on Maternity Leave during that same period, he would have been entitled to receive full pay.

Mr Hextall claimed that this amounted to both direct and indirect sex discrimination.

The Employment Tribunal made the decision that it was neither direct nor indirect sex discrimination. Mr Hestall appealed the finding of indirect sex discrimination at the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Indirect discrimination is when a practice, policy or rule applies to everyone in the same way but has a worse effect on some people than others. The Equality Act says it puts a person at a particular disadvantage.

Unlike direct discrimination, it is possible for an employer to justify indirect discrimination.

In the above case, the practice was that Leicestershire Police only paid Statutory Pay to parents who took Shared Parental Leave. The Employment Tribunal held that this practice did not put men at a disadvantage because the same amount was paid to men and women who took Shared Parental Leave. The Employment Tribunal felt that Mr Hextall’s true case was that men were not disadvantaged by the practice but instead were disadvantaged by the fact that they cannot get pregnant (and this is not something that was capable of being indirect sex discrimination).

Case Two – Capita Customer Management Ltd v Ali and Another

In this case, Mr Ali argued that Capita’s practice to pay Shared Parental Leave at the Statutory rate amounted to direct sex discrimination.

Mr Ali compared himself to a woman who was on Maternity Leave and who would receive Enhanced Maternity Pay.

He also alleged that this was an act of indirect sex discrimination because it was a practice which was more likely to disadvantage men than women.

The Employment Tribunal found in favour of Mr Ali and confirmed his claim of direct discrimination. This was on the basis that Mr Ali could compare himself to a hypothetical female employee taking leave to care for her child after the two-week compulsory Maternity Leave period.

Mr Ali’s indirect discrimination claim was dismissed.

Capita appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld.

They found that Mr Ali had not been discriminated against and, also noted that the primary purpose of the European Union Parental Leave Directive, which is the basis for Shared Parental Leave, is the care of a child, whereas, the Pregnant Workers Directive is on the basis that paid Maternity Leave provisions promotes of the health and well-being of the mother.

Accordingly, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that Mr Ali could not compare himself to a woman in the first twenty-six weeks’ of Maternity Leave and the correct comparator was a woman on Shared Parental Leave, who would then also receive the same pay as a man.

Court of Appeal Rulings

On 28th May 2019, the Court of Appeal made a ruling that it is not discriminatory for employers to pay Enhanced Maternity Pay but only pay Statutory Pay for staff who choose to take Shared Parental Leave.

In this latest stage of the ongoing Court battles between Mr Hextall and Leicestershire Police and Mr Ali and Capita, the Court upheld the ruling that both Leicestershire Police and Capita were indeed allowed to offer Enhanced Maternity Pay without having to provide the same benefits for staff on Shared Parental Leave.

The Judges decided that the main purpose of Maternity Leave is for the mother to recover from giving birth and not about childcare. This need is not shared by the mother’s partner and, as such, it is not discriminatory to offer more generous Maternity Leave.

The Court also decided that there was no case for equal pay because the law gives employers the option to make exceptions for those female employees who are pregnant, who have recently given birth or who are breastfeeding.


This Court of Appeal ruling will be seen as a positive step for employers. An opposite ruling could well have seen a lot of employers pulling their Enhanced Maternity Packages, and thus, denying women the protection which Maternity Leave offers them.

Employers should remember that this Law only states the minimum pay and not a maximum. So if an employer would like to pay more money to fathers on Shared Parental Leave they can do so. This will help employers to be more attractive and competitive.

For more information or help with Employment Law.

Please contact us at

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

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

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