Employment Tribunal Claim Update

Following the decision made to abolish tribunal fees on the 26th July, the Employment and Property Jurisdictional Support Team of HM Courts and Tribunals Service, have issued the following statement for the attention of those affected by the decision:

“Dear All

You will all be aware that on 26 July, the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor. Unison’s appeal was a challenge to the lawfulness of Employment Tribunals fees. The Court has found that the fees unlawfully hinder access to justice and the relevant Fees Order – the Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013, has been quashed.

The effect of this judgment is that the fees have been found to be unlawful from the time they were introduced.

We have immediately taken steps to stop charging fees for proceedings in the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal. For an interim period, the digital service has been withdrawn for essential maintenance work to remove references to fees. During this period, anyone seeking to issue an Employment Tribunal claim will need to complete an ET1 form and submit it by post, or in person to the relevant office. Full details on how to do this are available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/employment-tribunals/make-a-claim. We hope to have an online submission portal up and running early next week.

While these arrangements are in place, it may take us a little longer to process claims and deal with enquiries. We would ask for your patience during this period.

Full details of the refund scheme will be announced in due course.”

Supreme Court rules tribunal fees as unlawful!

This morning, tribunal fees have been ruled as unlawful and the Government now face paying fines of up to 32m to claimants.

In 2013, to reduce weak cases, the Government implemented fees of up to £1,200 to be paid by the claimant in the first instance, before a case could proceed in front of the Employment Tribunal. As well as this, further fees if the case went ahead and an additional charge if the claimant wished to appeal the decision.

It has been argued by Unison that such fees restricted workers from access to justice and that it was “virtually impossible or excessively difficult” for individuals to exercise their employment rights.

On July 26th, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Government has acted unlawful in their approach and unconstitutionally on introducing such fees. Seven of the Supreme Court Judges have identified that due to the effect of these fees, the Employment Tribunal has seen a drastic decline in the number of claims heard.

Dave Prentis, who is the General Secretary of Unison was reported to state: “The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong – not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too.”

He added: “These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up.

“We’ll never know how many people missed out because they couldn’t afford the expense of fees.”

Access to Justice

Previously, the Government made a voluntary commitment to repay all fees if it was established they had acted unlawfully.

Dominic Raab, Justice Minister said: “The Government would cease taking fees for employment tribunals ‘immediately’ and begin the process of reimbursing claimants, dating back to 2013.

He said: “We respect the judgement and we are going to take it fully on board and we are going to comply with it.”

“The tricky, the difficult, the fluid balancing act that we’ve got is we want to make sure there’s proper access to justice, we want to make sure frivolous or spurious claims don’t clog up the tribunal and at the same time we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the right way to fund it.”

France O’Grady of the Trade Union Congress stated: “It was a “massive win” for workers. Too many low-paid workers couldn’t afford to uphold their rights at work, even when they’ve faced harassment or have been sacked unfairly.”

What should employers be considering next?

It is important to note, it is unlikely that the fee regime will be entirely abolished (at least not straight away). It has been submitted that the Government will consider a consultation paper with the hope of implementing a new regime.

The Employment Tribunal service now has a lot of work ahead – consideration on rewriting tribunal rules will now need to be implemented with immediate effect. As well as, a reprogramming of the online claim form system.

There are many questions that remain unanswered –  what will happen to employees who were put off bringing a claim in front of the Employment Tribunal due to financial reasons? Or following today’s decision, will it be reasonable to extend the duration in which an employee can bring a claim?

Employment Law Services (ELS) LTD will ensure you are well informed of updates as they come in. In the meantime, employers concerned with about any of the issues raised in this article can also take advantage of our Employment Law Services (ELS) free consultation service – call us today to arrange your free consultation – 0800 612 4772.

The Repeal Bill will ensure there is no immediate change to workers’ rights!

The Repeal Bill will ensure there is no immediate change to workers’ rights!

The Repeal Bill appoints the Governments plans for ensuring a functioning statue book is in place when the UK leaves the EU.

The bill goes into detail about:

– The repeal of the European Communities Act 1972

– How EU law will be transferred into UK law

– How corrections will be made to the statue book in the UK and how the law will function when the UK leaves the EU

Legislation that is EU-derived such as, the Working Time Directive, the Transfer of Under Takings Regulations (TUPE) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will remain in place once the UK officially leaves the EU.

The Repeal Bill which is 66 pages long and otherwise known as the European Union Withdrawal Bill was published on the 13th July 2017 and has the intention of merging elements of EU law into the UK book of statute.

The bill has been constructed to provide as much confidence and stability as possible for business owners, workers and consumers regardless of the outcome.

Although the bill involves a conversion of EU law into UK law, several aspects of the law will not function properly when the UK leaves the EU, because, certain elements refer to EU institutions that will no longer be relevant in UK legislation. The bill will therefore provide the Government with power to rectify legislation in this event.

David Davis, Brexit Secretary states: “It is one of the most significant pieces of legislation that has ever passed through Parliament and is a major milestone in the process of our withdrawal from the European Union.”

Why is the Repeal Bill so important?

This bill is crucial as it is the UK Government’s primary means of providing the UK with certainty and what statute will look like following the UK leaving the EU. This measure has been suggested as critical for all players within the UK economy.

When the UK officially leaves the EU, the Repeal Bill will save and incorporate all EU law in and into UK domestic law. As well as this, EU law that has been incorporated into UK legislation will be amended or repealed post Brexit.

It has been suggested that this will achieve the Government’s aim of ‘taking back control’ of legislation in the UK.

For Employers

The UK has a history of ensuring that workers are fully protected in employment and equality matters. The Repeal Bill has established that these rights will remain when the UK leaves the EU.

This protects EU derived rights such as the Working Time Directive and the Equality Act 2010, ensuring these rights will continue to apply after the UK exits the EU. It has been suggested that this will supply certainty and continuity to employers and employees, building stability and allowing the UK to grow and thrive.

How Employment Law Services (ELS) can help

If you would like to receive regular bulletins and updates about important employment milestones, you can subscribe to our regular e-bulletin service.

Employers concerned with about any of the issues raised in this article can also take advantage of our Employment Law Services (ELS) free consultation service – call us today to arrange your free consultation – 0800 612 4772.

“I lost a darts tournament last night and I am too traumatised to come in to work today”

“I lost a darts tournament last night and I am too traumatised to come in to work today” – One of the most bizarre excuses for calling in sick to work found by survey published by CV-Library.

A recent survey published by jobs website CV-Library has identified that over the last year, around 80% of workers in the UK have called in sick, with women more likely to feel guilty than men when “pulling a sickie”.

In addition, the survey established that over half of workers who participated felt guilty for phoning in sick, because of the stress they then left on co-workers who had to pick up their work.

Some of the most ludicrous excuses range from; “There are cows in my garden so I cannot get to work”, “I lost a darts tournament last night and I am too traumatised to come in to work today”, “I have blisters from wearing new shoes on Saturday night.”

Other excuses included, “I left my work uniform on the bus”, “My hamster is sick and has to go to the vet”, “My boyfriend changed his relationship status on Facebook to single”, “I’m having a BBQ at the weekend and need time to prepare for it.”

The CV-Library identified that the main reason employees called in sick was due to tiredness and lack of sleep. 65% of 55-64 year olds who participated in the survey admitted that they occasionally did not go in to work due to lack of energy.

15% of participants said that they did not go into work because they could not be bothered and 13% had “other plans”.

It was further identified, that generally managers were reasonably tolerant and 86% stated that their line manager was understanding when they had to take a sick day.

Lee Biggins, who is the founding director of CV-Library was reported to state: “Honesty was very important in the workplace as trust from an employer is always vital.”

“While it’s all too easy to come up with an excuse for not turning up to work, it’s important to think about the bigger picture and wider implications of your absence.”

“In today’s working world, it is clear professionals are still taking unnecessary sick days, giving a whole host of excuses for not turning up to work. But while it might seem like a good idea at the time, many workers are feeling the guilt, recognising that their decisions have a wider impact on their team and work load.”

How employers can minimise absence and lateness

As well as conducting a return to work interview, employers can also address workplace issues in order to minimise absence. ACAS recommend that employers and line managers assess the quality of management, working relationships, job design, employment relations, communication of information and flexible working arrangements.

Further, employers should make their employees aware that all unauthorised absences will be noted and investigated. By doing this, employees will be less inclined to take random sick days without cause.

Employment Law Support for Employers

If you require employment law advice on any of the issues raised in this article, or any other employment issue give us a call today on 0370 218 5662.  You can also find out more about our fixed fee HR packages here and fixed fee employment law packages here, or get in touch.

What do employers need to know about the Taylor Review?

What do employers need to know about the Taylor Review?

“The Taylor Review: What employers need to know” was published first by Personnel Today.

What is the Taylor Review?

Matthew Taylor, who is the former advisor to Tony Blair, has conducted a review with the aim of setting out recommendations in hope of improving the employment market in the UK.

The highly anticipated review “Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices” was launched in 2016 and published on the 11th July 2017. The fundamental purpose of this publication is to achieve a deeper understanding of how labour market practices function across various industries and sectors, determine what impact technology and the expansion of ‘gig economy’ workers are having on working practices and assess the impact that these developments have within the current framework of employment legislation in the UK.

On launching the review, Taylor said: “Our national performance on the quantity of work is strong. But quantity alone is not enough for a thriving economy and fair society. We believe now is the time to complement that commitment to creating jobs with the goal of creating better jobs.”

“Despite the impact of the national living wage and tax credits, there will always be people who are in work but finding it hard to make ends meet. Our social contract with those people should include dignity at work and the realistic scope to progress in the labour market.”

Despite this, the review has been slammed by trade unions and employment law specialists. France O’Grady, General Secretary for the Trade Union Congress said: “I worry that many gig economy employers will be breathing a sigh of relief this morning.

“From what we’ve seen, this review is not the game-changer needed to end insecurity and exploitation at work.

“We’d welcome any nuggets of good news, but it doesn’t look like the report will shift the balance of power in the modern workplace.”

The review pushes for a “significant shift in the quality of work in the UK economy” and makes several suggestions on how employment law can support this.

Key Principles of the Good Work Review

(1)  The UK ought to aim for “good work for all” this means an equal balance of rights and responsibilities between the employer and individual. With protections in place for all individuals;

(2)  Two-way flexibility which is to give workers further protections whilst safeguarding fairness for those working in platforms;

(3)  Legislation should be implemented to make it easier for employers when making the right choices, whilst ensuring individuals have help and guidance when it comes to exercising their rights;

(4)  The most efficient way to obtain a better work force is through responsible corporate governance, good management and strong employee relations;

(5)  Every individual should be given attainable methods in order to help develop and strengthen their work prospects;

(6)  Employers should promote a proactive approach to workplace health;

(7)  All individuals should not be trapped at the minimum living wage resulting in financial insecurity.

Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, states: “The recommendations show some laudable aims on the surface – and of course any progress in basic employment rights is welcome – but as a whole it’s a disappointing missed opportunity.

“Everyone can pay lip service to wanting good quality, well-paid work but employers could offer that right here and now – they simply choose not to. They won’t decide to do so just because they’re asked nicely.”

What impact is the Taylor Review likely to have on employment?

The review is clear in its approach, focusing heavily on the ‘Gig Economy’ and its recommendations on how the law ought to be changed to accommodate this. Additionally, it is evident that by changing the law on employment status and implementing protections for casual workers and those employed on zero hour contracts, if enforced, would have a significant impact on the employment market in the UK.

However, it is important to note that this review is simply recommendations and is yet to be a policy document adopted by the Government.

Theresa May was reported to state that she will commit to taking “this agenda forward in the months ahead” and has been seen to invite all parties to “engage with difficult issues” highlighted in the review.

At present, the Government has yet to act on these recommendations therefore organisations do not need to take any immediate action. However, it may be useful to start considering potential developments and plan appropriately.

How Employment Law Services (ELS) Can Help Employers

Employers concerned about any of the issues raised in this article can take advantage of Employment Law Services (ELS) free consultation service – call us today to arrange your free consultation – 0800 612 4772.

Scottish Labour Party has called for a maximum of 48 hours in a working week!

Scottish Labour Party have called for a maximum of 48 hours in a working week – Is this good or bad?

As part of Scottish Labours new Industrial Strategy, Kezia Dugdale has sought support for a complete ban on employees engaging in more than 48 hours in one working week.

The Scottish Conservative Party have responded to this arguing that no one has the right to “dictate” how many hours individuals should work.

Within the proposals, the Scottish Labour Party argue that powers over employment and health and safety legislation following Brexit could be used to overturn the UK’s opt out of the Working Time Directive which is EU derived and limits the working week to 48 hours.

They have suggested that these proposals will boost productivity in the workplace and that NHS workers will gain the most benefits from it.

In reference to the 250,000 Scottish workers who currently work more than 48 hours a week, the proposals state: “Too many people experience long working hours, job monotony, management by stress and over work.”

Kezia Dugdale who is the leader of the Scottish Labour Party adds further that the Government ought to “consider ending current opt-outs which fail to deliver on our ambition for an inclusive economy.”

The proposals made by Scottish Labour have been slammed and criticized that in the event that working hours are slashed, those who are on low paid wages and who work under a self-employed status will be hit the hardest.

Dean Lockhart, who is the Shadow Secretary for the Scottish Conservatives states “no-one should be forced to work those kinds of hours if they don’t want to or simply can’t.”

“However, many people – particularly those running their own business – do want to, and will be appalled at the idea of Labour trying to tell them what to do.”

“In addition, others may need the cash working those hours bring, for a variety of reasons. Labour simply do not have the right to dictate to those people what hours they should and shouldn’t be working. These restrictions have been tried elsewhere and they’ve should to damage the economy.”

The Working Time Directive

As it stands, the Working Time Directive/ Working Time Regulations ensures that employees cannot be made to work more than 48 hours a week on average.

In addition, the Working Time Directive regulates patterns of work and holidays as well as rest periods on a daily/weekly basis.

Further, the Working Time Directive ensures the health and working hours of shift workers is covered within the regulations.

For general workers, the Working Time Directive administers the right to:

– A limit of 48 hours a week on average

– Paid holidays of 5.6 weeks annually

– In any 24-hour period, a worker must be given a rest break of at least 11 hours

– 20-minute break if the employee is working more than six hours in one day

Exceptions to the rule

There are some exceptions to this rule. The law states that you may have to work more than 48 hours on average a week if you work in a job:

– Where 24-hour staffing is required

– In the armed forces, emergency services or police

– In security or surveillance

– As a domestic servant in a private household

– Where working time is not measured and you are in control, E.G. Managing Directors with control over decisions. (Sourced from Direct Gov)


Individuals do have the opportunity to work more than 48 hours a week, this is otherwise known as ‘opting out’.

An employer may request from an employee that they choose to opt out, however, they cannot terminate their employment or treat them unfairly should the employee refuse.

If the employee does not belong to one of the groups of workers who are prohibited from opting out, they may make the decision to exclude themselves from the Working Time Regulations. For example, they are required to work on a major project that depends on them working overtime to meet the deadline, they can choose to opt-out for this period of time.

Who can’t opt-out?

– Anyone under 18 years old

– Anyone who is responsible for operating ships or boats, airlines and heavy load vehicles

How Employment Law Services (ELS) Can Help Employers

Employers concerned about their legal obligations and general compliance with UK employment law can take advantage of Employment Law Services (ELS) free consultation – contact us today to arrange your free consultation.

“Some Self-Employed workers should be covered by the National Minimum Wage” – Resolution Foundation Report

Resolution Foundation Report

The Resolution Foundation has published a report arguing for a better pay deal for those working in the Gig-Economy.

The report argues that the Government ought to extend minimum wage legislation to cover the self-employed workforce in order to tackle low pay and insecurity in the UK.

As part of their submission to Taylor’s Review of Modern Practices, the Resolution Foundation have suggested “the minimum required”. The proposal suggests that a number of recommendations to end endemic levels of pay among self-employed.

The report identifies that 21% (1 in 5) employees are low paid, in 2016 49% of those who are self-employed fell below the UK’s typical weekly earnings, making less than £310 a week.

The Government have pledged to introduce the National Living Wage in the next few years in hope that it will reduce low pay among employees. It has been suggested that those who work under a self-employed status will miss out in this event because they will not be entitled to it.

However, the Resolution Foundation has cautioned that if low pay rules are not changed organisations might start employing individuals on self-employed contracts as a way of dodging having to pay the legal minimum wage.

The Data Analyser for Resolution Foundations was reported to state: “The number of people who are self-employed has increased decently over the last 10 years, we used to ask if these people were self-employed because they couldn’t find other employment or if it was by choice. Now the conversation has moved on. We need to ask if this rise in self-employment is a good thing and what we can do to help them in their long-term interests.

Jason Moyer – Lee who is the General Secretary of the independent workers in Great Britain argued that unless legislation is enforced by the Government it is useless.

“Most people in the gig economy, in my experience have been bogusly categorised as independent contractors.” The law, as it currently stands, is in favour of these workers, but employers face no consequence what so ever if they ignore it.” He said.

He recommends that the Government ought to fine employers who disobey the law and that tribunal fees should be abolished. Stating further: “It’s nearly impossible for workers to access a tribunal and there is no Government enforcement, it is no surprised that gig-economy businesses are blatantly disregarding the law.”

How Employment Law Services (ELS) Can Help Employers

Employers concerned about any of the issues raised in this article can take advantage of Employment Law Services (ELS) free consultation service – call us today to arrange your free consultation – 0800 612 4772.

How can you protect your business against reputational damage?

How employers can prevent reputational damage

It is important that employers protect their organisations reputation, Personnel Today have listed six ways in which employers can reduce the risk and ensure that damage is kept to a minimum.

(1)  Put in place a firm Social Media policy

Employers should ensure they have a robust social media policy that applies clear rules on the use of social media. E.G. Remind employees that they should not assume opinions and remarks made on social media platforms are private. Your workplace policy should set out clear procedures of disciplinary action that may be taken if rules are broken.

The case of Plant v API Microelectronics LTD notes the importance of being cautious when making comments regarding your place of work on social media platforms.

In this instance, the employer implemented a social media policy reminding employees on what they considered as acceptable content on social media. On doing so, the organisation provided all employees with a list of things that they should not be doing, in the event that it may damage the company’s reputation.

Ms Plant, who had served 17 years at the organisation with a spotless disciplinary record made the mistake of posting a comment on Facebook about her employers that stated: “PMSL (piss myself laughing) bloody place, I need to hurry up and sue them PMSL.”

Following this comment, the employee was invited to attend a disciplinary meeting to discuss her actions. The employees defence was that she did not think her Facebook was linked to the company in any form and that the comments made were not aimed at her employers. There was no further explanation given.

Her employers argued that because of their strict social media policy that they had implemented and the nature of the comment, the employee should be dismissed. Ms Plant was given the chance to appeal this decision.

On appeal, the Employment Tribunal found that: “It may be seen as harsh, but the company taking into account Ms Plant’s long service and clear record nevertheless was dismissed for a clear breach of the policy and that would fall within the range of a reasonable response open to an employer.”

(2)  Address inappropriate comments made on Social Media

In the event that an employee has posted an inappropriate comment on social media that involves the organisation, you should gather enough evidence and take the correct steps to delete the material quickly. This may involve asking the employee to do so. Depending on the content, disciplinary action may be required.

(3)  Have your managers properly trained in the correct recruitment practices

It is crucial that managers manage recruitment processes in a professional manner. Even more so when updating an unsuccessful applicant.

A recent case of “recruitment mishaps” saw an unsuccessful job applicant who tweeted a screenshot of a text that they had received informing them of why she had not been chosen for the role, the text message was sarcastic and at the end of the text the manager had used a cry-laughing emoji.

Another example concerned an email that had been accidently sent to the applicant calling her a “left wing loon tree hugger.”

(4)  Ensure your staff are aware of behaviour that will be expected out of the workplace

Inappropriate behaviour outside of work can have a severe impact on an organisations public image. It is the line managers duty to pre-warn employees what will be viewed as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the workplace or at a public event.

If your employee has committed a criminal offence out of the workplace, the employer should consider dismissal in the event that continued employment would see damage on the company’s reputation.

(5)  Prepare for gender pay gap reporting

Large organisations that do not publish gender pay gap figures by April 2018 run the risk of negative publicity. You can start preparing for gender pay gap reporting now. This can be done by putting figures into context and producing a narrative commentary.

(6)  Consider the organisations reputation before pursuing Employment Tribunal claims

In February 2017, Employment Tribunal decisions were made available online and as a result of this, it may put the business at risk of negative media interests. Further, it may put potential job applicants off working for your organisation.

Thus, you should take reputational damage into consideration when deciding to defend an Employment Tribunal case.

How Can You Avoid Getting Caught Out?

If you are unsure about how these changes to employment law might affect your business, or simply want to check your company’s compliance generally, Contact Us and we will undertake full review of your current arrangements and provide you with our findings and recommendations.

Training and Study at work

“GMB Officer Wins Employment Tribunal on Union Safety Role” – TUC

A GMB officer who as refused safety training has been awarded compensation and the legal battle against his employer. The Employment Tribunal in Central London has ruled in favour of the claimant against London Borough of Camden on the grounds that an employee should be entitled to the right to time off for training under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act (TULRA) 1992.

The claimant was a health and safety branch officer for the GMB, the TULRA provides that the claimant qualified for the right to time off for training, this was to allow him to carry out his functions.

The employee was then awarded £2,500 in damages and tribunal fees incurred.

Helen Purcell who is the GMB London Organiser stated: GMB are over the moon about the tribunal’s decision. Grant’s dogged determination throughout this whole process is to be commended. It is disappointing that Camden Council sought to block our representative and defended the claim at tribunal.”

“Grant is delighted with the outcome and has maintained throughout that it is the declaration that is important to him. We hope that we can now move forward in a positive way to improve industrial relations and our representatives can go about their business without obstruction.”

Who can ask for time off to complete training

To have the right to ask for time off:

-The individual must be classed as an employee

-They must have worked for you for at least 26 weeks continuously

-The training that they requested must help them to carry out their job role better

-There must be at least 250 people already working for the organisation

Time off will usually be unpaid unless the employer agrees to pay it.

Who can’t ask for time off

-An agency worker

-An individual employed in the armed forces

-An employee of compulsory school age

-A young individual who already has the right to take time off for studying/training

-Anyone aged between 16 and 18 who is expected to take part in education or training

Employers Should:

-Respond to the request within 28 days

-Hold a meeting with the individual to discuss the matters

Direct Gov state that an employer can only turn down the request if:

-The training wouldn’t benefit their business

-They would run up extra costs for the business

-They wouldn’t be able to meet customer demands

-They can’t re-organise the work among other members of staff

-They can’t recruit extra staff

-It would damage quality and business performance

-There wouldn’t be enough work for the employee to do at the times they intend to work

-It conflicts with planned structural changes

How Can Employment Law Services (ELS) Help?

Failure to comply with the law, even unintentionally, can leave your business vulnerable to costly Employment Tribunal claims. Seeking Employment Law Advice from qualified employment law practitioners can help you ensure you safely manage issues in arguably one of the most complex areas for any business to get to grips with. Employers concerned about how these regulations might impact them can take advantage of Employment Law Services (ELS) free consultation service – Contact us today to arrange your free consultation.