Supporting employees during Ramadan 2018

This year Ramadan begins on the 16th May and will last for 30 days, until the 14th June. Ramadan is the 9thmonth of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran.

Throughout this period, Muslims will fast and engage in extra prayers and worship. Therefore, it is extremely important employers are aware of their obligations towards their Muslim employees.

What does the law say?

In the Equality Act 2010, religion or belief can mean any religion. For example, an organised religion like Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Buddhism, or, a smaller religion like Rastafarianism or Paganism. Legislation also covers those with no beliefs or lack of beliefs.

Therefore, it will be viewed as unlawful should you treat an employee less favourably because of their religion or beliefs.

Have workplace policies on religious observance

Employers should have workplace policies regarding religious observance during working hours. This will ensure the workplace is consistent and managers are aware of what they can do to support employees. Lack of policies or failing to support your employees will expose the business to complaints of religious discrimination.

Employers and managers should be considerate and understanding

Throughout Ramadan, managers should be mindful of Muslim colleagues and offer support to help manage their workload. Employers may find that the productivity levels of employees who are fasting are affected, thus, employees should not be unduly penalised or criticised in the even that they lose productivity during fasting hours.

Flexible working

Where possible, employers may wish to consider implementing flexible working arrangements during Ramadan, all of which should be clearly set out in the workplace religious observance policy. In this instance, employees may prefer to start working earlier and work right through lunch in order to finish early. Employers will find that productivity is less likely to be affected when employees are granted the right to work flexibly during Ramadan.

Be corporative with holiday requests

With Ramadan ending in the middle of June this year, Muslim employees may wish to take annual leave to allow them to celebrate Eid with friends and family. There is no automatic legal requirement to time off, however, employers and managers should try their best to accommodate any requests during this time period.

Should an employer decide to refuse an employee time off following Ramadan, there should be a clear and fair reason provided as to why their annual leave request cannot be accommodated at that time.

How can Employment Law Services (ELS) Help?

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.

EAT says father who was refused enhanced shared parental pay was not discriminated against!

The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has ruled it is not discriminatory to refuse a new father enhanced pay whilst on shared parental leave.

In Ali v Capita Customer Management the judge held that the Employment Tribunal (ET) had failed to take into consideration the purpose of paid maternity leave when it reached its decision and ruled that it was not a matter of discrimination refusing the father the same rights as the new mother following the birth of their child.

In 2017, the ET held it was direct sex discrimination to allow Mr Ali only 2 weeks leave on full pay, when female employees were allowed 14 weeks maternity leave with full pay.

In this case, Mr Ali’s wife had been advised by her GP to return to work early to help with her post-natal depression. Mr Ali’s employers granted him 2 weeks fully paid paternity pay and a number of weeks paid annual leave following the birth of his child.

However, Mr Ali’s employers had only offered statutory minimum pay thereafter, this meant that once he had taken his 2 weeks paternity leave, everything after would be a substantial loss in earnings.

Mr Ali lodged a complaint to the ET claiming that his employers refusing to pay him the same rate as his partner was direct sex discrimination. His employers appealed this, arguing that Mr Ali could not compare his situation to the new mother on maternity leave as he was not the one who had given birth.

The ET responded agreeing with Mr Ali, arguing that he had not compared himself to the mother who had given birth. Suggesting further, that after the initial two – week recovery period that is specific to a baby’s mother, a female employee on maternity leave was an appropriate comparator; it was irrelevant that Mr Ali had not given birth.

Last week, Capita Customer Management won its appeal against the ET decision.

The EAT held that the ET had poorly interpreted Mr Ali’s circumstances. Arguing that the purpose of maternity pay and leave is to recognise the “health and wellbeing of a woman in pregnancy, confinement and after recent child birth.”

Working Families’, Chief Executive, Sarah Jackson said: “We intervened in this case because the particular workplace disadvantage women face having experienced pregnancy and child birth must continue to be recognised in law. Only women can experience child birth and maternity leave is to protect a women’s health and wellbeing – it cannot simply be equated with ‘child care’.”

However, she does highlight the importance of providing men with greater childcare rights. “We have long called for greater rights and pay for working fathers – including a properly – paid, standalone period of extended paternity leave for fathers – but these should complement, not undermine, the rights of working mothers.”

Employers will be happy to hear they do not have to take any drastic measures to amend workplace policies immediately. However, they should be aware of any potential risks and challenges that may be made by male employees and be fully prepared to proceed with complaints should they arise.

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 to upskill your workforce to get the most out of your employees

One of the biggest concerns for small business owners is the skills gap as the UK is soon set to leave the EU.

Recruitment website have produced research identifying 2 out of 3 employees have moved on due to lack of development opportunities and training.

Providing your employees with training and further education opportunities can have a number of benefits for your business in the long-term, including, improved employee morale, higher retention and increased productivity.

Therefore, upskilling your current workforce is a crucial step to keep your employees engaged. Here are our top tips to get the most out of your team.

Workplace mentoring

New starts and junior level employees benefit from this the most. Mentoring can be done informally – simply set aside some time each week to give your employees feedback, and work alongside them when solving problems and decision making. This has been proved as a more efficient way to bring employees up to scratch more quickly than if left unsupervised.

Training courses

Training courses are effective when improving your current workforce. However, they are also viewed as attractive benefits for ambitious individuals. Benefits include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Employees develop a greater skill set which in turn allows them to undertake a wider variety of duties
  • Increased ability to adapt effectively to change in the workplace

A report published by research firm Gallup – “How millennials want to work” identified that 59% of respondents said that opportunities to learn and develop were crucial when applying for jobs.

Set out roles & responsibilities clearly

If your employees have a clearer understanding of what is expected of them and how their input contributes to the success of the business, they will have a greater sense of purpose and in turn will have a stronger commitment in what they can achieve.

We recommend holding team meetings once a month to ensure all employees are contributing. This helps them understand their own individual role as well as the importance of their team.

Reward your employees for their efforts

It is well established that happy employees are vital to the long-term success of any organisation. Recognising your employees hard work and rewarding them will:

  • Create a good impression of your business to those outside of it
  • Aid the recruitment process
  • Encourage your employees to always go that extra mile for the business
  • Supports team work and cohesiveness

How can Employment Law Services (ELS) Help?

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.

April 2018: Important employment law updates

April is always one of the busiest months of the year in the world of employment law. Here is a summary of the key updates employers should be aware of:

(1) National Living Wage & National Minimum Wage

The NLW is to increase from £7.50 to £7.83 per hour while the NMW will increase as followed: –

  • 21 to 24-year-old rate from £7.05 to £7.38 per hour;
  • 18 to 20-year-old rate from £5.60 to £5.90 per hour;
  • 16 to 17-year-old rate from £4.05 to £4.20 per hour;
  • Apprentice rate from £3.50 to £3.70 per hour;

(2) Statutory Benefits

On the 1st April, statutory maternity/paternity/adoption/shared parental pay and maternity allowance will increase to £145.18 per week (currently £140.98 per week).

As of the 6th April, statutory sick pay will increase to £92.05 per week (currently £89.35 per week).

(3) Tribunal Compensation

Compensation limits are minimum awards payable under employment legislation and are set to increase on the 6th April. Increases go as followed:

  • Maximum limit on compensatory award for unfair dismissal will increase to £83,682 (currently £80,541);
  • Maximum limit on a week’s pay for calculating basic award and statutory redundancy payments will increase to £508 (currently £489);
  • Guarantee pay will increase to £28 per day (currently £27 per day);
  • The minimum basic award in cases where a dismissal is unfair by virtue of health and safety, employee representative, trade union, or occupational pension trustee reasons will increase to £6,203 (currently £5,970);
  • Award for unlawful inducement relating to trade union membership or activities, or for unlawful inducement relating to collective bargaining will increase to £4,059 (from £3,907)
  • Minimum amount of compensation where individual excluded or expelled from union in contravention and not admitted or re-admitted by date of tribunal application will increase to £9,474 (currently £9,118)

(4) Taxation of Termination Payments

As of 6th April, all payments made in lieu of notice, will be taxed, regardless of whether they are contractual or not.

(5) Gender Pay Gap Reporting

The 4th April is the deadline in which gender pay gap reports should be published. These results must be made public on the employer’s website and a government site. This means the public, customers, employees and potential recruits will have access to these figures.

Employers should consider taking new or faster actions to reduce or eliminate their gender pay gaps.

How can Employment Law Services (ELS) Help?

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.

How to manage a disgruntled ex-employee

As an employer, you will eventually experience a disgruntled ex-employee. The problem with an angry former employee is they pose a risk to your business. Therefore, the sooner this situation is addressed, the better.

All employers should ensure they take the following steps:

(1)    Arrange An exit interview with the employee

When an employee hands in their letter of resignation, employers should arrange an exit interview to allow them to understand their thoughts and reasoning behind the resignation.

In the exit interview, the employee should be reminded of their contractual duties whilst working their notice. For example, the employee may be reminded of clauses in connection to confidentiality and accessing company records.

If it states in the employment contract things they should not do when leaving the company, they should be reminded of this too and that the company will deal with any breaches.

(2)    Ensure you have robust contracts of employment in place

Post termination restrictive covenants are contractual clauses which may be set out within a contract of employment. If this is the case, employers should use them when an employee hands his/her notice in.

The most common restrictions an employer may place on an employee who wishes to terminate the employment relationship are:

  • General confidentiality clauses; these make it unlawful for the employee to disclose sensitive information about the organisation and its clients
  • Non-solicitation clauses; this means the employee cannot approach the organisations existing clients when the employment has been terminated
  • Non-dealership restrictions; such clauses prevent the employee from doing business with the organisations clients after they leave the employment

(3)    Have everything documented

Since the Supreme Court made the decision to abolish tribunal fees in July 2017, employees can now bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal without that financial barrier. It is therefore extremely important that employers document everything to minimise risks associated with the Employment Tribunal. Employers should keep all important documents, including, the employee’s resignation letter and any minutes taken at the exit interview.

How can Employment Law Services (ELS) Help?

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.