Providing HR & employment law support

Welcome to the JMA Blog!

Follow our blog to keep up to date with us here at JMA and any significant developments in HR and employment law

If you have any comments or questions about any of our blogs, please get in touch using our contact form or by emailing us directly at enquiries@jma-hrlegal.co.uk.

Employee’s tribunal legal costs are not tax deductable

A banker lost his appeal to the First Tier tax Chamber against an HMRC Closure Notice on his self-assessment. He had brought employment tribunal proceedings against his former employer. The tribunal ruled that the costs claimed were not incurred by the taxpayer as a holder of employment.

Employers can offset the costs of tribunal litigation against tax as a business expense but employees do not have the right to offset tribunal claim costs.

What is Diversity?

Diversity is the current “in” word – everyone is in to it! But what does it mean? Isn’t it only relevant to big corporates who can afford the “Diversity Programme Manager” or who can afford the time to make their workplace diversity-friendly?

Well, actually, no – diversity is open to everyone, however and wherever they are employed.

Although people are unique and do have things in common with each other they are also different in many ways. Differences include visible and non-visible factors, for example, personal characteristics such as background, culture, personality, work-style, accent, language and so on. A number of personal characteristics are covered by discrimination law to give people protection against being treated unfairly. The ‘protected characteristics’ are race, disability, gender reassignment, sex, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, religion and belief, sexual orientation and age.

“One-size” no longer fits all and it is important to recognise that this approach to managing people does not achieve fairness and equality of opportunity for everyone. Good people management practice demands that people propositions are both consistently fair but also flexible and inclusive in ways that are designed to support business needs.

“To be competitive, organisations need everyone who works for them to make their best contribution. Increasingly, employers are recognising the importance of diversity in recruiting and retaining the skills and talent they need and the importance of designing appropriate and fair people propositions to be successful. Creating open and inclusive workplace cultures in which everyone feels valued, and respects colleagues, is recognised as key.”

If you would like …Read More

FINANCIAL PENALTIES FOR EMPLOYERS WHO LOSE A TRIBUNAL CLAIM

The Government plans to implement financial penalties for Respondents who lose employment tribunal claims. This is expected to be implemented in April 2014. The Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation paper recommended that Tribunals should automatically levy a financial penalty on an employer who loses a claim, although the Tribunal would have discretion as to when to make an order.

Guidelines have been set that for cases where there has been particular malice or negligence the penalties are likely to be enforced. It will be 50% of the award to the Claimant that will be payable by the employer. The payment will be made to the Secretary of State. If payment is made within 21 days then it will be reduced by 50%.

This could play a key role for employers in considering whether to settle a claim and it could also lead to an increase in claims going to mediation or other methods of alternative dispute resolution.

FREE HR Health Check

Review your current HR policies and procedures, know your risks and keep up to date. A little attention to detail now will save you the headaches and costs in the future so why not take advantage of our FREE HR HEALTH CHECK?

Can’t Work/Won’t Work?

Latest survey findings reported this week by the CIPD in the joint CPID/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey has reported an increase in absence levels, back up to levels reported in 2011 and 2010.

There is a difference between those who cannot work – due to illness, injury or other capacity – and those that won’t.

What about those who won’t work? Why not?

What is it that stops employees going into work? More than likely due to reasons that could be removed.
Is it the job role? Is it the line manager? Is it the work colleague? Is it the commute? Is it the environment?

As an employer or line manager take time to ask why your employee seems to have a lot of time “off-sick”. Are you actually monitoring sickness absence in your business? You would be surprised how sickness absence can affect your “bottom line” and that a little attention may have a positive effect.

According to the CIPD, more employers are making changes to working patterns in a positive move to try and reduce long-term absence levels.

On average of 7.6 days per employee are taken as sickness absence. Absence levels are highest in the public services sector (8.7 days per employee per year) and lowest in the manufacturing and production sector (6 days per employee per year).

Over 70% of employers responding to the survey report that introducing flexible working opportunities in the past year has had a positive impact on absence levels. Reasonable adjustments can be made at work to help employees return after a period of absence. For …Read More

European Week for Safety & Health at Work – Top 10 Health & Safety Tips

This year’s European Safety Week takes place next week, commencing on 21 October 2013. The initiattive of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work is committed to making Europe a safer, healthier and more productive place to work by promoting a culture of risk prevention to improve working conditions.

The following top 10 tips should ensure that you are fit to fulfill your health and safety obligations and minimise the risks of claims by your employees.

1. Risk assessments

If carried out on a regular basis these can be an important way to limit the health and safety risks for your employees. Consider the areas of risk within your organisation and how these can be overcome.

You should also carry out individual risk assessments for each employee, including any employees who work at home.

2. Use of equipment

Ensure that all staff are adequately trained to use the equipment that they operate whilst at work.
3. Manual handling

If staff are required to lift or carry heavy objects, do ensure that they have been given guidance on how best to do this without risking injury.
4. Display screen equipment (DSE)

You will have a responsibility to provide free eye and eyesight tests to all employees who use VDU equipment. If an employee is required to wear special glasses for use with a VDU at work, you are also required to make a contribution towards the cost of basic frames and lenses.

5. Emergency evacuation and fire precautions

Do ensure that all staff are aware of the procedures for evacuating the buildings in the event of an emergency. You will want …Read More

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce Meet the Chamber Event – 14.10.2013

Joanna Atkinson and Anne Laflin will be exhibiting at the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce “Meet the Chamber” event next Monday, 14 October 2013, at Audley’s Wood Hotel, Basingstoke. The event is free to attend and is being held from 4:00pm to 6.30pm.

Your chance to forge new business contacts, meet Chamber members and discover how your business can grow and prosper with the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.

View the business exhibition in a friendly relaxed atmosphere over a cup of tea and enjoy excellent networking opportunities.

Why not come along?

Paying for private medical services – a reasonable adjustment?

Yes… decided the EAT when it heard that the employer of a reception and finance manager suffering from work-related stress and severe depression might have a better chance of being able to return to work and also coping with the difficulties she had been experiencing at work if she could have private psychiatric services and counselling.

The employee resigned from her employment when her employer did not act on the recommendations made by the clinical psychiatrist it had referred her to. The Employment Tribunal held that the employee’s claim that her employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments was well-founded and that she had been unfairly constructively dismissed. It also found that her dismissal was an act of discrimination arising from her disability.

The EAT dismissed the employer’s appeal and found that because the specific private medical treatment was considered likely to assist the employee, it was reasonable that the employer should have funded this as a reasonable adjustment.

An interesting outcome and to be noted by employers before they decide to what extent they will or will not help out a disabled employee protected by the disability discrimination provisions of the Equality Act.

New Fee Remissions Regime…

On 7 October 2013 a new fee remissions regime will come into force. This follows the introduction of fees in the employment tribunals and the employment appeals tribunal (EAT) on 29 July 2013.

Initially, provision was made for the remission and part remission of fees which reflected the remission scheme currently applied in the civil courts. Now a new remissions regime will be introduced for claims in the employment tribunal system and the EAT.

As a reminder, a fee is payable by a single claimant or a fee group:

• when a claim form is presented to an employment tribunal (the issue fee); and

• by the date specified in a notice that will be sent out with the notice listing the final hearing of the claim (the hearing fee).

A fee is also payable by a party making any of the following applications by the date specified in a notice that will be issued after the application has been made:

• an application for reconsideration of a default judgment;

• an application for reconsideration of a judgment following a final hearing;

• an application for dismissal following withdrawal of a claim;

• an employer’s contract claim made as part of the response to the employee’s contract claim.

There is also a fee payable by the respondent to a claim for a judicial mediation. This is payable by the date specified in the notice listing the mediation.

A separate fee regime exists for appeals to the EAT.

Individuals may apply for a fee remission, as can sole traders. However, businesses and other organisations are not allowed to do so.

The new fee remission system …Read More

Removal of Third Party Harassment Provisions of the Equality Act

As part of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge, the 1 October saw the removal of the third-party harassment provisions from the Equality Act 2010.

The Government suggested that the provisions governing third-party harassment were an example of unnecessary regulation.

This now means that employees must rely on the general harassment provisions of the Equality Act or they may choose to bring a claim for constructive dismissal, a claim for negligence and/or a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Disclaimer:
The updates in this blog are published for information only and provide an overview of employment law and best practice as at the date of publication. No action should be taken without seeking professional advice.