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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.

National Minimum Wage Increases

On 1 October 2013 the national minimum wage rates per hour increased as follows:

• The standard adult rate (for workers aged 21 and over) increased from £6.19 to £6.31.

• The development rate (for workers aged between 18 and 20) increased from £4.98 to £5.03.

• The young workers rate (for workers aged under 18 but above the compulsory school age who are not apprentices) increased from £3.68 to £3.72.

• The rate for apprentices increased from £2.65 to £2.68.

The accommodation offset also rose from £4.82 to £4.91 per day.

JMA Welcomes…..

n addition to the launch of our new Blog which will keep you up to date with current developments in HR and employment law as they happen, we are pleased to welcome a new member to the JMA team….


Anne Laflin joins JMA as an HR Consultant to strengthen our unique offering of a combined HR and legal service to our clients.


Anne has worked in HR for more years than she admits to! Her career spans across blue chip companies, including Hewlett Packard, GE, Microsoft and Veritas Software. Regarding herself as a true HR Generalist she has also developed these skills into specialist areas such as Talent Development, Compensation and Benefits, Performance Management and Organisational Change.


A member of the CIPD and the British Psychological Society, Anne has developed HR teams in small, medium-sized and global companies together with establishing infrastructures that support business goals. Before joining JMA HR & Legal Anne worked as UK HR Manager for a software company in Surrey after spending five years as an independent Business and HR Consultant.


Anne can offer HR support in relation to the following: set up of HR systems; policies and procedures; new staff inductions; talent management & appraisal processes; assessment & aptitude testing; business re-structuring; managing due diligence; staff training; coaching & mentoring; and handling disciplinary & grievance hearings/appeals.


Do get in touch if you think Anne or any other member of the JMA team can help:


Tel. 01252 821792. E.

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.