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Dealing with harassment in the workplace

The subject of harassment has hit the headlines again, following a number of high profile revelations in the press about alleged misconduct by politicians at Westminster and elsewhere.

Whilst it is Westminster and the Hollywood film industry who are currently in the spotlight, harassment also happens in the world of business, and the employers group, CBI, have called on business leaders to help put an end to sexual harassment in the workplace. CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said “Sexual harassment in all forms is totally unacceptable in today’s Britain. The harm done to people’s lives, self-esteem and dignity is profound. We must work together to stamp it out.”

A recent BBC Radio 5 live survey, commissioned after sexual assault claims against Harvey Weinstein resulted in widespread sharing of sexual harassment stories, estimated that half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed at work or a place of study. Of the women who said they had been harassed, 63% said they did not report it to anyone, and 79% of the male victims kept it to themselves.

Harassment is unlawful and must not be tolerated in the workplace. Employment law protects employees from harassment under the Equality Act 2010, which classifies harassment […]

By |November 10th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

Mental Health in the Workplace

10th October 2017 was World Mental Health Day, a day for showing support for better mental health. With one in four adults likely to have a mental health issues in any given year, people are becoming aware of the need to look after their own wellbeing.

Work pressures can have a significant impact on mental health. The World Federation of Mental Health, who promote mental wellness at work, recently reported that 6 out of 10 employees suffering with depression say that they hide the condition from their employer (as surveyed by Silver Ribbon Singapore).

In the UK, many employers are alert to the scale of poor mental health in the workplace, but accordingly to a new report, more still needs to be done. The Mental Health at Work Report 2017 is the second National Employee Mental Wellbeing Survey undertaken by Business in the Community (in partnership with YouGov) and it reveals that although there has been progress, many men and women with mental health issues suffer in silence in work, as they feel unable to seek help from colleagues or managers, for fear of prejudice and exclusion.

These fears are, to a large degree, prohibited under Employment Law (as discussed below) but in the report, which surveyed […]

By |October 19th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

Yet more changes to Data Protection Laws!

As if we didn’t have enough changes on the horizon in the world of Data Protection Law, the UK government has decided to add yet more to the mix with its recently published “DP Bill – Statement of Intent”. This statement aims to give some details about how the UK government intends to implement the data protection reforms both from Europe and its own new laws.

We already know that the General Data Protection Regulation will become UK law in May next year and since this is before the date that the UK leaves the EU, then we will have to prepare and comply with its requirements. The government has already said that it will ensure that the provisions of the GDPR remain UK post Brexit, a necessity for data transfers between the UK and Europe once it is no longer an EU member.

So why has the government now decided to put yet more legislation into place? Well, this bill adds some details to questions that the GDPR has not yet answered. So, we know now that the government intends the age upon which a child can make their own decisions in relation to his or her data will be 13. The government has […]

By |August 24th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

New Rules for Online Content Providers – good news for consumers, but more headaches for app and website owners!

If you have ever tried to access your Apple music or Spotify account abroad, you have probably found that if either told refused you access for being “out of territory” or let you in only to kick you out again a few days later. Well the EU have come up with a solution to this problem with the “Regulation on cross-border portability of online content services”.

The regulation basically requires anyone operating an website/app which allows consumer to access online content in return for a fee, to access the same content in any other member state where they are temporarily resident.

There are some limits to this, the consumer must be a resident of a member state and the website/app owner can carry out reasonable checks on residency. The quality of the content does not have to of the same standard as that in the member state that the consumer resides, unless the website/app owners makes quality guarantees in its terms and conditions. If this is the case, then these guarantees must apply to content accessed across the EU. In addition, the regulation does not apply where the content is free, unless the website/app owners wishes to make it available.

Whilst this is great news for […]

By |August 24th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

Breaking News: Employment Tribunal Fees ruled unlawful and are scrapped with immediate effect

The Supreme Court has ruled, in a ground-breaking judgment, that the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013 (Fees Order) prevents access to justice and is unlawful.

The government introduced fees in 2013 to reduce the number of malicious and weak cases, but that led to a 79% reduction in claims over three years. Fees ranged between £390 and £1,200 for a case to be heard at an Employment Tribunal at a hearing. Discrimination cases cost more for claimants because of the complexity and time hearings took. The Supreme Court found this was indirectly discriminatory, because a higher proportion of women would bring discrimination cases.

The immediate consequence of this judgment that the Fee Order is quashed and as of today fees cease to be payable for claims in the employment tribunal (ET) and appeals to the EAT, and fees paid in the past must be reimbursed.

The government will now have to repay up to £32m to claimants who have already paid the fee.

Trade union Unison had argued before the Supreme Court that the fees prevented workers getting access to justice. Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is absolutely a tremendous victory, it’s probably the biggest victory of employment rights in this […]

By |July 26th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

PREPARATION FOR THE GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION: YES/NO checklist

There is an accompanying GUIDANCE NOTE which runs to 10 pages and is too large to include as part of a blog.  Please contact Tracey Wakelam at  TraceyWakelam@probertlegal.com to get your free copy.

 

Awareness and Training
Notification to the board of the GDPR and its implications
Appointment of senior staff with DP responsibilities
Do we need to appoint a DPO?
Reporting structure for DP compliance
Will any budget or further budget be allocated?
Roll out general DP training for all staff
Is any additional training required for staff with specific DP responsibilities
Procedure in place for new starters/refresher courses
 

 Identify what Personal Information is held

Can you Identify all systems where personal information is held?
If you cannot identify what personal information you hold – carry out a data protection audit
 

How did you collect the personal information and what do you do with it?

How did you collect the personal information? Have you documented this?
Under what condition in the GDPR will you be processing the personal information? Have you documented this?
What do you do with the information? Have you documented this?
Who do […]

By |April 24th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

Have your say on the GDPR Consent guidance!

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has just issued a draft version of their guidance on consent under the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). They have asked for any comments or input on the guidance to be sent to them by 31 March 2017.

The draft guidance gives further detail on what the ICO will expect organisations to be doing in order to properly obtain consent to process personal data. Amongst other issues, the draft guidance makes it clear that pre-ticked boxes will no longer meet the requirements of consent, as the consent needs to be unambiguous and requires a clear affirmative action.

The ICO also emphasises how important it is to keep good records of consent and to check that existing consents meet the new requirements after May 2018. If an organisation is unable to meet the new requirements for consent, then they should be looking to see if they can met another lawful basis for processing personal data under the GDPR.

If you want to have your say on the guidance, the consultation and draft guidance can be found here.

The GDPR is going to be the biggest change to data protection laws since the Data Protection Act came into force in 1998. If […]

By |March 8th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

Employment update – Changes to compensation/minimum award limits and online judgments

There will be an increase in the compensation limits and minimum awards payable under employment legislation from 6 April 2017, under The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2017. The new rates take effect where the ‘appropriate date’ for the cause of action (such as the date of termination in an unfair dismissal claim) falls on or after 6 April 2017. Where the appropriate date falls before 6 April, the old limits will still apply, irrespective of the date on which compensation is awarded.

Notable changes include the following:

  1. The limit on compensation for unfair dismissal will be increased from £78,962 to £80,541
  2. An increase from £479 to £489 on the limit on a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating, among other things, statutory redundancy payments and the basic award for unfair dismissal.
  3. 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 from £5,853 to £5,970.

HM Courts and Tribunals announced in June 2016 that new judgments from the employment tribunal would be available online and the online register of judgments is now live and can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/employment-tribunal-decisions

The online service covers judgments in […]

By |February 24th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

Gender Pay Gap Reporting – Guidance published

Draft guidance on how to manage gender pay reporting in the private and voluntary sectors has been produced by the Government and ACAS. It can be found here.

The aim of the guidance is to help employers meet their duties under the new gender pay gap reporting obligations, which were brought in by the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 (The Regulations). The Regulations are due to be brought into force on 6 April, and provide that employers with at least 250 employees must calculate and report the difference between men’s and women’s average hourly pay.

The guidance sets out four steps which employers should follow to ensure compliance with the new Regulations, namely:

  1. Extract the ‘essential information’ (i.e. the pay, bonuses and weekly working hours) of its male and female employees
  2. Carry out the calculations necessary to assess the (mean and median) gender pay gap
  3. Make a supporting statement to confirm that the published information is accurate; and
  4. Publish the gender pay information.

It also sets out a fifth step, which is does not specifically relate to an obligation under the Regulations, but is considered by both the Government and ACAS to be ‘best practice’:

  1. Implement plans to manage the […]
By |February 2nd, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

Case Study – Employer vs. public provider expectations

In a recent decision by the Supreme Court, a bus operator’s policy regarding the wheelchair space on its buses was held to be in breach of the duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. The court considered that it was not enough to instruct drivers simply to request non-wheelchair users to vacate the wheelchair space if it was required by a wheelchair user, and do nothing further if the request was rejected. Instead, some further step to pressurise the non-wheelchair user to vacate the space should have been considered.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments, as considered by the Supreme Court, was that set down in S.20 of the Equalities Act 2010, which applies to employers. However, there are differences which may limit the effect of the decision on employment cases. When considering what was “reasonable” the court felt the fact that the bus operator (First Group Plc) had little to no means to compel an uncooperative passenger to vacate the wheelchair space. By contrast, an employer generally has a much greater degree of control over its employees, and can compel them to comply with any reasonable adjustments it puts in place. In practice, this means that what can reasonably be […]

By |January 23rd, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|