Author Archives: Adrian Barnes

  1. Contracts of Employment or Main Terms and Conditions of Employment

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    Checking a contract with a lawyer

    A lawyer checks over a contract of employment and explains what each clause means

     

    Contracts of Employment or Statement of Main Terms and Conditions of Employment.

    Anyone who is employed is entitled to a Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment which is the foundation of a contract of employment. It used to be that your employer was allowed up to 8 weeks to provide this, but recent legislation means that it has to be provided on day one of employment. For those minded to look at the law it is found in Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, which can be found by clicking here. The legislation has been amended a few times with the latest incarnation saying that details of maternity leave and pay has to be included. It is important that you actually read and understand the Contract of Employment or Statement of Terms and Conditions, it is a legal document and you must be sure that you want to accept all of the terms.

    Essentially the Act lists all of the elements that must be in the Statement of Terms as a minimum, an employment contract can, and often does, have a lot more information. As a minimum you are entitled to know what you are expected to do, how much you will be paid and when and what holiday you are entitled to. You should also be told about sick pay, what notice you are entitled to if you leave the job and how you can raise a grievance if you have a problem at work. The terms should also provide information about any collective bargaining (Trade Union agreements) or let you know if there is not any. There must also be provision for disciplinarians and how they are to be governed. And there must be information about the pension scheme. Almost everyone is entitled to have access to a workplace pension these days – it is called Auto-enrolment and you can find out more about that by clicking here.

    Often contracts will include post termination restrictions, which may mean that you are not allowed to work for a competitor for a period of time, there may also be clauses to say that you need to return any training costs if you leave before a certain time.

    At the start, I said anyone employed is entitled to a ‘statement’ or contract, this includes people on casual terms or zero hours as well. If you have not been given a statement or contract you should speak to your employer and find out why. If you are refused a contract it is possible to complain to the Employment Tribunal, but before you did something that drastic you should speak to one of our employment law experts by calling the Nottingham Head Office on 0115 856 1625. We can also check any contract and explain any terms that you don’t understand.

     

     

  2. Maternity Discrimination

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    Maternity Discrimination

    When you become pregnant you gain a raft of employment rights that are not available to anyone else and despite there being a wealth of information available on the internet, it seems that some employers are not even aware of the basics. Therefore, it is important that you know some of your rights.

    You have the right not to be discriminated against because of your pregnancy, because of any illness related to the pregnancy or because of the maternity pay or leave that you take.

    The maternity discrimination rights unlike other employment rights, start from day one of your employment, in fact, they are available to anyone who applies for a job and is unsuccessful because she is pregnant.

    The legislation covers you from the time you become pregnant until you return to work or until you leave your job, if you decide not to go back to work after maternity leave.

    Sharing Leave

    Most people know that they are entitled to take a year off for maternity leave, but there are now lots of other arrangements whereby you can gift time off to the child’s father as paternity leave or shared parental leave, there is lots of information about that on the internet, you can see some by clicking here.

    Risk Assessment

    As soon as you advise your employer that you are pregnant they should perform a specific risk assessment to evaluate any potential problems, they should look at things which may cause stress as well as looking for manual handling issues or the need to stand for long periods of time. In some cases your employer may need to check that any chemicals used in the business are not harmful to pregnant women or the unborn child.

    Maternity Pay and Leave

    As long as you qualify for it, you will be entitled to maternity leave and pay. You should receive 90% of your normal pay for the fist 6 weeks and then the statutory amount for the next 33 weeks. At the time of writing this (June 2022) the statutory pay is £156.66 per week, this figure increases in spring each year. The Government website on maternity pay has more detail and a handy maternity pay calculator and it can be found by clicking here. In certain circumstances you may be entitled to maternity pay from your employer if you leave employment, before you maternity leave was expected to start, either through resignation or dismissal.

    Redundancy

    In most circumstances employees on maternity leave are also protected against redundancy and need to be offered any available jobs, case law has made this a particularly difficult area of law, so if you are worried about being made redundant please contact one of our experts at the number below.

     

    Maternity discrimination  can be a daunting area of law. The ACAS website has a wealth of information about maternity discrimination and other rights which you can access by clicking here, although this is generic information and if you would like some expert advice please call the specialists at Alpha Law, at the Nottingham Head Office, on 0115 856 1625 and someone will be happy to help you. There is also an interesting article on our website from a few years ago that show just how much an employer stands to lose if they do not that their employees fairly, click here to see the article.

     

     

  3. National Living Wage & National Minimum Wage 2022

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    National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage

    You are probably aware that the NLW and NMW increase each year. The Chancellor has announced that from April 2022 the National Living wage will increase by 6.6% to £9.50 per hour (currently it is £8.91).

    The National Minimum Wage for people aged 21-22 will rise from £8.36 to £9.18 an hour and the Apprentice Rate increases from £4.30 to £4.81 an hour.

    The Government website has a series of calculators so that you can make sure that you are being paid the correct amount and these can be found by clicking here

    A full table of the rates are available by clicking here

    This is one of the largest jumps in set minimums with 6.6% for those over 23yrs old, 9.8% for 21 and 22yr olds and almost 12% for apprentices, who see an increase from the current rate of £4.30 to £4.81.

    All employers must pay the NLW, as a minimum, to any employee who is 23 or over and NMW for anyone below this. There have been quite a lot of prosecutions for businesses that are not paying properly and also naming and shaming on a website, so if you feel that you are not being paid correctly you should contact the experts at Alpha Law to see if we can help you get what you are entitled to.

    Alpha Law is a division of Premier Legal LLP  and can be contacted at the Nottingham Head Office by calling 0115 856 1625. Premier Legal LLP cover the entire country from offices in the Midlands and London.

     

  4. Suspended from work – is it fair?

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    Have you been suspended from work, perhaps that was not the right or fair course of action?

    Suspension letters always say that the suspension is a neutral act, which does not indicate the guilt or innocence of the suspended employee. However, it is easy to see why someone might feel aggrieved at being suspended and recently the courts have agreed, that far from being a neutral act, being suspended my cause an employee to lose trust and confidence in their employer.

    Some suspensions have been described by the courts as knee jerk reactions that were unnecessary. So when should we suspend someone? The traditional thought was that there are 4 reasons to suspend:

    1. If the employee is a danger to the business
    2. If they were a danger to someone in the business
    3. If they were a danger to a client, and
    4. If they were a danger to themselves<

    Following the case of The Mayor & Burgesses of the London Borough of Lambeth v Agoreyo, which has been through the County Court, the High Court and recently the Court of Appeal, the decision has pinged backwards and forwards as to whether or not Mrs Aroreyo’s suspension after she was accused of manhandling a child.

    The original decision said that the suspension was reasonable, but the High Court felt that it was an unnecessary knee jerk reaction, and this has been the position for a while. However the case has finally been decided by the Court of Appeal who have agreed with the original decision.

    However, what this case demonstrates is that suspension should not be the norm or a routine action, it should only be used in appropriate circumstances.

    Suspension should always be for as short a time as possible, so if you have been off for an extended time you may be able to raise a grievance against your employer. Equally suspension should be on full pay, so that you do not lose out during this time. Full pay may also include an element of commission or bonus payments, following a recent EU decision

    If you have been suspended from work give the experts at Alpha Law a call on 0115 856 1625 to see if your suspension was reasonable or unfair

  5. Payslips

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    Payslips

    An important change for April 2019 is that your employers need to provide you with a payslip whether you are an employee or a worker and those payslips need to provide more information. All staff are entitled to a payslip for each pay period and if you are hourly paid that slip must now show the number of hours worked in that pay period.i For anyone on a salary who receives extra pay for overtime, only the overtime hours need to be shown.

    Government guidance on the new payslip rules can be found by clicking here.

    Enforcement of this is going to be interesting, If you do not receive a payslip you are entitled to raise a case with the employment tribunal. The penalty for the employer is that the tribunal can look back for 13 weeks and award you any deductions that were made, even if they were completely lawful deductions. Of course, you should ask your employer to provide the payslip before you try to instigate court proceedings and only if you are refused or you still don’t get the payslips should you start legal action.

    It is also important that you keep a copy of your payslips, they may become useful if there is ever an argument about a payment or deduction. It also makes sense to check you payslip against any money that is paid into your bank account.

    You have always had a legal right to receive a payslip if you are an employee of a firm, the new legislation strengthens that right, improves on the information that the payslips must provide and extends the right to ‘workers’ as well as employees. If you are unsure about your employment status the Government has proved a comprehensive guide which you can find by clicking here, or you can call the experts at Alpha Law on 0115 856 1625.

    Increases to the National Living and National Minimum Wage from April 2019 can be found by clicking here

  6. National Living Wage

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    The National Living Wage increased by 4.9% in April 2019 – All employers must pay at least the National Living Wage to all employees or workers who are 25 years old or over. There are separate rates (National Minimum Wage) for younger employees or workers.

    The current National Living Wage is set at £7.83 per hour, this increased in April 2019 to £8.21, all other increases are shown in the table below;

    National Minimum Wage for 2019/20

    Age                      2018            2019
    21-24                  £7.38           £7.70
    18-20                  £5.90          £6.15
    Under 18            £4.20           £4.35
    Apprentices       £3.70           £3.90

    N.B the apprentice rate is for apprentices under 19 or in their first year of an apprenticeship, otherwise normal rates apply.

    If you think you may not be getting the wage you are entitled to, call the experts at Alpha Law on 0115 856 1625 to find out what your rights are.

    You should remember that these rates are not discretionary, your employer must pay at least these rates or they can face serious fines or naming and shaming.  If you are in the hospitality industry or anywhere else that tips are provided, your employer is not allowed to count the tips towards the National Living or National Minimum Wage.

    To make it easier to see how your pay has been made up, your employer must also provide an itemised payslip which shows the hours worked and amount paid. Everyone that works is entitled to a payslip whether they are employees or workers. If you are not sure about whether you are an employee or a worker, you can check by clicking here and looking at the Government website which explains the difference – or you can call us at the number above.

    More information on the National Living Wage can be found by clicking here 

  7. Employment Tribunal Fees Quashed

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    All Employment Tribunal Fees Quashed

    In a landmark case at the Supreme Court all tribunal fees have been quashed, so if you have a claim against your employer or ex-employer it will no longer cost you up to £1,200 to have your case heard.

    Since 2013 it has cost £250 to issue a claim in most cases and a further £950 for a hearing fee. In one fell swoop the Supreme Court has said that these charges are unlawful and must cease immediately. Anyone who has paid fees over the last 4 years will have their money refunded to them.

    Employment Tribunal Fees were seen as a major stumbling block to many people and tribunal claims were down over 70% during the 4 years of the fee regime, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

    The good news for employees is that they can make a claim without having to worry about finding the money to fund the fees.

    If you have any questions about this or any other aspects of employment law, call the experts at Alpha Law on: 0115 988 6211 in Nottingham or 0207 408 9427 in London

  8. Pension Auto Enrolment

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    Pension Auto Enrolment 

    By now you must have seen the adverts on TV and in he papers about the new Pension Auto Enrolment scheme. Lots of employers have now reached their staging date – the date at which they must enrol you into a pension that meets certain criteria. Some employers may not have reached their date yet, but lots will be included by next year. All employers must be up to speed by 2018.

    It is important that you know your rights with regard to the pension and although your employer must join you into the scheme, you have a right to opt out if you want to, but only after you have joined. If you opt out within 30 days you will not lose any money, but after that anything paid into the pension will sit there until you retire or, of course, until you decide to add to it.

    There are lots of rules around the pensions, for instance your employer must never try to induce you, or coerce you, not to take the pension. You must have a free choice, but the pension provider should give you plenty of information so that you can make an informed choice. On thing that it is important to note is that your employer will be contributing to the pension as will the tax man, so it may be well worth taking.  Remember though, if you decide not to contribute then your employer (or the tax man) won’t contribute either.

    At Alpha Law our employment experts can advise on the legal aspects of your pension as well as any contractual issues, however you need to speak to your financial adviser for information on the merits of your particular pension and its worth to you in retirement. One thing you can be sure of is that each pension in the system must reach certain government guidelines.

    You can find lots of information, as well as an introduction to pensions from Theo Paphitis by clicking here – Workplace Pensions

  9. National Minimum Wage – National Living Wage

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    National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

    This month should see a pay increase for anyone on the National Minimum Wage as the top rate increased from £6.50 per hour to £6.70 per hour on 1st October. It would seem that apprentices did the best out of this round of increases as they had an increase from £2.73 to £3.30. This is, of course still a fairly pathetic rate, but it is moving in the right direction and it is a rate that may encourage employers to take on trainees.

    The good news for anyone over 25 and on a low wage is that from April next year your rate will increase from the National Minimum Wage rate of £6.70 to the new National Living Wage rate of £7.20  – an extra 50p an hour. This is part of the government’s pledge to have anyone over 25 years of age earning at least £9 per hour by 2020. The National minimum Wage will still apply to anyone under 25.

    If you think that you are not being paid the correct wage, you can contact the employment law experts at Alpha Law and someone will be happy to talk through your issues and help you to understand what you should be paid and how to make a complaint if you are not getting the correct amount.

    You should know exactly what you are being paid by looking at your payslip and remember you have a legal entitlement to receive a payslip every time you are paid, so contact us if you are not getting one.

    The government website on NMW Rates can be found by by clicking here and you can see all of the various rates.

  10. Further challenge to cap on unfair dismissal compensatory awards

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    cap on unfair dismissal

    Compromise Agreement Ltd are once again challenging the cap on unfair dismissal compensatory awards.

     

    As you will recall, on 29th July 2013 the compensatory award limits in the Employment Tribunal changed from the statutory cap to the lower of;

    1.       The statutory cap (currently £78,335)

    2.       52 weeks gross pay.

    Compromise Agreement Ltd felt that this decision would adversely impact older people who, they said were more likely to be out of work for more than 52 weeks. Their argument was therefore based on indirect age discrimination.

    In May 2014 the High Court rejected their application for a judicial review of the decision.

    They have now applied for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal who, on 19th May 2015, will decide whether to not to grant permission.

    If Compromise Agreement Ltd are successful and the decision is quashed, then the law would revert to the previous position, which was that compensation for unfair dismissal claims was just subject to the statutory cap. This meant that employees who were low to medium earners could in many cases recover more than 52 weeks’ pay.

    We have recently had a case where although our client was successful in the Employment Tribunal and had ongoing losses, he could only recover 52 weeks gross pay under the compensatory award element of his claim.

    Watch this space for further updates.