Articles

Here you will find all the latest news from the SCE team. In this section we will feature news about what we have been up to, recent mentions in the press, information about the work we do in the community and lots more.

Monthly Archive June 2018

LEGAL UPDATE: Supreme Court Decision Announces in Pimlico Plumbers Case

The Supreme Court has delivered its ruling on the landmark Pimlico Plumbers case, upholding previous decisions that a ‘self-employed’ plumber was in fact a ‘worker’. This entitled him to a variety of employment rights under UK law, including discrimination protection and holiday pay. The case has continued to make headline news because of its impact on organisations operating in the ‘gig economy’.

The case centred on the employment status of Mr Gary Smith, a plumber who worked on a self-employed basis with Pimlico Plumbers for approximately six years until 2011. Both the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal supported Mr Smith’s position that he was a ‘worker’ with certain employment rights, including holiday pay. Pimlico Plumbers appealed the case to the Supreme Court. Pimlico Plumbers has lost that appeal, with the Supreme Court supporting previous rulings.

In the Supreme Court’s view, the fact that Pimlico Plumbers exercised control over Mr Smith, imposed conditions around how much it paid him and, on his clothing, and appearance for work, all supported the conclusion that he was a ‘worker’ and not genuinely self-employed. It also noted that the dominant feature of his relationship with the Pimlico Plumbers was that he would do the work personally, rather than be able to pass it on to a substitute contractor, even though he did have the option to pass work to another Pimlico Plumber operative.

In reality these cases are limited to the very particular facts of their arrangements and do not significantly clarify or change the law in relation to worker status. They do, however, serve as a reminder that courts will look at the reality of the situation, over and above what is in any written documentation.

If you need help and advice regarding determining whether individuals are workers or employees, please do not hesitate to contact me or the employment team on 0113 350 4030 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

If you would like to be kept up to date with employment law and dispute resolution updates, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

The Summer Dress Code Dilemma

The Hot Weather Dilemma

Although the British Summer often doesn’t result in hot temperatures there will be times when the sun does come out and workers find themselves working in hot conditions. Especially when in recent months, the weather has been entirely unpredictable. With the possibility of the UK’s 2018 summer becoming one of the hottest in history, it is worth thinking about what you can do to prepare in the office. Below are our five top tips to help you improve your office environment during summer.

Keeping cool in work

While employers are not legally obliged to provide air conditioning in workplaces they are expected to provide reasonable temperatures. If you have air conditioning switch it on, if you have blinds or curtains use them to block out sunlight. It is also important to drink plenty of water and employers must provide you with suitable drinking water in the workplace.

Regular breaks

As well as providing water fountains, it is also important to allow employees the chance to get some fresh air as staying inside all day in the circulating heat can be detrimental to their wellbeing and make it challenging for them to work productively.

Dress code

Employers often have a dress code in the workplace for many reasons such as health and safety, or workers may be asked to wear a uniform to communicate a corporate image. A dress code can often be used to ensure workers are dressed appropriately.

While employers are under no obligation to relax their dress code or uniform requirements during hot weather, some may allow workers to wear more casual clothes, or allow “dress down” days. This does not necessarily mean that shorts and flip flops are appropriate, rather employers may relax the rules regarding wearing ties or suits.

As vague dress codes are entirely subjective, having a summer-specific policy will ensure your employees understand what workwear is appropriate.

Vulnerable workers

The hot weather can make workers feel tired and less energetic especially for those who are young, older, pregnant or those on medication. Employers may wish to give these workers, more frequent rest breaks and ensure ventilation is adequate by providing fans, or portable air cooling units.

Recognise the heat

It’s easy for employees to feel less engaged when it’s nice weather outside and they have to be at work. Taking simple steps to show employers value and appreciate their staff during hot weather will help perk employees up and reduce absenteeism. These steps can include providing ice lollies, cold drinks or summer snacks to members of staff. Additionally, early finish incentives providing certain targets are met will help raise productivity as staff wish to make the most of their longer evenings.

If you need help and advice regarding dress codes in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact me or the employment team on 0113 350 4030 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

If you would like to be kept up to date with employment law and dispute resolution updates, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

________________________________________________________________________________
SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Parental Bereavement Bill

MP Will Quince’s Parental Bereavement Bill passed the final stage in the House of Commons last month, seeking to allow parents time to grieve after the death of their child and gaining unanimous cross-party support. Quince proposed the bill along with Kevin Hollinrake, after Quince’s son, Robert, was stillborn at full term in 2014, suffering from Edward’s Syndrome.

Current legal position

While it is expected of employers to be compassionate and flexible when their employees face difficult times such as mourning the loss of a loved one, there is no legal requirement for employers to provide leave or pay to employees who are grieving the loss of a child.

Under the Employment Rights Act, employees do have a day-one right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off for emergencies such as making arrangements for the death of a loved one. However, this ‘reasonable’ threshold is highly subjective, and it is down to the discretion of the employer to make the decision as to what is deemed reasonable. The agreed length of time off will typically be agreed by the employer and employee dependent on the situation, and what is deemed most appropriate.

In a situation where the employee and employer are unable to agree with one another over what length of time is ‘reasonable’, the disagreement can be referred and dealt with through ACAS or via an Employment Tribunal.

The Bill

The Bill, dubbed ‘Robert’s Bill’ in honour of Quince’s son, guarantees bereavement leave and pay for those employees who have lost a child under the age of 18. Ensuring at least two weeks leave and pay for parents will become a legal entitlement. This bill will be a day-one right and employees with a minimum of 26 weeks’ continuous employment will be eligible for this statutory parental bereavement pay.

However, before the Bill will be officially passed and becomes legally binding on employers, it must undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords. Quince said: “When members of the public, who in some cases have a bit of disdain for politicians, say ‘You MPs you do nothing, what do you do for us?’, well today we’re doing something for tens of thousands of bereaved parents up and down this country.”

This proposal is estimated to cost the government between £1.3m and £2m annually.

What to do until the Bill comes in

If an employer is unsure what procedure to following if an employee suffers a grievance, you can look to ACAS who have published good practice guidance on managing bereavement in the workplace.

If you need help and advice regarding managing bereavement in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact me or the employment team on 0113 350 4030 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

Employment status: are Addison Lee Couriers workers?

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) has rejected Addison Lee’s attempt to overturn a judgment by the Employment Tribunal (‘ET’) which found that one of their cycle-couriers was entitled to basic employment rights.

The EAT’s decision is yet another example of the gig economy litigation in which the Tribunals have looked past the written words of the contract of employment to examine the real working arrangements between the parties.

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Is an Employee’s Off-Duty Conduct Off-Limits to an Employer?

Generally, an employee’s off-duty conduct is off-limits as far as employers are concerned. Exceptions do exist if there is some relation between the off-duty conduct and your business and if misconduct outside of the workplace poses a risk for your business.

While you can regulate your employees’ behaviour at work, your employees’ off-duty conduct is a different story. When it comes to activities or behaviour employees are engaged while not at work, employers have very limited say. For you to do anything about an employee’s off-duty conduct, there should be some relationship between the conduct and the employee’s job or your business.
To determine whether there is any action that you can take regarding an employee’s lawful off-duty conduct, ask yourself the following questions:

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