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Author Archive: Richard Newstead

Litigants in Person: Do They Have the Upper Hand?

We often hear from commercial clients that when they are involved in a case where their opponent is a litigant in person that the Court almost bends over backwards to help the litigant in person, and sometimes they feel that they are at a disadvantage.

Whilst it is usually the case that the Court will take time to explain procedure to a litigant tin person, the case of Barton -v- Wright Hassall LLP [2018] UKSC 12 illustrates that the Court do not apply special rules for litigants in person.

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Clearing the Air on Commercial Disputes

Navigating your way through a commercial dispute can be time consuming and stressful. Disruption caused to your business and the impact on managerial time can be costly.
Commercial disputes are becoming increasingly commonplace, and therefore it is essential that businesses obtain strategic advice as soon as possible in any dispute so that they can minimise the impact on the business.

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What “Positive Action” is Permitted Under Discrimination Legislation?

A key difference between positive action and positive discrimination is that positive action is lawful, provided that the employer meets the conditions set out in section 158 or 159 of the Equality Act 2010, whereas positive discrimination, generally, is not lawful.

In the context of recruitment, unlawful positive discrimination would be where an employer recruits a person because he or she has a relevant protected characteristic rather than because he or she is the best candidate. It is also unlawful, for example, to set quotas to recruit or promote a specific number or proportion of people with a particular protected characteristic. However, there are circumstances in which it is lawful to require a job applicant to have a particular protected characteristic, for example where an occupational requirement applies.

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Tips to Manage Employees Mental Health in the Workplace

In 2018 mental health is becoming more widely spoken about in, and out, of the workplace. Smart employers know that organisations are only as strong as their people and that the experiences, wellbeing and motivations of each worker is fundamental to how the organisation performs. Generally, a common-sense approach based on open communication and good people-management is all that is required. Below are our six top tips to help you effectively manage and support workplace mental wellbeing.

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Restricting employment allowance for illegal workers

In a move to crack down on illegal workers in the UK, the Government introduced a policy back in April 2018 that removes the eligibility for Employment Allowance for one year if an employer has been found guilty by the Home Office of employing an illegal worker.

In the budget of 2016, it was announced that from 2018 the Employment Allowance, which allows employers to claim a reduction on their annual National Insurance Contribution, would be removed for one year for those organisations who receive penalties for employing illegal workers. The Government is of the view that those who breach legislation by employing illegal workers should not benefit from the Employment Allowance. The purpose of this restriction is to ensure the allowance focuses more on the employers who are providing legitimate employment.

The effect of the change will only impact employers who have received a penalty from the Home Office for employing illegal workers and have exhausted their appeal rights in relation to that penalty. Early estimates suggest that approximately 2,000 employers will be affected by the new policy.

It is the responsibility of the employer who has been penalised and exhausted their appeal rights to amend their payroll software to ensure that they do not claim the allowance during the year in which they are not eligible.

If you need any help and advice in relation to the above, please do not hesitate to contact me or the employment team on 0113 350 4030 or at richard.newstead@scesolicitors.co.uk.

If you would like to be kept up to date on any Employment law changes, 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.

Gig Economy – Royal Mail Group Facing Legal Action From Drivers

The trend towards gig economy drivers and contractors demanding employment status rights will continue throughout 2018. This should come as no surprise when you consider the recent report published by parliamentary committees which determined nearly 1.6 million people work for gig-economy giants and find relatively little protection provided under current employment law due to their status. 

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GDPR – The Consent Trap

Having got past 25 May 2018, the day the GDPR came into effect, the flood of GDPR emails is beginning to diminish. But were all these emails necessary, and in particular, was it actually necessary to seek consent? In many cases it was not necessary to seek consent to “stay in touch”.

Under GDPR consent is one of 6 legal bases for processing data. In most cases, organisations will be able to rely on the “legitimate interests” ground to remain in contact with their contact list.

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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.