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3 Things We Learnt In Law This Week (14 February 2019)

NHS Secretary Becomes Oldest Person To Win Age Discrimination Case

An 88-year-old NHS secretary who was dismissed from her job over “frailty” claims has become the oldest person to win an age discrimination case.

Eileen Jolly was fired from her role at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading in January 2017. She was 86 years old at the time.

Her age came under scrutiny after she allegedly failed to upload details of cancer patients into a new electronic database, which meant that 14 women had to wait more than a year for non-urgent surgery.

The error prompted Jolly’s colleagues to inform her boss that they were concerned her age was affecting her performance.

Jolly, who had been working at the hospital for 25 years, felt “humiliated” and “degraded” that she was dismissed, and proceeded to sue the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust on the basis of unfair dismissal.

On Wednesday, it was announced that Jolly had won her claim and would be awarded compensation in October.

Judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto, who ruled on the hearing, explained that Jolly’s error might’ve been down to inadequate training and said that she was performing her role “competently” prior to dismissal. He said: “There is a suspicion of the Claimant being a scapegoat, the Claimant was not offered training where it might be considered appropriate.” Gumbiti-Zimuto added that there was evidence to suggest Jolly had been trained “on the job” on an ad hoc basis.

New Guidance To Help Prevent Age Discrimination At Work

Workplace relations and employment law specialist, Acas, has published new guidance to help prevent age discrimination at work.

Research has found that staff aged over 50 now make up nearly a third of the UK workforce and the number of older workers is steadily rising.

Staff of any age can become victims of age discrimination of work, but it is something that particularly affects young and older employees. Acas’ new guide offers employers essential advice on how to comply with the Equality Act, which protects employees against discrimination based on age.

Sarah Clews, Acas chief executive, said: “Discriminating against someone due to their age is against the law and employers should ensure their work environments are inclusive.

“Assumptions such as older workers not knowing how to use the latest tech or younger workers spending all of their time on smart phones may seem harmless, but the effect of age stereotypes can have a detrimental impact on staff and employers. Age stereotyping can make people feel demotivated at work or quit their jobs, which can cost businesses through a loss in productivity or talented staff.”

The new Acas advice includes guidance on recruitment, training, performance management, redundancy and other areas where age discrimination may be most likely to occur.

Hermes Offer Courier Drivers Self-Employed Plus Status

Drivers for one of the UK’s three largest courier companies can now opt in to employee type benefits such as holiday pay and guaranteed earnings. Following what is being described as a ‘ground breaking deal’ for the gig economy by the GMB Union, Hermes couriers can now choose to become self-employed plus.

The collective bargaining agreement is the first ever recognition deal of its type according to the GMB and is designed to support the rights of self-employed people providing courier services to Hermes. It reflects that the world of work has changed and how employers can change with it.

Hermes couriers can now choose to become ‘self-employed plus’, which provides a number of benefits such as holiday pay (pro-rata up to 28 days), and individually negotiated pay rates that allow couriers to earn at least £8.55 per hour over the year. In addition, those self-employed plus couriers that join the GMB Union will benefit from full GMB representation.

The self-employment plus status is optional – those drivers who would prefer to remain on their current form of self-employed status and earn premium rates, as has been the case for the past 20 years.

This could have a far wider reaching impact than just for Hermes couriers – potentially it could affect other companies like Amazon Logistics and the entire gig industry from Uber to Deliveroo.

SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and dispute resolution 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.

Emma Roberts
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Emma Roberts

Emma is a trainee solicitor at SCE Solicitors. Emma commenced her training contract in September 2018 and is currently working in the employment law department assisting director Samira Cakali. Emma also assists in the running of the firm’s myHR service where she can support you in the day-to-day management of your staff.

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