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Tag Archive

Can employers insist employees get vaccinated?

The rollout of the vaccination programme has been welcomed as the beginning of the end for the Covid-19 pandemic. For many employers, ensuring their workforce is vaccinated is an important step in getting their business back to operating as usual. However, the effects of ‘vaccine hesitancy’ and the anti-vaccine movement may mean that some employees refuse to be vaccinated.

How employers respond to choices around vaccinations brings into play employment law, data protection law and human rights and here we answer 5 common questions.

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Our top 5 reasons why we love being employment solicitors

Qualifying as a solicitor is a special moment. It takes years of studying and training and qualification brings an immense feeling of satisfaction and great achievement.  It can also be a bit scary venturing out in the working world knowing that you are now expected to make your own decisions.

Here we share all that is good and perhaps a bit surprising about working in employment law.

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10 ways the world of work has changed in the last 10 years – 2011 vs 2021

A new year is upon us and with all the uncertainty going on around us at the moment, it seems like the perfect opportunity to reflect and evaluate. We have all had to adapt in so many ways over the last 12 months, not least in how we all work, that we thought we’d have a look at how the world of work has changed in the last 10 years.

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Celebrating 10 successful years of providing specialist, client focused employment advice

Here at SCE Solicitors, in 2021 we are celebrating 10 successful years since our specialist HR & Employment Law firm was founded in 2011. Demand for our legal services, including our specialist mental health in the workplace support, has soared recently as employers grapple with managing staff through COVID-19 restrictions.

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3 tips to managing difficult employees without it affecting your own mental health

As mental health awareness week draws to an end for another year, I thought I would put thoughts to paper in respect of something, I personally feel, gets left out of this important discussion – the mental health of managers. So here at my thoughts.

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Steps Businesses should take during Covid-19, and how to get their staff back into work after returning from Furlough Leave

As businesses look at re-opening after lockdown and returning to some form of “new normal” we thought it would be a good idea to provide employers with guidance to returning to a safe environment as we continue to battle Covid-19.

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COVID-19 furlough scheme update and other key updates for employers

As the lockdown continues, the Government has extended access to its coronavirus job retention scheme and employers are settling in to a new way of working. Business life may have drastically changed, but employment law still applies.

You should check the Government website for the latest guidance in conjunction with this article, as the guidelines on the coronavirus (COVID-19) are changing daily. The guidance and the Treasury direction are inconsistent in places. You should speak to your solicitor for specific advice for your business.

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Dismissing An Employee With A Disability

Work related stress translating to long term absence is growing and the impact to business’ is significant. So, when it comes to dismissing an employee due to ill health it can be tricky if it is to do with a potential protected characteristic in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. 

Dismissal For Sickness

Case Study

The company is not happy with the performance of an employee who has only 9 months service and in addition has been off sick with stress and depression. The company wishes to dismiss the employee, as they have less than 2 years’ service and the employee cannot bring an unfair dismissal claim. Is the company ok to dismiss?

The answer is not a clear yes or no, the employee may have a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, and they may have a claim for disability discrimination.

Equality Act 2010

So, how is a disability defined?

According to the Equality Act, a person has a disability if:

  • they have a physical or mental impairment
  • the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities

What does ‘substantial’, ‘long term’ and ‘day to day’ mean?

  • ‘substantial’ means more than minor or trivial, for example it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed
  • ‘long-term’ means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least twelve months
  • ‘normal day-to-day activities’ include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping

There has been a recent tribunal case, Parnaby v Leicester City Council where an employee was impaired by depression caused by work related stress. The tribunal ruled that he did not fit the definition of a disability. They said that his condition didn’t last over 12 months. The Claimant appealed and the EAT overruled the decision and said the tribunal should have considered whether the impairment was likely to last 12 months or whether it might recur in the future. The tribunal made the assumption that removing the work-related stress by dismissing the employee, this would remove the impairment. 

This judgement helps to clarify that the whole definition of a disability would have to be considered when making decisions on an employee’s employment.

Termination Of Contract

So, when considering a termination of contract for an employee who has a disability, employers should ask the following clarifying questions:

  • Does the person have a physical or mental impairment?
  • Does that impairment have an adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities?
  • Is that effect substantial?
  • Is that effect long-term and the person would be affected in the future?

Medical practitioners can help you answer some of these questions, and if there is any doubt that the condition is a true disability, then other alternatives to dismissal would need to be considered.  For example, reasonable adjustments or alternative employment.  If none of these options are viable, then termination could be possible under incapacity. 

The process however is not straightforward, and we would encourage you to seek advice prior to taking action in such cases. 

If you need help and advice managing an employee who has a disability, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0113 350 4030 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and litigation 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.

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Workplace Banter

Much can be gained in having a relaxed work place environment where employees can talk and express opinions freely to each other however with workplace banter there is a very fine line which can easily be crossed and turn banter into unlawful bullying and harassment even if the purpose was not to cause offence.

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