News & Events
New guidance on employment tribunals powers
by radmin 7th March 2019

BEIS has published new guidance for employment tribunals users on the powers available to tribunals. The guidance is a response to feedback that suggested a lack of awareness or confusion over what powers tribunals have to either act against employment law breaches and poor behaviour in bringing or defending a claim, or the way a case is conducted, and the way those powers are applied. The aim of the guidance is to provide an accessible explanation of the powers available and highlight case law which illustrates how tribunals have used them.

Source: BEIS: Employment tribunals powers: their use and application, 21 February 2019.



Home Office: new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner announced
by radmin 7th March 2019

The Home Office has announced that the current Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Sara Thornton, will become the new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. Home Secretary Sajid Javid made the final decision to select Thornton for the role which was created as part of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner is expected to improve the identification of instances of modern slavery and ensure high levels of protection and support for victims, as well as driving the prevention of future offences. In her new role, Thornton will also communicate with the private sector to help eliminate forms of slavery across supply chains.

Thornton said, “The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner was created to spearhead the UK’s fight against human trafficking and modern slavery and has a key role in preventing these vile crimes and supporting victims. I am looking forward to bringing my long experience as a chief constable and in national policing to bear in this important role.”

Source: Home Office: New Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner announced, 22 February 2019.



Unite brings case against construction worker “blacklisting”
by radmin 7th March 2019

Construction union Unite is launching a High Court case against the original chairman of the Consulting Association and a director of Sir Robert McAlpine, Cullum McAlpine, after a “blacklisting” file was discovered in 2009 containing the names of over 3,123 “undesirable” people. Individuals were placed on the list for reasons such as raising safety issues or being part of a union. The trial, which is reportedly set to commence on 4 June 2019, is intended to hold the key individuals behind blacklisting workers to account in the public arena of a court. The fresh legal action follows legal proceedings in 2016 which saw trade unionists receive compensation totalling over £250 million.

Source: BBC News: Construction workers in fresh “blacklisting action”, 25 February 2019 and Union looks to drag Cullum McAlpine into court, theconstructionindex.co.uk, 25 February 2019.



Parliament staff unprotected against sexual harassment, says report
by radmin 7th March 2019

On 26 February 2019, the Fawcett Society and Hogan Lovells published a new report highlighting gaps in equality legislation which leave Parliament “above the law” on sexual harassment. The report explained that MPs and Peers are exempt from Part 5 of the Equality Act 2010, meaning that volunteers and staff who experience sexual harassment are not protected by the legislation. The same applies for those sexually harassed by a third party. The report also found that 73% of men and women believe that the actions taken to tackle unwanted sexual behaviour in politics needed to change (opinions were generally equal across gender, political affiliation and age). It also found that a significant portion of people (70%) supported removing guilty MPs from office as a sanction for such behaviour. 23% said the way sexual harassment is currently dealt with in politics has made them less likely to vote.

Among other things, the Fawcett Society is calling for legislative reform to ensure protection for all employees in Parliament, with the report referencing the laws in Australia, Denmark and New Zealand as exemplary. It also calls for independent complaints policies within political parties to successfully address sexual harassment.

Counsel at Hogan Lovells, Jo Broadbent, said “As a national legislature, making laws about employment, Parliament should itself be setting an example for all those responsible for the working environments of people in the UK.”

Source: New Fawcett report reveals how glaring gaps in equality legislation leave Parliament “above the law” on sexual harassment, fawcettsociety.org.uk, 26 February 2019.



Chair of National Police Chiefs’ Council calls for positive race discrimination
by radmin 7th March 2019

Outgoing chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Sara Thornton has called for the introduction of positive race discrimination for new recruits. In an interview to mark 20 years since the Macpherson report into Stephen Lawrence’s death, Thornton spoke about an existing “unconscious bias” in the police force. Attempts for the proportion of ethnic minority officers to reflect the proportion in the populations they work within have failed, with not a single one of the 43 forces in England and Wales having achieved this. Just 7% of police in England and Wales are from an ethnic minority, despite making up 14% of the population. According to Thornton, the police could remain overwhelmingly white for several decades if positive discrimination laws are not adopted.

Commenting on the issue, Thornton said “If you want to do something to give a shock to the system and say we can’t wait to 2052, I think we need to do something different. It is a political judgment, isn’t it? How important is this? If it’s important, then I think you need to look at a different approach.”

Source: Police leader calls for laws to allow positive race discrimination, theguardian.com, 22 February 2019.



Labour announces plan to give workers right to choose working hours
by radmin 7th March 2019

Shadow Women and Equalities Minister Dawn Bulter has revealed new plans from Labour to give workers a day-one right to select their working hours. The plan encompasses job-sharing, working from home, part-time, annualized or compressed hours or flexi-time. It would place the onus on employers by only allowing them to reject requests if done so “in a reasonable manner”. The announcement comes as part of a plan to create a “presumption in favour of flexible working”.

Source: BBC News: Flexible working: Labour pledges new employee rights, 22 February 2019.



TUC and GMB “passports” to support disabled workers
by radmin 7th March 2019

The TUC and the GMB union have unveiled a new model disability “passport”. This is accompanied by a model policy, to be agreed between union representatives and employers. The initiative is designed to promote compliance with employers’ duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. The passport document is intended to record a worker’s agreed reasonable adjustments and to prevent the worker from having to explain their requirements to new managers, or when they start new roles within their employing organisation. The passport also promotes regular review of adjustments, to ensure that they continue to work.

Commenting on the new passport, GMB general secretary Tim Roache said, “No matter where they work or who their boss is, this document will support the reasonable adjustments a disabled worker is legally entitled to. It’s a short policy that could improve the lives of millions of workers”.

Source: TUC: New TUC and GMB passports will help almost one million disabled people get the support they need at work, 25 February 2019



BEIS: new holiday pay guidance after “alarming” lack of awareness revealed
by radmin 7th March 2019

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published guidance and an online calculator on how to calculate holiday pay for workers whose hours or pay are not fixed. The guidance, which is not binding, complements pre-existing government guidance on holiday entitlements for the majority of workers.

BEIS has also published data from a recent poll, conducted independently by Kantar Public. The poll surveyed 2,154 UK workers, 320 of whom were atypical workers, about their perceptions and understanding of holiday pay entitlement. 84% were employed on full or part-time permanent contracts. There was generally good knowledge among the participants that they were entitled to holiday pay, although less knew specifically how it is accrued and which types of workers receive it. 75% of participants believed that all workers (other than the self-employed) were entitled to holiday pay. This figure was slightly lower among atypical workers, at 69%. According to the data, 35% thought that only those in permanent roles are entitled to holiday pay.

A BEIS spokesperson said, “We want to see more businesses getting holiday pay right for their workers, helping to maintain a fair working environment for all. The onus is on you, as a responsible employer, to check your workers are receiving the correct amount”.

Sources: BEIS: Calculating holiday pay for workers without fixed hours or pay, 25 February 2019, BEIS: Holiday pay survey, 25 February 2019 and Government urges employers to tackle “alarming” lack of awareness over holiday pay, peoplemanagemet.co.uk, 25 February 2019.



National Gallery art experts were workers during individual assignments
by radmin 7th March 2019

In Braine and others v The National Gallery ET/2201625/18 an employment judge considered whether art experts were workers, employees or independent contractors.

An employment judge (EJ) has held that art experts who worked as educators for the National Gallery were workers when undertaking individual assignments. Between assignments they were neither employees nor workers. The Gallery’s argument that they were independent contractors in business on their own account was unsustainable.

The EJ found that prospective educators undertook training (observing several Gallery talks, attending debriefs and familiarising themselves with pictures) before delivering two tours under observation in order to be appointed to the team. There was no single system for allocation of work: administrators either matched availability supplied in advance through a pro-forma grid or contacted educators to fill gaps in the calendar. There was no penalty for declining work. The educators made themselves available for work that suited their expertise and personal commitments. The Gallery did not acknowledge any obligation to provide work and did not go beyond assurances that it would offer as much work as it could and that it would seek to distribute assignments equitably. The educators and the Gallery could cancel assignments at any stage and for any reason but this rarely happened. The educators wanted to avoid creating problems for the Gallery or for the administrators they depended on for future assignments. There was no right or practice of substitution and no right or practice of swapping assignments between educators.

The educators were required to conform to the Gallery’s stipulations not only in aesthetic or philosophical matters but also in teaching practice and presentation and the Gallery went to considerable lengths to make educators aware of requirements through detailed written guidelines. In addition to being aware of other rules and policies (such as those governing health and safety or child protection), educators were required to enforce them as the responsible representatives of the Gallery. Educators were paid standard fees, set by the Gallery, for each assignment. Fees were authorised for payment against pay claim forms submitted by the educators and made through the payroll, subject to deductions for income tax and national insurance contributions. The deductions reflected HMRC requirements and the EJ noted that HMRC made a binary distinction between employed or self-employed, whereas the issue before the tribunal had three possible answers. Any tips received by educators were surrendered to the Gallery.

Case: Braine and others v The National Gallery ET/2201625/18, 27 February 2019 (Employment Judge Snelson).



Civil Service and BBC deny use of NDAs in discrimination cases
by radmin 7th March 2019

As part of an inquiry, the Women and Equalities Committee heard evidence from the Civil Service and the BBC about their use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to hide the circumstances and details of settlement agreements in discrimination cases. The two public sector employers denied that NDAs were in regular use.

The parliamentary select committee heard that there had only been six instances of confidentiality clauses within NDAs being used in central government departments in the last three years. It was also revealed that, since 2015, 150,000 people had left the Civil Service but there had been just two examples of confidentiality clauses related to discrimination. Group General Counsel for the BBC, Sarah Jones, gave evidence that NDAs had not been used in any equal pay or pay-related sex discrimination cases in the same period.

The Women and Equalities Committee launched its inquiry into the use of NDAs in harassment and discrimination cases in November 2019.

Source: Civil service and BBC deny using confidentiality clauses, peoplemanagement.co.uk, 14 February 2019 and Women and Equalities Committee: Oral evidence: The use of non-disclosure agreements in discrimination cases, 13 February 2019.



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