Employment Tribunal Fees to be Scrapped

UNISON legal victory sees Employment Tribunal (ET) fees scrapped

“Supreme Court verdict follows four-year fight by Unison the union and is a victory for everyone in work” comments the Union.

Unison have won their four year struggle to prove that Employment Tribunal (ET) Fees that were introducted in 2013 are unlawful.  This probably means that we will now revert to the pre 2013 methods and people who have had to pay receiving a refund.

We wait to see what the Governments response is in relation to this and could according to one article mean the Employer having to pay the fees for any claims brought against them to an ET!

Click here to read a Press Release from Unison.

If you wist to discuss further and ensure that now the changes have taken place that you do not receive any unwanted charges or claims, contact us now to discuss – 01462 621243

 

Consensus HR 

The Arrival of the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will come into force on 25 May 2018, replacing the UK’s Data Protection Act 1998 and will affect all employers in areas such as recruitment, subject access requests and obtaining consent from an employee to their personal data being processed.

Matthew from Consensus HR states “Data Protection is one of those areas within business that many people unfortunately do not take serious and see it as an inconvenience. However with the arrival of the new GDPR next May 2018, employers are going to need to ensure that they follow the regulations or face a possible fine of 20 million Euro’s or 4 per cent of their annual worldwide turnover”

Victoria Albon, an employment associate at law firm Dentons, explains the changes and suggests how they may be dealt with.

Will Brexit make a difference?

Business Owners with employees might wonder if they can ignore the new legislation, given its purpose and that it is an EU law. This is not an option. The GDPR will automatically become law in the UK next year, and the UK government has made clear that it will comply. Even after Brexit, the UK will want to keep the new regulation, or something similar to it, to ensure the free flow of data with its trading partners. Employers that don’t comply risk a maximum fine of 20 million Euros, or 4 per cent of their annual worldwide turnover, whichever is the greater sum. The GDPR is not going away.

What is staying the same?

The core rules of the Data Protection Act will remain. In particular, employers will continue to process data as ‘data controllers’ and that processing must comply with six general data protection principles similar to those set out in the Act, although there are significant additions. The concept of ‘sensitive personal data’ also remains, although the GDPR refers to it as “special categories of personal data”, and the concept has been expanded to include genetic and biometric data. Other key concepts will continue but will look different under the GDPR.

What is changing?

For employers and HR professionals, the key changes connected with the GDPR concern consent, subject access requests, and automated decision-making. The challenges presented by these changes are certainly not insurmountable, but organisations should begin preparing their businesses for them now, if they have not done so already, to ensure a smooth transition to the new regime.

Consent

The GDPR will require employers to obtain a higher standard of consent from individuals to their personal data being processed. Employees must give consent freely, specifically and when informed (nothing new there), but the consent must also be unambiguous and affirmative, and those giving it must be able to withdraw it easily. Where information falls into one of the ‘special categories of personal data’, that consent must also be explicit. The general consent to data processing, commonly used in employment contracts, is going to have to change.

The regulation also states that an employer cannot rely on consent when processing data. This is because there is a “clear imbalance” between the parties to an employment relationship, so employers should presume an employee has not consented freely. So, consent on its own may no longer provide a legal basis for processing employee data.

Key practical points

  • Organisations should consider using another lawful basis for processing employee data (for example, performance of an employment contract, the legitimate interest of the business, or for public sector employers, performance of a public task).
  • The lawful basis for processing the data will vary depending on the purpose – an employer should consider each occasion as a separate matter.
  • Organisations should continue to obtain consent. To rebut the presumption that an employee has not consented freely, employers should ensure the wording clearly states personal data will not be processed if the organisation does not receive consent.
  • Employers should put in place standalone agreements which employees are invited to sign in order to positively affirm their consent.

Subject access requests

Employers now receive an increasing number of subject access requests, and the GDPR presented an opportunity to ban subject access requests that were nothing more than a ‘fishing exercise’. But this has not happened, so the current case law on this issue will continue to apply. However, the regulation is a new opportunity for employers to refuse to comply with requests which are “manifestly unfounded or excessive” although there is no guidance on exactly what that phrase means.

The regulation will make subject access requests more challenging for employers to deal with. Except in certain circumstances, an employer cannot levy a charge for complying with a request, and will have to comply within one month, rather than the current 40 days.

  • Before rejecting a subject access request as “manifestly unfounded or excessive”, Manager / HR professionals should seek to narrow the scope with the employee concerned. They should consider this even where they don’t plan to reject a request; given there will be no fee and less time in which to comply.
  • The regulation provides scope to extend the compliance time limit by a further two months where a request is complex. Management / HR professionals might wish to use this provision to extend time for compliance with all but the most basic requests.
  • Larger employers, and those who receive high numbers of subject access requests, should consider the logistics of dealing with requests more quickly and, where appropriate, consider whether the organisation can change the internal infrastructure to facilitate this.
  • Organisations could also consider putting in place systems allowing individuals to access their information easily online – this is recommended as best practice under the GDPR. However, employers may find it does more harm than good to have this information readily available and should think carefully before going down this route.

Automated decision-making

The regulation introduces a new right for individuals not to be subject to decisions based solely on automated processing that have a damaging impact on them, whether legally or otherwise. Such decisions should have human intervention. Employers are most likely to face this issue when using online recruitment.

Key practical points

Employers should reconsider the use of filters, which might lead to job applications being disregarded before they are considered by a human being.

If an employer does use filters, it should ensure that job applicants have the opportunity to opt out of them on an individual basis.

If the volume of online applications is unmanageable without the use of filters, organisations should consider whether the automated decision making is necessary for entering into, or the performance of, a contract, because this is an exception to the right. Employers will need further guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), or from case law, to be in a better position to know whether reliance on this exception might be justifiable.

If your company needs support with ensuring its Data Protection Policy & Processes are up to date and ready for the new regulations, contact us at Consensus HR.

Holiday are coming!, Holidays are coming!

 

As the well-known tune goes, although for different holidays (Christmas), employee’s holidays are soon to be coming in their droves due to the summer school holidays.

This is when the Policies & Procedures you have in place to manage employee holidays becomes extremely valuable.

 

 

The Law:

Everybody is entitled to a holiday, which is covered legally by the Working Time Directive, which stipulates that a full-time employee is entitled to 28 days holiday per annum pro-rata (Including Bank Holidays). This is accrued from day one of employment.

Failure to pay when either employed or once they have left employment is classed as ‘un-authorised deduction of wages’ and is an area that is common for former employees to take their employer to an Employment Tribunal. This can be done from day one of employment if somebody is owed monies regardless of length of service.

Policies & Procedures:

Companies should have a clear set policy for employees to use that states what the minimum notice is for applying for holiday and what needs to be completed for this to be accepted. An employee’s holiday is their legal right as explained prior but it should be noted that it is a request when they request their holiday and not a definite as business demands take precedence. However employers should also remember that it is in their business interests to ensure holiday as requested is granted, so as to ensure an employee uses their yearly entitlement up and also for the moral of the team.

A clear holiday form should be used that sets the standard clearly and should be granted on a first come, first served basis dependent on company needs with two copies of the form produced, one for the employee & one for the employer and their files. Both should be signed with the required authorisation to confirm it has been agreed.

Matthew from Consensus HR states “In my time within operations and HR, I have worked for quite a few businesses where the holiday procedure is not clear and has had to be amended due to people booking their holidays with the holiday company prior to having authorisation from their employer. Employees need to be aware that a booking for a holiday should not be made until their holiday at work has been authorised as if the holiday cannot be authorised they could lose out financially.

Our last blog titled ‘The Temperatures Are Rising!’ explains the legalities in relation to heat in the workplace.

If you wish to discuss your companies current Holiday Policy & how best to manage holiday requests going forward, contact us now by telephone – 01462 621243 or fill in our Contact Form.

Happy holidays!!

The Temperatures Are Rising!

What are the legal / best practices for businesses when it comes to their teams?

The British weather does not generally result in extreme temperatures but what about when this does happen and the team find themselves working in a hot environment?

What is the maximum temperature a workplace can be?

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 says that your employer must maintain a reasonable temperature where you work, but it does not specify a maximum temperature. There is a minimum temperature of 16°C, or 13°Cif your work involves considerable physical activity.

What steps can be taken?

Employers are not legally obliged to provide air conditioning in workplaces. Instead they are expected to provide reasonable temperatures as outline in the law above.

In that respect the steps, which, employers can take, will vary from employer to employer but practical steps might include turning on air conditioning if it is available or using blinds or curtains to block out sunlight.

However, employers must provide employees with suitable drinking water in the workplace. There is no requirement that the water is chilled.

Can my boss tell me what to wear?

Yes, employers are allowed to tell their workers to dress in a particular way in the workplace, regardless of what the weather is like outside. This might be written into a contract or an employee handbook.

Although men in the workplace might feel unfairly treated if they are required to wear a tie the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that requiring men to wear a collar and tie did not necessarily amount to sex discrimination if that was the only way of achieving equal levels of smartness for men and women.

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. Such days allow staff to dress more temperature appropriately and can be a useful way of bolstering morale.

As temperature rise; so can tempers.

Employers should be sympathetic to their employee’s needs but equally employees need to remember that they are getting paid by their employer to work – even if it is uncomfortable.

At Consensus HR we advise our customers on these odd occasions when the weather is very hot to discuss the issues with the team and see if there is anyway of making the working environment more comfortable such as purchasing fans if they have none or getting some bottles of water put into the office for everyone to drink or even if its possible and members of the team wish to, take the afternoon off as holiday.

By discussing the issue with everyone, you can generally find a suitable solution that ensures the business continues to run but demonstrates that the business understands the implications of the heat and will try to ensure reasonably measures are taken.

For further support in relation to HR, why not give us a call today – 01462 621243 –  www.consensushr.com