What do you need to know about (other than coronavirus!)
With the corona virus pandemic very much at the forefront of everyone’s minds at present, here is a roundup of some employment law news and developments you may have missed:
Government launches campaign to highlight workers’ rights to paid holiday
The campaign, launched on 2 March 2020 is aimed at reminding workers of their right to paid holiday leave, ensuring employers check that workers take the leave they are entitled to and they also calculate the holiday pay properly.
All workers are entitled to paid time off for every hours they work, whether they work part time, shifts or irregular hours.
The campaign is responding to research carried out by Unpaid Britain which reported that workers are missing out on a staggering 1.8 billion a year in unpaid leave.
Ethical Vegan case – settlement reached
Not long ago we reported about an Employment Tribunal decision where it was judged that ethical veganism was capable of protection under discrimination laws as a philosophical belief. Mr Casamitjana who brought the discrimination claim has now reportedly reached a settlement with his employer, the League against Cruel Sports who he claimed dismissed him for raising concerns within the organisation that its pension fund invested with firms that tested on animals. The League Against Cruel Sports argued that Mr Casamitjana was fairly dismissed for gross misconduct but has now settled the case.
Barclays scraps staff spying software
It was never going to be the best staff morale booster, but last month Barclays trialed tracking software in its London HQ which allowed its managers to see how long employees were spending away from their desks and the time it took to do various tasks at their computers. The system would warn staff, via daily updates, if they were not considered to have been active enough and would tell them to “avoid breaks”. Activities like toilet breaks were recorded as “unaccounted activity”…..
The trial lasted a week before it was scrapped after the bank suffered a backlash from privacy campaigners who said workers’ rights to privacy were being violated. A whistleblower also contacted a London newspaper to complain of the practice, saying that the stress it was causing was “beyond belief “and it showed an “utter disregard for employee well being”.
The news story highlights two important things. First, the need for employers to have regard to data protection legislation when considering monitoring staff activities. Monitoring is only likely to be permitted under data protection rules if employers can establish that the monitoring is necessary and proportionate (including considering less intrusive alternatives), that their workers are aware their activities are being monitored and the purposes for which the information gathered will be used. Secondly, it puts a spot light on the need for employers to be careful not to put staff under unnecessary stress and to be mindful to encourage (not record as unaccounted activity!) employees to exercise their right to daily breaks because – as the whistleblower’s reaction in this case demonstrates –a workforce which is highly stressed and which believes their employer to be indifferent is a recipe for disaster.
Annual increases in tribunal awards and other statutory payments
In cases involving dismissals, the following awards will increase for dismissals falling on or after 6 April 2020:
- The maximum weeks’ pay for the purpose of calculating a statutory redundancy payment will increase from £525 to £538.
- The maximum weeks pay for the purpose of calculating an employee’s basic award will also increase from 525 o 538
- The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will increase from £86,444 to £88, 519.
Other statutory payments will increase from 6 April 2020 including:
- The statutory sick pay rate will increase from £94.25 per week to £95.85.
- The statutory rate of maternity pay, paternity pay, adoption pay and shared parental pay will increase from £148.68 per week to £151.20.