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Pay cap lift for police and prison officers

The 1% cap on public sector pay rises in England and Wales (which came into force in 2010) is to be lifted. The first professions to benefit will be police officers and prison officers. The government has announced that for the 2017/2018 FY police officers will receive a 1% pay rise plus a 1% bonus and prison officers will get a 1.7% rise, both of which will be funded from existing departmental budgets.

Public sector pay was initially frozen for two years in 2010, except for those earning under £21,000 per year, and since 2013 pay rises have been capped at 1%. The relaxation of the cap by the government is not unexpected, as much concern has been raised about its impact on staff recruitment, retention and morale, with recommendations from pay review bodies for the police and prison services echoing these concerns. The Police Federation of England and Wales recently reported that morale among the police force had fallen due to changes to policing pay, workload and benefits, with more than 86% of police officers reporting that they did not feel fairly paid.

However, whilst the shift in policy to end the cap is likely to be welcomed, the increase has been heavily criticised for still being below the level of inflation, which is currently 2.9%. As such, for many in the public sector the introduction of a more flexible approach to pay rises will be seen as a step in the right direction, but one which also falls someway short of expectations.

Pay cap lift for police and prison officers

The Repeal Bill – Workers’ Rights

On 7 September 2017 the government published a factsheet on the impact of the Repeal Bill, which was recently passed by a majority of MPs, and the future status of workers’ rights following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The factsheet details the government’s commitment to ensuring that the employment rights and protections currently provided to workers in the UK under EU law will continue to be available to those individuals after Brexit. This means that certain employment rights which are derived from EU legislation (such as the Working Time Directive and the Agency Workers’ Directive) will be maintained, for now. The factsheet confirms that rights and protections afforded under any EU treaties or which have been created as a result of any European Court of Justice decision will also be captured by the Bill and will continue to be available in the UK following Brexit. The protections offered under the Equality Act 2006, the Equality Act 2010 and the equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland will also continue to apply following withdrawal.

The government believes that the Bill is necessary to ensure a smoother transition of EU legislation into domestic legislation. It also hopes that the continuation of workers’ rights under EU law will provide maximum certainty and continuity for both employers and employees in the UK at what is, currently, a fairly uncertain time.

 

The Repeal Bill – Workers’ Rights

Monitoring employees’ communications

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the Claimant's Article 8 right to privacy was breached when his employers investigated his private messages. This is notwithstanding the fact that the employer's policies clearly set out that personal use of its computer systems was prohibited.
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Monitoring employees’ communications

People Management article, featuring Michael Bronstein

As you may have seen, People Management recently published an article on some of the big developments in employment law in 2017, particularly Brexit and the Taylor review. The discussion featured Michael Bronstein, a partner here at Dentons. Michael gave some insight on the potential effects of withdrawing from the EU on employment legislation, acknowledging that there is 'a common misconception that all employment rights are created by the EU'. In the lead up to triggering Article 50, the government maintained that there would not be any change to workers' rights following Brexit, so it would be brave to take away key protections, many of which derive from UK law anyway. Other commentators suggested there may be reforms to TUPE, although agreed that it will stay, but perhaps in a slightly amended form. As for a new visa regime for workers, the outcome is unclear. The uncertainty has already caused many workers to leave at a time where we are beginning to see a shortage of labour. This has not been helped by the recent leaked Home Office post-Brexit Immigration Policy which has confirmed the fears of employers with respect to the future of EU workers in the UK.
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People Management article, featuring Michael Bronstein

Leaked Home Office post-Brexit Immigration Policy

As many of you will have seen, the Home Office's draft Post-Brexit Immigration Policy was leaked this week, and has since become a topic of much interest. The document has caused concern among many employers, as the stricter controls being proposed on EU immigration could lead to a significant shortage of labour in the UK, which could be hugely damaging to the economy. EU nationals currently comprise around 7% of the overall workforce in UK, with certain sectors almost entirely dependant on their contribution.
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Leaked Home Office post-Brexit Immigration Policy

President of the Employment Tribunals announces increase in the Vento Bands

Following a recent consultation, the President of the Employment Tribunals has announced a rise in the compensation that employees can recover for 'injury to feelings', in the event that they suffer from discrimination in the workplace.
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President of the Employment Tribunals announces increase in the Vento Bands

EAT finds that Asda retail store workers are comparable to higher paid distribution workers

The EAT upheld the previous Tribunal ruling that female employees who work in Asda's retail stores are entitled to compare their work to that of the higher paid male employees that work in its distribution centres. The EAT agreed that the value of work between these two groups of staff is of equal value and, therefore, that their pay should be comparable.
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EAT finds that Asda retail store workers are comparable to higher paid distribution workers

GDPR: time to start thinking about the new rules coming into force from 2018

The EU's General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will apply in the UK from 25 May next year. With increasingly tighter requirements around how employers must maintain and process personal data, and with the number of fines issued for breaches of UK data protection laws on the increase, many employers are already looking to employ permanent staff dedicated to ensure compliance with the new rules.
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GDPR: time to start thinking about the new rules coming into force from 2018

Be careful when quoting from the Bible …

In the recent decision of Trayhorn v. The Secretary of State for Justice the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that a prison had not indirectly discriminated against a chaplain who was disciplined for quoting Bible passages condemning homosexuality.
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Be careful when quoting from the Bible …

Tribunal fees are unlawful: extension of time granted

Following the Supreme Court's decision in R (on the application of Unison) v. Lord Chancellor (Unison) there was speculation as to whether there would be an influx of applications requesting an extension of time on the basis that, if it were not for the illegal fees, the cases would have been brought in time. The first of these cases has now been brought.
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Tribunal fees are unlawful: extension of time granted