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Government framework for voluntary reporting on disability, mental health and wellbeing: what is expected of employers?

Following the 2017 Thriving at Work Review, the government has developed a framework to support large employers with recording and voluntarily reporting on disability, mental health and wellbeing. The government hopes that transparency in this area will help drive the culture change which is needed to foster a more inclusive society.
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Government framework for voluntary reporting on disability, mental health and wellbeing: what is expected of employers?

Employers can be vicariously liable for the violent conduct of their employees outside work

In Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Limited (NRL), the Court of Appeal decided that NRL was liable for its Managing Director drunkenly assaulting another employee at an “impromptu” drinks event after a work Christmas party. There was a sufficient connection between the Managing Director’s employment and the assault. This is an important case for employers to be aware of in the run-up to the Christmas party season.

Facts

Mr Bellman was a Sales Manager at NRL. After the NRL Christmas party, he and a number of colleagues went to a hotel bar for an “impromptu” drink. At the hotel, the employees discussed a work matter. The Managing Director lost his temper and told the employees that it was he who owned the company and made the decisions. Mr Bellman verbally challenged the Managing Director, who punched him twice. As a result of this, Mr Bellman suffered severe brain damage.

Mr Bellman sued NRL for damages, on the basis that NRL was vicariously liable for the assault.

Decision

The High Court dismissed Mr Bellman’s claim, holding that the Managing Director was not acting in the course of his employment when he assaulted Mr Bellman. The drinks were impromptu and each employee had a personal choice as to whether or not to attend. The fact that work topics were discussed at the drinks did not mean that there was a sufficient connection between the Managing Director’s employment and his wrongful conduct in assaulting Mr Bellman.

The Court of Appeal overruled the High Court’s decision, finding that there was a sufficient connection. The Court of Appeal noted that it was important to look at the level of authority of the Managing Director – in this case it was very wide, as he had no set working hours, he controlled the way he worked and he made all management decisions. In the Court of Appeal’s view, at the hotel he had exerted his authority over the employees when telling them that he made the decisions in relation to NRL.

Comment

The outcome of this case turned on its (very specific) facts. The “close connection” test for vicarious liability gives the courts a broad discretion and employers should be aware that they will not always be vicariously liable for the conduct of employees in arguments outside the workplace that relate to work matters. The key differentiating factor in this instance was that the Managing Director had a significant amount of management responsibility and authority which he exerted over the employees at the after party.

As we approach the Christmas party period, employers should remind their employees (and in particular, senior management) about behaving appropriately. This can include communicating with employees about what is expected of them at office parties as well as the policy for coming into work the following day. This will assist in reducing the potential risks that employers face in the festive season.

Employers can be vicariously liable for the violent conduct of their employees outside work

Mindful Business Charter aims to improve workplace wellbeing amongst lawyers

A number of City law firms and banking legal teams have joined forces to tackle long and unpredictable working hours in an attempt to improve lawyers' wellbeing and mental health. The Mindful Business Charter, fittingly launched on World Mental Health Day, was drawn up by Barclays alongside law firms Pinsent Masons and Addleshaw Goddard.
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Mindful Business Charter aims to improve workplace wellbeing amongst lawyers

New legislation seeks to ensure restaurant owners give their employees all tips from customers

New legislation is expected to be implemented to ban restaurants from keeping tips from their employees. The intention is restaurant owners will not be able to make deductions from tips which are paid by card in order to fund administration costs.

It is reported that High Street chains regularly take up to 10% of tips paid by credit or debit cards from employees. The issue was initially addressed two years ago in an official review led by the then business secretary, Sajid Javid, although nothing concrete had materialised.

The government is now re-addressing the issue, announcing that UK legislation will not only ensure workers get the tips they deserve, but will also give customers reassurance that the tips they leave are for the service they receive.

The announcement of new legislation is a timely reminder to employers of the protections that employees are entitled to during the course of their employment. Employers should adopt a proactive approach and re-evaluate their tipping procedure in order to avoid non-compliance and reputational risks.

 

 

 

New legislation seeks to ensure restaurant owners give their employees all tips from customers

Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 receives royal stamp of approval

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 was given royal assent on 13 September 2018, having started out in July 2017 as a Private Member’s Bill subsequently supported by the government.

The Act will offer, as a day one right, two weeks’ leave to any employed parents who lose a child under the age of 18 or who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employees will also be eligible for statutory bereavement pay if they meet certain criteria, including that they have been employed for at least 26 weeks, ending in the week of the child’s death, and have given the correct notice.

Bereavement leave must be taken within 56 days of the child’s death and parents who have lost more than one child will be entitled to take leave in respect of each child.

The Act provides that regulations will be made in due course, setting out how parental bereavement leave and pay will be taken, and the eligibility criteria. This will include details of notice requirements, whether leave can be taken in separate blocks and whether employees who are not the biological parent of a child (but who have been significantly involved in caring for the child, such as step-parents) will also qualify for leave and pay.

The rights provided by the Act are expected to come into force in April 2020, but this will be confirmed by the regulations.

Under current legislation, employees have the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to make arrangements following the death of a dependant. However, the cases on this limit the amount of time off to one or two days at most, save in exceptional circumstances. The change in law is therefore the first time in the UK that specific bereavement leave has been made both a legal right for up to two weeks and paid.

Employers may already have in place a policy on bereavement. Acas has published a  guide to managing bereavement in the workplace, which is available at http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4977

After the regulations have been published, employers should consider reviewing any existing policy or putting one in place, and should ensure that managers and HR are trained on the new rules.

Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 receives royal stamp of approval

Sex discrimination case flushed out of the Tribunal system with a £25,000 settlement

A female council worker has settled her sex discrimination claim for £25,000. She was instructed to go to a different office, ahead of an inspector's visit, to clean the kitchen and the toilets. She was told the toilets "needed a woman's touch" despite the fact that cleaning was not within her job description.
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Sex discrimination case flushed out of the Tribunal system with a £25,000 settlement

Eid al-Adha: dealing with religious festivals in the workplace

Eid al-Adha (known as the festival of sacrifice), the Islamic holiday marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage, is due to begin this coming Tuesday (21 August). The festival is celebrated with prayer and feast, typically on a large scale with Muslims in their respective communities coming together to partake in the festivities. Many Muslims may request time off work to celebrate Eid al-Adha, so here are a few considerations for employers to bear in mind as the holiday approaches.
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Eid al-Adha: dealing with religious festivals in the workplace

Pay gap between younger and older workers

The pay gap between the under-30s and over-30s has risen by more than half in the last 20 years, as younger workers are still enduring the residual effects of the financial crisis.
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Pay gap between younger and older workers

“Pitiful” and “patronising” – the excuses given for the lack of female presence in FTSE boardrooms

The Hampton-Alexander Review, an independent review backed by the government to scrutinise the gender balance of boards at the top of the country's leading companies, released a report this week which lists some of the excuses given by companies for a lack of female representation on their boards.
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“Pitiful” and “patronising” – the excuses given for the lack of female presence in FTSE boardrooms

A busy month for discrimination law

It’s been a busy few weeks for judgments; we round up the most recent discrimination cases:

When is cancer a disability?

What happens if an employer does not know an employee is pregnant when deciding to dismiss her but finds out before the dismissal takes effect?

Was forfeiture of LTIP awards unlawful age discrimination?

Click here to read the round up.

A busy month for discrimination law