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Part-time workers: hours -v- pay

The Court of Appeal has agreed with the lower courts that a part-time cabin crew member had been treated less favourably than a full-time crew member, because she had to be available for work 53.5% of the year but was only paid 50% of the full-time salary (British Airways plc v Pinaud).
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Part-time workers: hours -v- pay

A quick guide to family leave and pay entitlements in the UK

The latest announcement from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that they are expecting their first child and the recent return of the Duchess of Cambridge from her maternity break demonstrate that the Royal Family, similarly to other British parents, is not a stranger to tackling a wide range of parental responsibilities along with their official duties.

This prompted us to set out the main entitlements in relation to family leave and pay available to working parents under the UK laws.

Provided that the employee meets specific eligibility criteria, they have the right to the following:

  • Statutory Maternity Leave (SML): Women can take up to 52 weeks of SML. It is made up of Ordinary Maternity Leave (the first 26 weeks) and Additional Maternity Leave (weeks 27 to 52). SML is not compulsory apart from the first two weeks after the baby is born (or four weeks if the woman works in a factory). Whilst on SML women can claim:
    • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP): It is paid for up to 39 weeks and is 90 per cent of the employee’s average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first six weeks followed by the lower of £145.18 or 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings for the next 33 weeks.
    • Maternity Allowance: It is payable by the government and applies to those employees who do not qualify for SMP.
    • Company enhanced maternity pay: Many employers voluntarily offer more generous maternity pay arrangements which eligible employees can claim.

Women adopting a child or having a child through surrogacy are not entitled to SML but can get Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay instead.

  • Shared Parental Leave (ShPL): This enables parents having a baby or adopting a child to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay. ShPL is paid at the lower rate of SMP (i.e.£145.18 a week or 90 per cent of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower).
  • Paternity Leave and Pay: Paternity Leave is a period of either one or two consecutive weeks that fathers (or partners) can take off from work to care for their baby or child. The statutory weekly rate of Paternity Pay is £145.18 or 90 per cent of the employee’s average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).
  • Parental leave: This is unpaid. It can be taken for up to 18 weeks to look after a child up to their 18th birthday. Unless agreed otherwise with the employer it can only be taken up to four weeks for each child in a year.
  • Time off for dependants: Employees are allowed time off to deal with emergency situations (e.g. a hospital appointment) involving a dependant. A dependant could be a spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent, or someone who depends on the employee for care. It is unpaid unless the employer agrees otherwise. There is no set amount of time that can be requested by the employee to deal with emergency situations although it should to be exercised in a reasonable manner, which usually equates to one or two days.
  • Flexible working: Employees who have 26 weeks’ continuous employment are entitled to make a request for flexible working. Flexible working can include a wide range of options, such as reduction of hours, job-sharing, working from home, working compressed hours, flexitime or term-time working.

Many employers recognise that the statutory entitlements are no longer sufficient in many sectors to attract a skilled and qualified workforce. In the circumstances they are prepared to offer their employees a wide range of family-friendly benefits, enhanced levels of family leave and pay, as well as flexibility in their working arrangements. No matter what option the employer chooses, it is important that they have clear family policies in place outlining the relevant process and eligibility criteria and that those policies are applied consistently across the organisation.

A quick guide to family leave and pay entitlements in the UK

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

Can flexible working improve the gender pay gap?

One of the biggest barriers to gender equality and pay parity is a continuing resistance by employers to embrace agile working. A recent joint study from flexible working specialists, Timewise, and Deloitte set out a five step plan to help employers establish and implement new working cultures with the aim of improving pay parity between men and women.
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Can flexible working improve the gender pay gap?

Fathers and the Workplace

The Women and Equalities Committee has published a report highlighting what it sees as the difficulties that fathers face in balancing their careers with childcare responsibilities. The report makes a series of proposals which aim to put men and women on a more equal footing when it comes to maternity and paternity leave. The most headline grabbing recommendation is that fathers should receive one month's leave at 90% of their salary (capped for higher earners) when their wife or partner has a baby and a further two months of paternity leave at £141 a week, without any loss of rights for the mother.
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Fathers and the Workplace

Government’s response to Taylor Review

Seven months ago, we reported on the Taylor Review of modern working practices, with its focus on “good work” for all that is “fair and decent”. In short, the review recommended extra protection for the UK workforce, ranging from clarity over employment status to extra rights on zero-hours contracts. This month the government has published its eagerly anticipated response to Matthew Taylor’s 53 recommendations.

Read more here.

Government’s response to Taylor Review

IFS report: Part-time work is playing a major role in the gender pay gap

The latest report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has highlighted the prevalence of part-time working among women, and particularly mothers, as contributing significantly to the gender pay gap, which although down from 30 per cent from the early 90s still stands at around 20 per cent.
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IFS report: Part-time work is playing a major role in the gender pay gap

Sisters doing it for themselves?

The world of work is changing. According to a combined study by Oxford Ecomonics and the online retailer notonthehighstreet.com, female entrepreneurs are leading the way in shunning normal working hours. Many have set up their own businesses in an attempt to juggle home and work commitments. They enjoy having flexibility to juggle home and work life, without reverting to part time work and a consequent reduction in their finances. Employers are advised to think about how they can adapt to changing work habits to recruit and retain the best talent.

The full report can be found here http://www.notonthehighstreetpresscentre.com/wp-content/uploads/Noths_Report_Release_London.pdf

Sisters doing it for themselves?

Insight: UK Employment Law Round-up – November 2016

Employment Round Up THUMBNAIL In this issue we look at a recent Court of Appeal decision focusing on sexual orientation protection following a refusal to bake a cake decorated with a gay rights message. We also look at the rights of breastfeeding mothers at work, and Asda’s equal pay claim case, which may lead to further claims against Asda. We consider Tribunal decisions deciding employment status and rest break rights. We review the importance of having clear guidelines on job descriptions, and proposals to provide an entitlement to bereavement leave. Finally, we give an update on changes to the Immigration Rules.

Read the full newsletter here.

Insight: UK Employment Law Round-up – November 2016

It’s November – therefore we can now talk about Christmas!

Bramble Foods Ltd (the Company) generates a third of its total annual turnover in the eight weeks from mid-September onwards, in the lead-up to Christmas. As this is its busiest period, its employees are expected to work additional hours. Their contracts include a clause that requires them to “work such further hours as may be reasonably necessary to fulfil [their] duties or the needs of the business”. In 2014, the Company formalised its overtime arrangements by asking its employees to select between four to eight shifts, lasting four hours, on Saturday mornings in September and October when the Company would be producing its gift packs and hampers ready for Christmas. The Company adopted the same arrangement the following year. However, Mrs Edwards refused to sign up to the additional shifts, despite all of her colleagues doing so. Following a number of informal discussions, the Company dismissed Mrs Edwards. Its primary concern was that her colleagues would revoke their agreement to work overtime if the Company was seen to excuse Mrs Edwards. Mrs Edwards brought a claim for unfair dismissal as a result.

Whilst it accepted that there were minor flaws in the Company’s process, the Tribunal held that “dismissal was inarguably within the range of reasonable responses” as Mrs Edwards’ excuse that she spends Saturday mornings with her husband was not a legitimate one. The Tribunal considered that her refusal to work the overtime as requested had the potential to disrupt the whole business.

Many employers will be expected to meet tighter deadlines under a greater workload in the lead-up to Christmas. While this is only a first instance decision (and therefore not binding on other tribunals), it is helpful in highlighting what amounts to a reasonable request with regards to overtime. Of course, employers cannot expect their employees to agree to work overtime where they are contracted to work fixed hours and there is no clause (as above) which requires them to work more hours to meet the demands of the business. To avoid facing the same issues as in this case and to mitigate any risk of being short-staffed this Christmas, follow our top tips below:

  • Request that employees sign up to overtime as far in advance as possible – this will allow employees to plan around extended working hours as necessary;
  • Offer employees an incentive to sign up to the extra hours – for example, increased pay for any overtime worked, or a free breakfast or dinner if the employee is working particularly unsociable hours;
  • Ensure employees are given adequate rest breaks throughout the working day – this is especially important where an employee is working overtime;
  • Where possible, try to schedule a day with reduced hours (or even better, a day off) for an employee who has worked overtime the previous day – this will ensure that the employee does not feel overworked and is more likely to sign up for more hours on another day;
  • Take account of employees’ religious beliefs – not all employees will celebrate Christmas and may not mind working Christmas Eve or Christmas Day where required. Conversely, employees who do celebrate Christmas for religious purposes should be given enough flexibility to take time off at this time. Equally, employees who observe other religions should be offered the same flexibility when requesting time off to celebrate their religious events throughout the year.
It’s November – therefore we can now talk about Christmas!