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Is it safe to dismiss an employee who is receiving long-term disability benefits?

The EAT has dealt a blow to employers, confirming that the purpose of permanent health insurance and similar schemes would be defeated if an employer could end entitlements under this type of scheme by dismissing the employee on grounds of capability. 
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Is it safe to dismiss an employee who is receiving long-term disability benefits?

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

Sickness absences at lowest average since 1993!

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed a significant fall in the number of days employees are taking off work due to sickness. The ONS reported that an average of 4.1 sick days were taken in 2017, compared to 7.1 in 1993 (the year records began).
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Sickness absences at lowest average since 1993!

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

‘Egregiously unfair’ dismissal costs employer £30,000

The employer, Michelin, dismissed their employee who was signed off with stress.
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‘Egregiously unfair’ dismissal costs employer £30,000

Safeguarding mental health: essential for your construction workers, good for your business

The UK’s mental health is currently under scrutiny with high profile dignitaries, businessmen and organisations all helping to raise awareness of the problems it can cause in the workplace. Many campaigners come from the construction industry – an industry not renowned for its workers’ empathy and compassion. Like diversity in the construction industry, which we commented on last month, mental health has, traditionally, been one of those topics everyone avoids both on and off site. But this is not a new topic for construction: back in 2014, Building considered why talking about mental health is taboo in construction. Building focused on the hidden health and safety risks that mental health problems pose in the workplace which can be just as serious a threat to workers as physical injuries and fatalities.

Click here for the full article from our Construction team: https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/articles/2017/march/15/safeguarding-mental-health-essential-for-your-construction-workers-good-for-your-business

 

Safeguarding mental health: essential for your construction workers, good for your business

Calling HR: time to give your views on the work, health and disability green paper on “improving lives”

The government has produced a consultation paper, “Work, health and disability: improving lives”. The paper highlights the following striking statistics:

  • 1.8 million employees on average have a long-term sickness absence of four weeks or more in a year;
  •  ill health among working-age people costs the economy £100 billion;
  • sickness absence costs employers £9 billion a year;
  • there has been an increase of over 400,000 in the number of working-age disabled people in the UK since 2013, taking the total to more than 7 million;
  • 8 per cent of employers report they have recruited a person with a disability or long-term health condition over a year; and
  • less then half (48 per cent) of disabled people are in employment, compared to 80 per cent of the non-disabled population.

Over 3.3 million disabled people are now in work; however, many disabled people find employers reluctant to give them a chance. Disabled people also struggle with the interplay between work and the benefits system, which is not tailored to helping them stay in work. The government paper signals a desire for change (although this change may not happen overnight). The paper seeks employers’ views on areas including:

  • the key barriers preventing employers of all sizes and sectors recruiting and keeping the talent of disabled people and people with health conditions;
  • information that it would be reasonable for employers to be aware of to address the health needs of their employees;
  • reform of statutory sick pay to encourage a phased return to work;
  • how to ensure that all healthcare professionals recognise the value of work and consider work during consultations with working-age patients; and
  • the role of doctors in providing work and health information, making a judgement on fitness for work and providing sickness certification.

Views are sought from various respondents including both large and small employers, people with health conditions and disabled people, families, friends, teachers and carers. The consultation closes on 17 February 2017. Responses can be filed here.

Calling HR: time to give your views on the work, health and disability green paper on “improving lives”

Insight: UK Employment Law Round-up – September 2016

UK Employment Law Round-up In this issue, we look at whether a job applicant can gain protection under the Framework and Equal Treatment Directives if the purpose of the application is to gain the status of someone who can make a claim to gain compensation.

In our case law review, we will also re-visit what constitutes “normal remuneration” when calculating holiday pay and whether a reasonable adjustment for a disabled employee can extend to payment protection.

We provide guidance on how offers of employment should be made to ensure that communication about employment is not misinterpreted by prospective employees.

We also report on the most recent developments regarding the Apprenticeship Levy and the changes to the taxation of termination payments.

Read the full newsletter here.

Insight: UK Employment Law Round-up – September 2016

“I’m sick, honest. My self-certified sick note says so!”

Representatives of the British Medical Association (BMA) met recently to discuss the possibility of allowing employees to take up to 14 days’ sick leave from work without a doctor’s note. Currently, workers suffering from a common ailment, such as flu or a sprained ankle, can sign themselves off work and are not required to obtain a fit note from a doctor until after seven calendar days’ absence.

At the BMA Annual Representatives meeting, doctors voted overwhelmingly for the extension of self-certification from seven to 14 days. They also voted for a change in legislation to allow other health care professionals such as midwives and nurse practitioners to complete fit notes for patients.

There is much support for this new proposal with many clinical professionals stating that employees should be trusted as they find them to be honest about short-term sickness. Others argue that this extension from seven to 14 days has merit as it will relieve the increasing workload of medical professionals and improve the service for other patients who are in greater need of doctors’ appointments.

However, Paul Foster, the regional development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in Cumbria and Lancashire states that “the average rate of sickness absence in the UK was found to be 9.1 days a year at a total cost of £28 billion.” Therefore, there are concerns that allowing employees to extend the period of self-certified sickness absence could see this rate substantially increase with many employees abusing the system to “pull a sickie”. Other commentators worry that the potential rise in absence may adversely affect employers who may be burdened with excessive payments of sick pay where it is not truly warranted. Employers can manage this risk by amending sickness pay policies to safeguard against employees taking unfair advantage of the extension.

Recent reports suggest there are 150,000 more people demanding appointments than seven years ago, yet the number of available doctors has not increased to meet this demand. It is this issue with capacity that is the real driving force behind the BMA’s proposal.

Despite this amendment, there is nothing to stop an employer from challenging what the employee has said or from requesting that an employee has an examination with an occupational health consultant. As discussed in our blog post on 29 March (“Pulling a sickie”), where an employee “pulls a sickie” when not actually ill, this may amount to dishonesty and a fundamental breach of trust and confidence. Therefore, any false declaration under both the existing and proposed self-certification system could amount to gross misconduct and lead to dismissal. Consequently, employers should remind their employees of the serious repercussions that can result from untruthful absence from work and dishonestly claiming sick pay.

“I’m sick, honest. My self-certified sick note says so!”

Insight: UK Employment Law Round-up – April 2016

29280_Employment-Round-Up_THUMBNAIL In this issue, we consider the requirements of recent legislative changes including the new whistleblowing regime for financial institutions and the updated employment rates/limits for 2016/2017. Hot on the heels of International Women’s Day, we also explain how the spotlight on diversity continues with the release of EHRC guidance on improving diversity at senior levels of business. Another complicated area for clients can be dealing with issues surrounding PHI schemes and we analyse a recent decision in this field.

Read the full newsletter here.

Insight: UK Employment Law Round-up – April 2016