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CRC’s Newsletter - March 2012
01 March 2012

I don’t know where the months have disappeared since my last newsletter! It is certainly pleasing to be busy, not only with business development and Employment Tribunal work but also with my new clients, and I have been more involved with organisational change in the Charity I am a trustee with.

Again, I have tried to keep this newsletter shorter so that you can dip in and out of the things that interest you. Obviously if you need further information then please contact me.

Queen’s Holiday – June 2012
For those who recognise it, the late May Bank Holiday has moved to Monday 4 June to give people an extra-long weekend with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee holiday fixed on Tuesday 5 June.

There has been quite a lot of discussion on whether or not companies have to give staff this additional holiday or not. Under the Working Time Regulations, workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday which equates to 28 days for full time workers. [Previously the wording would have probably granted an entitlement to 20 days leave with 8 bank holidays.] The increase to 5.6 weeks holiday was therefore to include bank/public holidays but it does depend on the individual terms of your employees’ contracts of employment which should be checked.

There is therefore no statutory right to additional days off and no statutory right to this additional day.

Changes to the Employment Tribunal system from April – The qualifying service for bringing a claim for Unfair Dismissal will increase to 2 years from 6 April 2012. This applies only to employees who are taken on after 6th April; all employees in post prior on 5 April retain the one-year qualifying service.

At present taking a claim to an employment tribunal (or appealing to the Employment Appeal Tribunal) is free of charge to users and entirely funded by the taxpayer. In the financial year 2010/11, the employment tribunals received 218,100 claims and 2,048 appeals were made to the Employment Appeal Tribunal at a total cost to the taxpayer of £84.2m.

The Government is currently consulting on the level of fees to be introduced when submitting claims to Employment Tribunals. There are a number of options but it is likely that there will be different levels of fee depending on the type of claim being submitted – “indicative fees” of between £150 - £1250 have been suggested. The consultation ends on 6th March 2012.

Changes to RIDDOR from April - From 6 April 2012 changes to RIDDOR’s injury reporting requirements will come into effect.

Currently there is a requirement for a ‘responsible person’ to report over-three-day injuries however this is set to change so that only over-seven-day injuries will need to be reported. This means that where a worker has been incapacitated for more than seven consecutive days with a work-related injury, this must be reported to the relevant enforcing authority within 15 days of the date of the accident.

New rates for SSP, SMP, SAP, SPP – all rates for Statutory Sick Pay, Maternity Pay, Paternity Pay and Adoption Pay have been announced which will apply from 6 April 2012.

The new rates of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP), and Statutory Paternity Pay (both Ordinary and Additional – OSPP and ASPP are detailed in my leaflet available on my website here.

Olympics - ACAS has produced guidance to help employers prepare for the Olympic games this summer. This helpful Q&A can be found on the ACAS website here.

Although employees have no legal right to time off work to volunteer, ACAS guidance suggests that employers may wish to consider introducing a policy of allowing an employee to take a set number of paid days off per year to develop their skills through volunteering. Equally, the employer could agree to unpaid time off or, the employee could take annual leave.

Mental Health issues and work - The Government is supporting a new service provided by Remploy Employment Services, through Access to Work, seeking to help 1,600 individuals suffering from mental health conditions to stay in employment. Figures show that 1 in 6 people may suffer a mental health condition at any one time and it is hoped that this will employers retain vital skills. The service, which includes include counselling, personalised action plans, reasonable adjustments in the workplace and coping strategies, is free.

For further details visit the Remploy website here.

Impact-21 – Along with 2 other HR/Employment law specialists I’ve been assisting Impact-21 deliver an HR surgery in Fife. This is a free 30-minute consultation on any HR/employment law matter and they run monthly. Further details can be seen on the Impact-21 flyer on my website here.

As for me – I’m always pleased to get positive feedback from my clients but recently, in particular, I was delighted to hear from one client about an additional benefit to them as a result of my work. When reviewing their policies and procedures, we recognised the need to introduce a driver’s policy and so when their fleet insurance policy came up for renewal, this policy was very well received by the insurers and hopefully ended in a reduced premium for the Company. Such additional benefits, and the impact this has to my clients, really demonstrates the value an external Consultant can bring!

I hope that you’ve found this round-up useful. Any feedback, particularly on the new format, will be gratefully received.

With kind regards


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