Hand Morgan & Owen Employment Bulletin – October 2018
EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL STATISTICS
The Ministry of Justice has published statistics for the Employment Tribunal for the period April to June 2018. The following figures give a clear indication of the impact of the abolition of the Tribunal fee regime in July 2017;
- The number of single claims lodged for that period increased by 165% compared to the same quarter last year
- The number of single claims outstanding (i.e. that the Tribunal had not yet been able to deal with) rose by 130% compared with the same quarter last year (it is understood that the H M Courts & Tribunal Service is recruiting more Judges to deal with this backlog)
- There have been 12,400 fee refund payments since the scheme was set up to deal with the refund of the illegal Tribunal fees. These total just over £10,000,000
PARENTAL BEREAVEMENT (LEAVE AND PAY) ACT 2018
This legislation has received Royal assent. It provides employed parents a right to two weeks leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The Act is expected to come into force in 2020 and an accompanying set of regulations are anticipated to set out the details.
ACAS GUIDANCE ON EMPLOYMENT REFERENCES
At a time when there is a growing reluctance by employers to provide anything other than a basic factual reference for departing employees, ACAS have set out guidance on the position with regards to employment references.
The guidance can be found on the following link http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=5072
and includes helpful information such as;
- What an employment reference is and whether it has to be provided
- What an employment reference can include
- Whether an employer can give a bad reference
- How to resolve problems with references
DISCRIMINATION AND CAKES
The Supreme Court recently considered whether it was directly discriminatory for a Christian bakery to refuse to bake a cake containing a message supportive of gay marriage.
In the case of Lee v Ashers Bakery Company Limited and Others, Ashers Baker were a family-owned business, owned by Christians with particular beliefs concerning marriage and sexual expression. They were asked to bake a cake with a photo of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street and the wording ‘Support Gay Marriage’. They declined to do so because of their religious beliefs.
The Supreme Court overturned a decision of the Northern Irish Court of Appeal and stated that the refusal was not directly discriminatory on the grounds of sexual orientation and political belief but because of the political message that the cake sought to relay. The Court referred to Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Rights of Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion and the Right to Freedom of Expression) and stated that those rights included an entitlement not to be forced to express a political opinion in which they did not believe. Accordingly, it was not appropriate to place an obligation on the bakers to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.
ON CALL SLEEPING IN: NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE
In the case of Mencap v Tomlinson-Blake the Court of Appeal considered the issue of a carer who sleeps at a client’s home and whether they are technically on call whilst asleep and accordingly entitled to the minimum wage.
The Court decided they were not. Underhill LJ forming the view that workers sleeping in under this arrangement would only be entitled to have sleeping hours counted for minimum wage purposes where they are, and are required to be, awake for the purposes of performing some form of specific activity.
26 October 2018
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For advice and assistance in respect of Employment matters contact Nigel Pepper, Consultant or Patrick Nelson, Associate on 01785 211411.
The contents of this article are for the purpose of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.