HR and employment law news in brief

A round up of some HR and employment law-related stories - in addition to those already covered on the website - which have been making the news from 22 April to 5 May 2016.

Custodial sentences for health and safety breaches

A company director has been jailed for six years for gross negligence manslaughter after two of his employees fell from a roof they were repairing: one of them died and the other was seriously injured.

Voluntary overtime formed part of ‘normal pay’ for holiday pay purposes

A tribunal has held that in calculating the amount of holiday pay that an employer pays to its workers, it has to include payments for voluntary overtime, voluntary standby and voluntary call out payments, providing that work has been undertaken with sufficient regularity to have become part of the worker’s normal pay.
White v Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council

Posted workers enforcement regulations

Regulations which will come into force on 18 June 2016 implement the Posted Workers Enforcement Directive, the main effect of which will be on the construction industry.

Affirmation of contract: context, and evidence, is all

An employee who signed a new contract following her employer’s breach of her original contract has had her constructive dismissal claim reinstated and sent back to the tribunal to consider the unchallenged evidence that she had only continued to work in her demoted role under protest.
Novakovic v Tesco Stores Ltd

Sunday trading: new protections for shop workers will go ahead

Following the collapse of the government’s plans earlier in 2016 to devolve Sunday trading laws to local authorities, it was thought that improved employment protections for shop workers (which was part of the overall reform package) might also fall by the wayside. However, following debate on the Enterprise Bill in the House of Lords, it appears that these will now go ahead but as yet there’s no confirmation of exactly when. 

Pay data: March 2016

Various research organisations have published data on average pay settlements for the three/four months to the end of March 2016 along with predictions for the busy April pay round.

Illegal variation of staff handbook in relation to absence management procedures

An absence management policy in a staff handbook had been incorporated into employee’s contracts and the employer could not unilaterally change the terms of the policy despite a variation clause seeming to give it the power to do so. 
Sparks v Department for Transport

New EU trade secrets regime takes shape

The EU Parliament has approved the new Trade Secrets Directive which seeks to harmonise protection of trade secrets across the EU by defining what a ‘trade secret’ is and how they will be protected and specifying the remedies available to holders of trade secrets if they are misappropriated.

Contacting absent and sick employees

An employee was constructively (and unfairly) dismissed when her employer wrote to her while she was off sick for work-related stress, raising performance issues which weren’t serious or urgent.
Private Medicine Intermediaries Ltd v Hodkinson

New data protection rules approved

Plans for reform of data protection law – the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – have been approved by the European Parliament and will come into effect in 2018.

A disclosure of ‘information’ may be an allegation as well

To be protected by the whistleblowing provisions in the Employment Rights Act 1996 there must be a disclosure of ‘information’ - but that disclosure may also include allegations.
Kilraine v London Borough of Wandsworth
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Thursday, 28 April 2016

Take care when appointing volunteers

The number of volunteers has increased dramatically according to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. And this seems to be particularly so amongst 16-25-year-olds. So what steps should you be taking to ensure you are doing the right thing from an employment law perspective? Because not adhering to specific terms and conditions in the appointment and management of volunteers could potentially be costly. 

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