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October 2015 Employment Law Update

27-10-2015

Grandparents & shared parental leave

Proposals were announced early this month to extend shared parental leave to working grandparents. The plan is to introduce these changes by 2018 and they are intended to increase flexibility and options for working parents making childcare arrangements. You can see some further details here

1 October = EMPLOYMENT LAW CHANGES

You can see a summary of the employment law changes that took effect on 1 October 2015 here in last month’s update

Disciplinary investigations & the HR department

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has granted an employee permission to appeal against a fair dismissal finding where the company’s HR department had unduly influenced the decision of the independent investigator.

This case concerned suspected abuse of a company’s expenses policy and in accordance with the company’s procedure a manager was appointed to be the Investigating Officer (IO) to assess the situation. As it was the IO’s first disciplinary investigation, he called on HR for guidance and also provided them with a copy of his draft report. His initial report made various findings and ultimately recommended that a final warning should be given to the employee for misconduct.

After this report was submitted to HR, various amendments were made and the final report recommended immediate dismissal for gross misconduct. The employee was dismissed and brought an unfair dismissal claim.

The original tribunal found the dismissal was fair highlighting that the company believed the employee was guilty, had reasonable grounds for this belief and had carried out a reasonable investigation. However, this disregarded the changes in the IO report and the implied requirement that the report of the IO must be a product of his own investigation. Therefore, this interference from HR has enabled the decision to be challenged.

This case is a useful reminder that the role of HR departments should be limited to giving guidance on the legal requirements and procedure and that HR should not get involved with questions of liability.

GUIDANCE: Zero Hours Contracts

The Business innovation & Skills department has issued guidance for employers on the use of Zero Hours contracts – see it here

DISCRIMINATION – Can a limited company claim?

In a recent case the Employment Appeal tribunal held that a limited company, that was a member of a limited liability partnership (LLP), could bring a claim of direct discrimination based on the age of its main shareholder and director.

The claim was resisted by the LLP on the basis that only individuals are protected under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010), but the EAT strongly rejected this argument, for the following reasons:

This means that the case including discrimination claims brought by both the individual concerned and the limited company will now proceed to a full hearing.

Finally, while this claim was heard by the employment tribunals, the decision could affect other areas of law too, for example, if discrimination arises in the provision of goods, services or facilities, or the disposal of premises

If you are responsible for HR matters within your business (or interested in employment law discussion), please contact us to attend the monthly HR Network sessions run by Julie Taylor from GL and Michelle Bailey from People Essentials. The next Newbury meeting is on Monday 9 November at 5pm and the same time in Maidenhead on Monday 7 December 2015.


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