Employment News – Hotel and Leisure Sector Spring 2013

 

Goodman Derrick LLP has acted for clients in the hotel and leisure industry for many years and the Employment Department recognises that this sector is heavily reliant on its staff. We know that you need to keep abreast of the legal matters that may arise and this newsletter seeks to help you do just that!

WHAT’S NEW?

Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay

On 7 April, statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increased from £135.45 to £136.78 per week.

Statutory sick pay

On 6 April, the rate of statutory sick pay increased from £85.85 to £86.70 per week.

Collective redundancy consultation

From 6 April, the minimum consultation period where an employer proposes to dismiss as redundant 100 or more employees was reduced from 90 days to 45 days. 

Parental leave

From 8 March, the right to unpaid parental leave increased from 13 weeks to 18 weeks for all eligible parents.

Compensation limits

A reminder that on 1 February, the cap on the compensatory award for unfair dismissal increased from £72,200 to £74,200. Also, the cap on a week’s pay (used for the calculation of the basic award in unfair dismissal and also statutory redundancy payments) increased from £430 to £450 per week.

Pension auto-enrolment

New rules have been phased in which require employers to automatically enrol eligible employees into a pension scheme. For employers with 250 or more employees, this obligation began on 1 October 2012. For smaller employers, the requirement will come into effect between 1 April 2014 and 1 April 2017.

 WHAT’S PROPOSED?

Employee-shareholders

April 2013 was supposed to see the introduction of a new type of employment status known as “employee shareholders”, where the employee would give up certain employment rights (including the right to claim unfair dismissal) in return for receiving shares in the employer with a value of at least £2,000. However, this has been delayed and perhaps even may be abandoned. The Chancellor would like to see the new status introduced on 1 September 2013  but the legislation containing the new provisions was previously  rejected by the House of Lords, although the House of Commons have just reinstated it.  Watch this space for developments.

STOP PRESS:  It has just been announced that the House of Lords has now also approved the concept of employee shareholders so we understand that this will be coming into effect in the Autumn. However, there has been several modifications made, such as the employee must seek independent legal advice funded by the employer before accepting employee shareholder status and there will be a cooling off period in case the employee changes their mind.

Pre-termination negotiations and settlement agreements

New provisions are expected to be introduced in Summer 2013 which will allow an employer to attempt discussions with an employee about ending the employment relationship without fear that such discussions will be used in a subsequent unfair dismissal claim. Further, there are plans to replace the current compromise agreement protocol with a new form of agreement known as a “settlement agreement”.

Disciplinary and Grievances

Work is underway by ACAS to improve the Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures and also to produce an interactive tool to assist small businesses when dealing with such situations. It is expected to be available from Autumn 2013.

 FAQ… OBESITY AND DISABILITY

QUESTION: My Pastry Chef, who weighs over 20stone, tells me he is protected by the disability discrimination regime. However, as far as I can see, all the ailments he suffers from only arise because he is grossly overweight. Can he be “disabled” for the purposes of employment law?  

ANSWER: In short, obesity itself does not render an employee disabled. However, being obese might make it more likely that the employee is considered to have a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, which is the piece of legislation dealing with this issue.

The key to answering the above question is to determine whether or not the employee has any physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The actual cause of such impairment (in this case, being overweight) is generally not important. Therefore, if your Pastry Chef suffers from, say, knee problems, serious asthma and/or depression, he could well be protected by the disability discrimination regime, even if all of these impairments result from the fact that he is obese.

USEFUL INFO… RELIGION AND BELIEF

We reported in our last newsletter (January 2013) about the recent case of Eweida & others v United Kingdom, which concerned various issues relating to discrimination on the grounds of religious belief. You will perhaps be interested to learn that the Equality & Human Rights Commission (www.equalityhumanrights.com) has now published new guidance to assist employers with dealing with requests from employees concerning their religion. That could include requests from adapting work duties so that the employee avoids contact with alcohol and/or meats to the employee refusing to work on a Sunday.

Information correct  as of 19 April 2013

This guide is for general information and interest only and should not be relied upon as providing specific legal advice.   If you have any queries regarding the above or need assistance with any employment law issue, please contact Katee Dias or call 0207 404 0606 and ask to speak to your Goodman Derrick contact.