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October 2017 Newsletter

Posted on Thursday 19th Oct 2017

Bereavement Leave

The government published the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill last week When enacted the legislation will create the right to two weeks’ paid leave to any employed parent who loses a child under the age of 18. It is horrible to express it so bluntly but the leave is per deceased child. Eligibility will not be related to length of service but employed parents with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service have an additional right to receive statutory parental bereavement pay.

There is currently no legal requirement to offer grieving parents paid time off work so this is another example of legal involvement in an area which employers have managed successfully and, in most cases, sympathetically for years.

Leave must be taken before the end of a period of at least 56 days beginning with the date of the child’s death.

The bill will have its second reading in Parliament on 20 October 2017 with a view to becoming law in 2020.

 

Role of HR Advisor

We are sometime asked to attend disciplinary meetings and, while we are willing to provide this service, what we are unable to do is to agree to conduct the meeting itself. The case below shows why.

 In the judgment of Ramphal –and- Department of Transport (UKEAT/0352/14/DA), the EAT held that, whilst a disciplinary or investigatory officer may seek guidance from Human Resources, when one considers matters of law and procedure, advice should not extend to issues of credibility and culpability.

Mr Goodchild, an employee of the DofT, was asked by his employer to investigate alleged irregularities with the expenses claims of Mr Ramphal, despite being 'inexperienced in disciplinary proceedings'. Throughout his investigations report, Mr Goodchild received advice from the HR department. In his first draft report he considered Mr Ramphal's actions constituted misconduct, with a recommendation that he be issued with a final written warning.

However, the final investigation report, with input from HR, concluded that Mr Ramphal was in fact guilty of gross misconduct and the recommendation that he be summarily dismissed was carried out.

The Employment Tribunal held that Mr Goodchild had not been materially influenced by HR and concluded that dismissal was appropriate.

The EAT disagreed. It held that HR's input went 'beyond' giving advice on procedure, and appeared to have influenced and encouraged Mr Goodchild to alter his views on both guilt and credibility. The EAT found it 'disturbing to note the dramatic change' in Mr Goodchild's approach following HR's intervention. The proposed finding of misconduct was replaced with a finding of gross misconduct; and a recommendation for a final written warning was replaced by a recommendation for dismissal.

There are some independent HR advisers who are willing to take over the role of managers in the disciplinary process. Be very wary. This may superficially seem an attractive option for some managers, especially those, like Mr Goodchild, with little experience of dealing with disciplinary matters. However, this EAT judgment serves as a salutary reminder to managers and to HR that the independent judgment of investigating officers and management must be preserved. That independence can be easily compromised by HR consultants that claim to be able to relieve management of their responsibility for taking decisions on disciplinary matters.

 

Joint Ignorance May Not Remove an Employee’s Rights  

Can an employee have a legal right when both she and her employer are unaware of the existence of the condition which forms the basis of that right? Seemingly so.

Advocate General Sharpston has given her view that under the Pregnant Workers Directive pregnant workers should be protected against dismissal from the moment they become pregnant, even before they have notified their employer of the pregnancy and even if that failure to notify her employer was caused by the employee herself not knowing she was pregnant. Thus employers could have an obligation to protect from dismissal an employee that they do not know is pregnant because the woman does not know that she is pregnant. Although the AG’s opinion is often followed by the ECJ, it is not always the case, so it will be sometime before we know whether the ECJ will agree with this Opinion or, like most of us, shake their collective heads in disbelief.

 

eLearning from Acton Jennings

We are pleased to announce that we are now able to provide online H&S and HR training courses to our clients. There are over 75 learning courses in total; below is a small selection:

Asbestos Awareness –

Drug & Alcohol Awareness –

Manual Handling for Industry –

Warehouse Manual Handling –

Retail Manual Handling –

Risk Management Safety Essential

Slips Trips and Falls –

Developing People –

Hire So You Don’t Have to Fire –

Understanding Safety at Work

Workplace Bullying & Harassment

Workplace Fire Prevention & Response

         

The full list of courses is available on our website. Please visit us at www.actonjennings.com or call 01924 416888 for further information.

 

ACCREDITATION SERVICES

ISO 9001

Clients with ISO9001 accreditation will be aware that transition to the new 2015 standards has to be completed within 3 years of publication of that standard. That is, by September 2018.

Acton Jennings LLP is able to assist any client that either has obtained the accreditation and now needs to make the transition or wishes to obtain the accreditation. We are also able to help clients obtain the environmental standard ISO 1400 and the health and safety standard ISO45001.

ISO45001 will be the replacement for OHSAS18001. Work has now been completed on the changes to the second draft of the standard. The project committee for developing ISO 45001, met in Melaka, Malaysia, to make the final technical changes to the standard. It is for the ISO Central Secretariat to determine whether it can be published, or if a Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) is needed. In the case of an FDIS, the earliest publication can be expected is March 2018.

These standards are truly international standards. So, for example, a customer in the USA would understand precisely what is involved in an organisation having achieved, say ISO9001 or ISO45001 because the same standard applies in America. No other standard has that high international profile. Increasingly in this country large organisations such as the NHS and local authorities or large companies will only deal with suppliers that have demonstrable quality, environmental or safety standards in place.

Contact us if you wish to know more about our accreditation service.

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