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December 2017 Newsletter

Posted on Tuesday 19th Dec 2017

Paying Back Tribunal Fees

As we reported in our July 2017 Newsletter, the Supreme Court's decision in Unison that Employment Tribunal fees were unlawful meant the Government would be required to reimburse those who have paid fees to bring their claims in the Employment Tribunals over the last four years. Following a phased implementation in October that scheme has now been fully introduced.

The scheme is open to claimants, respondents (including those who had been ordered to reimburse fees incurred by the other side) and their representatives or sponsors who were responsible for paying the tribunal fees.

The more complicated aspect of the Supreme Court judgment scheme, those who claim they were deterred from bringing claims due to the fee regime, or those claims that were rejected or dismissed for the non-payment of fees, is not covered by the scheme. An expanded scheme is expected in the near future.

Eligible parties should apply online, by post or email. Specific forms will need to be completed, and successful applicants will be entitled to a full refund plus interest paid at a rate of 0.5%.


HSE Annual Statistics

Britain remains one of the safest countries in which to work. Nevertheless, the HSE 2016/17 annual injury and ill health statistics show 1.3 million workers suffered from work related ill-health and 609,000 workplace injuries were reported. This is the lowest rate of workplace injury dropped since the earliest date in the HSE collected data 2001-02. There were 137 fatal injuries in Britain’s workplaces, still nearly three per week.

There was a marked increase in people who reported suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the last year. The figure is the highest in the past 16 years. This makes stress the most widespread type of work related illness, for the first time overtaking even musculoskeletal disorders. Unfortunately stress is also acquiring the same sort of status a bad back used to have as the illness of the workshy or those avoiding a confrontation at work. Certainly, anecdotally, we encounter a number of cases of employees whose stress arises when they are facing a disciplinary meeting. This cannot, of course, account for all stress related illness.

Although there were fewer prosecutions in 2016/17, fines nearly doubled from £38.8 million in 2015/16 to £69.9 million in 2016/17. Twenty big fines made up £30.7 million of the total.


Caution Possible Health and Safety Scam

A number of our clients have been contacted by companies offering to undertake assessments of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) to which their employees may be exposed in the workplace. The companies’ approach is that this is a legal requirement and a failure to do it is a breach of the law. One client parted with nearly £2000 to have the work done.

It is true that under the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work (CEMFAW) Regulations 2016 all employers are required to assess the levels of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) to which employees may be exposed in the workplace.  There is also a requirement under CEMFAW to ensure that EMF workplace exposure is below the Exposure Limit Values (ELVs) and therefore under the Action Levels (ALs) under this legislation.

However, the majority of employers will not need to take any additional action to reduce the risk from EMFs, as in most workplaces EMFs exposure is already at safe levels.

Lists of EMF low- exposure work equipment is provided in the guidance to CEMFAW, where ELVs and ALs will not be exceeded. No further action is required in these cases, except where there are employees at particular risk, or where there are more than five employees. In the latter case a formal record of the findings has to be kept.

Please ring our office if you receive such an approach. These companies are treading a very fine line between providing a service which is actually required and a straightforward scam.


Christmas Greetings

Finally may we wish every one of our clients a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

In line with previous years we do not send cards but have made donations to three of our charity clients.

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