The Government has this week announced that it will introduce the new Tribunal Rules of Procedure in Summer 2013.
The Governments consultation on the proposals closed in November 2012. In response to the consultation the Government has set out its plans to “streamline the tribunal process and make it easier for parties to navigate”.
The proposals accepted include:
- New strike-out powers to ensure that weak cases that should not proceed to full hearing are halted at the earliest opportunity
- Guidance from the Employment Tribunal President to help ensure that judges deal with hearings in a consistent manner which ensures parties know what to expect
- Making it easier to withdraw and discuss claims but cutting the amount of paperwork required
- An new procedure for preliminary hearings that combines separate pre-hearing reviews and case management discussions. This will reduce the overall number of hearings and lead to a quicker disposal of cases saving time and cost for parties
The new rules will be introduced in the Summer of 2013, in line with the introduction of tribunal fees.
10 or 20 years ago slapping people on the backside might have been brushed off because people didn’t have the courage to challenge it. The attitude was “we’ll just have to put up with it”.
Behaviour such as requesting kisses, lingering hugs, leg rubbing and shoulder massages are widely recognised as “no-no’s” today.
Always remember, context is king when considering impropriety. What is “inappropriate” may lie in the eye of the beholder. People see different types of behaviour differently and may or may not be offended by the same behaviour, so that’s where you have to be more sensitive and alert to the signals people give you.
Head of Equality at ACAS, says there is rarely any reason for co-workers to touch. He adds: “where a mistake has been made, a quick and sincerely meant apology is often the best course of action”.
Businesses should be clear, through policies (Dignity at Work), about what the company will tolerate. You also have to train people and the best time to do that is at induction. Then, when some makes a complaint, an employer can show they proactively took steps to investigate it. But saying “come on live in the real world, that’s just what the client expects” is not going to help them.
This is one of the biggest challenges for HR professionals, to ensure employees are alert to the importance of people treating each other with respect and dignity – it’s fundamental.
If you’re stressed, whether by your job or by something more personal, the first step to feeling better is to identify the cause. The keys to stress management are building emotional strength, building in control of your situation and having a good social network.
- 1. Be active – Physical activity can put you in the right frame of mind. Exercise won’t make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, clearing your thoughts and enabling you to deal with your problems more calmly.
- 2. Take control – The act of taking control is in itself empowering and it’s a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else.
- 3. Connect with people – A problem shared is a problem halved. A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way.
- 4. Have some “me” time. The UK works the longest hours in Europe. Those extra hours mean that people aren’t spending enough time doing things that they really enjoy. You should set aside a couple of nights a week for some quality “me” time away from work.
- 5. Challenge yourself – Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new language or a new sport, helps to build confidence. That in turn will help you deal with stress.
- 6. Avoid unhealthy habits – Don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping. Men are more than women are likely to do this and it is called avoidance behaviour.
- 7. Do volunteer work – people who help others, through activities such as volunteering or community work, become more resilient. Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective.
- 8. Work smarter, not harder – Good time management means quality rather than quantity. Our long-hours culture is a well-known cause of workplace illness. You have to get a work-life balance that suits you.
- 9. Be positive – Look for the positives in life, and things for which you’re grateful. Write down three things at the end of every day which went well or for which you’re grateful. By making
a conscious effort you can train yourself to be more positive about life. Problems are often a question of perspective. If you change your perspective, you may see your situation from a more positive point of view.
- 10. Accept the things that you can’t change – Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. If this proves to be the case, recognise and accept things as they are and concentrate on everything that you do have control over.
If you are interested in finding out more about managing stress easily and naturally, please join me at a Brunch Briefing on Friday 22nd March 2013. For further information please visit the courses page on my website.
- 1. Prepare, prepare, prepare – well prepared presentations will show your confidence when delivered
- 2. Practice, practice, practice – be confident in your delivery and the success of your presentation will increase ten fold
- 3. Everyone gets nervous! Remember nerves produce adrenaline which gives you focus
- 4. Dress appropriately for your audience – remember first impressions are lasting impressions
- 5. Begin and end your presentation on time – show that you value your audience’s time
- 6. Don’t use inappropriate humour
- 7. Vary your speech tones – monotonous speakers will lose their audience within the first 15 minutes
- 8. Don’t fall into the trap of information overload – stick to your message
- 9. Use silence effectively to provoke questions from your audience
- 10. Remember that your audience has come to see you!
If you want to learn more, visit a Brunch Briefing.
Assessing remedies for a primary school lunchtime assistant’s dismissal involves human rights and Polkey deductions. This case is a useful guide on how employment tribunals and employers should approach issues which involve a freedom granted by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The claimant in the case Hill v Governing Body of Great Tey Primary School was a lunchtime assistant at a primary school. She became aware that a child had been tied up in the playground and whipped across the legs by other pupils. She told the child’s parents and was suspended. She complained to the press about the suspension and confirmed what she had told the child’s parents. She was dismissed for breaking confidentiality and for acting in a manner likely to bring the school into disrepute.
Employment tribunal decision
Hill won her claim of unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal, although her claim of automatic unfair dismissal on the grounds of making a public interest disclosure (whistle blowing) was rejected. At a remedies hearing, the tribunal found that if a fair procedure had been adopted, the claimant would have been dismissed anyway within two months, and reduced her compensation accordingly (a “Polkey” deduction). The tribunal also reduced her award by 80 per cent for contributory fault (in other words, she was partly to blame for her own dismissal). Hill appealed.
Polkey and ECHR tribunals
Polkey and ECHR tribunals have frequently found employers wanting in their procedures for dismissals which might otherwise have been fair. If the employer could have dismissed the employee fairly, a ‘Polkey’ deduction from an award reflects the chances that the employer would have done so.
Judging the fairness of the dismissal in this case also involved Article 10 of the ECHR, the right to freedom of expression. This right may be limited if “necessary in a democratic society” to protect the reputation of others, or prevent the disclosure of information received in confidence. If dismissing Hill for speaking out to parents and press, and thereby lowering the reputation of the school, curtailed her article 10 freedom, the school being a public authority (with a duty to ensure she had that freedom) would be relevant in assessing the fairness of what occurred.
EAT judgment The Employment Appeal Tribunal said the tribunal had not adopted the correct approach when applying Polkey. The tribunal also erred in its approach to the confidentiality issues in the case by applying its own paraphrase of the qualifications to article 10, rather than the words used in the legislation. The EAT said the tribunal should have..:
- identified whether what occurred came under article 10
- held that the school, as a public body, had to respect the exercise of the article 10 right, if it did
- considered whether restricting the right to the freedom of expression could be justified (two employer aims were potentially legitimate –protecting the reputation of the school, and preventing the disclosure of confidential information)
- satisfied itself the restriction on Article 10 was one prescribed by law (for example, a contractual term requiring respect for confidential communications) and was “necessary in a democratic society”.
The EAT allowed the appeal and remitted the case to another employment tribunal to determine the appropriate remedy.
In a victory for employers, a tribunal has decided agency workers can be switched to new contracts to avoid regulations.
The Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which ensure that agency workers receive basic pay and conditions comparable to the hirer’s employees, contain an important alternative business model.
This option, often referred to as the “Swedish derogation”, excludes workers from certain provisions in the regulations if they are directly employed by their agency and working under ‘pay between assignments’ contracts.
The tribunal found that “assignment” does not refer to the entire period during which agency workers undertake work for a hirer but to a particular assignment. So the new employment contracts were entered into on the legitimate termination of the existing arrangement and before the next assignment for the hirer.
They were accordingly valid under Regulation 10. In other words contract “flipping” was found to be permissible. Equally importantly, the tribunal confirmed that, providing the workers receive the information set out in Regulation 10, they do not need to sign new contracts. Existing contracts can be varied to include these terms.
While this case will be regarded as a victory for many in the recruitment sector who have implemented the Swedish derogation, it seems likely the case will be appealed, as it is only a first instance decision.
Amwell School v Dogherty (UKEAT/0243/06)
This case was where an employee had recorded her own disciplinary hearing and the meetings afterwards, the Employment Appeal Tribunal deliberated on what it thought was “private”.
The EAT concluded that it was reasonable to admit the evidence of the recording of the disciplinary hearing provided the employer had the evidence in advance of the tribunal hearing, in both
transcript form and the original recording, so it could verify the accuracy of the transcription. This was a clear message “don’t do or say anything in a formal meeting that you are not prepared to
However, when it came to the private deliberations having been recorded, the EAT was mindful of the disciplinary panel expected that their conversations were private and that a full and frank exchange of views could take place. The evidence therefore from that part of the recording was not, therefore, admissible.
It is important for managers to remember that meetings should not be expected to be “private” because they think they are “off the record” as they could be aired at a tribunal.
Employment tribunals have a broad discretion to determine what evidence is admissible and result is that evidence will generally be admissible before a tribunal if it is relevant to an issue between the two parties.
The morale to this tale “As a manager you should always assume that you might be recorded and never say anything that you are not prepared to have thrown back at you later”.
Why do we need it?
Basically, we are all living longer and not saving enough money; relying on, an already strained ‘Old Age Pension’!
Who does this affect?
Everyone in work aged between 22 and state pension age who earns more than £8,105 a year who isn’t already in a workplace pension scheme.
When does this start?
- The scheme begins on 1st October 2013 for business with more than 120,000 staff
- Next, businesses with between 50,000 and 120,000 employees will have to start offering the scheme from 1st November 2013
- Small business and those only employing one or two individuals (i.e. a nanny) will have until April 2017
What if I don’t want to join?
This system is about individuals opting out rather than opting in and everyone is free to opt out if they want to. As an individual you will have one month to complete an “opt out notice” and submit it to your employer. Any contributions already made will be returned.
For more information you can download a booklet from the Department of Work and Pensions: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/auto-key-facts-enrolment-booklet.pdf
Starting a new business can sometimes leave you feeling lonely and isolated. You have your head down, trying to market yourself without really having any support from co-workers and fellow professionals.
I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to a number of networking events; from free to those where a subscription is required. As you can visit all networking groups as a visitor, you will soon know if the format is right for you and so my best advice is to try as many different forums as you can.
So, what the benefits?
You can share connections, as well as making new connections, create long lasting business relationships, create opportunities and collaborations that you didn’t even know existed and most importantly of all, enjoy the social aspect. It also allows you to share the good and the bad with individuals who have more than likely gone through the same ups and downs.
So next time you are invited to a networking event – say yes!