Legal New Dispute Resolution ProceduresThe
Employment Act 2002 set out a policy framework for how grievance and disciplinary
matters should be handled in workplaces. The Act introduces new minimum statutory
grievance and disciplinary and dismissal procedures which come into force on 1st
October 2004. This legislation aims to reduce the number of Employment Tribunal
claims by encouraging employers and employees to resolve disputes in the workplace
using internal procedures.The minimum procedures involve three steps:
- the employee setting out the grievance or alleged misconduct in writing.
- a meeting between the employer and employee to discuss the issue, at which
the employee has the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative.
minimum procedures fall well short of the standards recommended by the ACAS Code
of Practice for disciplinary and grievance procedures. For example, there is no
duty on employers to carry out an investigation in disciplinary cases. Failure
to complete the procedures would bring penalties if any dispute resulted in an
employment tribunal claim:
- An appeal stage if the employee felt that any disciplinary action was unjustified
or that their grievance had not been handled satisfactorily.
- If an employer fails to comply with
the minimum disciplinary and dismissal procedures, any dismissal will be found
to be automatically unfair and any compensation awards will be increased by between
10% and 50%.
- If the employer fails to comply with the
grievance procedures then
- compensation levels will also be increased
by between 10% and 50%.
if an employee fails to notify an employer of a grievance in writing and fails
to wait 28 days for a response, then their claim will be barred at an employment
- Conversely, if an employee fails
to comply with either the grievance or disciplinary procedures then compensation
levels will be reduced by between 10% and 50%.
Letters amount to victimisation
group of catering staff employed by the local authority brought equal pay claims.
Although the majority were settled, some continued so the local authority wrote
a letter to all catering staff stating that continuing the claims would have a
severe impact. It claimed that the cost of school meals would rise, making the
service unviable, and that fewer staff would be required.
second letter was then sent to the staff who continued with their claims, expressing
concern that the catering service could not withstand the cost if their complaints
succeeded. The employees' equal pay claims succeeded, and they brought a further
claim of victimisation on the basis of the letters written by the local authority,
which was upheld by the tribunal. It was satisfied that the letters effectively
contained a threat that the employees' actions might deprive children of school
meals and cause redundancies, and this was sufficient to amount to victimisation.
local authority appealed, arguing that a claim of victimisation required more
than writing a letter or making critical comments, but the EAT dismissed the appeal.
To establish victimisation it was not necessary for direct threats against individual
employees. The conduct of the council was clearly capable of amounting to less
favourable treatment for the purposes of establishing victimisation.Changes
to the National Minimum Wage The new rates for the National Minimum
Wage starting from 1st October 2004 are:
has also accepted the Low Pay Commission's recommendations for a new rate for
16 and 17 year olds (above compulsory school leaving age) at £3.00 per hour also
from 1 October 2004 however 16 and 17 year old apprentices will be exempt from
the new young workers rate.
- Main (adult)
rate for workers aged 22 and over = £4.85 per hour
rate for workers aged 18-21 inclusive = £4.10 per hour
For further information see: http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/nmw/
Major survey shows people join unions for safety's sake
over safety at work is a key factor in the recent increase in trade union membership,
a Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) report has concluded. STUC's 'Unions Work'
research indicates that after pay and conditions, concerns about the working environment
are the most frequently given reason for joining a union. STUC says there is considerable
evidence of the 'union safety effect,' where unionised workplaces have significantly
fewer workplace injuries than those without unions. It estimates that 280,000
workplace accidents have been prevented through the work of Scottish trade union
health and safety reps since their introduction in the 1970s.
safety plan in total disarray
Union concerns about the
government's hands-off, business-friendly workplace safety plans have been vindicated
after several key points of the new Health and Safety Commission safety strategy
were challenged by an all-party Westminster committee.
Work and Pensions Committee's 25 July 2004 report said the number of safety inspectors
should be doubled, safety reps' rights dramatically improved, a corporate crime
bill introduced and also said the government should rethink its decision not to
impose safety duties on company directors.
The Committee report
stresses the safety reps' role which could 'have a powerful effect in improving
standards.' The report adds: 'We also believe this power to take action, should
include not just criminal prosecutions but also improvement and prohibition notices,
subject to the usual right of appeal to the employment tribunal and as to terms
on legal costs.'top
Employers catching on to the importance of pay audits.
by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in its annual reward
survey shows that almost a third of the 562 employers questioned conducted a pay
audit last year. Around a quarter audited pay on the basis of gender, and 39%
confirmed that pay gaps had been uncovered in the process.
research also found that organisations which are auditing are doing so based on
age (47%) and race (45%). Just under half said they would be conducting an audit
in 2004, with 98% of those intending to audit on the basis of gender, 63% on age
and 56% on race.
Union Members earn more.
latest research from the Labour Force Survey has revealed that union members on
average earn £1.66 more per hour than non-union members.
news comes in time for the launch of a new recruitment campaign for UNISON, which
is launching a television recruitment advertisement in early October 2004. The
ad, funded by the General Political Fund, is a ground-breaking communication aimed
at making the case for trade unionism. But an ad alone is not enough. The union
is gearing up for a major recruitment initiative in October, using the ad as the
centrepiece. Regions, branches and the national union all have their part to play
in making sure we maximise the effect of the ad to recruit as many new members
If you are the office joker, perhaps it's time you considered
a move to court jester, with English Heritage advertising the post for the first
time since 1649.
The appropriate candidate "must be mirthful
and prepared to work summer weekends in 2005. Must have own outfit (with bells).
Bladder on stick provided if required", according to the job description.