LEGISLATION TIMETABLE 2005
Disability Discrimination Act 2005
The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 comes
into force in December 2005, bringing significant changes
to 1995 Act. The new Act will widen the employment protection
given to an estimated 175,000 more individuals by treating
People diagnosed with cancer, HIV and
Sufferers of mental illness which are
not "clinically well recognised"
The 2005 Act will also introduce a positive
duty on public bodies to have regard to the need to
eliminate harassment and unlawful
discrimination against disabled persons, which
is provisionally planned to come into force in December
Civil Partnership Act – statutory recognition
for same sex couples
The Civil Partnership Act comes into force
on 5 December 2005, permitting same-sex couples to form
a civil partnership by registering as civil partners.
The Act makes provision for civil partners
to be treated in the same or similar way as spouses in relation
to certain benefits and obligations, including many related
to employment, e.g. Survivor pension rights, access to private
healthcare plans and other workplace benefits. Tax allowances
are also covered.
Health & Safety
Drop in health and safety enforcement
The TUC has expressed concern at the latest
HSE prosecutions statistics which show that the number of
employers being prosecuted for health and safety crimes
has dropped by 35% and enforcement notices issued to employers with
unsafe workplaces has also fallen by 25%.
In addition, local authorities are taking
fewer companies to court as a result of accidents and injuries
sustained at work, with a 50% drop in prosecutions and a
75% fall in the number of enforcement notices issued.
Work stress levels 'lower' in UK
A recent survey has suggested UK workers are
among the least stressed in Europe. Just 20% of British
workers found their workplace "too stressful" compared with
an average of 27% across Europe.
Switzerland and Sweden suffered the highest
levels of anxiety in their job (33%), the survey by global
recruitment agency Kelly Services found.
Statutory Grievance Ruling
Since October 2004 Employment Tribunals have
been unable to accept certain types of claims if the claimant
has not lodged a grievance (a 'Step 1 statement') with their
employer first. This requirement affects all claims except
unfair dismissal claims, covering discrimination claims
(including equal pay claims); claims for unpaid wages or
holiday pay amongst others.
There is still some doubt about what is meant
by the raising of a grievance and there have been some recent
cases on this point. It is now becoming clear that almost
any written complaint to the employer could constitute a
Step 1 statement, whether it comes from the claimant themselves,
a lawyer or any other person (like a steward) on their behalf.
Provided the employer receives a Step 1 statement,
if they do not carry out the rest of the grievance procedure,
they may have to pay increased compensation of between 10%
and 50% if the employee subsequently wins an employment
tribunal about the matter.
ACAS has recently published new guidance on
redundancy, employee communications and consultation and
time off work. All are available from the ACAS website as
is the summer/autumn news update.
Switch for Salary Payment Systems
Employers have until the end of the year to
change their systems for paying employees electronically.
From January 2005 the Bacs system is being upgraded to the
Bacstel-IP system, but so far only just over half of all
employers affected have made the change.
The company which markets the system reckons
that it takes almost three months to change to the new system
and those organisations that have not yet started the procedure
may find themselves unable to run the January payroll, meaning
that staff will not be paid, unless alternative arrangements,
such as cash or individual cheque payments are made.
Disability Discrimination Act – need to
A recent case (BT v Pousson (EAT/0347/04)
has highlighted the need for employers to implement adjustments
recommended by Occupational Health for disabled employees.
Mr Pousson, a diabetic, working in a BT call centre, was
subjected to a Poor Performance Attendance Procedure, (PPAP)
due to absences caused by his illness, which put pressure
on him to improve his call handling performance. He was
also denied the opportunity to leave his desk to test his
blood sugar levels and inject the necessary insulin, despite
BT's OH physician recommending that he be allowed periods
"off line" to do so; be given access to food and
drink at work and allowed to vary his shift pattern to help
him control his disease. As a result, he had a serious hypoglycaemic
attack, fell and suffered a head injury and was unable to
work, resulting in his employment being terminated.
Mr Pousson complained this was unlawful discrimination
contrary to the DDA at tribunal. The tribunal agreed there
was a link between his level of absence from work and his
disability and said that BT should not have applied the
PPAP. They also said that BT's main failing was in not giving
adequate guidance or training to line managers on how to
implement the OH Department's recommendations and failing
to have the OH reports assessed by someone with relevant
EQUALITY AT WORK
Work and Families Bill
Proposals have been announced for a new Work
and Families Bill to help all working families balance busy
home and work lives, by creating a modern framework of employment
rights and responsibilities for employers and employees.
The Bill extends paid maternity leave from
6 to 9 months, and provides for fathers to take the last
3 months leave, if the mother opts to return to work after
It also gives flexible rights for people caring
for elderly or sick relatives.
It will now be easier for women to avoid inappropriate
behaviour, such as remarks of a lewd and sexual nature.
As a result of changes required by the European Equal Treatment
Directive from 1 October 2005, women who are sexually harassed
at work do not need to show that a man would have been treated
differently; they only need to prove that they were treated
in a way which violated their dignity or was intimidating,
Gender Public Duty
The UK Government has launched a consultation
document on introducing a public duty on the public sector
to promote gender pay equality.
Under the proposals public sector bodies will
Draw up and publish an equality scheme;
Develop and publish a policy on equal
Ensure the impact of any changes are
assessed and the findings published.
Masseuse awarded £109,000 in RSI case
An airline masseuse who had to stop working
because of a repetitive strain injury (RSI) caused by
her job has won her case against Virgin Atlantic.
Elizabeth King, who took the airline to
court when she had to give up her £19,000-a -year post
at Heathrow airport, was awarded more than £109,000 in
Well, somebody has to do it . . .