High Court rules on inclusion of holidays
when calculating a day's pay for strike deductions
Employers must include annual leave and bank
holidays when calculating how much pay to deduct for strike
action, the High Court has ruled. Unison brought the test
case, Cooper v Isle of Wight College, following a strike
in defence of its members' pension rights in March last
The decision means that the Isle of Wight
College should have deducted only 1/260th of the annual
salary of a striker for the one-day strike, not 1/228th.
The ruling has implications for all employers
making deductions from employees' wages for taking strike
action. Unison had argued that the correct method of calculating
one day's pay was to deduct weekends and other non-working
days (but not annual leave or bank holidays). This would
have resulted in a deduction of 1/260th of annual salary
for one day's strike.
Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said:
"The amount of money may seem small but the principle of
the case is much bigger. The ruling makes it clear that
employers will fall foul of the law if they fail to include
annual leave and bank holidays in their calculations."
Offence of corporate manslaughter is introduced
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide
Act 2007 creates an offence of corporate manslaughter (to
be called corporate homicide in Scotland) that allows organisations
to be prosecuted for management failures that lead to the
deaths of employees and others from 6 April 2008.
The new offence creates a more effective basis
for corporate liability, with the key obstacle to successful
prosecutions (the identification principle) removed. After
6 April 2008, corporate liability will be based on the way
in which an organisation's activities are managed and organised,
making it easier to prosecute companies and larger organisations.
The Act also removes Crown immunity to prosecution.
Convicted organisations will face unlimited fines and remedial
and publicity orders may also be made.
Information and consultation obligations
Requirements giving employees the right to
be informed and consulted about their employer's business
are extended to cover undertakings with 50 or more employees
from 6 April 2008.
Maternity, paternity and adoption pay are
The standard rates of statutory maternity,
paternity and adoption pay increase from £112.75 to £117.18
per week from 6 April 2008.
Statutory Sick Pay rate is increased
The standard rate of statutory sick pay increases
from £72.55 to £75.40 per week on 6 April 2008.
Award limits and amounts payable under employment
From 1 February 2008, under the Employment
Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2007, a number of limits
applying to tribunal awards and other amounts payable under
employment legislation will increase.
The new limits will be applicable where the
event that gives rise to the award or payment occurs on
or after 1 February 2008.
Health & Safety
ASHE 2007: Inflation outpaces earnings growth
The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings
(ASHE) reveals that the average UK worker received a below-inflation
earnings increase, while progress towards closing the gender
pay gap has slowed considerably. Median gross weekly earnings
for full-time workers rose by 2.9% to £456.70 over the year
to April 2007, 1.6 percentage points below headline inflation
over the same period (4.5%).
The gender pay gap based on median hourly
earnings excluding overtime narrowed by 0.2 percentage points
from 12.8% to 12.6% over the same period. The rate at which
the gap has reduced has slowed when compared with recent
years. It narrowed by 0.4 percentage points over the year
to April 2006 and by 0.7 percentage points over year to
The ASHE is the most compendious and precise
resource for UK pay benchmarking data, drawing on data regarding
a 1% sample of the UK workforce.
EQUALITY AT WORK
Government to extend right to request flexible
The government has launched a review into
how it can extend the right to request flexible working
to parents of older children. The right to request flexible
working is currently available to parents of children under
the age of six (or under the age of 18 if the child is disabled)
and carers of adults aged 18 or over.
The government suggests that the right could
be extended to parents of children aged under nine, 12 or
even 17. The independent review is being led by Imelda Walsh,
human resources director at Sainsbury's.
The review will report back to the government
in spring 2008 and this will be followed by a formal consultation.
A recent ruling from the European Court of
Justice highlighted the principle of equal pay for equal
work. This case involved a German civil servant who worked
part time but was required to work overtime at a lower rate
of pay. However, this meant that while working the same
hours as her full time colleagues she would actually be
The decision underlines that, where a part-time
worker works unpaid overtime (or, as in this case, overtime
paid below the normal hourly rate) there may be less favourable
treatment if that results in the part-time worker being
paid less than a full-timer for working the same number
of hours. T
he legality of such an arrangement would ultimately
depend on whether or not such an approach could be justified
as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
Disability Discrimination by Association
In a recent case, the Advocate General was
asked for an opinion on whether there can be indirect discrimination
under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
In this case a worker was refused carer's
leave for her disabled son and resigned and then claimed
constructive dismissal on the grounds that she had been
discriminated against under the DDA by association. The
Advocate General is holding that indirect discrimination
under the DDA is possible - therefore, in practice employer
discrimination against carers of disabled people is now
illegal. A final decision on the case is expected from the
European Court of Justice.
Looks could kill job opportunities for ugly mugs
UK employers admit to selecting candidates based
on their looks rather than their skills and experience,
new research reveals. A survey of UK employers conducted
by employment law firm, Peninsula, found that 88%
of respondents who conduct interviews had at some
stage, given the job to the most attractive candidate.
David Price, head of diversity at Peninsula said
he was surprised at the number of people who have
based an employment decision on looks, adding that
it was rapidly turning into a new form of modern discrimination.
"Using such a strategy is not without legal risk,"
"Most employers know better than to base employment
decisions on appearance that is related to legally
protected factors such as race, age or disability,
but it seems occasionally these factors are abandoned."