a new publication from the Policy & Information Team. It aims
to provide a concise and topical news service for activists and
staff engaged in representing and bargaining on behalf of UNISON
members in Scotland. Recognising that not all activists have the
access or time to read detailed information we hope this summary
format will be helpful. Further information on any of the news items
below is available from the P&I Team and we welcome feedback
on any aspect of this service.
The ECJ in Wolfgang Lange
v Georg Schunemann have ruled that employers must inform employees
in writing of any obligation to work overtime. Lange was unfairly
dismissed for refusing to work overtime because his contract was
silent on this point.
The Working Time Regulations
limits the entitlement to four weeks holiday to staff with 13 weeks
continuous service. This often excludes staff who do not work continuously.
A challenge to this regulation has been referred to the ECJ on the
basis that the directive does not include this precondition. The
ECJ Advocate General's opinion (which is usually followed by the
ECJ) indicates that this precondition is not allowed by the Directive.
If the ECJ follows this opinion (probably this summer) the regulations
will have to be changed.
A useful reminder in
GMB v Man Truck & Bus UK that the redundancy consultation requirements
apply to any dismissal not related to the individual concerned.
In this case it covered dismissals and re-engagement on new contracts
sources of information relating to legislation and current practice
regarding issues surrounding working parents:
of Education & Employment
for Work-Life Balance
advocating a work-life balance
Family and Parenting Institute
online information service
Assistance for Working
The Government has announced
new measures to assist working parents with disabled children. Their
parental leave entitlement will be increased from 13 to 18 weeks,
giving them greater flexibility to care for their children. The
moves are supported by business, disability and parent groups.
Changes currently being
made to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) will give extended
rights to cancer sufferers and employees of small businesses who
were previously exempt from its provisions. People with cancer will
now be protected against discrimination from the time of diagnosis.
Those who have recovered from it or are in remission will also be
Following from the MacPherson
Report, the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 came into force
on 2 April 2001.
The Act aims to force
public authorities to eliminate institutional racism and promote
equality of opportunity and good relations. Authorities and, interestingly,
any sub-contractors will have to clearly define racial equality
policies and assess their impact on recruitment retention and promotion
of ethnic minority staff. Annual results will have to be published.
The Data Protection Act
is now one year old. Organisations failing to comply with it risk
criminal prosecution. In a survey carried out by Industrial Relations
only half of the organisations questioned admitted having a written
data protection policy.
The act regulates when
and how personal data about individuals may be obtained, held, used
and disclosed and includes the need to obtain employees' consent
to hold, for example, their sickness absence records, and sensitive
personal data such as mental or physical health problems. Other
issues that should be covered in any data protection agreement include
ensuring that documents like expired disciplinary warnings are erased
from employees' records. Only a third of employers surveyed had
such policies in place.
The Data Protection Registrar
will shortly be issuing a series of Code of Practice which will
set out what employers need to do to comply with the Act.
Fixed Term Contracts
The EU Fixed Term Contracts
Directive should come into force in the UK by June 2001. The DTI
has issued a publication on the directive with a closing date for
responses of 31 May 2001. The Directive aims to ensure that fixed-term
workers are treated no less favourably than permanent employees,
and to prevent abuse arising from use of several fixed term contracts.
The Directive will require employees to consult with workers' representatives
on their use.
- Sick Leave
Employers need to adopt
work-life balance practices if they want to cut staff turnover and
absenteeism and increase productivity.
Department for Education
research, Work Life Balance Survey 2000 claims that costs to business
of employees suffering from stress and taking extended sick leave
are increasing, whereas those firms who had implemented work-life
policies found an increase in productivity, lowered staff turnover
and absenteeism and an improvement in industrial relations overall.
Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information
Bill, published recently is notably light on how authorities are
going to provide the Information.
The Bill estimates an
annual cost of providing the information at between £2.5 and £4.8m,
but nowhere indicates where this money is to come from to compensate
authorities. UNISON has already lobbied for extra money to be provided
and wants to find out how good authorities record storing/archiving
Branches should begin
to raise the implications of the FoI Bill with authorities and employers,
getting them to assess likely needs in terms of access/ staffing/storing.
In addition, Branches
should try and ensure that where services are privatised/contracted
out, etc. the private company/outside organisation is aware of the
implications of FoI legislation. UNISON has been lobbying strongly
for such providers of public services to be clearly included in
the scope of the legislation.
However, there would
be nothing wrong with some commitments from private sector employers
or clauses added into contracts confirming the private sector's
known enthusiasm for accessibility and freedom of information!
Scots Workers set
Research by Scottish
daily paper Business AM shows that Scottish workers are more likely
to pursue grievances and are more difficult to manage. The survey
showed that 40% of those responding believed Scottish workers were
more likely to follow up complaints and that they were harder to
deal with. We're obviously doing something right!
The incidence of workers
suing for unfair dismissal was the only question on which there
was parity with English staff.
@ the P&I Team
14 West Campbell St
Tel 0141-332 0006
Fax 0141-307 2572