a 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 NMW for home workers
ET held that there are no general rules to be applied to determine
how long a home worker is actually working. Instead, the Tribunal
must look at all the facts of the case and analyse the tasks being
case (British Nursing Association v Inland Revenue)
a night service required nurses working at home to be available
to answer the telephone between 8pm and 9am. Between calls they
were free to spend time as they wished. The Tribunal found that
the nurses were at work the whole shift, not just the time spent
answering the calls, because they had to be available to answer
the telephone the entire time.
On the same day as new regulations
giving parents a right to ask for flexible working (see below) two
ET cases were publicised, giving further backing to parents' right
to work flexible hours.
In the first
case, a Somerset police officer won a sex discrimination case after
her employer refused her request not to work shifts so her children
could attend nursery.
In the second
case, a Scottish car mechanic won his sex discrimination case after
his employer refused his request to work part-time to look after
his son – the ET decided that the employer gave no meaningful consideration
to the request and would probably have agreed to a similar request
from a woman.
is currently fighting a similar case on behalf of two women whose
shifts changed without their prior agreement, thereby making their
childcare arrangements unsustainable.
for Pregnant Workers
Court of Justice has rejected claims that a worker had breached
good faith by failing to mention that she was pregnant at her interview
for the job. She had had to leave a six month contract, after five
months due to the pregnancy and the court upheld the view that she
had been discriminated against because of her pregnancy.
In a separate
case, the European Court has ruled that a failure to renew a fixed-term
contract due to pregnancy would also constitute sex discrimination.
25th October 2001 workers now accrue holiday rights from
the first day of employment, at a rate of 1/12th of annual
entitlement for every month worked, rounded up to the nearest ½
day, rather than having to wait 13 weeks for automatic holiday entitlement.
So, if the
annual entitlement is the minimum 4 weeks, then after 3 months a
full time worker would have 5 days leave. A 3 day week part-timer
would accrue 1 day's holiday entitlement for each month worked.
who started work between 30th July and 25th
October 2001 (i.e. those who would still be subject to the old 13
week qualifying period) are automatically entitled to at least 4
weeks' annual leave from 25th October, since the 13 week
qualifying period has been abolished.
New 'right to ask' for
more flexible hours from 2003
The DTI has announced that
from April 2003 parents will have the right to request more flexible
working hours to accommodate childcare responsibilities. Requests
will have to be in writing and then must be discussed at a meeting.
The employer must put any refusal in writing and give a 'convincing
business case' for refusal. Parents will then be able to appeal
and ultimately take their case to an Employment Tribunal. This new
'right to ask' is much weaker than the right to automatically work
fewer hours that trade unions and parents groups were campaigning
Reduction in Public Sector
provided by the public sector is declining compared with new provision
in the private sector, according to a survey commissioned by the
Economic and Social Research Council. Traditionally, access to training
has been one of the main benefits or working in the public sector.
suggested for this point to a deskilling of jobs, an increase in
the contracting out of services and general decrease in staff levels.
This has lead to higher workloads, leaving fewer employees to cover
for staff attending courses.
UNISON member may achieve
record pay out for office injury
Tribunal has supported a claim for £250.000 for a UNISON member
who claimed discrimination against a disabled person, due to developing
RSI, as a result of poor seating. She had attempted to compensate
by leaning forward, thus aggravating a former back injury. Her employers
refused to give her a more suitable chair, despite a long spell
off work, exacerbating the injury over a longer period on her return.
supported her case, and since the ceiling on compensation awards
for this type of claim were removed last year, her solicitors have
requested a pay-out of £250,000.
is urging the Government to introduce legislation to ensure that
firms address causes of work-related asthma, as up to 20 people
a day are contracting the disease because of conditions in their
feels a legally binding Approved Code of Practice would highlight
measures employers could take to prevent the spread of asthma.
undertaken by the TUC found that only 41% of firms carried out risk
assessments and only 28% monitored workers' health.
to address Disability at Work
to the 2001 Managing Disability at Work Survey, employers are not
comprehensively addressing issues for disabled people. Few employers
offer more than simple administrative approaches when dealing with
people with disabilities and less than half had used the government's
Access to Work scheme which offers funding to firms wishing to employ
compiled by the EOC has shown that almost 50% of employees who pursue
sexual harassment tribunal claims felt that they could not confide
in anyone within their workplace. Many claimed that they were too
embarrassed and reluctant to make waves out of fear of damaging
their careers. However the report goes on to say that tribunals
are less likely to uphold cases if the employee has not made a formal
complained to their employer, or failed to lodge a tribunal case
within the required three-month time limit.
has issued advice from their Website and a leaflet, "What would
you do if your boss asked you for a blow job?" A leaflet for
managers is also available
Livingston is preparing to advertise for a Mother Christmas. Adverts
in local job centres failed to come up with any applicants from
the male population of West Lothian and none of the male employees
of the 600-strong workforce jumped at the chance to play Santa Clause
during the store's Christmas festivities, prompting the General
Manager to seek applications from "potential Mrs Clauses as
see equal opportunities in action!
@ the P&I Team
14 West Campbell St
Tel 0141-332 0006
Fax 0141-307 2572