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About the P&I Team Briefings Home | Responses | PFI Index | Policy Guide
Topical news for activists and staff  
bargain brief is

...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.

Contacts list:
Dave Watson
Dianne Anderson

@ the P&I Team
14 West Campbell St
Glasgow G26RX
Tel 0141-332 0006
Fax 0141-307 2572


- Dependants' leave: only for unexpected events
- Damages for injury to feelings not possible through ETs

Health & Safety
Employers must do more for Women Working through the Menopause

Workplace Issues
- Tribunal changes could cause an increase of union-backed claims
- Women and Pensions

- A Work-Life Balance for Men means better Work-Life Balance for Women
- Paternity Leave
- Equal Pay Reps Training Online

There is Power in Architecture

Click here for previous Bargain Briefs



Dependants' leave: only for unexpected events

The EAT has set down guidelines for how to judge whether a request for dependant's leave under s57A of the ERA is reasonable (Qua v John Ford Morrison Solicitors ). S57A gives a statutory right to a 'reasonable amount of time off during working hours' to deal with care issues for dependants in certain specific circumstances listed in s57A(1)(a) – (e). Using this list of events, the EAT said that it was clear that the intention behind the statute was to give time off to deal with unexpected events, provide care in the immediate crisis if necessary and make any longer-term care arrangements, not to provide care yourself on a recurring basis. If the care was needed for a child (as was the case here) then, provided the employee was the parent and met the statutory qualification period, parental leave could be used to provide on-going care.

For the absence to be an authorised absence under s57A (which means that any dismissal arising out of the absences is automatically unfair) the employee must satisfy their obligation under s57A(2) to notify the employer of the absence as soon as reasonably practical and how long the absence is expected to last. Importantly, the EAT also held that Tribunals cannot take account of the disruption caused to the employer's business as a result of the absence. Therefore, employers cannot use the disruption argument to refuse requests for dependant's leave.

Damages for injury to feelings not possible through ETs

The EAT has re-affirmed in Dunnachie v Kingston upon Hull CC that Employment Tribunals cannot award damages for personal injuries (including stress), aggravation and injury to feelings caused by the fact or manner of dismissal. Damages through ETs can only compensate for economic loss (i.e. loss of earnings). There has been an increasing trend since Johnson v Unisys for damages to be awarded for injured feelings; Dunnachie means that if someone has suffered personal injury as a result of an unfair dismissal, a separate civil court claim will have to be made.


Employment Rights




Health & Safety

Employers must do more for Women Working through the Menopause

Many of the UK's two and a half million working women who are in their fifties will be going through the menopause and many of these women's jobs could be making their symptoms worse. Yet the majority of employers are ignoring the issue, according to a TUC report 'Working Through the Change'. UNISON recommends that employers develop policies with union representatives. A page is now open on the TUC website.




Bargaining issues



Workplace Issues

Tribunal changes could cause an increase of union-backed claims

TUC research shows that unions are resolving more disputes without resorting to Tribunals. They recorded a 30% reduction in trade union backed Employment Tribunal applications over the last two years, against a corresponding 7% rise in the total number of applications. But changes being introduced over the next 18 months could reverse this trend. Almost half the 4,419 union claims reported were for unfair dismissal. Government plans designed to reduce such claims will lead to more employment rights litigation and weaker employment rights standards. http://www.tuc.org.uk/index.cfm

Women and Pensions

The state pension is what most women rely on in old age. But few women can build up enough credits for a full state pension under the current system. Women are worse off than men throughout their lives, and as a result they are far more likely to be poor in retirement. Their average income is only just over half of what retired men have to live off. The EOC believes that employers and employees should be compelled to contribute to an occupational pension. http://www.eoc.org.uk/index.asp



A Work-Life Balance for Men means better Work-Life Balance for Women

Alan Milburn, Secretary of State for Health, quit the cabinet saying the demands of the job conflicted with having a young family in the North East. This high profile resignation further demonstrates that more and more men are also finding it difficult to balance their work and home life. In the least regulated labour market in the industrialised world, the British work the longest hours in Europe. One in three fathers works more than 48 hours a week. As many women now work as men. The largest growth in labour-market participation over the last 10 years has been among mothers with children under five. Three-quarters - parents and non-parents alike - reported they wanted to spend more time with friends and family. In a Department of Trade and Industry poll last year, a third responded that they would forgo £1,000 a year just to have more flexible hours. http://www.theworkfoundation.com/index.jsp

Paternity Leave

Men are now entitled to take two weeks' paid paternity leave, and ask to change their working hours so they can look after young children. Fathers and mothers can currently take up to 13 weeks unpaid parental leave for children aged under five, but only four weeks can be taken in any one year. An EOC study; Working Fathers: Earning and Caring, found that British dads do approximately a third of all childcare but don't get the flexibility they need at work to help them do more. Fathers have lower expectations of family-friendly working practices being available to them personally and are less likely to take advantage of those that are in place. http://www.eoc.org.uk/index.asp

Equal Pay Reps Training Online

It is now time to put equal pay at the heart of the bargaining agenda. The TUC course entitled; Equal Pay Reps training Online gives reps confidence in dealing with employers where pay discrimination exists and in finding ways to eliminate it. Most employers do not think there is a problem in their workplace, but the only way to find out is to get the employer to conduct a pay review. For information contact: http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/closepd.pdf




And finally…There is Power in Architecture For all those working in call centres, hospitals, factories, or any open-plan workspace – BEWARE, Big Brother may be watching you! The building you are working in is possibly designed after the early 19th Century Panopticon – a prison. The idea being that prisoners/workers, while not able to see their observers, have to assume they are under observation at all times and discipline themselves. Now how's that for control?!




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