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About the P&I Team Briefings Home | Responses | PFI Index | Policy Guide
BARGAIN BRIEF May 2005 No 22
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:
Kevin O'Neil
Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk
Kenny MacLaren k.maclaren@unison.co.uk
Ahrlene Ferguson a.ferguson@unison.co.uk

P&I Team 14 West Campbell Street Glasgow G2 6RX Tel: 0845 355 0845 Fax: 0141 221 8953 www.unison-scotland.org.uk


• Legal
-Employment Law Timetable

Bargaining Issues
Landmark Maternity Pay Ruling

- Staff on Sick leave cannot accrue holiday pay
- Draft TUPE Regulations Published
- Pay settlements at 3.3%

• Health & Safety
- Workers Sacked over Safety Fears
Health and Safety Pilot Launched
New Asbestos Ruling

• Workplace Issues

• Equality at Work
- Disability Discrimination Law: Developments following key rulings:
- Part-time workers lose out
- Right to ask for flexible working two years old

- Holiday industry staff loose out on breaks Research by Travel Weekly magazine indicates that despite selling holidays to the rest of us the staff in the travel agents are missing out on their own breaks.

• Click here for previous Bargain Briefs



Employment Law Timetable


Various Pensions Regulations come into Force

The sections of the Pensions Act 2004 came into force on April 6th 2005.including those relating to the introduction of a Pensions Protection Fund and a Financial Assistance Scheme. Stakeholder Pensions Schemes (Amendment) regulations also come into force. These aim to reduce the potential for variations in the value of members rights caused by market conditions

Transfer of Employment (Pensions Protection) Regulations 2005 come into force

This means that where there is a business transfer where TUPE applies and an employee has access to an occupational pensions with employer contributions prior to transfer then the transferee employer must offer the transferred employee certain pension arrangements.

Statutory Sick Pay Rates Increased

From April 6th the standard rate for statutory sick pay is £68.20 per week.




Employment Rights




Health & Safety

Workers Sacked over Safety Fears

A new report, In the Firing line, found that more than 1500 workers have been forced out of their jobs for raising safety concerns with their employers. The Employment rights Act 1996 gives employees the right to refuse to do dangerous work but with fines for unfair dismissal at as little as £3800 many bosses find it cheaper to sack workers than to make improvements. Brendan Barber from the TUC stated that" We need a legal system that protects safety whistle blowers not rewards them with their cards"

The full article can be found at www.hazards.org/safetyreps/rights.htm

Health and Safety Pilot Launched

The UK Government has announced a pilot scheme that could lead to a national occupational health service. The pilot will provide a support service for small to medium enterprises across England and Wales. The HSE has been working with NHS Scotland on Safe and Healthy Working to provide a similar service in Scotland

New Asbestos Ruling

The High Court ruled last month that compensation could still be paid for pleural plaques. (Calcification of the lung that can be caused by asbestos exposure.)

Insurers had challenged the right of asbestos exposed workers to claim compensation for the condition



Bargaining issues

Landmark Maternity Pay Ruling

Employers will be forced to include pay rises in maternity pay calculations following a landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal. Michelle Alabaster has won a nine-year battle with Barclays Bank following an underpayment of her maternity pay. Barclays based her maternity pay calculation on two previous months earnings rather than the increased she was earning shortly before going on maternity leave. The ruling is also significant because it means that, as Julie Mellor from the Equal Opportunities Commission, states" that women on maternity leave do not need to find a male comparitor when brining equal pay claims"

Staff on Sick leave cannot accrue holiday pay

The Court of Appeal has ruled that employees on long term sick leave cannot accrue holiday pay while they are absent. The ruling, in Inland Revenue versus Ainsworth, states that 1998 Working Time Regulations giving workers four weeks paid holiday only apply to those actually at work. It is important to note that there may be scope for discrimination claims in the future in terms of disability, religion or maternity pay if employees could show their particular circumstances led to less favourable treatment.

Draft TUPE Regulations Published

Draft TUPE regulations have been published by the Department for Trade and Industry. The latest draft is designed to bring the legislation into line with the European Acquired Rights Directive. Final regulations are expected to come into force on October 1st 2005.

Pay settlements at 3.3%

UK pay awards for the first quarter of the year are at 3.3%. Both private and public sector awards remain at 3%. The headline inflation rate was 3.2% in March.



Workplace Issues




Disability Discrimination Law: Developments following key rulings:

  • Further adjustments must be considered even if there have been previous adjustments including part-time work
  • There can be no failure to make adjustments if no adjustments are possible
  • If a person suffers from an impairment that is not substantial but is likely to be come so because of a progressive condition they are protected by the disability discrimination Act.
  • Difficulty in understanding normal social interaction is covered by "concentrate, learn or understand"
  • A woman, whose disability meant she could not bear her own child, denied post-natal leave was discriminated against but it was justifiable
  • The duty to make adjustments does not extend to offering a trial period in a job not considered suitable, or to bumping another employee to create a vacancy in a redundancy situation
  • Mental impairment comes within the definition of a disability only if it is a clinically well-recognised condition as defined by the WHO or other specialist
  • Provision of deaf awareness training for colleagues could be a reasonable adjustment
  • Employers cannot rely on a policy for offering part-time work on medical grounds if that policy is discriminatory

Part-time workers lose out

The Equal Opportunities Commission has found that more than half the UK's part-time workers feel that they are in jobs below their levels of skills and experience

The EOC interim report "Part-time is no crime so why the penalty" found that the vast majority of part-time workers (78%) are women many of whom are working in low level administration and service jobs. The need to balance work with caring responsibilities and the lack of flexibility in their chosen careers often forces them into alternative work which is low paid.

Part –time workers are 40% less likely to receive in work raining than full time staff and women part-time workers earn 40% an hour than male full timers. The next phase of the study is a public consultation. To take part online visit www.eoc.org.uk

Right to ask for flexible working two years old

For two years now employees with children under 6 have had the right to work flexibly. This includes a range of possible work patterns including part time working, flexitime, compressed hours and working from home. The Government is now consulting on a range of options to extend the rights to new groups of carers.




Holiday industry staff loose out on breaks

Research by Travel Weekly magazine indicates that despite selling holidays to the rest of us the staff in the travel agents are missing out on their own breaks,

More than 30% of respondents said they take fewer holidays than five years ago and 28% are missing out on their full allocation.

Most blame staff shortages and increasing job pressures.

Stress expert Professor Gary Cooper call this "presenteeism". Workers are increasingly stressed and feel they cannot take holidays. He said, "people need a break"

So when you are booking your holidays don't flaunt your annual leave.




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