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About the P&I Team Briefings Home | Responses | PFI Index | Policy Guide
BARGAIN BRIEF October 2005 No 23
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:
Diane Anderson diane.anderson@unison.co.uk
Kevin O'Neil k.oneil@unison.co.uk
Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk
Kenny MacLaren k.maclaren@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



Bargaining Issues
Statutory Grievance Ruling
- ACAS Guidance
Switch for Salary Payment Systems
-Disability Discrimination Act need to implement adjustments

Health & Safety
- Drop in health and safety enforcement
Work stress levels 'lower' in UK

Workplace Issues

Equality at Work
- Work and Families Bill
- Sexual Harassment
- Gender Public Duty

- Masseuse awarded £109,000 in RSI case An airline masseuse who had to stop working because of a repetitive strain injury (RSI) caused by her job has won her case against Virgin Atlantic.

Click here for previous Bargain Briefs




Disability Discrimination Act 2005

The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 comes into force in December 2005, bringing significant changes to 1995 Act. The new Act will widen the employment protection given to an estimated 175,000 more individuals by treating as disabled:

  • People diagnosed with cancer, HIV and MS; and
  • Sufferers of mental illness which are not "clinically well recognised"

The 2005 Act will also introduce a positive duty on public bodies to have regard to the need to eliminate harassment and unlawful

discrimination against disabled persons, which is provisionally planned to come into force in December 2006.

Civil Partnership Act statutory recognition for same sex couples

The Civil Partnership Act comes into force on 5 December 2005, permitting same-sex couples to form a civil partnership by registering as civil partners.

The Act makes provision for civil partners to be treated in the same or similar way as spouses in relation to certain benefits and obligations, including many related to employment, e.g. Survivor pension rights, access to private healthcare plans and other workplace benefits. Tax allowances are also covered.


Employment Rights



Health & Safety

Drop in health and safety enforcement

The TUC has expressed concern at the latest HSE prosecutions statistics which show that the number of employers being prosecuted for health and safety crimes has dropped by 35% and enforcement notices issued to employers with unsafe workplaces has also fallen by 25%.

In addition, local authorities are taking fewer companies to court as a result of accidents and injuries sustained at work, with a 50% drop in prosecutions and a 75% fall in the number of enforcement notices issued.

Work stress levels 'lower' in UK

A recent survey has suggested UK workers are among the least stressed in Europe. Just 20% of British workers found their workplace "too stressful" compared with an average of 27% across Europe.

Switzerland and Sweden suffered the highest levels of anxiety in their job (33%), the survey by global recruitment agency Kelly Services found.



Bargaining issues

Statutory Grievance Ruling

Since October 2004 Employment Tribunals have been unable to accept certain types of claims if the claimant has not lodged a grievance (a 'Step 1 statement') with their employer first. This requirement affects all claims except unfair dismissal claims, covering discrimination claims (including equal pay claims); claims for unpaid wages or holiday pay amongst others.

There is still some doubt about what is meant by the raising of a grievance and there have been some recent cases on this point. It is now becoming clear that almost any written complaint to the employer could constitute a Step 1 statement, whether it comes from the claimant themselves, a lawyer or any other person (like a steward) on their behalf.

Provided the employer receives a Step 1 statement, if they do not carry out the rest of the grievance procedure, they may have to pay increased compensation of between 10% and 50% if the employee subsequently wins an employment tribunal about the matter.

ACAS Guidance

ACAS has recently published new guidance on redundancy, employee communications and consultation and time off work. All are available from the ACAS website as is the summer/autumn news update.

www. acas.org.uk

Switch for Salary Payment Systems

Employers have until the end of the year to change their systems for paying employees electronically. From January 2005 the Bacs system is being upgraded to the Bacstel-IP system, but so far only just over half of all employers affected have made the change.

The company which markets the system reckons that it takes almost three months to change to the new system and those organisations that have not yet started the procedure may find themselves unable to run the January payroll, meaning that staff will not be paid, unless alternative arrangements, such as cash or individual cheque payments are made.

Disability Discrimination Act need to implement adjustments

A recent case (BT v Pousson (EAT/0347/04) has highlighted the need for employers to implement adjustments recommended by Occupational Health for disabled employees. Mr Pousson, a diabetic, working in a BT call centre, was subjected to a Poor Performance Attendance Procedure, (PPAP) due to absences caused by his illness, which put pressure on him to improve his call handling performance. He was also denied the opportunity to leave his desk to test his blood sugar levels and inject the necessary insulin, despite BT's OH physician recommending that he be allowed periods "off line" to do so; be given access to food and drink at work and allowed to vary his shift pattern to help him control his disease. As a result, he had a serious hypoglycaemic attack, fell and suffered a head injury and was unable to work, resulting in his employment being terminated.

Mr Pousson complained this was unlawful discrimination contrary to the DDA at tribunal. The tribunal agreed there was a link between his level of absence from work and his disability and said that BT should not have applied the PPAP. They also said that BT's main failing was in not giving adequate guidance or training to line managers on how to implement the OH Department's recommendations and failing to have the OH reports assessed by someone with relevant experience.


Workplace Issues




Work and Families Bill

Proposals have been announced for a new Work and Families Bill to help all working families balance busy home and work lives, by creating a modern framework of employment rights and responsibilities for employers and employees.

The Bill extends paid maternity leave from 6 to 9 months, and provides for fathers to take the last 3 months leave, if the mother opts to return to work after 6 months.

It also gives flexible rights for people caring for elderly or sick relatives.

Sexual Harassment

It will now be easier for women to avoid inappropriate behaviour, such as remarks of a lewd and sexual nature. As a result of changes required by the European Equal Treatment Directive from 1 October 2005, women who are sexually harassed at work do not need to show that a man would have been treated differently; they only need to prove that they were treated in a way which violated their dignity or was intimidating, degrading, etc.

Gender Public Duty

The UK Government has launched a consultation document on introducing a public duty on the public sector to promote gender pay equality.

Under the proposals public sector bodies will have to:

  • Draw up and publish an equality scheme;
  • Develop and publish a policy on equal pay arrangements;
  • Ensure the impact of any changes are assessed and the findings published.




Masseuse awarded £109,000 in RSI case

An airline masseuse who had to stop working because of a repetitive strain injury (RSI) caused by her job has won her case against Virgin Atlantic.

Elizabeth King, who took the airline to court when she had to give up her £19,000-a -year post at Heathrow airport, was awarded more than £109,000 in damages.

Well, somebody has to do it . . .




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