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About the P&I Team Briefings Home | Responses | PFI Index | Policy Guide
BARGAIN BRIEF February 2006 No 24
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:
Kenny MacLaren

Kay Sillars

Diane Anderson

Kevin O'Neil

Dave Watson

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


-Government publishes final TUPE Regulations
- New tribunal award limits come into force
- CRE updates code

Workplace Issues
- Employees see lunch at work as a luxury
Most employees get no safety training for driving for work

Equality at Work
- Women are 200 years away from equality

- Sex skiving pushes up absenteeism

Click here for previous Bargain Briefs



Government publishes final TUPE Regulations

The Government has published the final version of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, which come into effect on 6 April 2006.

The Regulations update the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 to:

  • provide more comprehensive coverage for service contracting operations such as cleaning, catering, security work and refuse collection;
  • place a requirement on the transferor to notify the transferee of the employment liabilities that will be transferring;
  • give more flexibility in the application of the Regulations in relation to the transfer of an insolvent business; and
  • clarify the circumstances in which employers can make lawful transfer-related dismissals and negotiate transfer-related changes for 'economic, technical or organisational reasons'.
The Regulations also reflect developments in case law since the original Regulations came into force in 1981.

New tribunal award limits come into force

The limit on the amount of the compensatory award for unfair dismissal increased from £56,800 to £58,400 on 1 February 2006.

Other changes coming into force on the same date through the Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2005 include:

  • an increase in the maximum amount of 'a week's pay' for the purpose of calculating basic or additional award of compensation for unfair dismissal or redundancy payment from £280 to £290; and
  • an increase in the maximum amount of guarantee payment payable to an employee in respect of any day from £18.40 to £18.90.

The new limits are applicable where the event that gives rise to the award or payment occurs on or after 1 February 2006.

CRE updates code

The Commission for Racial Equality has launched a revised Code of Practice on Racial Equality in Employment, to come into force from 6 April 2006. While the code does not have the force of law, employers not following it will find it difficult to defend themselves against complaints of racial discrimination or harassment in an employment tribunal. The code's two main recommendations are: that employers should have an equal opportunities policy, covering all areas of employment from recruitment to dismissal; and that they should draw up an equal opportunities action plan to put the policy into practice.

Statutory Code of Practice on Racial Equality in Employment, available at www.cre.gov.uk/employmentcode.




Employment Rights




Health & Safety




Bargaining issues




Workplace Issues

Employees see lunch at work as a luxury

The average working lunch is now just 19 minutes and 42 seconds with many office workers skipping it altogether, according to a recent survey.

One in four office staff take no break at all and almost two-thirds of the 1,500 employees surveyed said that working through their lunch had a positive effect on how they were viewed by bosses and colleagues.

Almost half of workers viewed colleagues who frequently went out to lunch as uncommitted to their jobs.

Seven in 10 people said they ate lunch at their desk and more than a quarter said they were annoyed by colleagues who had more time to take lunch breaks than they do.

Most employees get no safety training for driving for work

More than half of all employees (53%) who drive as part of their work say they have never received any training about the risks they face while on the road, according to a survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

Seven out of 10 say their employers neither offer nor require medical check-ups, a driver risk assessment or training, or training on basic vehicle safety checks.  And almost two-thirds said their employers have not offered a basic eyesight test.

Government figures estimate that 1,000 people a year are killed while driving for work - nearly one-third of all road deaths - and another 13,000 are seriously injured.

Christopher Bullock, IAM chief executive, said: "We are shocked by the scale of these findings. Too many employers think their responsibility for employees when they're at work ends at the front door or the factory gate."



Women are 200 years away from equality

It will take 200 years for women to become as powerful as men, according to research for the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), which describes women's progress to equality in public life as "painfully slow"*.

The EOC's annual survey of women's representation in positions of power finds that, some 30 years after the Sex Discrimination Act came into force, women make up only 11% of directors of FTSE 100 companies, 20% of MPs (with only two ethnic minority women) and 16% of local authority council leaders. They make up just 9% of the senior judiciary, 10% of police chiefs and 13% of national newspaper editors.

Women are beginning to reach critical mass as heads of professional bodies and national arts organisations, but even in those spheres they occupy only a third of the top positions.

In the civil service, where women hold 25% of top management jobs, it would take 20 years. Among directors of FTSE 100 companies and in the senior ranks of the judiciary, it would take 40 years. In parliament it will take 200 years - another 40 elections.

Internationally, Britain has fallen out of the top 50 countries in terms of women's representation in government and is outperformed by Rwanda, Iraq and Tunisia.

Legislation allowing positive action for women when selecting parliamentary candidates will expire in 2015; the EOC wants all political parties to take action by the next election to improve women's representation.

The commission is also calling for:

  • a legal requirement for employers in the private sector to promote sex equality and eliminate sex discrimination, starting with a diagnostic "equality check" to identify whether a pay gap exists and take appropriate action; and
  • more high-quality, high-paid, flexible and part-time work at all levels to empower working mothers and fathers to have a real choice about the time they spend with their children.

*Sex and power: who runs Britain?

available at: www.eoc.org.uk.




Sex skiving pushes up absenteeism

The stereotypical idea that the British are prudish about sex appears misplaced. If a new survey is to be believed, three-quarters of Britons have "pulled a sickie" because of over-exuberant sex the night before.

A poll of more than 1,000 people by employment law Peninsula found that 73 per cent claimed to have taken a day off to recover from an "all night romp".

Almost half also said they had had a sexual encounter in the workplace and six out of 10 of these said they felt no guilt about it.

Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula, said 'sex skiving' was a growing trend among staff, although he didn't speculate about the effect this revelation would have on absence management policies...




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