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About the P&I Team Briefings Home | Responses | PFI Index | Policy Guide
BARGAIN BRIEF December 2006 No 27
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

Kenny MacLaren k.maclaren@unison.co.uk

Kay Sillars

Fiona Montgomery f.montgomery@unison.co.uk

Diane Anderson diane.anderson@unison.co.uk

P&I Team
14 West Campbell Street
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel: 0845 355 0845
Fax: 0141 221 8953



- New Tribunal Award Limits Announced 2006
Changing the times with call centre pay
- Public Sector rewards new graduates
- Third sector pay gap
- Pay settlements at 3.3%

Health & Safety
- Dealing with drinking at work at this festive time
- Reducing the impact of domestic violence at work

Equality at Work
- Pensions Provisions in Age Legislation Come into Force
Code of Practice on Public Sector Gender Equality Duty

- Workers rate union presence

Click here for previous Bargain Briefs




Employment Rights


Health & Safety

Dealing with drinking at work at this festive time

The effects of drinking alcohol can encroach into our working hours, especially at this time of the year. Even if you just have one drink at lunchtime, it is easy to consume three units of alcohol in one glass, particularly with wine where one large glass is 3 units, which could take the average person over the drink drive limit.

Employees have an individual responsibility to take reasonable care of themselves and others who could be affected by their actions in the workplace. On average it takes about one hour to process one unit of alcohol. So if a worker drank a large glass of wine, it would take three hours for their bloodstream to be free of alcohol.

Employers need to take greater responsibility for raising employee awareness of the risks and concerns related to excessive alcohol consumption particularly in the workplace. Awareness charity Alcohol Concern revealed earlier this year that staff took around 17 million sick days last year as a result of drinking.

The benefits of prevention include raising performance, improving health and increasing safety. Check that your employer has a written alcohol policy. The information needs to be defined in simple terms, clearly stating what the repercussions would be if not adhered to and what provisions exist for supporting employees who have a problem with alcohol.

Reducing the impact of domestic violence at work

Domestic violence has a financial and emotional impact on the workplace. Domestic violence is any incident of threatening behavior, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

Recent research, shows that sickness caused by domestic violence costs employers round £1.3 billion each year. Low productivity, errors and increased labour turn-over may also add to increased costs. Domestic violence affects co-workers too; they may have to fill in for absent or non-productive workers, try to protect them from unwanted phone calls or visits, or fear for their own safety.

In addition, employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace for their staff, so they may need to take steps to protect victims when those abusing them enter the workplace to harass them.

Branches should ensure that support for employees should include taking chronic absenteeism or lower productivity resulting from domestic violence into account when addressing performance issues, and discussing absence options with them if they need to be absent from work because of domestic violence.

Branches should also start to talk to employers about negotiating a workplace policy; there are a number of measures which branches can do to support members suffering domestic abuse.

Measures should also include:

Provide support through UNISON Welfare

Training for UNISON activists on how to deal with this issue

Campaigning for better services for victims of domestic violence, including training for public service workers

Lobbying for government action to improve services

Working with local agencies, i.e. Scottish Women's Aid, Rape Crisis to raise public awareness

Publicise UNISON's policy to all members. (http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/women/women3.html)



Bargaining issues

New Tribunal Award Limits Announced 2006

On 1st February 2007, the limit on the amount of the compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases from £58,400 to £60,600. Other changes coming into force on the same date through the Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2006 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 £290 to £310; and

an increase in the maximum amount of guarantee payment payable to an employee in respect of any day from £18.90 to £19.60.

The new limits are applicable where the event that gives rise to the award or payment occurs on or after 1 February 2007

Changing the times with call centre pay.

Research released by IRS Employment Review shows that just under one in three call centres (pay and benefits) had made changes to pay rates outside the annual pay review process in the year to August 2006.

The most common reason for making such changes was to respond to market pressures by bringing starting salaries into line with market rates at local or industry level, but recruitment and retention considerations also figure strongly.



Workplace Issues



Pensions Provisions in Age Legislation Come into Force

The provisions of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 that prohibit age discrimination in relation to pension schemes came into force on 1st December 2006.

The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 were introduced on 1 October 2006, but the provisions relating to pensions were put back in response to employers' concerns that, following significant activity in the pensions sector earlier in 2006, they had insufficient time to adjust to the new rules.

On 1 December 2006, the Employment Equality (Age) (Amendment No.2) Regulations 2006 bring into force the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, Schedule 2, which sets out the age-related aspects of the operation of occupational pension schemes that continue to be permissible without having to be objectively justified by the schemes themselves.

If a pension scheme wishes to continue with an age-related practice not covered by Schedule 2, it can do so provided that the scheme itself can objectively justify the activity.

Code of Practice on Public Sector Gender Equality Duty

The Equal Opportunities Commission has published the final version of the Code of Practice on the new duty requiring public sector bodies to promote gender equality, which takes effect from 6 April 2007.

The general duty requires all public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment and promote equality of opportunity between women and men from this date.

There is also a specific duty on listed public sector bodies to prepare and publish a Gender Equality Scheme showing how they intends to fulfil the general and specific duties and setting out their gender equality objectives. All listed public authorities must publish their schemes no later than 30 April 2007.




Workers rate union presence

Having a union voice in the workplace results in a more positive experience, according to a survey by Amicus of 533 workers, 87% of whom were union members. Respondents rated their jobs in terms of five criteria:

A safe and healthy workplace

Control over the working environment

Secure and interesting work

Fairness and dignity at work and

A trade union voice

The survey also found that on every indicator "those who have a trade union voice in the workplace report a more positive experience than those who do not".




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