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About the P&I Team Briefings Home | Responses | PFI Index | Policy Guide
BARGAIN BRIEF March 2007 No 28
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



- Public Sector Pay
National Minimum Wage
- Latest Pay Settlement Trends

- Increase in Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Pay
- Rate of Statutory Sick Pay increased
- Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 extended.
- Extension to Flexible Working Regulations come into force

Health & Safety
- Corporate Manslaughter Bill
- The Role of Health & Safety Reps

Equality at Work
- Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007
Discrimination on grounds of Religion and Beliefs
- Flexible Retirement

- Power Dressing still an issue for Women

Click here for previous Bargain Briefs



Increase in Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Pay

The standard rate of statutory maternity, Paternity and Adoption pay increases to £112.75 on 1 April 2007. The lower earnings limit also increases to £87. In addition, the Government intends to exercise its powers under the Work and Families Act 2006 to increase statutory maternity pay from 39 weeks to 52 weeks by the end of this Parliament.

The Work and Families Act 2006 will also introduce a new right to additional paternity leave and pay for fathers during the second six months of the mother's 12-month maternity leave period. These changes are also expected to be introduced by the end of this Parliament.

Rate of Statutory Sick Pay increased

The standard rate of SSP is increased to £70.05 per week.

Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 extended.

These regulations, which implement the Information and Consultation Directive in Great Britain are extended to cover undertakings with 100 or more employees from 6 April 2007.

Extension to Flexible Working Regulations come into force

The regulations extend the right to request flexible working to carers of adults from 6 April 2007. Employees can request a change to the hours they work or the times that they are required to work, or to work from home. Flexible working requests can cover a range of working practices, including part-time working, home working, etc.

The Government defines the relationship between the carer and the person for whom he or she cares who must be:

the employee's spouse, civil partner or partner);

the employee's relative); or

an adult who lives at the same address as the employee


Employment Rights



Health & Safety

Corporate Manslaughter Bill

The new UK Bill will come into force during 2007. It will create a new offence of corporate manslaughter which will allow organisations to be prosecuted by management failure that lead to the deaths of employees and others. The new offence will apply if senior management or an organisation has been found to have failed to take reasonable care for the safety of its employees or others.

The Role of Health & Safety Reps

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has been carrying out a consultation on improving employee involvement in health & safety and is likely to introduce some changes to the current arrangements in the near future.

Their consultation concluded that the current method of appointing safety representatives is flawed and outdated, with only a quarter of workplaces estimated to be covered by independent safety representatives.

The position is much worse within non-unionised workplaces, where, despite legal provision for "elected representatives of employee safety" very few have been appointed and those who have, seem to have fewer rights than in unionised organisations.



Bargaining issues

Public Sector Pay

The latest Pay Review Bodies for public sector pay will lead to over 1,350,000 public sector workers receiving below inflation pay increases from 1 April 2007, with many awards being staged. The Chancellor revealed rises ranging from no pay increase for general medical practitioners to 9.2% for the lowest-paid servicemen and women. For the Scottish health service, Andy Kerr confirmed that over one million nurses and other staff covered by the pay review body for nurses and other health professions will receive a 2.5% pay increase from 1 April 2007. Unsurprisingly, the awards were universally slammed as a "pay cut" by all NHS trade unions, although the decision not to stage the award in Scotland was broadly welcomed.

National Minimum Wage

The Government has announced that the National Minimum Wage (NMW) is to rise an average of 3.2% from £5.35 to £5.52 an hour from October 2007. The development rate for 18-21 year olds rises from £4.45 to £4.60 and hour, and the youth rate for workers aged 16 and 17 will to from £3.30 to £3.40 per hour. This means that the NMW has increased by almost 30% more than inflation, since its introduction in 1999. The increase will benefit over a million workers, many of them low paid women. In announcing the award, Trade & Industry Secretary, Alastair Darling, also advised that the Government is to consult on the Low Pay Commission's recommendation that a penalty should be introduced to for any employer found to have underpaid the minimum wage.

Latest Pay Settlement Trends

The level of pay settlements has been pushed up due to the steep rise in inflation at the end of last year. Industrial Relations Services (IRS) has found that average pay deals rose from 3.5% in the three months to January from 3% in the previous quarter.



Workplace Issues



Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

New regulations which make it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services, education, disposal and management of premises and exercise of public functions on the grounds of sexual orientation come into force on 6 April.

Discrimination on grounds of Religion and Beliefs

The Equality Act 2006 clarifies the law on religion and belief discrimination. From 6 April 2007 it changes the definition contained in the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003 to "any religion, religious belief, or similar philosophical belief".

It also introduces provisions against discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the provision of goods, facilities, services and education, the use and disposal of premises and the exercise of public functions.

Flexible Retirement

According to a survey carried out by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), management face two key barriers in implementing flexible retirement policies. These are: managing performance of older employees and communicating available options to staff. However, the benefits were seen to far outweigh any problems, as the policy helped organisations, in terms of retention of skills, reduced costs and assisting with skills-shortage vacancies.




Power Dressing still an issue for Women

According to a survey reported in the Scotsman, 62% of women throughout the UK still feel the need to dress up for work to be taken seriously by their male colleagues.

Sixty percent believed they were more in control if they wore smart, tailored suits and 52% felt they performed better if they dressed well.

A spokesperson for www.missbutterfly.co.uk who carried out the survey, said, "It's worrying to think that woman believe the only way to gain the respect of their male colleagues is to dress in a certain way."

The survey also showed that 10% of women admitted dressing provocatively to gain a bonus or to "win the heart" of a male colleague. Who said Feminism was dead?




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