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About the P&I Team Briefings Home | Responses | PFI Index | Policy Guide
BARGAIN BRIEF 12 February 2003
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:
Dave Watson
Dianne Anderson

@ the P&I Team
14 West Campbell St
Glasgow G26RX
Tel 0141-332 0006
Fax 0141-307 2572


• Legal
- Unlawful deduction from wages
- Full pay for on call workers
- Some clarity in regards to TUPE
-Discrimination based on cultural and racial differences
-Harassment or abuse!

• Employment Rights
- New maternity rights
- No right to drink

• Health & Safety
Falling down on the job
- Stress and workplace absences

• Workplace Issues
- Flexible working
- The true extent of workplace bulling

Sleeping on the job can improve effeiciency!

• Click here for previous Bargain Briefs



Unlawful deduction from wages

EAT recently upheld a tribunal decision that employees could claim for unlawful deduction from wages even though the claims were out of time under the Working Time Regulations. Following this decision a claim for compensation for statutory paid annual leave can now be taken under the unlawful deduction of wages provisions in the Employment Rights Act. Under the Act, 'wages' for this purpose include 'holiday pay' whether payable under a worker's contract of employment or 'otherwise'. Therefore an employee is entitled to compensation for annual leave whether or not it has actually been taken.

Full pay for on call workers

The Scottish Court of Session held recently that when an employee is required by his employer to be present on the employer's premises for a certain number of hours, the employer is required to pay the employee for all of those hours. In this case the Court of Session held that although the employee was allowed to sleep during his shift, he was in attendance throughout the night and could be called upon at any time to deal with alarms. On that basis, the whole 14 hour shift was "time work" and the employee was entitled to be paid for the hours during which he was asleep in line with the national minimum wage.

Some clarity in regards to TUPE

The Court of Appeal recently upheld the decision of both the EAT and the Employment Tribunal concerning an employee who had not transferred by virtue of TUPE because she was assigned to work for another employee at the time of transfer rather than to the transferring undertaking. The employee worked as a personal assistant for a manager who had several main roles, one of which was in respect of the business which was transferred. He was not regarded as assigned to the part of an undertaking transferred and the Court of Appeal upheld a finding that the personal assistant was not assigned to the transferred undertaking either, notwithstanding that the majority of her work related to the contract transferred. According to Lord Justice Pill, the fact that her manager was not assigned was "a strong pointer that he and his personal assistant were not part of the human stock" of the undertaking transferred.

Discrimination based on cultural and racial differences

The EAT found recently that an Employment Tribunal erred in holding that an employer discriminated against an employee of Iraqi origins. EAT decided that the tribunal failed to consider how the employer would have treated a person not of Iraqi origin who had behaved in a manner in which the employee behaved. EAT held that whilst it may sometimes be legitimate for a tribunal to take into account differences in behaviour which reflect racial and cultural differences, it was wrong for a tribunal to make findings based on the existence of such differences unless there was some evidential basis for them, such as expert evidence.

Harassment or abuse !

The EAT found recently that an Employment Tribunal erred in holding that an employee was discriminated against because of a racially insensitive remark. The EAT held that it was an error of law to reach that conclusion without considering whether the employee actually suffered some detriment as a result of the remark. The EAT viewed that the expression 'harassment' involves two elements – the first of which is the targeting of the person being harassed and the second is the causing of distress to the target. EAT found that in this case the fact that the employee making the complaint had not provided evidence to show that she had been caused distress by the remark at the time it was made, meant that it did not amount to racial harassment.


Employment Rights


New maternity rights

Changes in maternity and parental legislation are taking place that will apply to parents whose babies are due on or after April 6 2003. The changes will increase the amount of leave and pay available. Included in this new legislation is the introduction of two weeks paid paternity leave for fathers of babies due on or after 6 April 2003 and a new right to 26 weeks unpaid adoption leave, if you have worked for your employer for 26 weeks. Mothers and fathers of children aged under six, or disabled children under 18, will have the right to apply to work flexibly. Employers will have a duty to consider requests seriously and will be able to refuse only where there is a clear business reason.

No right to drink

A decision of the General Medical Council to order an absolute ban on alcohol as a condition to a doctor being allowed to continue practising was upheld as being neither unreasonable nor oppressive, nor was it a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights. The doctor, who had a history of depression and alcohol abuse, had complained that the conditions of the ban infringed his right for a private life under the European Convention on Human Rights. The Privy Council held that the condition to abstain from alcohol consumption did not breach Article 8(1) since the doctor could still attend his local pub or engage in social life while drinking non-alcoholic drinks. In addition, as a doctor his 'right' to an unrestricted social life was subject to the wider public interest of ensuring that he did not present a risk to his patients.



Health & Safety

Falling down on the job

A recent TUC report found that slip and trip problems were a problem in 84% of the organisations they surveyed and that slips and trips are the largest cause of major injuries sustained at work in Britain. Every hour someone in Britain breaks a bone and the problem currently costs the UK economy over £1 billion a year. The latest workplace injury and ill health statistics figures show that the number of people reporting injuries leading to at least a three-day absence from work caused by slips and trips has risen since 1996, from 24,000 to over 29,000 in 2002.

Stress and workplace absences

Recent HSE statistics reveal that UK workplaces have seen a dramatic rise in the amount of stress-related illness. The prevalence of work-related stress is now around double the level it was in 1990. Of the 32.9 million days lost to illness in 2002, 13.4 million were attributed to stress, anxiety or depression. In the twelve month period between December 2001 and December 2002 there was an estimated 265,000 new cases of stress and – at 29.2 days of absence – the average time lost per case is higher than for all work related illness.


Bargaining issues



Workplace Issues

Flexible working

A recent survey by the Department of Trade and Industry found that a third of people looking for a job would prefer flexible working to an extra £1,000 a year and nearly two-thirds consider work-life balance an important factor in assessing a new job. However a UNISON survey of nurses raises concern that the NHS 'Working lives initiative' is failing to provide the flexible working arrangements that staff are looking for. The survey found that 73% of staff surveyed said that their working hours conflicted with their domestic arrangements.

The true extent of workplace bulling

The largest study on bullying to date, published in 2000 indicated that more than 2 million workers across the economy were bullied in the six-month period of the study. Based on a survey of nearly 5,3000 workers in 70 different organisations found:

  • 10.6% people reported being bullied at work
  • 24.7% had been bullied within the last 5 years
  • 46.5% had witnessed bullying in the last 5 years
  • Managers were reported as perpetrators 74.7% of incidents







And finally…

A German town has found that sleeping on the job, albeit in limited doses, can boost workers' efficiency. For two years, civil servants in the small town of Vechta, Southwest of Hamburg, have been allowed 20 minutes after lunch to go home and take a nap, doze in their office chairs or otherwise relax. Vechta started the project because it had too much work for too few employees and no budget to hire new civil servants. A local health insurance company gave them courses on napping [Courses on napping? Now you know I can't be making this up!]




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