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A number of companies have recently come under scrutiny for their working practices and treatment of staff, in particular Sports Direct, Uber and other delivery companies.
A recent news story about the working conditions of staff at the warehouse supplying ASOS, the fashion retailer, has also highlighted some interesting points about pay arrangements and flexible working. Staff at the warehouse have accused their employer of unfairly delaying payment for overtime, sometimes by several months.
The story serves as a useful reminder to employers to ensure they are operating within the law in relation to the treatment of staff.
Employers who fail to ensure their staff are treated in a reasonable and fair way are not only exposed to potential claims from their employees, but are also at risk of severe damage to their reputation and brand.
Below are some of the issues that the ASOS story has brought to the fore:
National minimum wage (NMW): employers must pay the NMW to all of their employees. If employees are expected to work additional unpaid hours/overtime, the average pay for the total hours worked must not fall below the rate of the NMW. Employers should note that the NMW is usually increased on an annual basis so must ensure that they implement any increase into employees' pay.
Flexible working: all employees with at least 26 weeks' continuous employment have the right to request flexible working. Employers must act reasonably in responding to such requests and have a legitimate business reason for any refusal.
Sickness absence: employers who dismiss employees for sickness absence are at risk of receiving claims for unfair dismissal or discrimination arising from a disability. Employers should ensure they have policies and procedures in place for dealing with short-term and long-term sickness absence. Statutory sick pay is not payable for the first three qualifying days of sickness absence (although there are detailed rules about linking periods of absence)