Bright light!

Employment Law Newsletter - March 2018

 
 

In this issue ...

  Can employees insist on taking annual leave to observe religious holidays?   General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  
  Key employment law changes   Tribunal claims up by 90%  
  Can you decide when employees should take their holiday?   Don't let Easter catch you out  
 

Can employees insist on taking annual leave to observe religious holidays?

The problem. Many of us are looking forward to a well-earned break over the Easter weekend which is a religious holiday even if it is spent taste-testing chocolate eggs before they are passed to our children. However, although the majority of Christian religious holidays are embodied within bank or public holidays, the UK has no equivalent provision for non-Christian religious holidays.

The law. The Equality Act 2010 does not provide an express right to time off work for religious purposes, but refusing annual leave to celebrate a religious festival without good cause could amount to indirect religious discrimination. However you could justify your refusal if you are using proportionate means to achieve a legitimate legitimate aim. For example, if granting the holiday would jeopardise completion of a critical project.

What you should do

Create a policy that sets out your position on religious holidays.

Establish and publish a system for granting leave that meets the needs of the business but does not disadvantage employees of any particular religion or belief.

When you receive a request, discuss it with the employee with a view to reaching an agreement. You can ask relevant questions to inform your understanding.

Subject to the needs of the business, try to grant requests and support employees who observe religions other than Christianity; time off work on particular dates may be very important for them.

Remember that some religious festivals are aligned with the lunar cycle so their dates may change from year to year.

 

Key employment law changes

Employment law is forever evolving. Several important developments will be introduced in April 2018.

Statutory Payments. Statutory maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental pay will rise from £140.98 to £145.18 on 1st April 2018 with maternity allowance rising to the same level on 9th April 2018.

Statutory sick pay will rise from £89.35 to £92.05 on 6th April 2018.

Gender pay gap reporting. The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 require private and voluntary sector employers with 250 or more employees to publish annual information on their gender pay gap.

The first reports are due on 4th April 2018 but fewer than 4,000 of an estimated 9,000 eligible employers have reported. The Equality and Human Rights Commission will write to you on 9th April if you have missed the deadline and allow a further 28 days before it takes action, which could end in an unlimited fine. Here is the ACAS guidance on your obligations www.acas.org.uk/genderpay

Termination payments. On 6th April 2018, all payments in lieu of notice, including payments where there is no contractual right to pay in lieu of notice, will be subject to income tax and class 1 National Insurance Contributions. You will be required to subject to tax that part of a termination payment equivalent to the employee's basic pay if, and to the extent that, notice is not worked. HMRC states that the new rules apply only where both payment and termination occur on or after 6th April 2018.

 

Can you decide when employees should take their holiday?

The problem. As the country emerges from the crisis caused by KFC's chicken shortage, we're left with an important question. For those unfamiliar with the story, KFC's decision to change its supplier affected chicken deliveries to outlets throughout the UK, forcing them to close. Staff members were encouraged to take holiday but not forced to do so. Those that didn't take holiday would still be paid as normal. Could KFC or its franchises have forced them?

The law. Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, you can tell staff to take all or part of their statutory annual leave on certain dates. However, unless agreed otherwise, the length of required notice should be at least twice the period of leave workers are required to take.

 

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

UK data protection law in the UK will change when the GDPR comes into effect on 25 May 2018.

If you breach the GDPR, the Information Commissioner's Office may impose a penalty of €10 million or 2% of your total annual worldwide turnover in the proceeding financial year, whichever is higher. If you breach the basic principles of processing the fine can be double. So you must get it right.

In November we told you of its key concepts for employers

Here are ten things you should do now

Awareness

Make sure the key people in your organisation know about the GDPR and its impact.

Information

Document what personal data you hold, where it came from and where you send it.

Communicating privacy information

Review your current privacy notices and make any necessary changes.

Individuals’ rights

Review your procedures to ensure they cover individuals' GDPR rights, including how you would delete personal data or provide data electronically and in a commonly used format.

Subject access requests

Update your procedures and plan how to handle requests within the new timescales and provide any additional information.

Lawful basis for processing personal data

Identify the lawful basis for your processing activity in the GDPR, document it and update your privacy notice to explain it.

Consent

Review how you seek, record and manage consent and decide whether you need to make any changes. Refresh existing consents now if they don’t meet the GDPR standard.

Children

Think about whether you need to put systems in place to verify individuals’ ages and to obtain parental or guardian consent for any data processing activity.

Data breaches

Ensure you have procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach.

Data Protection Officers

Designate someone to be responsible for data protection compliance and assess where this role will sit within your structure and governance arrangements.

 

Tribunal claims up by 90%

The Ministry of Justice has released its latest round of data on the number of tribunals since fees were abolished last summer. The number of single claims it has received in the three months to December 2017 is 90% more than in the same period in 2016. The number will continue to rise so it is more important than ever to take care when managing people.

 

Don't let Easter catch you out

The problem. If your annual leave year runs from 1st April to 31st March, take note. Good Friday is on 30th March this year and on 19th April in 2019, so there will be no Good Friday bank holiday within your 2018/2019 holiday year. The working time rules entitle workers to 5.6 weeks' holiday each leave year, which is 28 days for people working five days a week. The 28 days can include bank holidays, of which there are usually eight. This leave year there are seven, which may leave people with only 27 days' leave if their entitlement is for '20 days plus bank holidays'.

What you should do

The 28-day entitlement is a statutory minimum so you should top up workers' entitlement for the leave year running 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019, to ensure that they retain their statutory entitlement.

Alternatively you could agree to amend annual leave contract clauses to '28 days' annual leave including bank holidays'.

This situation will arise again in 2024 but we will remind you.

And...

Just a quick reminder that Collinson Grant does a lot more than advise clients in all sorts of organisations about the complexities, constraints and opportunities presented by employment law. Our consultants also provide support regularly on: employee relations, reward, restructuring, recruitment, leadership and HR strategy. And we have well-honed skills in operations: managing and reducing costs, organisational design, process improvement, procurement and managerial controls. Do ask if you would like to know more.

 
 
 

If you would like to discuss this or any other issue facing your organisation please speak to your usual contact at Collinson Grant or Peter Howarth on 0161 703 5600

www.collinsongrant.com/hr

Although care has been taken in the preparation of this Newsletter, Collinson Grant cannot accept responsibility for errors, omissions or advice given. Readers should note that only Acts of Parliament and Statutory Instruments have the force of law and only the courts can authoritatively interpret the law.