[picappgallerysingle id="1633994" align="left"] In our June 2009 newsletter we reported the case of Linda Sturdy, a senior NHS manager who was passed over for promotion because of her age. Unfortunately, when told that she was 57 a manager commented “I didn’t realise you were so old”. The upshot was that she received an award for injury to feelings which, including interest, came to £33,500 and is believed to be the highest of its kind.
She was also awarded £5700 plus interest for aggravated damages (reflecting the way in which the NHS Trust employer dealt with the matter) and an uplift of 25% to the award to recognise the Trust’s failure to follow the correct procedures.
Ms Sturdy has now recovered a further £147,000 for lost salary and pension rights, making the overall award just short of £187,000.
Now that’s an expensive comment to have made! According to the Yorkshire Post the case has cost the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust over £500,000. This is at a time when it is under pressure to make cuts to services running into millions of pounds.
[picappgallerysingle id="4773122" align="left"]This article in the US Columbus Dispatch reminded me of many a lively day when I managed the Virgin Megastore in York in the mid 80s. Walmart employee Heather Ravenstein has been sacked after challenging a man who walked out of the store with a $600 computer without paying for it. Although she was thanked at the time, she was called in the following day and given her cards because she violated company policy about how to treat people in stores.
[picappgallerysingle id="289790" align="left"]When I was working for Virgin in York (and this ages me!) our main sales were 33rpm albums which were shrink-wrapped with a big machine on the top floor. In those days there were not the scanner checks which you find at store entrances so it was down to us to spot them. I remember two occasions (both on Saturdays) when we lost the entire Who collection and another when we lost half the Reggae selection (approximately 50 albums). The instruction in those days was to pursue the felon and do what you could to retrieve both him/her and the albums. This often led to chases through the city centre and I remember one occasion when the woman who took the albums ran to the Lendal Bridge, threw all the albums into the river and then jumped in herself!
In our current health and safety aware society this type of escapade is clearly no longer acceptable but I do have sympathy for Ms Ravenstein who was doing what she (reasonably) thought was the right thing. It is essential for employers to provide guidance for employees about how to deal with the situations they may encounter in the course of their duties. This is why a staff handbook is essential. As part of our subscription package we provide a customised staff handbook which is tailored to suit your specific business and corresponding requirements. If you are a subscriber, you have probably already seen the benefit of this in practice. If not, please call 08000 320 974 and we will let you know how you can deal with this type of situation (and many others).
According to a report in the London Evening Standard a convicted child trafficker was arrested when she turned up at her own discrimination hearing at the Central London Employment Tribunal.
Peace Sandberg was jailed for 26 months when she bought a three month old baby in Nigeria for £150 and tried to pass it off has her own in order to be allocated a council house in the UK. The court heard from council staff that she had attended Ealing Council offices with the baby, demanding accommodation and benefits, but they recalled that she had not been pregnant a few weeks earlier. As well as being sentenced, she was deported to Sweden (she holds joint Swedish and Nigerian citizenship).
However, she continued to pursue a claim of sex and race discrimination against her former employer, The Peabody Trust and duly turned up for her hearing on 13 May at the Central London Employment Tribunal. In his opening address to the tribunal, counsel for the Trust stated “the police are on their way” and they duly arrived at about 12.30 p.m. They sat in the public gallery until asked why they were there. One said “How long is the tribunal going to last; we can come back”. However, when told it could run for seven days, another officer is reported to have said “We should probably nick her now”. She was duly arrested and led away in handcuffs.
You may reasonably have assumed that would be the end of the tribunal case but, according to Inside Housing the case has been adjourned so that she can give evidence at the resumption by phone, written submission or video link.
Employers concerned about extension of flexible working rights: http://bit.ly/9LqCuh
Contributors to construction industry blacklists to be named and shamed: http://bit.ly/bddBwi
BA considering appeal to Supreme Court: http://bit.ly/aznNH3
Towergate and Allianz announce insurance “coalition” for employment law advice. Would you use an insurer or a law firm? – just saying…
[picappgallerysingle id="285602" align="left"]Hidden away in the coalition agreement is the following:
We will review IR35, as part of a wholesale review of all small business taxation, and seek to replace it with simpler measures that prevent tax avoidance but do not place undue administrative burdens or uncertainty on the self-employed, or restrict labour market flexibility.
IR35 is the controversial statement of Inland Revenue practice which was designed to identify people who are ostensibly self-employed but who are, in reality, employees of a business because they provide services more or less exclusively and effectively under the control of one business. The strategy was targeted in particular at “consultants” such as “one man band” tax advisers, creatives and IT consultants who operated on their own account, generally through a limited company, on the basis that this is more tax efficient.
The Professional Contractors Group was formed to oppose IR35. Its managing director, John Brazier, stated:
We are delighted that the new Coalition Government made this commitment to review IR35 as a priority only days after taking power…For the last ten years PCG has campaigned for honesty and fairness when dealing with the UK’s 1.4 million contractors and freelance workers. With the end of the iniquitous IR35 we have the opportunity to achieve fairness…
[picappgallerysingle id="2916067" align="left"] Salary sacrifice schemes have been heavily promoted in recent years as a more imaginative and beneficial way of providing employee benefits. Schemes typically cover pension contributions, childcare vouchers, staff meals, cycle-to-work schemes and public travel allowances. Such arrangements have also been regarded as tax efficient.
However, the overall benefit of such schemes has been cast into serious doubt by an opinion of the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Communities (formerly the European Court of Justice) concerning AstraZeneca and retail vouchers. The Advocate General has recommended that VAT should be payable on benefits provided to employees.
The Advocate General issues an opinion prior to a judgment of the European Court and, nearly always, the judgment accords with the opinion. In this case the cost to British employers has been estimated at £500 million going back over the last four years and £100m per year going forward.
If you have any such schemes in operation, you need to decide quickly whether you want to keep them in their present forms. If not, bear in mind that any changes may require variation of employee contracts. You should obtain advice from your accountants as soon as possible and, if you foresee any employment issues such as contract variations, please contact us right away on 08000 320 974.
You can read the full opinion here.