R.E.S.P.E.C.T – Will gender pay reporting have an impact?

Following the introduction last year of the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017, the deadline for employers publishing their first set of reports is fast approaching.

Do the reporting rules apply to my business?
As a brief recap, the Regulations require all private employers with 250 or more employees (calculated as at 5th of April 2017) to publish certain pieces of information regarding the gender pay gap.  The published reports must be lodged no later than the 4th of April 2018 (and annually thereafter).

What must be reported?
 The report must address:-

  • The overall difference in mean and median gross hourly rates of pay between male and female full pay relevant employees in the pay period (the pay period is whatever method the employees are paid – e.g. weekly or monthly);
  • The difference in mean and median bonus payments made to male and female relevant employees during the 12 months prior to the 5th of April each year
  • The proportion of male and female relevant employees who received bonus payments in the 12 month period;
  • The proportion of male and female full-pay relevant employees working across salary quartiles.

Are there sanctions for not reporting?
No.  There are no formal sanctions under the Equality Act although it is thought that the Equality and Human Rights Commission will be monitoring those employers who don’t comply.  In the sense that there are no sanctions for non-compliance, the regulations are somewhat toothless.  With less than 3 months to go until the first reporting deadline, of the 9000 odd employers who should be reporting, those who have complied are in in the minority.  Many have suggested that the risk of reputational damage will be a driving force in prompting employers to comply.  Whether that so remains to be seen.

I noted from a recent report that Easyjet, Virgin Money and Ladbrokes had all recently reported.  These reports demonstrated that women were paid on average 52%, 33% and 15% less per hour than men, respectively.  Am I less likely to fly with Easyjet because of these stats?  No.  I am a Scotsman – I will fly with whoever is cheapest.  I asked my mother the same question and her answer was the same as mine.

Equal Pay
Although the gender pay gap is not the same as equal pay, the two are clearly linked.  As an example, an employer might have a very large gender pay gap but would not necessarily be infringing equal pay laws.  Equally, an employer might have no gender pay gap but could still have individual cases infringing equal pay.  Remember that the publishable figures are mean and median.  That said, it is highly likely that the reporting obligations will result in further equal pay claims.

Recent high profile reports
Only last week we saw the BBC reporter Carrie Gracie resign from her post amidst concerns that male comparators doing the same or similar jobs were being paid far more than her.   Her £135k per annum could be contrasted with male reporters earning up to £249k.  Late last year there were further reports showing disparity within the BBC – for example Gary Lineker’s earnings of £1.8 million against Clare Balding’s £200k.  Or in the news room, Hugh Edwards’ £600k to Fiona Bruce’s £400k.  Even as far afield as Hollywood there are reports alleging Mark Wahlberg getting £1.1million for a re-shoot against Michelle Williams’ $80 per day (totalling less than $1,000).

In no way criticising Ms Gracie’s courageous move but I would imagine that, at least from a financial standpoint, it is easier to jack in a £135k job than, say, a woman earning £8 per hour in a supermarket.  It would be nice to think that the more woman who make a stance like Ms Gracie, the more will have to be done to address (un)equal pay.

Summary
Given the magnitude of the issue, it is clear that the reporting obligations will not be a quick fix. They might not even be a fix at all and doubtless many woman will need to rely on employment tribunals to grant equality.

If you have not applied your mind to gender pay reporting – do so now.

If you are not sure what to report – take advice.

If you are worried that your figures will show a disparity – you can utilise narratives on the report to explain further and details measures you propose taking to explain.

For more information on gender pay reporting please contact the Blackadders Employment Team.

Jack Boyle, Employment
Associate Solicitor
Blackadders LLP
@EmpLawyerJack
www.blackadders.co.uk

Blackadders Nominated for Prestigious Awards

Blackadders’ Employment Team has been nominated for the “Innovation in Practice Award” at the Scottish Legal Awards 2018.

The team has received recognition for their series of podcasts – Employment Lawyer In Your Pocket – which are available for free on both the website and on iTunes.

Simon Allison who heads up the Employment Team was also nominated for the “Lawyer of the Year Award”, unbeknown to him he was put forward for the award by fellow team member, Associate Solicitor, Jack Boyle. When asked why Jack nominated Simon he said, “That’s easy. Simon deserves this award because he has unparalleled success DESPITE having a stroke early last year. As Simon himself says – when the going gets tough and I wonder why I am doing this, I remind myself, it’s because I can”. Simon commented that it was “a lovely surprise to be nominated for the Lawyer of the Year Award” and that he is truly honoured, although he is also going to keep a closer eye on Jack in future.

When asked about the team nomination Simon commented, “We are absolutely delighted to be nominated for this accolade. It is recognition of both the quality content and the hard work which the team has put into their podcasting journey. Both Blackadders and the Employment Team are flattered to be named as one of the finalists.” 

The team commenced their podcasts in December 2016. Series one was entitled “Eight steps to conduct a fair dismissal”. Series two was entitled their “How To” series of podcasts where the team cover such topics as “How To Be A Good Witness”, “How To Deal With Stubble and Tattoos”, “How To Manage Your Apprentices” and “How To Appoint A Data Protection Officer”.

Simon commented, “Each podcast lasts for approximately 10 minutes. The rationale was that a ten minute podcast was longer than the length of time for Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and less than Meatloaf’s I Would Do Anything For Love (album version). Believe it or not, there is no actual script. And editing has been minimal to ensure that the natural flow of our friendships was not missed.”

The purpose of the podcasts was not to be the best podcasters in the world. Instead it was to raise the profile of the firm and to generate new business and new clients. We have been really successful in all of these criteria both locally and throughout the UK.

“We were advised that if we managed to get 150 listeners for each season, that would be a great result. By the end of season one, we had over 800 listeners. Season two ended in December and at the last count, there were over 3600 subscribed listeners.”

If you want to ask the team a question which may be featured in season three of their next series, you should tweet them using the #ELiYP hashtag.

Simon has promised the team that he will take them to watch a Real Madrid match if they win the award.

Let’s hope that, for Simon’s sake, the team will be dining on mince and tatties this summer as opposed to tortillas.

Blackadders LLP

blackadders logo

To listen to the Employment Lawyer in Your Pocket Podcasts please click here.
@BlackaddersLLP
@BlackaddersSolicitors
www.blackadders.co.uk

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

I would imagine that the majority of work place Christmas parties will involve a drop or 2 of alcohol, and the shenanigans that comes with this.  Of course there will be some individuals who go too far and resort to dabbling in drugs in order to maximise their enjoyment of the party season.

It is fine for employees to dream of a white Christmas, provided that the white stuff which is dreamed of is snow.  However, if it is not, then this could spell trouble.  Cocaine is one such drug that is controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

So, what does this have to do with employment law, I hear you ask.  It is an offence for an employer to knowingly permit, or even to ignore, the use, production or supply of any controlled drugs taking place on their premises.  If you discover an employee taking drugs at an office Christmas party, it is important that you take the appropriate action.

However, a word of caution!   Where an employee is caught bang to rights taking an illegal drug it does not mean that the usual rules for disciplinary procedures can be abandoned in place of an on-the-spot dismissal.  That would likely result in a successful claim of unfair dismissal.

Employers should treat offences of this nature in the same manner as any other instances of misconduct.   The 3 stage process of suspension, investigation and disciplinary hearing should still be followed to avoid being on the wrong end of a possible tribunal claim.

What about an employee who is convicted of drug abuse outside of the workplace?  They can surely be sacked right?  Potentially yes.  However, employers must still follow the necessary procedures and take into account relevant factors such as the nature of the job and whether the conviction impacts on the employer’s reputation.

A tip from the top: Keep your snow for the snowmen this year.

For more information on misconduct please contact the Employment Law team at Blackadders.

Richard Wilson
Trainee Solicitor, Employment
@EmpLawyerRich   
www.blackadders.co.uk 

Season 2.9: How to keep control over your employees? | Employment Lawyer in Your Pocket

blackadders logoSeason 2, episode 9: Simon, Jack and Richard all join up for the last episode of season 2. The guys answer a tweet from Vital Hike ‘how to keep control over your employee?’. They cover Christmas parties, work trips and give example of real cases. As well as this Jacks give us his top 3 take away tips. Remember to listen after the music to see if you can work out what Richards theme tune is…we can’t!

We would be delighted if you would be able to provide us with some feedback by leaving a comment at the bottom of our podcast page. Thanks for listening!

You can listen to the latest episodes here:

Season 2.8: How to appoint a data protection officer?
Season 2.7: How to record a disciplinary hearing?
Season 2.6: How to manage your apprentices?
Season 2.5: How to do social media?
Season 2.4: How to deal with copyright & trademarks?
Season 2.3: How to deal with stubble and tattoos?
Season 2.2: How to give a good reference?
Season 2.1: How to be a good witness?

You can also download this podcast free on iTunes.

The Blackadders employment team
Scottish Legal Awards Employment Team of the Year 2016

Get in touch with the team on twitter:
@EmpLawyerSimon
@EmpLawyerJack
@EmpLawyerRich
@CorpLawyerRuth
@BlackaddersLLP

#ELIYP

 

 

It’s the thought that counts

They say “It’s the thought that counts!”. Now is no better a time to think about making a will and looking after your loved ones.

At Blackadders we will discuss your options and help you prepare a will in a friendly, comfortable environment. We will take into account your individual circumstances, succession planning for your business, and inheritance tax issues.

Our staff tutor on the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at the universities of Edinburgh and Dundee as well as setting the course work and exams for STEP (Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners). Why wouldn’t you want to take advice from the masters in their field? Our staff are regulated by the Law Society of Scotland and several are STEP qualified meaning you can be confident that your will is being prepared correctly.

We will review your existing wills free of charge to check that they are valid and in line with current law.

We will store your wills free of charge so that they are protected from being lost or destroyed or falling into the wrong hands.

For a New Year’s resolution that’s easy to stick to, call Blackadders today to make your will!

Joanne Grimmond,
Partner
@jo_blogs_law
www.blackadders.co.uk

“You mean more to me than anything in the world and I need you to believe me…”

It was announced yesterday that Prince Harry has become engaged to US actress and star of TV show Suits (Rachel Zane), Meghan Markle.

With the wedding predicted to take place in May 2018, there is much speculation about whether Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would or should enter into a pre-nuptial agreement prior to their marriage.

Currently around 50% of marriages end in divorce. 

What is a pre-nuptial agreement?
A pre-nuptial agreement is a contract. It can be used to regulate the division of assets upon divorce or death.

Are pre-nuptial agreements enforceable in Scotland?
Although pre-nuptial agreements are untested in the Scottish courts, Scotland has long recognised that people should be able to enter into contracts as they wish. Pre-nuptial agreements are therefore valid in Scotland and the courts may take one into account provided that it was fair and reasonable at the time it was entered in to. 

Why have a pre-nuptial agreement?
The most common desire is to protect assets owned prior to a marriage; or assets that are inherited or gifted to one party so that they remain the property of that person and do not go into the matrimonial pot for division. The division of such assets are often the subject of contentious and bitter arguments in a divorce, with much time and money being spent arguing about how these assets should be divided fairly. A pre-nuptial agreement can exclude such assets from the equation. They provide a degree of certainty. Without a pre-nuptial agreement, the statutory provisions apply leaving scope for parties and lawyers to argue about it.

Should they or shouldn’t they?
Pre-nuptial agreements often criticised as being unromantic or as being indicative that one does not love or trust their partner enough. In my opinion, pre-nuptial agreements encourage a couple to be honest and upfront with one another about their financial situation and their expectations for the marriage in a responsible and realistic way.

“You mean more to me than anything in the world and I need you to believe me…” Rachel Zane, Suits. 

Not just where marriage is in contemplation…
With cohabiting couples now having limited rights to make a financial claim when the cohabitation comes to an end, a pre-cohabitation agreement can be entered into in the same way as a pre-nuptial agreement. For more information on pre-nuptial agreements please contact Blackadders Family Law team.

Joanne Murray, Associate Solicitor
Family Law
@FamilyLawJoanne
www.blackadders.co.uk

 

 

Season 2.8: How to appoint a Data Protection Officer? | Employment Lawyer in Your Pocket

blackadders logoSeason 2, Episode 8: Simon, Jack and Ruth answer a tweet from Avian ‘do I need to appoint a data protection officer (DPO)?‘ . They cover who needs it, who can  be a DPO and give examples of cases. There’s also some interesting theme tunes and a bit of the Simpsons banter thrown in!

We would be delighted if you would be able to provide us with some feedback by leaving a comment at the bottom of our podcast page. Thanks for listening!

You can listen to the latest episodes here:
Season 2.7: How to record a disciplinary hearing?
Season 2.6: How to manage your apprentices?
Season 2.5: How to do social media?
Season 2.4: How to deal with copyright & trademarks?
Season 2.3: How to deal with stubble and tattoos?
Season 2.2: How to give a good reference?
Season 2.1: How to be a good witness?

You can also download this podcast free on iTunes.

The Blackadders employment team
Scottish Legal Awards Employment Team of the Year 2016 

Get in touch with the team on twitter:
@EmpLawyerSimon
@EmpLawyerJack
@EmpLawyerRich
@CorpLawyerRuth
@BlackaddersLLP

#ELIYP

Season 2.7: How to record a disciplinary hearing? |Employment Lawyer in Your Pocket

blackadders logoSeason 2, Episode 7: Simon & Richard answer a tweet from Big Man Talking ‘should you record a formal meeting with a manager on your mobile phone?’. They cover legislation, real cases and Richard gives us his top 3 tips.  As well as this Richard does an impression of J. Boyle…(if you can work out who that is?) and tries to get his twitter followers up. Also why does Simon have an Australian Siri?

We would be delighted if you would be able to provide us with some feedback by leaving a comment at the bottom of our podcast page. Thanks for listening!

You can listen to the latest episodes here:
Season 2.6: How to manage your apprentices?
Season 2.5: How to do social media?
Season 2.4: How to deal with copyright & trademarks?
Season 2.3: How to deal with stubble and tattoos?
Season 2.2: How to give a good reference?
Season 2.1: How to be a good witness?

You can also download this podcast free on iTunes.

The Blackadders employment team
Scottish Legal Awards Employment Team of the Year 2016 

Get in touch with the team on twitter:
@EmpLawyerSimon
@EmpLawyerJack
@EmpLawyerRich 
@BlackaddersLLP

#ELIYP

Spending too long in the Casino? Clarification on weekly working hours & rest periods

The Directive
The European Working Time Directive (“the Directive”) provides for certain rules on working time and rest breaks.  One of those rules is the entitlement to 24 hours rest away from work in any 7 day period.  The European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) has recently provided some clarification on how this rule works in the case of Marques da Rosa v Varzim Sol – Turismo, Jogo e Animacao SA.

The case
Da Rosa worked in a Portuguese Casino.  The working rules provided for two days off per week.  However on occasion the rota required workers to work for 7 days on the spin.  When his employment ended, he argued that this was unlawful and in breach of the Directive.  The issue to be determined was whether the worker had an automatic right to a day off work after working 6 consecutive days, or whether the employer was free to choose when the day off would be (i.e. at any time during the 7 day period).

The decision
The ECJ found in favour of the employer.  To comply with the Directive, all that needs to be done is to provide one day off work per 7 day period.  This means that a worker could have a day off at the start of one seven day period, then work 12 consecutive days (taking him or her into a second 7 day period), with a further day off at the end of the second 7 day period.

And in the UK?
In the UK, the Working Time Regulations 1998 provide for certain minimum rest periods for workers.  These Regulations implement the Directive.  The UK rights include:-

  • Rest breaks at work – 20 minutes rest break for any working time of 6 hours or more (note that the break cannot be at the start or end of a shift);
  • Daily rest – 11 consecutive hours of rest in any 24 hour period during which work is performed; and
  • Weekly rest –24 consecutive hours of rest per week, though this can be averaged over 2 weeks.
  • Also watch out for additional rights for night workers and young workers.

Summary
Weekly rest in the UK can either be achieved by allowing 24 hours of rest per week, or 48 hours of rest per fortnight, or two separate periods of 24 hours over a 14 day period.

For those lucky enough to enjoy weekends off work, this case will be of no relevance.

However, for those working business which operate around the clock, it is worth noting the decision.  This provides a degree of flexibility for employers when arranging rotas etc.

If you have any questions about rest breaks and working time, get in touch with our Employment Team.

Jack Boyle, Employment
Associate Solicitor 
@EmpLawyerJack
http://www.blackadders.co.uk   

Landlords, winter is coming!

With the nights drawing in it won’t just be the weather that bites on the 1st of December, the Scottish Government have confirmed that the long anticipated replacement tenancy scheme for Scotland, known as a Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) will be in force from December. In a nutshell the new scheme is a decided shift towards tenant’s interests from a legal framework which was already fairly tenant friendly.

In effect little will change for landlords and tenant with a pre-existing short assured tenancy as this framework will remain in place even if the tenancy has overrun its original term and is continuing by tacit relocation. The changes will only affect new tenancies from the 1st December 2017.

A model tenancy agreement was released by the Scottish Government at the end of October and is available online. It is hoped that this will harmonise the leasing market and remove some of the drafting anomalies encountered by both landlords and tenants. The model agreement can however be modified to a certain extent but certain clauses are noted as being mandatory and cannot be modified.

One of the biggest changes is that under a PRT a start date will be agreed between the parties and the tenancy will continue indefinitely until it is terminated by either party in accordance with statutory provisions.

An area which is proving somewhat controversial is that if tenants wish to terminate the tenancy they must give the landlords 28 days’ notice in writing, however, if a landlord wishes to evict a tenant the notice period varies depending on a number of factors not least how long the tenancy has been in place. For example, the notice period for removing a tenant (not due to a fault ground) is 28 days if the tenant has been in residence for 6 months or less but increases to 84 days if the tenancy has existed for more than 6 months.

The new grounds for eviction are mostly mandatory grounds but with elements which must be established before they apply, such as the tenant owing some rent for 3 consecutive months. In the event that the tenant refuses to leave, the landlord must obtain a court order for their removal. If a mandatory ground applies the court must grant the necessary order once the criteria is established, if a discretionary ground is relied on, the court must consider the reasonableness of the request. This distinction is similar to the previous scheme and the biggest change is in fact where these court proceedings take place. Rather than proceedings for eviction being raised in the Sheriff Court, eviction actions will now be raised in the Housing & Property Chamber and it is hoped that this will allow cases to progress more swiftly without other types of cases taking up court time.

With the changes to the law it is vital to consult with your solicitor to establish whether the situation you are facing invokes either a mandatory or a discretionary ground and to identify those facts which must be established. If you have any queries regarding the new scheme or require assistance in relation to a tenancy dispute please contact our dispute resolution team.

Alastair Johnston, Dispute Resolution
Senior Solicitor
@BlackaddersLit
www.blackadders.co.uk