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.

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

Season 2.5: How to do Social Media? | Employment Lawyer in Your Pocket

blackadders logoSeason 2, Episode 5: Simon & Richard respond to a tweet by Elevator asking ‘do you encourage your employees to use social media?’. They discuss a cautionary case and Richards top tips are definitely worth noting down. Simon’s hashtags (#’s) are a bit dubious… but they will definitely give you a few laughs!!


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 2.4: 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:


Should I Accept a Facebook Friend Request From My Boss?


Have you ever experienced that awkward moment when you get a friends request from a relative stranger?  Worse still, have you ever experienced that awkward moment when you get a friends request from your boss?  It’s always going to be a dilemma.  Do you or don’t you?  Will you allow your boss to know the secrets which are contained on your timeline?  Or will you reject it and run the risk of that embarrassing conversation when your boss mentions his or her pending friends request.  And what are your concerns anyway?

Can my boss discipline me for posting a status update during working hours?

Potentially, yes.  However the answer to this question depends entirely on the content and precise wording of your employment contract or staff handbook.  Does your employer permit “reasonable use” of social media during working hours?  Or does your employer expressly prohibit use of social media during working hours?  Either way, if you are breaching the terms of your social media policy and your boss is a Facebook friend, it is entirely reasonable for the boss to take action against you in this respect.

Can my boss use information from my Facebook profile to discipline me? 

Again, potentially yes.  Over the past few years, employment tribunals have permitted employers to use information which has been gleaned from social media to dismiss employees.  In one recent case, an employee was dismissed for posting “OMG I hate my job! My boss is always making me do s*** stuff just to p*** me off”, forgetting that she was already Facebook friends with him.  He replied to the post stating, “that ‘s*** stuff’ is your job.  You seem to have forgotten that you have two weeks’ left on your six month trial period.  Don’t bother coming in tomorrow.  I’ll pop your P45 in the post.”  So again, using information from Facebook is entirely possible.

Is it ever unfair for my boss to rely on this type of evidence at an employment tribunal?

No, not really.  If you are friends with your boss on Facebook, any of your status updates will be fair game.  Recent tribunal decisions have held that even covert recordings which are “very distasteful” and “discreditable” will not alone render them inadmissible.  More and more frequently employees are recording formal meetings without the employer’s consent and then seeking to rely on this covert recording at any future tribunal hearing.  So, again it would be entirely reasonable for your boss to rely on your social media content at a future employment tribunal.

So should I accept a Facebook friends request from my boss?

One of the first things you learn when you begin your professional career is that you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your colleagues.  And if you’re lucky, some of these colleagues could become your friends.  Bonding with your trusted colleagues is a no-brainer however what about a friendship with your boss?  Having a positive, constructive and open relationship with your boss is always a good thing and, if you can cross that line into friendship (even if it is only Facebook friendship), then you are one of the lucky few!

P.S. And if you don’t want your boss to see that photo of you, tagged on Saturday night, sitting in a shopping trolley on Benvie Road with a can of lager in one hand and a kebab in another, you probably shouldn’t be posting it anyway.

Simon Allison
Partner – Head of Employment Law

How Are You Voting Today? Zayn or Louis?

Louis Zayn
#TeamLouis or #TeamZayn?

Whilst most eyes will be on the General Election today, some may also be on the twitter spat which has broken out between One Direction band member, Louis Tomlinson, and his former band mate, Zayn Malik.  A very public war of online words has commenced on twitter between the two ex-band mates.  Opinion is very clearly divided as to which musician is in the wrong.

Social media feuds between employees

As an employment lawyer, I am being asked more and more frequently to give advice to employers as to when (and how) to intervene when such social media issues occur between employees.  Employment lawyers are now having to grapple with issues such as “cyber bullying” and “online social exclusion” on a sometimes weekly basis.

Is the conduct within the course of employment? 

Before making a decision about whether to intervene in such online spats between employees, an employer should consider whether or not the conduct falls “within the course of employment”.  Historically employment tribunals have interpreted this definition very widely and frequently in favour of the employee.  However tribunals are also keen to emphasise that each case will be fact specific.  Generally an employer will only be liable for acts of its employees which are authorised by it.  Therefore if an employer makes clear to employees what use of social media is prohibited, this would be a potentially good defence to any claim on the basis that such conduct took place between employees outwith the course of employment.  On this basis, employers should have a clear social media policy in place and provide regular training to its employees as to unacceptable use of such social media.

What steps should be taken by the employer if social media misconduct falls within the course of employment? 

  • Where possible, employers should encourage employees to make use of the formal grievance procedure. This will allow the employer to create and maintain a paper trail as to the extent of the alleged misconduct.  This should also allow the employer to note the effect of the misconduct on the disgruntled employee.  This information might also prove useful at any future tribunal hearing.
  • Employers should ensure that any bullying and disciplinary policies extend to include the use of social media. This might include the use of offensive or intimidating language directed at another employee on social media.
  • Lastly employers should also take action against employees who commit acts of misconduct on social media. In order to do so, the employer will require to rely upon a robust social media policy.

Ultimately whether you are #TeamLouis or #TeamZayn, it seems clear that this recent episode of #KeyboardCourage looks set to prolong the #ZaynPain for another few weeks …

Simon Allison
Partner & Head of Employment Law

Planning for new property solutions?

I read a very interesting report about research by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) which has suggested one solution to easing the current housing crisis could lie in low-cost housing solutions.

In the New Law Journal, potential solutions include modular homes – self-contained houses with a bathroom and kitchen, constructed off-site and then transported to a given location. Such homes can be priced from around £20,000. In addition, RICS suggests that homes made from recycled plastic are also available. This accommodation is made from “thermo poly rock” which uses 18 tonnes of recycled plastic and minerals which would otherwise be consigned to landfill sites. the report author Dr Chris Goodier from Loughborough University, said “UK house-building has long been associated with expensive, time-consuming methods and can mean that environmental standards are difficult to maintain. [These] designs are not only cost-effective but can be constructed in a very short period of time. Furthermore, many major mortgage providers are already willing to lend against these structures, which has been a problem in the past, meaning that first-time buyers could find them a way of getting onto the property ladder.”

For the Tayside and Scottish market, it will be very interesting to see just what the reaction of planning officials will be to a planning application for these properties, what developers will make of them, if lenders are prepared to finance them, and what local surveyors will make of them in valuation reports!

Shaun Mackintosh

Pints by Text

The Scottish Legal Perspective:

I read with interest Peter Coulson’s well considered article re the above and would like to advise on the law in Scotland.

As Peter rightly suggests there is no actual way for persons offering alcohol for sale over the internet, by phone or other remote means  to ensure the age of the would be purchaser. This is true whether the transaction is for alcohol to be delivered to someone’s home or for vouchers to be utilised in a venue at a later date.

If the alcohol is to be delivered from a Scottish base to a Scottish domestic dwelling there are specific rules which have to be followed.

The alcohol which is the subject of the transaction has to be entered into a day book and a delivery book or invoice  by the seller. The seller has to  describe the goods e.g 12 bottles of Bonkers Shiraz and note the quantity, the price and the name and address of the person to whom it is to be delivered. There is no reason why an alternative name and address cannot be given in the day book, e.g. the local post office, shop or even a neighbour if the person ordering the wine can’t be present to accept the delivery.

Further in Scotland when alcohol has been dispatched from warehouse premises or other licensed premises within Scotland to domestic premises in Scotland it is an offence to deliver that alcohol to a person under the age of 18. The driver needs to check. I suggest that in the interests of safety the transport companies adopt Challenge 25.

If the driver believes the person offering to take delivery of the alcohol is under 25 the driver  MUST check the age of the person by asking to see ID, being one of the 3 following documents: –

  1. a current passport
  2. a current European photo driver’s licence
  3. a current Young Scot, Citizens Card or other age ID card with a PASS hologram – not matriculation cards
  4. if the  If the driver does not believe the ID is accurate he must refuse to deliver the alcohol and should keep a note of the reason for his decision e.g. thought person under 18

Although not against the law best practice would suggest that the alcohol would have to be delivered to a person rather than left at random on the site. How else would the seller know the goods had been delivered if no signature was obtained.

As for vouchers being purchased to enable the build up of credit for a night out. I do not see anything wrong with this. Obviously alcohol could not be sold to under 18s whether or not they had paid in advance. If persons purporting to be 18 came to the bar of a pub or club or other premises and asked to redeem the vouchers for alcohol staff would require to undertake all the normal precautions to ascertain their age. Challenge 25 will be compulsory in Scotland as from 1 October 2011 unless we have a legislative change. Anyone offering vouchers would be advised to put a note on their web site that vouchers will not be redeemed for alcohol and monies may be lost unless voucher holders can prove they are over 18 at point of delivery. The point of sale is irrelevant in Scotland for these purposes.

Following this fairly simple advice should prevent problems for the licensee in Scotland and if adopted south of the border for our English and Welsh cousins.

Janet Hood
Accredited Liquor Licensing Specialist

Renewable Energy Continues to Grow

Several newspapers reported this week that Mitsubishi has taken over the Scottish renewable energy technology company Artemis Intelligent Power. The Japanese company has said that the move will lead to an investment of £100m over 5 years and an additional 200 green jobs.

Artemis, described by the Carbon Trust as “the leading light in the UK’s clean tech revolution” has developed new controllable hydraulic pumps and motors. Artemis Wind is developing the technology to be used in wind turbine transmissions.

Managing Director of Artemis Win Rampen said: “This marks a huge step forward for the development of our game-changing technology. Drawing on the breadth and depth of Mitsubishi’s expertise and skills, AIP look forward to accelerating our research and development work with a view to our technology being used in turbines in UK and European waters by 2015.

A new ‘Centre for Alternative Technology’ is also planned by Mitsubishi and has been welcomed by the Scottish government. First Minister Alex Salmond said: “As well as delivering new jobs and investment, over the long-term this announcement could result of the creation of a major offshore wind turbine manufacturing site in Scotland.

The good news is that renewable energy continues its rapid growth in Scotland, which is an area of activity where Blackadders are increasingly being instructed. Please contact me at shaun.mackintosh@blackadders.co.uk or call me on 01382 342110 for any advice or information on renewable energy and find out how we can help you.

Property development sites: current opportunities?

At Blackadders, we are always in touch with other property professionals to get the most up to date and useful market information available.  While the overall market for landowners and residential property developers is undoubtedly flat, there are always trends and new research becoming available to help make the most of current circumstances.

One of our nationwide land agent contacts has provided a regular update. From this, we can see that while some sites perform strongly, others see little or no recovery. The main points are:

  1. In general, land values continue to increase, but at a slower rate than previously. Nationally, while greenfield land values increased 2.4% in the 3rd quarter of this year, urban values were up only 0.2%.
  2. Fully serviced sites are where the real growth is, particularly in areas of strong demand and limited supply, for example in Broughty/West Ferry areas of Dundee.
  3. Although the market for bulk and strategic brownfield sites is limited, some real opportunities lie in converting these into serviced products.

We are also seeing that joint ventures are becoming more common, with involvement ourselves in structuring these novel types of deal. More detail to follow shortly.

Please contact me for more details or to discuss any development matters in confidence. Direct Dial 01382 342220 or email shaun.mackintosh@blackadders.co.uk.

Shaun Mackintosh