New Year resolutions for Oxfordshire employers …

It’s that time of year again to clear the decks of the trappings of the old year and put your best foot forward into the New Year. We make personal and business resolutions but do you consider the changes you could and should make at work from an employment law perspective, changes that could affect your business in this New Year?


Here’s our top 10 things to look at within your business:


  1. Deal with any Christmas party issues. You don’t want to allow a culture of discrimination or bullying or harassment to ensue into the New Year. If you had any signs of it during the Christmas revelry don’t turn a blind eye! Make sure your equal opportunities and bullying and harassment policies are up to date and that your employees know where they are. Then…most importantly…apply them. There is nothing an Employment Tribunal hates more than a policy not being followed.


  1. Have you dealt with any grievances from 2015, don’t let them carry on into 2016 by putting them off. In our professional experience they only get worse and rarely go away. It’s very much the old stitch in time adage. Dealing with issues at work head on in the long term creates a happier work force, uses up less management time and avoids expensive litigation. By showing you deal with issues it creates a more open door culture too and often helps such issues gets resolved more informally.


  1. Have you done an equal pay review? Discontent in disparate salaries causes discontent, possibly grievances and constructive unfair dismissal claims and can also lead to expensive and lengthy equal pay claims, these are often accompanied by a sex discrimination claim. In 2016 there will be compulsory Gender Pay Reporting for employers with more than 250 employees.


  1. Are your contracts of employment up to date – employment law is the fastest changing area of law and many people put employment contracts in place and think – done! They need to be reviewed and updated to make sure they aren’t out of date. For example an incorrect and out of date retirement statement could create an inference of age discrimination.


  1. Do your contracts of employment actually protect your business? A standard section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 contract is a must have but that won’t protect your intellectual property, your confidential information or stop your clients and staff being poached by ex employees. Have those business critical elements included.


  1. Do you comply with current pension legislation? Auto enrolment is well underway and for 2016 and 2017 has staged dates for those with fewer than 30 employees dependent upon their PAYE references. For those who don’t pay through PAYE the staging date is April 2017.


  1. Are you up to date with the new “Fit for Work” scheme. It offers a free Occupational Health Assessment through a largely telephone based system and bites after the employee has been off sick for 4 weeks. GP’s and Employers are able to make referrals under the Scheme but it is envisaged the referrals will mainly be through GPs. It is hoped that within 2 working days of a referral, the employee will receive an in-depth consultation with occupational health professional. The free service provides 1 assessment per annum or in a 12-month window by a qualified healthcare professional to advise upon likely return, adjustments that can be made and other helpful guidance to help get the employee back to work sooner. It also gives Employers a tax exemption of £500 per employee as a medical treatment.


  1. Are you calculating holiday pay properly? The decision of Bear Scotland Ltd v Fulton and other cases in November changed the way most must calculate holiday pay regarding overtime. The case crystalised that any payments which are “intrinsically linked” to work must form part of holiday pay. This includes overtime, monthly sales commission and others such as additional allowances etc. It must be “sufficiently regular” although this is not defined. This only applies to the first 20 days holiday a year under the Working Time Regulations 1998.


  1. Are you ready for the National Living Wage that comes into force in April 2016? The ‘living wage’ will be £7.20 for all workers 25 years old and over. A failure to comply could result in up to a £20,000 fine.


  1. As from April 2016, all employers regardless of size, are required to register a list of those persons who have significant control at the organisation, called PSC so pop that one in your business diary too!


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