This month's Quick Fire takes a brief look at the reforms to CSCS and public sector exit payments, national minimum wage sleep-in shifts, and a new private members bill on paid bereavement leave.
Reforms to CSCS and public sector exit payments
The High Court has upheld a claim brought by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) that the Government acted in breach of its statutory duty to consult with representatives over its reforms to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS). The court has therefore held that the reforms are unlawful.
The Government has also sought to amend other exit payment schemes applicable to different parts of the public sector, as well as introducing a cap on public sector exit payments and new clawback provisions in the event of re-engagement. It remains to be seen whether the Government will continue to pursue these reforms.
NMW sleep-in shifts
The EAT’s recent decision in the case of Focus Care Agency v Roberts and conjoined cases, clarified the tests for establishing whether staff ‘sleeping-in’ on the employer’s premises are entitled to be paid the national minimum wage.
On 26 July 2017 the Government announced that it was temporarily suspending HMRC enforcement activity in respect of ‘sleep-in’ shifts until 2 October 2017. In addition, any financial penalties for the underpayment of sleep-in shifts prior to 26 July will be waived. Employers who underpay their staff after that date will face financial penalties in the usual way.
These ‘exceptional’ measures have been taken in response to concerns over the combined impact of financial penalties and arrears of wages on the stability and long-term viability of social care providers. For further information, see the recent statement on the enforcement of the NMW in the care sector and the updated policy on NMW enforcement.
Paid bereavement leave
A private members’ bill, the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill, was introduced into the House of Commons on 19 July 2017. It is intended to establish a new right to statutory paid leave for parents in the event of a death of a child.
A right to bereavement leave was included in the 2017 Conservative Party manifesto, but was not included in the Queen’s Speech. As a private members’ bill it will not be permitted as much parliamentary time for debate. However, the bill is supported by the Government, meaning that it has a greater chance of being brought into force. BEIS has confirmed that it will consider the views of parents, employee representatives and employers over the summer.
A draft of the bill has not yet been published and it is not yet clear to whom the right will apply, or how long the period of bereavement leave is likely to be.