In this round up of recent news, we report on the Agency Workers Regulations coming into force on 1 October 2010, take a look at ACAS's guidance on social media in the workplace, review new Employment Tribunal statistics, and provide an update on the DWP's guidance on maternity leave and pension contributions.

Agency Workers Regulations - 1 October 2011

The Agency Workers Regulations come into force on 1 October 2011.  These Regulations entitle agency workers to the same basic working and employment conditions as those employed directly by the end-user (the "hirer") on completion of a qualifying period of 12 weeks in the same role for the same hirer.  Agency workers will also - from day one with the hirer - have the right to access the same collective facilities and amenities as permanent workers and to be informed of any relevant job vacancies with the hirer.  Those who use agency workers should, if they have not done so already, get ready for implementation of these Regulations.  Employers will want to consider the financial impact of the Regulations; the increased bureaucratic burden in using agency workers from 1 October 2011; how their contracts with temporary work agencies are likely to change as agencies revise their standard terms; and alternatives to using agency workers.  Useful guidance from the DBIS on the Agency Workers Regulations can be accessed by clicking here.

ACAS guidance on social media in the workplace

Social networking is increasingly becoming an issue for employers.  The issues are wide ranging and include personal use of social networking during work hours and cyber bullying.  ACAS has recently published helpful guidance for managers dealing with the issues that social networking present in the workplace.  The guidance consists of fact sheets on how to manage the impact of social networking on managing performance; discipline and grievance; bullying; recruitment; and defamation, data protection and privacy.  The guidance also contains advice for employers on how to develop a policy on social networking.  The ACAS guide can be accessed here.

New Employment Tribunal statistics - 2010/2011

Statistics for Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal claims in the period 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011 have now been published.  The Employment Tribunal statistics show, when compared with the previous year, an eight percent fall in the number of claims received, but a nine percent rise in the number of claims disposed of.  There were increases in claims for some jurisdictions including: the Working Time Directive (up 20%); Part-Time Workers Regulations (almost trebled); and Age Discrimination (up 32%).  Of the claims disposed of, 32% were withdrawn, 29% were settled through ACAS conciliation, and only 12% were successful at Tribunal.  The average compensation awarded for unfair dismissal cases was £8,924 and for age discrimination cases, £30,289. Cost awards were relatively rare with 135 costs awards being made to claimants and 355 to the respondent.  The average amount awarded for costs was £2,830. A full copy of the Report can be accessed here.

DWP guidance on maternity leave and pension

Employers will be pleased to hear that the Department for Work and Pensions have clarified that in their view pension contributions do not need to be made by an employer during a period of unpaid additional maternity leave. This is welcome clarity from the DWP, and confirms the approach that most employers have been taking.