Fit for Work
This week heralds the launch of ‘Fit for Work’, a State-funded health and work assessment and advisory service that is designed to help employers to manage sickness absence better, complement the service GPs provide to patients who are off sick from work and support employees. The referral service is not yet available and will be introduced on a phased regional basis but the ability to chat online to a specialist advisor and access a library of advice on various health and work topics is now available:
Employment tribunal fees and statistics
It is being reported that Unison’s latest judicial review application, challenging the legality of the fee system introduced in the employment tribunals in July 2013, has been dismissed by the High Court. At the time of writing the reasons for the decision are not available and a further report on this issue will follow in our next briefing. We understand that Unison has been given permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
The High Court decision follows the publication of the employment tribunal quarterly statistics for July to September 2014, which reveal a 12% increase since the last quarter, along with a continuing decline in the number of claims as compared with the period prior to the introduction of fees, as is apparent from the 61% reduction in the number of claims presented in the period as compared with the same period last year.
Practice direction on holiday pay claims
The President of the Employment Tribunals has issued a practice direction on the handling of holiday pay claims following the EAT decision in the case of Bear Scotland Ltd v Fulton and others, requiring non-guaranteed overtime to be taken into account in the calculation of holiday pay. The practice direction enables a claimant who has an existing holiday pay claim to add further complaints of alleged underpayment by amending the existing claim, even if the additional claims could not have been pursued at the time the original claim was presented. In this way claimants avoid the need to submit a new claim and pay an additional fee each time they wish to add an additional claim to existing proceedings.
Law Society consultation on the future of employment tribunals
The Law Society's Employment Law Committee is considering the future of employment tribunals, seeking views on alternative dispute resolution, decision-making in employment tribunals and jurisdiction. The consultation closes on 20 February 2015, with an interim report due in March and final report in June.
Maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay
It has been announced that maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay will be £139.58 per week from 5 April 2015 and statutory sick pay will be £88.45 per week.
More family leave Regulations come into force
Various regulations relating to family-friendly rights have been made, including regulations extending unpaid parental leave to the parents of children aged between five and 18, creating rights for couples adopting a child born to a surrogate mother, adding "fostering for adoption" placements to the definition of adoption and including parents adopting a child from overseas in the right to shared parental leave and pay.