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Employer guidance on working temperatures

24/07/2018 Posted by Guidance 0 thoughts on “Employer guidance on working temperatures”

Employer guidance on working temperatures

What a fabulous summer we’ve enjoyed in the UK so far this year! Yesterday recorded the hottest day so far with the mercury hitting 33.3°C  (91.9°F) in Suffolk.  But when is it too hot to work? Whilst the hot weather is enjoyable for many, it has been causing unexpected problems for some industries.  Farm crops have been damaged and many farmers are currently praying for rain. For others too, the weather has been impacting the workplace.  Even businesses that are not usually concerned by the weather conditions have seen how it can cause issues.  Workers have been forced to work in unusually hot and uncomfortable conditions.

So what does the temperature have to reach before work must stop?

A number of our clients have asked us what the law states on maximum working temperatures there last few weeks.  Their employees are naturally finding it more difficult to stay comfortable at work in the current climate. What may come as a surprise to some is that there is no law for maximum – or minimum – working temperatures. Government guidelines only state that the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be reasonable. They suggest a minimum working temperature of 16°C (or 13°C if employees are doing physical work). There is no maximum temperature limit at all.  It is very difficult to specify a maximum given some businesses, such as metal foundries, often work in intense heat regardless of the weather.

What can employers do?

Naturally we would urge all employers to talk to their staff.  if necessary, encourage them to come forward with practical solutions if the workplace temperature isn’t comfortable. Regardless of the weather conditions, all employers must stick to the health and safety at work law which includes:
  • Keeping the workplace temperature at a comfortable level
  • Providing clean and fresh air
  During the summer heat, as a responsible business owner you should consider options such as relaxing dress codes, providing air conditioning and/or considering extending any opportunities for employees to work from home. Buying your staff ice lollies is a short-lived, but very welcome, way of helping them cool down and allowing them to take a break from the heat for a few minutes. We’re not weather experts, we’re employment law experts, but we all know that whilst it’s a problem now, the UK weather will not maintain this heat for too much longer.        
employment tribunal

Employment tribunal cases increased by 39% last year

24/07/2018 Posted by Employment Tribunals, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Employment tribunal cases increased by 39% last year”

The employment tribunal system is struggling to cope.  In the latest annual report from Acas, figures showed that the number of employment tribunal cases had rocketed in the past 12 months.

  Since last year’s Supreme Court ruling abolished claimant fees, the number of tribunal cases has increased by a whopping 39% according to the latest statistics. No longer required to pay the £1,200 fee, the number of claimants has increased substantially.  This has resulted in the employment tribunal system handling 26,012 cases  in 2017/18 compared to 18,647 the previous year.

“The number of people deciding to pursue a tribunal claim has definitely increased since the Supreme Court decision to scrap fees” said Acas chairman Sir Brendan Barber.

  In a further indication of the impact the removal fees has had, according to Ministry of Justice figures, single employment tribunal claims increased by 118% between January to March 2018. By contrast, multiple claims actually fell by 40%. The number of cases outstanding for both single and multiple claims rose significantly.  As a result, the Judicial Appointments Commission sought to recruit 54 new employment tribunal judges, in an attempt to address the backlog. According to employment judge Brian Doyle who is president of the employment tribunal, the courts had not recruited new employment judges for more than five years. Refunds of fees already paid totalled £6.5M by the end of March (around 7,700 cases). Unfair Dismissal remained the most frequent ground for complaint received by the Employment Tribunal Service.  It accounted for 53% of all cases last year. Issues relating to the Wages Act and Breach of Contract were the 2ndand 3rdmost frequent causes of complaint (36% and 33% of cases respectively).

If you are worried about the prospect of employment tribunals in your business, read about how you can minimise the risk of these occurring in our 9 point guide here . Alternatively, contact us for a chat about how we can help.

Health & Safety Consultancy | Absorb employment law consultants, employment tribunals

Employment Tribunals – 9 ways you and your business can avoid them.

21/07/2018 Posted by Employment Tribunals, Guidance 1 thought on “Employment Tribunals – 9 ways you and your business can avoid them.”

Employment tribunals are on the increase and are a real threat to UK business owners.  Tribunals are always time-consuming for employers and they can be extremely costly.

  If you employ people you are always at risk from employment tribunals.  You can’t eliminate this risk, but you can minimise it.

Here’s our 9 top tips you can use to reduce the risk of employment tribunal claims:

      1. Contracts of Employment – We often find that many businesses don’t have employment contracts in place. Others often fail to update them with changes to salary, working hours and/or employment legislation.  The employment contract is your most important HR document.  They are essential points of reference that make managing people easier and tribunal claims less likely. You can download a FREE template from the resources section of our website.
      1. Disciplinary & Grievance – Set out your processes for handling these situations in your contracts of employment and make sure they are followed.  Proper process* can not only prevent tribunals claims, but they will significantly reduce the chances of any compensation awards against you should a tribunal take place.
      1. Redundancy – Following proper process is vital. Redundancy is a difficult time for any business and emotions will be running high.  Be fair in your dealings with your employees and supportive to those looking for new employment.
      1. Dismissal – Never dismiss a member of your staff on the spot however grave the alleged issue. You must always follow the correct procedure and taking time to step back before dismissing a member of staff is always advisable.
      1. Discrimination – All employers must comply with the Equality Act 2010. Review your processes to make sure they are not discriminatory in any way. If an employee makes an allegation of discrimination, we suggest you seek professional advice immediately.
      1. Training – As the owner of a company, you will be liable for any employment tribunal claim even if you weren’t directly involved.  Train your manager(s) to deal with disciplinary problems.  They must be  and are fully aware of – and follow – your procedures.
      1. Act – Dealing with situations quickly can often defuse situations and help to avoid employment tribunals. Don’t put off awkward meetings or allow unacceptable behaviour to go unchecked.
      1. Protection – You can protect your business against the cost of tribunal claims with legal protection insurance. All our advice line clients benefit from indemnity insurance.
      1. Seek advice – Make sure you’re following the right processes and deal with your HR situations as effectively as possible.  Seek advice from legal experts before you try and resolve people related issues in your business.  Expert advice will significantly improve your chances of defending an employment tribunal claim and may even avoid it altogether.
Following these guidelines will help you stay on the right side of law and out employment tribunals.  They should also help you provide a great working environment and establish better relationships with your employees. If you need any further advice or guidance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experts. *Further information on correct procedures can be found in the Acas Code of Practice