Category Archives: Employment

What’s changed in employment law of late?

Employment law is central to the UK labour market, with a number of significant changes having been made since the 1970s. Many of these improvements have been implemented in conjunction with EU legislation, creating more favourable conditions for employees at all levels in the workplace.

In simple terms, employment law is a broad area that encompasses all areas of the employer and employee relationship, whilst it includes a number of various rules and administrative regulations for companies to adhere to. There are also clauses that place demands on employees, with the vast majority of legislation protective in its nature.

Below, we’ll explore this further whilst asking what changes have been rolled out since the beginning of April?

The gender pay gap

Every April sees the introduction of new employment legislation, with one of this years’ most important laws surrounding the so-called “gender pay gap”.

This applies to all companies with 250 or more employees, with firms having spent the last year adding the finishing touches to their gender pay gap report. This applies to private sector firms, who must publish their report on a company website and make this publicly accessible to everyone for a minimum of three years.

These results should also be uploaded to the government’s reporting website, and whilst commentary is not required companies with a significant gender pay gap must provide context and move to narrow this over time.

Pension payments

This April also saw the minimum level of employer contribution into a pension auto-enrolment scheme increase, from 2% to 3%.

At the same time, the employee contribution was also hiked from 3% to 5%, meaning that the total payable into a staff member’s pension scheme increased to 8% in total.

This is a significant increase that will be reflected on an employee payslip, but it’s by no means the only change made to this document in April. In short, payslips must also now include additional information for individuals whose pay varies depending on the number of hours that they’ve worked.

The right to a payslip has also been extended to all workers rather than just employees, and this is a major but relatively understated change.

The minimum wage

On a final note, it’s imperative that your company is now paying the national minimum wage for workers aged 25 and over.

This sum has now increased to £8.21 per hour, whilst the rate for those aged between 21 and 24 has also risen to £7.70.

At the same time, workers aged between 18 and 20 are now entitled to earn £4.20 per hour, and you’ll need to reflect this in your payroll for employees of all levels.

All of these changes require you to comply fully, and you may need to seek out HR expertise and consider a number of risk advisory factors. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of losing your top talent and facing significant legislatory disputes.

A guide to workplace compensation claims in the UK

In the UK, all businesses and employers are required to have insurance in case anybody is injured while working. Since your claim is covered by your employer’s insurance, you will not be claiming directly against the employer as long as valid insurance is in place.

The following guide will provide answers to many of the questions that you have been searching for. If you would like additional information, don’t hesitate to consult an experienced accident at work solicitor for your free consultation.

Who is entitled to make a claim?

If you have sustained an injury in a work-related accident, you are entitled to claim compensation. If you are over 18 years, you can file the claim yourself with an experienced solicitor.  Solicitors can also handle claims for persons under 18 years, but in such cases, a litigation friend has to be appointed who is usually a close friend, parent, or family member. The litigation friend deals with the solicitor on the case on behalf of the victim. If the victim died after the injury, the dependants could claim on his or her behalf for the loss of dependency.

How do you file a claim for accident at work compensation?

It is quite simple to make your claim with a professional solicitor. The solicitor deals with all the paperwork and corresponding, including filing the court proceedings if needed. You will usually not be at financial risk since most solicitors have a no-win no fee guarantee.

You can also rely on a professional solicitor’s strict client confidentiality. The primary concern for every professional solicitor is ensuring that you can get back to full fitness, which means recovering the best payout possible from the insurers.

How much compensation are you entitled to receive?

One of the first questions that people have about their claim is the amount of compensation they are entitled to. The solicitor will take all the specific circumstances into consideration as well as the guidelines from the Judicial Studies Board to put a value on your case that can be expected as compensation from the insurers.

The most common injuries in the workplace include back related injuries, trip, fall & slip, or injuries as a result of faulty machinery, equipment or clothing. The accidents can lead to a wide range of injuries of varying severity. The solicitor will give you an indication of the levels of compensation you are entitled to with the amounts depending on the length of symptoms and seriousness of the injury.

When it comes to determining the appropriate amount of compensation for your claim, the solicitor also considers any loss of earning, out of pocket expenses, and medical costs you are likely to incur after the injury. The compensation amount can increase significantly in the more serious cases where lifestyle adaptations are required, or ongoing support is needed.

It is the responsibility of every employer to ensure that each worker is protected at work and the area in which employees work is maintained to a safe condition. If you have suffered an injury at your place of work due to the lack of safety equipment or adequate training from your employer, you most likely have a genuine claim for workplace compensation.

How much time do you have to file the claim?

The sooner you file your claim, the better it will be since the incident will still be fresh in your mind. However, as long as your injury was discovered within the last three years, most solicitors are willing to accept your case and work to get the best payout possible for you from the insurance companies.

All injuries at your place of work should be recorded no matter how small they are. Businesses are required to maintain an accident book for keeping a record of incidents that occur on the property. You should also try finding witnesses to the accident and take pictures of the accident scene since it makes it easier to build a compensation claim.

The bottom line: you should choose the right solicitor to represent you

If you have sustained an injury at your place of work, you should get in touch with an experienced solicitor to help you file your claim and get the compensation you are entitled to. Smith Jones solicitors represent clients on a no-win no-fee basis to ensure that everybody has equal access to justice, which means that you have nothing to lose!

The complete guide to zero hour contracts

In the past twelve months, zero hour contracts have been receiving a lot of attention in the media relating to claims that they are unfair on employees. Providing no guaranteed hours or income, it is claimed that those working within zero hour contracts are not able to plan or progress towards their future. Government has been facing pressure to assess the value of the current employment law and whether better legislation is required to create a fairer environment for both employers and employees.

However, the nature of employment changes from industry to industry, with some businesses seeing great value in the ability to employ an individual on a casual basis. Even those employed with zero hour contracts are often some of their biggest advocates. The flexible working schedule can be ideal for some such as students and young people who may not necessarily want fixed hours.

Paris Smith’s top employment law solicitors have collaborated to created an infographic to help guide employers through using zero hour contracts.

Zero hours contracts

How do whistleblowing laws protect employees?


Ever since the Edward Snowden case became international news more and more people have been familiarising themselves with the legislation of whistleblowing; the decision to reveal classified information for the benefit of public interest. However, a stigma remains attached to the act of whistleblowing, with employers considering such behaviour to be deceitful to their organisation, often regardless of any dishonesty on their part.

But how can an employee protect themselves from experiencing discrimination at expressing their concerns? Read on to find out more about this controversial subject matter.

Whistleblowing and the public

Too often employees choose not to speak out about information they’ve acquired due to concern that it could lead to an awkward atmosphere, or at worst, will result in the loss of their job. Such feelings of apprehension often allow illegal and/or offensive conduct to continue.

The legislation involved in the 1998 Public Interest Disclosure Act has played a major role in encouraging employees to speak out, as this law protects them from receiving unfavourable treatment following an act of whistleblowing. It has also led to a rise in organisation’s conducting internal whistleblowing investigations in an effort to avoid the public disgrace of an external investigation.

Despite these advances in employment law protection, whistleblowing has not lost its contentious reputation, as employees continue to express concern about their decision to pit personal interests against the supposed better interest of the entire company. This is made more difficult by a condition of the 1998 Public Interest Disclosure Act, which states that cases of whistleblowing must be judged based on the specifics of each case, thereby allowing some claims to be dismissed outright.

So what’s the best way of defending yourself?

It is recommended that all employees first consult an employment law solicitor to understand their rights and the potential outcome of their decision. The revelation of sensitive information is often so heavily disputed that it should be made a priority to receive expert legal advice.

If a case is deemed suitable an employee can then have their concerns considered by a London central employment law tribunal where they are able to protest the legislation while protecting their own position as a whistleblower. However, all employees need to provide strong evidence showing a clear connection between their whistleblowing actions and any treatment they could, or have, received in the aftermath.

But how will employers defend their business?

In order to avoid negative connotations that can arise from acts of whistleblowing, an organisation are able defend themselves through the use in-house codes and practises that they have put in place. This self-governed policy does not prevent employees from having the right to speak out, but it does allow companies to show that they have attempted to deal with, and even assist with, employee concerns, which could potentially have the effect of making the employee appear unreasonable as they have seemingly chosen to defy internal business procedures.

Although, whistleblowing law may have only been part of UK legislation for 16 years, high profile cases have increased its prominence, and the legislation of the 1998 Public Interest Disclosure Act and Enterprise & Regulatory Reform Act 2013 have been instrumental in making positive changes.

Please note that whilst every effort is made to maintain accuracy of the content in this article; we cannot take responsibility for any errors. This author is not an Employment Lawyer or HR Specialist and this cannot in any way constitute a substitute for Employment Law advice. All facts should be cross-checked against other sources. Should you require specific Employment Law advice, then we recommend that you contact Nationwide Employment Lawyers.

Image by A K Rockefeller on Flickr

A workplace injury witnessed by millions

Fifa criticised by brain injury charity over World Cup semi-final incident

The phrase ‘workplace head injury’ probably conjures up in most people’s minds an incident in a factory or perhaps on a building site, not the football World Cup.  But the incident involving Argentina’s Javier Mascherano in the semi-final of the World Cup in Brazil, was just that.

The Argentinian midfielder collided with Georginio Wijnaldum when competing for a header during his side’s semi-final win over the Netherlands.  It was obvious to the many millions of spectators in the stadium and around the world that Mascherano was severely dazed after the incident, but after a brief spell off the pitch he was allowed to play on.

Brain injury charity Headway criticised Fifa, pointing out that this was the second incident of its kind.  Uruguay’s Alvaro Pereira suffered a similar injury against England earlier in the tournament and both players were allowed to continue playing.

A Headway spokesperson said: “On a big stage like the World Cup, it’s incredibly hard to understand how there could be two different players throughout the course of a tournament who have been allowed to continue when they have seemingly been knocked out or suffered a concussive injury,”

adding that there would need to be “some very serious questions asked of Fifa for how they have allowed this situation to happen.”

This raises some interesting and important question from a legal perspective in the area of head injuries. Some medical negligence solicitors may see these events as concerning and raise the question as to why the medical staff present at the football stadia allowed for these footballers to carry on.

Let’s not forget that highly paid footballers playing in high profile, global competitions are, in fact, doing their job in their workplace, which just happens   to be a highly charged, global arena, with the world’s media and millions of fans watching.

Referring again to the semi-final incident, Headway expressed the view:

“It cannot be that a player can make that decision – it has to be a medical decision and [doctors] have to be given the power to overrule both players and managers.”

Adding fuel to the debate, in the final, Germany’s Christoph Kramer was taken off with a head injury after 31 minutes, having played on for nearly 15 minutes, following a clash with Argentina’s Ezequiel Garay.

A brain injury is a brain injury.  If it happens as a result of negligence in the workplace, it is likely that there will be grounds for compensation – brain injury claims are already on the rise.  That applies whether the injured party is a professional footballer, a construction worker, or any employee.

The debate will continue, perhaps it is still in its infancy but still is a start.


Waiving employment rights via a settlement agreement

A settlement agreement (previously called a compromise agreement and sometimes called a severance agreement) is a legally binding agreement between an employee and employer to end an employment relationship or to resolve an ongoing workplace dispute. It is most often used to bring an employment relationship to an end with the employee and employer agreeing to settle a potential employment tribunal claim in return for an agreed financial sum, thereby allowing the parties to avoid litigation.

To be legally binding, a settlement agreement: must be in writing; it must relate to a particular complaint or proceedings; the employee must have received advice on it from a relevant independent adviser; the independent adviser must have a current contract of insurance or professional indemnity insurance; and the agreement must identify the adviser, and state that the applicable statutory conditions regulating settlement agreements has been satisfied.

The relevant independent adviser will usually be an employment lawyer but could also be a certified trade union official or a qualified legal executive.

The agreement will include the amount of the sum to be paid to the employee and details of the legal claims to be waived by the employee in return. The agreement may also include a confidentiality clause and provide for a fee contribution by the employer for the advice given to the employee.

Settlement agreements are negotiated between the parties “without prejudice”, ie they are inadmissible as evidence before an employment tribunal or other court proceedings.

The agreement will provide that the employer must pay the agreed settlement sum within a specified time and both parties must continue to abide by the agreed terms. Failure to do this may allow the disadvantaged party to bring a claim for breach of contract and claim damages in the county or high court.

Currently up to £30,000 can be received under a settlement agreement free of income tax and national insurance contributions. But payments that would otherwise have been received in employment and taxed, eg pay, remain taxable.

The employee will be unable to bring any associated employment tribunal claim relating to the terms of the agreement (with some exceptions, including accrued pension rights).

Claims settled via the Advisory and Conciliation Service (ACAS) may use a Central Office of Tribunals, form 3 (COT3) agreement rather than a settlement agreement. Once the parties agree a settlement sum in principle, ACAS will usually provide a standard form COT3 settlement agreement for approval. The agreed COT3 settlement wording forms a legally binding agreement.

Co-Operative Legal Services (Co-Op) offer detailed information on settlement agreements and other aspects of employment law such as constructive dismissal.