Nobody should be desperate at work. The Workers of England Union have started a petition that calls for more toilets to be provided on bus routes in England. Visit our website and sign the petition to stop bus companies ignoring this desperate situation.
Employment law changes: October 2016 and beyond
The autumn months promise to be a busy period for HR practitioners as they get to grips with a host of employment law changes. Bar Huberman sets out the top 10 upcoming legislative changes that employers need to be ready for, even though many implementation dates have yet to be confirmed.
1. National minimum wage increases for some age bands
The national minimum wage for workers aged under 25 but at least 21 rises to £6.95 per hour. The rate for workers aged at least 18 but under 21 is raised to £5.55 per hour; the rate for workers aged under 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age goes up to £4.00 per hour; and the apprentice rate increases to £3.40 per hour.
The changes apply on 1 October 2016. The national living wage, the national minimum wage rate for workers aged 25 or above, is unaffected.
But this is the last time to expect minimum wage hikes in the autumn. Future changes to the national minimum wage and the national living wage will take place at the same time in April each year, from April 2017.
Immigration Act 2016
Workers in the public sector who are required to speak to members of the public will need to speak English fluently (in Wales they need to speak English or Welsh).
A draft code of practice to help public authorities comply with the new condition has been published.
It is anticipated that this requirement will be introduced in October 2016, but this has yet to be confirmed.
In an attempt to stop employers turning a blind eye to illegal working, new powers are introduced to serve employers with a closure notice where illegal working is suspected. This will prevent access to the firm’s premises for a maximum period of 48 hours.
A further order can then be made to prohibit or restrict access to the employer’s premises for a period of 12 months.
Again, there is no confirmed implementation date, but it is widely expected that these new powers will be created soon.
4. Immigration skills charge comes into force
The Government aims to reduce employers’ reliance on migrant workers, by imposing a visa levy on organisations that sponsor workers from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland.
The Government has indicated that the immigration skills charge will be implemented in April 2017.
Gender pay gap reporting
5. Gender pay gap reporting established
It is expected that the first reports will need to be published by April 2018.
However, the pay information will need to be based on payments made over the employer’s pay period every April, beginning in April 2017.
The bonus information will need to cover the preceding 12-month period, beginning with the 12 months leading up to April 2017.
6. Changes to apprenticeships introduced
All large employers will be required to pay an apprenticeship levy, set at 0.5% of the employer’s paybill. The money gathered via this scheme will be distributed to fund the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment.
Other reforms to the rules applying to apprenticeships include that, to protect the term “apprenticeship”, training providers will be unable to describe a course as an apprenticeship where the course or training is not a statutory apprenticeship.
In addition, public-sector bodies in England with 250 or more employees will be subject to an apprenticeship target. Apprenticeship starts will need to comprise at least 2.3% of the total workforce each year.
The apprenticeship levy is expected to come into force on 6 April 2017, but there is no confirmed commencement date for the other measures.
7. New rules on public-sector exit payments implemented
If they earned £80,000 per year or more, employees who return to work in the public sector within one year of leaving will need to repay any exit payment made by their previous public-sector employer.
The amount to be repaid will be tapered depending on the length of time since leaving the role. The requirement to repay will apply whether or not the employee returns to the same part of the public sector.
There will also be a new cap on the amount of public-sector exit payments, which will be set at £95,000.
It is anticipated that these reforms will be introduced soon, but the Government is yet to provide a commencement date.
Trade Union Act 2016
HR practitioners working in unionised environments will need to get their head round important changes to trade union law made via the Trade Union Act 2016.
The majority of the changes are to the rules on industrial action, including the introduction of new voting thresholds.
It is anticipated that the changes will come into force soon, but as yet there is no confirmed date for implementation.
Shop workers will be given greater protection under new rules. They include a new right for shop workers to object to working more than their normal hours on a Sunday; and a reduction in the notice period for shop workers in large shops to opt out of Sunday working.
A start date for the changes to the rules has yet to be disclosed.
10. Tax-free childcare scheme comes into force
In families where both parents work and each parent earns less than £100,000 per year, and a minimum weekly income at least equivalent to 16 hours at the rate of the national minimum wage, the Government will pay 20% of their yearly childcare costs (capped at £2,000 for each child).
The scheme will apply to parents with children aged under 12. The Government has said that the scheme will be introduced in early 2017.
London Mayor fails to respond appropriately after being questioned about the lack of toilet facilities for Bus Drivers routes
The newly elected Mayor of London has failed to confirm he will make Bus Companies review providing adequate toilet facilities for their drivers. We are aware that many of the routes for bus drivers just do not have toilet facilities and the Workers of England Union believe that an appropriate amount of toilet facilities should be available on all bus routes.
If the Mayor of London cared about London then he should have insisted that the Bus companies immediately review the toilet facilities on their routes. That is not a lot to ask of him and he obviously wasn’t interested enough in London Bus Drivers.
Bus Drivers who need to use the toilet knowing full well that none are available must feel desperate. I would like to especially highlight the need of women bus drivers as well.
Although we are aware that this has been a long running issue, the Workers of England Union are disgusted that in 21st Century, London is still not much further ahead in conditions than in Dickensian times. After all London is the capital of the 5th Largest economy in the world so London should not be short of toilets for its bus drivers.
For example. here’s some places at night were there are no toilets for bus drivers. (Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus, Regent Street, Trafalgar Square, Aldwych, Holborn Red lion Square)
We have written to Sadiq Khan , the London Mayor to support a campaign. His office informed us that the letter was received on the 9th August 2016. The Workers of England Union has telephoned his office twice on the 12th August 2016 and the 18th August 2016 to ask that the London Mayor responds to our concerns and also to inform him that we will be launching our petition.
They stated after repeated calls that they will give us their response on the 7th September. We gave then another chance to respond but they didn’t – Please read the e-mail below
|To:||mayor <firstname.lastname@example.org>; admin email@example.com|
|Date:||Wed, 7 Sep 2016 19:53|
It is of real concern that the Mayor of London has not responded to our letter dated the 9th August 2016. In previous conversations, and in your e-mail dated 23rd August 2016, you stated that the Mayor of London would respond by the 7th September 2016. It is now close of day on the 7th September 2016 and we have not received a reply.
As I explained we are talking about the lack of toilet facilities for Bus Drivers on routes that travel across London. We all know that if someone holds on too long they just have to go to the toilet.
Is the Mayor of London happy for his Bus Drivers defecating and urinating on the streets or in the bushes around London? I suppose his failure to respond means he must be?
We ask for the last time that he responds to the concerns mentioned in our letter dated the 9th August 2016. We will give him to the close of day on the 8th September 2016 otherwise we will take it that he is happy for Bus Drivers to defecate and urinate on the streets of London and that he is happy for us to say so. It is obvious to all that he has the funds to ensure that toilets are provided and he is in the regulatory position over Bus Companies to make them comply.
We will release this story to the media unless we receive an unequivocal and satisfactory response from the Saqid Khan.
Workers of England Union
Zero-hours contracts criticised for benefiting business, not staff
The number of people on zero-hours contracts has risen by 20% since the same time last year
Zero-hours contracts primarily benefit employers to the detriment of workers, according to experts commenting in the wake of ONS stats showing that the use of zero-hours contracts has risen dramatically.
The data revealed the number of people on zero-hours contracts has risen by 20% since the same time last year. 903,000 people in the UK are on these contracts, up from 747,000 in 2015. According to the TUC the median hourly rate for a zero-hours worker is £7.25, while for all employees it is £11.05.
Marc Jones, an employment law specialist and partner at Turbervilles Solicitors, told HR magazine that people should not forget who zero-hours contracts mainly benefit.
“Companies like Sports Direct aren’t thinking that zero-hours contracts will be really good for their staff,” he said. “What an employer wants is to be able to say ‘we don’t need you tomorrow when business is slow, but the day after when it picks up we expect you to be available to work’.”
He also warned that if companies keep getting bad press for using zero-hours contracts they may simply switch to using a different name for a contract that operates in the same way. “There is a public stigma attached to zero-hour contracts and this could well give rise to similar types of contract but under different labels, such as a one-hour contract, which on the face of it provide more certainty to workers but in reality may be no different to zero-hours contracts,” he said.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady cautioned that zero-hours contracts have become an easy way for bosses to employ staff on the cheap. “There is no getting away from the fact that zero-hours workers earn less money and have fewer rights than people with permanent jobs,” she said.
“If you don’t know how much work you will have from one day to the next paying bills and arranging things like childcare can be a nightmare. These figures are a stark reminder of why we need to create more decent jobs people can actually live on.”
Laura Farnsworth, partner in the employment group at law firm Lewis Silkin, agreed that businesses benefit from the flexibility of zero-hours contracts. “As customers and clients increasingly demand agile services – from on-demand legal services, to ad-hoc technical support, to crisis management – an ability to offer solutions that can be quickly scaled up or down, with resources redistributed to cover emerging priorities, is becoming business-critical for many,” she said. “Zero-hours contracts can have an important role to play on this rapidly evolving stage.”
However, she also argued that zero-hours contracts can benefit the worker. “Managed effectively and fairly, zero-hours contracts and the like can have real benefits for workers that can be easily overlooked in the context of negative media reporting,” she said. “For some they offer the freedom and flexibility to explore new opportunities, for others they enable a career that also accommodates family life or other commitments.”
Sports Direct, which has faced criticism for its poor working conditions, has recently vowed to offer shop staff guaranteed hours instead of zero-hours contracts. However, it has not made the guarantee to staff at its Shirebrook depot, who are mainly employed by agencies.
Please read the following article which deeply concerns us, the article highlights the mass failure of the former Chief Executive of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, however her mass failure is rewarded with another position paying £240,000 per year and with no loss of benefits.
This raises even more questions of who is protecting her? are they trying to silence her with another highly paid position? and what are they possible trying to keep silent? these and many more questions will remain unanswered until the Government starts to act against these highly paid individuals who put themselves above the people they are meant to care for.
Workers of England Union
Under-fire health trust created new job for ex-chief executive who resigned
By PA Sep 7, 2016
Updated: Sep 7th 2016 05:01 AM
Katrina Percy said she was ‘delighted to be taking on an alternative role’ with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust last week
A much-criticised health trust has admitted creating a new job for its former chief executive who resigned after saying her position had become untenable.
Katrina Percy announced her decision to stand down from the top position with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust last week, but added that she was “delighted to be taking on an alternative role” with the organisation.
Ms Percy will get the the same pay and benefits of around £240,000 a year in her job “providing strategic advice to local GP leaders”.
The trust’s interim chairman Tim Smart told the BBC the new role will address work that “needed to be done”.
Asked if the job existed previously he confirmed it did not, said Ms Percy was the only candidate and was “uniquely qualified for it”, and said it had not been advertised.
Dismissing suggestions the move was a “fix” he said: “That is not the case. The case is that over the next few months the work that we’ve asked Katrina to do needed to be done in any event.”
The trust has been the subject of independent Government reviews since it was revealed it failed to investigate the unexpected deaths of hundreds of patients between 2011 and 2015.
Commenting on the news of Ms Percy’s change of job at the time, Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “Reports that she will move into another well-paid job advising GPs on strategy are deeply concerning, and will aggravate the sense of injustice felt by the families of those who lost their lives.”
Southern has been under intense scrutiny following the deaths of hundreds of patients, including 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk, who died in 2013.
In October, a jury inquest ruled that neglect contributed to the death of Mr Sparrowhawk, who drowned after an epileptic seizure at Slade House in Headington, Oxfordshire.
In April, inspectors concluded that the trust was still failing to protect patients from risk of harm.
Care Quality Commission inspectors found that robust arrangements to probe incidents, including deaths, had not been put in place, resulting in “missed opportunities” to prevent similar events.
In December, an independent investigation found Southern Health had failed to probe the deaths of hundreds of people since 2011.
Southern Health is a mental health trust providing services to 45,000 people across Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
It employs around 9,000 staff at more than 200 sites, including community hospitals, health centres, inpatient units and social care services.