Employment Sound Bites - August 2012

August 2012

Right for some employees to receive full pay during notice period

It is not uncommon for an employee on maternity leave to tender her resignation during this leave.  In such circumstances, the employee may be entitled to be paid at her normal rate of pay during the notice period, even where she would otherwise receive less pay than this, such as when she is in receipt of statutory maternity pay.  This will only not apply where the period of notice required to be given is at least one week more than the statutory notice period.  The statutory notice period is, effectively, one week for each full year of employment, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.  

The same rule applies to an employee who is incapable of work during their notice period because of sickness or injury.

Holidays and Sickness

We already know that a worker who falls sick during a period of previously scheduled annual leave has the right to take that annual leave at another time, carrying it over to the next holiday year, if necessary.  Now, a recent European Court of Justice case (Asociación Nacional de Grandes Empresas de Distribución (ANGED) v Federación de Asociaciones Sindicales (FASGA) and ors) has confirmed that this applies both where the worker falls ill during the annual leave and beforehand, any distinction between the two situations being rejected by the European Court of Justice as “arbitrary”.  

This decision reinforces the need for employers to adopt robust reporting procedures, including, where appropriate, requiring workers to provide a doctor’s certificate.

Fall in Tribunal Claims

According to recent figures published by the Ministry of Justice, employment tribunals received 186,300 claims in the year ending 31 March 2012, a drop of 15% from the previous year.  Much of this drop was in respect of multiple claims (claims involving two or more Claimants arising out of the same or similar circumstances), with individual claims falling by only 2%.  There were a total of 321,800 complaints, of which 31% (just under 100,000 complaints) were for unfair dismissal.

Collective Redundancies - Proposed Reform

Currently, where an employer is proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within a period of 90 days or less, it must consult ‘appropriate representatives’ of the affected employees about the dismissals.  This consultation must begin ‘in good time’.  Additionally, if the employer is proposing to dismiss at least 100 employees, the consultation must begin at least 90 days before the first of the dismissals takes effect.  Where the employer is proposing to dismiss between 20 and 99 employees, consultation must begin at least 30 days before the first dismissal takes effect.

The Government has recently proposed shortening the 90 day consultation period for collective redundancies of 100 or more employees at one establishment, to 45 or 30 days.  It also intends to publish a new code of practice to encourage good quality consultation and review guidance.  The Government hopes to introduce these changes in Spring next year.  No changes are expected to the consultation period for collective redundancies of 20 to 99 employees.