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Employment News Update

26 Apr 2016

WARNING: Are your handbooks contractual?

A senior court has decided that an absence management policy set out in a staff handbook, which included “trigger points” for formal absence management, had been incorporated into employees’ contracts of employment. Consequently, the employer could not rely upon a new absence management procedure which was imposed upon the employees without their consent. It is usually advisable for employers to use completely non-contractual staff handbooks as these are easier to vary.

Please contact a member of our Employment team if you would like us to review your existing handbook.

IMPORTANT: Protect your data!

A recent case has highlighted the need for employers to ensure that they have stringent data protection policies in place and that they comply with them at all times. The case involved an ex-employee who tried to buy customer data from an existing employee of a company. Although the case didn’t directly involve the employer, it shows that the Information Commissioner will take action readily and prosecute if data protection legislation is breached. Indeed he specifically warned that “anyone who tries to unlawfully obtain, disclose or sell personal data should expect to see themselves hauled before the courts”.

CASE UPDATE: Salary sacrifice schemes and maternity leave

Women on maternity leave are entitled to their benefits as usual during their maternity leave provided they are non-cash benefits. HMRC guidance has previously stated that salary sacrifice benefit schemes, such as child care vouchers, are non-cash benefits and therefore must be continued during maternity leave.  However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has recently confirmed that child care vouchers are considered to be equivalent to cash/pay. On that basis, it is not discriminatory to discontinue an entitlement to child care vouchers during maternity leave.

NEW: April 2016 changes

  • As of 1 April 2016, the new National Living Wage rate is payable at a rate of £7.20 per hour. The rate is payable to workers aged 25 and over.
  • As of 6 April 2016, the maximum week’s pay used to calculate statutory redundancy payments increased from £475 to £479.

For further information or if you would like advice on any of the topics raised in this update, please contact a member of our Employment team:

Neil Dwyer, Partner & Head of Employment: Neil.Dwyer@hay-kilner.co.uk

Sarah hall, Partner: Sarah.Hall@hay-kilner.co.uk

Sarah Furness, Partner: Sarah.Furness@hay-kilner.co.uk