This Week's News 10.11.17 - EMPLOYMENT SPECIAL
Background screening of new employees
For many employers, background screening is a vital part of the recruitment process but it's also incredibly complex and can throw up numerous challenges.
Social media screening
Checking Facebook, Twitter and other platforms can capture an applicant's activity on the internet that could be potentially incriminating, such as anti-social, illegal or violent behaviour. However, there are legal risks if you get it wrong. If an applicant successfully argues that discrimination has taken place during the recruitment process, the applicant can be awarded compensation (which is unlimited) without ever having been employed by the business.
Right to work checks
All employers have a legal obligation to carry out checks to ensure that an applicant has a right to work in the UK. This must be applied to all applicants, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic origin, to avoid discrimination claims. It's crucial not to make an assumption that someone has the right to work.
Employers are expected to keep a record of the check, keep documents securely and record the date of the check.
Reference checks are one of the most effective ways to ensure you're hiring the best person for the role.
Education and training
Employers can check the validity of an applicant's university degree, technical training or school qualifications by going to www.qualificationcheck.com - sign up is free.
A credit check would be necessary for a financial director role, but not in a role that contains no financial responsibilities. Employee Credit Checks enable employers to assess a candidate's financial background and mitigate the risks posed to their business by individuals under financial stress. Employee Credit Checks return details of any Court and Insolvency data on the candidate's credit report such as Bankruptcy Orders, County Court Judgements (CCJ's) and Voluntary Arrangements. To ensure a robust check, forward and previous address links and alias names are automatically searched, even if not disclosed by the candidate. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) recommends that credit checks are only carried out when there is not a less intrusive alternative. There is a charge for this type of service – see https://www.knowyourcandidate.co.uk/employee-credit-checks
TUC calls for overhaul of minimum wage rates
The TUC is calling on the Government to raise the national living wage to £10 "as quickly as possible" and to make national minimum wage rates fairer for younger workers and apprentices. When the former chancellor George Osborne announced the introduction of the national living wage, the minimum wage for workers aged 25 and over, he pledged that it would reach 60% of median earnings by 2020. In 2015, that commitment had expected to deliver £9 per hour by the end of the decade, but low earnings growth means that on current trends the national living wage will rise to just £8.40 by 2020. The TUC is also concerned that younger workers are getting left further behind, since the national living wage – currently £7.50 – only applies to those aged 25 and above. Those aged 21 to 24 have a minimum rate of £7.05, while 18- to 20-year-olds are only obliged to be paid £5.60 per hour.
The TUC has also called for:
- the age at which workers are paid at least the national living wage to be lowered from 25 to 21 years old
- the apprentice rate, currently £3.50 an hour, should be raised to the same level as under 18s (£4.05 an hour)
- the apprentice rate should only apply to those undertaking intermediate level apprentices who are aged 16-18 and to 19- to 20-year-olds in the first year of their apprenticeship. Other apprentices should receive the standard rate for their age group.
Why some employers must provide extra holiday in 2018
As a result of the way in which the Easter bank holidays fall in 2018 and 2019, some employers will breach their employees' annual leave rights unless they give them an extra day's annual leave.
Which employers are affected?
The wording in some employees' contracts may result in an unanticipated shortfall in their holiday entitlement, as a result of variations in Easter dates. The issue will affect employers who operate an annual leave year that runs from 1 April to 31 March, and set out their employees' paid annual leave entitlement using wording along the lines of "20 days' holiday plus bank holidays".
What is the statutory annual leave entitlement?
Under working time rules, employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks' annual leave. This equates to 28 days' leave per year for employees working a five-day week. The 28 days can include bank holidays, of which there are usually eight per year.
Why are the Easter bank holidays in 2018 and 2019 problematic?
The way in which the 2018 Easter break falls means that, in England and Wales, the Easter bank holidays will straddle March and April.
Bank holidays in April 2018 to March 2019 holiday year
Monday 2 April, 7 May, 28 May, 27 August, Tuesday 25 December, Wednesday 26 December, Tuesday 1 January. In 2018, Good Friday is on 30 March and Easter Monday is on 2 April.
The following year, Good Friday is on 19 April 2019, while Easter Monday is on 22 April 2019. For a holiday year running 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, employees would appear to lose out. This is because there is no Good Friday bank holiday within a holiday year running from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, meaning that they will be entitled under their contract to just 27 days' leave.
What employment laws could be broken?
Giving employees who work a five-day week fewer than 28 days' annual leave is a breach of the Working Time Regulations 1998, regardless of the number of bank holidays in a particular holiday year.
Failure to honour a contractual clause providing for "20 days' holiday plus bank holidays" would also result in an employer being in breach of contract.
What should employers do?
The 28-day entitlement is a statutory minimum and the employer cannot negotiate out of it, other than by an agreement with the workforce to carry forward up to eight days' holiday into the following leave year. Employers in this position must top up employees' holiday entitlement for the leave year running 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, to ensure that employees retain their 28-day statutory entitlement.
Will this situation occur again?
In 2024, the Easter weekend will again straddle March and April. Good Friday is on 31 March and Easter Monday is on 1 April.
Is there a permanent solution?
Employers could negotiate with their employees to agree a variation to the terms of contracts of employment. Annual leave contract clauses could be amended to state that employees are entitled to 28 days' annual leave and that this includes bank holidays.
Protect new starters from accidents in the workplace
New employees are most at risk of having a workplace accident. Workers are as likely to have an accident in the first six months at a workplace as during the whole of the rest of their working life. The HSE's guide to protecting new starters, with six steps to protect them, can be viewed here.
|Length of time in job||Reportable injury||All workplace injury|
|Less than 6 months||3,316||9,861|
|6 to 12 months||1,023||3,821|
|1 to 5 years||1,084||3,092|
|Over 5 years||973||2,829|
Skills Minister reveals four pillars of new careers strategy
The four main themes of the government's widely anticipated careers strategy have been set out by the skills minister, in a speech delivered at the Careers Education and Guidance Summit. "It will be an important document that will set out what government will do to ensure that everybody has access to the right advice at the right time. A clear and accessible document, setting out the part we will all play in achieving this vision."
- Ensuring a "high-quality careers programme" in every college and school.
- Making sure employers "are an integral part of our approach".
- Making sure everyone can benefit from "tailored support".
- Make the most of the "rich sources of information about jobs and careers that exist".
Health and safety statistics 2017
Here are the latest statistics on work-related health and safety in Great Britain:
- 1.3 million working people suffering from a work-related ill health
- 609,000 injuries occurred at work according to the Labour Force Survey
- 70,116 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
- 31.2 million working days lost due to work-related ill health and workplace injury
- £14.9 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2015/16)
Team ITS warmly welcomes these learners who started their Apprenticeships this week
Keah Gravett – Level 2 Hair Professional Apprenticeship – The Cutting Room, Knaphill
Shannelle Beasley – Level 2 Hair Professional Apprenticeship – Academy, Hersham
Thea Garguilo – Level 2 Hair Professional Apprenticeship – Studio One, Godalming
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