Recent statistics have shown that there has been a huge rise in the number of people aged over 50 becoming employed. The fastest rate of increase is with those people aged 65 (older women in particular) with almost one million people in that age bracket in the working population. The rise in “oldies” employment accounts for 20% of the increase. However the growth in employment of the older worker is not the detriment of younger workers. Currently 30 % of older workers work in managerial and professional jobs with only 14 % in sales, care and leisure jobs; this is in complete contrast to younger people where 34% work in that sector and only 9% in managerial and professional jobs. Older people provide effective role models to the young who can gain from their valuable knowledge.
SJ Beale HR Consult
HR and Employment Law Support for Small Businesses
The Government has confirmed its intention to change the way employers consult workforce representatives during large-scale redundancies, including by reducing the 90 day consultation period to 45 days. The changes will come into force in April 2013.
Some employers will welcome this as usually consultation is completed well within the 90 days with the current law preventing the business from re-structuring sooner. The TUC however had said the government is making it easier to sack people.
Currently, an employer is required to inform and consult with trade union or other elected employee representatives where it is proposing to make 20 or more employees at one establishment redundant within a period of 90 days or less. Consultation must begin no later than 30 days, where between 20 and 99 redundancies are proposed, or 90 days, where 100 or more redundancies are proposed, before the first dismissal takes effect.
Fixed-term contracts will be excluded from collective redundancy consultation. Fixed term contracts and their expiry cause particular problems for the education sector, and mean that many education institutions engage in rolling consultation processes in order to comply with the current consultation obligations. This step is intended to alleviate those problems.
ACAS will produce non-statutory guidance to address key contentious issues in the consultation process.
Employers have the legal obligation to begin consultation “in good time” and to ensure it is meaningful.
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There may be several reasons why older people are working longer. In some cases employers want to retain their valuable skills and experience sometimes offering flexible working patterns. For some older workers their pension may be inadequate, they fear the rising cost of living or they feel fit and healthy and willing to remain the workplace. There is also a growing group of self-employed who want to remain connected to the business world. Being employed means older workers have better standards of living which they would lose if they gave up employment.
In 2011 the default retirement age was abolished, therefore, people can work longer and not be compulsorily retired. An employer can only force someone to retire with objective justification.
Christmas music has been played on the radio and in the shops for a number of weeks now whichcan only mean one thing – the Christmas season is fast approaching along with the anticipation of the associated festivities. Many companies like to put on a Christmas party for their hard working staff, but with that there comes responsibilities on both sides.
Christmas parties generally have a positive impact on moral and team spirit and it an opportunity for an employer to thank employees for all their hard work. However the boundaries need to be set by the employer to avoid any future problems. UK legislation is clear, the office party is an extension of the normal work environment if is held at a separate venue or outside of working hours. Employers can be held responsible for employee actions so need to avoid discrimination and health and safety claims so need to have procedures in place.
Companies need to make sure they make it clear to staff what is and what is not acceptable behaviour at social events and follow up any failure to comply with this order with disciplinary action.
Employers may be liable for the discriminatory behaviour of their employees and ultimately face significant tribunal claims if they are found vicariously liable. Employees can be disciplined for any breaches of disciplinary rules, including dismissal for gross misconduct, following unacceptable behaviour at the Christmas party. Therefore, having clear HR procedures in place that are well communicated with training provided are essential.
Companies need to ensure managers are careful not to let their guard down being sociable or allowing alcohol to loosen their tongue and discussing issues such as promotions or pay rises in the informal setting of the Christmas party.
It is important to carry out a risk assessment of the Christmas party venue, considering any particular risks posed to any disabled employees.
It might be a good idea to limit the free bar, if one is planned and, in any case, encourage responsible drinking. Companies may be liable for the welfare of employees if they suffer alcohol-induced accidents. Consider organising transport home with designated non-drinkers as drivers or paid for coaches/mini buses.
If there is a ‘Secret Santa’ taking place, make sure staff know the boundaries confirming that racist or adult gifts, which might offend, are not acceptable.
A decision needs to be taken to what extent employers will be lenient with staff on the day after the party, if it is a working day, provide clear information on employee requirements beforehand. Health and safety should be of utmost importance. Employees should not be expected to operate machinery if not fit to do so. Also the safety of employees driving to work after having had transport home the night before should be considered.
Take these reasonable steps to prevent inappropriate behaviour then employees must take their own responsibility for their actions.
In any case it might be a good idea to produce guidelines for employee behaviour at the company party.