It’s the time of year when bank holidays are coming thick and fast. There is no automatic entitlement to paid bank holidays however. It may be easy to allocate full time staff paid bank holidays, however, for part time staff who may work on different days of the week with either full or part days, therefore irregular hours, the issue of part time staff and bank holidays can pose many a tricky calculation to ensure correct entitlement. Over the years I have seen this as a thorny issue for many employers.
Statutory holiday entitlement is currently 5.6 weeks which equates to 28 days including public holidays. To pro rata down 5.6 weeks or even 28 days for part timers they may be disadvantaged, losing out, and it can be more difficult to work out what they can take from their annual entitlement. If annual holiday entitlement is converted to hours as a single calculation, it is more straightforward and easy to understand for all concerned. That is what I recommend for inclusion in an employment contract.
Part timers can be further disadvantaged if the bank holiday falls on a day that they already do not work eg if they only work on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and the bank holiday falls on a Monday.
Furthermore, therefore, if their holiday entitlement is allocated in hours, when the aforementioned situation arises, the part time employee need deduct no hours from their holiday entitlement, and they can then take it on another occasion.
To work out a part timers holiday entitlement see the example below:
22.5/37.5 x 28 x 7.5 = 126
22.5 = part time hours
37.5 = full time hours
28 = number of annual statutory days
7.5 = hours in a working day
126 = number of annual holiday entitlement hours
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/holiday-entitlement-rights/entitlement
I was recently invited by BBC Radio Northampton to speak about shiftwork which is a form of flexible working. In this blog I look at shiftwork – the pros and cons.
Shiftwork can take various forms – it can be just straight nights, as opposed to just working days. The double day shift can be 6am to 2pm one week then 2pm to 10pm another week. The continental shift can be a rolling timetable of an early morning shift, followed by an afternoon shift followed by a night shift.
For an employee shiftwork can have lots of advantages. It may suit their lifestyle if they have no ties. An employee can beat the traffic when working shifts as they may not meet peak hour traffic. They can get stuff done – go to the bank, get their hair cut or the car MOT’d for example. They can get their shopping done when other people are at work and the children at school. They can attend appointments with the doctor or hospital and not need additional time off. Shiftwork may work with an individual’s body clock and they can receive better pay as often the employer will pay a shift enhancement.
The downsides, however, can be they may not be able to use public transport to get to work and back home for example in the early hours of the morning. Shiftwork could wreak havoc on their personal and social life. It’s no good if all the parties are taking place whilst you are at work and your partner might not be too happy. It can wreck a person’s body clock causing tiredness and fatigue. There could be a threat to health. It has been reported that there is an increased risk of getting cancer when working nights regularly for example and individuals could be at risk of a vitamin D deficiency if they receive inadequate exposure to sunlight.
For an employer the benefits of shift work can be the ability to keep the production line flowing for example with a 24/7 operation which can meet customer demand. With shift work an employer can provide continuous cover as is needed in the NHS and care homes for example. Employers must however, be mindful of employment law related to shift work, notably health and safety and the Working Time Directive legislation.
Employers should do a health and safety risk assessment for night workers looking at workload activity, rest periods and breaks for example. With the Working Time Directive employers should ensure there is an eleven hour gap between shifts. Employees should be given one day off every seven days or two days off every fourteen days. Night workers should be given regular health checks.
Last week Jeremy Clarkson was in the news for apparently using the “n” word. This latest utterance is the most recent in a string of what can only be deemed racially discriminating outbursts. It seems that the BBC has had enough and given Clarkson a final warning that will remain on file indefinitely.
His previous comments include:
“If it turns out that a Malaysian customs officer cannot be bribed, I shall renounce Christianity and move to the Orkneys where, I’m told, everyone is Lucifer’s best mate.”
“We know also that the French are rude, the Italians are mad and the Dutch are a bunch of dope-smoking pornographers.”
“Each Wednesday, I have to make a 120-mile journey from Nairobi, south London, to Bombay, near Birmingham.”
“If you happen to be a homosexualist Cypriot, you cannot expect everyone in the whole borough to finance your perversion.”
In March Clarkson used the term “slope” in a Top Gear programme, which is a derogatory term for people of Asian descent.
This latest episode where he was reciting what once was an acceptable nursery rhyme that contained the n word which he mumbled but, nonetheless, said was filmed in 2012. The footage, however, was not broadcast. Clarkson subsequently apologised after forensic investigators confirmed he had said the word in question, but the situation has caused a furore in the press with many commentators calling for his sacking.
So has the BBC acted fairly by issuing a final warning that must remain on file indefinitely? If Clarkson makes one more offensive remark he will lose his job.
The ACAS code of practice recommends that if a final written warning is issued the following should apply:
A final written warning should set out the nature of the misconduct or poor performance and the change in behaviour or improvement in performance required (with timescale). The employee should be told how long the warning will remain current. The employee should be informed of the consequences of further misconduct, or failure to improve performance, within the set period following a final warning. For instance that it may result in dismissal or some other contractual penalty such as demotion or loss of seniority.
Whilst the BBC have complied with many of the principles, having an indefinite final warning hanging over Clarkson with the threat of his every word being scrutinised is arguably quite harsh and misinterprets the ACAS code the aim of which is promote fairness. It could be difficult for this controversial figure who has a history of being outspoken to comply. although he must do his utmost to do so.
I usually recommend to my clients that a final written warning should remain on file for twelve months and sometimes two years if the behaviour that warrants the warning has been sufficiently serious. If the employee commits another offence whilst the warning is live, then dismissal could be the next step. I also recommend that after the warning has expired the paperwork relating to that disciplinary situation is destroyed so it can not be used against the employee in future.
If Clarkson does not agree with this decision he can of course appeal. He could also put in a grievance about the unfairness of the indefinite warning.
If you have school age children and you work you will no doubt have noticed what appears to be the huge number of school holidays the children seem to have. In Northamptonshire the children have just enjoyed a two week Easter break, the May day bank holiday weekend and in another few weeks time it will be Whitsun half term. Trying to juggle childcare and work can be a nightmare. In this blog we give advice to businesses on how to be a family friendly employer and ease the way for employees who may be stressed working parents because of this situation.
The government recently announced changes to the child care voucher scheme. Currently child care vouchers could enable an employer to be family friendly. From autumn 2015 almost two million working families could get a tax free allowance of up to £2,000 per child to help pay for childcare. Parents who are both in work with children under the age of 12 will be able to get a 20% rebate per child on the annual cost of childcare. The Tax-Free Childcare scheme will replace the existing childcare vouchers programme, which is only available when offered by an employer.
The existing childcare voucher scheme will remain in place until the new system comes in during 2015. For a long time childcare vouchers have been the most popular employee benefit in the UK. Through salary sacrifice employees can benefit from tax and national insurance breaks when they take up the vouchers. They can be used for nursery care, childminders, au pairs as well as play schemes during school holidays and after school clubs. It costs an employer relatively little to set up a childcare voucher scheme yet can bring huge benefits to working parents.
If an employer is unable to offer a child care scheme to their employees, it is useful that they can provide information to working parents of where there are schemes in the area.
Flexible working has been available for quite a few years for parents with children up to the age of 18 and it is being extended in June 2014 to all employees. Flexible working can allow working parents the elusive work life balance helping them to spend precious time with their children and cut childcare costs. The new legislation being introduced this summer will be less prescriptive than currently in terms of the procedure. The timescale for responding to requests and setting up meetings will not be set in stone but left to the employer to deem what is reasonable. Hopefully employers will act reasonably in how they manage flexible working requests. Many managers are fearful of granting requests in case things go pear shaped. However if both parties think through the consequences of a request in advance of a meeting then any problems can be aired and hopefully solutions found.
Other ways to help employees with children are to offer discount vouchers and retail cards for theme parks and restaurants which will help summer holiday spending.
Benefits an organisation can offer to enhance its reputation as a family-friendly employer include emergency childcare, school holiday clubs, nursery discounts and travel insurance for family holidays. Employers can also use voluntary benefits including retail discounts and savings, to help working parents.
Britain can be a very un-family friendly place to work with only 26% of employers offering a back to work policy according to research done by Mumsnet in 2013.
New legislation covering shared parental leave will come into force in April 2015 and this will encourage employers to change their provisions of helping parents back to work putting the appropriate procedures in place. Perhaps many more male employees could be off work for longer periods.
A good employer will look at developing procedures for enhanced parental leave and emergency care leave.