All jobs carry some level of pressure, no matter what industry you are in but the distinction between working under pressure and stress is a fine line for some. As an employer, you may feel that minimising stress in the workplace is not a priority, however, this can be a huge oversight. According to Statista, in 2023, 875,000 workers reported experiencing work-related stress, depression or anxiety, with the Health and Safety Executive reporting just over 17 million working days are lost for the same reasons. These lost days will have cost employers millions, which could have been prevented or minimalised by having the correct guidelines and measures in place. Furthermore, this does not even include the additional lump sum that could be paid out in claims related to stress, sometimes reaching as high as £100,000. Therefore, it is incredibly important for employers to minimise stress in the workplace.
Read further to find out the intricacies surrounding work-related stress claims, how you can prevent them and how Tollers can help.
The Health and Safety Executive defines stress as the “adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them” at work. Stress is not considered to be an illness itself, however, it can lead to mental or physical illness. Likely physical and mental conditions that can result from stress include but are not limited to anxiety or depression, heart disease, back pain, digestive conditions and skin conditions.
Legislations that protect employees from work-related stress
Stress from work can be said to be directly related to two main articles of health and safety law and loosely related to The Working Time Regulations 1998:
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974:
This places a ‘duty of care or responsibility’ on employers to ensure the well-being of their employees by safeguarding them from the risk of stress at work
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999:
This mandates that all employers must conduct a thorough and adequate assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees while at work.
Working Time Regulations 1998:
Working long hours without taking regular breaks can be a prerequisite of work-related stress.
Essentially what this entails is that the employers must identify any risks to employee health and well-being (carrying out risk assessments for example) and then take actions to avert or minimise work-related stress. Failure to adhere to these legislations could result in claims being made against your business.
Preventing Work-Related Stress Claims
Preventing work-related stress claims much like other activities should begin before the employee feels stressed. Creating a positive working environment can minimise the chance of your employees feeling stress related to work. To achieve this, as employers you can:
- Encourage workers and staff to raise and voice their troubles;
- Training senior members of staff and managers in dealing with stressed employees;
- Promote a work-life balance (using annual leave and breaks);
- Clear and encompassing policy on mental health, stress and employee well-being;
- Address and map out the causes of work-related stress through risk assessments and employee feedback questionnaires;
- Support for staff and employees;
- Providing training for employees to better handle different situations such as time management courses or stress management techniques.
Preventing stress: Risk assessments
As an employer, you can carry out risk assessments to protect the employees from stress at work. Only when you have 5 or more employees must a written risk assessment be done; however, it is good practice to do this regardless of the number of employees. By doing so you will have on record of what was said and the actions taken, as well as being perceived by employees as taking their health and wellbeing seriously. According to ACAS (The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service) an employer, when concerning a risk assessment, should work with the employees to:
- Identify the risks of stress;
- Decide how to remove or reduce the risks;
- Agree on what steps to take;
- Make any changes to avoid or reduce risks;
- Regularly review the plan.
Risk assessments should be done for the whole team or by job type regularly. Additionally, individual risk assessments should be conducted if an employee tells their employer they are experiencing work-related stress.
Talk to Tollers
If you would like any help or advice on managing work-related stress in your organisation, or on your policies … Talk to Tollers on 01604 258 558 and one of the team would be happy to advise.
Our team are here for you.
Some important Employment Law updates came into effect on 1 January 2024, to make the workplace fairer. This article explains some of the key pieces of legislation coming into force, as well as the dates when they will take effect.
Changes to Holiday Pay and entitlement
From 1 January 2024, the government introduced changes to the Working Time Regulations 1998, particularly in relation to holiday rights for irregular hours or part-year workers. For more information on this, please see our article where are expert law team break the changes to holiday pay and entitlement and the impacts
Changes to the flexible working regime from 6 April 2024
There will be new requirements that Employers will have to comply with when The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 comes into force. This will:-
- Require an employer to consult with an employee if it is considering rejecting a request;
- Permit employees to make two requests in a 12-month period instead of one. The further request can only be made after the same employer has considered and rejected the first request and not during the consideration period;
- Reduce the time in which an employer must respond to a request from three months to two months (although the parties can agree to a longer consideration period should this be required);
- Remove the requirement for employees to specify how the employer might deal with the effects of the flexible working request. For example, the employee does not have to suggest a proposed working pattern in their request.
The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 will also come into force on 6 April 2024. The Regulations amend the current Flexible Working Regulations provide that the right to make a flexible working application can be made when an employee begins employment. This means that employees no longer have to wait to be employed by their employer for more than 26 weeks before making the request. Any future applications made on or after 6 April 2024 will not require the 26 weeks continuous employment before making the application.
Extending redundancy protection to those who are pregnant and maternity leave returners from 6 April 2024
Currently, if you select an employee for dismissal on the grounds of genuine redundancy it will be automatically unfair on the grounds of discrimination if it is for a reason connected to pregnancy. This is because this category of people has a protected period in which, if they are selected for redundancy, it will automatically become unfair.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 came into force earlier in 2023 and the Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 were considered in Parliament on 11 December 2023 (‘The Regulations’). The Regulations are set to come into force on 6 April 2023 and at that point the following redundancy protection periods will be applicable.
Please see the table below.
|Protected period Start Date
|When an employee tells the employer, they are pregnant
|If entitled to statutory maternity leave – on the date the maternity leave starts.
If pregnancy ends and no entitlement to statutory maternity leave – two weeks after end of pregnancy.
|The date on which maternity leave starts
|If the employer is told the date of birth – 18 months after the date of birth
If not – 18 months after the expected week of birth.
|Date of child’s placement or the date they enter Great Britain (for overseas adoption)
|18 months after the child’s placement or the date they enter Great Britain (for overseas adoption)
|Shared parental leave
|Date of child’s birth, placement or date they enter Great Britain for overseas adoption
|18 months after the child’s birth or date of placement or date they enter Great Britain (for overseas adoption)
Employment Law update regarding Unpaid carers leave
The Carers Act 2023 gives entitlement for unpaid carers to take up to one-week unpaid leave per year. This new right will come into force from 6 April 2023. The draft Carer’s Leave Regulation 2024 sets out the details of the new right and has been laid before parliament.
An employee who has a dependant who has a long-term care need may take one week’s unpaid leave to provide or arrange care in each rolling 12-month period. The leave may be taken as unpaid days, half days or a block of up to one week.
Dependant = spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee, live in the same household as the employee (otherwise than by reason of being the employee’s boarder, employee, lodger or tenant), or reasonably rely on the employee to provide or arrange care.
Long-term care need = If one of the following is applicable:
- They have an illness or injury (whether physical or mental) that requires, or is likely to require, care for more than three months.
- They have a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
- They require care for a reason connected with their old age.
Rolling 12-month period = a rolling 12-month period often counts backwards when being used to calculate the amount of leave an employee has accumulated. Counting backwards would mean that if the employee has already taken their full week’s entitlement within the previous 12 months then they cannot take any additional time off in this regard. If for example, they take the leave split into days and half days, for example, taking the first day on 1 May 2023, in May 2024 they will be entitled to take another day as part of their week as the 12 months since this leave was taken has lapsed.
The notice period for the leave request is either twice as many days as the period of leave required or three days whichever is greater. The notice does not need to be made in writing and there is no requirement for an employee to provide evidence to their employer to support the request.
An employer is unable to deny the request altogether but can postpone the request for one of the following reasons:
- The operation of the business will be disrupted, under the reasonable consideration of the employer, if allowed leave during the period required.
- The employee is able to take a period of carer’s leave for the same duration within a month of the period initially requested.
- The employee is given written notice within seven days of the request. This notice sets out the reasons for the postponement and dates where leave is agreed.
Where there is also a contractual right to take carer’s leave an employee will only be permitted to take advantage of the right that is more favourable to them. However, the employee will be afforded protection in that they will be protected from a detriment and a dismissal because they requested carer’s leave.
How can we help?
If you have any questions relating to any of the Employment Law updates mentioned or would like further information regarding these changes and how they may impact your business… Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558, our Employment team is on hand to assist you with all you need to know.
We’re here for you.
Find out more about our Employment Law services here.
Changes to holiday pay and holiday entitlement from 01 January 2024
The government introduced changes to the Working Time Regulations 1998 (the Regulations) on 1 January 2024. One of the biggest changes is in regard to holiday rights and pay.
There will be changes to holiday rights for certain types of workers. Those workers are defined into two categories:
Irregular-hours workers – A worker’s hours will be irregular if, in that holiday year, the number of paid hours that they work in each pay period (during the term of their contract) is wholly or mostly variable. This may catch agency workers, casual workers, variable hours workers and zero hours workers.
Part-year workers – A part-year worker is required to work only part of the year and there are periods within that year (during the term of the contract) of at least a week they are not required to work and are not paid. This could include seasonal workers and some term time only workers. There are questions as to whether term-time workers who are paid monthly will fall under this category or not.
The three important changes to irregular-hours workers and part-year workers are as follows:
- Holiday accrual
There will be a new method of holiday accrual for both irregular-hours workers and part-year workers. This is due to the result in the Supreme Court’s decision in Harpur Trust v Brazel last year. In this case part-year workers and some casual workers had more holiday entitlement than workers on more regular contracts who worked the same number of hours on an annual basis.
Employers will be permitted to calculate holiday entitlement for irregular-hours workers and part-year workers as 12.07% of the actual hours worked in a pay period.
- Rolled up holiday pay
Employers will be able to choose from two systems for paying holiday pay and they are as follows:
- Pay holiday pay when holiday is taken calculated at the rate of a week’s pay for each week’s holiday. (A week being the average amount of weekly pay over the previous 52 weeks, and will consist of the average number of hours worked in each week of the same period); or
- Choose to pay rolled up holiday pay. Rolled up holiday pay will be an uplift of 12.07% to the workers’ remuneration for work done in each pay period. This is a simpler calculation, as many employers are already aware, than if holiday pay were being paid at the time holiday is taken.
- New method to calculate holiday entitlement
The government has published guidance on calculating holiday pay. Additionally, employers can also use a new method for calculating holiday entitlement for irregular-hours workers and part-year workers who are on long-term sick leave or statutory leave. An average over a 52-week reference period will be used to calculate the amount of holiday accrued during a period of sick leave or statutory leave (such as maternity leave). The government will not be implementing a 52-week holiday entitlement reference period for other employees and workers who are not currently on sick leave or statutory leave.
Restating aspects of the Regulations
Changes will also be made to the Regulations to restate some existing working time requirements that derive from EU case law. This is to avoid any uncertainty when the EU Retained Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 (‘REUL Act’) comes into force on 1 January 2024. On this date the special status of retained EU Law that is currently in our legislation will end.
The REUL Act gives the government the power to restate, revoke or replace law by statutory instrument. It intends to use this power to amend the Working Time Regulations 1998 to codify certain principles that have been developed by European case law and domestic case law under the Working Time Regulation. This includes the definition of what a week’s pay is and the right to carry over holiday.
A Week’s pay
The Regulations provide for certain payments to be included within the definition of a week’s pay. Under the Regulations, a week’s holiday pay will include:
- Payments including commission payments intrinsically linked to the performance of tasks which a worker is obliged under their contract to carry out;
- Payments for professional or personal status relating to the length of service, seniority or professional qualifications;
- Payments, such as overtime payments which have been regularly paid to a worker in the 52 weeks preceding the calculation date.
The right to carry over holiday
The Regulations provide for circumstances where workers have the right to carry over holiday into the next year’s leave. For example, long-term sickness or when the right to paid holiday has been completely denied.
The Regulations revoke legislation in which any accrued holiday can be carried over for two holiday years in specified circumstances. This was implemented in the COVID-19 pandemic. Any accrued holiday must be used by the 31 March 2024.
Definition of irregular-hours workers and part-year workers – pause for thought…
Irregular-hours workers and “Wholly and Mostly Variable”
There are questions surrounding the implementation of this definition and the limits on what wholly or mostly variable hours mean. Do the terms of the contract have to provide for such variation of hours?
This may mean that if any minimum hours are detailed in a person’s contract they may not considered to be an irregular-hours worker. Does this mean minimum hour contracts will be less desirable in the future?
For leave years starting on or after 1 April 2024 these workers’ holidays will no longer be governed by regulations 13 and 13A of the Regulations but will derive from Regulation 15B. Their holiday will be calculated in hours rather than weeks and will accrue on the last day of each pay period.
Leave year begins either as provided by a relevant agreement (for example a written contract) or on the anniversary of the start date of the worker. Therefore, in theory, if the leave year begins on the 31 March 2024 then the provisions under the Regulations 15B(1) will have no effect until 30 March 2025.
Talk to Tollers
These changes are more likely to affect employers who utilise irregular-hours workers and part-year workers. The re-introduction of the rolled- up holiday pay calculations could mean a smoother process when calculating holiday pay entitlement.
How can Tollers help you? We can review your employment contracts and holiday policies to ensure compliance with the latest case law and explain how the ruling might impact your organisation. If you have any other queries relating to employment law and HR, make sure to check out our employment law FAQs page or … talk to Tollers on 01604 258558, our experienced Employment Law and HR team are here for you.
In order to protect your business it is vital to understand restrictive covenants and how to use them in your employment contracts. An ex-employee who possesses insights into your classified data, customers, and suppliers could become a substantial liability if they join a rival company or launch their own competitive venture. Therefore, when creating and negotiating employment contracts, consider what restrictions you would like to place on your employees or consultants if they resign, the contract ends, or are terminated. Including restrictive clauses that your employee or consultant has agreed to in writing could provide your business with legal protection and help you enforce these restrictions if the employee attempts to breach them.
In this blog, our specialists in Employment Law and Dispute Resolution have collaborated to answer frequently asked questions regarding the advantages of restrictive covenants in an employment contract and the process for enforcing them if issues arise.
What are restrictive covenants?
Regarding an employment contract, restrictive covenants (also called post-termination restrictions) are a common feature of employment contracts and can help protect your business through periods of staff turnover. They are intended to survive the end of the employment relationship and prevent those employees from compromising your business interests by, for example, setting up a business in direct competition with you, going to work for a company that operates in direct competition with you, attempting to solicit your clients, customers or staff, or divulging trade secrets or confidential information.
How do restrictive covenants work?
Drafting restrictive covenants requires careful consideration. These covenants should be specific, tailored to the role and go as far as is reasonable to protect your business interests. You should decide on a timeframe for the restrictions to apply, which may typically exclude any garden leave or notice period and geographical scope, such as a ten-mile radius of your premises. It is also essential to update the restrictions if an employee is promoted or starts a new position in your company to ensure that the covenants apply to their current job role. If an ex-employee breaches these covenants, they may be liable to a claim for breach of contract, and you may be able to recover losses incurred as a result of this.
Why are restrictive covenants important for employers?
Restrictive covenants can provide businesses and employers with legal protection, covering matters such as:
- Protecting Business Interests: They help safeguard a company’s confidential information, client base, and trade secrets from being used by departing employees to benefit competitors. They are designed to protect a former employer’s confidential information, customer connections and the stability of its workforce by preventing an employee from using connections or information they were made privy to during their employment for the benefit of a new employer or business venture.
- Preventing Client Poaching: Restrictive covenants can deter ex-employees from approaching or soliciting clients they had dealt with during their employment.
- Safeguarding Intellectual Property: They help prevent former employees from disclosing or using IP information, which can be vital in technology, research, or creative industries.
Are there different types of restrictive covenants?
Yes, there are various types, including non-compete clauses (which prevent ex-employees from working for competitors), non-solicitation clauses (which restrict solicitation of clients), and non-disclosure clauses (which prevent the sharing of company secrets).
Are restrictive covenants enforceable?
Standard contract clauses restricting an employee’s activities after employment ends are typically invalidated due to their conflict with public policy and being viewed as a form of trade restraint.
Therefore, the enforceability of any restrictive covenants is fact-specific to each case.
What should an employer do if they suspect a breach of a restrictive covenant clause in an employment contract?
If a former employee breaches legally binding restrictive covenants, the former employer can resort to specific measures to remedy the situation. One of the first steps includes sending a cease-and-desist letter to the former employee, detailing the alleged breach, and requesting compliance with the covenant in issue. Typically, the letter will specify a deadline for a response.
If a former employee does not respond or refuses to comply, the employer may need to consider legal action. Legal remedies could involve filing for an injunction to prevent ex-employees from committing further breaches and commencing a claim for damages for the losses the employer has suffered due to the breaches by the employee.
Can the dispute be resolved without legal action?
In most cases, it is advisable to attempt to resolve the dispute through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods like mediation. This can save time and costs compared to litigation. It is also important to note that the courts typically view those who do not attempt to resolve disputes through ADR unfavourably when it comes to deciding who should pay costs at the conclusion of any court proceedings.
Remember, pursuing a claim for breach of restrictive covenants can be legally complex and should be approached carefully. It is crucial to seek legal advice and representation from specialists in this area of law to protect your interests and rights as an employer.
Legal Advice for Employers in Stevenage, Corby and Northampton
At Tollers, our employment lawyers in Stevenage, Corby and Northampton are experienced in assisting former employers in pursuing ex-employees who breach their restrictive covenants. We can advise on whether the restrictions you seek to rely on are enforceable and, with our experience, can help you protect your business from further damage caused by an ex-employee’s breach of such restrictions.
Should you require further information or assistance, please get in touch or contact us on 01604 258558 or complete the form below.
Robust Employment Support with Tollers HR
At Tollers, we understand the invaluable role your employees hold, along with the potential challenges they present. Hence, we have designed Tollers HR – a tool tailored to facilitate confident, cost-efficient HR management. Let us shoulder your HR responsibilities while you concentrate on what you do best – running your business. Our dedicated solicitors are here to provide you with personal, hands-on support, helping you navigate any employment law challenges that may arise. Utilising our legal teams for your outsourced HR solution ensures you can have peace of mind knowing that the advice and support you receive is legally protected and backed by regulated professionals who understand the intricacies of employment law.
Some of the key benefits of this service include:
Tribunal and Damages Claims: Specialist Indemnity Scheme Protecting Your Business
In partnership with a leading specialist insurance provider, the Tollers’ HR indemnity scheme covers tribunal costs and awards of up to £100,000 per case. We do not self-insure, which means we can cover all areas of potential claims, including discrimination. Our indemnity scheme is an essential safeguard against the unexpected costs of a Tribunal claim and can take away the temptation to settle a case on a commercial basis. Furthermore, it can protect against the cost of pursuing damages claims and injunctions, such as breaches of restrictive covenants. With Tollers’ HR indemnity, employers can have peace of mind, knowing they have a robust defence against legal uncertainties.
Robust Representation: Expert Guidance When You Need It
When faced with a Tribunal Claim or the need to pursue damages, Tollers is here to support you. Our professional and ethical advice can be critical to achieving successful outcomes, allowing you to focus on your business operations.
Navigating Employment Tribunals or Breach of Restrictive Covenant claims can be daunting and involve a specialist legal process that can prove complex, time-consuming, and costly. Tollers HR insurance indemnity can protect your business against the uncertainty of these costs, covering the expenses associated with Tribunal proceedings or legal actions against former employees.
What sets us apart is the expertise of our solicitors, who bring a wealth of experience in handling Tribunal and damages claims and a deep understanding of your unique case, thanks to your affiliation with Tollers HR. This insight allows us to meticulously prepare your case, and should you choose, we can even represent your business throughout the entire process, providing steadfast support from the initial stages to the final hearing.
Anytime Advice Line: Direct to Solicitor Support at Your Fingertips
Enjoy peace of mind with our ‘direct to solicitor’ service, exclusively available to Tollers HR members. Our experienced employment law solicitors are just a call away, providing reliable support and advice whenever you need it on everyday employment matters and general inquiries.
Find out more ….
These are just a few of the benefits available and the protection covered by the Tollers HR insurance indemnity. Tollers HR package ensures you and your business get hands-on support and legal advice for all Human Resource issues from our specialist employment law solicitors. Click the link to find out more about Tollers HR.
April 2023 brings with it the usual updates to employment law, however, 2023 is set to be a year of exciting changes. What are the key updates and what do you need to know?
Increases to Pay Rates
National Minimum Wage
From 1 April 2023, the National Minimum Wage rates are going up. They will be increased as follows:
- £9.50 to £10.42 for workers aged 23 and over (the national living wage);
- £9.18 to £10.18 for workers aged 21 or 22;
- £6.83 to £7.49 for workers aged 18 to 20;
- £4.81 to £5.28 for workers aged under 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age; and
- £4.81 to £5.28 for apprentices under 19, or over 19 and in the first year of the apprenticeship.
From 3 April 2023:
- Statutory maternity pay is increasing to £172.48 from £156.66;
- Statutory paternity pay is increasing to £172.48 from £156.66;
- Statutory adoption pay is increasing to £172.48 from £156.66;
- Statutory shared parental pay is increasing to £172.48 from £156.66; and
- Statutory bereavement pay is increasing to £172.48 from £156.66.
From 6 April 2023:
- Statutory sick pay is increasing to £109.40 from £99.35; and
- Statutory redundancy pay is likely to increase from £571, with a new rate announced in March 2023.
All employers should review their pay rates, to make sure that they are compliant with these changes.
The Kings Coronation
The Coronation of King Charles III on 6 May 2023 brings an additional bank holiday on 8 May 2023.
All employers should review their employment contracts and holiday policies in preparation for the additional bank holiday and what this means for your workers. Our Employment team can explain the impact of the wording within these documents, including whether workers are entitled to the additional bank holiday.
Proposed updates to look out for:
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill
This bill provides government ministers with the ability to remove or replace certain retained EU laws, possibly leading to speedy and significant changes to employment law. Importantly, the bill contains a provision for many EU laws to automatically disappear from 31 December 2023 unless otherwise addressed by parliament. Whilst it is likely that this deadline could be extended, this bill will likely result in a plethora of consultations, proposals and legal challenges in relation to TUPE, Working Time Regulations, Parental Leave Regulations and Annual Leave.
These potential updates are significant and may impact the day-to-day operations for many organisations. Look out for updates from our employment team throughout the year for updates.
Current legislation gives workers with at least 26 weeks of continuous service the right to request flexible working. However, the Government have proposed to make flexible working a day one right. Moreover, employees would be able to make two requests for flexible working per 12-month period, and employees would no longer be required to set out the impact of their request on the organisation. This means that amendments to this, removing the length of service and making
Current legislation gives workers redundancy protections during periods of parental leave, however, proposed updates would extend the period of protection following a return to work. The period of protection is expected to be 6 months, during which time protected employees will have priority for suitable alternative roles within the organisation, however, consultation to determine specific details is ongoing.
The Government has proposed the introduction of neonatal leave and pay for parents with babies in neonatal care, and carers leave for employees who have dependants with a need for long-term care. Additionally, new legislation on the distribution of tips is expected to significantly impact the hospitality industry. The details of these proposed laws are scarce, and although it is unlikely that they will be in force during 2023, it may be helpful to know that these changes are on the horizon.
How can we help?
If you have any questions relating to the April 2023 updates or would like further information regarding the changes and how they may impact your business… Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558, our Employment team is on hand to assist you with all you need to know.
We’re here for you.
Find out more about our Employment Law services here.
Tollers offer a legal career path that is supportive and geared towards developing legal talent. Whether you are interested in being a Legal Secretary, a Paralegal, a Trainee Solicitor, or an Apprentice, our programmes are second to none.
Successfully investing in and home-growing new legal talent is something that Tollers is very proud of. We appreciate that a legal career does not always mean becoming a solicitor. We believe that all staff employed at Tollers have a vital part to play in our family and are valued.
Legal Support Apprenticeships
We offer a Paralegal Level 3 Apprenticeship for those individuals interested in working within a legal environment and wanting to provide essential support within a legal team and gain an understanding of legal matters. Individuals in this role normally work as Legal Secretaries or Paralegals.
The Paralegal Level 3 Apprenticeship is undertaken in conjunction with BPP University Law School (BPP), our chosen course provider. It is a 2 year course and to be eligible to apply, candidates must have at least five GCSEs at grade C (or 4) or above, including English and Mathematics, and 3 A Levels (or equivalent) equating to 96 UCAS points or higher.
If your ambition is to become a solicitor, we offer Training Contracts for those candidates with a completed Legal Practice Course (LPC), as well as Solicitor Apprenticeships. Both are routes to qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales. In a nutshell:
- The Training Contract route is subject to successful candidates passing the LPC; and
- The Solicitor Apprenticeships offer a route to qualification through completing the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and the relevant apprenticeship course at BPP.
The traditional Training Contract route to qualify as a solicitor is changing. The September 2024 cohort will be the last year the LPC will be taught in law schools and universities, making way for qualification through qualifying work experience (QWE) and passing both parts of the SQE. Applicants to Tollers wishing to qualify through the QWE and SQE route are invited to apply for a Solicitor Apprenticeship.
We offer two types of Solicitor Apprenticeships: the Graduate Solicitor Apprenticeship; and the Solicitor Apprenticeship.
The Graduate Solicitor Apprenticeship is a 2.5-year course and is aimed at law graduates and non-law graduates who have completed the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).
The Solicitor Apprenticeship is a 6-year course and is aimed at school leavers or individuals without a law degree or the GDL. To be eligible to apply you must have gained at least five GCSEs at grade C (or 4) or above, including English and Mathematics, and 3 A Levels (or equivalent) equating to 128 UCAS points or higher. The course, combined with the training with us will mean that you achieve a Level 6 LLB (Hons) Law and Legal Practice.
Whichever route appeals to you, you will be given the same structured and supportive training from us. Our Apprenticeship courses are paid for through the Apprenticeship Levy and so enable successful candidates to work and earn a salary, whilst not paying course fees. We require our Apprentices to spend 20% of their time over the course of their apprenticeship on “off-the-job” training. This is given during working hours. We work in conjunction with BPP to mentor and support our apprentices to get the best out of their training with us.
If you are interested in looking at the different options available to you and are interested in pursuing a legal career, then why not visit our website here or Talk To Tollers on 01604 258558 and see what we can offer and how you can apply to join our team.
Menopause is becoming an increasingly important topic in the workplace and was recently highlighted when a senior Director, who was told not to let her “hormones get out of control” won her Employment Tribunal Case.
Over recent years we have seen a growing number of tribunal claims citing the menopause and by association, age discrimination claims are also rising.
The recent case illustrating this concerns a female Finance Director, Louise McCabe, aged 55 at the time of her dismissal, who successfully brought claims against her former employer, Selazar Limited for the following:
- Unfair dismissal;
- Automatic unfair dismissal;
- Age discrimination;
- Detrimental treatment for making protected disclosures;
- Wrongful dismissal; and
- Unlawful deduction from wages.
McCabe, the Claimant, raised concerns about the executive culture and health & safety concerns regarding the treatment of employees throughout various board meetings.
Following these disclosures, Ms McCabe was:
- Removed as a director;
- Placed on garden leave;
- Subjected to a disciplinary process without an opportunity to respond to any allegations;
- Refused a request for an emergency general meeting on the grounds that it was “frivolous, defamatory and vexatious” despite it being supported by the whistleblowing report; and
- Removed from documents issued and utilised by the respondent to facilitate additional investment in the company. including any mention of the Claimant being a founder of the Company or the CFO.
Factual responses by the Claimant such as, “I only have one pair of hands,” resulted in her being told by the CEO, who was aged 29 at the time, to “calm down…don’t let the hormones get out of control.” The CEO’s comments reveal their depiction of the Claimant as a “menopausal woman.”
The Company’s actions in removing McCabe as a company director without due process and attempting to source a “younger team member who is more in tune with a young tech start company” following her dismissal evidence the Company’s prejudice against older workers still engrained within some employers.
This case demonstrates the importance of having, and abiding by, clear and consistent policies in the workplace to tackle discriminatory language and practice.
Talk to us about how you can challenge bias and ageism in the workplace. Tollers can help you review your processes and procedures, including their application and the language used within. Our experienced Employment team can provide you with an Equal Opportunities policy and can talk to you about how to prevent menopause discrimination from becoming an issue in your workplace.
If you have a question related to supporting staff going through menopause or would like further information on how we can help… Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558. Our team is Here to help.
Our Employment Law and HR team find they regularly have to explain the differences between redundancy and a settlement agreement. Below they outline these.
Redundancy is one of the five potentially fair reasons to dismiss an employee. It refers to a situation where an employer closes their business, or place of work, or where there is a reduction of work of a particular kind.
Redundancies follow a formulated process, with employers required to inform and consult with employees throughout. Care must be taken when following this process, as unfair procedures can give rise to unfair dismissal claims. If 20 or more employees are being made redundant within a 90-day period, the employer must enter into a collective consultation and provide advanced notice to the Secretary of State. Special rules apply where employees are pregnant or on a form of parental leave, for instance adoption, maternity or shared parental leave.
Redundancy typically results in a statutory redundancy payment for employees with two or more years of continuous service.
Employees who have been made redundant will usually have the right to appeal against the redundancy, and may be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal against their former employer.
Redundancy can be a complex matter and, as such, it is important to ensure that the dismissal is due to a genuine redundancy and that a full, fair process has been followed.
A Settlement agreement, once entered into, is a contractually binding agreement to settle a matter between an employee and employer. Settlement Agreements are often associated with terminating employment and usually require financial consideration.
The term ‘Without prejudice and subject to contract’ is closely associated with the use of Settlement Agreements. Without prejudice refers to the confidential nature of the agreement, ensuring that the matter remains private and cannot be disclosed in a court, were used appropriately.
It is a requirement for the employee to obtain legal advice from a qualified legal professional in relation to the terms and effect of the agreement. Without this advice the settlement agreement is not legally binding and some or all of the terms may be void. As such, employers typically contribute towards the legal fees of the employee to ensure that the required legal advice is obtained. Employer contributions vary between organisations.
Talk to Tollers
We work with businesses to carry out a fair and legal redundancy process. Our advice is not only straightforward and easy to follow, but is also practical and tailored to our clients circumstances.
We work with employers looking for advice or help in drafting a settlement agreement or with employees looking for independent legal advice. Our team is experienced in drafting and negotiating settlement arrangements and assisting to ensure informed decisions are made.
If you would like advice or guidance on either redundancy or a settlement agreement, Get in touch with our experienced employment law solicitors, for advice you can count on. We’re here for you.
Many organisations calculate holiday pay for part-year workers as 12.07% of their earnings during working time. However a recent ruling at the Supreme Court (Harpur Trust v Brazel) has confirmed changes to the way holiday pay is calculated for part-year workers. This ruling means that holiday pay for those working atypical hours should be calculated based on the average hours worked over the previous 52 weeks, ignoring any weeks without earnings.
Part-year workers are those who are employed throughout the year but only work for a portion of the year. Examples include: term-time workers such as teachers and support staff, who traditionally work between 36-39 weeks of the year; or zero-hour workers engaged on a permanent or ongoing basis.
What does this mean for you?
In short, part-year workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of holiday per year, regardless of whether or not they are full time. Holiday pay is to be calculated based on average earnings over the previous 52 weeks rather than based on hours worked. Your holiday policies and calculation practices will need to be reviewed and may need updating, to ensure compliance following the decision in this case.
It may be possible to change working practices to reduce the impact of this ruling on your organisation and to mitigate additional costs, including but not limited to fixed-term contracts for a part-year term or only for busy periods. A variety of implications are connected with fixed-term contracts, with potential consequences for non-renewal, and it is therefore recommended that you take legal advice before engaging a fixed-term contract.
How can we help?
This decision will not only impact traditional term-time roles, but will also affect permanent and annual contracts with zero-hour workers who do not work each week.
We can review your employment contracts and holiday policies to ensure compliance with the latest case law and explain how the ruling might impact your organisation. We can advise you on the practicality and application of fixed-term contracts or other ways to mitigate the increased burden of costs, including any associated risks. to find out more… talk to Tollers, our experienced Employment Law and HR team are here for you.
Post covid many employers are asking where they stand in the wake Of the self-isolation period ending and how this affects their current contracts and policies.
On 24th February 2022 England started “living with and managing” the risk of Covid-19, following the Government’s announcement in February. One of the biggest changes was that the period of self-isolation that was previously required was removed.
This was not the only change. On 1st April 2022 free Covid-19 testing, such as PCR and Lateral Flow tests, stopped being offered by the Government, apart from to people in an at-risk group. The Government also stopped refunding statutory sick pay (SSP) for Covid-19 related absences, as well as ending “day 1” SSP on 24th March 2022.
What does this mean to you?
Whilst England has removed its measures, you still have a duty of care to your staff as an employer post covid. This applies throughout the UK. As such you do need to take steps to reasonably manage the risk of Covid-19 to your staff and have particular care for any vulnerable staff you have. We would therefore recommend carrying out an up-to-date risk assessment and reviewing your policies and procedures. As a business, you may:
- wish to advise staff to wear masks in lifts, bathrooms, or client areas etc.;
- wish to ask staff to work from home or self-certify their sickness if they have cold-like symptoms;
- require staff to self-isolate or offer free testing. If you do this, you will need to make clear what you will be paying to staff during that time. However, practically speaking, employees may not want to test if the free testing is no longer available and the requirement to self-isolate has ended;
- wish to speak to staff to understand their concerns;
- take a view that home or flexible working is no longer appropriate for the employee’s role and that staff should return to the office. Whilst a refusal to return by the employee, could be a dismissible offence, caution should be exercised here, as there may be a risk of discrimination, so seek advice on a case by case basis;
- see an increase in flexible working requests;
- wish to keep a record of employee’s vaccination statuses or whether they’ve had Covid-19 and when. However, you will need a legitimate interest to do this, unless you have the employee’s express consent to hold and process that personal data. As such, you will need to look at updating your GDPR policies and carefully consider the commercial reasons for wanting to gather this data.
As Boris Johnson said, individuals will need to take “personal responsibility.” Managing absence will continue under your existing absence management policy, but the important thing is that you assess the risk to your own staff, clients and businesses and set this out clearly in your policies. Taking legal advice on those policies and procedures to ensure compliance with employment law, particularly in relation to discrimination and health and safety issues, is strongly advised.
Updating Staff Contracts and Polices
Given the evolution of how the workplace operates in the wake of Covid-19, it is important to make sure that all contracts and policies are up-to-date.
What does this mean to you?
Contracts are the tool employers use and rely on to set out how the employment relationship will work. For example. they set out working times and places of work, which may be something that has changed since pre-pandemic times. You may also offer different benefits or staff incentives. Furthermore, s. 1 Employment Rights Act 1996 changed the minimum requirement for a contract of employment on 6th April 2020 and contracts for new starters should comply with this. As such, now is a good time to review your contracts.
As outlined in “managing sickness above”, new policies may need to be implemented, or existing policies may need to be reviewed. It is good practice to review your polices on an annual basis. Policies, assuming they’re not contractual, do not require employee approval and should therefore be easy to update.
If you would like advice or guidance post covid in regard to your company’s policies and procedures…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558. Our experience Employment and HR law team is on hand to assist you with all you need to know. We’re here for you.