Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Tribunal washes its hands of case

A Telford solicitor has welcomed a tribunal ruling that upheld a decision to sack a baker for failing to wash his hands.

John Mehtam is the employment law specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, and he said the experienced baker should have known better.

“The case involved well-known bakers Greggs who sacked the employee after he failed to wash his hands before returning to a food production area. He had claimed that their actions were too harsh, but the tribunal threw the case out, saying he could not now be trusted to follow hand-washing rules and so he posed an unacceptable risk to the company’s customers and reputation.”

The baker admitted he was aware how important it was to wash his hands, and confirmed that staff training and the company handbook had made it very clear.

“For Greggs, it was obvious that taking a zero-tolerance approach was a reasonable and sound decision because in their industry an outbreak of illness traced back to them could have serious consequences for their reputation and success as a business.

“And given that the baker had 11 years’ service in the job – and experience in the food industry of over 25 years – he really should have known better.”

Mr Mehtam said the tribunal’s decision reinforced the need for companies to have clear and robust procedures in place, as well as the importance of ensuring all staff understood their responsibilities.

“In this case, it was the company’s hygiene rules that were broken, but similar circumstances would arise if it was a breach of a company’s health and safety procedures too.

“Workplace legislation is constantly changing, and it’s vital that employers ensure their policies and procedures are up-to-date. This is easier said than done though, given the pace of change, and the time pressures business owners face, so taking professional advice can be crucial.

“Our experts have a wealth of experience in this area and we can review a company’s existing systems and practices, and help draw up a plan moving forward that will ensure both staff and your company’s reputation are protected.”

Friday, 16 September 2016

Employers pick up legal tips

A Telford law firm has been praised for its informative and topical approach to delivering employment law advice to local companies.

The experts from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford held their latest Top 10 Employment Blunders seminar at their offices in Euston Way, welcoming more than 20 employers.

Hosted by the company’s Employment Law specialist, John
Mehtam, the event was open to employers from a wide range of businesses, and the response has been extremely positive.

John shared his advice for employers about how to tackle some of the most common workplace and HR issues and, more importantly, how to avoid them and protect your business.

“We were very pleased with the response from our delegates who were full of praise for the way we delivered the presentation, and for the knowledge and expertise that we shared. At Martin-Kaye, we’re committed to delivering effective and appropriate advice that really does make a difference to local employers, and our short sharp lunchtime seminars are designed to get right to the point.

“We set the record straight and help employers to learn from the mistakes others have made, helping them to tackle employment law issues in the right way and helping them to understand how to avoid falling into the most common traps.”

John said keeping up-to-date with ever-changing legislation was practically impossible for employers who were already battling with a packed schedule.

“That’s why our seminars are proving so popular as we deliver clear, concise information in a time frame that suits our delegates.”

The seminar covered a variety of tricky areas including sickness absence, dismissals and poor employee performance.

The Martin-Kaye Employment Law team are now planning future seminars including joint events with other professional services companies across the Midlands.

Pic: At the latest Martin-Kaye Solicitors event are, from left, Jason Round, Amrik Chote and Kay Gill (from Monaco Insurance Services Ltd), Cllr Mak Singh, and Rakesh Saini

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Pregnant women need a fair deal

Pregnant women and new mothers are getting an increasingly rough deal in the workplace, a Shropshire solicitor has warned.

John Mehtam leads the employment law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and he said shocking statistics showed complaints of discrimination against pregnant women had soared in the last decade.

“Figures revealed by the Commons Women and Equalities Committee suggest that more than one in ten pregnant women and new mothers were either dismissed, singled out for compulsory redundancy or left their job because of poor treatment in the workplace.

“The research showed that the number of women forced to leave their job because of pregnancy discrimination or concerns about the safety of their child had doubled over the past ten years to 54,000.

“This is just not acceptable and it’s clear that steps need to be taken to offer more protection to women who find themselves in this situation,” said John.

He welcomed the news that the Committee had proposed a new system that would ban employers from making new mothers redundant unless there were exceptional circumstances.

“The Committee also said the Government’s current approach to tackling pregnancy discrimination lacked ‘urgency and bite’, and they will be unveiling a new plan to improve working rights within the next two years.

“This is excellent news because there are record numbers of women in work across the UK and if the Government fails to address the discrimination issue now, the economy could suffer.”

John also praised the Committee’s recommendations to extend the right to paid time off to attend antenatal appointments to casual, agency and zero-hours workers, and to double the time limit on launching a pregnancy or maternity discrimination case from three to six months.

“Pregnant women and new mothers should not have to deal with the threat of having to choose between their job or their child, and a strong focused approach to handling these issues will go a long way towards easing their worries.”

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Employers - the buck stops with you

Employers who bring in a recruitment agency to fill a key vacancy have been warned they could face tough financial penalties if things don’t work out.

Gemma Workman is an employment lawyer at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and she said an employment tribunal ruling had brought home the extent of an employer’s responsibilities towards candidates.

“The tribunal ruled that an employer must pay out damages to a candidate after the company withdrew a job offer made by a recruitment agency acting on their behalf.

“And so they had no choice but to pay out £3,000, as the candidate had verbally accepted a job offer made by the agency.”

Gemma said the tribunal decided that given the seniority of post the claimant had been offered, it was only reasonable that he should receive the equivalent of one month’s salary.

“This is because any written contract at that level in the organisation would have a minimum reasonable period of one month’s notice. But as the employer terminated the contract without notice by withdrawing the job offer, the candidate was entitled to damages equal to a month’s salary in lieu of notice.”

Gemma said the employer had appointed the recruitment agency to identify suitable candidates for vacancies as maintenance engineers, and although there was a dispute as to exactly what was said, the tribunal accepted the man’s claim that he was offered, and accepted, a post.

“The employer though denied a job offer had been made, and the candidate brought a claim for damages for breach of contract which the tribunal upheld – ruling that the employer should pay one month’s salary of £2,708 plus tribunal fees of £390.

“Employment law is a minefield that’s changing all the time, and business owners need to be sure of their responsibilities. Even though the company felt they were handing responsibility over to the recruitment agency, ultimately the company themselves were responsible for the process of taking on new staff.

“It’s clear that there was some dispute over what was said and what offer was made, but employers need to take professional advice to ensure they don’t get caught out in the future.”