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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Apple Working Conditions Criticised

An independent investigation by the US Fair Labor Association (FLA) of working practices at Chinese plants run by Foxconn which manufactures Apple iPhones and iPads “found excessive overtime and problems with overtime compensation; several health and safety risks; and crucial communication gaps that have led to a widespread sense of unsafe working conditions among workers.

The FLA has reportedly secured agreements to reduce hours, protect pay, and improve staff representation. The investigation was prompted by a string of suicides by Foxconn employees, allegedly in reaction to their poor working conditions.

To help your business keep on top of employment legislation, check out this set of employment document templates. It includes contracts, policies, forms and letter templates to enable employers to recruit staff, manage employees, through to redundancy and dismissal.

NHS Catering Contract Row Over Chocolate Mousse

Medirest won a multimillion-pound contract to supply meals to the Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust. But the contract turned sour after the Trust tried to withhold more than £700,000 over various issues, including £84,550 for a day-old chocolate mousse and £96,060 for three-day-old bagels.

The spat ended up in the High Court, where Justice Cranston ruled that the deductions were “patently absurd“. However, neither side was awarded damages,as they were both deemed entitled to end the contract.

Ensure that your business contracts are watertight with this set of useful terms and conditions templates.

Company Directors Fined and Banned by FSA

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has fined and banned three former directors of the sub-prime lender Cattles and its subsidiary Welcome Financial Services, after finding that they had published misleading information to investors about the quality of their loan book. James Corr, Peter Miller and John Blake have been fined a total of £700,000 and will be unable to take on any functions in any activities regulated by the FSA.

If your company is considering removing directors, you may like to take a look at this set of template documents, including a Programme for Removal or Replacement of a Director, which sets out the steps whereby the shareholders of a company can remove a director from office and, if required, replace that director.

Supreme Court Opens Floodgates for Asbestos Claims

The Supreme Court has ruled that insurance liability in respect of asbestos claims made by employees should set liability at the time an employee was exposed to asbestos rather than the point at which symptoms of asbestosis appear. The Court of Appeal had previously held that insurers only became liable when mesothelioma (the form of lung cancer caused by asbestos) developed, rather than when pleural plaques (an indication of exposure to asbestos) were found. In other words, an employee may previously have known that they had been exposed to asbestos – and that they could develop mesothelioma in years to come – but they were unable to get a payout from their insurance. They are now able to claim on their insurance in this scenario.

Giving his judgment, Lord Clarke said “mesothelioma is “sustained” or “contracted” when the process that leads to the disease is initiated as a result of the wrongful exposure of the employee to the asbestos fibre or fibres which cause the disease“.

Ensure that your business is aware of the potential threat of asbestos to employees. These Asbestos Containing Materials documents can help you understand which materials may contain asbestos, how to carry out an inspection of your premises as well as a template for an asbestos permit and a note on controlled disposal.

ICO warns employers not to demand Facebook details from staff

Following reports of US employers requesting job applicants to provide their personal Facebook login details during the interview process, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned employers in the UK that it would have “very serious concerns” if they were to follow the same practice.

The ICO warned that requesting Facebook access to employee (or potential employee) accounts would potentially put employers in breach of the Data Protection Act: “The UK Data Protection Act clearly says that organisations shouldn’t hold excessive information about individuals, and it’s questionable why they would need that information in the first place.

Ensure your business is following best practice when recruiting new staff. Professionally written recruitment document templates are available here.

Fuel tanker drivers to strike over health and safety

A ballot organised by Unite has resulted in fuel tanker drivers voting in favour of strike action. The industrial action has been prompted by growing fears over safety and conditions, as well as a perceived attack on pensions.

Commenting, Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary, said “This is not about pay – this is about ensuring that high safety and training standards are maintained, so that our communities are safe

To prevent any potential strike action in your workplace over health and safety issues, ensure that your policies and documents are up-to-date. You can download template health and safety documents here.

Plans to sell part of RBS stake to Abu Dhabi

The BBC has learned that the UK government is considering selling a significant stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to Abu Dhabi. The troubled bank had been bailed out by the taxpayer and the government owns 82%. It is thought that the government could sell up to a third of its stake to Abu Dhabi, one of the seven states of the United Arab Emirates.

Despite a Treasury spokesperson saying that the “government’s policy has always been to return RBS to the private sector, but only when it delivers value for money for the taxpayer“, if the shares are sold at their current value it would be a loss-making sale, as RBS shares trade at much less than the UK government paid in 2008.

If you are considering selling shares in your company, or even selling the entire business, take a look at  these Company, Asset or Business Sale Document templates which have been created for companies that are selling their entire business or the shares in their business.

Over 2,000 redundancies at Game Group

Video game retailer, Game Group, has gone into administration, with the immediate closure of 277 stores and the consequent redundancies of 2,104 employees. Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers are keeping open 333 stores whilst they search for a potential new buyer.

Commenting, one of the administrators, Mike Jervis, said “My team and I will be doing all we can to help the affected employees at this difficult time.

If your business is considering making any redundancies, you may like to take a look at this comprehensive range of template redundancy documents.

Terms and conditions can be ‘longer than a Shakespeare play’

An investigation by Which? has called for sites to produce simplified versions of their legal agreements, after finding that some websites’ terms and conditions are longer than a Shakespeare play.

Whilst Hamlet goes on for some 30,066 words, this is dwarfed by the Ts & Cs of PayPal which expect the user to read some 36,275 words. Commenting, Marzena Lipman, digital policy manager at Consumer Focus, said “It is clearly nonsensical to expect consumers to digest, absorb and understand such lengthy terms and conditions.

If your business is looking to simplify or update its Terms and Conditions, take a look at these professionally written template Ts & Cs.

Firm fined over strimmer accident

ThreeShires Ltd, a company which specialises in ecological and forestry work, has been fined £15,000 over the death of a worker, Tony Robinson, who was struck by a piece of metal that flew off a strimmer at high speed.

A prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) resulted in the company pleading guilty to breaching Health and Safety rules. It was also fined £10,000 in costs.

Commenting, Tony Robinson’s widow, Jenna, said “Even though I am no engineer, when I was shown the piece of equipment, common sense told me that it was an accident waiting to happen, with links that could easily fly off.

Make sure that your health and safety documentation is in order. You can download a wide range of professionally drafted and simple to edit Health & Safety document templates here.