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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Euro 2012 and racism in Ukraine

The UEFA Euro 2012 football championship (Euro 2012) will be hosted by Poland and Ukraine. It begins on 8th June 2012 and continues until 1st July.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry has denied BBC reports which claim that the country has a problem with racist football hooliganism. But former England captain Sol Campbell has warned fans to stay at home to avoid the alleged issues.

Whatever the truth about racist football hooliganism in Ukraine, millions are going to be watching the matches, either in Poland and Ukraine, or on TV. The championship could cause difficulties for employers if, for instance, staff phone in sick or simply do not turn up for work in order to watch matches. These Simply-docs Guidance Notes for Employers should help employers manage potential problems during this period.

Employees may have to work on Jubilee Bank Holiday

It is a common misconception that the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday on 5th June 2012 means time off work and holiday pay for everyone employed in the UK. However, as the day has been set as an extra bank holiday, it is ultimately up to the employer to determine whether special bank holidays will be treated in the same way as the usual bank and public holidays. The employer will determine this by reference to the contract of employment.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber has warned employers not to deny their workforce a day off: “The annoyance and ill-will that will be caused by forcing staff to work while everyone else is out having a nice time will far outweigh any benefits from one extra day in the office.

These downloadable guidance notes consider what employers need to look at when establishing whether their employees have the right to treat the Diamond Jubilee as a normal bank holiday.

Employers refuse flexible working during Olympics

According to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), only about half of employers are making changes to their working practices during the Olympics to enable staff to work more flexibly in order to avoid transport mayhem, or allowing them to watch events at work. This is despite government promotion of flexible working policies as a congestion-reducing measure.

Commenting, Rebecca Clake, research adviser at CIPD, said “Options such as flexitime and home working can enable employees in parts of the country likely to face travel disruption as a result of the Olympics to spend their time working rather than stuck in traffic jams or adding to the pressure likely to be faced by our public transport system.” She warned, however, that “employers should remind staff of the organisation’s policy on absence and misuse of alcohol, making clear that it is unacceptable to take time off sick, either to watch matches/events or to recover from the aftermath of long evenings in the pub in front of a big screen.

This downloadable Olympics 2012 Guidance for Employers guides employers through the issues that the Olympic and Paralympic Games will pose for businesses. It deals with flexible working, volunteering, annual leave requests and unauthorised absence.

Health and Safety at Diamond Jubilee

This year, there is a special bank holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The 2012 late May bank holiday has been moved to Monday 4th June 2012 and an additional Jubilee bank holiday will be on Tuesday 5th June 2012.

The government, along with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), are encouraging employers to avoid using health and safety as an excuse to prevent celebrations from taking place. The Minister for Employment Chris Grayling said “Hang up the bunting and challenge anyone who says otherwise. Too often we hear stories of jobsworths out to spoil everyone’s fun especially at big occasions like the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee all in the name of so called health and safety. There is nothing in Health and Safety law to stop you celebrating in June. If you think someone is wrongfully using health and safety you can seek advice from the Myth Busters Challenge Panel.

The Myth Busters Challenge Panel is an independent panel which has been set up by the HSE “to scrutinize complaints regarding the advice given by non-regulators such as insurance companies, health and safety consultants and employers and, quickly assess if a sensible and proportionate decision has been made“.

In terms of handling the holiday aspect of the Diamond Jubilee, these downloadable guidance notes consider what employers need to look at when establishing whether their employees have the right to treat the Diamond Jubilee as a normal bank holiday.

Facebook shares fall below $29

Regular readers of the Simply-docs blog will be aware that, following the huge build up to its flotation (see Simply-docs blog entry of 15th May 2012), shares in Facebook have tumbled from their opening price of $38/share on Friday 18th May 2012. By the end of trade on Tuesday 29th May, shares in the social media giant  had lost almost a quarter of their initial value, dipping below $29.

In the wake of the catastrophic IPO, a class action lawsuit has been filed against Facebook, alleging that certain financial details were not revealed to potential shareholders (see Simply-docs blog entry of 23rd May 2012). BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones said that “Facebook’s stock market debut is already going down as one of the most troubled of recent years“.

If your business is considering issuing, transferring or allotting shares, this set of template documents can help with each of these transactions.

Fewer than a third of top posts held by women

Despite a steady increase in the percentage of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies (as reported in the Simply-docs blog entry of 21st March 2012), a recent report by Deloitte found that women claimed just one in ten executive boardroom appointments over the past year (see Simply-docs blog entry of 21st May 2012).

New statistics compiled by the BBC show that women hold fewer than a third of the most senior positions across 11 key sectors, including business, politics and policing. The armed forces and the judiciary have the smallest proportions of women in top posts, with 1.3% and 13.2% respectively, whilst secondary education has the most with 36.7%.

A government commissioned review has recommended a minimum target of 25% female representation on the boards of FTSE 100 companies by 2015.

If your company is considering changing the composition of its board of directors, this useful set of templates can help with all matters involving directors including appointments and removals.

Armed forces discrimination

Research carried out by Lord Ashcroft, the former Conservative deputy chairman, indicated that armed forces personnel – both present and past – potentially suffer discrimination just as any other minority group. But, unlike the case for many other so-called protected characteristics such as sex, race and age, there is no legislation preventing discrimination against members of the armed forces.

Politicians from the main political parties are now expected to hold round-table talks with the aim of introducing new anti-discrimination laws for the armed forces. If this goes ahead, it could lead to membership of the armed forces becoming a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

Even without the potential introduction of a new protected characteristic, there are plenty of existing discrimination laws of which every responsible employer needs to take account. This downloadable  comprehensive range of policies and guidance notes can help you to comply with your responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 and other equal opportunities legislation, including promoting diversity, preventing discrimination and preventing bullying and harassment.

Scaffolding company fined over death

Scaffolding company Apex Scaffolding Services (Sussex), as well as one of its directors and a supervisor, have been fined in relation to a fatal accident involving scaffolder Joe Murphy who fell to his death whilst constructing a scaffold “over-roof” at a property. The HSE had issued a Prohibition Notice against the firm and some employees relating to safety breaches on scaffolding prior to the incident, but the executive said poor attitude to safety in the organisation had continued.

Commenting, HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said “HSE and the scaffolding industry have worked together to produce easy-to-follow guidance to help contractors ensure their scaffolding is safe … So there is no excuse for compromising safety, as was clearly the case here.

Whatever the nature of your business, ensure that you are following all the requisite health and safety procedures. This set of template Standard Health and Safety Forms can be tailored to your specific business needs.

Essex oil refinery set to close

The Coryton oil refinery in Essex, which was placed into administration by its Swiss owner Petroplus in January 2012, is set to close within three months. Around 350 contractors work at the plant, which supplies 20% of fuel in London and the South East, and a further 120 people work at Petroplus sites in Teesside and Swansea which are both “likely” to be “impacted” by the decision. Administrators have confirmed that it is expected there will be “substantial” redundancies.

It seems that administrators PwC found the task of raising £625m needed to fund the refinery too difficult, although discussions regarding a possible sale will continue. Commenting, a Unite union official linked to the Coryton refinery said the closure was a “massive blow” to the local community.

If your company is facing the prospect of having to make redundancies, ensure that you follow the correct procedures with the help of these professionally written template redundancy documents.

Student Loans boss quits

Ed Lester, the chief executive of the Student Loans Company, whose controversial tax arrangements led to an investigation into the payment methods of top civil servants, will leave his post when his two-year contract comes to an end in January 2013. Until his government-approved arrangement was uncovered by BBC’s Newsnight and Exaro News, Mr Lester received his pay package through his private company without deductions for tax or National Insurance. Although he was officially a contractor, he was, to all intents and purposes, an employee – thus throwing up issues surrounding the IR35 rules.

A subsequent investigation found that nearly 2,500 public sector staff are being employed indirectly, rather than having tax deducted at source through PAYE. Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said the Treasury would insist on the most senior government employees being paid as staff, and the department would ensure that contractors who were paid through companies paid the appropriate tax and national insurance.

If your business has contractual dealings with self-employed workers, ensure that your agreements are IR35 compliant. You can download this set of template IR35 Self-employed Agreements to help establish the self-employed status of a worker.