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Detriment for blowing the whistle

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Employees who are whistleblowers have protection from dismissal and detriment (being treated badly) because they blew that whistle on their employers. These so called ‘protected disclosures’ could be disclosures of information about a criminal offence, or breach of health and safety, or other legal obligations. An example of a detriment is refusing to promote someone because they blew the whistle on you.

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Refusing to work in protest

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An employee who refused to do work after suffering a discriminatory demotion has lost his court case. Mr Rochford was Senior Vice President of a WNS Global Services. He was off work for a year with a back condition (which was a disability). He eventually returned to work on full pay. However, his employer refused to allow him to do his full role or say when he could go back to full duties. Instead they gave him fewer duties, but on the same pay. This demotion related to his disability and therefore amounted to disability discrimination. As a result, he refused to do any work at all and was eventually dismissed for misconduct.

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Gender Pay Gap Reporting

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It is only since 1997, that any disparities between the average rates of pay for men and women have been recorded. In 2016, the gap for full time employees was 9.4% in favour of men. One interesting detail to these figures is that the gap develops from the age of 40 onwards. Until this point, men and women have similar pay. One factor which influences this is the time women take out to have children and the figures indicate that the effect of this inequality becomes more marked in their later years. The Equal Pay Act has been in force since 1970 but recent news items have demonstrated that nearly 50 years later equal pay between the sexes has still not been reached. A senior editor for the BBC, Carrie Gracie, recently resigned over what she described as “unlawful pay discrimination”. The BBC is just one organisation which has come under scrutiny over the differing level of salaries it pays to some of its male and female presenters.

Over the last few years the Government has stated its intention to redress this balance. On 6th April 2017, Gender Pay Gap Reporting came into effect for large private and voluntary sector employers, being those with 250 or more employees. On 5th April each year, they must now publish data in relation to their gender pay gap. These obligations include the provision of:

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OMG! Emoji!

You know those buttons at places like airports and service stations that customers can press to show that they feel happy, unhappy, or indifferent about the service they have received? Well, it seems that Sports Direct has implemented something similar to discover how staff feel about the working conditions at one of its warehouses.

The organisation has come in for some criticism in recent times, and this idea is reported to be one of a number of measures put in place. According to the Guardian, workers are asked to use a touchpad to select a ‘happy’ or a ‘sad’ emoji. Sad emojis trigger an invitation to discuss the problem.

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Location, location, location

Aziz v The Freemantle Trust

Ms Aziz was a care worker who had relocated to the Trust’s Dell Field Court site. Issues arose between her and two other workers, and this triggered a period of difficulties, complaints, suspensions, absences and grievances.

The situation was deemed to be dysfunctional, and the Trust decided that Ms Aziz should be moved to another site. She was given three weeks’ notice and confirmation that she would be paid her additional travel expenses in line with the employer’s relocation policy. But Ms Aziz didn’t take up what she said was her employer’s offer to move to a different location. This led to her dismissal for unauthorised absence, failure to engage with the Trust and, ultimately, a fundamental breakdown in trust and confidence.

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More protection for pregnant workers?

Guisado v Bankia SA

Pregnant workers in the UK are protected by the Equality Act. The legislation makes pregnancy and maternity discrimination unlawful, the relevant period being the start of the worker’s pregnancy to the end of their maternity leave or when they return to work (if earlier).

It is also automatically unfair to dismiss a worker, or to select her for redundancy, when the reason or main reason is connected to her pregnancy or statutory maternity leave. This doesn’t mean that a pregnant woman or a new mum cannot be dismissed, but employers must be careful to ensure that the reason for this is not pregnancy/maternity-related.

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Half the pay for half the work?

British Airways v Pinaud

People who work part-time are protected from being treated less favourably than their comparable full-time colleagues. The question in Ms Pinaud’s case was whether working more than 50% of full-time hours but not being paid more than 50% of a full-time salary was less favourable treatment.

Ms Pinaud’s part-time working pattern, described as a 50% contract, was 14 days on and 14 days off. Over the course of a year, she was required to be available for 130 days. Compare that with the full-time position, which required workers to be available for 243 days in a year.

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Monitoring communications

Barbulescu v Romania

Back in 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that a worker in Romania who had been dismissed for his personal use of the internet at work had not been dismissed unfairly because of the employer’s monitoring of his internet usage.

Mr Barbulescu had sent messages to his brother and fiancée via his work-related Yahoo account. He later argued that, by monitoring his use of the internet and by using his Yahoo messages in disciplinary proceedings, his employer had breached his right to respect for private life and correspondence.

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Is voluntary overtime part of ‘normal pay’?

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council v Willetts and others

Holiday pay calculations continue to cause difficulties for employers, with uncertainty still existing over the question of which elements of workers’ pay should and should not be taken into account.

In the case of Mr Willetts and some of his colleagues, an employment tribunal decided that overtime that was purely voluntary, as opposed to being a contractual right or duty, should be included in the holiday pay calculation because it formed part of ‘normal remuneration’. That was notwithstanding the employer’s argument that voluntary overtime lacked the necessary intrinsic link to the performance of the contractual tasks and so should be excluded.

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