Weekly Review of Developments 9/9/2016

Posted in : Weekly Review of Developments on 9 September 2016
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered:

Looks like Mike Ashley can afford to pay cash for one of those new waterproof, and presumably tax-free, iPhone 7s. Might come in handy for all that crying he's doing at the minute. Here is the news...


1. Early Bird Discount on Annual Reviews Ends Soon
2. NI Tops Ill-Health Retirement Table
3. Tackling Forced Labour in NI
4. NI High Court Brexit Challenge
5. Pension Developments
6. Managing People
7. Employment News in the Media
8. Health and Safety Developments
9. Friends of Legal-Island
10. Weekend Weather and Thought-Provoking Video

Highlights this week: It's been a pretty quiet week everywhere but on the roads - more employees retire due to ill health in NI than in any other part of the UK; the Department for the Economy issues advice on how to spot force labour or human trafficking; Acas has a really good guide on how to manage people in the workplace; and OSHA has set out a series of articles explaining where all those health and safety laws come from. It's really quite interesting, even if H&S is not your speciality. If it is your thing, you might be interested to know that HSENI are looking for a new Chair - details below.

The news is bound to be more extensive a week from today, when you should also watch this space for exciting news on the inaugural Northern Ireland Equality & Diversity Gala & Awards. Details to follow next week... in the meantime, we open with a very unusual first item (in that we do it only once a year!) - the early bird discount on our annual reviews of employment law ends next Friday. Book now, if you haven't already done so and save up to £60 per place.



Over 200 of your peers have already booked to attend the Annual Reviews of Employment Law 2016, held in association with sponsors SureSkills and Paycheck Plus. Book your place by 5pm next Friday (16th September) and you'll save up to £60 per seat.

This year we have 19 speakers across 14 different sessions, talking about everything from the important case law developments and the employment law implications of Brexit to dealing with unreasonable employees.  It’s a comprehensive and practical review of all the major changes and developments in employment laws affecting NI workplaces.

After attending, you will better be able to:

  • Minimise your risk of litigation
  • Understand how the relevant new cases from Northern Ireland, GB and Europe impact your workplace
  • Update your HR policies with useful templates for key areas in your organisation - these will be sent to you directly via email
  • Refer to all important legislative and case law developments relevant to your workplace with an extensive folder of notes
  • Prepare your HR department for the year ahead

The Annual Review of Employment Law conferences take place as follows:

* Culloden Hotel, Holywood – Wednesday 9th November 2016

* Ramada Hotel, Shaw's Bridge, Belfast – Tuesday 22nd November 2016

Early Bird Charity/Small Company* Rate: £385+VAT (deadline Friday 16th September) 
Charity/Small Company* Rate: £435+VAT 
Early Bird Rate: £465+VAT (deadline Friday 16th September) 
Standard Rate: £525+VAT

Pay online when booking to save an additional £20.

* All organisations with fewer than 50 employees or charities qualify for our Charity/SME rate. The number of employees includes all branches, subsidiary/parent companies, boards, trusts and federated organisations.



The Belfast Telegraph this week reported that Northern Ireland has the highest rate of people (25%) in the UK leaving work due to ill-health during the five years prior to claiming a state pension which is twice the UK national average.

Northern Ireland has the highest rate of people in the UK - 24% - quitting work because of ill-health in the five years before they can claim a state pension. That is twice the UK national average and 10% ahead of regions in second place.

Read more:

And we don't just worry about health. At least 17.5 million working hours are lost per year by the UK workforce as a result of employees taking time off work due to financial stress. These are the findings from Neyber’s “DNA of Financial Wellbeing” report that researched 10,000 UK workers - the first of its kind looking into the impact employees’ money worries have on UK businesses.

Financial stress is now becoming an increasing cause for concern for employers, with the study revealing 70% of the nation’s workforce admit to wasting a fifth of their time at work worrying about finances, costing the economy £120.7 billion a year.



Human trafficking involves the acquisition and movement of people by improper means, such as force, threat or deception for the purpose of exploitation. Slavery, servitude and forced labour is work or service that is exacted from any person under menace of any penalty, and for which that person has not offered himself voluntarily. Human trafficking and slavery/forced labour are serious offences attracting a maximum life sentence.

The Department for the Economy and Department of Justice have published a pamphlet on these issues for employers and others that includes some common signs and indicators, with contact details as to who to call if you suspect someone may be a victim of trafficking or forced labour. Some signs include:

  • Might live in groups in the same place where they work and leave those premises infrequently, if at all
  • Might have to pay for tools, food or accommodation or have those costs deducted from their wages
  • Might have no access to their earnings or be subject to excessive wage deductions
  • Might not be dressed adequately for the work they do: for example they may lack protective equipment or warm clothing


*** Forced labour or not, women tend to come off worse in the workplace. The theory that women get paid less than men because they are not sufficiently pushy in the workplace is not true, a new study suggests. Women are as likely as men to ask for a pay rise - but are less likely to get one, the research found. More from the BBC:

*** But who would be a contractor in a tech firm? "Working at Facebook, even as a contractor, was supposed to be the opportunity of a lifetime. It was, instead, the most toxic work experience of my life." Read more from the Guardian:

*** And the CIPD reports this week on zero-hour contracts. ONS figures show 903,000 in the UK work on zero hours in their main job, and many have been with the same employer for more than a year. The number of people employed on zero-hours contracts rose by 21 per cent year-on year and that may demonstrate an increasing reliance on more casual forms of employment in the wake of recent economic volatility. More from the CIPD:

The government comment on the ONS report is that, "Fewer than 3% of the UK workforce classes itself as being on a zero hours contract in their main job, with almost 70% of those on this type of contract happy with the number of hours they work."



The Northern Ireland peace process is based upon membership of the European Union, the High Court has heard and it would be unlawful to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - the formal process for confirming the UK's exit - without first securing Parliamentary authorisation. Raymond McCord and politicians including David Ford, Colum Eastwood, John O'Dowd and Steven Agnew are seeking to judicially review the British Government's move towards leaving the EU.

The cases were initially heard on Monday and the judge decided to list the cases for mention again for yesterday. More from ITV:

* Meanwhile, the British Chamber of Commerce published a survey of UK firms and revealed that two fifths of companies report their EU employees have expressed concern over their future residency status following the vote to leave the European Union.

** And clarity continues to be sought in specific services. The Scotsman reports that insurance market Lloyd’s of London could be forced to move parts of its business to the EU unless single market access is secured in a post-Brexit Britain, chairman John Nelson has warned. Read more at:



The Employers’ Duties (Implementation) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016 shall come into operation on 1st October 2016. The new regulations amend regulations 5 and 6 of the Employers’ Duties (Implementation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 regarding transitional periods in pension schemes:

*** There is an interesting article on auto-enrolment developments and transitional periods on Lexology for those with an interest in pensions:



Acas, the GB equivalent of the LRA, has launched new guidance for line managers to help run effective teams and make businesses more productive. Acas is calling on small businesses and larger companies to use the guidance to ensure that staff are equipped to manage and care for their teams.

The new guide highlights leadership, people management and strong organisational skills as three key areas where team leaders need strong skills:

  • How to lead and motivate - Managers should know how to build trust and respect with their teams, listen to their concerns and ideas.
  • How to manage tricky situations with people - Typical scenarios could be staff members having family problems, two colleagues accusing each other of bullying, or jealousy in a team over nominations for training and bonuses.
  • Organising day to day tasks - A good manager should be effective at planning team work, rotas, budgets, and balancing their own time.

Although GB-based, with the odd reference to GB-only employment rules, the information and advice is generic and full of sensible suggestions and useful tips that could be applied in any jurisdiction. Well worth a read and recommending to supervisors who want to bolster team spirit and output:

*** Acas also has a good guide out on homeworking, for those looking for some ideas in that area:

Treat this one with more caution, if outside GB, because it has several legislative references that do not apply in NI.



* Sports Direct has announced plans to strengthen its HR team after a report revealed “serious shortcomings” in the way it handled key people-related issues. Mike Ashley’s company also said it would offer more staff contracts with guaranteed hours, and consider further action to boost the pay of those hovering near the minimum wage. More from the CIPD:

* Poundworld has been hit with a £60,000 fine after an employee's arm was caught in a cardboard compactor. More from ITV:

* A Flybe employee has won her sex discrimination case over a lack of flexible working, although her flexible working hours claim has failed. Read more from the Exeter Express and Echo:

* Facebook has been criticised for its poor working conditions by former staff including allegations of sexism and forcing its journalists to adopt unethical and biased reporting standards. Read more from the Guardian:

* The government should ignore calls to limit future increases to the national living wage, a think-tank said. The Resolution Foundation said that women, the young and older workers were most likely to lose out if future rises are limited. More from the BBC:

* Judges have launched a scathing attack on plans to devolve employment tribunals to Scotland claiming the reforms will "seriously undermine" the system and lead to a "second rate" service. More from Herald Scotland:

* In the US, in a victory for Uber, a court said drivers, for the most part, have to resolve claims against the company individually and not through a class action lawsuit. More from the Independent:



* Safety and Health at Work: It’s the Law

Ever wondered where all the laws on health and safety emanate? National safety and health legislation in Member States is governed by European legislation. This includes legally binding EU directives, non-binding EU guidelines to facilitate the implementation of directives and EU standards. OSHA has set out a series of articles explaining it all. It's really quite interesting, even if H&S is not your speciality:

* HSENI Chairperson Opportunity

DfE is seeking to appoint a new Chairperson to the Board of the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), an executive Non-Departmental Public Body with Crown status.

The appointment is effective from 1 April 2017 although there will be the opportunity to ‘shadow’ the outgoing Chair with effect from 1 January 2017.  The term of appointment will be for three years. The closing date for applications is 5pm on Friday 30 September 2016. 



* New County Court Judges

Two new County Court judges, HHJ Neil Rafferty QC and HHJ Elizabeth McCaffrey, were sworn in this week by the Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan. Many readers will know Ms McCaffrey in particular from her time as an employment judge/chairman in industrial and fair employment tribunals. Congratulations to both new judges:



Should be drier today after the rain disappears... before it comes back. Saturday will be sunnier but breezy with scattered showers, most frequent in the west. Fewer showers on Sunday, before rain and strengthening winds spread in later. Maximum daytime temperatures of 17°C.

Go to the BBCNI for local information:

This week's thought-provoking video features Salman Khan who asks, 'Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven't always grasped the basics?' Yes, it's complicated, but educator Sal Khan shares his plan to turn struggling students into scholars by helping them master concepts at their own pace. Watch the video:

* And don't forget the A&L Goodbody 'Back to Basics' series of videos on the Legal-Island website if you want a quick check of NI employment rights. As well as a short video from the team, there's a transcript for reference purposes. This week's video by Andrew Spratt is an 'Introduction to Shared Parental Leave'. Click here to view the video:

Enjoy the weekend.

This article is correct at 09/09/2016

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

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