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Employment Law Update - February 2022

This Employment Law Update will cover recent case law, inflation and recruitment struggles. If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this email, please get in touch.


Record Pay Rises in 2022, According to CIPD Poll


In a recent poll, the CIPD found that employers are expecting a median pay increase of 3% this year. Despite this, most employees will see their real wages fall with the current high inflation.


According to the Chamber of Commerce, 58% of businesses plan to raise prices for goods and services in the next 3 months. Alongside rising energy prices, these small pay rises are eaten up quickly. According to the Chamber of Commerce, 58% of businesses plan to raise prices for goods and services in the next 3 months. Alongside rising energy prices, these small pay rises are eaten up quickly. However, it is encouraging that more employers are looking at pay increases, and further benefits, to retain their staff. It has become clear over the course of the pandemic that pay is not the only driving factor for employees, with flexible working and company culture becoming increasingly significant.


At this time it is important that your company considers how to implement rewards and incentives to keep staff engaged and productive. If you would like advice on how to manage pay reviews going into the new financial year, please get in touch.


Case Law – Employee Sacked for Not Returning to the Office was Unfairly Dismissed

This month an employment tribunal has ruled that a claimant was unfairly dismissed from his position for refusing to return to the office due to concerns around COVID-19. He had been working from home since the start of the pandemic in 2020 and lived with his partner who was classified as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’.

The claimant’s line manager said he was working effectively whilst at home and was happy for him to continue to do so due to his anxiety around catching the virus. The Company’s Head of HR explained that the claimant would be expected to return to the office in July of 2021 with everyone else, and suggested he take annual leave or move out of his home he shared with his partner.


The Company disciplined the claimant, who was unable to attend the meeting which the Company refused to reschedule. The claimant received a letter days later dismissing him on grounds of ‘gross misconduct’, which he appealed but was unsuccessful. The tribunal found that the Company did not act in a reasonable way and did not show a fair reason for dismissal or that any proper processes were followed. Even if the claimant had been guilty of misconduct, the tribunal did not feel that dismissal was an appropriate response.


The claimant is to be paid almost £15,000 in compensation.


From this it is clear that employers should be careful when asking employees to return to the office and should take individual circumstances into account and make reasonable adjustments if possible. The claimant said he hoped the Company would learn from the failures highlighted in the judgement and treat future cases more fairly.


Case Law – Employee Claims Back Historic Unpaid Holiday


In another recent court case, a plumber who was forced to take unpaid leave because his employer did not believe he was entitled to holiday pay has made a claim for his holiday entitlement for his whole time with the Company.


The Court of Appeal found that workers do not lose the right to roll over paid leave if their employer has not encouraged them to take their allowance. They stated that if the employer cannot grant holiday for business reasons, the allowance does not lapse but accumulates until the employment relationship ends.


The claimant is now able to claim 24 weeks’ worth of holiday pay, as well as compensation for having to take unpaid leave. This case highlights the key differences between self-employed staff, workers, and employees, as the Company believed the plumber to be self-employed however he was technically classed as a worker, entitling him to holiday pay. Employers must be careful when dealing with these distinctions, especially with the incoming IR35 regulations as well.


Struggling to Recruit? 76% of Jobseekers Admit to Ghosting Employers


Are you struggling to recruit? You’re not alone – 46% of employers reported having hard to fill vacancies in January. Part of this could be down to candidates ghosting you.


According to a recent survey, more than 3 quarters of jobseekers have stopped replying to an employer in the last 18 months. In a very tough market at the moment, you need to keep candidates engaged throughout the process to prevent this from happening. The most common reasons cited for ghosting an employer were a negative first impression, as well as inaccurate job descriptions and low salaries. Unemployment had fallen to just 4.1% last December, making it difficult for employers to find and attract talent. With more jobs than suitable applicants, candidates may be having to choose between multiple roles, leading to a sharp increase in ghosting.


The best way to prevent ghosting in your recruitment process is to keep in touch with candidates, and ensure they know where they are in the process. Don’t leave long gaps between applications, interviews, and the final decision. Keep the jobseeker engaged and let them know they can contact you with any questions or concerns.


A more personable recruitment process could be the key to finding, and keeping, the right candidate for your role.


If you have any HR queries please give a member of the team a call today, on 01926 853388, or email angela.roberts@arhrconsult.com. Visit www.arhrconsult.com for more information.

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