Legislation and regulation
March 4, 2014
Last month we questioned the financial wisdom of going to work for Britain’s working parents. Today the question became even more vexed as it emerged they typically pay childcare costs equivalent to over a quarter of the UK average salary. A report from the Family and Childcare Trust says that to have one child in a part-time nursery and another in an after school club would cost £7,549 each year. Not only does this represent 28 percent of the average salary of £26,500 and is more than an average mortgage which is £7,207 per annum. For those with full time childcare the costs are typically £11,700 per year. The report also notes that childcare costs have increased by over a quarter over the last five years and even the Government’s ongoing commitment to childcare is failing to alleviate the situation.
February 27, 2014
The UK’s Green Building Council has fired off its latest salvo in an ongoing battle with the Government over the implementation of environmental legislation for commercial buildings. A new report from the organisation’s Task Group urges the Government to push ahead with plans to ensure that by 2019 all new non domestic buildings will be built to zero carbon standards. The report claims that the implementation of appropriate regulations is hampered by a lack of clarity, including confusion over what zero carbon actually means as well as the government’s own stop-start approach to the environment. The current 2019 commitment to zero carbon buildings falls a year ahead of the deadline specified in European Law, but a recent focus from the coalition on reducing relevant legislation has added to confusion about the overall approach.
February 18, 2014
A new survey has highlighted the disparity between how energy (and hence money) conscious British people are in their domestic and working lives. According to research carried out by Rexel UK we exhibit a ‘split personality’ when it comes to the ways in which we use energy. Just under half (48 percent) of those surveyed describe themselves as energy conscious at home, whereas only a fifth (20 percent) would say the same about themselves in the workplace. Over a third (70 percent) say that they are concerned about wasting energy at home, whilst only two-fifths (43 percent) worry about wasting energy at work. In addition people are actively choosing to charge electronic devices at work in preference to home and, while nearly all turn the lights off at home (93 percent), only 60 percent do so in the office.
January 29, 2014
The UK Green Building Council has condemned Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to scrap realms of environmental guidance. In a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses earlier this week, the Prime Minister said that by March 2015 Defra will have slashed 80,000 pages of environmental guidance, saving businesses around £100 million per year; “to make it vastly easier and cheaper for businesses to meet environmental obligations.” However Paul King, Chief Executive at the UK Green Building Council, branded the move utterly reprehensible. He said: “The Prime Minister’s boasts of ‘slashing 80,000 pages’ of environmental guidance is. It is the same poisonous political rhetoric from Number 10, devaluing environmental regulation in a slash and burn manner. These words are not only damaging and irresponsible, but misrepresent the wishes of so many modern businesses, both large and small.” more…
January 28, 2014
Following last week’s revelation that the planned extension of Flexible Working Rights to all UK employees would be delayed beyond the proposed implementation date in April, new statistics released by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and a new report from the Working Families charity have revealed some of the disparities that exist in flexible working arrangements across the country. The Working Families survey of a little over 1,000 adults with dependent children, found that almost a third claim there are no flexible arrangements on offer where they work, leading many to feel resentful against their employers, with young fathers twice as likely to strongly resent the lack of flexible working affects their lives.
January 15, 2014
Some of the most hotly debated employment law issues from last year; including flexible working, workplace wellbeing and the contractual rights of employees look set to make more headlines this year, because 2014 is shaping up to be another year of significant change in UK employment law. While the timetable is subject to amendment, currently the Government is intending to introduce a number of revisions. The key employment law events and cases to watch out for in 2014 will include changes to TUPE, flexible working, flexible parental leave, employment tribunal procedures, redundancy consultation, Acas conciliation, calculation of holiday pay and post-employment victimisation; which we list below in the date order in which they are proposed. more…
December 11, 2013
The debate over the right to privacy of job applicants whose activities may be checked on social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, has led to some confusion over what is legally acceptable. Employers’ body the CIPD’s recent social media research revealed that two in five employers look at candidates’ online activity or profiles to inform recruitment decisions, but few inform applicants as a matter of course that this is being done. But just how aware are employers of the legalities around this kind of vetting? Managers have wide discretion within the law to decide whether or not to recruit a particular candidate, but to avoid risk of legal challenge they should be fully aware of the law on data protection and discrimination in employment. The CIPD has now published some useful guidance on what constitutes good practice. more…
December 6, 2013
We are starting to see the first shots fired in the coming war about wearable technology. The most talked about early salvos related to the very recent and highly publicised case of a diner in a Seattle cafe who was ejected when it was discovered he was wearing and using Google Glass despite being asked not to and reminded of the restaurant owner’s policy regarding wearable tech. The ensuing media storm broke on social media first as it does these days, with the Google Glass owner arguing – perhaps unreasonably – they were his glasses and he should be allowed to do what he wanted with them , while the cafe owner argued –perhaps reasonably – that his other customers don’t want to have a meal out while wondering if they are being filmed or recorded by a complete stranger with the ability to upload it all instantaneously.
November 20, 2013
As we reported just a few weeks ago, when it comes to implementing flexible working practices, one of the UK’s most obdurate sectors is the legal profession. While an increasing number of law firms are implementing flexible working of one sort or another, progress remains slow compared to other types of organisation and is offered primarily to certain echelons of employees. Now a new survey from commercial solicitors Fletcher Day explores the reasons for this recalcitrance and suggests that many law firms are culturally reluctant to offer flexible working, may only agree to it as a short term measure and believe that flexible working is not compatible with a successful career. This view also appears to be held by over three-quarters of the lawyers surveyed, including those who may have requested flexible working arrangements recently.
November 13, 2013
The UK’s opt-out of the maximum 48 hour working week being proposed by the EU is yet again under the microscope. This follows the recent publication by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) of a report which highlights the frustration felt by UK businesses regarding the Working Time Directive. “Our Global Future: The Business Vision for a Reformed EU”; focuses specifically on the continuing concerns for UK businesses around the extensive level of involvement EU legislation has on how they operate their business. It shows that the majority of businesses still favour the opt-out and the flexibility it provides. Interestingly however, many did not see the need to change the current entitlement to paid holidays or rest breaks. more…
November 5, 2013
Recent research shows that technology has helped us to become nearly five times more productive than we were in the 1970s. As well as enabling social interaction and personal expression, social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be valuable business aids for innovation and collaboration. However, with over half of people under 25 admitting they have to check Facebook at least once a day, it’s clear that for many, social media has become more than a form of virtual engagement. This can create something of an issue in the workplace, leaving employers with the dilemma of balancing the positive aspects of online communications while discouraging time wasting. more…
November 5, 2013
While firms worry about the loss of data through the practice of BYOD, employees continue to find low tech ways of breaching security according to a report from Iron Mountain. While under half (42 percent) of employees describe their organisation’s approach to hard copy as secure, one in ten describe it as chaotic. Nearly half claim to have seen confidential information lying around in the usual places such as on desks or photocopiers. The most common types of information exposed in this way are details of salaries and performance reviews as well as commercial and financial data, although many will remember the scandal that broke two years ago when Government minister Oliver Letwin (above) repeatedly dumped classified information in a park bin including some about Al Qaeda, Libya, Afghanistan, the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi.
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