Employment Bulletin – May 2018

Large employers given extra time to report gender pay gap

Large employers who missed the deadline for reporting on their gender pay gap were given extra time to comply – but they were told they’ve entered the “last chance saloon” to avoid penalties.

Private and voluntary sector employers with 250 or more staff were required to report the information by 4 April.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) wrote to those who missed the deadline to tell them they had a further 28 days to submit their figures before an investigation takes place and an unlawful act notice is issued.

Failure to comply with the regulations will ultimately lead to an unlimited fine decided by the courts.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, EHRC Chief Executive said: “Those who haven’t reported really are entering the last chance saloon. This is not optional; it is the law and we will be fully enforcing against all companies that do not report.

“This legislation is in place to bring about better gender equality in the workplace and any employer not complying needs to ask themselves tough questions, re-think their priorities, be prepared for serious reputational damage, and be ready to face a very unhappy workforce.”

The EHRC calculates that the gender pay gap is currently running at 18.4%.

The requirement currently only applies to large employers, but it shows the importance the government attaches to equality in the workforce. Smaller employers may also wish to ensure their employment policies are up to date and reflect current requirements.

 

Employer must pay transgender employee £47,000 compensation

A transgender employee has won her claim of constructive dismissal after she was forced to resign following a series of discriminatory comments from her colleagues.

The employee worked as a retail assistant for a high street clothing brand.

She was subjected to various bullying comments and actions by several of her colleagues, including being told she had a “man’s voice”, “had evil inside her” and that she was “a joke”.

The employee was also sprayed with perfume, and had her privacy invaded in the ladies’ room when a colleague told a tradesman he could enter to carry out maintenance because there were “no women in there”.

The employee reported the discriminatory behaviour to her superiors, leading the employer’s HR team to order the department leader to investigate.

However, the employee was not informed of the outcome of the investigation or given the opportunity to appeal it.

The harassment continued so the employee refused to return to work unless the employer addressed the situation.

Eventually she emailed a resignation letter.

The employee then took the case to an Employment Tribunal which ruled in her favour.

It found that the employer did not deal properly with the discrimination or harassment she was subjected to on several occasions.

She was awarded over £47,000 for loss of past and future earnings, loss of pension, interest and injury to feelings.

 

Employers named and shamed for paying under minimum wage

Nearly 180 employers have been named and shamed for paying more than 9,000 workers less than the National Minimum Wage.

The underpayments totalled £1.1m. Those workers underpaid have now received back payments of the wages owed.

The worst offending sectors were retailers, hospitality and hairdressers.

The offending firms were fined a total of £1.3m, and their names were published online.

The minimum rates increased on 1 April. The National Living Wage applies to most workers over 25; the National Minimum Wage applies to most workers under the age of 25.

  25 and over 21 to 24 18 to 20 Under 18   Apprentice
April 2018 £7.83 £7.38 £5.90 £4.20 £3.70
April 2017 (previous) £7.50 £7.05 £5.60 £4.05 £3.50

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the new rates and encourage workers to speak to their employer if they think they are being underpaid.

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “The world of work is changing, and we have set out our plans to give millions of workers enhanced rights to ensure everyone is paid and treated fairly in the workplace.

“There are no excuses for short-changing workers. This is an absolute red line for this government and employers who cross it will get caught – not only are they forced to pay back every penny, but they are also fined up to 200% of wages owed.”

These latest changes come after the government published its Good Work Plan in February.

Other new rules include the right for every worker to receive a pay slip detailing how many hours they have been paid for, making it easier to identify and challenge if there is an error.

The new system is expected to benefit around 300,000 UK workers who do not currently get a payslip.