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Employment Bulletin July 2015

Employer not obliged to delay dismissal to deal with grievances

An employer was not obliged to delay disciplinary proceedings against an employee just because she made allegations about her managers.

That was the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal in a recent case involving a bus driver.

The tribunal heard that the employer began proceedings against the driver because there were concerns about the standard of her driving. She responded by making allegations against the managers involved in her case.

The employer continued with the disciplinary hearing and eventually dismissed her.

The driver then alleged that the dismissal was unfair because the employer should have postponed the proceedings against her until her grievances had been investigated.

The Employment Tribunal found that the dismissal was fair and that decision has now been upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

In his conclusion, Mr Justice Supperstone said he rejected "the submission that the Respondents (employers) were obliged to put the disciplinary investigation on hold until they had dealt with the Appellant's (employee's) grievances".

The case gives a useful indication of how tribunals might view attempts by an employee to delay or thwart disciplinary proceedings. However, each case will depend on the individual facts and circumstances so legal advice should be sought before taking any action.

Tougher penalties for breaches of Minimum Wage take effect

Employers could face potentially crippling penalties if they fail to pay the National Minimum Wage (NMW).

The maximum £20,000 penalty for underpayment can now be charged for each worker underpaid. Previously, £20,000 was the maximum that could be imposed regardless of the number of employees who had been underpaid.

The change means employers could be faced with huge bills if they breach the regulations with several employees.

The penalty extension came into effect on 26 May under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

The government has also started naming and shaming employers who fail to pay the NMW, putting them at risk of reputational damage.

The current NMW figures are:

Workers aged over 21 £6.50 per hour

Workers aged 18-20 £5.13 per hour

Workers aged 16-17 £3.79 per hour

Apprentices £2.73 per hour.

The figures are due to rise in October.

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