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Employment Bulletin March 2016

ACAS publishes new guidance on workplace investigations

ACAS has published useful new guidance for employers on how to conduct workplace investigations involving disciplinary issues.

The guidance stresses the need for investigations to be carried out correctly in accordance with the law. Failure to do so could result in an employer having to pay compensation if sanctions taken against an employee are later deemed by a tribunal to be unfair.

These are the key areas covered by the ACAS guidance:

• Organisational preparation. Decide if an investigation is necessary, establish terms of reference and choose an appropriate investigator.
• The investigator's preparation. Draft an investigation plan and contact the parties involved.
• Handling the investigation. Plan what questions need to be asked and interview the relevant parties.
• Gathering evidence. Arrange witness statements and collect relevant written records and documents.
• Writing an investigation report. Plan the structure of the report, state what happened and make recommendations where requested.
• After the investigation. Submit the report and conclude the investigator role.

The full guidance is available here Guidance PDF

Government confirms plans for equal pay league tables

The government has confirmed that it's to press ahead with plans to force large companies to publish their gender pay gap data.

The figures will have to include the difference in bonus payments made to male and female employees. The information will then be collated and published in league tables.

The new measures are part of the government's drive to eliminate pay inequality within a generation. The move will affect about 8,000 companies that employ more than 250 people.

Companies will have to report every year, and the information will have to be signed off by senior executives. The data will include how many women and men there are in each pay range, and must be published on the company's website so it can be seen by both employees and consumers.

The Minister for Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan, said: "In recent years we've seen the best employers make ground breaking strides in tackling gender inequality. But the job won't be complete until we see the talents of women and men recognised equally and fairly in every workplace.

"That's why I am announcing a raft of measures to support women in their careers from the classroom to the boardroom, leaving nowhere for gender inequality to hide.

"At the same time I'm calling on women across Britain to use their position as employees and consumers to demand more from businesses, ensuring their talents are given the recognition and reward they deserve."

The new measures are expected to come into force in 2018. Although they only affect large companies at the moment, they illustrate the government's determination to tackle pay inequality once and for all. Employers may wish to check that they have the right policies in place to ensure that they don't fall foul of equal pay legislation.

Developer granted injunction to protect confidential information

A software developer has been granted an injunction to prevent a former employee passing on confidential information to a rival business.

The developer specialised in computer gaming software for use in non-gaming industries. The employee had joined the company as a programmer and later moved to the sales department.

There were restrictive covenants in his employment contract stating that he could not pass on sensitive company information to other firms.

He resigned in 2015 and accepted an offer from a competitor who was developing a similar product. Following a period of gardening leave, he was due to start his new employment in a few days.

The software developer submitted that the employee would inevitably convey confidential information to the competitor in breach of the restrictive covenants.

The court held that there was a serious issue to be tried and it was conceded by the employee that damages would not be an adequate remedy. The developer feared damage to its business including disruption and diversion of opportunities.

However, there would be real hardship suffered by the employee and his family if he was not able to start work.

The judge said that courts generally found, on balance, in favour of those who sought to protect their business interests. He granted the developer an interim injunction but ordered that a speedy trial should take place to consider the issues in more detail.

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