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    Employment Law & HR Roundup 24/10 – 30/10

    Welcome to the first of our October HR & Employment Law roundups.

    This week, we discuss long-term sickness, the implications of scrapping employment tribunal fees, looking after your older employees and much more.

    How to manage long-term sickness

    Managing long-term sickness can be tricky for employers. In certain situations, the illness/condition that has caused the absence may be serious and involve long recovery times and a sympathetic approach.

    It can be difficult to deal with a situation where you suspect an illness is being drawn out, and the employee is delaying his/her return to work.

    In either situation, the business can face uncertainty and enormous strain and employers will be met with challenges that require sensitivity and a solid knowledge of employment law.

    Long term sickness can affect staff morale, holiday entitlement and can lead to even dismissals to consider, and knowing the best way to manage long-term sickness is essential to minimising the damage it could have on your business.

    Read more about managing long-term sickness here.

    Supreme Court’s ground-breaking employment tribunal fees decision – what now?

    On July 26, the Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees prevented justice and were unlawful as a matter of English and EU law.

    Prior to the landmark ruling, there was a reported 70% reduction in the number of employment tribunal claims. This was welcomed by many as a victory for workers who had been unlawfully charged or deterred from bringing claims due to the fees.

    Whilst removing a barrier to justice is great news for employees, this has resulted in discussions about how the abolition of employment tribunal fees will affect the tribunal system's resources and businesses alike.

    Read about the implications for businesses following the landmark ruling and the affect on your business.

    How can employers look after their multi-generational workforce?

    It is forecasted that by 2022, there will be 3.7 million more people aged between 50 and state pension age. With over 48% of those over 50 expecting to work beyond the age of 65, retaining and looking after older workers is essential for the sustainability of businesses.

    In a recent study by Aviva, over half of workers over the age of 50 admitted to being concerned that health issues could prevent them from prolonging their working lives. Issues have been raised in the past about the opportunities that are available to older employees in terms of skills/career progression, and it’s clear that employers could do more.

    But how can employers look after the mental and physical health of their multi-generational workforce?

    This article suggests some practical steps that businesses can take to support the wellbeing of their older workers.

    Rising numbers of employees face demotion or dismissal for disclosing mental health issues

    In recent years, improved awareness of mental health has led to encouraging steps forward from many businesses to tackle mental health issues in the workplace. A YouGov survey revealed this week that 53 per cent of those asked would feel comfortable talking about mental health at work. However, despite this, the survey also indicated that 15 per cent of employees had faced dismissal, disciplinary action or demotion after disclosing a mental health issue.

    Speaking about these alarming findings, Louise Aston, a Wellbeing Director from Business in the Community said:

    ‘Despite the increased prominence of mental health as a workplace issue, it remains the elephant in the room that over a million people face serious repercussions for disclosing mental health issues to their employers. This report is an urgent call to action for collective leadership from employers to end this injustice and provide better support.’

    Read more about mental health in the workplace and the increasing number of employees who have faced a backlash at work because of it.

    TK Maxx employee fired after ‘fight’ over trainers wins tribunal

    A former TK Maxx worker who was dismissed following a fight with a customer has won an employment tribunal. His claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination were allowed after the tribunal decided the employer acted without first obtaining a proper medical opinion on the mental health of the employee.

    Ali Sageghi, who had told his employer previously that he suffered from depression and anxiety, and was taking medication to manage his condition, and was dismissed after a physical confrontation with a customer.

    Speaking about the employment tribunal’s decision, one employment solicitor said that employers should ensure they have ‘properly considered the impact of a disabled employee’s condition, and any medication they may be taking in respect of that condition, when making any decision to discipline and subsequently dismiss a disabled employee’.

    Read more here.

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