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    Employment Law & HR Roundup 27/08 – 02/09

    Welcome to your essential weekly employment law and HR briefing. This week’s roundup focuses on how employee handbooks can help employers to reduce risk, workplace discrimination faced by overweight employees, the dangers of neglecting remote workers and much more.

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    Why Every Business Needs an Employee Handbook

    Whether you refer to it as a staff handbook, an employee manual or any other similar variation, the employee handbook is an essential resource for all businesses. Choosing not to implement one, or failing to keep it up to date, could leave employers facing difficult employment challenges further down the line.

    Even today, when we rely on technology more than ever, people are a business’s greatest asset. However, they can also be its greatest risk. Employee handbooks allow employers to manage this risk, create a safe working environment and ensure employees are aware of the expectations an organisation has of them.

    In this article, we explain what an employee handbook is, why it is important and why every business should have one.

    Demoted or dismissed because of your weight?

    High profile cases of workplace discrimination make the headlines almost every week. With laws in place to encourage diversity, the threat of costly employment tribunals and dread over a PR nightmare, businesses are increasingly taking steps to rethink how they embrace and cater for a diverse workforce.

    The following article concentrates on a type of discrimination that is rarely discussed; the bias and mistreatment faced by overweight employees.

    Whilst UK law does not make any particular provision for discrimination on the grounds of weight, there have been recent cases where claims have been linked to both sex and disability discrimination.

    In this article, Ranate van der Zee discusses discrimination faced by overweight employees, gives real life accounts of the victim’s experiences and provides examples of where employers have faced legal action because of mistreatment or bias against overweight employees.

    Ignoring remote workers could spell danger for businesses

    Flexible working is becoming an increasingly popular option for many businesses. For people across the UK and beyond, the ability to work remotely has improved their work-life balance and meant that many people, who would have traditionally been forced to take lower paid part-time work, have been able to continue with their careers.

    In fact, the Equality and Human Rights Commission recently suggested that all jobs should be advertised as flexible to help reduce the gender and disability pay gaps.
    However, remote working is not without its challenges.
    A mental health charity has warned that UK businesses could lose money and employees if they continue to ignore remote workers.
    The isolation that remote workers could experience, coupled with unmanageable workloads means that employees who are working from home are likely to experience stress and demotivation.

    The following article discusses the dangers employers could face by ignoring remote workers.

    Postman who resigned over shift pattern wins £22,000

    A former postman was recently found to have been unfairly and constructively dismissed when he resigned over a dispute about shift patterns.

    Awarded £22,000 for his altered contract, the case shows that employers face huge risks when trying to change the working hours of their employees, especially when contracts have been varied to include provisions for childcare.

    Speaking about the ruling, one employment specialist remarked, “An employer cannot unilaterally change an employees’ contract of employment. Even if the contract has a clause entitling the employer to do so, the clause must be very clear and be exercised in a manner that does not undermine the relationship of mutual trust and confidence between employer and employee”.

    Read more about this case and how employers can avoid facing constructive and unfair dismissal claims.

    Listed companies must publish pay ratios under new law

    From June 2018, new laws will force all listed companies to publish the pay ratio between bosses and workers.

    The new measures announced this week are intended to make business reveal and justify the difference between how much top executives are paid in comparison with the average pay of their UK workforce.

    Theresa May this week called excessive executive pay the ‘unacceptable face of capitalism’. However, the new laws have faced criticism both the TUC, who called the measures ‘feeble’ and leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable who remarked “The overblown rhetoric from Theresa May is completely at odds with the weakness of the new rules”.

    Read more about how listed companies must publish pay ratios here.


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