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    Employment Law & HR Roundup 17/09 – 23/09

    As the Birmingham Bin Strike comes to an end, it seems fitting that in this week’s Employment Law and HR roundup we start by discussing the importance of a strong employer/employee relationship.
    Also in this week’s discussion, we focus on vicarious liability, fit for purpose office spaces, offensive behaviour on social media and the national minimum wage.

    Why a Strong Employee/Employer Relationship Is Important

    The importance of a strong employer/employee relationship probably goes without saying, however, you do not have to look very far to find examples of where a poor office dynamic has caused disarray. Employees who feel as though they are in quality employment and are managed well tend not only to be happier and healthier at work, but are more likely to drive productivity and innovation.

    Whilst customer loyalty is tied intrinsically to the success of a company, the importance of loyalty from employees cannot be overestimated.

    From rethinking hierarchy, investing in loyalty and improving the employee experience, this article sets out several ways that employers can actively improve the employer/employee relationship and explains the benefits it can have for all involved.

    Half of British offices are not fit for purpose

    Could your office be having a negative impact on your employee’s productivity? A recent study shows that it may.

    46 per cent of the workers asked in the UK do not agree that their workplace enables them to work productively. The physical space that workers inhabit from 9-5 is cited as presenting a productivity barrier by impacting how proud people are to be there and the amount of enjoyment they take from their work.

    According to the report, the top productivity killers are space between work settings’, ‘dividers’ and ‘noise levels’.

    Read more about how your office could be hindering the performance of your employees.

    Vicarious liability: employers face big damages for employees’ actions

    Vicarious liability is where employers are held accountable for the actions of their employees. If it can be shown that it took place in the course of a worker’s employment, an employer could be liable to pay damages for personal injury or losses caused by an employee.

    A recent high-profile case that illustrates vicarious liability is Various Claimants v Barclays Bank. In this case, the High Court ruled that Barclays was liable for the sexual assaults committed by a doctor who was contracted to carry out medical examinations of prospective employees.

    Whilst displaying how businesses can be liable for situations that they would realistically struggle to prevent, this case also shows crucially that vicarious liability can extend to independent contractors who are working on behalf of a company.

    So, what can businesses do to reduce their risk? The following article suggests practical steps companies can take to avoid liability.

    National minimum wage – the devil can be in the detail

    Last month, the government released its ‘name and shame’ list of British businesses who failed to provide employees with the national minimum wage. A reported £2m in pack pay will go to around 13,000 of Britain’s workers. Highlighted as the most prominent offenders were retail, hairdressing and hospitality businesses.

    Whilst naming and shaming seems appropriate for those businesses who are intentionally avoiding paying their workers the minimum wage, it is becoming apparent that many companies are being caught out by some of the more complex rules.

    Failing to for account overtime, incorrectly paying apprentices and making uniform deductions from pay have all seen businesses joining the name and shame list.

    In this <a href=" target="_blank">article, People Management suggest how a meticulous approach to record keeping could help to ensure that businesses do not find themselves on the next list released by the government.

    Woman fires employee for ‘hate speech’ because she disagrees with same-sex marriage

    As Australia votes in a postal survey to ascertain the level of support for the legalisation of same sex marriage, the rift between the two sides of the argument is causing a challenge for employers.

    After firing an employee for expressing her intention to vote ‘no’ on social media, one business owner faced a torrent of abuse online.

    The conflict that can occur between an employee’s religiously held views and the image of a business creates an extremely tricky situation for employers.

    Read both sides of the argument here.

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