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Pay Inequality - a Form of Bullying in the Workplace?

The BBC has been back in the news this month following the damaging revelations regarding the inequality of pay between male and female presenters. 

It is alleged that the BBC forced presenters to form companies and treat themselves as freelancers, resulting in them being left with very little employment protection involving matters such as holiday or sick pay.

Kirsty Lang, presenter of the Art Programme Front Row since 2004, gave evidence to the Commons Cultural Committee in which she stated that all her worst fears came true when she was moved onto a new contract.

She stated that she was unable to take bereavement leave; “In fact, I went back and did my first show even before [her step-daughter’s] funeral, because I had to get some money in”.

She went on to state that “...and then two years after that, I was diagnosed with Cancer.  I had surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. I worked the whole way through”.

In response to the comments made at the Commons Culture Committee, the BBC said in their statement that “they always try to balance our responsibility to presenters with our responsibility to suspend the licence fee appropriately”.

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ACAS Early Conciliation – What Does It Mean?

As of May 2014, ACAS Early Conciliation has become a mandatory requirement. But what exactly does this mean for employers and employees?

Save from a limited number of claims, an individual who wishes to bring a claim at the Employment Tribunal must first contact ACAS; this includes claims for the following disputes:

  • Unfair dismissal
  • Discrimination
  • Redundancy payment or disputes over selection procedures
  • Deduction from wages, unpaid notice or holiday pay
  • Right to time off or flexible working
  • Equal pay

Ordinarily, it is for an employee to make contact with ACAS to initiate the process. It is, however, possible for an employer to initiate the process, should they wish to do so - there may well be times which it would be tactically advantageous for an employer to do so. Employers should note, however, that the time for the employee to issue a claim will not be stopped and there will be no extension of time.


What is ACAS Early Conciliation and what steps does an employee need to take?

Firstly, the employee will need to complete the ACAS Early Conciliation notification form which can be accessed online. Employees should considering using the employer’s appeal or grievance procedure, or letting such process runs its course before contacting ACAS, unless by doing so would result in the employee from being ‘out of time’.

Like with civil claims, there are time limits that both employees and employers should be aware of. For the majority of employment tribunal claims, the time limit is three months less one day. This is referred to as the limitation period.

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Employment Law - New Acas Guidelines Published

Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service for employers and employees alike has published new guidance on supporting working parents and trans employees.

Supporting working parents with ill or premature babies

The new advice published by Acas is geared towards assisting employers in supporting staff who have given birth to premature or ill babies, and employers are recommended to familiarise themselves with the new guidelines.

Advice for employers includes:

  • Being compassionate and sensitive in all communications
  • Being discrete. An employer should ask the parents what they would like to tell their colleagues about their situation. Understandably, some parents would like to keep the matter private.
  • Making employees aware of statutory entitlements to leave. This would include shared parental leave which must be taken between the baby’s birth and first birthday; and
  • Trying to be flexible when parents return to work as the baby may have follow-up appointments or treatment. Time off may be required.

The full article on supporting working parents with ill or premature babies can be found here.

Supporting trans employees in the workplace

Acas has published a new research paper on supporting trans and intersex employees in the workplace.

The research paper covers the legal and policy issues when employing trans and intersex workers. It also considers barriers, challenges and suggestions for change.

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