Chess board with people on depicting employment strategy

You can tell the employment crunch is starting to hit when the BBC is starting to propagandize the benefits of a summer job to youths. But does this mean it’s going to be an employee’s market or will the knock-on effects of Brexit give employers even more influence over their diminishing pool of workers as everyone tries whatever it takes to retain profitability?

Here are some new changes to UK Employment Law and company practices that might impact just how you’re entering the workforce this year.

EU General Protection Regulation (GDPR)

While the UK has the intent to leave the EU, the government has also stated that they will broadly comply with the regulations under their implementation as the Data Protection Act 2018. While for most people this will seem only relevant in an extra info window they have to click through when browsing the Internet, for employers and Human Resources it has significant obligations.

Employees must be notified of detailed information regarding how the company controls their sensitive personal information and any monitoring of their behavior and interests. New documentation will have to be provided explicitly noting how data is gathered, how long the personal data will be stored, and if it will be transferred to other countries. It must show that sensitive information is handled with appropriate security, and informing employees that they always have the right to request access to their own data and to have said data deleted or corrected in specific circumstances.

There are supposed to be stronger legal protections for information that identify someone’s race or ethnic background, political opinions, religious beliefs, genetics, health, sex life or orientation, or membership in a trade union. What people choose to reveal about themselves is their own business, but a company must protect said collected sensitive information. There are severe penalties for data breaches and improper use of employee information.

A Data Protection Officer should be appointed to deal specifically with these concerns.
In summary, the UK Data Protection act does two things:

1) Employers must take extra care to protect the data that they collect and explicitly state to their employees what sort of data they are collecting,
2) Employers can generally no longer rely on broad consent terms in their contracts. Consent may be withdrawn at any time.

 

National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage

More obvious are the changes to the minimum wage that employees may expect depending on their age. This will take effect in April and is expected to help at least two million employees.

• For workers aged 25 and over, paid hours change from £7.50 to £7.83
• For workers aged 21 to 24 years old, paid hours change from £7.05 to £7.38
• For workers aged 18 to 20 years old, paid hours change from £5.60 to £5.90
• For workers aged 16 to 17 years old, paid hours change from £4.05 to £4.20
• For apprentices aged under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship, paid hours change from £3.50 to £3.70

Companies that pay less than minimum wage will be fined and named in the annual list of shame. Even such high street companies like Wagamama and TGI Fridays, along with hotel chain Marriott’s were found to leave employees underpaid.

Increase in Statutory Payments

Employees are allowed some paid time off for sickness or to have children. Similar to the above, the government has announced increases to the statutory benefit payments applicable April 2018.

• Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental pay and maternity allowance will increase from £140.98 to £145.18 a week.
• Statutory sick pay will increase from £89.35 to £95.05 a week.
• In addition, the maximum amount used to calculate statutory redundancy payments will increase from £489 per week to £508 per week.

Payments After Being Dismissed from Work

While certain policies make it more attractive for employees, it is inevitable that there are many who will lose jobs in the new economic climate. There are also new laws that deal with this issue.

• As previously mentioned, statutory redundancy payments for jobs that will no longer exist in the company will increase and continue to remain tax-free. But all termination of employment on or after April 2018 will have all notice pay treated as earnings and will be subject to tax and national insurance contributions.
• Employers will be liable to pay national insurance contributions on termination payments above £30,000 (Class 1A NIC, Employer’s Liability Only).
• The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal has also increased from £80, 541 to £83, 682, as long as the effective date of termination is on or after April 6, 2018.

Increase in Minimum Contributions for Pension Schemes

But it’s not all money going down. It’s a unpleasant surprise to millions in auto-enrolment pensions to find that their minimum contributions will increase from 1% to 3% of their income. It’s not all good news for their employers either, as they must increase from their 1 to 2%. This, what used to be 1% + 1% or 2% minimum becomes 2% + 3% for a total of 5% minimums.

This takes effect on April 6 2018. However, expect more to come in April 2019, for then the employer’s contributions will increase to 3%, while the employee must pay our 5% from their own pocket, for a minimum contribution of 8% of their income.

 

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

2018 is the deadline for the Gender Pay Gap Reporting required for all companies. Some companies, including Apple or the Conservative Party even state that their gender pay gap is in favor towards women. This is an issue complicated by the difference between the median and the mean in gender pay gap reporting.

The or mean, is the wages of all employees divided by the number of employees. The median is the figure that stands in the middle when all employee wages are ranked from highest to the lowest. The results are enlightening.

While this has no direct effect yet, this transparency may influence workplace culture in the future and help in negotiating for your entry wages.

Employment Restrictions on Illegal Workers

Penalties for employing illegal workers can range from light to severe, up to unlimited fines or even 5 years of jail time.

To further disincentivize the employment of illegal workers, employers will henceforth be unable to claim Employment Allowance for at least one year if they ever hired an illegal worker, been penalized by the Home Office, and have already used up all appeal rights against said penalty.

In the wake of the Brexit confusion, employers have a duty to check that their existing employees retain a Right to Work and for employees to make sure their paperwork is filed well in advance. The EU Settlement Scheme is designed to be as easy as possible but less smooth in practice.

Employers should be mindful not to be too quick to take the option of dismissal however, because individuals should have the rights of appeal against their dismissal, as in the case of Afza vs East London Pizza.

Workers (Definition and Rights) Bill

One thing to really pay attention to is this bill, which is expected to amend the very definition of the worker; to make provisions of worker’s rights, and all connected purposes therein. This is very important to know when workers can be classified as employees instead of self-employed.

All workers including zero hour and causal workers could receive basic rights, payslips, and terms of conditions of employment from day one. Already one of the landmark cases in the push back against the gig economy, the tribunal has ruled that Hermes couriers are workers, not self-employed independent contractors, and thus were due minimum wage, holiday pay, and back pay for unlawful deductions to their salary.

 

Conclusions

For employers and employees the most significant are the laws specifying changes minimum wage, in taxation and contributions. These have the most immediate impact on income and profitability. However, perhaps the two most important employment legislation in 2018 are regards:

1) Employment Status of Workers
2) Gender Pay Gap

Sure there’s the whole Brexit situation to worry everyone, but these two have the largest long-term influence in the way we work. It is difficult to estimate with accuracy the number of people in zero-hour contracts. Figures gathered by the Labor Force Survey and Business Survey show between 900,000 to 1.8 million.

About 18% of those working in Zero-Hour Contracts are in education, showing how the flexibility of such contracts may be a benefit to students. However, approximately 4% of working adults are estimated to be working in the gig economy.

A change in the employment culture may in the short term mean less profits but pay off later in increased diligence and employee loyalty if independent contractual workers can have the right to negotiate for long-term employment after a span of time.

Meanwhile, the gender pay gap is a similar but distinctly its own issue from gender pay inequality or wage discrimination, which has already been set in the “equal work for equal pay” Equality Act 2010.

It can show how men earn more per hour than women or that the lowest paid workers in the company are mainly female while the highest paid are mainly men. The Gender Pay Gap reporting ensures that companies can no longer hide behind opaque pay records and so face the question ‘Why does this pay gap exist and what can we do about it?’

There have been many attempts to explain why the gender pay gap happens almost everywhere, from differences in energy and willingness to sacrifice personal time, to even the pay difference essentially being a penalty for childbearing.

While others may be well-meaning, for the most part their employees and management might not even be aware about the situation in their own company. As a worker, it would also be useful to know in which industries you will find yourself being paid less. Finance, for example, has shown to be a highly-divergent field in the UK. However, contrary to expectations, for many, finding out the gap existed in fields in which they were already unrepresented was not really discouraging further participation.

“The message we got back [from women] was that they were not surprised by the gender pay gap in tech, that it wouldn’t affect them wanting to work in tech, so long as the company was open about it and taking action,” said Sarah Kaiser, Emea diversity and inclusion lead at Fujitsu.

This is why the Gender Pay Gap Reporting and Defining Worker Status new laws are so useful. By confronting the issue directly, it can encourage further participation by new young workers, and could blunt whatever adverse effects on the workforce caused by Brexit.

google uk law

The recent ruling in favor of a businessman that wanted Google to delist search results about his past crime is just the latest skirmish between two different value systems on privacy.

The UK’s ruling is based on the concept that after having already served his punishment and showed true remorse, after a certain span of time convictions should be ‘spent’, that the offender becomes a regular citizen that for all intents had never been convicted at all, and thus make it easier to find and maintain lawful employment and dis-incentivize a return to crime.

Google’s argument is based on public interest, and that ability to look up information about previous behaviors is pertinent to future employers and relationships. Both have valid points. It is a rights vs rights argument: privacy vs free speech, freedom against harassment against vs right of others to know.

The Rulings

The recent lawsuit filed against Google actually involved two businessmen who petitioned google to unlink search results to previous legal cases. The first denied petition was about a previous conviction 10 years ago for “conspiring to intercept communications” and had served six months in jail. He plead guilty to the charge. Judge Mark Warby stated that because the first individual had reformed and the crime was less serious, it was no longer relevant information.

The other businessman was convicted for money or informational fraud, for which he had served four years in prison. Judge Warby ruled in favor of Google that it is remains relevant information and search results that include his name with regards to his crime should remain listed.

The Court observed that:

… it may be misleading to label the right asserted by these claimants as the “right to be forgotten”. They are not asking to “be forgotten”. The first aspect of their claims asserts a right not to be remembered inaccurately. Otherwise, they are asking for accurate information about them to be “forgotten” in the narrow sense of being removed from the search results returned by an ISE in response to a search on the claimant’s name. No doubt a successful claim against Google would be applied to and by other ISEs. But it does not follow that the information at issue would have to be removed from the public record … And a successful delisting request or order in respect of a specified URL will not prevent Google returning search results containing that URL; it only means that the URL must not be returned in response to a search on the claimant’s name.

“We are pleased that the Court recognised our efforts in this area, and we will respect the judgements they have made in this case,” was Google’s response to the rulings.

While it can be argued that this particular case had a neutral result, it is most significant by the precedent it sets. The same ruling against Google here could be used against other search engines and will set the tone for future petitions.

What is The Right to Be Forgotten?

In May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union established a RTBF (Right to Be Forgotten). It allows Europeans to request that search engines delist links present in search results containing an individual’s name, if the individual’s right to privacy outweighs public interest in those results. The delisted information must be “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to those purposes and in the light of the time that has elapsed.” The ruling requires that search engine operators conduct this balancing test and arrive at a verdict.

Three Years of the Right to be Forgotten white paper by Google

The particular precedent for this case was May 2014 EU Court judgement of Google Spain vs Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD) that decided that individuals do have a right to request search engines to remove links to webpages when the individual’s name is used as the search entry. Google does not have a journalistic exemption to the Act 1 of the General Data Protection Regulation.

  1. The data subject shall have the right to object, on grounds relating to his or her particular situation, at any time to processing of personal data concerning him or her which is based on point (e) or (f) of Article 6(1), including profiling based on those provisions. 2The controller shall no longer process the personal data unless the controller demonstrates compelling legitimate grounds for the processing which override the interests, rights and freedoms of the data subject or for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.

The Right to Object is meant to be universal across all the EU, as it defines protections against the use of personal data for marketing and profiling. Contrary to expectations, most petitions are not to erase mentions of previous crimes. References to Crime and Professional Misconduct only comprise 6.1% and 5.6% respectively. (1/21/2016 – 04/26/2018 data)

By comparison, requests to remove non-sensitive Personal and Professional Information comprise 5.5% and 18.5% respectively. Another 4.5% on the Google transparency report could be the removal of sensitive personal information. A further 7.6% are requests to remove self-authored works.

As can be seen on the link, 88% of all requests come from private individuals. Delisting is not just about reputation management.

While removing personal histories might feel disingenuous, one has to remember that it has been less than two decades since social media has exploded into the global consciousness. Prior to the wide mainstream use of Internet, people had a general expectation of privacy. People have the right not to be exposed onto global scrutiny without their consent. People have a right to feel safe from being tracked or harassed by strangers. People have a right to object to false use of their identities. People have a right not to allow the stupid things they’ve said or done while teenagers or otherwise debilitated to haunt them later in their lives. People have a right not to have their personal information used for marketing purposes.

To sum it up, people have a ‘right to be forgotten’, a ‘right not to have their personal information be collected, remembered, and made use of by entities without their awareness of permission’.

Individuals cannot force government or journals to erase their content, but as a data processor they can petition Google to make it harder to find. For legal and investigative purposes, a background search could still be accomplished with other services designed for such activities.

The extremely broad net that Google and seach engines casts of the visible Web means that they are the primary tool to enable this right. The requester must file reasons for why the information must be de-listed. It is not automatic for Google however, and an argument can be said that this levies excessive obligation to treat each petition on a case by case basis.

What’s so bad about this?

Losing the ‘landmark’ Right to Be Forgotten case in the UK sets the precedent that if Google refuses to delist the information, individuals may appeal to their local privacy court. This may have unfortunate consequences if it becomes a common recourse.

  • The most obvious, of course, is that the appeals process moves the judgment for delisting to the courts, and so Google and the petitioner will have to present their arguments. Every court case makes it more annoying, more expensive, and slower for literally everyone involved.
  • The Streisand Effect may in the cause of attention to hide information make it more public instead.
  • This sets up a precedent of the local government having primacy over what is allowed to be listed under public interest. Sure, it might not sound as bad when it’s done by a court looking out for general public welfare. But the fact the Google can be ordered to delist by governments even though they have internationally located servers mean that less benevolent, less democratic governments can exercise more complete information control to the detriment of their own citizens.
  • Perhaps the most necessary but worst consequence is that the sheer load of petitions received and the need to evaluate each of them on a case by case basis means that automation might be the only way out for Google. Unfortunately, as proven by many other systems for automatic verdicts (such as Youtube’s whole mess of a copyright takedown system), software are… dumb. As much as it will make sending and processing petitions faster, it will very probably also make mistakes so much faster and more widespread, causing extra complaints and headaches for Google and all related websites.

The right to free speech means the right to let the public know true information that assists their interests. There are those that fear this may be a serious blow to the freedom of information that enables the Internet to be platform for advocacy for justice and liberty. On the other hand, the Internet has a proven record of abusing and harassing people for their lapses of privacy.

This is not an easy question to solve. There’s few wars as destructive as when good intentions come head to head. The best we can hope for is that Google and the EU come to a compromise in a way that could serve as a useful template for other countries and their people’s expectations for safer online interactions.

Divorce is the dissolution of marriage within legal bounds, and dealing with issues connected to divorce can be very traumatic. Even so, many marriages end this way. Popularly thought to be a very common issue in the United States, but in actuality divorce rates in Europe are not much better and in fact may be worse.

It may surprise you to know that by recent survey data, both the US and the UK actually hover at around 40% divorce rate compared to others like Portugal, Belgium, and Denmark, which break 50% to 60%.

Divorce can exhaust you mentally, physically and financially so it is just right to know the direction you’re headed when thinking about divorce. Divorce laws are of course different for every country, but in some ways just divorce laws between states can be as varied as entirely different countries. As much as the US and the UK have strong similarities there are also important cultural differences.

With these oddly similar numbers, do they view marriages and divorce the same way?

1. There is no No-Fault Divorce in England and Wales.

There are two ways to approach divorce – Fault and No-Fault.

The first one is the No Fault divorce, which includes lack of support from your spouse and any other cause without any rational possibility to reconcile. This includes two parties living apart from each other for three years or more. Another case would be due to mental health issues that last for more than three years, marriage could be ended as there may be no chance for recovery.

The other type is the Fault Divorce, which often times the most common basis for divorce conditions. This includes cruelty or bad behavior and abuse towards the partner (whether mental or physical), adultery or infidelity, felony (when a partner commits crime and imprisoned for more than a year) and abandonment (when partner leaves the other for more than a year).

England and Wales does not have the provisions for no fault divorce; that is, one party cannot unilaterally decide to end the marriage due to differences. A fault-based system imposes penalties on the misbehaving party in a relationship, but of course when neither want to lose their properties and rights to their children they must have an option other than suffering a loveless marriage.

Among the grounds for divorce there is one way to achieve functionally the same result, when married partners live apart with mutual consent for at least two years. However, this period may be prolonging the pain of an irreconcilable marriage and imposes greater burden on their children. Ireland has a harsher requirement, four years before divorce is allowed under grounds of separation.

Scotland had No-Fault Divorce provisions since 2006.

2. Minimum amount of time to be married before allowed to file for divorce

In the United Kingdom, the couple must be married for at least a year prior for a divorce case to be filed for petition.

In the US, in theory you can apply for a fault-based divorce almost immediately if the marriage would be harmful. For amicable no-fault divorce, it generally depends upon the State but about one year of separation.

Alimony or terms of spousal support still tends to be awarded based the length of time being married.

3. The Decree Nisi and the Decree Absolute

Divorce proceedings in the US have an almost clinical efficiency. Most of it is spent in talks and negotiations between lawyers, only taking it to court when there must be a judgement laid on adversarial conditions regarding custody and properties.

Divorce proceedings in the UK, being an at-fault mechanism, is between the petitioner and respondent. The respondent may choose to defend (against) the divorce or file a divorce petition of their own. When the intent to defend or both sides have filed divorce petition, the court will schedule a hearing.

The Decree Nisi and the Decree Absolute are the final two stages of divorce proceedings. When the court issues the Decree Nisi, it has found that the marriage is no longer viable. After a specified amount of time, if the Decree Nisi is not given grounds to be retracted, it will become a Decree Absolute, it does not apply merely to divorce proceedings.

Even so it is possible that the court can suspend divorce process even after issuing the Decree Nisi when there is a reason for both parties to reconcile with each other. Only the petitioner may ask for this suspension.

4. Child Support Agency and maintenance

There is no court power in terms of dealing with maintenance of the children. It is now only limited to a number of special cases, when both parents apply for order of consent. These can happen in payment of school fees or when there are care costs for a disabled child. CSA assesses based on information provided and will chase when defaulted.

In this case, lawyers can assess their client’s capacity to make an application to the courts or leave it for the CSA.

In the US, a parenting plan is required and both parties are encouraged to decide on custody and visitation agreements.

5. Divorce automatic resident rules

The effect of divorce decree for a property on a different country may vary. Logistically, it would be best to file the divorce decree in the country where most of your assets are located.

Interestingly, one only needs to stay in the UK for 183 days or more to be considered a resident.

But even if you don’t, you can still be automatically considered to have legally been a resident of the UK if you have a home in the UK for (owned, rented, or lived in) more than 90 days and present in said home for at least 30 days. If you have sufficient family ties to the UK and you have spent more than 15 days with them, you may be considered a resident for jurisdictional purposes.

 

US laws allow you to file for divorce even if you were married overseas. If either you or your spouse is American, jurisdiction still often a matter of where you presently live than where you filed your marriage. Divorce across borders have much greater issues with regards to custody and division of property.

 

Article by Hadaway & Hadaway solicitors in the North East UK.

solicitors legal fees

This actually is very easy to implement and will not harm your conversion rate, if handled correctly.  You will still have the same number of clients but you will be charging them more for your services.  You will notice a wonderful increase in your profits and that’s excellent!

Why You Should Be Charging More:

If you believe you are providing an excellent service to your clientele, by all means, start charging more.  If on the other hand, you feel there’s room for improvement then you need to make some serious changes or get out of the business.   Look at it this way, if one of your clients asks for your help, I am sure you will provide them with the very best legal support to help them out. This is precisely why they came to you, to begin with.

Therefore, shouldn’t you be properly compensated for your excellent service?  The answer is an obvious yes.

How You Can Charge More.

Start Selling Your Services To Your Existing Clientele:

Keep in mind, if you start selling your services to existing clients, you have an advantage because these people are loyal to you.  You will discover they will except your increase in fees.  Let’s face it, your loyal clients contact you because you are their solicitor!  They will not have a problem with an increase in your rates so long as you continue to provide them with the same level of service they had always expected.  Just make sure your rates are not so high that you will scare them off.  Here are some valuable tips to help you increase your profits without harming your practice.

Build Loyalty:

Always communicate with your clients on a regular basis in order to build loyalty.  Contact them and find out how they are doing at least once a month.  That’s not to say pester them, just communicate with them from time to time.  If you are not communicating with your current clients, you really need to turn that around.  With the incredible software tools that are now available, it’s really quite easy to stay in touch with your clients regularly.

Obviously, if you are acting on the part of a client, you are in constant communication and providing the very best service.  When you provide a really great service, they will never consider looking elsewhere. Good client loyalty also leads to them referring you to family and friends.  I am sure there have been times that you have needed the service of a company and have experienced wonderful help and even though there are others that are cheaper, you would never consider turning to anyone else.  Your clients are the same way, so make sure you give them the service they are expecting, they are going to stay because your service has been exceptional.

Selling Your Services To New Clients:

If you are looking to bring in new clients, make sure you review your current services and make improvements where necessary.  Here are some tips to help you make some adjustments and improvements.

Are You Listening To Your Clients?

Unfortunately, many people have a habit of speaking but not listening.  In many cases, solicitors are selling their services on the telephone but forgotten that listening is more valuable than talking.  They are in such a hurry to make a sale, they have overlooked what the client’s needs are.

When you take the time to listen to what their problems are and what they are looking for, you will stand out from the crowd.  Before trying to sell them on your service, know what they are looking for.  Have they recently been injured and it wasn’t their fault?  Are they setting up a will?  Are they planning to get a divorce?  These are just a few problems that millions of clients are looking for solutions for.

If you are too busy trying to sell your practice, you are losing out because you are not listening to them and they will look elsewhere.

Match Your Service To Their Individual Needs:

Once you have listened to what they need help with, it’s much easier to tell them why your service will be a perfect match.  Look at it this way, you are young and interviewing for a job.  The personal director tells the potential employee exactly what they expect from those looking for employment.  All the director requested was that this young person repeats back exactly what he or she was looking for.  The young person repeated back every word and landed the position.  In a nutshell, they gave the director exactly what he or she was looking for.

Explain your services and let them know their needs will be met because you understand what they are going through.  That’s practically a win-win situation.

Follow-Up:

You can follow-up on your conversation with an email or a letter.  Potential clients will feel they are significant to you and that could be a winning situation.  If you don’t, the chances are you will be easily forgotten and they won’t even remember which firm you are with.

Call your prospects back and make sure you have answered all their questions and whether they need more information.

What Should You Charge:

Many solicitors, over the years, have been dropping the rates to such a low level it’s a wonder they still stay in business.  The bottom line, your service is worth what the client is willing to pay.  Some solicitors might charge. £450 for their services while another is charging  £1350 for the same services.  Where some clients might consider the £1350 as over the top, if explained properly they might reconsider when you let them know you will spending more time on their case, being in constant contact with them, and providing more time to make sure all transactions are handled correctly and in a timely manner.

Start off in small increments of  £25 and see if you convert the same number of inquiries.  If that works, increase your rates again, even though you are not to the amount you want, in the end, you will get there once you realize how much a client is willing to pay for your excellent services.

In Conclusion:

Your legal practice is your passion and you have placed a great deal of work in providing your clients with exceptional services.  Why shouldn’t you test the waters and see if increasing your rates will improve your profits while still giving your clients the services they have come to expect? Follow some of these suggestions, improve where there might be weaknesses, and make your business an even greater success.

Author: hadaway.co.uk

There are people on each side of the fence regarding defendants being awarded discounts if they plead guilty to their crimes. In many cases, their sentences are reduced significantly and some believe horrific crimes, such as murder, should not be rewarded!

Others believe that it would be a great expense to go through a trial by not allowing the defendant to plead guilty and get a discount.  They also firmly believe it would put victims through a great hardship during the trial and therefore could be prevented.

Although it’s up to the Judge’s discretion whether to offer a higher or lower discount and more and more courts are leaning toward and “Overwhelming Case” to justify lowering the discount reward.  The controversies surrounding the entire issue whether defendants can plead guilty and get a discount is certainly not mending any bridges from either side of the situation.

Maybe not known by all, the courts are actually giving a discount to defendants who are willing to plead guilty.  Some reasons for this include saving time and money, will spare victims stress from giving evidence, and defendants could show signs of remorse.

In general, the discount of 1/3 is given for a plea of guilty if done as early as possible. Read more