Online Employment Tribunal hearings – remote possibility or part of our new normal? (UK)

Digital lawRemote evidence in Tribunal hearings have traditionally been limited to circumstances where an individual’s location or health makes it very difficult for them to attend the venue. Historically the ETs have not much liked it and there is a continued perception that evidence given remotely is like that given by a written statement alone – admissible, yes, but just not as persuasive as a live witness there in front of the Judge. Throw a global pandemic into the mix, however, and now remote hearings are increasingly becoming the norm rather than an exception. But how different are remote hearings to those heard in-person? What if the internet cuts off? How can witnesses be best prepared to present their evidence virtually? Read on to find out.

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WEBINAR – October 30: What the US Election Means for Labor and Employment Legislation (US)

While it is impossible to predict the outcome of the November 2020 presidential and congressional elections, there is no doubt that it will significantly influence the direction of various labor and employment laws. Join partner Traci L. Martinez, principal David Stewart and associate Dylan J. Yépez on October 30 at 1 p.m. Eastern for an insightful discussion on how the election results may impact your labor interests over the next four years and beyond.

Information and Registration can be accessed at this LINK.

A cynic’s guide to the new Job Support Scheme (UK)

A cynic’s guide to the new Job Support SchemeStung by the greatly lower take-up for the Job Support Scheme than expected, surely a surprise to no-one who had actually read it, the government has moved this week to address two of its key shortcomings – first, the JSS required there to be work enough available to justify at least a third of the employees’ normal working hours, and second, it cost employers more to use the Scheme than not and more to retain people than to make them redundant.  As a job preservation scheme, JSS v.1 therefore had its limitations.

V.2, or “JSS Open” (because it covers businesses that are not compulsorily closed) is much nearer to what it should have been first time around.

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New DSAR guidance from ICO – handle with care (UK)

Data RequestBack in March we posted here an explanation of why the “manifestly unfounded” exception to an employer’s DSAR obligations was perhaps less helpful than the ICO’s then guidance suggested.

Now there is some new ICO guidance out this week which probably does move the needle slightly more usefully in favour of the employer.

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Remember Vacations? Considerations for Employers When Addressing Employees’ Personal Travel During COVID-19 (US)

Two Exotic Cocktails At The BeachIt’s been more than six months since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States, and during this period, most of us have remained either in, or very close to, our homes. Although a second wave of infections now appears to be starting, the colder temperatures of winter, the approaching holiday season, or the desire for a change in scenery or to see much-missed loved ones may lead people to finally venture away from home. As a result, many employers have questions about how to handle their employees’ personal travel plans during this pandemic and how to respond to the potential safety risks employee personal travel poses to their workforce. Like everything else COVID-related, these issues are constantly evolving and many of the answers to these questions hinge on state-specific requirements, but there are some universal best practices employers should consider when addressing their employees’ personal travel plans. Continue Reading

Post-lockdown flexible working, Part 6 – when childcare goes bad (UK)

Flexible WorkingTime to answer another interesting question which came up at our Managing Working Parents webinar a couple of weeks ago:

Where the employee is unable to come into work for childcare reasons, what are my duties to provide him with work suitable to be done from home? 

This was a question which we might have hoped would be largely in the past by now, but which has unfortunately taken on new significance through the second wave of COVID-19 and renewed school closures.

The starting point answer is that as a matter of black-and-white law, there are no such duties.  Put bluntly, the employee’s domestic position and the tension which that may create with his work is for him to resolve.

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People at the Centre: hard decisions in hard times but some thoughts and reassurance for HR (UK)

Social Distancing in an OfficeA recent Acas survey has reported that over a third of employers (37%) are likely to make staff redundancies in the next 3 months (see here). That is a statistic which can be a surprise to no one, except possibly that it is not higher.

Often in redundancy situations, the majority of the “sympathy” quite rightly lies with the impacted employees. There is no doubt that losing one’s job and the consequences arising from that can be pretty grim. That said, our experience from working with our clients is that it is very rare for those having to make those difficult decisions to relish doing so. Far from it. Acas guidance from a number of years ago made it clear that it was not just OK but actively healthy for the manager carrying out the redundancies (excruciatingly dubbed the “downsizing envoy”) to become distressed, anxious and drained by the whole business.

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New Developments in Spanish Equal Pay and Equality Plans

Wanted: Equal WagesThe government in Spain has adopted two new Royal Decrees to address the gender wage gap and ensure the effectiveness of equality plans. These regulations implement two key employer obligations: (i) to guarantee equal pay for men and women, and; (ii) to draw up and register equality plans.

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A Timely Redux: Walking The Tightrope: Dealing With Employees’ Different Viewpoints On COVID-19, Racial Justice, and Partisan Politics (US)

In June 2020, we added a post to Employment Law Worldview addressing the complicated situation employers are in when employees express – sometime respectfully, sometimes not – different, and indeed, opposite views on COVID-19 issues (e.g., legitimate public health emergency versus hoax or “plandemic”), racial justice (“Black Lives Matter” versus “All Lives Matter”), and politics (“Make America Great Again” versus Antifa/the “radical left”).

With 2020 being what it is, it’s probably not surprising that not only have the sensitivities to these issues not abated, but they in fact have gotten even more acute. With the general election just weeks away and political acrimony and social upheaval at a level not seen since perhaps the 1960s, and further inflamed by the confirmation hearing of conservative Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett to replace the recently-departed liberal bastion of the Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, coupled with the risk of what portends to be a messy aftermath of the election on November 3, it’s no exaggeration to say that the opportunity for political-based conflict among employees is approaching the proverbial redline.

We’re therefore re-posting our blog post from this summer as a timely reminder to employers and employees of their respective rights and obligations as we head into what promises to be a tumultuous few months.

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Post-lockdown flexible working, Part 5 – handling requests sooner or later (UK)

Flexible WorkingHere is another question which came up more than once at last week’s webinar on Managing Working Parents but which I was unable to get to at the time.

If you receive a flexible working application now, can you “park” it until things settle down and you have a clearer picture of what your post-pandemic needs for office-based staff will actually be?

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