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A New Type of Share Scheme

Posted on: September 3rd, 2013 by Guy No Comments

On 1 September 2013 the UK Government idea for that Companies being able to offer employee-shareholder contracts, that will permit workers to give up some of their rights under UK employment law in return for shares came into force despite the sceptical comments the idea has faced.

At the Conservative Party conference in 2012 the Chancellor George Osborne announced that schemes will allow (but not force) workers to give up some employment rights in exchange for shares in the company that employs them.

Anyone can now apply to be an “employee shareholder”; under the new scheme, although no one can be forced to change their employment status and become an employee shareholder against their will. Employees must receive at least £2,000 worth of shares in their employer to give up their rights.

The Employment Rights that an employee shareholder will lose are:

  • Most unfair dismissal rights
  • Rights to statutory redundancy pay
  • The statutory right to request flexible working – except in the case of two weeks’ paternity leave
  • Some rights to request time off for training

Ever since the idea was first floated union leaders have been criticising the proposal, stating that it will strip workers of basic employment rights and could end up costing the taxpayer £1bn in lost tax on share grants.

The reason the scheme could turn into a tax loophole is that top employees who had no intention of exercising any of their employment rights anyway could obtain valuable company shares tax free. At the other end of the scale, employees could find they had given up rights such as redundancy pay in return for worthless company shares.

It may be some time before anybody takes up this option this option, which is likely only  to be attractive to a  may be attractive to a small minority of employees and employers.

Fees In Employment Tribunal

Posted on: July 30th, 2013 by Guy No Comments

What is perhaps the most important change to UK Employment Law for several decades took place on Monday 29 July and went by almost unnoticed in the media and general public. From this week a fee will have to be paid to file a claim in the Employment Tribunal, or an appeal in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Employers have  long claimed that claims in the Tribunal had become a risk-free and cost-free tactic for employees.

Now all claims made in the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal will involve claimants having to pay fees or make an application for fee exemption.

Level 1 Claims: These claims include breach of contract, wages claims, equal pay claims, holiday pay, redundancy pay, and some claims an employer has denied rights to take time off work.

For these claims an initial fee is payable on issuing the claim of £160, and another £230 at the time of the hearing making a total of £390.

Level 2 Claims: These claims cover more complicated claims, including claims for unfair dismissal, detriment, and discrimination.

For these claims the initial fee is £250 with a further fee of £930 for the hearing, making a total of £1,180. The idea is obviously to make claimants think before even starting any claim, and think very hard about taking a case all the way to a hearing ,rather than settling beforehand.

Fees for claims have to be paid in advance, although the Tribunal has the power to order an unsuccessful party to reimburse the fees of a successful party. Although there is a fear that good claims may be excluded by the costs help will be available from a means tested system whereby claimants who earn a very low wage or are unemployed could see their fees partially or wholly waived.

It may take several years before the effects of these changes can be properly evaluated, although many employers will welcome the way that issuing a claim in the Employment Tribunal is no longer a cost free tactic in employment disputes especially when faced with employees with malicious or vexatious claims.

Meanwhile there is no doubt that the intention is to encourage employees to redouble their efforts to settle disputes via settlement agreements.

Bogus Trademark Registration Warning

Posted on: August 30th, 2012 by Guy No Comments

The chance to obtain protection rights for trademarks  across all 27 member states of the European Union will be seen as is a great benefit by anyone who has struggled to meet all the demands of individual registration, trademarks normally being limited to individual states. When combined with an almost completed global reach to the signatories of the s0-called Madrid system, while total coverage is still quite expensive, but at a cost that is a fraction of what it would have been in the not so distant past.

Inevitably the prospect of money being paid for such a valuable service has led an increasing number of fraudsters sending email demands for payment. The Community Trademark Registry has compiled a useful collection of these bogus sites. Inevitable, the names will change and others will appear as time goes by, but this is a useful warning, with examples of what to expect and avoid.

Nominet Loses Discrimination Case

Posted on: August 30th, 2012 by Guy No Comments

Nominet, the company that administers and maintains the register of UK Internet domain names, has lost a £100,000 claim of disability discrimination brought by former Policy Director. An employment tribunal ruled that the employer’s behaviour did not comply with UK employment law.

Ms Taylor, the claimant, had worked for the non-profit firm since 2000. However, she said that her former employer had discriminated against her due to her having suffered a mental illness. She had not been allowed to participate in policy making at the firm and had subsequently resigned as a result; Ms Taylor raised a claim of disability discrimination to the employment tribunal.

The tribunal said that Nominet’s treatment of the claimant had been ‘high handed and insulting’. However, additional and undisclosed claims raised by Ms Taylor were rejected by the tribunal. Following the tribunal’s decision, Nominet said: ‘Whilst the tribunal found against us on one aspect we are pleased that the tribunal rejected the majority of the complaints made.

Whatever the merits (or lack of merit) in the position of an employer and an employee the case is a reminder that in every case sensitive handling of relations with disabled employees is essential.  It is also a reminder of the high awards that are possible in discrimination cases