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Welcome to HR Heartbeat, where we give you a rundown of the week's top employment law stories. Stay on the pulse of current trends impacting your business. Plus, get up-to-the-minute commentaries on all things HR and legal.
National sickie day—media myth or reality?
If you found more employees called in sick at the start of this week, we might have a theory for you.
The first Monday in February is National Sickie Day. Supposedly the day has the highest employee sick rates.
As an absence management software provider, we decided to put it to the test. And after analysing the sickness absence data in our software for last year, we discovered that the day most employees called in sick was...
The second Monday in December! The first Monday in February only ranked 21st on the list for sickness rates.
Despite this, we did find a 16% increase in the amount of people calling in sick compared to an average Monday in 2023.
But that's not all.
While 'National Sickie Day' is more of a myth than reality, 30% of sickness absences do occur on Mondays, making it the most popular day for staff to call in sick. For fast advice when you need it most, ask BrightLightning: What do I do if my employee pulls a sickie?
Are tribunal fees coming back?
A consultation has been launched to get views on a proposal to introduce a £55 fee to submit a claim to the employment tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal.
Tribunal fees first existed back in July 2013, but they were as high as £1,200.
Even though the suggested £55 is significantly lower, this new fee could reduce the number of claims and help the courts sift through the backlog of cases. Despite this, the proposal has been met with mixed reviews…
Especially,since in 2017 the Supreme Court ruled the government was acting unlawfully when it introduced the fees. And that the fees indirectly discriminated against women and individuals with protected characteristics, who were more likely to have to pay higher fees for type B claims.
Others argue fees will reduce the number of false claims, giving employers more time to focus on running their business. And that the 'Help with Fees scheme' will support claimants who can’t afford the fee.
The Government's response to the consultation is expected in summer 2024. If the plans progress, it’s expected the new fee system will be in place from November 2024.
RAF criticised over response to sexual harassment in the workplace
An ex-employee at the RAF has recently labelled the handling of her complaint of sexual harassment as “traumatic”.
After receiving a formal complaint, the RAF recommended the employee’s manager receive disciplinary action, but they refused to tell the employee which action had been taken.
Last year a survey found 92% of RAF personnel had experienced discrimination, harassment or bullying but they didn’t lodge a complaint. 61% said they lost faith that anything would be done about their complaints.
Sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace should be taken very seriously. You must have a formal policy on sexual harassment that promotes fair and equal treatment of all employees.
Ask BrightLightning: What should I put in a sexual harassment policy?
UK company failure rate at a 30-year high!
Company insolvencies have reached their highest level since 1993.
In 2023, there were over 25,000 company insolvencies. With inflation, the cost-of-living crisis, and legacy debt from the COVID-19 pandemic to blame—experts warn these figures could continue to rise in 2024.
With the extra pressure to stay afloat, household names like John Lewis have considered cutting up to 11,000 jobs in the next five years, after halving their group redundancy pay.
Making redundancies is stressful. Not only is it difficult to let good employees go, but there’s also a complicated legal process you must follow.
If you have to make the tough decision of making some employees redundant, BrightHR’s team of employment law professionals can help with expert legal advice that’s available 24/7.
And that’s a wrap. Tune in next week for more headlines and make sure you stay ahead of major employment law changes!