Acas and small redundancies
What is all the smoke?

Acas and small redundancies
It is good to see that Acas have provided some guidance on making redundancies where less than 20 posts are affected. 'Good' of course is a relative term and whilst mass redundancies are still around - think Npower - it is more often the case that companies wish to reduce by smaller numbers.
The advice is, as usual from Acas, comprehensive and equally open to interpretation. Anyone can read the information on their website, but it is the implementation that is crucial. So, for example, Acas asks: Why can't you use last in first out? (when selecting staff for redundancy) You can, but it's not usually going to be good practice and you should never use it on its own. Using this in isolation could be discriminatory. We have several recent examples where employers have made decisions based on LIFO, without thinking of the consequences on their overall workforce - such as loss of high performing workers - and not even discussed the risk of age discrimination for instance, e.g, if those that are released are 'young' in terms of age.
More often than not, employers do fail to consult with employees effectively - there still seems to be a view that workforce changes remain the decision of management. To an extent this is true, but in 2013, employers need to consider how to avoid compulsory redundancies first: employees expect this and so does society. 
What is all the smoke?
Cited in People Management magazine this week, the neat little nugget of story about how electronic cigarettes will fall outside of the law that bans smoking in enclosed public spaces. 
Sense and sensibility comes to mind, when the advice is to create a separate assigned area for e-cigarette users, away from the smoking area. The argument goes that as e-smokers are trying to 'give up', treating them as smokers could prove discriminatory....hmmm, given that we have not seen any sign of an active smoking ban at our clients, one wonders whether this is really necessary?
Our clients have not implemented the clause in the original Smoking Act, for instance, that makes smoking 'breaks' illegal. More, they have tended to manage the issue in a low-key manner and over the years, the number of active smokers has reduced. Honest, open discussions on work performance rather than timing smoking breaks against non-smoker coffee breaks, or setting up separate e-cigarette zones, is surely the better way forward?

Law changes in April 2016

We are grateful to Scrase Employment Solicitors www.scraselaw.com for the following up-date:

National Living Wage

The new national living wage comes into effect on 1 April 2016. From that date, employees who are aged 25 and over will be entitled to a wage rate of £7.20 an hour. The Low Pay Commission will review the rate and make recommendations annually.

The new national living wage should not be confused with the ‘living wage’, set by the Living Wage Foundation, which is a campaigning group promoting a voluntary minimum wage linked to the cost of living.

Postponements in the employment tribunal

Applying to claims issued after 6 April 2016, an amendment to the employment tribunals rules will limit the number of postponements and put in place a deadline for applications. From that date, each party will only be allowed to make a maximum of two postponement applications. Applications must be made at least seven days before the hearing to avoid the possibility of a costs order.

Increase in employment tribunal awards

Also from 6 April 2016, the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will be increased from £78,335 to £78,962. The limit on a ‘week’s pay’ which is used to calculate various employment tribunal awards, as well as statutory redundancy payments will increase from £475 to £479.