Government campaign on workers wage rights – #CheckYourPay

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The Government launched a February 2017 campaign to raise workers’ knowledge of their rights, ahead of the National Minimum and National Living Wage rates rise in April 2017.

It comes as a new poll for the Government showed many people in low paid work were confused about when they should be paid and what deductions from their pay packets can legally be made.

The poll of more than 1,400 workers earning less than £15,000 found:

  • 69% didn’t know they should be paid for travel time between appointments
  • 57% didn’t know having money deducted from their wages to cover the costs of their uniform is unlawful if it takes their earnings under the National Minimum or National Living Wage
  • 48% didn’t know that tips can’t be used to top up pay to the legal minimum

Jennie Granger, Director General for Customer Compliance at HMRC, said: “Paying the National Minimum Wage is the law – it’s not a choice. Employers must pay their workers what they’re entitled to and follow the rules.”

Find out more at the Check Your Pay website.

National Preventive Mechanism Guidance – Isolation in Detention

The UK National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), established to fulfill the UK’s obligations under the
Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, published guidance on the use of isolation in detention in January 2017.

This guidance was drawn from a review of isolation and solitary confinement across detention settings conducted by NPM members in 2014–15, alongside international standards and best practice. NPM members found wide variations in the practices, procedures, safeguards against harm and experiences of detainees arising from isolation, even when it was applied in similar circumstances.

Citizens Advice Cymru report: ‘Work and health in Wales’

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Citizens Advice Cymru published a report, ‘Work and health in Wales‘, in February 2017.

The report says that people of working age with disabilities or long term health conditions are also much less likely to be in work than those without disabilities or health conditions.

The report draws on evidence from across the Citizens Advice network in Wales and other sources. It highlights some of the many challenges this group face when looking for and trying to stay in work.

The report is available in English and Welsh.

WEC Call for Evidence: the Gender Pay Gap

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The Women and Equalities Select Committee has called for evidence on responses made by the Government to the following three recommendations made in the Committee’s March 2016 report:

  1. All jobs should be available to work flexibly unless an employer can demonstrate an immediate and continuing business case against doing so
    Data from 2016 shows that just 8.7% of jobs paying a full-time equivalent of £20,000 are advertised as available to work flexibly or part-time. This creates a significant bottleneck to women’s employment, promotion and progression opportunities. The Government response argued that the right to request flexible working which is in place “strikes a balance between giving employees the flexibility to combine work with other responsibilities and allowing employers to plan effectively. Employers can also advertise jobs on flexible terms or offer flexible working arrangements to their employees outside the statutory scheme if they wish – and many employers already do so.”
  2. A more effective policy on shared parental leave
    The Committee recommended that fathers and second parents should be entitled to three months’ well-paid, non-transferrable paternal leave in addition to current parental leave benefits. They also recommended equalising the payments for the first four weeks of maternity and paternity pay. The Government rejected these proposals for reforming parental leave on the grounds that Shared Parental Leave is “still a very new policy”; it also pointed to the additional cost of well-paid paternity leave and argued that the proposals would offer less flexibility.
  3. A National Pathways into Work scheme for harnessing the skills and experience of women over 40
    This scheme would give women a clear entry point into a support system offering careers guidance; retraining where necessary; and information on local skills shortages and job opportunities. The Government rejected this recommendation on the grounds that it “already provides advice and support to help women over 40 through the National Careers Service.” It also pointed to evidence for its Advanced Learner Loans, Mid-Life Career Review, and work experience and training programmes for benefit claimants aged 45 or older.

Deadline for submissions

Evidence should reach the Committee by 12 April 2017.

 

 

 

WEC Report and Government Response: the Gender Pay Gap

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The Government is complicit in a system that is undermining productivity and perpetuating the gender pay gap, found a March 2016 report by the Women and Equalities Select Committee.  Evidence shows the gender pay gap will persist unless Government policy changes.

The Government responded in February 2017, rejecting the majority of the report’s recommendations.  It highlighted gender pay gap reporting as “key to accelerating progress,” and maintained that current policies on shared parental leave, flexible working, and supporting women back into work were adequate.

The Committee called for further evidence on three recommendations; this should reach the committee by 12 April 2017.

Background

The Women and Equalities Select Committee launched its inquiry into the gender pay gap in November 2015. The Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) warmly welcomed the announcement of the inquiry.

Ali Harris, Chief Executive of EDF said:

The Women and Equalities Committee has a vital role to play holding Government to account for progress on equality, and informing and strengthening Government strategy. This inquiry will bring an important and timely focus onto the specific pay gap issues faced by women over 40 – and importantly, what can be done to address them.

Announcement: Plans for a Domestic Violence and Abuse Act

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Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans for a major programme of work to bring forward a Domestic Violence and Abuse Act in February 2017.

She said: “I believe that the plans I have announced today have the potential to completely transform the way we think about and tackle domestic violence and abuse.”

The programme looks at ways to improve support for victims; with a particular focus on the consistency of law and legal procedures. Work will be overseen by the Prime Minister’s Office and coordinated by the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.

Like the Modern Slavery Act, the Prime Minister believes that the measures that come out of this work will raise public awareness of the problem – as well as encourage survivors to report their abusers and see them brought to justice.

The Guardian and the Independent reported on this announcement, which was followed by further changes to rules on legal aid for survivors.

 

Working Families Report – the Future of Childcare Support for Working Parents

Working Families

Working Families and the Childcare Voucher Providers Association published a report on the future of childcare support for working parents in February 2017. The report called on the government to keep childcare vouchers open to parents alongside the new Tax Free Childcare scheme.

The report found:

  • Childcare vouchers are a widely-used benefit that is popular with parents and employers alike;
  • Many lower earners will lose out on money under Tax-Free Childcare, compared to childcare vouchers;
  • Vouchers give a central role to employers, who value the scheme and being able to support the parents who work for them. Parents find vouchers easy to access due to the involvement of their employer, and vouchers provide a way for employers to demonstrate their commitment to supporting family-friendly working practices.

Ministry of Justice Consultation – Help with Employment Tribunal Fees

Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice has launched a consultation on proposals to provide more support with employment tribunal (ET) fees for people on lower incomes.  The consultation closes on 14 March 2017.

The Government’s review of ET fees noted that that the introduction of fees broadly met its objectives:

  • users are contributing between £8.5 million and £9 million a year in fee income, in line with expectations, transferring a proportion of the cost from the taxpayer to those who use the tribunal;
  • more people are now using Acas’ free conciliation service than were previously using voluntary conciliation and bringing claims to the ET combined; and
  • Acas’ conciliation service is effective in helping just under half the people who refer disputes to them avoid the need to go to the tribunal, and where conciliation has not worked, most people go on to issue proceedings in the ET.

However, the  fall in claims has been significantly greater than was estimated when fees were first introduced.

The Equality and Diversity Forum responded to a previous consultation in March 2012, and responded to the Justice Committee inquiry into ET fees in 2015.

Community and Security Trust: Antisemitic Incidents Report 2016

CST

The Community and Security Trust published their Antisemtitic Incidents Report 2016 in January 2017.

CST recorded 1,309 antisemitic incidents in 2016, the highest annual total CST has ever recorded. The total of 1,309 incidents is an increase of 36 per cent from the 2015 total of 960 in January 2017. The previous record high annual total recorded by CST was 1,182 antisemitic incidents in 2014.