Respectful Recruitment; The Law Behind Recruitment (Part 2)

26th January 2015 · Kevin Howes

Law: NOUN: the system of rules which a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and which it may enforce by social institutions and their imposition of penalties.

Going the extra mile to operate with a persistent ethical work culture, as aforementioned in Part One, is only a voluntary aid to the necessary prerequisites already illustrated within UK and EU Law; Employment Law is mandatory and non – compliance can be challenged.

UK Labour Law involves the legal relationship and coexistence between workers, employees and trade unions. People at work in the UK benefit from a minimum charter of employment rights, and such a minimum charter of employment rights can be found amongst a variety of Acts, Regulations, Common Law and Equity; the accumulated list of which would take about 8,000 years to recite.

English courts view an employment contract as involving a relation of mutual trust and confidence, which allows for remedies for employers and workers alike, when one party acts out of good faith. Accordingly, our attention was specifically drawn to the BBC’s recent news article whereby they named and shamed 37 well – known firms failing to pay basic rate, including popular clothing store, H&M. Of course, minimum wage is only but one of the legal requirements companies have to adhere to, whether recruitment agencies or not. As a Recruitment agency, we must not only ensure that we maintain the appropriate conduct internally, but also build business relationships with clients who are of the same legal persuasion, so that the placements we make within those companies are safe and just.

Devoting to adhere to the appropriate legislation can be taxing and time consuming, but is always less hassle than the aftermath of neglecting it; it ensures happy employees and a chance to show your business to be well – rounded and grounded, employing solid company expectations and standards. It further allows for a dynamic workforce, workable review processes, and a clear value system based on respect and deserving meritocracy.

Company policies cover a broad spectrum of topics, but their bottom line is simple; policies tell employees and employers alike how to behave. It is mandatory that employees and employers possess a sound, equal understanding of the surrounding statute, for financial reasons, ethical reasons and safety reasons, to put it barely. There are many aspects embroidered into Employment Law which gives scope for employees to take legal action for being treated unfairly. Failure to obey such law can be costly for an employer, whether ignorant to legislation or not. Sanctions include fines, imprisonment and disqualification. In particular, summary offences carry out a fine of up to £5000 or even a custodial sentence for more severe offences, tried in Crown Court. Accordingly, trade unions and citizen’s advice centres are simultaneously in place for those who feel disgruntled by internal grievance protocols.

We run down the primary legislation, underpinning our services, with you:

 

Basic Human and Employees’ Rights:

Working Times

The Working Time Regulations Act 1998 and EU Working Time Directive set limits on working times and revises the right to statutory paid holidays. Working time regulations state that employers can legally make their employees work no more than 48 hours a week, unless the employee agrees to “opt out” of the 48-hour week. This is an agreement that both employer and employee sign to say the worker can work more than 48 hours a week. Unpaid lunch breaks, regular travel to and from work, voluntary unpaid overtime and paid or unpaid holidays are not counted as working hours. Paid overtime, working lunches, working abroad for a UK based company and job-related training however, are all included in the working week. This further includes the right to take time off for child care. Pregnant women and new mothers have significant rights to time off, both before and after birth. They may also qualify for statutory maternity pay. The same rights apply to adoptive parents and new fathers.

Payment

The Equal Pay Act 1970 was introduced to bridge the gender gap, when it came to payment for work. Men and women are now entitled to expect the same amount salary, regardless of gender.

Moreover, since 1998, the UK has fixed a national minimum wage for employees. The minimum wage for adults aged 21 and over currently stands at £6.50 per hour, although the three major Westminster parties have all said they would like to raise it.

Health and Safety

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is a large piece of legislation which covers all aspects of health and safety in the workplace. Employers have a “duty of care” to ensure the working environment is safe for employees. Primarily, health and safety refers to eliminating hazards to prevent accidents, but employers but also assess risks, arrange for the effective planning/control/monitoring/review of protective measures, have a written health and safety policy, ensure access to competent advice and consult employees as to protective measures being taken to address their welfare.

 

Discrimination and Equality:

Diversity

These laws are designed so that everyone is collectively protected by the above laws. The Equality Act 2010 embodies the principle that people should treat one another according to the content of their character, to foster social inclusion. The Equality Act 2010 is a simpler framework for previous unjust treatments within the workplace. It harmonises Discrimination Law by replacing the Equal Pay Act 1970, The Sex Discrimination Act 1975, The Race Relations Act 1976 and The Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Harassment

Equality within the workplace ensures that everyone has equal opportunities and can’t be denied promotion or training for prejudicial reasons. Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of age, gender, nationality, marital status (including civil partnerships), pregnancy, sexual orientation, disabilities, race, ethnic background, religion or beliefs. Legal action can be carried out, should an employee believe they are being treated unfairly due to prejudice or victimization.

Such discrimination can take effect in the form of wrongful and unfair dismissal or disciplinary measures and the termination of employment. However, what is legal and what is deemed void does depend on the exact contract at hand; of course, each individual case is circumstantial in its facts and relevant proceedings. Under The Employment Rights Act 1996, the dismissal must be because of capability, qualifications or conduct, because the employee was redundant, or because the continued employment would contravene a law or ‘some other substantial reason.’

Civil Liberties at Work

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to privacy

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to freedom of expression

The Human Rights Act 1998

Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to a fair trial

 

Further Reading:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30822565

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-names-and-shames-37-national-minimum-wage-offenders

 

– Shonagh Phillips, Communications Manager