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lindagray

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  1. The right of workers to collectively withdraw their labour has always been used to make employers stick to a collective agreement. At critical moments of history, it also combatted political repression (e.g. the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, and the Indian Independence Movement up to 1947), prevented military coups against democratic governments (e.g. the general strike in Germany against the Kapp Putsch in 1920), and overthrew dictatorships (e.g. in the 2008 Egyptian general strike). Anti-democratic regimes cannot tolerate social organisation they do not control, which is why the right to strike is fundamental to every democratic society, and a recognised human right in international law. Historically, the UK recognised the right to strike at least since 1906. UK tradition has inspired the International Labour Organization Convention 87 (1948) articles 3 and 10, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights under article 11, and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights article 28. However, the scope of the right to take collective action has been controversial. Reflecting a series of restrictions from 1979 to 1997, the law was partially codified in the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act (TULRCA) 1992 sections 219 to 246, which now falls below international standards. There is no consensus about the status of the right to strike at common law. On the one hand, the House of Lords and the Court of Appeal has repeatedly affirmed that "to cease work except for higher wages, and a strike in consequence, was lawful at common law", that "right of workmen to strike is an essential element in the principle of collective bargaining", "that workmen have a right to strike", and that this is "a fundamental human right". This view would accord with international law, and see the right to stop work in a good faith trade dispute as an implied term in every employment contract. On the other hand, differently composed courts have asserted that the common law position sits at odds with international law: that a strike is a breach of contract, and this creates tortious liability for unions organising collective action, unless it falls within an immunity from statute. On this view, even though an employer is not liable for economic loss to workers who are collectively dismissed, a union could be liable to the employer for taking collective action. Economic torts have been said to include conspiracy to injure, inducement of breach of contract, and tortious interference with a contract. However, TULRCA 1992 section 219 contains the classic formula, that collective action by a trade union becomes immune from any liability in tort if done "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute". This said, various further hurdles must be jumped for a union to be certain of immunity from employers suing for damages, or an injunction to stop a strike. First, the meaning of a "trade dispute" under TULRCA 1992 section 244 is confined to mean a dispute "between workers and their employer" and must mainly relate to employment terms. In BBC v Hearn Lord Denning MR granted an injunction against a strike by BBC staff to stop broadcast of the 1977 FA Cup Final to apartheid South Africa. He reasoned that this was a political dispute, not a "trade dispute", unless the union was requesting "putting a clause in the contract" to not do such work. Strikes against government legislation (rather than an employer), or privatisation, or outsourcing before it happens, have been held unlawful. However, at the least, any dispute over the terms or conditions on which workers do their jobs will allow protection. Second, TULRCA 1992 section 224 prevents collective action against someone who is "not the employer party to the dispute". "Secondary action" used to be lawful, from the Trade Union Act 1871 until 1927, and again from 1946 till 1980, but today it is not. This makes the definition of "employer" relevant, particularly where a trade dispute involves a company group. A worker's written statement of the contract may purport to say that the only "employer" is a subsidiary, although the parent company carries out the employer's function of ultimately setting the contractual terms and conditions. Further, any picketing or protest outside a workplace must be "peaceful" and there must be a picket supervisor. There are a limited number of outright prohibitions on strike action, but in accordance with ILO Convention 87 this is only for workplaces that involve the truly essential functions of the state (for armed forces, police, and prison officers), and only when impartial arbitration is used as an alternative. Third, under TULRCA 1992 section 226 a union wishing to take collective action for a trade dispute must conduct a ballot. In summary, the union must give 7 days notice to the employer about holding a ballot, state the categories of employees being balloted, give a total number, all "as accurate as is reasonably practicable in the light of the information". Since the Trade Union Act 2016, there is an additional requirement that a ballot has a 50% turnout for a strike to be supported, and a total of 40% of voters supporting a strike (i.e. an 80% turnout if the vote is evenly split) in "important public services" that include health services, schools, fire, transport, nuclear and border security. A scrutineer must be able to oversee the conduct, the vote must be given to all workers who could strike, the vote must be secret and by post, allowing for ‘small accidental failures’ which are ‘unlikely to affect the result of the ballot’. The union must inform the employer of the result "as soon as reasonably practicable", call action within four weeks, and tell the employer of the people taking part. The rules are poorly drafted, and this has generated litigation where some courts allowed injunctions on ostensible technical glitches. However, the Court of Appeal since emphasised in British Airways Plc v Unite the Union (No 2) and RMT v Serco Ltd that the rules are to be interpreted consistently with the purpose of reconciling the equally legitimate, but conflicting interests of employers and unions. No employee can be dismissed for taking part in a strike for a period of 12 weeks, so long as the strike is officially endorsed by the union. However, if strikes are not conducted in accordance with law, employers can (and often do) go to court to seek an injunction against a union conducting the strike, or potentially damages. A court should not grant any injunction against a strike unless there is a 'serious question to be tried' and it must consider where the 'balance of convenience lies'. In The Nawala the House of Lords stressed that injunctions should be granted rarely and give 'full weight to all the practical realities' and the fact that a court should not end the strike in the employer's favour. wikipedia.org
  2. The right of workers to collectively bargain with employers for a "fair day's wage for a fair day's work" is regarded as a fundamental right in common law, by the European Convention on Human Rights article 11, and in international law. Historically the UK had, however, left the procedure for making collective agreements, and their content, largely untouched by law. This began to change from 1971, though by contrast to other countries in the Commonwealth, Europe, or the United States the UK remains comparatively "voluntarist". In principle, it is always possible for an employer and a trade union to come voluntarily to any collective agreement. Employers and unions would usually aim to develop an annually updated wage scale for workers, fair and flexible working time, holidays and breaks, transparent and just procedures for hiring or dismissals, fair and jointly administered pensions, and a commitment to work together for the enterprise's success. In 2010, around 32 per cent of the UK workforce was covered by a collective agreement, leaving around two-thirds of the British workforce with little influence over the terms of their work. Traditionally, if workers organise a union, their last resort to get an employer to the bargaining table was to threaten collective action, including exercising their right to strike. In addition, the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act (TULRCA) 1992 Schedule A1 contains a statutory procedure for workers to become recognised for collective bargaining. To use this procedure, first, a trade union must be certified as independent and the workplace must have a minimum of 21 workers. Second, there must not already be a recognised trade union. This caused particular problems in R (National Union of Journalists) v Central Arbitration Committee as the Court of Appeal held that a recognised union which lacked any significant support could block the bargaining claim of a union with support. Third, the union must identify an appropriate "bargaining unit" for a collective agreement, which a government body named the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) can verify and approve. On the union's proposal, the CAC must take into account whether the proposed bargaining unit is "compatible with effective management", as well as the employer's views and the characteristics of the workers. The CAC has broad discretion, and may only be challenged by an employer under the general principles of natural justice in administrative law. In R (Kwik-Fit (GB) Ltd) v CAC the Court of Appeal found that the CAC's determination that the appropriate bargaining unit was all of Kwik Fit's workers within the M25 London ring road. The union's recommendation is the starting point and the CAC is entitled to prefer this over an employer's alternative, especially since the employer will often attempt to define a larger "unit" so as to limit the likelihood of union members holding greater majority support. Fourth, once the bargaining unit is defined, the CAC may be satisfied that there is majority support for the union to represent the workforce and will make a recognition declaration. Alternatively, fifth, it may determine that the position is less clear and that a secret ballot is in the interests of good industrial relations. Sixth, if a ballot takes place both the union and the employer should have access to employees, and be able to distribute their arguments, and threats, bribes or undue influence are forbidden. Seventh, when a vote takes place the union must have at least 10 per cent membership, and win 50 per cent of the vote, or least 40 per cent of those entitled to vote. If the union wins a majority, the eighth and final step is that if the parties do not reach an agreement the CAC will regulate the collective agreement for the parties and the result will be legally binding. This contrasts to the basic position, under (Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act) TULRCA 1992 section 179, which presumes that collective agreements are not intended to create legal relations. The long, problematic procedure, was partly based on the model of the US National Labor Relations Act 1935, but because of its cumbersome nature it strongly encourages the parties to seek voluntary agreement in the spirit of cooperation and good faith. Though most collective agreements will come about voluntarily, the law has sought to ensure that workers have true freedom of association by prohibiting employers from deterring union membership, and by creating positive rights for members. First, the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act (TULRCA) 1992 sections 137-143 make it unlawful for employers, including agencies, to refuse anyone employment on grounds of union membership. The courts will interpret the legislation purposively to protect union activities, with the same strictness as other anti-discrimination laws. Second, TULRCA 1992 sections 146-166 state that workers may not be subject to any detriment or dismissal. For example, in Fitzpatrick v British Railways Board the Board dismissed of a lady who had been a member of a Trotskyist group (which promoted international socialism). The Board justified this on the ground that she had not told the employer about having previously worked for the Ford Motor Company, and so for ‘untruthfulness and lack of trust’. Woolf LJ held that this was not the true reason - Trotskyism was the issue. The dismissal was unlawful under section 152. Given the technicality of the legislation, the most important case is Wilson and Palmer v United Kingdom, where Wilson's pay was not increased by the Daily Mail because he wished to remain on the union collective agreement, and Palmer's pay was not put up by 10 per cent because he would not consent to leaving the union, the NURMTW (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers). The European Court of Human Rights held that any ambiguity about protection in UK law contravened ECHR article 11 because, “ the essence of a voluntary system of collective bargaining is that it must be possible for a trade union which is not recognised by an employer to take steps including, if necessary, organising industrial action, with a view to persuading the employer to enter into collective bargaining with it on those issues which the union believes are important for its members' interests.... employees should be free to instruct or permit the union to make representations to their employer or to take action in support of their interests on their behalf. If workers are prevented from so doing, their freedom to belong to a trade union, for the protection of their interests, becomes illusory. ” In principle, like any victimisation case in discrimination law, ‘a detriment exists if a reasonable worker would or might take the view that the [treatment] was in all the circumstances to his detriment’. If the UK statutes are not updated, the Human Rights Act 1998 section 3 requires interpretation of the common law, or statute, to reflect ECHR principles. More specific legislation, with the Data Protection Act 1998 sections 17-19 and the Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010, penalises a practice of recording or blacklisting union members, and potentially leads to criminal sanctions for employers and agencies who do so. Third, union members have a right to be represented by union officials in any disciplinary or grievance meeting under Employment Relations Act 1999 sections 10-15. This can be particularly important when a worker is in trouble with management. Fourth, an employer must permit officials of independent trade unions, which it recognises for collective bargaining, to a reasonable amount of time off to fulfill their role. Also, union members have a right to a reasonable amount of time off during work hours also to participate in meetings about agreements with the employer, or voting for elections. An (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) ACAS Code of Practice sets out the general guidelines. A final "right" of a worker is that under TULRCA 1992 he or she may not be compelled to become a union member in what used to be called closed shop arrangements. Collective agreements had required that employers did not hire anyone who was not a union member. However, the European Court of Human Rights decided in 1981 that "freedom of association" under article 11 also entailed "freedom from association". This shift in the law coincided with the start of a Europe-wide trend toward falling union membership, as the closed shop had been the main mechanism to keep up union support, and thus collective bargaining for fairer workplaces. The ECHR does not, however, prevent unions pursuing fair share agreements, where non-union members contribute to union fees for the services they get for collective bargaining. Nor does it prevent collective agreements that would automatically enroll staff in the trade union, as happens under the Pensions Act 2008, with the right for the worker to opt-out if they chose. wikipedia.org
  3. lindagray

    Trade unions

    In principle, UK law guarantees trade unions and their members freedom of association. This means people can organise their affairs in the way they choose, a right reflected in the ILO Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 and the European Convention on Human Rights, article 11. Under the (European Convention on Human Rights) ECHR article 11, freedom of association can only be restricted by law as is "necessary in a democratic society". Traditional common law and equity was superficially similar, since unions form through contract, and the association's property is held on trust for its members according to the association's rules. However, before Parliament became democratic, unions were suppressed for allegedly being in "restraint of trade" and their actions (particularly strikes to improve conditions at work) could be regarded as criminal conspiracy. Nineteenth century reformers, who recognised that unions were democratic, gradually succeeded in guaranteeing unions' freedom of association. The Trade Union Act 1871 aimed to keep the courts away from unions' internal affairs, while the Trade Disputes Act 1906 finally confirmed the right of unions to take collective action, free from liability in tort, if it was "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute". The basic philosophy of "legal abstention" from union organisation lasted until 1971 when the Conservative government attempted comprehensive regulation. This intervention was reversed by Labour in 1974, but after 1979 unions became heavily regulated. Today union governance can be configured in any manner, so long as it complies with the compulsory standards set by the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. Before 1979, all unions had systems of elections and were democratic. In most the members elected union executives directly. However, it was thought that indirect elections (e.g. where members voted for delegates, who elected executives in conference) made a minority of unions more "out of touch" and militant than was natural. Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, section 46, requires that members have direct voting rights for the executive, which cannot stay in office for more than five years. In addition, rules were passed (though there was little evidence of problems before) saying no candidate may be unreasonably excluded from an election, all voters are equal, and postal ballots must be available. In practice, UK union elections are often competitive, although voter turnouts (without electronic voting) tend to be low. Minor procedural irregularities that would not affect outcomes do not undermine an election, but otherwise a Certification Officer can hear complaints about malpractice, make inquiries, and issue enforcement orders, which can in turn be appealed to the High Court. For example, in Ecclestone v National Union of Journalists, Jake Ecclestone, who had been the Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists for 40 years, was dismissed by the executive. He attempted to run for election again, but the executive introduced a rule that candidates had to have the executive's "confidence". Smith J held the union had no express rule stating the executive could do this, nor could any be construed consistently with the democratic nature of the union's constitution. The executive's "new rule" was also contrary to Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act TULRCA 1992 section 47, which prohibits unfair exclusions of candidates. Where statute is not explicit, standard principles of construction apply. There have been dissenting views, notably in Breen v Amalgamated Engineering Union, over the extent to which principles of natural justice may override a union's express rules. However, the better view appears that construction of a union's rules consistently with statutory principles of democratic accountability do require that express rules are disapplied if they undermine the "reasonable expectations" of members. In addition, "best practice" standards will be used to interpret union rules. In AB v CD, where the union's rules were silent on what would happen when an election was tied, the court referred to the Electoral Reform Society's guidance. Beyond union governance through the vote and elections, members have five main statutory rights. First, although statute asserts that a union is "not a body corporate", in every practical sense it is: it can make contracts, commission torts, hold property, sue and be sued. The union's executives and officials carry out actions on its behalf, and their acts are attributed to it by ordinary principles of agency. However, if any union official acts ultra vires, beyond the union's powers, every member has a right to claim a remedy for the breach. For example, in Edwards v Halliwell a decision of the executive committee of the National Union of Vehicle Builders to increase membership fees was restrained, because the constitution required a two-third vote of members first. Second, Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act TULRCA 1992 section 28 requires unions to keep accounts, giving a "true and fair" view of its financial affairs. Records are kept for six years, members have a right to inspect them, they are independently audited and overseen by the Certification Officer. Third, members have a right to not give contributions to the trade union's political fund, if there is one. Since the early success of the UK Labour Party in promoting working people's welfare through Parliament, both courts and Conservative governments attempted to suppress unions' political voice, particularly compared to funding by employers through control of corporations. Under TULRCA 1992 sections 72, 73 and 82, a union must hold a separate fund for any "political object" (such as advertising, lobbying or donations), members must approve the fund by ballot at least every 10 years, and individual members have a right to opt-out of it (unlike shareholders in companies). Unions must also have political objects in the constitution. In 2010, just 29 from 162 unions had political funds, though 57 per cent of members contributed. This generated £22m. Consolidated statistics on corporate political spending, by contrast, are not available. Fourth, members must be treated fairly if they are disciplined by a union, in accordance with judicially developed principles of natural justice. For example, in Roebuck v NUM (Yorkshire Area) No 2 Templeman J held that it was unfair that Arthur Scargill was on the appeal panel for journalists being disciplined for appearing as witnesses against a libel action by Scargill himself. In another example, Esterman v NALGO held that Miss Esterman could not be disciplined for taking up an election counting job outside of her work, especially since the power of the union to restrain her was not clearly in its own rules. Fifth, members cannot be expelled from the union without a fair reason, set out in the statutory grounds under TULRCA 1992 section 174. This could include an expulsion under the Bridlington Principles, an agreement among unions to maintain solidarity and not attempt to "poach" each other's members. However, the legislation was amended after ASLEF v United Kingdom to make clear that unions may exclude members whose beliefs or actions are opposed to the union's legitimate objectives. In ASLEF (Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen), a member named Lee was involved in the British National Party, a neo-fascist organisation committed to white supremacy, and Lee himself was involved in violence and intimidation against Muslim people and women. The European Court of Human Rights held that ASLEF was entitled to expel Lee because, so long as it did not abuse its organisational power or lead to individual hardship, "unions must remain free to decide in accordance with union rules, questions concerning admission to and expulsion from the union." Lastly, union members also have the more dubious "right" to not strike in accordance with the decision of the executive. This precludes a union disciplining members who break solidarity, and has been criticised by the International Labour Organization for undermining a union's effectiveness, in breach of core labour standards. wikipedia.org
  4. There are three "pillars" of the UK pension system, which aim to ensure dignity and a fair income in retirement. The first pillar is the state pension, administered by the government, and funded by National Insurance contributions. The third pillar is private, or "personal pensions", which individuals buy themselves. The second pillar, and deriving from the contract of employment, is occupational pensions. Traditionally, these came from a collective agreement, or from an employer setting one up. The Pensions Act 2008 gives every "jobholder" (defined as a worker, age 16 to 75, with wages between £5,035 and £33,540) the right to be automatically enrolled by the employer in an occupational pension, unless the jobholder chooses to opt out. This is a simple "defined contribution" scheme: whatever the jobholder contributes, they get out. Although collectively invested, benefits are individualised, meaning the risk of living longer and running out of money grows. To reduce administration costs, a non-departmental trust fund called the National Employment Savings Trust was established as a "public option" competing with private asset managers. Employers set aside an agreed percentage of jobholders' wages, and negotiate how much they will contribute. This is particularly important for people who have not created a union and collectively bargained for an occupational pension. Collectively bargained pensions are often better, and historically had "defined benefits": on retirement, people receive money based either on their final salary, or a career average of earnings for the rest of their lives. Living longer does not become an individual risk, but is collectivised among all contributors. In principle, the rules for pension trusts differ from ordinary law of trusts as pensions are not gifts and people pay for their benefits through their work. Pensions operating through contracts also engender mutual trust and confidence in the employment relationship. An employer is under a duty to inform their staff about how to make the best of their pension rights. Moreover, workers must be treated equally, on grounds of gender or otherwise, in their pension entitlements. The management of a pension trust must be partly codetermined by the pension beneficiaries, so that a minimum of one third of a trustee board are elected or "member nominated trustees". The Secretary of State has the power by regulation, as yet unused, to increase the minimum up to one half. Trustees are charged with the duty to manage the fund in the best interests of the beneficiaries, in a way that reflects their preferences, by investing the savings in company shares, bonds, real estate or other financial products. Because pension schemes save up significant amounts of money, which many people rely on in retirement, protection against an employer's insolvency, or dishonesty, or risks from the stock market were seen as necessary after the 1992 Robert Maxwell scandal. Defined contribution funds must be administered separately, not subject to an employer's undue influence. The Insolvency Act 1986 also requires that outstanding pension contributions are a preferential over creditors, except those with fixed security. However, defined benefit schemes are also meant to insure everyone has a stable income regardless of whether they live a shorter or longer period after retirement. The Pensions Act 2004 sections 222 to 229 require that pension schemes have a minimum "statutory funding objective", with a statement of "funding principles", whose compliance is periodically evaluated by actuaries, and shortfalls are made up. The Pensions Regulator is the non-departmental body which is meant to oversee these standards, and compliance with trustee duties, which cannot be excluded. However, in The Pensions Regulator v Lehman Brothers, the Supreme Court concluded that if the Pensions Regulator issued a "Financial Support Direction" to pay up funding, and it was not paid when a company had gone insolvent, this ranked like any other unsecured debt in insolvency, and did not have priority over banks that hold floating charges. In addition, there exists a Pensions Ombudsman who may hear complaints and take informal action against employers who fall short of their statutory duties. If all else fails, the Pension Protection Fund guarantees a sum is ensured, up to a statutory maximum. wikipedia.org
  5. The Working Time Regulations 1998 and the Working Time Directive give every worker the right to paid holidays, breaks and the right to a weekend. Following international law, every worker must have at least 28 days, or four full weeks in paid holidays each year (including public holidays). There is no qualifying period for this, or any other working time right, because the law seeks to ensure both a balance between work and life, and that people have enough rest and leisure to promote better physical and psychological health and safety. Because the purpose is for workers to have the genuine freedom to rest, employers may not give a worker "rolled up holiday pay", for instance an additional 12.5% in a wage bill, in lieu of taking actual holidays. However, if the worker has not used his or her holidays before the job terminates, the employer must give an additional payment for the unused holiday entitlement. Where a person works at night, he or she may only do 8 hours in any 24-hour period on average, or simply 8 hours at most if the work is classified as "hazardous". Moreover, every worker must receive at least 11 consecutive hours of rest in a 24-hour period, and in every day workers must have at least a 20-minute break in any 6 hour period. The most controversial provisions in the working time laws concerns the right to a maximum working week. The labour movement has always bargained for a shorter working week as it increased economic productivity: the current maximum is 48 hours, averaged over 17 weeks, but it does not apply to the self-employed or people who can set their own hours of work. In Pfeiffer v Deutsches Rotes Kreuz the Court of Justice said the rules aim to protect workers who possess less bargaining power and autonomy over the way they do their jobs. Nevertheless, the UK government negotiated to let workers "opt out" of the 48-hour maximum by individually signing an opt out form. Theoretically and legally, a worker may always change his or her mind after having opted out, and has a right to sue the employer for suffering any detriment if they so choose. "On call" time where people must be ready to work is working time. The European Court of Justice's decision in Landeshauptstadt Kiel v Jaegar that junior doctors' on call time was working time led a number of countries to exercise the same "opt out" derogation as the UK, but limited to medical practice. The Health and Safety Executive is the UK body charged with enforcing the working time laws, but it has taken a "light touch" approach to enforcement. Possibly the most important time off during working life will be to care for newly born or adopted children. However, unlike paid holidays or breaks that are available for "workers", child care rights are restricted to "employees". They are also less favourable for male parents, which exacerbates the gender pay gap as women take more time out of their careers than men. Going beyond the minimum in the Pregnant Workers Directive, the Employment Rights Act 1996 section 71 to 73 and the Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999 guarantee maternity leave for 52 weeks in total, but in four steps, paid and unpaid. First, women must take two weeks compulsory leave at the time of child birth. Second, and covering the compulsory leave, there is a right to 6 weeks' leave paid at 90% of ordinary earnings. Third, there is a right to 33 weeks' leave at the statutory rate, or 90% of ordinary earnings if this is lower, which was £138.18 per week in 2014. The government reimburses employers for the costs according to the employer's size and national insurance contributions. Fourth, the mother may take additional, but unpaid maternity leave for another 13 weeks. A contract of employment can always be, and if collectively bargained usually is, more generous. There is no qualifying period for the right to unpaid leave, but the mother must have worked for 26 weeks for the right to paid leave. The mother must also tell the employer 15 weeks before the date of the expected birth, in writing if the employer requests it. Employees may not suffer any professional detriment or dismissal while they are absent, and should be able to return to the same job after 26 weeks, or another suitable job after 52 weeks. If parents adopt, then the rights to leave follow maternity rules for one primary carer. However, for fathers ordinarily, the position is less generous. The Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002 entitle a father to 2 weeks leave, at the statutory rate of pay. Both parents may also take "parental leave". This means that, until a child turns 5, or a disabled child turns 18, parents can take up to 13 weeks unpaid leave. Unless there is another collective agreement in place, employees should give 21 days' notice, no more than 4 weeks in a year, at least 1 week at a time, and the employer can postpone the leave for 6 months if business would be unduly disrupted. Otherwise, employees have a right to suffer no detriment, nor be dismissed, and have the right to their previous jobs back. To redress the imbalance between women and men bearing children, the Additional Paternity Leave Regulations 2010 made it possible for the woman to transfer up to 26 weeks of her maternity leave entitlements to her partner. This has not stopped the gender pay gap. In further specific situations, there are a jumble of other rights to leave spread across the Employment Rights Act 1996 sections 55 to 80I. "Emergency leave" is, under the Employment Rights Act 1996 section 57A, available for employees to deal with birth or a child's issues at school, as well as other emergencies such as dependents' illness or death, so long as the employee informs the employer as soon as reasonably practicable. In Qua v John Ford Morrison Solicitors, Cox J emphasised that there is no requirement to deliver daily updates. After Employment Act 2002, employees gained the right to request flexible working patterns for the purpose of caring for a child under the age of 6, or a disabled child under age 18. The right to make the request is contained in Employment Rights Act 1996 section 80F, and despite the fact that employers may decline the request, employers grant requests in 80% of cases. An employee must make the request in writing, the employer must reply in writing, and can only decline the request on the basis of a correct fact assessment, and within 8 grounds listed in section 80G, which generally concern business and organisational necessity. In Commotion Ltd v Rutty a toy warehouse assistant was refused a reduction to part-time work because, according to the manager, everyone needed to work full-time to maintain "team spirit". The Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that because "team spirit" was not one of the legitimate grounds for refusal, Rutty should get compensation, which is set at a maximum of 8 weeks' pay. Finally, the Employment Rights Act 1996 sections 63D-I give employees (and agency workers are expressly included) the right to request the right to get time off for training. wikipedia.org
  6. Since 1998, the United Kingdom has fixed a national minimum wage, but collective bargaining is the main mechanism to achieve "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work". The Truck Acts were the earliest wage regulations, requiring workmen to be paid in money, and not kind. Today, the Employment Rights Act 1996 section 13 stipulates that employers can only dock employees' wages (e.g. for destroying stock) if the employee has consented to deductions in writing. This, however, does not cover industrial action, so following 18th century common law on part performance of work, employees who refused to 3 out of 37 hours a week in minor workplace disobedience had their pay cut for the full 37. From the Trade Boards Act 1909, the UK had set minimum wages according to the specific needs of different sectors of work. This eroded from 1986, and then repealed in 1993. One wages council that survived was the Agricultural Wages Board, established under the Agricultural Wages Act 1948. It was abolished in England in October 2013, though boards still operate for Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. To bring the UK back into compliance with international law, the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 was introduced. Every worker" who personally performs work, but not for a client or customer, However, it was held that a pupil barrister did not count as a worker. The minimum wage rate is revised annually after guidance from the Low Pay Commission, but since 2010 has been cut for under 25 year olds and young people doing apprenticeships. The National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 state that for people who are not paid by the hour, total pay is divided by the hours actually worked over an average "pay reference period" of one month. Workers who are "on call" have to be paid when they are on call. But if a worker is given sleeping facilities and is not awake, the minimum wage need not be paid. However, an employer may agree with a worker what the hours worked actually are, if hours are ordinarily be unmeasured. In Walton v Independent Living Organisation Ltd a worker who cared for a young epileptic lady had to be on call 24 hours a day, 3 days a week, but could do her own activities, such as going shopping, making meals and cleaning. Her company made an agreement with her that her tasks took 6 hours and 50 minutes a day, which resulted in her £31.40 allowance meeting the minimum wage. Deductions up to £6 per day can be made for accommodation the employer provides, though extra bills, such as for electricity, should not ordinarily be charged. The minimum wage can be enforced individually through an Employment Rights Act 1996 section 13 claim for a shortfall of wages in a Tribunal. A worker may not be subjected to any detriment for requesting records or complaining about it. However, because many workers will not be informed about how to do this, or have the resources, a primary enforcement mechanism is through inspections and compliance notices issued by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). A remedy of up to 80 times the minimum wage is available to the worker and HMRC can enforce a penalty of twice the minimum wage per worker per day. Unlike the rules for Value Added Tax Act 1994, where consumers must see the prices they actually pay after tax, there is currently no requirement for workers to see the final wages they will actually earn after income tax, and National Insurance contributions. Under the Income Tax Act 2007, as amended each year by the Finance Acts, in 2019 the 'personal allowance' with 0% was up to £12,500 in income, a 'basic rate' of 20% tax was paid on £12,500 to £50,000, a higher rate was 40% on income over £50,000, and a top rate of 45% over £150,000. The top rate of income tax has been dramatically cut since 1979, while taxation for the richest people, who receive most money through capital gains, dividends, or corporate profits has been cut even further. People will be classified as liable to pay income tax whether or not they work through a company. From 2015 to 2019, the "personal allowance" was linked to the minimum wage, but only up to 30 hours a week of pay (as if people usually had a three-day weekend). This link was cut, and there is no personal allowance for National Insurance contributions, which fund the state pension, unemployment insurance (now partly the universal credit), and the insolvency fund. While self-employed people generally pay the same income tax (albeit with more exemptions and deductions) they pay 9% in National Insurance contributions, while an employee pays 12%. In addition, the employee's employer makes a standard 13.8% contribution, while the "self-employed" person has no employer to make such a contribution. These disparities give a large incentive for employers to misrepresent true employment status with "sham self-employment". wikipedia.org
  7. Every employer must provide a "safe system of work". In the industrial revolution from 1802 the Factories Acts required workplaces to be cleaner, ventilated, with machinery fenced. The Acts restricted child labour and limited the working day. They targeted mines, or textile mills, before the Factories Act 1961 spread to all "factories": where an article is made or changed, or animals are kept and slaughtered. The Employer's Liability (Defective Equipment) Act 1969 made employers automatically liable for equipment with defects supplied by third parties. Because individual employees tend not to litigate, to ensure enforcement, there are inspectors under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, enforced by the Health and Safety Executive. The HSE can delegate enforcement to local authorities. Inspectors have the power to investigate and require changes to workplace systems. HSWA 1974 section 2 also foresees that employees will set up their own workplace committees, elected by the employees and with the power to codetermine health and safety matters with management. Health and safety regulations remain in line with the European-wide harmonised requirements of the Health and Safety Directive. The most important protection for people's health has been the National Health Service (NHS), founded by the National Health Service Act 1946. The National Health Service Act 2006 entitles everyone to health care in the UK, and is funded through the tax system. If people are injured at work, they may be treated regardless of their means to pay. There is also the right, under the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, to statutory sick pay. People at work can also sue for compensatory damages whenever they are injured and employers have breached a statutory duty. They can claim for the injury itself, loss of income, and relatives or dependents may recover small sums to reflect distress. Employers are vicariously liable for all agents acting for them in the "course of employment" whenever their actions have a "close connection" to the job, and even if it breaks an employer's rules. An employer only has a defence if an employee, on a "frolic of his own", was not placed by an employer in a position to cause harm. Under the Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969, employers must take out insurance for all injury costs. Insurance companies may not sue their employee to recover costs unless there is fraud. Until the mid-20th century there was an "unholy trinity" of defences: common employment, volenti non fit injuria, and contributory negligence. These are gone, but a fourth defence taken advantage of by employers is ex turpi causa non oritur actio, that if the employee was engaged in any illegal activity they may not claim compensation for injuries. In Hewison v Meridian Shipping Services Pte Ltd Hewison concealed his epilepsy so that he could work offshore, and so was technically guilty of illegally attempting to gain a pecuniary advantage by deception under the Theft Act 1968 section 16. After being struck in the head by a defective gangplank he suffered worse fits than before, but the Court of Appeal, by a majority, held his illegal act precluded any compensation. Tort law remains relevant when there is scientific uncertainty about an injury's cause. In asbestos disease cases, a worker may have been employed at a number of companies where he was exposed to asbestos, but his injury cannot with certainty be traced to any one, and some may be insolvent. In Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd, the House of Lords held that if any employer had materially increased the risk of harm to the worker, they could would be jointly and severally liable and could be sued for the full sum, leaving it up to them to seek contribution from others and thus the risk of other businesses' insolvency. For a brief period, in Barker v Corus the House of Lords then decided that employers would only be liable on a proportionate basis, thus throwing the risk of employers' insolvency back onto workers. Immediately Parliament passed the Compensation Act 2006 section 3 to reverse the decision on its facts. It has also been held in Chandler v Cape plc that even though a subsidiary company is the direct employer of a worker, a parent company will owe a duty of care. Thus shareholders may not be able to hide behind the corporate veil to escape their obligations for the health and safety of the workforce. wikipedia.org
  8. Once a person's work contract is categorised, the courts have specific rules to decide, beyond the statutory minimum charter of rights, what are its terms and conditions. Just like ordinary contract law there are rules on incorporation, implied terms and unjust factors. However, in Gisda Cyf v Barratt, Lord Kerr emphasised that if it affects statutory rights, the way courts construe a contract must be "intellectually segregated" from the general law of contract, because of the employee's relation of dependency. In this case, Ms Barratt was told her employment was terminated in a letter that she opened 3 days after its arrival. She claimed her dismissal was unfair within three months (the time limit to bring claims in Tribunals) after reading the letter, but the employer argued it was barred because in commercial contract cases, one is bound by a notice as soon as it arrives in business hours. The Supreme Court held that Ms Barratt could claim: she was only bound by the notice when she actually read it. The purpose of employment law to protect the employee, and so the rules must be construed to uphold employees' rights. Everything an employee is promised or agrees to becomes a term of the contract, so long as this does not contradict statutory labour rights. In addition, terms can be incorporated by reasonable notice, for instance by referring to a staff handbook in a written employment agreement, or even in a document in a filing cabinet next to the staff handbook. While without express wording they are presumed not binding between the union and employer, a collective agreement may give rise to individual rights. The test applied by the courts is to ask loosely whether its terms are 'apt' for incorporation, and not statements of 'policy' or 'aspiration'. Where the collective agreement's words are clear, a "last in, first out" rule was held in one case to potentially qualify, but in another case a clause purporting to censure compulsory redundancies was held to be binding 'in honour' only. As well as statutory rights, expressly agreed terms, and incorporated terms, the employment relation contains standardised implied terms, on top of the individualised implied terms that courts always construe to reflect the reasonable expectations of the parties. First, the courts have long held that employees are owed additional and beneficial obligations, such as a safe system of work, and payment of wages even when the employer has no work to offer. The House of Lords held employers have a duty to inform their employees of their workplace pension rights, although a lower court stopped short of requiring employers to give advice on qualifying for workplace disability benefits. The key implied term is the duty of good faith, or "mutual trust and confidence". This is applied in many circumstances. Examples include requiring that employers do not act in an authoritarian manner, do not call employees names behind their back, do not treat workers unequally when upgrading pay, do not run the company as a front for international crime, or do not exercise discretion to award a bonus capriciously. There has been disagreement among judges about the extent to which the core implied term of mutual trust and confidence can be 'contracted out of', with the House of Lords having held that the parties may when they are "free" to do so, while others approach the question as a matter of construction of the agreement which is within exclusive judicial competence to define. The second, and older, hallmark of the employment contract is that employees are bound to follow their employers' instructions while at work, so long as that does not contravene statute or agreed terms. Employments relation give the employer discretion in limited fields. This used to be called the 'master–servant' relationship. The employer has some ability to vary the way work is done in accordance with business needs, so long as it does not contradict a contract's express terms, which always require an employee's consent, or a collective agreement. The status of 'flexibility clauses', purporting to allow employers the discretion to vary any contract term, has been contested, as it will often enable abuse of power that the common law controls. The limits of the courts' tolerance for such practices are evident if they touch procedures for accessing justice, or potentially if they would contravene the duty of mutual trust and confidence. wikipedia.org
  9. UK labour law's main concerns are to ensure that every working person has a minimum charter of rights in their workplace, and voice at work to get fair standards beyond the minimum. It distinguishes self-employed people, who are free to contract for any terms they wish, and employees, whose employers are responsible for complying with labour laws. UK courts and statutes also, however, give more or fewer rights to different groups including "worker", "jobholder", "apprentice" or someone with an "employment relation". A "worker", for example, is entitled to a minimum wage (£8.21 per hour in 2019), 28 statutory minimum days of paid holiday, enrolment in a pension plan, a safe system of work, and the right to equal treatment that also applies to consumers and public service users. An "employee" has all those rights, and also the right to a written contract of employment, time off for pregnancy or child care, reasonable notice before a fair dismissal and a redundancy payment, and the duty to contribute to the National Insurance fund and pay income tax. The scope of the terms "worker", "employee", and others, are more or less left to the courts to construe according to the context of its use in a statute, but someone is essentially entitled to more rights if they are in a weaker position and thus lack bargaining power. English courts view an employment contract as involving a relation of mutual trust and confidence, which allows them to develop and enlarge the remedies available for workers and employers alike when one side acts out of bad faith. Scope of protection The UK has not yet codified a single definition of who is protected by labour rights. The law has two main definitions (employee and worker) and three minor definitions (jobholder, apprentice, and an "employment relation") each with different rights. EU law does have one consolidated definition of a 'worker': someone who has a contract for work in return for a wage, or an indirect quid pro quo (as in a communal cooperative), and also stands as the more vulnerable party to the contract. This reflects the kernel of classical labour law theory, that an employment contract is one infused with "inequality of bargaining power", and stands as a justification for mandating additional terms to what might otherwise be agreed under a system of total freedom of contract. First, an "employee" has all main rights, including job security, retirement, child care, and the right to equal treatment. Most people are employees, although this has not yet been fully defined in the Employment Rights Act 1996 section 230. Instead, Parliament left it to the courts to decide what "employee" with a "contract of service" meant, although the government can explicitly put people into the "employee" category. The classical common law test was that an employee was subject to the employer's 'control'. But in the 20th century, more people worked outside factories where they had greater autonomy in performing their jobs. New tests were used, such as whether an employee was "integrated" into the workplace, or wore the "badge" of the organisation. Most importantly, because employers paid National Insurance contributions for their employees, the tax authorities had a central role in enforcing the proper distinction. Courts focused on "economic reality", and form over substance. It could also be relevant (but not decisive) if employees owned their tools, if they had the chance of profit, or bore the risk of loss. But in the late 1970s and 1980s, some courts introduced a new test of "mutuality of obligation". The dominant view of this, now approved by the UK Supreme Court, was merely that employees only needed to exchange work for a wage: this was the "irreducible core" of an employment contract. But a rival view stated that the employment relationship had to be one where there was an ongoing obligation to offer and accept work. This led to cases where employers, who hired people on a casual basis, low wages, and with little bargaining power, argued they owed no duties to their staff, because they had neither side had assumed any such obligation. However, the leading case, Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher decided by a unanimous Supreme Court in 2011, adopted the view that mutuality of obligation is the consideration of work for a wage. Lord Clarke held that an exchange of work for a wage was essential, but that employment contracts could not be treated like commercial agreements. As he put it, “ the relative bargaining power of the parties must be taken into account in deciding whether the terms of any written agreement in truth represent what was agreed and the true agreement will often have to be gleaned from all the circumstances of the case, of which the written agreement is only a part. This may be described as a purposive approach to the problem. If so, I am content with that description. ” This meant that a group of car valeters, although their contracts said they were self-employed, and professed to have no obligation to undertake work, were entitled to a minimum wage and paid leave. The contract terms could be disregarded because they did not represent the reality of the situation. The second major category is of a 'worker'. This is defined in Employment Rights Act 1996 section 230 as someone with a contract of employment or someone who personally performs work and is not a client or a customer. This means all employees are workers, but not all workers are employees. Non-employee workers are entitled to a safe system of work, a minimum wage and limits on working time, anti-discrimination rights, and trade union rights, but not job security, child care, and employers do not make National Insurance contributions for them. The Supreme Court has held that this category contains quasi-self-employed professionals, such as partners of a law firm, and high-earning plumbers. However, staff who are employed through an agency, will be employees in relation to the agency. Though not entitled to employee rights, these workers may form trade unions and take collective action under UK, EU and international law, to protect their interests. wikipedia.org
  10. United Kingdom labour law regulates the relations between workers, employers and trade unions. People at work in the UK benefit from a minimum charter of employment rights, which are found in various Acts, Regulations, common law and equity. This includes the right to a minimum wage of £8.21 for over 25-year-olds under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998. The Working Time Regulations 1998 give the right to 28 days paid holidays, breaks from work, and attempts to limit excessively long working hours. The Employment Rights Act 1996 gives the right to leave for child care, and the right to request flexible working patterns. The Pensions Act 2008 gives the right to be automatically enrolled in a basic occupational pension, whose funds must be protected according to the Pensions Act 1995. To get fair labour standards beyond the minimum, the most important right is to collectively participate in decisions about how an enterprise is managed. This works through collective bargaining, underpinned by the right to strike, and a growing set of rights of direct workplace participation. Workers must be able to vote for trustees of their occupational pensions under the Pensions Act 2004. In some enterprises, such as universities, staff can vote for the directors of the organisation. In enterprises with over 50 staff, workers must be informed and consulted about major economic developments or difficulties. This happens through a steadily increasing number of work councils, which usually must be requested by staff. However, the UK remains behind European standards in requiring all employees to have a vote for their company's board of directors, alongside private sector shareholders, or government authorities in the public sector. Collective bargaining, between democratically organised trade unions and the enterprise's management, has been seen as a "single channel" for individual workers to counteract the employer's abuse of power when it dismisses staff or fix the terms of work. Collective agreements are ultimately backed up by a trade union's right to strike: a fundamental requirement of democratic society in international law. Under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 strikes are basically lawful if they are "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute". As well as having rights for fair treatment, the Equality Act 2010 requires that people are treated equally, unless there is a good justification, based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, beliefs and age. To combat social exclusion, employers must positively accommodate the needs of disabled people. Part-time staff, agency workers, and people on fixed-term contracts are treated generally equally compared to full-time or permanent staff. To tackle unemployment, all employees are entitled to reasonable notice before dismissal after a qualifying period of a month, after two years they can only be dismissed for a fair reason, and are entitled to a redundancy payment if their job was no longer economically necessary. If an enterprise is bought or outsourced, the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 require that employees' terms cannot be worsened without a good economic, technical or organisational reason. The purpose of these rights is to ensure people have dignified living standards, whether or not they have the relative bargaining power to get good terms and conditions in their contract. wikipedia.org
  11. Mental health problems among youngsters in UK schools are increasing; social media, pressure from schools, austerity and gender expectations are blamed. Teachers' leaders say they feel overwhelmed and cannot cope. Sarah Hannafin of the headteachers' union NAHT, said, "There is a crisis and children are under increasing amount of pressure … Schools have a key role to play and we are doing what we can, but we need more funding." Louise Regan of the National Education Union stated, "Teachers are overwhelmed by the sheer number of students showing signs of mental health problems." She added counsellor and pastoral support had been seriously reduced, though money for children's wellbeing was desperately needed, she said, "There is more focus on attainment measures rather than overall concern about the wellbeing of a child." Norman Lamb said the UK was in an "intolerable crisis", children had just one childhood and one education. "When it's gone, it's gone, and that will leave a lifetime of damage … We are failing an entire generation of young people." There were calls for a change in school culture with a switch of focus from exams to wellbeing. wikipedia.org
  12. In 2015/16, the UK spent £3.2 billion on under-5s education, £27.7 billion on primary education, £38.2 billion on secondary education and £5.9 billion on tertiary education. In total, the UK spent £83.4 billion on education (includes £8.4 billion on other categories). Due to funding cuts many local authorities are unable to provide the specialist education that disabled children with special needs require. Education Secretary, Damian Hinds has been called on to provide funding for this. wikipedia.org
  13. Technical and vocational education in the United Kingdom is introduced during the secondary school years and goes on until further and higher education. Secondary vocational education is also known as further education. It is separate from secondary education and doesn't belong to the category of higher education. Further education incorporates vocational oriented education as well as a combination of general secondary education. Students can also go on to a further education college to prepare themselves for the Vocational Certificate of Education (VCE), which is similar to the A-levels. Major provider of vocational qualifications in the United Kingdom include the City and Guilds of London Institute and Edexcel. Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas typically require 1 and 2 years of full-time study and credit from either HNE or Diplomas can be transferred toward an undergraduate degree. Along with the HNC and HND, students who are interested in other vocational qualifications may pursue a Foundation degree, which is a qualification that trains people to be highly skilled technicians. The National Apprenticeship Service also offers vocational education where people at ages of 16 and older enter apprenticeships in order to learn a skilled trade. There are over 60 different certifications can be obtained through an apprenticeship, which typically lasts from 1 to 3 years. Trades apprentices receive paid wages during training and spend one day at school and the rest in the workplace to hone their skills. wikipedia.org
  14. Students that sit for the GCSE usually take five to ten examinations and they are free to choose the number of subjects and the kinds of subjects taken. Sitting at the exam culminates the end of 11 years of mandatory education. A General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is awarded for each subject passed and World Education Services issues a high school diploma after the evaluation of a minimum of three GCSEs. Pre-university education in the United Kingdom is a two-year senior secondary programme that leads to a new round of examinations, the General Certificate of Education, Advanced Level (also known as GCE A-levels). As with the GCSE, students who sit for the exam choose the subjects and the number of examinations (the average number taken is three). WES awards undergraduate credit based on the nature and number of subjects passed. Each university has their own set of admission policies and the minimum entry requirements for each particular higher education programme that they offer. The General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (GCE "A Levels") is an entry qualification for universities in the United Kingdom and many other universities across the world. Students that are interested in pursuing higher education will usually enroll in pre-university and further education programmes. Pre-university education takes up to two years which culminates with a new set of examinations, the General Certificate of Education, Advanced Level (GCE A-levels). Similarly with the GCSE, students who take the exam choose their subjects of interest and the number of examinations. Most students take three subjects on average and the WES grants undergraduate credit based on the nature and number of subjects passed. Bachelor's degrees at the bare minimum typically require two to three GCE A Level passes, and a minimum number of GCSE passes with a grade C or above. wikipedia.org
  15. In the United Kingdom, higher education is offered by universities and non-university institutions (colleges, institutes, schools and academies) and provide both research-oriented and higher professional education. Universities provide degree programmes that culminate to a degree (bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree) and non-degree programmes that lead to a vocational qualification such as a certificate or diploma. British higher education is highly valued around the globe for its quality and rigorous academic standards. The prestige of British higher education emanates from the alumni of its world renowned institutions. Prominent people that have reached the apex in their respective fields have been products of British higher education. Britain is home to some of the world's most prominent institutions of higher learning and ranked among the top universities in the world. Institutions such as the University of Cambridge, Oxford University, Imperial College, London, and UCL consistently rank among the world's top ten universities. wikipedia.org
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