Employment Law Individual Archives - Palmers Solicitors
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A firm has been penalised for violating health and safety rules resulting in a £20,000 fine

A firm has been penalised for violating health and safety rules resulting in a £20,000 fine

A South East London-based joinery firm, F&E Joinery Limited, has been penalised with a fine of £20,000 due to its inability to manage wood dust exposure for its employees.

The company, located in Herne Hill, underwent an inspection in May 2022. The examination was part of a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) initiative aiming to monitor woodworking companies because of the significant health hazards linked with wood dust exposure, such as occupational asthma risk.

The inspection revealed several shortcomings concerning wood dust exposure control, including an excessive amount of accumulated dust at the site.

The inspection that took place in May 2022 uncovered that some of the firm’s machinery was not connected to the local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system.

This system is crucial for wood dust extraction during wood processing. The LEV system is essential in minimising the volume of wood dust that becomes airborne and is subsequently inhaled during machining.

Over the past decade, the company had received two enforcement notices concerning their handling of wood dust.

On April 21, 2023, at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, F&E Joinery Limited admitted to violating health and safety regulations and were penalised with a £20,000 fine.

HSE inspector Marcus Pope highlighted the importance of this case, saying it serves as a stern warning to the industry that HSE will not hesitate to prosecute in the face of severe health and safety shortcomings, particularly when prior enforcement and advice have been disregarded.

He continued to emphasise that wood dust exposure can lead to various occupational lung conditions, significantly deteriorating people’s quality of life and potentially causing early death.

If you are subject to an investigation by the HSE or are facing proceedings in a Magistrates Court, contact us today for guidance.

How can employers navigate discrimination and harassment in the workplace?

How can employers navigate discrimination and harassment in the workplace?

Discrimination and harassment in the workplace can be difficult and complex issues for employers to navigate.

It is important to understand the legal implications of discrimination and harassment claims and the steps that should be taken to address these issues.

Types of discrimination and harassment

First, it is important to understand the different types of discrimination and harassment that are prohibited by law.

Discrimination can occur on the basis of:

  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Preventing discrimination and harassment

As an employer, you have a responsibility to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring in the workplace.

This includes providing training to employees and creating clear policies and procedures for reporting and addressing these issues.

You should also investigate all claims of discrimination and harassment and take appropriate disciplinary action against any employees found to be engaging in these behaviours.

In order to prove discrimination or harassment, employees must provide evidence. Employees must record all events including dates and times when incidents occurred, what happened and if it is repeated.

This can be done in the form of documents but can also include witness statements, emails and letters.

Legal remedies

Employees who experience discrimination or harassment may be entitled to legal remedies, such as compensation for lost wages, damages for emotional distress, and injunctive relief.

If you are found to be engaging in discriminatory or harassing behaviour as an employer, you may face legal penalties and damages.

Discrimination and harassment in the workplace can have serious consequences, so it is important to ensure you handle the matter professionally and with legal support.

If you are facing an employment tribunal due to discrimination or harassment issues, contact us today for legal guidance.

What do you need to know about handling employee absence and sickness

What do you need to know about handling employee absence and sickness

Employee absence due to sickness can be a major challenge for any employer, both in terms of productivity and cost.

It is important for you to have effective policies and procedures in place to manage sickness absence and ensure that employees are supported in returning to work as quickly and safely as possible.

What can you do to support your employees?

  • Have a clear sickness absence policy: You should have a clear policy in place that sets out the procedures for reporting sickness absence, the expectations on employees, and the support available to help employees return to work.
  • Monitor sickness absence: You should monitor sickness absence closely to identify any patterns or trends. This can help to identify any underlying issues that may be contributing to absence.
  • Offer support: This could include offering flexible working arrangements to help employees manage their condition.
  • Maintain regular contact: You should maintain regular contact with employees who are absent due to sickness, to keep them updated on any developments and ensure they feel supported.
  • Be aware of your legal obligations: It is important to consider your legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010, which protects employees from discrimination on the grounds of disability.
  • Take a proactive approach: Promote employee health and wellbeing, you could do this by offering health and wellness programs.

By following these top tips, you can effectively manage sickness absence and support employees in returning to work as quickly and safely as possible.

This will not only benefit employees, but also improve productivity and reduce costs for employers in the long term.

If you need advice or have been taken to an employment tribunal, contact us today for legal advice.

Recruiting and retaining staff: How can you improve your processes?

Recruiting and retaining staff: How can you improve your processes?

As an employer it is important to ensure you have good recruitment and retainment processes in place to support a smooth workflow and to help your employees feel supported.

It is vital for you to consider and assess your approaches to ensure you are maximising your procedures.

So, what can you do to improve?

Are you doing all you can to stand out to potential candidates?

Ever since the pandemic changed the way we work, employers are more often open to offering remote working in the UK.

Recent statistics have found that there has been an increase by 274 per cent in remote working post pandemic.

Additionally, searches for remote work soared by 674 per cent. Almost three years on, it is clear to see that the remote and hybrid working model is here to stay.

If you do not offer this type of flexibility, there’s a high likelihood people will click off your job ad and look elsewhere.

However, this should be balanced against the practical and commercial requirements of your business.

Workplace and wellbeing

The mental wellbeing of your workforce will always be highly important, and potential employees will be taking it into consideration.

Simply put, if you don’t look after your employees’ happiness, you won’t be attracting as much talent as you could be and may struggle to retain existing employees.

Diversity and inclusion

As more younger workers enter the job market in 2023, employers must evaluate their diversity and inclusion policies.

Recent research from Glassdoor found that diversity and inclusion policies are more valuable to younger staff than those in other age groups.

By being inclusive, you can also recruit a more diverse pool of talent, which will only benefit your business in the long term.

However, take care not to implement any recruitment policies which may be considered discriminatory to those with protected characteristics.

Competitive wage

Offering a competitive wage shows employees that you value them and the work that they do, especially during the current cost-of-living crisis.

As well as this, an increasing number of employers are offering benefits such as healthcare services, paid time off, family leave, gym memberships, mental health support, amongst much more.

As this becomes more commonplace, you might consider reviewing the benefits that you offer, and adding to or upgrading these if possible.

If you need advice on your onboarding process or workplace policies, contact us today.

Hereford firm given £190,000 fine following serious injury to worker

Hereford firm given £190,000 fine following serious injury to worker

A company based in Hereford has been fined £190,000 by the Lincoln Magistrates’ Court after a serious accident resulted in an employee falling into a pit.

The worker was employed by Wyman-Gordon Limited, a firm that produces forgings for the aerospace industry.

While changing an oil seal on a counterblow hammer, a lifting sling containing a 169kg load broke, causing the load to fall and break the board the worker was standing on, which led to him falling into the pit. The man sustained deep cuts to his head, requiring eight stitches.

The worker’s victim impact statement reveals how the incident has affected him. He went on sick leave for three weeks and since returning to work, has felt more anxious when carrying out high-risk work.

He has also experienced problems with his back, which has made it difficult for him to get up in the morning. Additionally, he has been experiencing frequent headaches.

What did the Health and Safety Executive find?

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Wyman-Gordon Limited had failed to ensure the health, safety, and welfare at work of its employees during the ram seal replacement.

The company did not have a safe system of work that properly addressed work at height and lifting operations.

The HSE recommends that employers devise safe methods of working to address risks and prevent injuries, such as the one sustained by the employee, which could have been prevented if a safe system of work had been in place.

Wyman-Gordon Limited pleaded guilty and was fined £190,000 and ordered to pay £35,000 in costs.

All employers have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of workers and visitors within their business. If you have recently reviewed your health and safety policies, it is imperative that you do so and conduct the necessary risk assessments.

If you need help reviewing your existing policies or are taken to tribunal due to the failure of your health and safety processes, please contact us.

How well did you support employees throughout Ramadan?

How well did you support employees throughout Ramadan?

This year Ramadan was from the evening of Wednesday 22 March 2023 to the evening of Friday 21 April 2023. Is important to recognise the significance of this religious observance for Muslim employees and to support them at work.

Ramadan involves fasting, prayer, and acts of charity, and it is a time for spiritual reflection and personal growth.

As an employer, it is essential to provide the necessary support to ensure that your Muslim employees can observe Ramadan while maintaining their work responsibilities.

Provide flexibility in work hours

Fasting during Ramadan can be physically and mentally challenging, and it can affect your employees’ productivity and concentration.

By providing flexible work hours or allowing your employees to work from home, you can help them manage their energy levels and ensure they are able to perform their duties effectively.

Educate your employees

Educating your employees about the significance of Ramadan can help create cultural diversity within the workplace and promote a more inclusive work environment.

As an employer you should recognise this month as one of great importance to many employees. You should ensure that your other employees who may not be observing Ramadan are aware of this too.

Show appreciation

Showing appreciation for your Muslim employees by acknowledging the importance of Ramadan and the sacrifices that they are making during this time can go a long way.

Simple gestures such as sending an email or a message of support, providing a Ramadan gift, or hosting an iftar dinner to break the fast can make a significant impact.

Supporting employees is not only respectful, but it also promotes a positive and inclusive work environment.

By taking the time to understand the significance of Ramadan and providing the necessary support, you will create a workplace culture that values diversity, inclusivity, and respect.

If you are facing an employment dispute, it is important to seek professional advice, contact us today for support.