Wednesday, 20 December 2000

Consultation Paper on Young Workers

The partial opt-outs from the Young Workers Directive, adopted by the UK in 1998, ended in June 2000. The government is now consulting on how to implement the remaining provisions of the Directive into UK law.

Younh workers are defined as being over the minimum school leaving age, but under 18.

The three areas which are likely to be introduced (by amendment to the Working Time Regulations) are:

• limiting young workers' working hours to 8 per day and 40 per week. There is no provision for averaging working hours over a period of time. However, the 8 / 40 hour maxima may be excluded when there are objective grounds

• prohibiting young workers from working between 12 midnight and 4am. Exemptions exist for the armed forces or where there are objective grounds. Amongst other things, this is likely to prevent young people from working in nightclubs or as DJs at discos.

• prohibiting young workers from working between EITHER 10pm and 6am OR 11pm and 7am - but there is greater scope for derogation.

The consultation period over the scope of any amendments to the Working Time Regulations closes on 30th March 2001.

More detail can be found on the DTI website at

Wednesday, 13 December 2000

Service Ban on Homosexuals to be removed

According to an article in today's Times reporting an interview with Geof Hoon, the Defence Secretary, the armed services are to lift the ban on homosexuals serving next month.

A new code of conduct will be published in January concerning behaviour standards irrespective of sexual orientation. This will state that behaviour alone will determine whether the sexuality of a man or woman will consitute grounds for dismissal. A known homosexual who conforms to standards of military discipline will be treated no differently from a heterosexual colleague.

This follows the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on 27th September 1999 in the cases of Jeanette Smith, Graeme Grady, Duncan Lustig-Prean and John Beckett (see bulletin of that date) which held that the U.K. was in breach of article 8 of the ECHR (right to respect for family and private life).

Although this Code is welcome, the armed services continue to disciminate on grounds of gender (eg Sirdar v UK in which, last month, the European Court of Human Rights held that the refusal of the Royal Marines to employe a female chef was not incompatible with the Convention). No doubt this will be discussed at a government conference, being held tomorrow in Birmingham, on racial and sexual equality in the armed forces. However, Geoff Hoon is reported in The Times as indicating that "there might still be good reasons for doubting the wisdom of giving women front line combat roles.". He is quoted as saying "I'll look at it, but there is no presumption in favour of it."

Plus ca change...

PS - Just a reminder - the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999 come into force on Wednesday - see bulletins dated 5th November and 25th October 1999

PPS - Please note that the advertisements which have appeared recently at the footer of some of these messages are imposed by the ListBot server (which I use for distributing these bulletins) and do not form part of these bulletins. I am arranging to have them removed, and they should not be appearing after Christmas.

Thursday, 7 December 2000

Working Parents: Government reveals Green Paper

The government has, today, issued its proposals for Working Parents, in a document entitled "Work and Parents: Competitiveness and Choice".

A consultation paper will be issued within the next 3 weeks, to enable people to state which of the Government's proposals are preferred. The proposals include:

  • two weeks paid paternity leave for fathers;
  • lengthening the period maternity leave is paid to six months;
  • extending unpaid maternity leave so a woman could stay at home for a year;
  • sharing any increase on existing unpaid maternity leave equally between the mother and father;
  • increasing the flat rate of maternity pay - currently £60.20 per week;
  • allowing an adoptive parent - either male or female - to take paid leave similar to maternity leave when adopting a child; and
  • increasing the amount of parental leave available to the parents ofdisabled children, currently 13 weeks.

The Green Paper also includes several options on flexible working either through legislation or incentives to business including:
  • Giving mothers who return early from maternity leave the right to work reduced hours for the rest of that time;
  • giving fathers the right to work reduced hours until the end of maternity leave;
  • allowing both parents the right to opt to work reduced hours for as long as they wish, when the maternity leave period ends;
  • giving all employers the right to refuse a request to work reduced hours if it would harm the business; and
  • exempting employers with a certain number of employees from granting any requests to work reduced hours, except for mothers for a short time;
  • a kitemark that organisations committed to an appropriate code might display with a mechanism for taking the kitemark away if opportunities for flexible working are removed. This would be backed up with a challenge fund for small businesses to meet some of the up front costs of providing more flexible working opportunities.

Given the overwhelming improbability of legislation before the general election, the Green Paper may be regarded by many as ammunition for campagining rather than an indication of impending change.

Further details can be found at

Tuesday, 5 December 2000

Equal Treatment Framework Directive

Published at last! The English version of the Equal Treatment Framework Directive 2000 is now available, and is attached to this Email (128K - sorry about the length!) in .pdf format. You need Adobe Acrobat to read it.

The main points are:

1) The UK must introduce legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment on grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

2) The religion, belief and sexual orientation legislation must be in force by 2nd December 2003. The disability and age legislation must be in force by 2nd December 2006.

3) Positive action is expressly permitted.

4) There is a defence of 'genuine occupational requirement' for all types of discrimination.

5) There are specific defences for age discrimination, provided it can be shown to satisfy a legitimate employment policy. These defences include:
• remuneration conditions for young or older people;
• fixing of minimum conditions of age, professional experience or seniority for access to employment;
• fixing of minimum age requirements for training.
6) It is specifically stated that a mandatory retirement age is NOT to be regarded as age discrimination.

7) The burden of proof shifts to the employer once the employee has shown a prima facie case of less favourable treatment.

8) The Directive does not apply to the armed forces, but there are no other excluded sectors.

Interesting times ahead....

Equal Treatment Framework Directive

Employment Law (UK) List -
I've had two Emails telling me that the Directive, attached to my last bulletin, was corrupted.

If anyone can't access it, it can be downloaded from:

Monday, 4 December 2000

New Guide on Parental Leave

A guide to maternity and parental leave rights, which apparently includes a section on time off for emergencies, has been launched today by the DfEE. The guide is aimed primarily at small businesses.

According to the DfEE press release, the guide can be found at . However, it is not up there yet!

Friday, 1 December 2000

TUC Survey on Safety at Work


1. TUC Survey on Safety at Work 2000 - stress at work major factor

2. New EAT decision


1. TUC Survey on Safety at Work 2000

This is an annual survey published by the TUC, after interviewing 9,000 safety reps. The reps identified the following as the major hazards at work:

(1) stress or overwork (identified by 66% of safety reps)
(2) back strain (44%)
(3) RSI (41%)
(4) Display Screen Equipment (36%)
(5) working alone (32%)

Of the reps who identified stress as a major hazard at work, they cited the following as the main causes:

(1) workload (cited by 74% of reps identifying stress as a major hazard)
(2) cuts in staff (53%)
(3) change at work (44%)
(4) long hours (39%)
(5) shift work (30%)
(6) bullying (30%)


2. New EAT Decisions

These cases are unreported (although some may be reported in due course). All transcripts can be found at

Davis v Tibbett & Britten Group [29.2.2000, HHJ Collins]
An 9-month old decision, only just posted to the EAT website yesterday! The EAT says it is not necessary for an employer to obtain medical evidence, when dismissing for persistent absence, where the employee suffers from a series of transient illnesses rather than one long, ongoing, illness