Hethertons Solicitors attend charity ball in aid of Martin House Hospice

Members of Hethertons Solicitors’ experienced team recently took part in a charity ball organised by Catalyst IT Solutions in aid of Martin House Hospice.

Held at York Race Course, the Halloween themed event included a silent auction with a number of fantastic gifts on offer.

The team from Hethertons was joined by business leaders and dignitaries from across North Yorkshire at the fundraising gala, which raised hundreds for the charity that provides family-led care for children with life-shortening conditions.

Rachel Bolderow, Business Manager at Hethertons Solicitors, said: “We were delighted to be invited to this fantastic fundraising event.

“All of those who attended had a wonderful time and we are very grateful to Catalyst IT Solutions for allowing us to join them in raising so much money for such a worthy cause.”

Ministers accused of dragging feet over maternity discrimination

A charity has suggested that the Government has not done enough to protect new and expectant mums.

Maternity Action notes that ministers had committed to a review of protections at the beginning of the year but is concerned that a consultation has yet to be carried out. Nor has a timetable set for any such exercise.

Commenting this month, the charity said that the issue needed to be dealt with as a matter of urgency, highlighting the discrimination that women often encounter in the workplace.

It referenced a study which suggested that each year around 11 per cent of mothers – 54,000 women – lost their jobs as a consequence of maternity discrimination.

In a blog post to accompany the launch of a new report outlining women’s experiences, Maternity Action said: “We are recommending that the UK adopt the German model of redundancy protection.

“Under this approach, women must not be made redundant from notification of pregnancy through to six months after return from work, with some limited exceptions. This follows the recommendations of the Women and Equalities Select Committee on this issue.

“We are also calling for improvements in guidance for employers, information for women and support for advice services. We are also keen for employers to start reporting on maternity retention rates alongside gender pay gap reporting.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Let’s be clear, discrimination in the workplace is illegal in any form.

“We are considering ways of ensuring new and expectant mums feel properly supported and protected at work, including meeting with charities, employers and parents.”

Hethertons can advise businesses on abiding by discrimination laws and best practice in relation to maternity leave. Please email Jo Yeates or David Scott or call 01904 528200.

Fresh call to change the law covering internships

Unpaid internships were the subject of a heated debate in the House of Lords last month.

The work placements were likened to slavery by one peer, Lord Holmes, who had brought forward a Private Member’s Bill calling for a change in the law which would ban unpaid internships of longer than four weeks.

The Government has previously been reticent about introducing such stringent controls, arguing that any such move could impact on existing employment legislation.

The debate has served to return attention to an issue at a time when the number of unpaid internships has demonstrably soared.

A report by the IPPR think-tank earlier this year suggested that the number of placements had increased by 50 per cent since 2010, in tandem with the number of graduate-entry positions having declined.

A recent study conducted by the Social Mobility Commission suggested that three quarters of Britons would support the measures in the Private Member’s Bill.

Addressing the House, Lord Holmes said it was evident that the existing laws weren’t working. He asked: “How can it still be, in the fifth richest economy on the planet, that in the 21st century we’re still asking people to give up their labour for no financial return?”

For advice on the current law relating to internships and work experience placements please email Jo Yeates or David Scott or call 01904 528200.

Building firm fined after workers suffer serious injuries

A Yorkshire-based builder was sentenced for health and safety failings last month after three workers, including a father and son, fell almost five metres to the ground.

Hull Magistrates Court heard that Mr Jeremy Waudby was hired to construct a new chicken shed at Argham Fields Farm in December 2015.

He subsequently sub-contracted a cladding firm (A L Cladding) but provided his own telehandler and platform for them to work from.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that three members of the workforce were elevated on the platform when it came adrift from the telehandler and fell to the ground.

A subsequent investigation by the regulator found that the work platform had not and could not have been connected to the telehandler in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions which required three separate mechanical attachments. The necessary attachments were not present, and only one of the three had effectively been in place.

One worker shattered his right knee cap and crushed his tibia and fibula in the fall. Another man suffered three fractured vertebrae and a head wound, which required 12 stitches.

Jeremy Waudby, trading as JG & GW Waudby, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £1,200 and ordered to pay £558 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Alan Sheldon said: “These injuries were easily prevented and the risk should have been identified.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.”

For advice on any aspect of health and safety legislation, specifically in relation to working at height, please email Jo Yeates or Mark Dalton or call 01904 528200.

Woman fired for a Facebook post has Tribunal claim rejected

A woman who was sacked from her job after posting derogatory comments about Prince George on social media has lost her legal battle.

In August 2016, Angela Gibbins had been dismissed from her role as head of global estates at the British Council after remarks on Facebook about the young Royal caused a storm of controversy.

Ms Gibbins believed the comments, which later attracted a flurry of criticism in the national media, were only visible to friends.

The British Council, which is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations, subsequently launched an internal inquiry and found that the manager had brought the charity into disrepute.

Following her dismissal last year, Ms Gibbins lodged a Tribunal claim, alleging she had been wrongfully dismissed and been discriminated against because of her republican views.

The Employment Tribunal, which heard the case over the summer, has now dismissed her arguments, ruling that she lost her job because she had associated herself with a “distasteful” attack on a small child.

“Clearly the claimant deserves some sympathy for her slip of judgement, but that does not mean the decision was unfair,” the Tribunal ruled.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: “While we recognise the difficult nature of this process for all involved, we are pleased that the Tribunal has found in our favour in relation to all of the claims.

“The British Council looks to act with integrity and respect in all that we do to promote the UK and our position in the world.”

At Hethertons Solicitors we can advise on drafting a clear, unambiguous social media policy, as well as offering guidance on dismissal proceedings. Email Jo Yeates or David Scott or call 01904 528200.

CBI calls for “committed leadership” to tackle sexual harassment

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said that employers need to take steps to “stamp out” sexual harassment in the workplace.

Concerns about inappropriate conduct have been thrust into the media spotlight following a flurry of allegations centred on the film industry and, more recently, Westminster.

While Parliament’s employment structure – in which aides are employed directly by MPs – has presented a number of particular challenges to those who have been the victim of inappropriate behaviour, the CBI is convinced that sexual harassment is an issue across a wide range of sectors.

Indeed, a recent BBC survey suggested that more than half of women and one in five men had experienced sexual harassment at work or in their place of study. Incidents range from inappropriate comments to sexual assault.

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of the CBI, said: “Sexual harassment in all forms is unacceptable. The harm done to people’s lives, self-esteem, confidence and dignity is profound. We must work together to stamp it out.

“Westminster and Hollywood are currently in the spotlight, but there can be no doubt that it exists elsewhere, including in some businesses.

“Businesses take the treatment and welfare of their employees very seriously. But sexual harassment is often hidden and can take many forms. It takes committed leadership to ensure the workplace is free from sexual harassment.”

The CBI has this month outlined a number of measures which it has said that businesses should consider good practice. These include:

  • Ensuring there are clear processes for employees to report concerns over sexual harassment, in confidence and without fear;
  • Developing codes of conduct about what is and is not acceptable behaviour and ensuring everyone understands it;
  • Continuing to increase the diversity and inclusiveness of their workforces at all levels, including the most senior.

Hethertons’ Employment Team can offer advice on preparing a code of conduct on appropriate behaviour. Email Jo Yeates or David Scott or call 01904 528200.

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