Whether you work in the NHS or elsewhere, your work rights continue to come under attack.
Among the detrimental changes this year are a roll back of provisions that help fight discrimination in the workplace. Another is the revised TUPE regulations.
These undermine existing protections of your employment rights should you be transferred out of the NHS, or to another employer if you work in the private or voluntary sector. A small shaft of light is an extension to the right to request flexible working.
The Q&As explain how your rights are affected by the changes. Contact your CSP steward, or telephone the CSP’s enquiry handling unit if you need urgent advice or support. Tel: 020 7306 6666.
Q The government was consulting on TUPE last year – what’s happened?
A TUPE (Transfer of Undertaking – protection of Employment) rights protect your pay, terms and conditions if your employer changes.
The planned changes to TUPE came into force earlier than expected on 31 January. They contain a number of amendments that are detrimental to employees.
Changes to the regulations mean that many of your rights have little or no protection a year after the transfer. In addition, your workplace can now legitimately be changed by your new employer and your right to be consulted over potential redundancies is significantly reduced.
Q What impact have employment tribunal fees had?
ASince 29 July 2013 fees have been payable if you wish to take your case to an employment tribunal.
Fees for submitting a claim range from £160 to £250, with a further £250 to £950 charge depending on the type of case.
High levels of fees such as this will inevitably discourage employees, particularly low-paid workers, from pursuing cases where they have been treated unfairly or asking for small amounts of money that is owed to them.
Official figures from the Ministry of Justice show that tribunal claims fell from around 4,000 a month prior to July to a low of 1,117 in September 2013.
Q But what if I need to claim? Can the CSP help?
A Yes. The CSP is determined that members will retain access to justice where they have been treated unfairly, regardless of their ability to pay.
When an employment case has good prospects of success (as assessed by CSP solicitors Thompsons) then the CSP will pay the issue fee and, if appropriate, the hearing fee in the form of a loan to the member.
In the event that the case is successful then this money will be recouped from the damages awarded.
From 6 April 2014 it will be a legal requirement that employees must contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service for early conciliation (a type of mediation) prior to submitting a claim to an employment tribunal. The CSP can advise and assist members through this process.
Q Surely, in 2014, our rights around equality must be improving?
A Unfortunately not. The coalition government appears to view equality legislation as mere ‘red tape’ and has taken steps to dismantle important rights for workers. Last October CSP members lost any legal protection if they are harassed by a third party such as a patient.
The Equality Act was only implemented in 2011 but from April 2014 members will no longer be able to use a statutory questionnaire to gain information relating to a discrimination claim from their employer.
This will make it even harder to combat discrimination in the workplace.
With the Public Sector Equality Duty under review and the Equality and Human Rights Commission budget slashed from £74 million to £17 million, 2014 is looking bleak with regard to equality.
Q Any good news?
A. Yes, from the 6 April the Children and Families Bill will extend the right to request flexible working to all employees with 26 weeks’ service.
Q I work in Northern Ireland – are my work rights also threatened?
A Northern Ireland is the only region of the UK where employment law is devolved. Last year there was a consultation about proposed changes to some elements of employment law.
One thing not being considered is charging for taking a case to the industrial tribunal. We are still waiting for the outcome of the consultation and as soon as more is known we will ensure we keep members in Northern Ireland up-to-date with the changes.
- Find out more here about your employment rights
- Find out here about an alternative for fairness in the workplace
Have your say
In our campaigning and influencing, the CSP is keen to reflect the views of members affected by the continuing attacks on employment rights.
We are seeking volunteers for a panel comprising members, employed in all sectors, who are have a small amount of time to provide us with their views and experiences.
There will be no meetings and all communications will be by email. Contact Tom Gill. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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