Tuesday, 1 December 2015

#leadingtheway part 4 of 4

The final session today was delivered by Emlyn Williams, from ACAS. Emlyn had the hard job of concluding the session and handling the potential embarrassment of people getting up to leave early before the session ends. Good luck to him, and he made a good start by establishing he's not your typical lawyer and is a good, wisecracking speaker. 

On a side note, one can tell that the Museum of Liverpool don't handle conferences of this nature often. They tried hard and were friendly enough, but they need a lot more experiences of the types of demands a conference of so many people can have. 

Anyway, back to Emlyn. He had a good choice of slides to make his points, and a good selection of jokes also to back them up. 

He started by sharing the well known secret that shared parental and shared grandparental leave have been met with resounding indifference by the UK workforce, yet the government has plans to expand the rights re these. As someone who could have benefited from shared parental leave I can say there is no way we would have gone ahead and done it, so I can well understand the resounding silence. 

He then briefly covered the developments in equal pay legislation where it is predicted that changes will mean little on a practical level and more potential litigation if anything. 

The introduction of the National Living Wage was briefly covered also, with Emlyn explained that, to my surprise, it only applies to those aged 25 or over, effectively making it an extension of the current National Minimum Wage and not a replacement to it. That was glossed over in the recent government publicity surely? Emlyn also explained how enforcement of the new NLW would be handled by tribunals. 

Emlyn showed a graph that showed the startling rise in zero hours contracts, which have more than doubled in ten years. However he pointed out that recent publicity around them has only uncovered how many there already were, not necessarily prompted an increase in their usage. He talked about the impact of recent legislation around the use of zero hours contracts, which only went so far.

The cap on public sector exit payments is expected to come in next April, bringing a cap on payments (in their widest sense) of £95,000, which Emlyn noted will affect MOST public sector payments due to their inclusion of pensionable pay augmentations. He was surprised at how little outcry there had been about this, and I think it's because many people haven't worked it out yet and those who have are busy negotiating an exit before it comes in. 

A sensible measure though is the proposal to introduce a "fine" for those who take such exit payments then return a short period of time on a consultancy basis. 

Using Gary Barlow as an example, Emlyn then talked about the ongoing consultation around changes to tax free payments eg redundancy. There will be a sliding scale in effect that could apply from £6,000 but change with length of service, which would affect almost every redundancy payment in the future. 

Emlyn then covered the changes to ballots for industrial action. It's clear that the changes will make it FAR harder for trades unions to get a successful strike ballot. 

And then he closed by talking about the recent MBNA vs Jones case focusing on misconduct on a works outing. This prompted LOTS of hilarity as he described the details of the case. You really couldn't make it up. The nuances of employment law, the balance of probability and the concept of reasonable belief sometimes work, and sometimes they don't. This case covers the ways in which it can work in sometimes unbelievable ways quite well. 

Emlyn closed by giving his best typos of the year, and had the audience rolling in the aisles. 

I've really enjoyed this event and must thank Pete Monaghan for inviting me to cover it on social media. It's been quite tiring, again, to be multitasking for so long and to be scanning lots of media and listening and writing at the same time. 

But it's been enjoyable. 

I look forward to using the knowledge gained from this conference in the near future. 

Till next time...

Gary