Employment and business law bulletin - September 2017

Shopkeeper guilty of selling counterfeit tobacco

If a deal looks too good to be true, chances are it may not be legal. A shopkeeper received a criminal record and fines after he was found guilty of selling counterfeit tobacco. This case highlights the risk of buying cigarettes and tobacco from unregulated sources.

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Employers could be criminally liable for employees’ actions

New corporate offences of failing to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion will be introduced by the Criminal Finances Act on 30 September 2017. This means that businesses could be held criminally liable for the actions of employees who assist tax evasion. We look at the details of the draft guidance issued by HMRC on the reasonable prevention procedures that businesses can put in place to help protect against liability.

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Builder prosecuted for failure to consider carbon monoxide risks

Four people were taken to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning following shortcuts that were taken by a building company, during the construction of a single storey extension. The company was eventually fined £6,000 and other sums and penalties. The lesson for business owners to take from this is not to take shortcuts with health and safety issues.

We explain the full details

Increase to compensatory award provided in discrimination cases

Employers can sometimes still find themselves defending claims of discrimination. With effect from 11 September 2017, the following increases will be made to the compensation that can be awarded to employee’s who successfully persuade a judge that their hurt feelings case has merit. The hurt feelings bands are set to increase as follows:

Lower band, less serious cases                £1,000 to £8,000
Middle band, more than less serious        £8,000 to £25,000
Upper band, serious cases                      £25,000 and £42,000
Exceptional cases anything above            £42,000

More details

What happens to pension contributions during maternity leave?

The treatment of pension contributions during maternity leave is an issue which has the potential to create grievances and litigation risks for the employer. Guidance from the government Pension Advisory Service provides that if an employer paid contributions into an employee’s pension scheme before they began their maternity leave, the employer will still be required to continue making payments during the maternity leave. However, the length of time that the employer will make these payments may vary.

We look at what factors you need to consider

Are you paying individuals during work trials?

At present there is no definite law in place prohibiting unpaid work trials. The government presently endorses the practice of unpaid work trials through its JobCentre Plus work trial programme. However, the current status quo on these trials is currently under threat.

We explain the proposal to outlaw unpaid work trials