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Please note that our offices will be closed from Monday 25th December 2023 and will reopen on Wednesday 27th December 2023. Our offices will also be closed on Monday 1st January 2024. Normal business hours will resume on Tuesday 2nd January 2024.

Bydd ein swyddfeydd ar gau o Ddydd Llun 25ain o Ragfyr 2023 ac yn ail-agor ar Ddydd Mercher 27ain o Ragfyr 2023. Bydd ein swyddfeydd hefyd ar gau ar Ddydd Llun 1af o Ionawr 2024. Byddwn yn dychwelyd i oriau gwaith arferol ar Ddydd Mawrth 2il o Ionawr 2024
Latest News

LGBT+ policies not enough to ensure inclusion

Although LGBT+ workers are protected by law from discrimination, harassment and bullying, a recent report published by the TUC shows that despite the progress of recent decades, many LGBT+ workers continue to find the workplace a negative or harmful environment.

The TUC interviewed 16 employees across several sectors, and whilst the employees did believe that there had been progress, their expectations of employers were low. The employees considered themselves to be fortunate when basic legal standards were met. The report notes that recruitment is a particular concern for LGBT+ workers with several of the employees stating that they would definitely hide their identity when applying for a new role. The report also found there was a general consensus that trans and non-binary employees currently face the greatest challenges in work. Many of those interviewed felt that progress on trans inclusion in the workplace was going backwards. Some believed that the toxic narrative in the media contributed towards their experiences at work.

Whilst the TUC note that many employers have inclusive workplace policies, the report states that this is not enough. The report states that acts of harm are very likely to go unreported as they believe very little will be done. Furthermore, many of the interviewees described discriminatory and bullying experiences such as being repeatedly misgendered and being outed by their work colleagues.

In summary, the TUC report recommends that employers should focus on creating an inclusive culture at work and that managers should set behavioural expectations for everyone and should aim to ensure that they actively and consciously create an inclusive environment for their employees.

If you are an employer and require advice on workplace inclusion policies, please contact Morgan LaRoche’s Employment Team.

Latest News

£100,000 in compensation for gender critical belief discrimination

The case of Forstater v CGD Europe and others has been a high-profile case attracting significant media attention and following a recent remedies hearing, the case once again attracted the media’s attention. At the remedies hearing, the Claimant, Maya Forstater, was awarded over £100,000 in compensation by the Tribunal.

To recap, the Claimant worked as a researcher for a thinktank but a decision was made not to renew her employment contract nor to renew her unpaid visiting fellowship role at the thinktank. The Employment Tribunal found that this decision was direct discrimination related to the Claimant’s gender critical beliefs, which some of her colleagues had found offensive. The Claimant’s beliefs included a belief that sex is immutable and should not be conflated with gender identity, and that trans women are men. At an earlier judgment, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decided that the Claimant’s gender critical beliefs were protected as a philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010.

If you are an employer and require any employment advice, please contact the Employment Team at Morgan LaRoche.

Latest News

New research published: Dyslexic-friendly workplaces

Made by Dyslexia and Randstad Enterprise have recently conducted research which shows a significant disparity between the perception of HR leaders, who believe they are progressing towards establishing dyslexic-friendly workplaces, and the real-life experiences of dyslexic employees. For example, 64% of HR leaders believe their recruitment processes identified candidates with dyslexic thinking skills. However, only 4% of dyslexic thinkers agreed with this. Made by Dyslexia and Randstad Enterprise have therefore produced a report which includes steps for employers to take to improve the recruitment and retention of dyslexic thinkers.

Some of these steps include the following:

  • Recruitment – During the recruitment process, the report recommends that employers should provide candidates with extra time for responses and quiet spaces for tests. Employers should also ensure that they ask clear questions and provide candidates with an opportunity to show how their dyslexic thinking skills will help them to succeed. The report suggests that employers should review their recruitment process and consider whether it includes unnecessary barriers such as lengthy online applications.
  • Value dyslexic thinking – The research shows that the majority of HR leaders (66%) believe their organisations understand the value of dyslexic thinking. However, in reality only 14% of dyslexic thinkers agreed. The report therefore recommends that training is undertaken as this can help to change perceptions and ensure that employers improve their understanding of dyslexia.
  • Accommodate employees with dyslexic thinking skills – The report suggests that employers should ensure there is a culture of openness as this will help dyslexic-thinking employees to feel engaged. Consideration should also be given to providing employees with the opportunity to use technologies such as artificial intelligence.
  • Long-term support – The report recommends that employers establish groups for dyslexic employees as this will contribute towards creating a more supportive and inclusive environment. Employers should also ensure that there are ways for the needs of dyslexic employees to be passed straight to the senior management team.

Please feel free to contact the Employment Team at Morgan LaRoche if you need any assistance.

Latest News

AI in the workplace

With the rapid development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), there is currently an ongoing debate about the advantages and disadvantages of AI. Whilst some experts believe the use of AI will lead to a positive transformational change, others believe it will lead to the automation of thousands of jobs. Amidst this ongoing debate, many employers have begun to look into AI and its potential effects.

Indeed, a recent survey of nearly 9,000 professionals and employers found that approximately 50% of employers and professionals want to use AI in the workplace. However, despite a strong desire to use AI, the results show that of those surveyed only 21% of organisations currently use AI. This figure drops again for workers, with only 15% currently using AI in their role.

The results also show that:

  • only 8% of employers and 13% of employers believe that the implementation of AI should be feared.
  • Despite the rapid development of AI, only 27% of organisations have begun to upskill their employees to prepare for the use of AI.

The CIPD suggest that employers should begin to carefully think about AI and in particular, employers should think about the benefits, risks and purpose of AI. This will enable employers to adapt and implement AI technology successfully.

Latest News

A fall in trade union membership

Despite the long-term effects of Covid-19 and the challenging economic climate, recent figures published by the Government shows that trade union membership fell for the second consecutive year in 2022. Trade union membership is now at its lowest level since 2017.

The figures show that:

  • trade union membership declined from 23.1% in 2021 to 22.3% in 2022.
  • in 2022, there was a decline of 200,000 UK employees who were trade union members.
  • the private sector saw a decrease of 152,000 members particularly with female members (129,000 of the 152,000).
  • there was also a smaller decrease in the public sector with trade union membership falling by 48,000.
  • Wales saw the largest fall in trade union membership.
  • trade union members are now more likely to have a degree or other form of higher education qualification (63%).

The above figures seem to suggest that the UK workforce is changing with employees less likely to sign up to a trade union. However, in response the TUC said these figures were for 2022 and since then, several unions have reported membership gains particularly in light of the cost-of-living crisis. If you require any employment advice, please contact the employment team at Morgan LaRoche.

Latest News

Bills on neonatal leave and pay, carers’ leave and extended redundancy protection receive Royal Assent

The following Bills became Acts after receiving Royal Assent in May 2023:

  • The Carer’s Leave Act 2023
  • The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023

Under this Act, parents of babies who require specialist neonatal care following birth will be entitled to statutory neonatal care leave. The Government has announced that it expects new neonatal leave and pay entitlements to be delivered in April 2025. Neonatal care leave will be in addition to other leave such as maternity and paternity leave.

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023

A date has yet to be announced for the implementation of the provisions of this Act. However, after implementation this Act will introduce a new and flexible entitlement of one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees that provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

The purpose of this Act is to ensure that pregnant employees receive greater protection from redundancy during pregnancy. New parents will also receive extended protection following their return from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

Although the Act itself will come into force on 24 July 2023, the Government has not yet set a date for the implementation of the necessary regulations and have said that these will be laid before Parliament in “due course”.

If you are an employer and require any advice in respect of the above or any other employment issue, please contact the Employment Team at Morgan LaRoche.

Latest News

Acas says 30% of employers are likely to make redundancies in the next 12 months

Results of a recent survey published by Acas highlight the challenging economic climate facing businesses across the UK, with 30% of employers likely to make redundancies within the next year.

The results revealed that 41% of large businesses (those with more than 250 employees) expect to make redundancies whilst 20% of SMEs are likely to make redundancies within the next 12 months. 11% of businesses that participated in the survey did not know. Acas said that these figures show that some businesses across the UK are facing tough challenges as these figures are higher than the 30% of large employers and 10% of SMEs that said they were likely to make redundancies in 2022.

If you require any legal advice in connection with making redundancies, please contact the employment team at Morgan LaRoche.

Latest News

Spotlight on Suspension: When and How to Suspend an Employee

It is reasonable to expect that at some point in a company’s corporate lifetime, an employee may be subject to an allegation which must be dealt with accordingly. In light of current events, we are producing this helpful a guide for employers in relation to suspension.

Can an employee be suspended for actions taken outside of the workplace?

As we have witnessed with the current BBC scandal, an employee can be suspended for conduct they have committed outside of the workplace. However, the decision will depend on:

  1. Whether the conduct has any bearing on employment relationships (for instance, if the conduct relates to violence or sexual harassment); and
  2. Whether it has any bearing on the employer’s reputation.

Many companies will establish their own rules and procedures on employees’ obligations outside of the workplace. Nevertheless, an employee’s external conduct can still lead to suspension.

What is the current guidance?

Acas provides guidance on suspension and suggests alternatives, which an employer should always consider. These include:

  • Changing the individual’s shifts, or instructing them to work from home;
  • Working with different customers or removing them from customer service;
  • Preventing them from working with certain systems, tools, or on specific tasks.

As we have seen, suspension of an employee can cause severe stress to the individual and comes with a further risk to the employer of breaching the employment contract. Therefore, the decision to suspend must be executed only when it is deemed reasonable, necessary and where alternatives are not appropriate.

Suspension seems reasonable: What next?

It is an employer’s legal duty of care to support the person who is being suspended during investigation. Acas provides the following guidelines as to how to approach the suspension of an employee:

  • Explain the reasons for the suspension;
  • Make it clear that suspension does not mean that they have been found to have done something wrong;
  • Maintain pay and benefits;
  • Keep the suspension as short as possible;
  • Keep it confidential where possible; and
  • Stay in regular contact with the individual.

Where possible, speak to the employee in person, and always have the notice of suspension in writing.

If you would like further assistance on this topic, please feel free to contact our Employment Team on [email protected].

Latest News

OnlyFans or Only-income?

With the ever-growing popularity of the adult subscription site, OnlyFans, employers are seeking guidance on whether they can dismiss an employee that they discover to be a content creator. To dismiss an employee, it must fall into one of the five fair reasons:

  • Redundancy
  • Capability
  • Conduct
  • Illegality
  • Some other substantial reason

Consequently, having an OnlyFans account alone may not be sufficient to dismiss an employee. Instead, an employer may also have regard to the impact on its reputation and whether it is being brought into disrepute. Again, whether an employer can dismiss an employee for creating X-rated content will be contingent upon their contract of employment, their job role and sector and any policies set out by the workplace or applicable regulatory body.

Some occupations, such as Health Care, Teachers and Solicitors are regulated professions, meaning that there are rules and codes that must be followed. Such codes usually require the employee to uphold the profession’s reputation and avoiding any and all activities that may bring it into disrepute and to act with integrity. In the event of a serious beach, the regulator could strike off the employee and revoke their ability to practice.

Alternatively, the starting point for an employer who finds themselves in this situation would be to review the employee’s contract of employment to deduce whether there are secondary employment restrictions in place. If so, the employee could be in breach of their contract If they haven’t sought permission to undertake additional work.

Guidance for employers:

  • Draft a comprehensive social media policy that all employees have access to;
  • Issue training bulletins and/or updates regarding the company’s social media policy;
  • Encourage an open dialogue with employees, you may find that that they are turning to OnlyFans as a second income due to money worries;
  • Ensure all managers are familiar with the company’s disciplinary policy and offer training where needed. Remember, a policy is only as good as its implementation, any breaches should be dealt with consistently; and
  • If you are considering taking disciplinary action, seek legal advice as a wrong decision may lead to a costly unfair dismissal claim.

Please feel free to contact the Employment Team on [email protected] for any assistance.

Latest News

Expansion into Ceredigion and the Mid Wales region

Morgan LaRoche, a commercial legal practice based in Swansea and Carmarthen, is set to further develop its practice in Mid & West Wales. The firm has recently appointed Catherine Byers, a Corporate Solicitor as an Associate Director. Catherine hails from Aberystwyth and recently returned to the area having spent the earlier part of her career working for a number of large commercial law firms both in London and internationally. Morgan LaRoche will be based at the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus where it will host client meetings and seminars for local organisations.

Catherine says “I am very excited to be joining Morgan LaRoche. I have been very impressed by the calibre of solicitors and work undertaken at the practice. The firm’s move to Aberystwyth is reflective of the increasing opportunities for businesses in Ceredigion and Mid Wales. The Innovation and Enterprise Campus, where our meeting rooms will be based, is a prime example of this with the research and development facilities it offers to new and established companies in the food, biorefining and agri-tech sectors.”

Christopher Evans, a Director at Morgan LaRoche noted “following our opening in Carmarthen, we have developed great relationships with businesses and professionals throughout West Wales. Catherine’s appointment and experience coupled with our base at the Innovation and Enterprise Campus will enable us to develop a greater presence and provide additional services to clients in Ceredigion and the Mid Wales region. We are really looking forward to developing the practice in this region”.

Latest News

M&S Removes Design After Pub Chain Gets Shirty

High street retailer ‘Marks and Spencer’ (herein referred to as ‘M&S’) has withdrawn a t-shirt from sale after a London based pub chain drew attention to similarities to its branding. The Craft Beer Company Ltd operates several pubs and trades under the name ‘The Craft Beer Co.’ The t-shirt in question features branding for the fictitious St Michael Craft Beer Company with the words ‘CRAFT BEER CO.’ in bold at the centre of the logo.

Martin Hayes, co-founder of The Craft Beer Company Ltd drew attention to the similarity on social media, and mused whether he would receive a cheque for royalties from M&S. In response, M&S swifty removed the shirt from sale, commenced an investigation, and stated that it takes intellectual property very seriously.

While Mr Hayes has stated that he has no desire to litigate in this case, and M&S has indicated that it wishes to resolve this matter amicably, this case does highlight a number of interesting points of intellectual property law. When a company has registered a name or logo as a trade mark, unauthorised use of that trade mark by a third party is known as trade mark infringement, and there is legislation which upholds the rights of the trade mark holder and entitles the holder to a number of remedies. The Craft Beer Company Ltd does not appear to have registered a trade mark, but unregistered trade marks are still protected by common law, albeit to a much lesser degree. The unauthorised use of an unregistered trade mark is known as ‘passing off’. Pursuing a claim for passing off is more difficult than pursuing a claim for trade mark infringement, because the onus is on the claimant to show that: 1) there is goodwill attached to the brand; 2) the passing off has led or is likely to lead the public to believe that the goods or services offered by the defendant are the goods or services of the claimant; and 3) there is damage to the claimant as a result of the consumer confusion.

Fortunately in this case, M&S has withdrawn the offending product, but all too often disputes of this kind can lead to protracted litigation and mounting costs for both parties. The advantages of registering a trade mark cannot be overstated, therefore, because the trade mark holder’s rights are stronger and easier to enforce, meaning significant savings in terms of time and money.

If you want to protect your branding and IP and avoid a costly intellectual property dispute, please contact Rhys ap Gwent at Morgan LaRoche Solicitors.

Latest News

Employment Law Update – 10 January 2023

Please click here to access the slides used in our Employment Law Update on 10 January 2023

Latest News

Settlement Agreements – tax update

In a recent case, an employer had agreed to pay a compensatory lump sum under a settlement agreement to an employee, subject to the employee agreeing to waive any other claims and enter into certain confidentiality and non-disclosure obligations.

As the lump sum was received in connection with the termination of the employee’s employment the employer deducted tax from the sum. The Employee argued, however, that the sum was wholly in consideration of them agreeing to be bound by the obligations and had no connection with their termination.

The First-tier Tribunal held that as the compensation sum was consideration for the employee entering into the obligations in the settlement agreement then it was payment for a restrictive undertaking and, therefore, taxable as employment income.

Latest News

Flexible Working Offered to menopausal NHS Staff

Of the 1.3 million people employed by the NHS, one fifth of that workforce are women aged between 45 and 54. This means that up to one fifth of that workforce could be experiencing menopausal symptoms. Under new guidance, NHS staff going through the menopause can consider flexible working as one of the measures to help them cope with their symptoms.

Launching the first national NHS guidance on menopause Amanda Pritchard (NHS England Chief Executive) highlights the importance of destigmatising the taboo associated with talking openly about menopause.

The guidance includes advice on HR aspects such as how to record menopause related absences together with suggestions to line managers and leaders on how they can create an open environment for having regular health and wellbeing conversations with their team and how they can implement reasonable adjustments to support menopausal employees

Latest News

Bah HRumBug – Christmas Party Planning

We are reaching the end of another year which has been full of yet more, novel pressures and challenges for employers, not least in responding to a post Brexit world, navigating the hybrid workforce, three Prime Ministers and preparing for a looming recession.

The Christmas season is generally considered to be a great opportunity to put these pressures to one side and enjoy time with colleagues outside of work. With a few key steps set out below, your HR team and line managers can also click on ‘Out of Office’ and enjoy a prosecco or two without the doom of having a post-party disciplinary investigation on their priority list.

So, without too much of a heavy hand (you don’t want to undo the goodwill of throwing a great party), politely and respectfully remind colleagues that contrary to popular belief, employers can be held responsible for incidents that occur during a company social occasion, whether or not the organisation funded the party or if the management were present. Colleagues are therefore required to:-

  • Re-familiarise themselves with the provisions of the organisations’ equalities and diversity policies and code of conduct/company rules.
  • Remember that whilst in attendance at their office Christmas party, they are representing the company, and any behaviour that could be deemed damaging to the company’s reputation, such as drug misuse, discrimination, bullying or harassment, violence or sexual misconduct will be addressed accordingly.

In advance of the party, HR and line managers should make time to:

  • review and or update relevant policies and procedures and risk assessments
  • ensure that responsible individuals are in attendance who are clear on the policies.
  • consider arranging transport for after the party to ensure no one drinks and drives.

Of course, an employer as a legal entity must also be mindful of falling foul of discrimination law, not just vicariously through the actions of its employees. In prepping the party, consider conducting an equalities impact assessment to ensure that no protected groups are discriminated against by the celebrations. For example, in sending out invites, substitute any traditional references to ‘spouses’ with ‘partners’ and provide food and drink choices which are inclusive to all religions and cultures, and which take account of dietary requirements.

These recommendations may sound like a lot more work on top of actually organising the event and coping with the usual year-end pressures. However, in the hindsight of New Year, you will be glad you made that effort.

If in the unfortunate event it is necessary to instigate the disciplinary procedure, then be sure to do so fairly, consistently and in a non-discriminatory way. What is most important is that you do not brush it under the carpet, as by ignoring it, you may face discrimination or victimisation complaints further down the line.

If you need any further advice on handling Christmas parties, please do get in touch. For advice on other issues faced by HR in the run up to Christmas, see our Blog Christmas in the Workplace’ or book onto our upcoming seminar