In this newsletter we look at the latest legislation updates covering forthcoming minimum wage increases, along with recent case law rulings from the courts on Office Banter.

We hope you find this newsletter informative and helpful, if you would like more information on any aspect please contact us. Don’t forget to take a look at our website to see the full range of our services.

From basic Contracts of Employment to a fully Outsourced HR service we can help. If you would like to know more about any of our support, consultancy, and training services, and see how we can help you, please visit our website or contact us at to arrange a Free no-obligation consultation.

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Legislation Updates

The government has recently announced the following changes to the National Minimum Wage from April 2020:
• 25 and above – £8.72 (aka the National Living Wage);
• 21 to 24-year-olds – £8.20;
• 18 to 20-year-olds – £6.45;
• Under-18s – £4.55;
• Apprentices – £4.15.

Training Events

Operational Managers are key to a Company’s success, and how they work with and manage their teams is an essential part of this. We provide the following training courses to help Managers deal with issues and people correctly to enhance your business.
• Managing Discipline & Grievance
• Managers Guide to Handling Stress
• Influencing Styles and Persuasive Negotiating
• Managing Conflict
• Managing Performance
• Managing Attendance
All of our courses can be tailored to suit your exact needs and delivered at your premises if required.

Our 1 day Managing Conflict course is designed to:
• Realise the actual risks from physical or verbal abuse by employees and customers, whether face-to-face, or by telephone;
• Raise Manager’s awareness in order to recognise warning signs of danger;
• Help managers manage conflict and aggressive incidents, and apply skills in order to prevent incidents from happening in the first place;
• Give managers the tools to make informed choices to keep themselves and others safe whilst going about their work..

The course supports managers to develop the skills they need to manage conflict when in direct contact with employees and/or customers, or indirectly when managing teams. Enabling managers to enhance their communication techniques to prevent, defuse and deal with irate and aggressive people they meet and manage in the course of their work.

More details on each of the training courses can be found on our website.

Partner Services

We have established key partnerships to enable us to provide a rounded ‘people’ solution to our clients, including:
• Occupational Health services;
• HR Software.
• Health Insurance and Staff Healthcare Benefits;

We also have a number of other Associate Partners whose services we have used ourselves and also recommend, covering:
• Legal Services;
• Financial Services;
• IT services;
• Insurance Services;
• Health and Safety.
and more. Visit our website to see full information on our partners and services.

Helpful Hints & Tips – office banter, where do we draw the line?

A salesperson employed at an international firm, and who was disabled by virtue of his diabetes, was dismissed after almost a year’s service due to his poor sales performance. Following his dismissal he brought tribunal claims for disability and race discrimination, relying on comments that he claimed constituted harassment under the Equality Act 2010. This included a claim for harassment when he said he was called “fat”, which he said arose from his diabetes which was a disability. The Employment Tribunal (ET) dismissed his claims, saying that he was dismissed because of his poor sales performance and not for any discriminatory reason. The Claimant appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”). The EAT accepted the ET’s findings that the Claimant had indeed been referred to by his regional sales manager as a “fat ginger pikey”, which the Claimant said was due to his connection with the traveller community and that occasionally he was called a “salad dodger” and “fat yoda”. The Claimant’s line manager’s evidence stated that he would at times pull someone aside if he felt that their language had gone too far, such that there were limits to what would be tolerated, but as far as he was concerned the claimant’s colleagues did not exceed them when making the comments complained about. The EAT found that the ET was right to rely on the fact the Claimant did not react or complain at the time the comments were made and the evidence, which the ET accepted, was that the Claimant would have done so had he been offended. The ET had also found that only one colleague knew of the Claimant’s connections with the traveller community and so those that had heard it considered it as a random comment. The EAT noted that the Claimant was also engaged in name calling himself and the ET found on the evidence that the office culture was “one of jibing and teasing”. Witness evidence referred to it as “banter” in that no one was seeking to offend and the receiver was not offended. The EAT agreed with the ET’s findings of fact that, by reference to the wording of the harassment definition the Equality Act 2010, the comments were not unwanted since the Claimant was an “active participant of the culture of banter” such that the words did not violate the Claimant’s dignity, nor were they intended to. Furthermore, insofar as the harassment was said to be by reference to his disability, the Claimant had not proved any relationship between his weight (incidentally, his colleagues did not perceive him to be overweight) and his disability, so the disability harassment complaint additionally failed on that ground.

The comments made to the employee would clearly amount to harassment in other circumstances, if it were not for the fact that he was very obviously an active participant in banter of this nature on the particular facts of this case and it was difficult to conclude that he would have been offended by the comments. However, despite the above case you should be aware that tribunals generally will not accept the “banter” argument as a defence, particularly where such “banter” creates a culture of harassment and discrimination.