17 June 2008
The Employment Forum has presented its latest recommendations on two employment topics to the Social Security Minister. The first relates to new powers for the Employment Tribunal when making awards to employees who have been unfairly dismissed. The second recommends maternity, paternity and family friendly working rights.
1. Employment Tribunal powers in unfair dismissal awards. Based on the comments received during consultation, the Forum recommends that the Tribunal should be given two new powers in relation to unfair dismissal awards. These were proposed earlier this year by the Social Security Minister in a draft amendment to the Employment (Jersey) Law 2003. However, the Forum is suggesting some modifications to the draft, including the following:
The amendment as currently drafted would give the Employment Tribunal the power to reduce an unfair dismissal award in specified circumstances, such as where an employee through their own conduct is found to have contributed to their own dismissal. The Forum recommends that the list of circumstances leading to a reduced award should not be exhaustive as currently drafted, but should allow the Tribunal to take into account other just and equitable circumstances that may merit a reduced award.
The change in law would also give the Tribunal the discretion to consider whether it would be appropriate for an unfairly dismissed employee to be re-employed by their employer (either in their former role or a comparable position) and the power to award additional compensation if the employer fails to comply. Based on concerns expressed during consultation that only the employee’s wishes would be taken into account, the Forum recommends that the amendment should be clarified so that Tribunal must take into account the evidence presented by both parties in regard to the practicability of re-employment.
2. Maternity, paternity and family friendly working rights. The Forum has made a detailed recommendation that, if adopted, would provide employees with workplace rights in two stages:
At stage 1, the minimum of workplace rights would be provided for parents. Expectant mothers would be entitled to paid time off work for essential antenatal appointments. Parents would have the right to maternity and adoption leave (up to 18 weeks) and paternity leave (up to 2 weeks), with the right to return to work after that leave. For the health of the mother and baby, two of the 18 weeks' maternity leave would have to be taken immediately after the birth. These two weeks would be at full pay (paid by the employer). All remaining leave would be unpaid at this stage, subject to any Social Security benefit entitlement and the employee’s own contractual rights.
At stage 2, employees who have worked for their employer for 15 months or more would be entitled to an additional 8 weeks’ maternity or adoption leave taking the total leave available to 26 weeks. Stage 2 additionally provides that eight of those leave weeks would be paid by the States at 100% of pay (up to the Social Security contributions ceiling as a maximum) for employees who qualify. All remaining leave would be unpaid at this stage, subject to any Social Security benefit entitlement and the employee’s own contractual rights. Stage 2 would also give employees the right to request flexible working if they have caring responsibilities (whether for children or adults).
Wendy Lambert, Chair of the Employment Forum, said “The family friendly consultation in particular has proved to be challenging and interesting topic and the Forum was delighted to receive an extraordinary number of responses from interested parties. The consultation responses have indicated that further research will be necessary regarding other family friendly rights, such as parental leave and time off work for dependants. I hope that the Social Security Minister will progress our recommendations for stages 1 and 2. The intention is that they will provide appropriate minimum rights for employees, whilst being affordable and achievable for the local business community.”
To receive copies of the recommendations please contact the Secretary to the Forum, Kate Morel, at K.Morel@gov.je, or telephone 447204. Copies of the recommendations may also be obtained from the States website at: www.gov.je/ChiefMinister/PublicConsultations/
Notes to Editors:
1. At the start of each report, a summary of the Forum’s recommendations is provided.
2. The Employment Forum was established in 1999 to act as a consultative body in a non-political arena. It consists of 3 independent, 3 employer and 3 employee representatives. The Forum has a duty to consult on employment matters as directed by the Social Security Minister. The Forum must make recommendations to the Minister based on the views received during consultation.
3. For further information, or to be included on the Forum’s database for future consultations, please contact Kate Morel, Policy Principal and Secretary to the Forum, email: K.Morel@gov.je, Tel. 447203.