The figures, for England and Wales, which are based on the 2011 census, show a 30% rise in the number of people reaching the age of 65, meaning that 169,000 more people this year are reaching retirement age compared to 2011, which is the highest ever number of 65-year-olds in history. Though the numbers are expected to fall back slightly, 3.3m people are predicted to reach that age within the next five years.
The rapid rise in those drawing their pension is put down to the baby boom at the end of the Second World War, with the mass demobilisation of servicemen, transforming family life in the UK.
As well as living longer, more of course are healthier and capable of contributing to society, which leads into the debate about the retirement age which is an ongoing issue. Though many are opposed to the raising of the retirement age, on the basis of this evidence it seems an inevitability.
Will a new decision from the Supreme Court which will extend the time in which workers can bring equal pay claims from six months to six years , open the way for thousands more claims to be brought in other areas as some claim?
The case has seen about 170 former female workers from Birmingham city council claim compensation after alleging they did not receive the same benefits and payments as men doing the same level of work and therefore the council breached equal pay law. The council tried to block the claims, saying they should have been made in front of an employment tribunal which has a six-month time limit, but the employees succeeded in claiming they should be heard in a civil court which has a six-year limit.
Legal firms expect the ruling to have a significant impact on the City and it could lead to female employees more willing to bide their time and take equal pay claims to the high court. Ultimately it could make such claims more lucrative and worth pursuing by staff. Do you think it will have this effect? Let us know.
The business secretary Vince Cable is set to cut the maximum £72,000 compensation cap for unfair dismissal as part of a series of measures designed to encourage businesses to recruit more staff. Do you think it will work?
The Liberal Democrat believes the current maximum figure, which is only awarded in a tiny percentage of cases, may be reduced to be nearer to the level of the employee’s annual salary. The current average award in successful unfair dismissal cases is between £5,000 and £6,000 with only about 6% of cases seeing awards over £30,000.
However, the business secretary will not support moves to adopt compulsory no-fault dismissal, which was proposed by Adrian Beecroft in a government backed report and which had the support of many on the Conservative back benches. Instead Cable is thought likely to put his weight behind a voluntary scheme signed by both employer and employee, that would enable the staff member to leave the firm with a good reference as long as they waive the right to pursue an unfair dismissal claim at a tribunal.
Would you have liked the government to have gone further and taken on the Beecroft proposals or do you prefer the Lib Dem inspired “watered down” version? Are they too watered down as to be ineffective or will they have an impact on employment law?
Orla Phelan, who worked as a project engineer for the company, was the only female in her team and claimed there had been a “sexist and macho” culture at work. She told an employment tribunal that she was excluded from meetings and was the subject of “puerile and lewd” comments by the two men. She said that she subsequently suffered severe depression and was sacked when she refused to return to the team where she had suffered the harassment.
She is seeking damages of over £135,000 from Rolls Royce for lost earnings and injury to her feelings. She said that, though she raised grievances about two members of staff in particular, the company treated her complaint “with contempt” and she suffered “blatant victimisation” after lodging a claim with an employment tribunal while she still worked for the company.
Rolls Royce says that Miss Phelan’s claims of harassment, sex discrimination and unfair dismissal are groundless and that it will vigorously defence the case, which continues.
A woman who was wrongly accused of watching pornography on her computer at work has won £20,000 at an employment tribunal. It is a case showing how we all rely on trust in a working relationship and when that is breached unjust outcomes can be the result.
Elaine Buckley, who had been a finance manager at Waters Edge Ceramics in Oldham, was sacked for gross misconduct after she had been asked to explain why pornography sites had been found on her work computer. The claims came a week after Mrs Buckley had been involved in an argument with her line manager who was also her boss’s daughter.
She was asked to attend a disciplinary hearing after the argument where the allegations were made and, despite her firm denials, the company first suspended and then sacked her, stating that she had accessed inappropriate and obscene websites. She unsuccessfully appealed against the decision and so took the company to a tribunal which heard that another member of staff may well have accessed the sites and there was no actual evidence that it had been Mrs Buckley who had viewed the pornography.
The employment judge ruled that she had been unfairly dismissed under section 98 (4) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and awarded her £20,000 for loss of earnings. Though the right outcome has been achieved, Mrs Buckley was not far away from having her work record tarnished for life. So, be careful in checking who has access to your computer and whether they are using it for the purpose intended.
A nurse who was sacked by the NHS after being found guilty of more than 60 charges, including racial abuse, was subsequently hired by a council to draft its policy on race relations. I want to know how much the council knew about her previous job when they asked her to fulfil this role.
Susan Horton, who worked at St Mary’s Hospital in Kettering, was fired, along with a colleague after a string of offences including wearing a golliwog badge to mock black colleagues and making monkey noises when talking about a black doctor. She also called one a gorilla and joked about feeding him bananas.
However, it emerged that after leaving the NHS Horton was recruited by Wellingborough Council as a community safety officer, where her job involved writing the council’s policy on race hate and talking on that subject to 300 fellow council employees.
A Nursing and Midwifery Council tribunal threw Horton and her colleague out of the nursing profession altogether after they were found guilty of the charges levelled against them which, apart from racial abuse, also included using inappropriate language and physical abuse against some patients including a 70-year-old man who was kicked and hit by Horton.
So, what did the council know at the time they asked her to write the race-relations material? It seems incredible that they knew full well about the reasons for her dismissal yet wanted her to write this anyway. I’ll try and find out!
Are women treated a second-class citizens in the rail industry? If you have any experience of this particular sector then please let us know. I am asking because a total of 34 women are involved in an equal pay claim against Network Rail which, if they win, could end up costing the organisation millions of pounds.
They are claiming that female employers are being paid substantially less than their male counterparts for doing similar jobs and are being assisted in their claim by the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association. The 34 women, who all work in middle management, are claiming back pay of over £25,000 and their claims could just be the tip of the iceberg with many more possibly considering a claim.
The union says the survey showed that the pay gap between men and women was commonly about £4,500 at NR, but in some cases could be as high as £10,000. So, in your experience are women discriminated against because of their sex in the rail industry and at Network Rail in particular? Tell me what you think.
Not for one particular policeman anyway as he faces a suspended prison sentence after defrauding a number of high street banks.
PC Jamie Hillman applied for loans or credit cards from the banks, including Northern Rock and Barclays, to fund an extra-marital affair with a female colleague from Avon and Somerset police force. In doing so he falsely claimed that he was a sergeant rather than a PC and also that he was a soldier who had been serving in Afghanistan.
At Bristol Crown Court, Hillman claimed that he was suffering from amnesia whilst committing the fraud which amounted to over 73,000. The judge in the case sympathized with Hillman to some extent, saying that he was emotionally fragile and had been brave for admitting the offences. He was given a 12-month custodial sentence which was suspended for two years.
Hillman was also ordered to do 300 hours unpaid work and there will be a confiscation hearing to determine repayments of the debt. However, he can perhaps count himself lucky that he didn t receive an immediate prison sentence for the offence. Would you have expected an immediate custodial sentence for those offences? Let me know.
An employment tribunal has ruled that 24,000 former employees of Woolworths should receive a share of £67.8m in compensation.
The tribunal ruled that the administrator, who was called in by the former store giant in 2009, failed to consult with the shopworkers’ union Usdaw before making staff redundant, therefore the staff are eligible to receive compensation, which works out at an average payout of £2,800 per worker. The money will be paid out by the government’s Redundancy Payments Office.
However, Usdaw is angry that about 3,000 former workers will miss out on a payout, on a legal technicality, because they worked in stores with less than 20 employees. John Hannett, Usdaw’s general secretary, said it was a clear injustice and the union is considering an appeal.