When it was fine to be fined for being absent from work

When it was fine to be fined for being absent from work

How life in the workplace has changed! At an employment law breakfast seminar in Elgin, Neil Ross produced the original contract of apprenticeship (pictured) issued by Mr Grigor and Mr Young, the founders of the law firm where Neil works as a partner today.

Introducing the seminar at the Laichmoray Hotel, Mr Ross said that over 150 years ago James Green, who was then an apprentice of the firm, was to be fined 2/6d for each day he was absent.

It raised a laugh and set the tone for a very informative session run by Moray Employment Law, members of the United Employment Lawyers network. There are very few workplaces in Scotland today where such a fine would be tolerated or even acceptable. Thank goodness.

Looking at the up-to-date work environment, Adelle Morris, an employment law expert, gave some revealing statistics in her excellent presentation. In the year ending 31 March 2013, there were over 191,000 claims submitted to tribunal offices around the UK, and a high proportion of new claims were about working time issues, while sex discrimination cases rose by 79%.

She said that the introduction of tribunal fees had resulted in a reduction in claims, and revealed that the highest award from an Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal was £236,000, with the highest for sexual discrimination £318,000, and the highest for a disability claim was £387,000. The average award for unfair dismissal is £10,127.

She also spoke about the difficulties that might arise from the Children and Families Bill currently under discussion, which will encourage flexibility for fathers talking time off to help bring up their families. She said that a lot still needs to be ironed out but that it was certain to have an impact on employers.

Mrs Morris also spoke about the sensitivity of ‘work place discussions’ when someone was approaching retirement age. There were ways of handling such issues that should not cause distress to the employee but also help the employer with succession planning.

The seminar is the latest in a series run by Moray Employment Law, a part of Grigor & Young, who are one of the founding member firms of the United Employment Lawyers network, with over 25 reputable High Street legal firms across Scotland.