Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Andy Coulson paid hundreds of thousands of pounds from News International under compromise agreement

Andy Coulson, former editor at the News of the World and media advisor to David Cameron, has received several hundred thousands of pounds from News International as part of a compromise agreement that was made when he resigned in January 2007.

Coulson, who has been arrested by the police investigating allegations of phone hacking involving the News of the World, received payments from News International while he was working as the Conservative Party’s Director of Communications during 2007.

This financial link has raised further questions about Coulson’s impartiality, and further questions about the Prime Minister’s judgement for having hired him in the first place.

Coulson left the News of the World in January 2007 after Clive Goodman, the paper’s royal editor, was arrested and jailed for phone hacking. He started his new job with the Conservative Party in July 2007, on a salary of £275,000. He continued to receive payments from News International until the end of that year.

According to the BBC’s business editor, Robert Peston, the compromise agreement allowed Coulson to receive his full entitlement under the two-year contract with News International. The remainder was paid in instalments until the end of 2007.

In addition, it is reported that the compromise agreement allowed Coulson to keep his company car and enjoy work benefits, for example health care, for three years after his resignation.

A compromise agreement is a contractual agreement between an employer and an employee that is drawn up when the employee’s employment is to be terminated. Under the agreement, the employee is given a financial settlement in return for agreeing not to pursue an action against their employer, such as unfair dismissal.

The employee must have independent legal advice from an employment solicitor to ensure they are not giving up their right to legal action without suitable compensation. The employment solicitor must also sign the agreement.

Usually a compromise agreement will also include a confidentiality clause that prevents one or both parties from discussing the existence of the agreement or what’s in it. This may be the reason why senior Conservative party members have allegedly said none of the Party managers knew that Coulson was receiving money from News International when he was taken on as communications director.

Coulson was arrested in July 2011 when more evidence of criminality at the News of the World came to light. He had resigned as the Prime Minister’s communications advisor in January 2011.

He has maintained that he did not know anything about phone hacking activity while he was at the News of the World; however, a letter from Goodman that was written in March 2007 and disclosed last month by the parliamentary committee in charge of the phone hacking inquiry, stated that phone hacking was routinely discussed in the News of the World’s editorial conference.

For more advice on compromise agreements, you can call Job Justice free today. We work with recommended employment solicitors throughout the UK.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Top horse trainer unlawfully made pregnant employee redundant

A former employee of the successful race horse trainer, John Gosden, was unlawfully selected for redundancy, an employment tribunal has found.

Julia Bocan, 28, took her former employer to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy after she was made redundant one month after colleagues found out she was pregnant.

Miss Bocan found out she was pregnant in January 2010. In February, she told colleagues she was expecting during a hen party. The next month she was made redundant by John Gosden Racing, Mr Gosden’s company.

She told the tribunal that Mr Gosden had deliberately created a staff scoring system that would score her the lowest, therefore giving him a legitimate reason to dismiss her from her role as head lad.

Her lawyer said the system was “haphazard” and had not been subject to consultation, as is necessary in redundancy processes in order for them to be fair.

Mr Gosden said that staff scoring system was introduced after he decided that savings needed to be made. He said Miss Boscan was selected because her German horse training qualifications were held in less esteem than those gained in the UK. In addition, he said she was less experienced than the other woman who was employed in the same role.

The employment tribunal in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, found that Mr Gosden had unlawfully selected Miss Bocan for redundancy. Judge Martin Warren said: “It appears the selection criteria adopted were to ensure Miss Bocan would be the person who would score the least.”

However, the tribunal threw out Miss Bocan’s claims of unfair dismissal and sex discrimination.

Mr Gosden said he was “not happy” with the employment tribunal’s ruling on Miss Bocan’s redundancy, but that he was “very pleased” the sex discrimination claim was thrown out. He said he was pleased to say that after thirty years as an employer, this was his first time in an employment tribunal.

Miss Bocan is entitled to compensation from Mr Gosden, which will be set at a later date.

For legal advice on redundancy selection, unfair dismissal and sex discrimination, call Job Justice today. We can find the right local employment solicitor for your needs, whether you are an employee facing these issues, or an employer deciding policy or being taken to an employment tribunal.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Temp industry to suffer from new regulations

The use of ‘temps’ in offices up and down the country will noticeably diminish towards the end of 2011 as businesses stop hiring them ahead of new rules coming into force, say several employers’ groups.

The warning comes after unpublished research conducted by a leading business group shows one in five employers plans to stop using temporary workers altogether in order to avoid costly legislation coming into force on 1 October 2011.

The legislation will give temporary workers the right to the same pay and working conditions as permanent staff after they have been in the job for just 12 weeks.

Temps have long been used in the UK’s workplaces as a handy way of filling a gap in the workforce on a temporary basis. Temps are often brought in to cover employees on maternity and paternity leave, or those on sick leave. In addition, they can be called in to cover a position during sabbaticals or lengthy recruitment processes.

Temps, or agency workers as they are also known, do have the same statutory employment rights as permanent employees in their temporary place of work. For example, they are protected by anti-discrimination legislation, are entitled to the national minimum wage, paid holiday, rest breaks and limits on working times, and protection under the health and safety in the workplace laws.

However, they have not necessarily been entitled to the same benefits as their permanent co-workers, unless this is specified in their contract.

The new legislation being introduced in October this year will ensure the UK’s 1.3 million temporary workers are entitled to the same level of pay as their full-time counterparts and that they receive the same benefits, such as the same rate of holiday pay. Pregnant agency workers will also be entitled to paid time off to attend medical appointments and antenatal classes.

The changes are being implemented as the result of a piece of EU legislation, by which the UK must abide.

However, although the new regulations are intended to give temporary workers more rights in the workplace, it may inadvertently cause them to end up without a workplace at all.

Employers’ groups are arguing that the legislation will be expensive for employers and therefore fewer will be hiring temps in their workplaces. This could lead to an increase in unemployment during a time when the Government is urging the private sector to reduce unemployment and kick-start the economy.

Employers’ groups who have warned over the effects of the new rules include the manufacturers’ body EEF, the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), and the Institute of Directors (IoD).

David Frost, the director general of the BCC, said: "Many firms tell us that the new directive will mean they will use fewer agency workers. Since businesses use temporary workers to improve the flexibility of their workforce and to cover any short-term periods of increased demand or staff absence, it is reasonable to assume these jobs will be lost and productivity hit."

For more information on the changes to temporary worker regulations, you should speak to an expert employment solicitor. Job Justice works with employment solicitors throughout the UK and can recommend a local expert who can assist you with the transition in October 2011.