The new ‘Fit for Work’ service is to be run by Maximus in England and Wales, the same company brought in to replace Atos to carry out the despised assessments for out of work sickness and disability benefits. In a major embarrassment for DWP Ministers, Fit To Work was expected to launch late last year but so far all Maximus have managed is a website and a phoneline.

When the service is finally implemented employers will be able to refer staff to Fit for Work if they have been absent due to sickness for four weeks. GPs will have additional powers to make a referral from the first day of sickness provided the period of absence is expected to last over four weeks. The patient cannot refer themselves, although they can, at present, refuse to be referred. What employers will make of that refusal is anybody’s guess.
New rights to allow parents to share leave following the birth or adoption of their child have become law on 1st December.

The new rules mean that couples with babies due, or children matched or placed for adoption, after 5 April 2015 will be able to share leave.

After an initial two weeks, up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay can be shared.
Businesses are facing a multibillion-pound bill as a tribunal ruled today 4.11.14 that overtime should be taken into account when holiday pay is calculated.

In a landmark case, the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that it is wrong for employers to only take into account basic pay when
calculating how much an employee should be paid while they are on holiday.

The ruling added that workers can make backdated claims, but only if it is less than three months since their last holiday, or last incorrect payment.

"This will have huge repercussions for UK employers. Employers who pay only basic pay during holidays are selling employees short. Holiday pay is an issue that impacts every business and many employers now face a wholesale rethink of how they pay their employees and calculate costs," said Paul McFarlane, partner at Weightmans law firm.

Are you a tradesperson?
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The Health and Safety Executive has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of asbestos risks in the construction industry.

The HSE estimates that tradespeople could come into contact with asbestos more than 100 times a year, and that 20 tradespeople die of asbestos-related diseases every week in the UK.

In a survey of 500 tradespeople in September, the HSE found that more than two thirds failed to identify measures for safe asbestos working.

It found that 55 per cent of construction workers said they know how to protect themselves from the risk of asbestos exposure, compared with 70 per cent of carpenters and joiners and 71 per cent of plumbers.

Workplace expert Acas has published its new guide on managing bereavement in the workplace.

It is estimated that one in ten people is directly affected by bereavement and research has found that a third of employees who had suffered bereavement in the past five years felt that they had not been treated with compassion by their employer. Nearly nine out ten people believed all employers should have a compassionate employment policy that included paid bereavement leave.

Acas' new guide has been developed in partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care, bereavement leave campaigner Lucy Herd and many other organisations.
Yvette Cooper, the Labour front bencher, was today warned that Labour's plan to increase the minimum wage could drive up food prices.

The minimum wage has climbed from £5.93 an hour to £6.31 an hour since 2010, outstripping the growth in average earnings.

Allan Edwards, an executive at Asda, Britain's third largest supermaket chain, said the firm was "very concerned" about the costs of doing business, adding the cost of mandatory wage increases could be passed on to customers in higher grocery bills.
Figures at a record low on the 40th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The number of people who lose their lives at work has dropped sharply by 85 per cent over the past forty years, from over 650 every year in 1974 to a record low of 133 today, new figures reveal.

The number of injuries at work has also reduced considerably by 77 per cent over the same time period, from 336,701 to 78,222. The statistics illustrate the enormous impact of an act that created a flexible, proportionate and world class regulatory system.

The 1974 Act paved the way for the creation of the Health and Safety Commission and the establishment of the Health and Safety Executive as we know it today, which regulates health and safety law working with industry to help them manage their health and safety risks effectively and also bringing irresponsible employers to justice.