Uncategorised HR Under The Spotlight – Your 3 Minute March Roundup

“Welcome to Spotlight HR’s monthly ‘bite-size’ look at the latest HR news and important

legal changes affecting small to medium-sized businesses across the UK today.”

March 2022 By Kimberly Bradshaw  CEO, Spotlight HR

The impact of the Russia-Ukraine war – and its effects on small businesses:

We’ve been advising clients on many challenging workplace situations involving companies that employ both Ukrainian and/or Russian people. We have supported Ukrainians, who are understandably concerned about their trapped friends and family and also Russians, who fear reprisals at work due to the invasion. We have also had instances where employees have wanted to return to Ukraine to fight, leaving their employers uncertain about how to respond. Here are a few key HR points to be aware of:

  • For Ukrainians looking to return to their country to fight, UK employment law does not cover any arrangements for foreign armed services. However, MoD guidance says that employees should be given unpaid ‘special leave’.
  • Be watchful for any bullying and harassment relating to the war that may take place at your UK workplace as tensions run high. Robust HR policies need to be in place to resolve any issues quickly. Show everyone that you are there to help.
  • You can provide extra support to affected employees from the Ukraine, Eastern Europe or Russia by allowing flexible hours, time to take phone calls and time off to help relatives in war-torn situations.

Through the HR lens – How can employers help those escaping conflict?

In times of crisis such as these, many of us are trying to understand the best way we can play a part and make a difference. As business owners, there are extra offers of help we can extend:

  • The Home office has set up two schemes: – the ‘UK Family Scheme’ and ‘Homes for Ukraine’.
  • These schemes give up to three years of immigration status for refugees.
  • Although discrimination laws must be considered, UK businesses can employ Ukrainian refugees as they are classified as disadvantaged.

Practical support small businesses can offer Ukrainian refugees:

  • Work placements: these could be short-term, paid or even work experience – to give refugees a sure footing within the UK workforce and the opportunity to get a work reference to help with their onward employment journey.
  • Be flexible: recognise their overseas qualifications and maybe offer language support. Childcare may also be a consideration, as typically fathers are staying back to fight, leaving mothers with sole child care responsibilities.
  • Be welcoming: put in the groundwork, so your workplace is ready to welcome them. Include your existing staff in your plans and listen to their ideas and concerns – if done well, this could be inclusive and rewarding for everyone.

Employment Tribunal in focus – Taxi driver working through mytaxi app ruled not an ’employed worker.’

In this case, Mr Johnson took Transpoco, the owners of the mytaxi app, to an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on the basis that Mr Johnson considered himself to be an ’employed worker’ of theirs rather than being self-employed. He raised grievances around minimum wage, unlawful wage deductions, holiday pay and his treatment following a whistleblowing incident.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled against Mr Johnson, deciding that Transpoco was essentially a client or customer of Mr Johnsons’ business and not his employer and therefore, he was not entitled to workers’ rights. You can see the full case here –  Employment Cases Update: Johnson v Transopco UK Ltd EA-2020-000780-AT

Following this ruling, it is now accepted that the model used by mytaxi, which acts as an intermediary between the driver and the passenger, does not give ’employed worker’ status. Having robust employment contracts in place will prevent issues and tribunals.

If you’re affected by any of these issues, we’d be delighted to help.