We start this month with the news that despite the question mark hanging over whether an Act of Parliament is required to trigger Article 50, Tory MP's have already called for a list of EU Regulations that should be ripped up after Brexit. Michael Gove and John Whittingdale have encouraged companies to outline the regulations they want scrapped when the UK exits the EU. Marc Bolland, ex chief executive of Marks & Spencer has already produced a government commissioned report which includes a proposed list of EU legislation that could be withdrawn or changed post Brexit including the acquired rights directive (TUPE), the working time directive and the agency workers directive. However, given Theresa May's promise to carry over all EU laws into UK law it may be that many businesses decide creating such a list is fairly low down the list of priorities.
As of 1 January 2017 French workers have a "right to disconnect". This is a new law which requires companies (with more than 50 workers) to draw up a charter of good conduct which includes setting out hours when staff are not to send or answer emails. However, while it might sound like a happy new year for the French, reports also confirm that this is only one of a package of new laws which include making it easier for French firms to hire and employees.
Sports Direct will be hoping for improved fortunes in 2017. Perhaps unsurprisingly the sportswear chain has reported a 25% drop in profits. While Mike Ashley blamed the deterioration in exchange rates and the companies assessment of their risk relating to stock levels and European stores performance, chairman Keith Hellawell said the media campaign waged against the company over the past year has influenced customers.
Dongbu Daewoo Electronics has also faced some difficult press coverage recently with reports that a female employee lost her job after refusing to bow to her boss. The employee is claiming sex, race and age discrimination in the Reading Employment Tribunal. She claims that had she been a white male employee her boss would not have attempted to push her around as much. She also claims he asked her to make coffee and when she challenged him as to why he allegedly said "isn't that what female workers should do?". Whatever the outcome of this claim this type of coverage is an example of the risk to employers of negative media coverage when defending a Tribunal claim.
How do you handle complaints by customers about the personal hygiene of your staff? Always a difficult one, and it may be a lose/lose situation for employers irrespective of how they deal with it. According to reports, chiefs at the Dorchester Hotel decided to take a broad brush approach by issuing a list of do's and don'ts that included not turning up to work with bad breath or oily skin, and a prohibition on displaying excess body hair, including the face. But, if reports are to be believed, the biggest error made by the hotel appears to be that it is only the female staff who were issued with these lists.