October Newsletter

"If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere"
Seamus Heaney 
Key points from the Northern Ireland Labour Market Report published in October 2020 were as follows:  
  • There were 1,150 proposed redundancies in September 2020 and 570 proposed between 1st and 12th October. From 1st October 2019 to 30th September 2020, 8,860 redundancies were proposed, the second highest annual total since records began. The department was notified of 460 confirmed redundancies in September 2020, taking the number of confirmed redundancies to 2,900 in the 12 months to the end of September; compared to 3,130 the previous year.
  • The number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in NI in August 2020 was 742,300, a decrease of 0.3% over the month and 0.7% over the year. The flash estimate for September shows an increase of 0.2% on August’s figure to 744,000.
  • Earnings from the HMRC PAYE indicated that NI employees had a median monthly pay of £1,749 in August 2020, an increase of 0.3% over the month and 4.0% from the same time last year. The flash estimate for September shows an increase of 0.5% on August’s figure to £1,757.
  • The latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates relate to June-August 2020. The estimates indicate that, over the quarter, the unemployment rate increased and the employment and economic inactivity rates decreased.
  • The NI unemployment rate (16+) increased over the quarter (1.2pps) and the year (0.8pps) to 3.7% in June-August 2020. The quarterly change was statistically significant. The NI unemployment rate was below the UK rate (4.5%), the Republic of Ireland rate (5.0%) and the EU (27) rate (7.2%).
  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) decreased over the quarter (0.3pps) and over the year (0.8pps) to 70.6%. Although recent changes were not statistically significant, the employment rate was significantly above rates in 2017. The latest employment rate recorded for the whole of the UK was 75.6%.
  • The NI economic inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were not working and not seeking or available to work) decreased over the quarter (0.7pps) and increased over the year (0.2pps) to 26.6%. Although recent changes were not statistically significant, the economic inactivity rate was significantly below rates in 2017. The NI economic inactivity rate remained above the UK rate (20.8%).
  • The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available on the Labour Market Report - October 2020 page
Given the backlog with claims in the Tribunal, more and more clients are exploring settlement at an early stage via early conciliation. In Northern Ireland, this is facilitated via the LRA. The LRA has published a useful guide to early conciliation. Failure to comply with early conciliation requirements can result in jurisdiction points being made.

Rules regarding this process are contained in two pieces of legislation: 

-The Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020

-The Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal (Early Conciliation: Exemptions and Rules of Procedure) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020

A recent survey from the British Council for Offices (BCO) has found that the pandemic has changed working practices for good. Indeed, this survey found that most office workers do not intend to spend five days a week in the workplace once the Covid-19 crisis is over, with both bosses and employees seeing home working as a long-term trend. As a result, employers may wish to consider the introduction of a home working policy. Practical Law has a useful template which details some of the key things to consider. 

The employment case to watch out for in November is Brazel v Harpur Trust. This is an important case on term time only holiday entitlement, relevant not only to the education sector but a wide range of employers. 
⚖️  Young and ethnic minority workers hardest hit by post-furlough job cuts, report finds

⚖️ Half of managers uncomfortable employing a neurodivergent worker, report finds

⚖️ Coronavirus: Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall wage support ends

⚖️ Covid: 'Perfect storm' causing employment tribunal backlog

⚖️ Disabled workers facing coronavirus ‘jobs crisis’, survey shows

⚖️ One in 10 furloughed staff asked to work, report finds

⚖️ Women could be given right to know male colleagues’ salaries under new bill

⚖️ Government warns employers over Brexit transition countdown
Decisions from Northern Ireland Tribunals are published here. 
The President of the Tribunals issued updated guidance on the 7th July in relation to COVID-19. 

New Presidential guidance has also recently been issued regarding applications for extensions of time for filing a Response and the process to be followed under the new rules.

In advance of my call to the Bar of England & Wales in November, I am delighted to have joined Broadway House Chambers as a Door Tenant. I will be hosting the "Breakfast at Broadway" employment breakfast seminar on Friday 4th December 2020. Details to follow in November's newsletter. 
In October 2019, I was called to the Bar of Ireland. This week, I commenced an Advanced Diploma in Employment Law with King's Inn in Dublin. Due to COVID-19, the course is being delivered virtually. Week one focused on the Irish constitution, sources of law and the structure of the Irish employment legal system. Over the next few months, I will be covering the following: 
  • The contract of employment
  • Atypical employment
  • Other statutory provisions to include protective leave, pay and pensions
  • Regulated, Civil Service & Public Sector Employment
  • Data Protection and Employment Law
  • Health and Safety Law
  • Equality 1
  • Equality 2
  • Grievance and Disciplinary Investigations
  • Litigating Bullying & Harassment in the Workplace
  • Privacy, Technology & Social Media
  • Trade Union Law and Essentials for non–unionised Companies
  • Termination of Employment – Unfair Dismissal/Redundancy
  • Wrongful Dismissal and Injunctions
  • Whistleblowing
  • Transfer of Undertaking Regulations & Insolvency
  • Restraint of Trade and Confidentiality Clauses
  • Workplace Relations Commission Practice and Procedure and Statutory Appeals
  • Judicial Review and the Employment Contract
  • A View from the Bench (judicial lecture)
  • Mock Labour Court hearing 
m. 07752 370149   
e.  emma.mcilveen@barlibrary.com
Bar of NI Profile
The Bar Library, 91 Chichester Street, Belfast, BT1 3JQ, Northern Ireland
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Copyright © 2020, Emma McIlveen, Barrister at Law, All rights reserved.


This bulletin is published by Emma McIlveen, Barrister at Law. Please note that the information and any commentary on the law contained in this bulletin is provided free of charge for information purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author or the publisher.

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