hlw Keeble Hawson further strengthens expertise of commercial property team hlw Keeble Hawson has further bolstered its commercial property department with the appointment of highly experienced solicitor, Simon Best, at its Leeds city centre office. With a strong track record in acting for investors, property developers and commercial clients, Simon is skilled in acquisitions and disposals; landlord and tenant and property development matters – as well as finance and development and asset management. Based at Capitol House, Russell Street, Simon joins the 22-strong commercial property team across Yorkshire which boasts a client portfolio including Harworth Group, Coalfields Regeneration Trust and TRIB3. Recent deals include acting for high-profile Taekwondo expert, Mike McKenzie in his latest Yorkshire expansion milestone. Simon said: “I was attracted by the excellent reputation of hlw Keeble Hawson and the quality of its clients and commissions. I’m looking forward to working with talented and experienced colleagues and contributing to the ongoing success of the team.” hlw Keeble Hawson head of commercial property, Richard Smith, added: “Our department is recognised as one of Yorkshire’s leading property practices. Simon’s depth and breadth of expertise highly complements the talents of our team which continues to be commissioned for wide-ranging deals in Yorkshire and beyond.”
hlw Keeble Hawson is one of Yorkshire’s largest law firms with offices in Leeds, Sheffield and Doncaster.
Steps for employers to take after court ruling restricts rights to monitor staff at work Employers are urged to check whether their IT policies are illegal following a landmark decision that restricts their ability to monitor employees’ emails and other electronic communications. The European Court of Human Rights agreed that a Romanian man’s right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human rights was breached when he was fired for using an online chat service on company equipment – despite a ban on such personal use. Businesses should bear in mind that the issue was not the employee’s violation of reasonable company rules, but the way it discovered this – by monitoring his activity unbeknown to him. The solution for employers wanting to check employees’ communications on work devices is to be very clear with staff about the extent to which their e-mails will be monitored and the reasons for it.
Below is our four-step guide for employers to ensure they stay legal while protecting their interests, being fair to staff and protecting others.
Informing staff of the company’s policy on the use of IT, telephones and faxes is vital and should be clearly communicated. The most effective ways are by e-mails with read-receipts, an intranet bulletin to all staff (re- sent for new starters) or securing a signature on a hard copy document. Give employees some leeway, possibly by allowing a limited number of private emails, or allow staff to use the work system during breaks and telling them to mark their private e-mails as “Private” in which case they will not be read by the company .
Employers may monitor e-mails in order to detect and prevent crimes, such as fraud or downloading obscene materials.
The ruling only covers emails and other communications on company equipment. Employers can’t lawfully track or hack into personal devices even if used in the workplace .If they suspect banned use on company time, they are advised to discipline or dismiss the staff member – forcing them to provide the evidence that they weren’t using the device for personal purposes at the time. It is far better to prevent a problem in the first place. Organisations should seek the advice of a legal practice with a strong track record in employment law on how the ruling affects them and how best to implement policies on privacy and protection that are fair and legal.
Businesses urged to review contracts and procedures as tribunal fees scrapped
Businesses are advised to examine their HR policies and procedures to make sure they are compliant following the recent Supreme Court ruling to abolish tribunal fees.
The landmark decision has prompted concerns of a surge of tribunal applications from employees who no longer have to pay tribunal fees of up to £1,200. It was found that these were a huge expense for many, prevented access to justice and were discriminatory against women as those bringing discrimination claims incurring the highest fees were predominantly female. Employers should brace themselves for a rise in employment tribunal claims and should make sure they are prepared. We recommend that HR managers review all staff handbooks and procedures to ensure that they are fully compliant with employment law to help avoid potential claims. Now is the time to train your staff in dealing with disciplinaries and grievances because if they get it wrong – they are much more likely to have expensive tribunal claims on their hands. Following the introduction of fees in 2013, there was a massive drop in tribunal claims of around 70%, particularly those of a low value, for claimants who were unable to afford the fees and ineligible for fee remission, or who were unaware of the possibility of fee remission. The three-month time limit to make employment claims remains unchanged but employers may see late claims being allowed to proceed. In a recent decision a claim was allowed to proceed, having initially been struck out because the claimant failed to pay the issue fee. Employers should not assume that claims which are technically out of time will not be allowed to proceed. It is far better to prevent a claim occurring in the first place – particularly one based on discrimination as the two years’ service requirement for unfair dismissal claims does not apply and compensation for discrimination for successful claimants is uncapped. Also, legal fees are rarely recoverable in the Employment Tribunal, so employers will have to foot the bill for legal fees even if the claim is defeated. Another point is that when a claim is brought for, say unfair dismissal, the Tribunal can award up to four weeks’ pay where a compliant statement of Particulars of Employment has not been given to the employee. With this in mind, should issues arise, companies are advised to resolve them before a claim is brought wherever possible. This can be done internally, for example through grievance procedures or informal discussions or workplace mediation. Employers are also advised to seriously consider settlement during the ACAS Early Conciliation period. Both routes are quicker, more cost effective and less stressful for everyone involved. Tribunals are undoubtedly expensive and stressful for all concerned.
Crucially, it is a very good idea to enlist the support and guidance of a legal practice with an established reputation in employment law.
Olympic Taekwondo sports manager launches fifth club
The founder of a string of Taekwondo clubs, who played a key role as the sports manager in charge of Taekwondo at the London 2012 Olympic Games, has launched a fifth site.
Mike McKenzie, who founded his first Quest Taekwondo club in Bradford in 1988, has taken on a five year lease at a 4,000 sq ft industrial unit at Marrtree Business Park, in Penistone, Barnsley, offering Taekwondo classes for adults and children of all ages and abilities.
The Penistone club was the first in the country to be awarded Sport England’s Clubmark Award and GB Taekwondo Talent Club status.
Mckenzie, a 7th Dan black belt and vice president of British Taekwondo, leads the Quest group that has clubs in Liverpool, Dewsbury, Hull, Bradford and Lincoln.
He said: “Our continued success and growth accelerates my goal and vision to give all our members the ability and opportunity to develop to their full potential as Taekwondoists and people.
“We’re already receiving great feedback and interest and I’d like to thank hlw Keeble Hawson for securing the lease and ensuring everything went smoothly.”
Clare Darwood, a solicitor in hlw Keeble Hawson’s commercial property team who advised on the deal, said: “Mike’s powerful reputation, drive and passion to help people boost their health, fitness and confidence is inspirational and we wish him continued success as the Quest Taekwondo clubs continue to go from strength to strength.”
HR forum puts spotlight on avoiding recruitment pitfalls
A HR forum on 22 September will equip employers with insights into best practice in recruitment and how to avoid common pitfalls. The free event, hosted by hlw Keeble Hawson, includes a networking breakfast and takes place at the firm’s Commercial House office on Commercial Street, Sheffield from 8.45am-10.15am. Attendees will be invited to discuss key recruitment areas including pre-employment checks, interviews, investigating potential candidates on social media, offer letters – and how to avoid discrimination. Lauren Pickard, associate at hlw Keeble Hawson who will host the workshop, said: “As skills shortages bite harder, businesses across wide-ranging sectors face tough competition to recruit and retain top talent. “Our seminar will help attendees to implement processes to help prevent discrimination claims and avoid taking on the wrong employees – both of which can prove costly, time consuming and demotivating for other staff.”
To reserve a place email email@example.com or call 0114 290 6230.
Charity quiz hosted by hlw Keeble Hawson hailed a great success
Charites from across the Sheffield region put their general knowledge prowess to the test in a special charity quiz challenge organised and hosted by hlw Keeble Hawson. The event at The Showroom accelerated the fundraising goals of the top three teams by £400 in total – with the winners scooping £250. First place went to Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s The Children’s Hospital Charity, followed by Cavendish Cancer Care, who was awarded £100 – with South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF) receiving £50 in third place. hlw Keeble Hawson associate, James Alger, compered the vibrant event comprising six rounds of questions on history, geography, music, film and TV, sport and general knowledge. A tiebreaker was needed to determine the second and third places. Partner and head of the firm’s charity sector group, Michele Todd, said: “We wanted to raise money for, and promote awareness of, the inspirational work of these organisations who tirelessly fundraise for their respective causes. The quiz was a fun event which achieved both objectives. “Many thanks to sponsor, Yorkshire Bank, for providing drinks and The Showroom for donating its fantastic function room. A great time was had by all and we already have plans for a second competition challenge soon.” hlw Keeble Hawson is one of the region’s largest law firms with offices in Sheffield, Leeds and Doncaster. A champion of giving back to its local communities, the practice has contributed over 400 pro-bono hours since June 2015 to wide-ranging charities across Yorkshire. Each team of six taking part also received a bottle of champagne to boost their own fundraising initiatives.
Charities learn how to avoid penalties for pestering donors
A workshop hosted by hlw Keeble Hawson has given charities an insight into the changing fundraising climate – and how they can avoid up to £25k penalties for pestering donors. The packed seminar, held at the firm’s Leeds office, equipped trustees from across Yorkshire and further afield with an understanding of the different fundraising options open to them. Held in conjunction with the Small Charities Coalition, the session was led by hlw Keeble partner Michele Todd. A legal trustee of Sheffield’s Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity from 2010-2015, Michele is a board member of independent residential care home, Taptonholme and of South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF). She said: “Fundraising tactics have become extremely controversial and the Fundraising Preference Service launched earlier this year gives members of the public the right to demand that charities stop telephoning, texting or emailing them fundraising messages. Organisations will receive a warning from the regulator, which, if not heeded, will be referred to the information watchdog, who can impose a heavy penalty. “A major challenge for many charitable organisations is the sheer volume and complexity of the regulatory changes and attendees said our event had enhanced their understanding of the breadth and depth of compliance they need to navigate.” The next seminar, also in partnership with the Small Charities Coalition, is called ‘A beginner’s guide to the new data protection rules for charities’ and focuses on the biggest shake up of data protection rules in 25 years. It takes place on November 7 from 8.30am-10am at the firm’s Leeds office at Capital House, Russell Street.
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