Note from the editorial team...
Welcome to this our Summer edition of Directions newsletter.
For many of us Summertime is our favourite time of the year. This may have something to do with the warmer climate, prolonged hours of sunlight and of course holiday season. Lets just hope that we have good weather.
In this edition of Directions you can read about what happens if your PA gets called to do jury service, a support group in Staffordshire offering support to adults with physical disabilities and their partners, new qualifying period for unfair dismissal and fire safety in relation to employers liability insurance.
Jury Service is a public duty. If one of your PA's is called up to do jury service you must allow them time off for this. All jurors are selected at random by computer from the electoral register.
The law gives employees the right to time off and not to be dismissed or treated unfairly because they serve on a jury.
As an employer you will not have to pay your PA while they undertake jury service as the court will pay certain costs such as loss of earnings and travel costs.
Your PA will ask you to complete a "certificate of loss of earnings" so that they can claim their expenses and loss of earnings back. There is a limitation however on the amount the PA can claim back.
Jury service will usually last no more than 10 days. If it is expected that the trial will last longer than this then the juror will be given advanced notice.
It is unlawful for you to dismiss your PA because they have been called to attend Jury service and they could claim unfair dismissal.
If you feel that it would not be a good time for your PA to attend Jury service due to your current situation you can request that they contact the court and request that their jury service is deferred for no more than 12 months from the original date. The court will then look at the reason why it has been requested to be deferred and make a decision if the PA has to attend or if it can be deferred.
Your PA will need to give you a copy of the Confirmation of Jury Service letter they receive from the court as proof.
Spokz People c.i.c. are a new social enterprise offering support to adults with physical disabilities, their partners and health care professionals across Staffordshire and the West Midlands.
We run support groups where you can talk to others with a disability. You can share, find support and get information to help you improve things in your life. Sessions are every month and are run by a facilitator with disability and group experience.
Harry* is part of a support group: "I have found the group very helpful because it is disabled people talking about disability to other disabled people. We have talked about difficulties of ‘managing' disability in a world where most people are nondisabled. At the last meeting I talked about my incontinence. Amazingly, most people in the group had continence issues. This helped me face up to a difficult and distressing personal issue and offered me a way forward. The facilitator manages the group well, keeping it focused while remaining sympathetic."
We also offer 1-2-1 support which can help with things like relationships, confidence, dealing with employers and assertiveness skills. We can help with anxiety, depression or low self-esteem caused by living with disability. We can assist you with learning anger management skills, dealing with fatigue or perhaps helping you or your partner come to terms with acquiring a disability.
We tailor sessions to your needs, using coaching skills to work on future goals and counselling to work through negative thoughts, feelings or past experiences.
Mark has had counselling*: "I realised I was really struggling to try and deal with everything myself: my recent disability, coming to terms with who I am now and with the fact that I now use a wheelchair. I had counselling on the phone.
I felt more comfortable talking on the phone because I didn't have to keep face: it was an additional level of anonymity. Having a counsellor with disability experience was great: they understood what I was on about."
We also provide free advice around relationships, intimacy and sex, through our online forum and helpline. So, if you are looking for a relationship but don't know how to find one, or are in one and you or your partner are worried it may end, get in touch with us.
Spokz People was set up because many disabled people want to speak to professionals who have personal experience of disability. Our staff are qualified, have insurance and are members of vocational associations. Spokz People c.i.c. is a not-for-profit community interest company.
Some services are free; others have a charge varying from £7 to £35. We offer reduced rates for those on a low income, so call us to find out more.
Find out more?
2 Jordan Croft
*Names changed to protect identities, photos for illustration purposes.
From the 6th of April 2012 employees will need to have 2 years continuous service in order to claim unfair dismissal.
However, this will only apply to people who start new employment on or after that date. Employees who are already in employment before that date only need one year's service to make a claim.
The qualifying period will also not apply to cases where the dismissal is automatically unfair.
Automatically unfair dismissal
There are many examples where a dismissal is automatically considered to be unfair. These include:
A comprehensive list can be found on the Business Link website.These have no qualifying period and can be claimed for irrespective of employment length whether they began work before or after 06/04/2012.
When is dismissal fair?
Fair reasons for dismissal include conduct, capability, redundancy, a statutory requirement that could prevent the employment from continuing (e.g. losing their driving licence), or some other substantial reason.
In order for any dismissal to be fair, the employer must also act reasonably and fairly and follow the correct procedure.
There will also be an increase from one to two years in the qualifying period required for an employee to be entitled to a written statement from the employer setting out the reasons for dismissal.
If you are unsure on the correct procedure or would like any further information, you can contact the Rowan Organisation Information Service on 0845 6088048.
A Direct Payment Recipient (DPR) had opted to use Premier Care Insurance. Premier Care sent the DPR a Health and Safety Guide that contained guidance and checklists of various good practices.
One question on the checklist was 'Do you have a fire extinguisher or fire blanket?' This led the DPR to believe that they had to purchase a fire extinguisher or blanket or their insurance would not be valid.
A Rowan Independent Living Adviser has clarified with Premier Care that the DPR's insurance would still be valid even without a fire extinguisher and that this is only a recommendation.
Premier Care may be looking at their guidance as they agree that it could be confusing for DPR's.
The Rowan Independent Living Adviser and Information Service have spoken with the fire department and their advice is as follows:
Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees while they are at work. Your employees may be injured at work or they, or your former employees, may become ill as a result of their work while in your employment. They might try to claim compensation from you if they believe you are responsible. The ELI is also there if the employer gets accidentally injured by an employee.
Many providers of ELI offer two levels of cover a basic and a higher level. The higher level offers access to a helpline which enables you to get legal advice regarding disputes that may arise between the employer and employee.
When you are first awarded direct payments (DP) or a personal budget (PB) many local authorities will fund the first payment for the ELI. This will either be at the basic or higher level.
As it is very beneficial to have the higher level, DP and PB holders can top the cost of ELI up to the higher level from their own personal funds.
When the ELI comes up for renewal many people depending on local authority policies can use the accrued funds in the DP/PB account to renew the ELI, again if you select the higher level you may need to use your own personal funds to make up the difference between the basic and higher level cover.
Keeping copies of out of date ELI certificates
Since 1 October 2008 there has been no legal requirement for employers to keep copies of out-of-date certificates.
However, we do advise that you keep them as former employees may decide to make a claim against an employer for the period when an incident happened.
Employers that fail to hold the necessary insurance details risk having to meet the costs of such claims themselves.
If you have any further questions regarding ELI please call The Rowan Organisation Information Team on 0845 608 8048