In brief

This week’s Employers’ Law news in brief

Christmas Day opening hours under review

The Government is considering plans to stop large retailers opening on
Christmas Day in a bid to protect shop staff. The news follows a three-year campaign
by union USDAW that was concerned some of its 250,000 members could be forced
to work on 25 December.

Employers accused of ignoring minimum wage

The TUC has accused employers of cheating thousands of workers out of their
rightful pay by ignoring the National Minimum Wage. The policy became law four
years ago but the TUC estimates that 17,000 workers are still underpaid. The
union has published new enforcement guidance to help add to the £13m recovered
from dishonest firms.

Asthmatic woman wins £17,000 unfair dismissal

An asthmatic woman has been awarded £17,000 compensation after her employer
failed to protect her from cigarette smoke, despite knowledge of her condition.
Karen Whitehead, who is registered as disabled, worked at the firm for only 45
days but claimed for unfair dismissal after taking 16 days off sick.

EU Agency Workers Directive in the balance

The argument over the EU Agency Workers Directive may not be decided until
the end of 2004. The controversial draft of the rules that would give temporary
staff comparable pay and conditions to full-time workers is causing a rift
among members. New EU member states could be crucial in its future.

UK firms consider random drug tests

More than half of UK companies have looked at introducing random drug tests
for staff, with one in eight using them to investigate substance abuse. A
survey by Croner found that 18 per cent of firms are considering introducing
tests, and 14 per cent rejected the idea.

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