Questions and Answers

Q The Part-Time Work regulations came into force in June, expecting pro rata equal treatment of part-time workers compared to full-timers. Does this affect contract, temporary and fixed-term workers?

A Not as such. Contract, temporary and fixed-term workers do not count as part-timers, and the European Directive requirement for equal treatment for them has been postponed until 2003. The Part-Time Work regulations only require equal treatment for part-timers and full-timers within these categories.

Q Do I have to give a reference and if so, what should be included?

A There is a statutory requirement for certain financial services jobs. Otherwise, there is no obligation. Given that it must be fair and accurate, if it contains unjustified criticism or is wrong, the employee may have a claim. Likewise, if a new employer suffers as a result of relying on an unjustified glowing reference, they may have a claim.

Q Our project workers must be available on-call five days a week although probably only work two to three days a week. While waiting for call-outs they are allowed to be at home or doing whatever they like. They are entitled to take up to 10 working days holiday as traditional holiday, which does not meet Working Time requirements. Since it is usual for them to know about five days in advance that they will not be working part of a day, could this be designated as holiday?

A Yes, provided notice of at least twice the intended holiday period is given. These days could then count towards the 20-day entitlement for purposes of working time and weekly rests – not working time except when called out.

Q Does paid holiday accrue during “additional maternity leave”?

A The Working Time regulations give an entitlement to 20 days’ holiday inclusive of public holidays. If the contract continues during the additional leave period, and the presumption is that it does, logically that entitlement continues to accrue. Holiday taken during the year can be offset against it. Holiday pay for this allowance would be calculated as defined in the rules.

Q Our PHI insurer will not release its medical report to either us or the employee after refusing to admit the claim. The insurer says it cannot disclose it under the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988. Is it correct?

A No. Although a standard response, the report is not covered by the Act, since it is not prepared by a practitioner responsible for care of employee, nor for insurance purposes (definition requires that the employee has entered into an insurance contract and a PHI contract is normally with the employer).

There is nothing to stop the insurer disclosing the report, nor any requirement to. As a tactical ploy, it would have been better if the employee had demanded the right to see the report, which they could have done if the report was subject to the Act, and then shown it to the employer.

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