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There are a number of issues and risks that employers of women who are pregnant, on maternity leave, or returning to work following maternity or share parental leave need to be aware of.

In last week’s blog we discussed issues of potential sex discrimination when offering enhanced Shared Parental Leave terms to expectant mothers but not to fathers. Another important issue that employers should think about are the particular responsibilities they have towards women who are breastfeeding. Although there is no free-standing right to time off for breast feeding, breastfeeding mothers have a number of legal protections.

Prenuptial agreements (or ante-nuptial/pre-marriage contracts) have become increasingly popular in Scotland, with more couples wishing to make provision for what is to happen in the unfortunate event of the breakdown of their relationship.  

It could be said that entering into a prenuptial agreement is a very pessimistic way to commence a marriage.  It can however be a very effective financial planning tool for both parties and can help to avoid costly and drawn out litigation in the event of separation.  

The Glasgow Employment Tribunal has this month made a finding of indirect sex discrimination and awarded almost £30,000 to a male employee after his employers refused to pay him the same as his wife during their shared parental leave.

The ‘Shared Parental Leave’ scheme allows employees who are parents to share leave in the first year of their child’s life, or in the first year after a child is placed with them for adoption. Shared parental leave is in addition to rights to maternity, adoption and paternity leave.

The UK government is pressing ahead with its plans to introduce an apprenticeship levy on businesses from April 2017. This follows an announcement in the 2015 summer budget and autumn statement, after the quality of employer training was deemed too low.  

The levy rate will be 0.5% of an employers pay bill, although businesses will receive an annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against any liability.  The following worked example demonstrates how the levy will work.

It’s long been a matter of common knowledge that the value of farmland far outweighs its productive capacity. However, certain commentators have been suggesting for some time now that the inflation seen in recent years in respect of the value of agricultural land is slackening.

In these uncertain times, more evidence is emerging post BREXIT strongly suggesting not only that inflation is at an end but in fact that land values are expected to drop over the next year.

Much ink has been spilled already about the current distress of businesses all the way up and down the oil & gas supply chain, and the contagion of that distress to businesses with a heavy reliance on their oil & gas sector customers/clients.

However, an aspect of this I can’t say I’ve spotted being remarked on is the effect that current market conditions are having on the position of company directors.

Increasing numbers of individuals are working in the ‘gig economy’ engaging with business to provide their services on an ad hoc basis. There is an attraction for people seeking to take control of their own careers through choosing their own working hours coupled with the eagerness of business to avoid the perceived burdens associated with a traditional employment relationships.

The tensions and contradictions inherent in the gig economy have recently been driving litigation as well as headlines and have prompted people like the boss of a takeaway delivery service, William Shu, to opine that UK employment law needs updating and that “there are laws drawn up years ago that may be less relevant for today’s economy”.

As part of the Government’s initiative to encourage transparency and accountability for those controlling a company, the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (2015 Act) will introduce restrictions on the appointment and continued use of corporate directors.

The current position under UK company law is that at least one director on the board of a company must be a natural person. Subject to this requirement, any legal person, including a company or a limited liability partnership, may be a director of the company.

Chambers UK 2018

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