December 2019 - MLP Law

MLP goes green!

Today’s news is awash with discussion of the environment being at a ‘point of no return’. With Climate Strikes and Extinction Rebellion protests becoming more and more prevalent, there is no time like the present for a business to improve their green.

Here at MLP we know that the little changes make a big difference and our Green team has worked closely with staff to tackle certain issues immediately, with other long term plans in place. Since beginning our journey to being completely green in September 2019, we identified plastic and waste in general as two of our biggest priorities. Just a few of the changes we have made to improve our company’s green credentials so far are:

  • Replacing plastic water bottles in meeting rooms with glass refillable bottles;
  • Providing each employee with a reusable water bottle;
  • Swapping our milk delivery from plastic milk bottles to glass refillable milk bottles;
  • Changing our waste collection so that more rubbish is recycled, including getting new recycling bins;
  • Ensuring that we use as little paper as possible and ensuring that what we do use is recycled;
  • Providing our fruit delivery company with reusable bags rather than disposable plastic bags; and
  • Encouraging all employees to use less single use plastic.

And these are just some of the changes we have implemented over the last few months! Our aims do not stop here and the passion for being as environmentally friendly as possible is one shared by the entire team, with our over-arching goal being to be carbon-neutral as of 2020. This is definitely a work in progress and we are constantly looking at ways to make the company more energy efficient in everything we do; the next few weeks will see us attempting to cut down on our electricity use and implement even more inventive ways of saving the planet.

Political pledges and proposed policies on Employment Law

In one of our previous articles on 21 November, we detailed some of the new policies proposed in the Labour Party manifesto on employment law and industrial relations. The other main political parties have also now released their manifestos and announced a variety of employment reforms that they would like to introduce should they be successful in the race for number 10.

Here are just some of the pledges that have been made:

The Liberal Democrats and their leader Jo Swinson have promised to tackle the gender pay gap by expanding reporting obligations to include information on employment across gender, race and sexual orientation. They have also pledged a £10,000 “skills wallet” that every adult will be able to access in their lifetime, something that they envisage will be introduced in 2021-22 following a consultation.

In addition, the Liberal Democrats will also aim to increase statutory paternity leave from the current two weeks up to six weeks and will require organisations to publish parental leave and pay policies, all with the aim of addressing continuing inequalities faced by same-sex couples and challenging institutional biases in the workplace.

The Conservative Party and the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson have pledged to create a single enforcement body to crack down on any employer abusing employment law, whether by taking workers’ tips or refusing them sick pay. They have also pledged to ensure that workers have the right to request a more predictable contract and to introduce a raft of measures that balance the needs of employees and employers by offering reasonable protections in the workplace.

These measures would include: encouraging flexible working and having a consultation on making flexible working a default; legislating to allow parents to take extended leave for neonatal care and extending the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers. The Conservatives have over the last nine years extended the offer of free childcare and pledge to fund more high-quality childcare before/after school and during the holidays should they be successful in the general election on 12 December.

This is not an extensive list and there are additional policies in relation to Employment Law that have been referenced in the Liberal Democrat’s and Conservative’s party manifestos that can be found on their party websites.

If you want to have your say in the upcoming general election, then please remember to get out and vote on 12 December 2019.

If you have any questions in relation to your own employment rights or if you are an employer who deals with employees then please contact our Employment Team on 0161 926 1508, or follow our employment law-specific Twitter account @HRHeroUK.

How long should it take to sell my Business?

We’ve been involved in a number of transactions recently that, as I’ve reflected on the timescales involved, remind me that there is no ‘one size’ fits all when it comes to the timeline and course a transaction takes. From 2 days to (almost) 2 years!

I’m pleased to say that we’ve had a busy period of completing deals over the last few months.  Our clients and potential clients often ask out the outset – “How long will it take?”  (As well as “How much will it cost?”)

“It depends” is, sadly, my common reply. It really does depend on a number of different and variable factors in each unique transaction. It depends on the details in the transaction (each business, selling group and buying group are different with different motivations, different funding sources, different expectations).  It depends on the number of premises, how they’re owned, what’s happening to them as part of a deal; it depends on the employees, again how many of them and what changes (or measures) if any are being proposed in respect of them; it depends on the assets, the financing of the transaction, the litigation history (past current and threatened), and compliance (increasingly a worry for both buyers and sellers).

A sample of recent transaction all completed in the last few weeks – all were company transactions (not assets) and involved a number of sellers, and a corporate buyer:

One we engaged on terms to sell half their business in 2 days (from our instruction).

Another took 2 weeks from the seller and buyer entering exclusivity and agreeing heads of terms (although some of the due diligence had been carried out during the offer and negotiation phase).

Another took 2 months – within the norm for a transaction from instruction and agreeing heads of terms.

Yet another took just under 2 years – this was incredibly slow, in part a result of reluctant sellers, and a patient buyer.

With all the uncertainties in the macro economic environment it’s always advisable to aim for a swift and smooth transaction.  This can be helped by robust pre-terms due diligence process undertaken by the sellers and their advisers.

This enables the seller to proactively prepare its information pack and its replies to standard enquiries.  This allows the advisers to identify any potential issues early and deal with them in a timely and appropriate way (don’t risk them becoming a reason to allow the buyer to request particular protections for you or worse, chip the price).

Final tips: Both parties – Instruct solicitors who are experienced in corporate transactions.  Buyers – have your funding agreed and understand the key risks you’re undertaking.  Instruct your professional team to progress swiftly through due diligence.

For more information,

Contact our corporate team for a no obligation conversation: corporate@mlplaw.co.uk or 0161 926 9969 OR request a free copy of our guide to selling your business (email corporate@mlplaw.co.uk)

Or read our guide to selling your business here: https://smallbusiness.co.uk/buying-a-business-what-you-need-to-know-2479602/

Judge rules against employee who lost job over transgender tweets

Is a belief that there are two biological sexes in humans, and that it is not possible for a human being to change sex, a ‘philosophical belief’ that is protected within the meaning of section 10 of the Equality Act 2010? In a keenly anticipated judgement that is likely to stir up fresh debate over transgender issues, Employment Judge Tayler has ruled that no, it is not a protected belief.

Mrs Forstater, a tax expert who was employed by the Centre for Global Developments (CGD), failed to have her contract renewed earlier this year. The reason for this decision is that she was accused of publishing offensive tweets questioning government proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act, to allow people to self-identify as the opposite sex. Mrs Forstater faced backlash over her online criticism and was subsequently removed from her position after being accused of using “offensive and exclusionary” language.

Following the decision made by CGD, Mrs Forstater made a claim to the Employment Tribunal complaining of discrimination on the grounds of her belief. Mrs Forstater’s claim was supported by Index on Censorship, a non-profit organisation that campaigns for and defends free expression worldwide.         

However, in a landmark ruling by Employment Judge Tayler at the Central London employment tribunal, Mrs Forstater’s case was dismissed. Employment Judge Tayler held that Mrs Forstater’s view was “incompatible with human dignity and the fundamental rights of others” and could therefore not be a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010. He concluded that Mrs Forstater was not entitled to ignore the legal rights of a transgender person and the enormous pain that could be inflicted on someone by misgendering them and that is why the belief would not be protected.   

The significance of this judgement should not be overlooked. If Mrs Forstater’s claim had been successful, it would have legally prevented employers from dismissing or disciplining staff for expressing the view that there are only two biological sexes, as this would now be protected under the protected characteristic of philosophical belief.

This is no doubt only the beginning of the story, as it is likely that Mrs Forstater will appeal the decision and that the case will be heard in the Employment Appeals Tribunal. It is a decision that has already divided opinion amongst legal professionals and society as a whole, with the hashtag #IStandWithMaya already trending on twitter. Whatever happens next, it will certainly be interesting to see how the case develops. 

If you have any questions as an employer in relation to discrimination or if you think that you might have been discriminated against, then please contact our Employment Team on 0161 926 1508, or follow our employment law-specific Twitter account @HRHeroUK.