HPMA Wales Annual Employment Law Update

Daniela Mahapatra and Sioned Eurig from NWSSP Legal & Risk Services report from a recent event in Wales, which covered topics such as mediation, whistleblowing and holiday pay.

The HPMA Wales Annual Employment Law Update, held recently in North Wales and repeated in South Wales, provided HPMA Wales members with an interactive training session on hot topics in employment law particularly relevant to the NHS.

We were delighted to welcome a fantastic line up of speakers including:
• Stuart Williams, Regional Employment Judge for Wales
• Lorna Wilson, David Jones, Gill Mason, ACAS
• Jack Mitchell, Barrister and Head of Employment, 3PB Chambers
• Chesca Lord and Olivia Dobbie, Barristers, Cloisters Chambers

Stuart Williams set the scene for the day with the opening address looking at how employment law has developed and changed at a rapid pace over the last 50 years. Looking to the future, the key message from his session was summarised in six words:

Have Policies. Follow Them. Make Notes.

Working within the NHS, we appreciate that there are numerous policies relevant to any particular issue but the basic principles of fairness should always be followed.

Senior mediators from ACAS delivered an interactive mock mediation session. This included a role play in which we played a disgruntled employee on sick leave and a manager who was more concerned with meeting business targets than communicating effectively with her team. This gave the delegates a good insight into what mediation might look like and the benefits of using mediation and tackling the workplace dispute at an early stage. Some useful pointers from the session included:
• The importance of uninterrupted time – allowing each of the parties to explain what had brought them to the mediation.
• Having talked about the past – making sure that the rest of the mediation session had a forward focus, looking at how to resolve or repair the situation.
• The mediator’s impartiality, ensuring that each party is on equal footing, and that any outcomes were suggested and agreed by the parties.

Jack Mitchell, who is very well known for his work on high value, high profile whistleblowing claims provided an afternoon session on whistleblowing. He illustrated his talk with case law examples and brought the importance of whistleblowing to life. His enthusiasm and passion for the subject was infectious and he delivered a timely reminder that whistleblowers should be heard and concerns investigated, as failure to do so could result in a detrimental impact on patient care.

Chesca Lord and Olivia Dobbie took us on a journey through the recent case law relating to holiday pay. Both are experts in the field having been involved in the litigation and they have recently drafted a response to the public consultation by the European Commission on its review of the Working Time Directive. Whilst it appears that the NHS Terms and Conditions are compliant with the legislation as it currently stands, it would be good practice to review the way each organisation calculates holiday pay to ensure that all appropriate elements are included in line with the Terms and Conditions.

Both events were very well attended which also provided a great opportunity to network with colleagues within other organisations. Some of the comments included:
“A view from the judge was invaluable. Thoroughly enjoyed the session.”
“Clear information on holiday pay which will be useful in determining areas of risk to the organisation.”
“Excellent session on whistleblowing – very relevant to the situation in the public sector.”
“Excellent mediation session – really useful principles to conduct meetings”

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Sioned Eurig, Solicitor and Daniela Mahaptra, Solicitor, NWSSP Legal & Risk Services