Posts Tagged ‘policies and procedures’

An employer sent me an email yesterday as follows: “I’ve received a letter from TV Licensing regarding licenses on commercial/business premises. Apparently employees would be breaking the law if they watched TV or recorded TV programmes on computers, laptops etc. ”  This is correct to some extent (see references to ‘Live’ programmes and similar terminology) so employers need to have policies in place to ensure that employees are not in breach of copyright regulations. (Our standard policies include this precaution see Employment Law Essentials). Here are the specifics, as usual the devil is in the detail  and the following extract from Advice Guide is a practical start.

Who needs a television licence?

You need a TV Licence to use any television-receiving equipment to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on TV. These include programmes on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, cable and satellite television. Television-receiving equipment includes:

  •     TV sets
  •     set-top boxes
  •     DVD recorders
  •     video recorders
  •     computers and laptops
  •     mobile phones or other battery-operated devices
  •     games consoles

You don’t need a television licence if a TV set cannot receive TV programmes and is used only:

  •     for close circuit monitoring
  •     for watching pre-recorded videos or DVDs
  •     as a computer monitor – see under heading You don’t use your television set or other device to watch or record broadcast programmes.

You don’t need a TV licence if you only ever watch catch-up services, like BBC i-Player, that let you watch programmes after they have been broadcast.

A television licence allows the person named on it and any member of their household to use one or more television sets or video or DVD recorders at the address covered by the licence. If you are covered by a licence at your home address you are also covered to use a battery-powered device, such as a laptop or mobile phone, to watch live TV when you are away from home.

If you only have a black and white television, you only require a black and white television licence. If you have a colour television, a DVD recorder or video recorder, you will require a colour television licence. This will apply even if the DVD or video recorder is used with a black and white television set.

You don’t use your television set or other device to watch or record broadcast programmes

If you do not use your television set, video recorder or DVD player to watch or record live broadcast programmes (that is, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, cable television or satellite television) you will not need a licence. This means that you would not need a licence if, for example, you only:

  •     use the television set as a computer monitor
  •     use the television set to play electronic games
  •     watch pre-recorded videos or DVDs, whether or not these have been bought or recorded by someone else

However, the television set must be incapable of receiving all live broadcast programmes. This could be done, for example, by making sure that a television set, DVD or video recorder are not:

  •     tuned into any channels
  •     connected to an aerial
  •     connected to any cable or satellite services

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City law firm Allen & Overy allegedly told female solicitors to increase the lengths of their skirts and reduce the height of their heels or face “uncomfortable discussions” with the human resources department reports The Telegraph. The instructions were  sent by email to trainee solicitors at the firm by the trainee solicitor liaison committee.

The email allegedly said “We’ve been asked to draw your attention to the fact that HR have received numerous complaints about the way female trainees have been dressing around the office,” and went on to point out that the recipients were not going clubbing but rather they were going to work and should dress accordingly.

The news was broken by Allen & Overy insiders on the legal industry’s insider blog ‘Roll On Friday‘.

The story has a catchy headline and no doubt there will be many outraged employees who believe it is their right to wear whatever they want to work. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but in fact, that isn’t true!

From a practical point of view, I find the dress code is a very sensitive subject for most employers who struggle to get the tone right in terms of content, implementation and finally, managing any breach of the policy. Some find it so awkward that they don’t bother with a dress code at all and would rather deal with trangressions on an ad hoc basis. Not ideal!

But while employers have a right to require employees to dress appropriately they also have a duty to keep their employees informed of their policies and procedures and I applaud the firm’s intervention at an early stage.

Better to let employees know what is expected from the start than to turn a blind eye and hope things will improve without intervention. Not every employee burns the midnight oil reading the Staff Handbook and it is totally unnecessary to resort to disciplinary action in most of these cases if HR takes an educational and informative approach.

However, if the parties do end up in court an employment tribunal is likely to want to know what action HR took to make employees aware of the policy before taking disciplinary action.

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This is the first UK libel case arising out of Tweeting.  Employers need to be careful when employees use social media at home or at work. Whether you require staff to promote your business through Twitter or make new contacts on Linkedin, it is vital to put a social media policy in place first as this UK libel action is likely to be the first of many as witnessed by the US in recent years.

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Breaking News: The Bribery Act 2010 will finally become law on 1st July 2011 and creates a new offence under section 7 which can be committed by commercial organisations which fail to prevent persons associated with them from bribing another person on their behalf.

An organisation that can prove it has adequate procedures in place to prevent persons associated with it from bribing will have a defence to the section 7 offence.

The guidance, published here under section 9 of the Act, will help commercial organisations of all sizes and sectors understand what sorts of procedures they can put in place to prevent bribery, as mentioned in section 7.

A quick start guide has also been published which sets out the key points.

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If you are an ELE member you can email us for your free copy of a social media policy to protect your business from employee abuse or negligence when accessing social networks like Twitter, Facebook and blogs like these! Call us and we will update your master policies. It’s all part of the service.

Whether you actively encourage your employees to promote your business through social media or want them to stay well away from it we’ve got the right policy for you.

Email us at  info@eleonline.com

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