Early issues for 2002 include licensing and smoking

Related tags London solicitors joelson Discrimination

by David Clifton, one of thePublican.com's legal team from London solicitors Joelson WilsonCould I please suggest a resolution that the Government...

by David Clifton, one of thePublican.com's legal team from London solicitors Joelson Wilson

Could I please suggest a resolution that the Government might care to make to avoid the confusion and uncertainty that has been experienced for two years now by everyone in the industry?

The resolution they need to make is to decide much earlier whether to relax licensing hours in pubs on New Year's Eve and, if they do, to make a similar relaxation in relation to public entertainment licences (PELs).

Where is the logic in allowing all pubs, bars and nightclubs to stay open to serve alcohol from 11.00am on December 31 until the end of permitted hours on January 1, but still require that any lawfully provided music and dancing should end at the usual time permitted by a PEL for the same premises? I've been searching for the logic, but I can't find it. Perhaps it's hidden in a cupboard at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Some local authorities required a formal application for an occasional PEL a month in advance with payment of a full fee, as well as advertisements on the premises and in the local newspaper. Others just wanted a letter seeking to vary the existing PEL for that night only - plus a fee! Some said it was too much of a bother and they'd turn a blind eye to what would really be a breach of the law.

In other words, the situation was a complete mish-mash and there was no consistency of approach.

If you agree with what I say, tell the Department of Culture, Media and Sport today. January 21 is their deadline for feedback from the courts, the police and local authorities. Make sure the Government receives your views too.

Smoking breaks

How many of you out there have resolved to give up smoking this year? It can be done.

Many workplaces, including even some bars and pubs, have now of course become wholly smoke-free zones.

It is this that has resulted in that relatively new social phenomenon - huddles of desperate, shivering workers puffing away for all they are worth, enduring the ravages of winter, and all immediately outside one of the entrances to their place of work!

It is a subject that can often raise the temperature - not only between employer and employee - but also between smoking and non-smoking employees.

Non-smokers often complain that they are not allowed equivalent breaks from work.

The short answer is that, in the absence of express agreement or, possibly, established practice, an employer is not under any obligation to allow staff to have any time off work during the day to smoke.

However, as the saying goes, there's no smoke without fire, and the sensible thing for any employer to do - if he wants to introduce or change any smoking policy - is to consult the whole workforce, smokers and non-smokers alike.

Employers' pitfalls

I have mentioned before the potential pitfalls (and hefty compensation payments) that will face any employer who ignores the very rigorous laws now in place prohibiting discrimination on grounds of race, sex or disability.

I predict that we will also see in the not too distant future new laws prohibiting discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, age or sexual orientation.

It's certainly an area of the law that any employer will now ignore at his peril, as new statistics unveiled in research by the Equal Opportunities Review (EOR) bear out.

The research shows that a record of £3.9m in compensation to victims of discrimination was awarded by employment tribunals in 2000. That represented a whopping 38 per cent increase on the figure for 1999.

Almost 50 per cent of the total compensation awarded was for sex discrimination, 34 per cent for race discrimination and 18 per cent for disability discrimination. The highest award was for £127,000 in a race discrimination case. In total there were 316 successful discrimination claims during 2000.

Sue Johnstone, the editor of the Equal Opportunities Review website, described the statistics as "a wake-up call for employers," but added: "Such losses are completely avoidable. Forward-thinking employers have proved that implementing good equal opportunities policies and practices is a cost-effective way of getting the best out of every employee."

  • If you are interested, the EOR website can be found at www.eordirect.com.

What do you consider the trade's main challenge for 2002?​ Vote now in our latest poll. The results as of 4.45pm on January 15th are:
Full pint 2%
Other 9%
Licensing 36%
Smoking 18%
Drink-driving 9%
Rural pubs 26%

Related topics Legislation

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