Covid-19 has left a lot of employers asking: how do I make the workplace safe?, who do I furlough?, what if employees won’t come back to work?, my business has changed how can I change the employees’ duties to meet the new requirements? As well as many other questions.
This is an unprecedented situation with far reaching consequences for the economy, working styles and patterns and health related absence and concerns in the workplace at Waldrons we can help guide you through the uncertainties to help you make decisions in line with Government guidance and with minimal risk to your business.
Our Employment Law specialists provide proactive and commercially sensible advice to businesses on all areas of employment law. Click on any of the links below for information on how we can work with your business.
I need to cut costs how do I make redundancies? I need to restructure my business?
There are lots of reasons why redundancies may be necessary and they are not always for bad reasons. It is important to remember that it is roles and not people that you are making redundant. Depending on how may roles are redundant and over what period you are making the redundancies will determine what kind of procedure you need to follow. It can be a difficult and emotional process as people are being measured in relation to roles they have been performing for years and sometimes decades.
We can come along side you to help carry out the process with compassion whilst ensuring practical outcomes and help you navigate the legal requirements for a meaningful consultation and a fair process.
My employee is not performing what can I do?
It’s important to remember that performance is different to misconduct and so the process you need to follow is slightly different. Underperforming employees need to be given a chance to improve. It’s important to set goals that are SMART and balance that with training where appropriate.
We can come alongside you to work out a fair performance process and ensure that you establish a fair procedure and either encourage your employee to be the best they can be or effectively manage an underperforming employee into a more suitable role or out of the business.
Employment Tribunal Claim
Acas have been in contact – an employee is bringing a claim, what do I do?
The first step an employee who wants to bring a claim has to take is to go through Acas Pre-Claim Conciliation also known as Early Conciliation. This is a good tool to either reach a settlement before you incur too many costs or point out the flaws in the employees claim to discourage them from pursing it further.
We can assist you in negotiations and formulating a binding agreement if and when a settlement is reached.
I have received an ET1 what do I do?
You have a specific time scale in which to file your defence. If you miss this deadline then you may be prevented in participating in the proceedings. We can assist in formulating and filing the defence and progressing the matter to either a settlement or a the hearing. This can involve filing evidence and witness evidence and representing you at tribunal hearings. We will advise on the legalities of your position so you can make informed decisions on how to move forward.
Can I just sack my employee? My employee has committed misconduct / gross misconduct what do I do?
It’s tempting but if you just show your employee the door, you increase your risk of being on the receiving end of a successful employment tribunal claim.
In order to minimise this risk it is important that you follow a fair procedure. It is a myth that you can just dismiss an employee if they have less than 2 years service – there are other claims that they can bring even if they cannot bring an ordinary unfair dismissal claim.
My employee has raised a grievance, what do I do?
There are three golden rules when you receive a grievance – Investigate, Meet, Allow and Appeal.
It can be daunting and frustrating to receive a grievance because they can take a lot of resource to deal with but it’s important for you and your workforce that you deal with them justly and quickly.
We can come alongside you and assist with every step, providing practical guidance and help you tick the legal boxes to minimise the risk of a successful claim either from the employee raising the grievance or other employees involved in the process.
Do my employees need a contract?
All employees have a contract of employment whether or not it is written down. The Employment Rights Act requires that certain basic information about their terms of employment is given to employees in writing within two months of them starting work for you. Failure to provide you employees with this information can give rise to an additional claim if they had other claims to bring against you.
We can draw up contracts of employment that not only ensure you fulfil your basic legal obligations but are tailored to suit the needs of your particular employment relationships.
What kind of employment contract do I need to give my employees?
There are various kinds of contracts – basic terms and conditions, contracts for junior and senior employees, directors service agreements, apprenticeship contracts, temporary or fixed term contracts, zero hour contracts, and part time contracts.
How do I protect my business from ex-employees?
One way to protect your customer base, your confidential information and maintain a stable workforce is to include restrictions in the contract of employment to govern what an employee can do when they leave. In order to be enforceable such restrictions have to be reasonable. To determine what is reasonable a number of factors have to be considered – what are you protecting? How much damage could be done by that employee? What level of access does that employee have to confidential information? What level of relationship does that employee have with sensitive resources?
Do I need an employee handbook?
You do not have to have an employee handbook but it is a useful place to put all of your policies and procedures. You may choose to have it online on a central server or intranet or you may have a hard copy in the staffroom or central office. If you do choose to have an employee or staff handbook it is important that it is non-contractual in order to give you flexibility to change procedures as new technology is introduced or things change and adapt.
What policies and procedures do I need? What should I put in my staff hand book?
There are some procedures you are required to have – a grievance and disciplinary procedure, and if you have more than 5 employees a health and safety policy. There are other policies and procedures which it is best practice to have – a capability or performance management procedure, an anti-bullying and harassment policy, a sickness absence policy, a holiday policy, and an IT and Communications policy. There are some policies and procedures that your suppliers/customers may require you to have such as an anti-bribery policy or a modern slavery policy. There are many other optional policies and procedures that you may wish to include.
Rewarding Good Employees
How can I reward my good employees?
There are lots of different ways of rewarding employees who contribute to the success of your business from bonuses or commission to progression plans, benefits, and in some circumstances giving them part of the business through employee share schemes.
Family Leave Rights
My employee is pregnant what do I do?
As an employer it can difficult to navigate all the rights that a pregnant employee has and then they have additional rights when they go on maternity leave. The rules are slightly different if parents are adopting, and then there are rights to paternity leave and the government’s fledgling shared parental leave which lets parents share maternity leave. We can come along side you to help you navigate these rights and ensure that you provide your employees with their entitlements and minimise the risk of successful claims.
My employee wants to work part time can I say no?
Employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service have the right to make one formal flexible working request every 12 months. You can say no but there are formal procedures that you need to follow and there are only 8 specific grounds on which you can say no. Saying yes however can be beneficial to your business and there may be ways of reaching a middle ground that works for both you and your employee. We can help you comply with the legal formalities and find that middle ground.
My employee is having a lot of time off to look after their poorly child – do I have to pay them for this time off?
Employees with children or other dependants such as an elderly parent who relies on them, have various rights to time off, some time off has to be paid and some is unpaid. Parents have the right to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave per child until the child is 18. Carers have the right to reasonable unpaid time off to sort out emergency care arrangements. Employees may choose or you may require employees to take holiday for doctors or dental appointments.
Sorting out Disputes
I have two employees who don’t get on what can I do?
Its not always as simple as telling your employees to get on with each other, disputes can take up a lot of management time in dealing with grievances or disciplinary matters and when you have made a decision as to who is right and who is wrong there is still the question of how everyone moves forward.
Hannah Scott is a trained employment and work place mediator who can help parties build foundations on which they can move forward, rebuild and strengthen working relationships and contribute to the ongoing success of your business.
What rights do agency workers have? I am responsible for my agency workers?
Agency workers have a unique place in businesses – they are not employees but they have certain protections and rights which you can be held responsible for.
Is my self-employed contractor really an employee?
There are three different types of engagement – employer / employee, employer / worker and client / contractor. Each type of engagement attracts different rights and responsibilities. There are various factors that are taken into account when determining employment status from the level of control, the provision of equipment, the need to provide the services personally and whether someone is in business on their own account. Recent cases have blurred the line between self-employed persons and workers and the government is contemplating changing the law.
We can help you navigate this complex area of employment law to ensure that you have the right type of engagements in place supported by the right paperwork to help avoid problems with HMRC and the Employment Tribunal.