Frequently Asked Questions
Here you will find information about a selection of popular topics.
It’s essential to provide all employees with an employment contract within 2 months of their start date. Failure to do so can mean that both parties might not know where they stand, and could leave you vulnerable to a claim. To avoid this, ensure that a comprehensive set of terms and conditions of employment are offered to all of your staff.
It’s likely that at some point one of your employees will be absent for a prolonged period, whether justified or not. Following the correct processes will reduce the likelihood of a claim and also ensure that staff are supported. Make sure that the processes are clearly laid out and that all staff understand what is required of them if they are absent from work.
Maternity leave is a complex area. The rules around maternity leave depend on whether the individual wishes to take 26 weeks of leave, or additional leave of up to a year. With fathers and adoptive parents eligible for leave too, it’s important to be aware of the time frames and rules when you find yourself in this situation as an employer.
Employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks of annual leave a year, which is equivalent to 28 days for those who work a five day week. Ensuring that all employees – particularly those who work part time or have unusual working patterns – have the right holiday entitlement is one of an employer’s key responsibilities.
When a disciplinary or staff grievance situation arises, it’s important to follow the ACAS code, which outlines the procedures which need to be followed. Ideally, this information should be included within the employment handbook to ensure that all employees understand the grievance and disciplinary process and how it may be relevant to them.
When gross misconduct occurs, an employee may be dismissed immediately, but with general misconduct the process set out by ACAS needs to be followed. Any investigations and processes should be carried out fairly and reasonably and in line with the ACAS code.
Always seek expert advice before completing any misconduct investigations, as failure to do so could result in costly mistakes.
In addition to calculating holiday and keeping sick records, employers also need to accurately calculate the amount of holiday or sickness pay which an employee is entitled to. This can be particularly relevant when an employee leaves the company, and getting these calculations wrong could result in an employment tribunal claim.
The Working Time Regulations 1998 set out the rules regarding breaks in work periods, and it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that their employees take suitable breaks. It’s also important to ensure that records are kept and ACAS guidelines are followed, particularly if an employee wishes to opt out of any part of the regulations.
Most employers will be aware that they need to pay the national minimum wage, but many may not understand how different situations can impact on the wage being obtained. For example, if an employee works a lot of unpaid overtime, you could be paying below the minimum wage. Meanwhile some employees may fall outside the scope of the minimum wage, which needs to be managed carefully to ensure compliance with the regulations.
If an employee can prove they have been the victim of discrimination, they could potentially receive an uncapped level of damages. Discrimination does not need to be direct and obvious, so it’s important to ensure that you don’t accidentally fall foul of the rules. For example, treating part-time staff differently could be seen as discriminatory towards women, as more women tend to be in part-time jobs than men.
Unfortunately, redundancy is sometimes unavoidable, and although this is a legitimate way to deal with financial problems, it is essential that you follow the correct processes. To reduce the chance of a claim for unfair dismissal, you should ensure that consultation takes place and ACAS guidelines are followed.
When an employee or ex-employee issues an employment claim against you, you will receive an ET1 claim form. It is then likely that ACAS will begin to try and negotiate with you and the claimant, with strict timeframes needing to be followed. A response in the form of an ET3 is necessary, so it’s important to seek prompt, professional advice when you find yourself in this position.
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