Employment tribunals

What is an employment tribunal?

Employment tribunals resolve employment disputes between employees and employers. More or less all legal employment cases are dealt with in an employment tribunal including cases regarding redundancy issues, unfair dismissal and discrimination.

Making a claim to an employment tribunal

If you are experiencing issues or disputes with an employer and you take them to an employment tribunal this is called making a claim.

Making a claim depends on 2 factors, what your dispute is about and whether or not you meet the conditions such as the 3 month time limit, in order to make a claim you must put your application in before the 3 month minus 1 day time limit. It is advised that you first obtain as much information regarding your legal rights as you can. This can be found online or by speaking to a representative or advisor.

Making a claim to an employment tribunal

It is advised that you should try to sort out your differences with your employer before resulting in an employment tribunal you can do this by discussing your issues informally with your employer, taking out a grievance or by using the early conciliation scheme.

If for instance you meet the conditions to be eligible to make a claim you need to decide whether making a claim to an employment tribunal is the right decision and you want to go ahead and do this. It would be helpful to find out how strong your case is before making a claim however trying to assess this can be extremely difficult.

If you are fortunate to have a representative or advisor they will first decide if your claim is strong enough to hold up in an employment tribunal, any evidence you may be in possession of and whether you meet the conditions. They will then seek a statement from your employer and find out what evidence they have to determine how strong your claim actually is and weigh up any chance of a successful claim.

It is advised you think honestly about the evidence you possess to back up any arguments and what your employer might have as evidence. Employment tribunals can be unpredictable and no case is the same, so even when you think you may have a strong case on your hands, there is still no guarantee you will win.

Will you need to pay to make a claim?

Up until 29th July 2013 there was no fee to make a claim now there is a fee to make a claim and another fee if or when your claim goes to a hearing.

There will not be a claim if no fee is paid.

What are employment tribunals like?

Usually located in office buildings with hearings heard in individual rooms called tribunal rooms. When deciding on a claim there will be 3 board members called the tribunal panel consisting of an employment judge, an employee representative and an employer representative. In some cases only a judge will be present.

The tribunal panel will be sat at a desk slightly raised similar to a court but less formal. There is no wigs or gowns at an employment tribunal.

Employment Tribunal hearings are mostly open to the public to watch so before you decide to make a claim you are advised to visit another tribunal to get a feel of what it will be like but remember not all tribunals are the same.

Could I end up having to pay any costs?

Employment tribunals and court cases are completely different when it comes to costs. If you lose you are not eligible to pay the other side’s legal costs like in a court case, reports show that only 1% of tribunal cases are made to pay legal costs as part of a losing agreement, usually this is to scare you into accepting a lower settlement or dropping the case.

If you have breached your employment contract your employer may raise a counterclaim against you.

Changing your mind about making a claim.

You are able to change your mind about your claim if you decide not to proceed by writing to the tribunal and withdrawing your claim. People withdraw their claims if they feel they do not have a strong enough case to win or if they manage to come to an agreement with their employer however the timing of this is crucial, the best time to decide to withdraw is when you know the strengths of your case.

If you and your employer decide on a settlement through an early conciliation scheme your case will be automatically withdrawn.

Don’t panic when making your claim.

When you decide to make a claim the process can be extremely stressful and you may even be nervous when stating your case, however you must remember it is possible to have a successful claim and many employees do.
An employment tribunal system is there to encourage employees and employers to settle their differences and many do before the case goes to a hearing, you will have the opportunity to reach a settlement throughout the tribunal.

Workingplace Monitoring

During work an employer has full rights to monitor their employee’s activities in many situations those of which are stated below. However under some circumstances an employer is unable to monitor certain areas of work such as toilets. Workplace monitoring includes:

  • CCTV cameras recording activities in the workplace and the grounds of a workplace if any
  • Opening employee mail and e-mail
  • Implemented software on company laptops and computers to check e-mail and internet use
  • Monitoring phone logs and recording phone calls
  • Monitoring websites an employee visits from their mobile or laptop
  • Video monitoring outside the workplace
  • Credit reference agency checks
  • Collecting information from company point of sale items such as checkouts, to monitor individual performance.

All forms of monitoring are fully covered in the data protection act however it doesn’t prevent workplace monitoring but does set rules in how monitoring should be done.

Before introducing monitoring in the workplace your employer should:

  • Be very clear to employees about the reasons for monitoring the staff and any benefits this will have.
  • Understand how the staff react to it (impact assessment)
  • Consider alternatives of monitoring which is less intrusive
  • Find out whether there is a justified reason for monitoring

An employer must take certain steps to inform the staff about what is happening, why and where.

Employers who are able to justify the workplace monitoring following an impact assessment will generally need no consent from individual staff members.

Monitoring of electronic communications

An employer is legally entitled to monitor the use of company phones, email, internet use an fax in their workplace if:

  • The monitoring is in relation to the business
  • The equipment which is being monitored is wholly or partly provided for work
  • Your employer makes every reasonable effort to make you aware your communications are going to be monitored.

Almost all situations are covered when your employer decides to monitor electronic equipment except if the monitoring is for malicious harassment or private reasons. Your employer does not need to get your consent to monitor your equipment so long as they follow the rules and their reasons for monitoring is:

  • To find facts relevant to the business and make sure company procedures are followed or to check the standards of phone conversations to customers and clients.
  • To detect criminal activity and prevent it
  • To check whether you are using your phone and internet for personal use
  • To check that systems are functioning correctly and effectively such as preventing viruses.
  • To check communication received is in relation to the business, your employer is entitled to open emails and voicemails but are not entitled to record phone calls.
  • To check calls made to helplines from the company phone in confidence, under these circumstances an employer is allowed to listen in but not record.
  • For national security reasons.

Secret monitoring

It is illegal for an employer to monitor employees by use of hidden cameras and audio technology without the employee knowing this is happening. The data protection law state secret monitoring is prohibited in private areas of the workplace like staff toilets unless a serious crime is taking place like drug dealing.

Employer’s monitoring policies

Generally employers will have a policy in place covering workplace monitoring. If one has been agreed it will be a part of your employment contract and should also be printed in your company handbook. By means of workplace monitoring, could lead to disciplinary action if you breach the rules stated in your employment contract by using your company equipment for personal or illegal use.

What if you are unhappy with being monitored at work?

If you think your employer may have been monitoring your activity in ways which are not prohibited you should seek legal expert advice. You could be able to:

  • Discuss with your employer their monitoring and persuade them to stop monitoring you as it is making you feel uncomfortable.
  • If you still work for your employer you might want to think whether this will be a risk to your job by raising the issue.
  • Raise a grievance with your employer about the monitoring
  • Check any monitoring policy or your employment contract and company handbook regarding the rules about monitoring.
  • Seek advice from a trade union.

Grievances at work

The information contained in this article is aimed at employees with a complaint about work or a colleague they work with and the issue of grievances at work.

Workers and employees are slightly different, some workers are not employees if they are:

  • Employed from a temping agency
  • Homeworkers
  • Contractors
  • Self-employed

If a problem you would like to make a complaint about started before 6th April 2009 then the information given in this article does not relate to you as the rules were different before 2006 even if your problem has continued.

What is a grievance?

A grievance is when an employee has a complaint or concern at work which could be part of a number of things they would talk these through with their employer, this is called a grievance procedure. Grievance procedures can be for any of the following:

  • Issues related to your employment contract terms for example your wages or holiday entitlement.
  • Being requested to do something which is not part of your job description
  • Being undermined or mistreated at work
  • Not being recognised or given credit for your hard work and dedication.
  • Detriment or discrimination at work such as being victimised by work colleagues or management for the colour of your skin, age, sexuality or a disability.

It is advised that before starting grievance procedures that you discuss informally with your employer the issues on your mind. If this is not possible to speak freely or informally you may decide that taking out a formal grievance is the only option. Some employees feel they are unable to talk formally with an employer so they make a complaint to an employment tribunal but be aware if a grievance hasn’t been reported this could affect any compensation you may receive so it is advised to always follow the correct procedure.

Discussing your problems informally

It is advised that employees try to resolve any issues and complaints informally before raising a grievance, this is often the easiest option and by far the best.

You would need to request a personal chat or meeting with your manager to raise your concerns it may be beneficial to suggest how you think they should deal with the situation or what you think in your opinion they should do which is fair to resolve the problem. It is not always necessary to speak with your immediate manager to raise your concerns, if you feel you could talk more freely with another senior member of staff in the company try speaking them instead before raising a formal complaint or taking further action. In most cases problems can be dealt with on a smaller level.

Raising a formal grievance

If a formal grievance needs to be raised it is advised to follow the correct code of practise. The Code of Practice implements the correct procedures to follow for both employers and their employees when dealing with any formal complaints.

Following the code of practise is not vital however if the dispute is sent to an employment tribunal you are likely to receive less compensation if you did not follow the code of conduct. Employers should have formal grievance procedures for employees which should be stated in your company handbook, manual, employment contract etc. There is a 3 month time limit for making a complaint to an employment tribunal.

Even if a grievance is raised the 3 month time limit still applies therefore make sure your grievance procedures are not being lengthened to affect your chance to make a claim via an employment tribunal. Take note of exactly what happens in your grievance meeting.

Write a letter to your employer

If you have been unsuccessful in speaking things through with your employer your next step is to write to them detailing the concern don’t forget to date your letter and keep a copy for reference. It may be helpful to detail how you think the issue could be resolved.

Schedule a meeting with your employer

Your employer will schedule a meeting with you to discuss at a time and place that is convenient the issues on your mind. If you so wish you may ask a staff member, trade union representative or some other authority to accompany you in the meeting as a witness. Once the meeting is over your employer will write to you within 7 days informing you of their decision and how they will be resolving the problem.

You may make an appeal to your employer

If you are not happy with how your employer has dealt with the grievance you must write them a letter to appeal. The letter must say:

  • You are appealing their decision
  • Explain why you do not agree with their decision.

Once received your employer will then arrange with you a further meeting to discuss the appeal. A different senior member of staff or authority will deal with your appeal.

Your employer will once again write to you following the decision at the appeal. If the appeal decision is still not acceptable you should think of other ways to resolve your issues with your employer.

You could be able to:

  • Attend mediation
  • Attempt early conciliation
  • Make a complaint tan employment tribunal within the time limit

Mediation

Mediation is ultimately confidential and voluntary and involves an outside person helping both your employer and you reach an acceptable solution sometimes your employer could bring a mediator from inside your workplace.

External mediation services are paid for by your employer

Early conciliation

If you have feel you have sourced everything possible to resolve your problems and the only option left now is to make a claim to an employment tribunal then you could be able to use the early conciliation service this helps you and your employer settle your issues without the need to involve an employment tribunal, this service is offered free to employees and employers if your case is likely to end in an employment tribunal

Employment tribunal claims

Employment tribunals resolve disagreements with employers and their employees. You must make your application to an employment tribunal 3 months minus 1 day from the date of the event you are complaining about last took place.

Bullying in the workplace

Harassment or bullying is the mistreated behaviour which makes people feel victimised, degraded, intimidated, humiliated, and alone! Bullying in the work place sometimes goes unnoticed by fellow work colleagues and employers who are not necessarily aware of the situation however if any kind of harassment or bullying is taking place it needs to be dealt with immediately as this can sometimes get out of control.

Bullying can either be between 2 people or in some circumstances it can involve groups of people and the worst one of all is groups against 1 individual. It may be obvious however it may be not but that doesn’t mean it isn’t taking place, It may also happen on 1 occasion or it could be an ongoing hate campaign against somebody, it can happen through email, phone, text or just in person.

There are different types of bullying in a work place but examples of such behaviour could include:

  • Somebody insulting a fellow colleague either as a group or an individual or spreading cruel rumours about a certain person.
  • Excluding somebody on purpose or victimising them to make them feel intimidated.
  • Treating somebody unfairly or different to other colleagues
  • Criticising a proficient employee and undermining them in front of others or when their alone.

The Equality Act 2010 states that harassment is unsolicited behaviour related to any of the following: Gender, Race, religion, sexual orientation, age and disability, personal looks and will not be tolerated or prohibited making it illegal.

Some employees find it difficult to come forward and discuss the issues in private especially when they are being harassed by a senior member of Staff or Manager. In most cases the harasser will get away with it due to the victim resigning instead of speaking out therefore it is extremely important employers ensure their staff are fully aware of the options available to them in a bullying situation and that these are highly confidential.

A harasser should not be allowed to continue this victimisation on other employees which is why it is so important victims and on lookers feel confident about coming forward to their employers about the potential harassment they may be receiving.

Frequently asked questions

What to do if you are being victimised in any way?

If you feel you are the target of a bullying situation you must take any action you feel is necessary but not illegal to deal with the harassment as quick as you can. In some circumstances just having a confident quick word informally is all it takes however in case this fails a number of options can be considered:

  • Talk with somebody you are comfortable with in the workplace and seek advice from them
  • Seek advice from a staff representative or your trade union.
  • Record any incidents including dates, times, whereabouts, witnesses etc
  • Keep hold of the evidence, any emails, texts, notes etc.

Why is it important for an employer to act out against bullying or harassment in their workplace?

Bullying and harassment, while this is not something any employer should condone in their workplace it is also something that creates an unproductive and unhappy environment where you could have:

  • Poor employee communication and morale
  • Lack of respect and communication for senior members of staff or managers.
  • A lack of performance resulting in damage to productivity
  • Employee absences and resignations
  • Employment tribunals or other court orders followed by unlimited compensation.

How do I prevent bullying in the workplace?

To help prevent bullying behaviour taking place here are a few options to consider:

  • Create and implement a formal bullying policy try to involve the staff as much as possible and get their opinions and views to help write the policy.
  • Make sure both you and your staff set the right example to your employees.
  • Continue to maintain fair procedures when dealing with complaints from all employees
  • Make your staff aware what behaviour will not be tolerated in the workplace as well as what you expect from your staff and include it in the staff handbook

Could bullying at work be getting worse?

It is reported in the Workplace Employment Relations Survey that 3% of workplaces with more than 10 employees reported 1 bullying related grievance prior to the survey in 1998 which increased to 7% in 2004.

Can my employer share my personal email address?

Email from a visitor: Can my employer share my personal email address?

Following my review where I asked my manager to provide a works email, she has failed to do so. My employer continues to email my personal hotmail account. On one occasion HR passed this email address to two memebers of the public – who were to attend interviews.She has failed to provide notes of this review and despite numerous requests has failed to provide a works email. Last night she emailed this address at 2350. There is nothing in my contract about me providing a personal account for work use. Are they in breach of any legislation?

Our reply:

I would suggest your concern was more an informal matter than something that requires legislation or legal references to be used.

I would begin by writing a polite e-mail to your manager advising you are requesting for the first/second/third time a company e-mail address to allow you to fulfil your duties in a more professional manner. I would also highlight that you are concerned about potential confidential information being sent externally to a personal e-mail address.

Finally, I would state that your e-mail address is for personal use and that receiving a work e-mail at 2350 was somewhat alarming and disturbed you.

Should your manager fail to reply to your e-mail and/or act I would then forward this e-mail to his/her manager and ask for assistance.

I would also let the HR department know you do not wish for your personal e-mail address to be divulged to anyone else and have never given permission for such use.

Do everything in writing and keep a copy. Hopefully a polite request in writing followed up by a request higher up the chain should this fail to work will get you what you need.

Got a question? Why not get in touch, it’s free!

Working time regulations act

Rests and Breaks

All workers and employees stated in the Working Time Regulations act are entitled to:

  • Daily rest periods of at least 11 hours before starting your next day’s work unless aged between 15-18 then the rest period is 1 hours.
  • Uninterrupted weekly rest periods of 24 hours within a 7 day period. 15-18 year olds are entitled to 48 hours.
  • Daily rest periods and weekly rest periods should not overlap.
  • If a working day is more than 6 hours a 20 minute break is required by law. 30 minutes for 15-18 year olds for hours of 4.5 hours or more per day.
  • For Agency Temps, the employer not the agency is fully responsible for the rest breaks.
  • Daily and weekly rest periods are generally unpaid, depending on your employment contract then the 20 minute rest break may be paid by your employer.

Some workers are allowed to work through the rest periods if they are:

  • Shift workers who are unable to take their rest periods like other workers.
  • Employees in need for continuous service for example hospitals, tv/ film/ radio, press along with employees working in factories where machinery needs to continue working 24 hours.
  • Employees in uncontrollable circumstances and work is affected by a risk of accident or exceptional events.
  • Security employees or surveillance.
  • Employees in agriculture, postal services and Tourism
  • Workers with contractual arrangements or conditions in their employment contract which excludes rest breaks.

Under these circumstances an employer must offer a compensatory rest period when possible. The rest period needs to be immediately after the end of work, if not at all possible for any reason an employer must offer protection in order to safeguard health and safety policies.

For workers and employees in the road, sea and air industries the working time regulations are different, there is also Unmeasured Working time regulations whereby the time worked is not pre-determined or measured and the worker has full control over the hours worked, This usually applies to Managing Directors of companies, Family workers, Religious workers who are usually excluded from rest breaks and other rest periods.

If a there is a breach in the rest period an employment Tribunal claim can be made although the compensation is generally limited.

Limits to the working hours

Over a 17 week period according to legislation a worker or employee is unable to work more than 48 hours, the 17 week period is able to be amended if:

  • An agreement is in place by both workers and employees therefore it can extend to 52 weeks maximum.
  • For workers who live far away such as offshore workers who work in security or surveillance, care workers, hospitals, film, TV, press, farmers and other workers who need to provide a continuous service get a reference period of 26 weeks.

Weekly working limit Information

  • If an employee works over 48 hours per week including those with 2 jobs will need to sign an opt out from your employers.
  • Employers not agencies are responsible for the agency temps and ensuring they are not working 48 hours or more per week.
  • Employees and workers are by law not able to work more than 8 hours per day and are unable to opt out or have their hours averaged over a period of time.

Opt Out:

  • Employees and workers in some industries like the Film and TV industry can be asked to sign opt outs voluntarily which is legally valid. If you opt out of the 48 hour work limit voluntarily you may opt back in at any point by giving notice of 7 days to your employer or whatever notice is set in your contract.
  • Young workers under 18 are not allowed to Opt Out.
  • You cannot be dismissed or harassed in anyway by an employer for refusing to sign an “opt out”, if you are this is seen as unfair dismissal and a claim can be made at an Employment Tribunal.
  • Since 2009 the United Kingdom has been fighting to retain the “opt out” however the European parliament would like to remove it since the win to keep the “opt out” in 2009 the opt out has remained legal and valid until further notice.
  • Your employer can average out your weekly hours worked over either the 17 or 26 week reference period whichever is applicable rather than measuring it in one week. There is a 78 hour maximum you can work per week with the opt out, rest breaks etc. included.
  • If your employer breaches the 48 hour legislation then they are dealt with by a health and safety officer and given a fine but a compensation will not be given for the employee.

Your normal weekly working hours calculate the Working Week plus any:

  • Training related to the job
  • Travel which is Job-related
  • Business Lunches with clients etc.
  • Time working abroad for a UK company
  • Overtime whether Paid or unpaid
  • On call time including sleeping time for care workers.
  • Working time on call (actually working)

Working Week will not include:

  • Breaks not working such as lunch breaks, coffee breaks
  • Commuting to and from work
  • Travel outside of work time such as night stop offs for early morning meetings with clients in a different location to your office.
  • Volunteered overtime such as working late to complete a project.
  • Paid holiday or unpaid holiday.

Working Nights

Night workers are given extra protection under Working Time Regulations:

  • Night work or Night shifts is usually between 11pm and 6pm
  • A night worker is classed as somebody who works 3 or more hours a night.
  • Night workers in every 24 hour period cannot work more than 8 hours per night
  • If handling heavy machinery or special hazards in every 24 hours you cannot work more than 8 hours therefore no overtime can be worked and you cannot average out your overtime.
  • Employers and workers can come to some arrangements regarding the limitations of the night work the worker can do.
  • Young employees are usually forbidden from working between 10pm and 6am however this can sometimes be changed to 11pm-7pm

Exemptions apply to the night work length for those with Unmeasured working time such as Domestic Servants working in households, hospital staff, care workers etc.

A free health assessment must be offered to all employees and workers who work nights and ongoing assessments after that.

Paid Holidays under the WTR Legislation

All workers and entitled are entitled to 28 days each year as paid leave states the working time regulations, unless in part time employment. Things you should know:

  • An employer can request you to take holiday entitlement on certain days. They are under no obligation to make sure you take your holiday entitlement each year.
  • Holiday entitlement starts to build up from the minute you start work.
  • An employer can refuse you certain dates for your holiday entitlement and control when you take it.
  • An employer will state the notice period required to request your holiday entitlement in your employment contract. If this is not stated anywhere the period is usually twice the amount of leave you want to take for example 1 weeks leave would require 2 weeks of notice in writing. An employer will reply within the same amount of time.
  • You may complain to an Employment tribunal if you are denied your statutory holiday entitlement by your employer, your employer may be required to pay you compensation if you win your claim
  • Weekly rest days cannot be classed as holiday entitlement they are separate entities.
  • Untaken holidays should be paid if you decide to leave your job however not if you chose not to take them. Each week holiday equals 1 week pay.
  • It is your employers decision whether they give you more than 28 days

How much holiday entitlement for a weeks work.

  • Overtime is only counted in your working week if stated in your employment contract.
  • For variable hours worked including bonus, commission etc. multiply you normal working hours by the average hourly rate you worked in the past 12 weeks.

Bank Holidays

  • Bank holidays are usually unpaid unless stated in your employment contract
  • An employer is under no obligation to pay extra on bank holidays unless stated in your employment contract.
  • Holiday entitlement may include bank holidays

Being a whistleblower in the workplace

As stated in the UK’s Public Interest Disclosure ACT legislation also referred to as the PIDA any workers or employees who under any circumstances blow the whistle on any wrong doing in the workplace by their employer are entitle to file a claim with an Employment Tribunal if they are dismissed or unfairly chosen for redundancy or victimised in any way at work by co-workers, management and other members of staff for making this disclosure.

Being a whistleblower in the workplace

An employee who “blows the whistle” is someone who privately informs their employer, the police, a customer, regulator, or the media about an illegal or dangerous activity taking place at their work or that they are aware of through work.

This legislation is enforced in workplaces to make the people that should be aware but currently are not aware of situations or hazards such as Environmental issues, health and safety risks, corruption, fraud of any sort, cover ups, illegal activity plus much more.

The whistle blower is not obligated to provide an employer, regulator etc any proof of the illegal activity they are blowing the whistle on, they are only required to raise the concern with them, and the whistle blower is usually not in any way personally affected by the illegal activity or dangers.

If for disclosing the information the whistle blower is dismissed then this is seen as unfair at an employment tribunal and a claim can be filed.

Any unlawful wrong doings that has happened, is happening or is about to happen in the workplace that an employee is entitled to disclose in the interest of the public are:

  • An employer who commits a criminal offence
  • Miscarriage of justice committed by an employer
  • Environmental danger caused by an employer
  • Health and safety dangers caused by an employer
  • Bribery offences that become a “wrong doing” under the Bribery Act 2010
  • Employees should blow the whistle if they feel in any way they have been the subject of dismissal or detriment due to making a protected disclosure following an employer failing to comply with the legislations of Pensions Auto Enrolment

Amendments to the Employment Rights Act 1996 were in 2013 as follows:

  • Any ‘disclosure’ an employee makes when they blow the whistle can only be protected if the employee believes the reason they made it was in the public interest therefore this would not apply for breaches in their own employment contract as this would not deem to be in the interest of the public.
  • There is no need to make a disclosure in “good Faith” however an employment tribunal can reduce an award if it is was not made in good faith by up to 25%
  • Following a whistle blow, if the employee who made the whistle blowing is subject to harassment or bullying from co-workers, management etc in any form an Employer will be solely liable (in the employers defence they may claim they took every step to prevent it)
  • The Public Interest Disclosure Act states that employers do not need to have whistle blowers policies although they do advise it.
  • It is also advised that employers have a Bribery prevention policy as well as a whistle blowing policy to protect against the Bribery Act 2011
  • It is also not required under the Public Interest Disclosure Act that an employee has to first raise their concern with their employer rather than speak with someone else however it is encouraged.

Please check through your employment contract for a gagging clause which your employer tries to prevent you from blowing the whistle as this is not legally valid and is void!

Statutory Sick Pay

Statutory Sick Pay (SPP) is a payment paid to employees and workers who are unable to work because of sickness. To be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay employees must pay National Insurance (NI) Contributions.

Self Employed people who pay National Insurance Contributions are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay however, in some circumstances they can claim Employment and Support Allowance which was introduced in 2011 and replaced the original Incapacity Benefit.

There is a standard rate for all employees currently fixed at £86.70 which employers will pay if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your sickness must carry on for 4 consecutive days including any weekends and bank holidays.
  • Before any tax and National Insurance deductions an employee must earn a weekly average of £109.
  • Every employee no matter the length of service to their employer will be eligible for SPP there is no minimum length of time you must have worked.
  • There are no age restrictions for receiving SPP.

For the first 3 days of your sick leave you will not be paid but will receive Statutory Sick Pay for the days in which you would normally work.

Statutory Sick Pay can be paid up to a maximum of 28 weeks, If you are still sick after this period you may be able to claim Incapacity Benefit which you can claim at your local job centre. Your employer will give you a SSP1 form completed by them for you to hand to your job centre.

You may need to contact your local HM Revenue and customs office or seek advice from your local trade union or citizens advice bureau if your employer is refusing to pay you statutory sick pay or if you think the SPP you are receiving is the wrong amount as you could be entitled to make a claim at an employment tribunal on the grounds of unlawful deduction of wages.

Employers with their own business regulations may offer more generous payments for Statutory Sick Pay to employees.

If you cannot attend work due to a sickness you must inform your employer as soon as possible.

If within 7 days you have returned to work you would be requested by your employer to complete a self-certification form describing why you were off work on sick leave you will need to obtain a certificate from your doctor (now legally referred to as a fit note) if your sickness lasts for more than 7 days giving the reason why you are unable to attend work

The newly introduced fit note will have just 2 options for GPs to fill in which are:

  • Are completely ‘unfit for work’
  • “may be fit for some work” (with a GP’s advice).

 

The new fit not will not have an option stating they are fit for work. The government believe the new fit not will help both employees and employers as the intention is to encourage employees the gradual re-introduction back to work whilst they are recovering from their illness.

To help both GP’s, Employees and Employers understand the new fit note the Government has issued guidance and help for GP’s for understanding and completing the new fit notes (Statement of Fitness for Work) along with guidance for Employers which includes how to help your employees with returning to work after long periods of sickness.

Important to know!

  • Only a registered GP is allowed to issue the new “fit note” within the first 6 months of the employee’s sickness and can only be for a maximum period of 3 consecutive months.
  • You are not required to give your employer a sickness note until the 7th day of your sickness if realistically practical
  • This new system does not have any effect with how Statutory Sickness Pay functions or has any effect on the obligations of an employer under the Disability Discrimination Act.
  • The new Statement of fitness for Work has now replaced both the Med 3 (white sick note) and the Med 5 (Pink sick note). If an employee has been hospitalised as an in-patient then the yellow med 10 form will continue to be issued.
  • A GP is required to fill in the ‘may be fit for work’ section when they believe an employee even though not 100% well could return to work with suitable support from their employers.
  • If fit for work a GP may state that the employee could benefit from decreased hours or duties, or maybe slight adaptions to the workplace however they will not detail which activities an employee can and cannot carry out.
  • Also noted on the fit note would be whether or not your GP would need to see you again, if not you are expected to return to work.
  • If an employee decides they are ready to return to work within the period of the sick note they would need to schedule an appointment with their GP to amend their fit note.

Guidance notes for employers

  • If a GP has stated “May be fit for work” on the fit note they will need to discuss this with the employee to see if they can accommodate a support them better for their return to work.
  • If the employee refuses to return to work or is not trying to resolve the issues an employer is advised to contact an Occupational Health Professional or the employees GP to discuss the comments noted.
  • Government laws state that the GPs comments are only advisable and therefore an employer is not legally committed to them.
  • In circumstances where an employer is unable to provide the necessary support for the employee and the employee refuses to return then the GP’s Fit note will be classed as a not fit for work note until changes are made.

Adoption Leave and Pay

There are in effect 2 different types of Adoption leave – Ordinary and Additional

Who qualifies for adoption leave?

To qualify for adoption leave an employee has to be either:

  • A single person who adopts or a member of a couple who adopt will be adopting jointly (Only 1 member of the couple can take adoption leave the other member may be able to take paternity leave and pay)
  • You must be recently matched with an adopting child via an adoption agency certified in the United Kingdom
  • You must have continuously worked for your employer for 26 weeks or more at the time of the adoption match.

Adoption leave doesn’t have any age restrictions

In certain circumstances where a step parent adopts their partner’s child adoption leave will not be granted as you will not be eligible. This is also the case for other circumstances such as adopting privately or through a surrogate.

If you are currently fostering a child and you wish to adopt them, to be able to qualify for adoption leave you must adopt them through a certified adoption agency.

For persons who are either freelancers or workers you will generally not be eligible for Adoption leave however you can be granted unpaid leave by your employer.

Some workers can be entitled for Adoption Pay by their employer. An employer may grant employees who do not qualify for adoption leave or pay, parental leave, unpaid leave or you can take your holiday entitlement (paid holiday leave)

The government has been working hard to fight for improving the adoption process and in 2012 they increased the paid leave of adopting parents to be in line with leave offered to biological parents, they also announced that adopting parents have the right to take time off from work to meet with the child or children they are adopting.

The overall total you may take for statutory adoption leave is 52 weeks which includes 26 weeks total for additional leave on top of the 26 weeks of ordinary leave) and the adoption pay will be paid for 39 weeks. It is your choice when you decide to take your adoption leave whether this be the date the child arrives or up to 2 weeks before the placement date it is entirely your choice.

Once you have been placed with a child for adoption you must inform your employer immediately or within 7 days of receiving the notification, at least 28 days is requested (if possible) to notify your employer you want to start you adoption pay, you must show your matching certificate from the adoption agency. As long as you give the sufficient 28 days, you may change your mind on the start date of your adoption leave.

Additional Adoption leave:

  • You do not have to take additional adoption leave if you do not want to however if you choose to take it then additional leave will continue on from your ordinary adoption leave for another 26 weeks
  • Your general terms of employment will be limited while on additional adoption leave however your holiday entitlement will remain.
  • With the additional leave taken means you will have a total 52 weeks away from your job.
  • Your employer will automatically assume you will be taking additional adoption leave if you are eligible and will write to you within 28 days of notifying them you will be adopting to inform you of your return date, if you decide you would like to return to work sooner than the date in the letter you must give your employer 8 week’s notice.

Legal Rights for women on Ordinary Adoption leave.

  • Except for your salary a woman is entitled to all her normal terms of employment such as holiday entitlement, pension, health care etc while on ordinary adoption leave.
  • 8 week’s notice is needed for your employer if you decide to return to work at the end of your ordinary adoption leave or during addition leave.
  • Unless there is a redundancy situation a woman is entitled to return to her regular job once the adoption leave is finished. In cases of redundancy you must be offered a suitable replacement or in some cases redundancy pay is paid.

Rights at the end of Additional Adoption leave.

  • Unless in a redundancy situation you may return to your regular job with your original terms and conditions. If made redundant a reasonable vacancy can be offered if there is one available if not you could be entitled to redundancy pay.
  • You may take an additional 4 weeks parental leave following your adoption leave, this will not affect your rights to return to work.
  • Your employer must receive the normal amount of notice written in your original terms if you decide you will not be returning to work and you wish to resign.

Holiday Entitlement

  • Adoption leave plus holidays cannot be taken at the same time for obvious reasons, this means holiday entitlement can only be taken before or after your adoption leave.

Statutory Adoption Pay

Payments for adoption leave plus additional leave are as follows:

If by the week you are notified of an adoption match you have served your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks you will be entitled to Statutory Adoption Pay also referred to as SAP.

Statutory Adoption Pay is given for a maximum 39 weeks

Time off work for family emergencies

Rights to time off work for family emergencies.

If the emergency involves a family member who is dependent on you then you have the right to time off to deal with the family emergency. A dependent is classed as a wife, husband, child, parent or someone who lives with you as part of your family. In some instances somebody else who solely relies on you for help may also qualify as dependent you may take time off work for in an emergency.

What classes as an emergency

If the dependent who relies on you is any of the following classes as an emergency

  • Needs your help because they are sick
  • Has been assaulted in any way or involved in an accident
  • Needs longer term care which you need to arrange for them
  • A dependant who has an unexpected disruption or failure in care, for example a nurse or carer who does not turn up or child minder is taken ill and you need to take time off with your child to find alternative care.
  • A partner going into labour

If a member of the family unfortunately dies and it is down to you to arrange the funeral preparations or attend a funeral this also classes as a family emergency and you are able to take time off.

What if I know in advance about a certain problem?

The law only states emergencies. You will need to discuss with your employer if you happen to know beforehand that you will need time off and arrange some other form of leave for this, however if it is due to your child you are entitled to take up to 4 weeks parental leave per year.

How much time can I take for a family emergency?

There is no restrictions on how much time you can take for a family emergency for example if in the unfortunate instance your child is taken ill you are eligible to take as much time off as you need to care for their needs like taking them to the doctor and sorting out their care, staying with them while in hospital, however if you plan on caring for them yourself you will need to make other arrangements and discuss the options with your employer.

Will I be paid?

It is not a legal requirement an employer has to pay an employee for the time they take off however your employer may agree to pay something in emergency cases which will be written in your contract of employment.

How many day’s notice do I need to give an employer?

You are obligated to inform your employer as soon as possible if you need to attend a family emergency and need time off you must also let them know how long you expect to take off and keep them updated.

Maternity Leave and Pay

There are in effect 2 forms of Maternity Leave these are called Ordinary Maternity Leave and additional Maternity Leave.

All employees are granted ordinary maternity leave following the birth of a child even if you have not been with your employer for a lengthy time, this leave lasts 26 consecutive weeks.

Who is entitled to ordinary maternity leave?

In order to be granted Maternity leave the mother to be must inform her employer before the 15th week before the child is expected:

  • That she is pregnant
  • Show your MatB1 certificate to your employer for them to see the expected week of childbirth. Also known as EWC
  • The date in which you would like your maternity leave to start on. You must notify your employer 28 days before you take the leave and it must be at least 11 weeks before the child is born, as long as you give the appropriate notice to your employer you may change this date.
  • Your employer is allowed to automatically start your maternity leave if you take sick leave with a pregnancy related illness 4 weeks before your due date.

Women’s rights during Maternity Leave.

  • All original terms and conditions will be adhered to by your employer such as holiday entitlements, pensions etc during your first 26 continuous weeks of maternity leave
  • All normal benefits except your salary you will receive including, allowances, regular payments, overtime etc. Your maternity still counts towards your continuous service with your employer.
  • All employees by law must take a minimum of 2 weeks maternity leave however if you work in a factory the minimum is 4 consecutive weeks.
  • 8 weeks minimum is the time needed for you to notify your employer of your intention to return to work.
  • Unless a redundancy situation happens a woman is able to return to her original job following her return from maternity.

Additional Maternity Leave

  • Whether you have been with your employer 6 months or 6 years all employees are now able to take additional maternity leave of a further 26 consecutive weeks continuing from your ordinary maternity leave meaning you will take a total 52 consecutive weeks maternity leave.
  • Unless contracted by your employer you will only be paid your maternity pay for the first 13 consecutive weeks of your additional maternity leave.
  • Unless stated in your original employment contract you will not receive normal salary or allowances during this period.
  • Your employer will automatically assume you will be taking additional maternity leave unless you state otherwise and will correspond this in a written letter to you up to 28 days after you originally inform them of the pregnancy.

Rights at the end of additional Leave.

Unless a redundancy situation happens a woman is able to return to her original job following her return from maternity. Four weeks parental leave may also be taken following your maternity leave. If you resign from work anytime during your maternity leave you must inform your employer with the correct notice stated in your original contract.

Maternity Pay

Your partner or spouse could decide to take your remaining weeks maternity as additional paternity leave if you decide to return to work earlier than the 39 weeks of paid maternity.

There is no certain age limit to receiving SMP or maternity allowances.

Holiday Entitlement

Adoption leave plus holidays cannot be taken at the same time for obvious reasons, this means holiday entitlement can only be taken before or after your adoption leave.

Being Made Redundant whilst on Maternity Leave

If you are unfortunately made redundant whilst on Maternity Leave it can cause a ton of confusion followed by a lot of stress make sure you aware of what should happen in redundancy situations.

The law concerning maternity leave and parental leave regulations state that:

  • In redundancy situations an employer is not obligated to continue to employ a woman on maternity leave. The redundant employee should be offered if available a suitable vacancy meaning that the woman on maternity will get priority over the other employees who have also been made redundant. However this depends on 2 conditions whether the woman has the right to a vacancy or not.
  • The vacancy must be suitable for the woman and the job duties are appropriate for her.
  • The new job in which she is to take must not be “substantially less favourable” than the original including terms of the job, place and capacity.
  • The employer has the right to decide whether the available vacancy is appropriate for the woman or not and if it is not they should provide written evidence why.
  • An employee cannot be made redundant or dismissed for any reason relating to her maternity leave, if an employer does not abide by this regulation then it will be classed as an unfair dismissal.
  • If no reasonable vacancy was available and all other redundancy procedures had been followed it would be fair to make the woman redundant. This also applies to employees on a fixed term contract who are at risk of redundancy.

Parental Leave

Parental Leave is the time a parent can take off work to care for a child, parents are entitled to take this time off to spend more quality time with their child or children and create a better work and family balance.

Parental leave is usually unpaid leave unless stated otherwise in your original employment contract, it is available to parents for every child born or adopted.

How long can I take for parental leave?

As of 8th March 2013 parental leave increased from its original 13 weeks total per child and now lasts for a maximum 18 weeks per child including disabled children.

Who is eligible for parental leave?

Employees given responsibility for a child, who are expecting a child or already have a child all have the right to take parental leave as long as the parent has served a minimum 1 year service continuously to their employer.

If an employee falls pregnant with twins or is going to become responsible for twins or multiple children then each parent can take a maximum 18 weeks per child.

When is an employee allowed to take parental leave?

From the minute the child is born up to their 15th birthday is when a parent is able to take parental leave. The correct notice must be given to your employer as stated in your employment contract. For parents who have adopted they can take parental leave up to the 5th birthday of the child, parents with disabled children have until the child turns 18 years old.

In some instances an employer must give the appropriate notice of 21 days, however for some it may be longer but should be stated in your contract of employment.

An employee must take their parental leave in weekly blocks unless otherwise stated by your employer. If you are the parent of a disabled child you may take your parental leave in shorter blocks.

Each year an employee has the right to take a maximum 4 weeks per child unless your employer offers you to take more.

If a parent changes jobs within the 5 or 18 years which is likely then your parental leave can be carried over to your new employer and you will be able to take any unused parental leave once you have serviced them for a full year.

An employer has full rights to postpone or delay any parental leave you request to take for up to 6 months if by you leaving it would significantly affect their business. In this case your employer would confirm and discuss this with you in a reasonable manner, confirmation of your postponed arrangements will be given to you in writing 7 days after you applied for leave. The letter should state your new leave dates you have agreed with your employer and the same amount of parental leave you originally applied for.

Will my original job still be given to me when I return from my parental leave?

By law an employee has the right to return to their original job if the parental leave they took was less than 4 weeks or exactly 4 weeks, If an employee took a longer period for their parental leave they are still entitled to their old job or if this is not reasonable possible they must be offered a similar job with either the same status or better and the same contractual terms as their old job if there happens to be one available.

Any holiday entitlement will carry on during your parental leave, also an employee’s pension rights will not be affected.

If an employee on maternity leave chooses to take parental leave after their maternity they too are able to return to their old job as before, if their parental leave was less than or exactly 4 weeks,

If an employee is made redundant while on parental leave the redundancy reason must not be in any way related to the parental leave.

If a mother takes parental leave following her additional maternity leave and is made redundant in this time she will receive priority over other employees if another suitable vacancy is available.

Paternity leave and pay

Once a child is born or an adoption is filed for placement in a new home, all fathers, civil partners, spouses and partners who are employed as employees have the legal right to Paternity leave and pay to help and support the mother and care for the child. As of 2013 fathers, partners, civil partners and spouses who are classed as workers do not necessarily qualify for paternity leave but could qualify for paternity pay. Freelancers are not entitled to either Paternity Leave or Pay.

If a father is Divorced, separated or living apart from the child’s mother or has no part in the child’s life the father is not eligible to receive any Paternity Leave or Pay.

Fathers have the privilege of two weeks ordinary paternity leave and pay and are entitled to a newly regulated additional paternity leave and pay as stated below.

Who Is Eligible For Paternity Leave?

In order for an employee to be eligible for paternity pay there are certain conditions set in place.

  • You must share responsibility of the child’s upbringing
  • Be the adopted or biological father of the child or alternatively the mother’s husband, partner or civil partner.
  • You must have continuously serviced your employer for a minimum 26 weeks ending with the 15th week prior to the baby’s due date or the week of an adoption match notification along with having a contract of employment.
  • There is no age restrictions

If you do not meet the criteria above you are in your full right to ask your employer for time off for this purpose paid or unpaid, the decision is then up to your employer to make.

How long can you take for Paternity?

You are allowed to take up to 2 full consecutive weeks of paternity leave this does not mean you can take odd days here and there. It is your choice when you would like to start your leave, whether you choose to start on the day your baby is born, due, matched for adoption or the date your adopted child arrives is entirely your decision.

You can choose to start your leave on any day of the week following the child’s birth or adoption however it must be finished within 8 weeks (56 days) of the baby being adopted or born. For multiple births the time limit stays the same you will only be allowed one paternity leave period not one per child.

Additional Paternity Leave and Pay was introduced through the previous Labour Government to be put into place for children who are adopted or born on or after the 3rd April 2011 and the mother of the child has returned to work.

Statutory Paternity Pay

Whilst on a 2 week ordinary paternity leave, almost all employees are entitled to (SPP) Statutory Paternity Pay from employers. From 1st April 2012 the rate for SPP is £133.45 per week or 90% of the average weekly wage (whichever is less) this will increase to £136.78 from 7th April 2013.

You will not be eligible for SPP (Statutory Paternity Pay) if you earn less than the lower Earnings Limit also known as LEL for National Insurance Contributions currently this rate is set at £107 since April 2012 and will increase to £109 from 6th April 2013.

Workers (not employees or freelancers) could be eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay not leave if you meet the qualifying criteria stated above.(the same one as employees)

Notifying your employer if you intend to take Paternity Leave

If you intend to take paternity leave you must (by the end of the 15th week prior to the baby being born or up to 7 days after the adoption match notification) notify your employer of your intentions.

You must inform your employer of the following:

  • The day the baby is expected or due to be adopted
  • How many weeks leave you wish to take (Please note you cannot take less than 1 weeks paternity leave)
  • When you want your Paternity leave to start from

Your employer must receive at least four weeks’ notice of the date you wish to start your paternity. You are allowed to change your mind about the date you wish to start your paternity providing you have given at least four weeks (unless not practicable)

If you have given the proper notice about your Paternity leave your employer can not postpone or defer your leave. If you fail to give the correct amount of notice you will not be eligible to receive Paternity Leave.

Returning to work after Paternity Leave

Following your paternity leave you are entitled to return to your normal job. (In September 2013 a European Court of justice announced in the Halliday Vs Creation Consumer Finance Ltd that any employee whether on Paternity Leave or Maternity Leave could be made redundant by an employer providing the reason for the redundancy was not the parental leave)

Additional Paternity Leave.

If you follow the qualifying criteria you are eligible for additional paternity leave

  • If you are the father, spouse or partner of a woman (Mother) expecting a baby on or after 3rd April 2011 or if for an adoption the notification of the adoption is on or after the 3rd April 2011
  • Have worked 26 weeks continuously with your employer at the 15th week before the baby is due to be born or the week of an adoption match.
  • You remain in employment continuously until the 1st week of your additional Paternity leave.
  • You are sharing responsibility of the upbringing of the baby with the mother.
  • If adopting you must be doing so a couple jointly and not as only the mother.

How long can you take for Additional Paternity Leave?

A father is eligible to take from 2 weeks up to a maximum 26 weeks additional Paternity Leave (however this must begin 20 weeks after the child is adopted or born and end up to 1 year after the birth of the child or the date of adoption providing the mothers maternity period or adoption leave has ended early.) Basically, the father (employee) taking the additional Paternity leave would be taking over the remaining maternity period or adoption leave of the mother.

For a father, partner or spouse to qualify for APL the mother of the child must have at least 2 weeks remaining of their adoption or maternity leave.  APL (Additional Paternity Leave is to be taken as a continuous period in multiples of full weeks.

Your employer must receive a minimum of 2 months’ notice, of the start and finish dates of your additional paternity leave. In most cases it is required you sign a declaration to confirm your relationship to the mother and child and your eligibility. You will receive written confirmation from your employer within 28 days you submitted your information to your employer, if you need for any reason to change your dates you are able to do so providing you give at least 45 days’ notice to your employer.

If you are employed on the new employee shareholders contract as of the 1st September 2013 your written notice must be 8 weeks. While on Additional Paternity Leave you are entitled to your salary/ pay and your normal terms and conditions, you are also entitled to return to your same job once your additional paternity leave finishes providing that job is still available and you have not been made redundant ( you cannot be made redundant for taking paternity leave or additional paternity leave) If you are made redundant whilst taking additional Paternity Leave on returning you must be offered a reasonable alternative vacancy if such one is available.

Appeal meeting outcome letter

Writing to an employee with the outcome of an appeal meeting is one of the final stages in the appeals process. You can download this free appeal meeting outcome letter to use.

appeal hearing outcome letter

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Invitation to appeal hearing letter

Writing to an employee with an invitation to an appeal hearing is the first step in the appeals process. You can download this free invitation to appeal hearing letter to use.

invitation to appeal hearing

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Disciplinary meeting outcome letter

Writing to an employee with the outcome of a disciplinary meeting is one of the final stages in the disciplinary process. You can download this free disciplinary meeting outcome letter to use.

disciplinary meeting outcome letter

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Invitation to a disciplinary meeting

Inviting an employee to a disciplinary meeting is the first step in the disciplinary process. You can download this free invitation to a disciplinary meeting template to use.

invitation to a disciplinary meeting

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Grievance Procedures

It is advised that all employers implement Grievance procedures in a work place. If an employee is unhappy with their working conditions or any other subject matter at work they are advised to informally discuss any issues to begin with a senior member of staff before raising an official grievance with an employer.

As of the 6th April 2009 the ACAS Code of Practice on grievance should be followed in all cases and can lead to Employment Tribunal proceedings if not , the main focus of the new code of practice is for employers and their employees to informally try to resolve grievances without the need for any formal procedures taking place. If informal discussions will not resolve the issues of the grievance a formal hearing must take place and an employee is requested to attend to discuss the issues arisen. An employee may bring along a witness to accompany them to the meeting.

Grievances in all cases should be handled without delay and all evidence given to the employer should be supported and verified as well as being reliable.

See a brief overview of the code summarised below:

Handling Grievances at Work

An employee must inform their employer of the nature of the grievance

  • If for some reason an informal grievance cannot be resolved, the employee should raise the matter formally to a Manager or senior staff member who is not related to the grievance subject in any way. This procedure must be done in writing without delay and should set forth the absolute nature of the grievance to the employer.
  • Once a formal grievance has been filed an employer needs to arrange a meeting with the employee and if required a 3rd person may accompany the employee to the meeting.
  • Every effort should be made by Employers, Employees and their witnesses to attend the meeting and employees should be allowed to speak freely regarding the subject of the grievance and any resolution process they think necessary. If any investigation should take place following the grievance hearing the meeting may be adjourned until a further date to allow time for the investigation to take place.
  • Employees have the legal right to attend a grievance meeting which deals with a complaint about an employer that is not fulfilling their duty owed to the employee, accompanied by someone else as a witness if necessary.
  • The accompanying person may be a fellow colleague, a trade union official or a representative of the trade union, however a representative that is not an official must be qualified and certified by their union to accompany an employee to a grievance meeting.
  • To have the right to be accompanied at a grievance meeting an employee must first make a reasonable request to do so. What would be classed as reasonable would depend on the circumstances of the grievance for each individual case. It would not be reasonable if an employee requests to be accompanied by someone from a remote geographical location or a companion whose presence would jeopardise the meeting.
  • The 3rd person who is accompanying the employee is allowed to sum up the employees case, confer with the employee during the meeting and respond to any views expressed on behalf of the employee, this does not mean they can answer any questions on behalf of the employee or address the hearing on behalf of the employee without their consent or prevent the employer from stating or explaining their case.

The appropriate action will be decided by the employer following the grievance meeting.

  • The employer will decide after the meeting what action will be taken if any and once a decision is made they should communicate this with the employee as soon as possible in writing. This should explain in full how the employer intends to resolve the case.
  • Any notes taken throughout the investigation would not be included in the written letter to the employee as this would breach others confidentiality such as the witness, unless prior consent was given by the witness or the circumstances were reasonable enough to disclose it.
  • If the employee is not happy with the action that has been taken towards their grievance they are in their full rights to appeal the decision and must do so as soon as possible.

The employer must allow their employee to appeal if necessary

  • If for any reason the employee feels their grievance has not been resolved to their satisfaction they should appeal. They need to state to their employer the reasons for their appeal in writing without unnecessary delay.
  • An appeal should be heard at a time and place convenient for the employee as soon as possible, the employee should be notified in advance about the appeal hearing.
  • A manager who has not been previously involved in the case must deal with the appeal with an open- mind.
  • Again any employee has the legal right to a representative to accompany them at the appeal hearing.
  • Any outcome following the appeal should always be communicated in writing to the employee without unnecessary delay.

If an employer fails to follow the correct code of conduct whilst dealing with grievance it does not mean an employer is liable to any employment Tribunal proceedings. An Employment Tribunal will be aware the code has not been followed correctly and can reduce or increase the awards given to an employee.

Disciplinary

If an employee raises a grievance whilst on disciplinary the disciplinary process will be suspended for the grievance to be heard, however if the subject of the grievance and the disciplinary are of the same issue they will be heard and decided together according to the code.

Disciplinary Procedures

It is a lawful requirement that all Employers should clearly state their disciplinary procedures and rules in a statement of terms and conditions for all employees.

It is no longer required that employers adhere to a statutory disciplinary procedure but there are basic principles that should be followed as set out in the ACAS code of practice of 2009.

It is not unusual for an Employer to have their own written company policy which can sometimes be written in your contract. If your employer does not follow this and it is written in your contract then the employer will be in breach of contract. If for whatever reason you are dismissed from your job without your employer following their disciplinary policy then you can claim for wrongful dismissal at a High court or County court and an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.

If you do not have more than one year of continuous service then you can claim for breach of contract but you cannot claim for unfair dismissal.

A disciplinary hearing can be called if your employer believes you have done something wrong, the hearing can be used as a way for the employer to discuss with you what they believe you have done wrong and to explain what needs to be changed.

At any hearing the employee has the right to ask that a trade union member or co-worker be present. There is also certain situations whereby the employee may be accompanied by a legal representative.

A new ACAS Code was introduced in April 2009 which provides guidance in dealing with all disciplinary situations. If employers fail to follow the Code, the Employer is no longer liable to tribunal proceedings. But, tribunals will certainly consider the code and can change accordingly any awards for wrongful or unfair dismissal an employee may be entitled. The way in which people who are disabled or ill are treated when they are dismissed is also covered by the new ACAS code.

The codes details are broken up as follows:

It is imperative for every employer to look for potential disciplinary matters immediately understand all the facts. Sometimes this can mean arranging a meeting with the employee to find out what exactly is going on before moving to any disciplinary hearing.

Corroborative evidence should always be looked for as evidence from one person should never be relied on by the employer. The hearing and investigation should always be carried out by different people in misconduct cases.

In certain instances where a paid suspension period is thought to be necessary, it should be made as short as possible, be kept under review and made clear that the suspension is not disciplinary action. Employees should be notified in writing if it is decided that a disciplinary case needs to be answered, they should be notified with all the relevant information regarding the performance or misconduct and what the possible outcomes can be so as to allow the employee sufficient time and knowledge to prepare to answer their case at the meeting or hearing. It is also appropriate that any written evidence such as witness statements be provided to the employee with the notification. The venue and time of the disciplinary meeting should also be provided within the notification.

Every effort should be made by both employers and the employees to attend the meeting. The employer should go through the evidence that has been collected and explain in detail about the complaint being made against the employee. The employee should then be allowed to have their say and show their side of the story including but not limited to asking questions, answering questions and calling witnesses. Advance notice should be given when an employer or employee intend to call witnesses.

After the meeting, when all evidence has been heard, the employer will decide if any further action is required and will inform the employee of this in writing.

Where it is found that the employee has been performing unsatisfactorily it is common that the employee be given a written warning. A final written warning will be given if the employee fails to improve their performance.
If the employee’s initial misconduct or unsatisfactory performance is serious, it may be possible to be issued a final written warning instantly. This would usually happen if the employee’s actions are likely to have a harmful impact on the company.

The decision to dismiss the employee should only be taken by a person who has the authority. The reasons for the dismissal should be given to the employee as soon as possible along with the date the employment contract will come to an end, the amount of notice and the employee’s right of appeal.

An employee should appeal against any decision if they feel that the action taken against them is unjust. The employee should let the employer know immediately in writing of the grounds they are appealing and the appeal should be heard at an agreed date and place without unreasonable delay. It should be dealt with by a manager or person with authority that has not previously been involved in the case.

Employees have the right to be accompanied by a co-worker or trade union representative at appeal hearings and they should be informed of the results in writing as soon as possible after the hearing.
It is very important that all records of the disciplinary process are kept.

Am I entitled to redundancy pay?

The question today is: “Am I entitled to redundancy pay”?

Redundancy payments will be paid by your employer if you are an employee and:

  • You are on a permanent contract and
  • You have been working 2 continuous years with your employer and
  • You have recently been made redundant.

There are some exceptions where redundancy pay will not be paid.

As of 1st September 2013 a new form of employment contract came to life (The employee shareholder contract) With this contract instead of receiving Statutory Redundancy Pay an employee receives shares in the company between the amounts of £2000- £50,000.

Dismissal by Redundancy Information

Redundancy is a reasonable form of dismissal by an employer however they must follow the correct procedures. Redundancy is made when there is limited or no work available for you and your fellow colleagues. This may happen if a company downsizes or relocates.

An employer must follow the below steps to ensure an employee’s redundancy is dealt with fair and correct.

  • All employees must be told of any proposed redundancies for companies with 20 or more staff, formally known as Collective Consultation.
  • Since changes to the Agency Workers Regulations were made in 2013 all employers must inform the Trade Union of exactly how many employees and temporary employees work for the company and what work they are carrying out.
  • An employer must embark on a consultation with the employees who are affected or their representative with the possibility of reaching an agreement. This is not by any means negotiating but more communication about your redundancy and alternative ideas like voluntary redundancy, reduction in hours/ wages and also job sharing.
  • Employers making 20 or more redundancies must complete a consultation period of 30 days, for 100 redundancies this increases to 90 days. Failing to do so can lead to employees being entitled to a Protected Award. As of the 6th April 2013 the 90 day consultation will reduce to 45 Days.
  • Defining the redundancy pool – This is where your employer must select in a fair way which employees will be made redundant, this should be a fair process and not discriminatory.
  • Suitable Alternative Employment – Your employer must consider offering alternative work if suitable and available.
  • An employer must pay your redundancy package.

An Employment Tribunal could see a redundancy as being an Unfair Dismissal if the above steps are not properly implemented.

Temporary Lay Off

SRP can also be claimed if an employee has been temporarily laid off for more than 6 non-consecutive weeks within a 13 week period or for more than 4 weeks in a row.

Within 4 weeks of your last none working day you must write to your employer informing them of your intention to claim Statutory Redundancy Pay.

Redundancy Notice

For each completed years’ service with the company your employer must grace you with 1 week notice up to a maximum 12 weeks (3 Months) you should be paid for your notice period.

Other Redundancy Information

  • If you re-sign you will not be entitled to redundancy
  • If you volunteer for redundancy and are accepted you qualify for redundancy pay.
  • You can still qualify for redundancy if you ask to leave earlier (Your employer must agree to you leaving earlier)
  • If you are offered a reasonable alternative job by your employer you may accept on a 4 week trial, if after this period you do not wish to take the job you will still receive your redundancy pay, If you decide to take the job after the 4 weeks or stay employed after the 4 weeks you will be forfeiting your redundancy payment.
  • If an alternative job is not a reasonable alternative to your old job for example different location or worse conditions you may turn it down and take your redundancy Payment.
  • By refusing a reasonable alternative job by your employer you may not be entitled to redundancy Pay.
  • Your employer must still keep you informed of redundancies if you are off sick or on leave
  • If you receive SRP it will not affect any other benefits or job seekers allowance claims.
  • You must be granted time off to look for alternative employment if you are being made redundant and have served at least 2 years’ service
  • As of 2013 the first £30,000 you receive in redundancy is tax-free.
  • You may make a claim if you do not receive SRP when you are entitled

Statutory Redundancy Pay how is it calculated?

Based on your length of service, Age and weekly earnings.

As of 1st February 2013

  • Up to the age of 21 you will receive 50% of your weekly pay for each completed year of service
  • From 22 -40 years old, you receive 1 full weeks’ pay for each year
  • Over 41 years old you will receive 1 and a half weeks pay for every year serviced.
  • A maximum of 20 years’ service is applied.

Statutory Redundancy Pay (SRP)

This is calculated depending on your age, length of continuous service with your employer and your weekly earnings.

From 1st February 2013 SRP is calculated as follows -

  • You receive half a weeks’ pay for each completed year of service up to the age of 21
  • You receive 1 weeks’ pay for each completed year of service between ages 22 and 40
  • You receive 1 and a half weeks pay for each completed year of service over the age of 41.
  • The maximum number of years’ service that can be counted is 20
  • £450 is the maximum weekly pay as of 1st February 2013
  • The total Maximum pay you can receive is £13,500 from 1st February 2013

How much should you receive?

  • If no overtime is stated in your employment contract this will not be counted as stated in the Employment Rights Act 1996
  • For fixed hours you will receive the normal pay for a week’s work
  • For variable hours (Commissions, bonuses etc.) the multiply the normal working hours by the average hourly rate over the previous 12 weeks.
  • For shift work this would be your average weekly hours at the average hourly rate over the previous 12 weeks
  • For normal working hours the weekly pay it is the average pay that was paid to you over the previous 12 weeks

Can my employer dock my pay?

The question today is: “Can my employer dock my pay”?

A deduction of pay could be enforced by your employer for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean it is allowed.

Firstly, you need to check your Contract of Employment and Employee Handbook to see what policies are in place to allow for deductions of pay.

There are three things you need to bear in mind;

  1. Any deduction must be lawful
  2. You must be notified and agree to the deduction in advance
  3. The deduction must not leave you incapable of living

Any deduction must be lawful

Your employer can deduct your pay providing there are legal policies in place within your Contract of Employment and Employee Handbook. A simple example includes turning up to work late.

You must be notified and agree to the deduction in advance

Your employer should extend you the courtesy of advising you in advance of the deduction and ask you to sign the appropriate paperwork. This will ensure you are aware of the deduction before it happens and it is recorded.

By notifying you in advance you have the opportunity of challenging the deduction and raising your concerns.

The deduction must not leave you incapable of living

Should your employer wish to deduct a large amount of money from you, for example if you crashed a company vehicle and agreed to pay the £500 excess, then this is usually taken in smaller quantities over a period of time. This will ensure the deductions do not leave you incapable of living as your employer has a duty of care to you.

Can my employer read my email?

The question today is: “Can my employer read my email”?

Firstly, we are assuming you mean your company email and not your personal. If it is the latter, definitely not. Your personal email account is your own and should not be viewed by anyone without your permission unless you have accessed it from your workplace and the circumstances are exceptional e.g. to prevent criminal activity.

Your company email and who can view it is another matter. If your employer intends to monitor your email then you must be informed through your Employee Handbook or new policy. Your employer cannot simply choose to one day begin reading your emails.

The policy should or Employee Handbook should set our clearly the circumstances in which you are allowed to use email and make clear the extent and type of use i.e. is an occasional personal email ok?

The policy should also explain why emails are monitored, to what extent, the means used and for how long an email is retained within the system. The Data Protection Act 1998 enforces rules that your employer must tell you how they intend to use the information and use it only for that purpose otherwise, under Section 13, you could claim for compensation for any contravention of the statute that causes you injury or distress.

Finally, an explanation as to how the policy is enforced and what penalties you could expect i.e. disciplinary action if you breach it.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 stops any party intercepting emails without “lawful authority”. This generally means your employer cannot read an email without the consent of both the sender and recipient. However, the Telecommunications Regulations 2000 lists a number of exceptions to this rule for businesses, including but not limited too;

  • Ascertaining regulatory compliance
  • Detecting unauthorised use
  • Preventing criminal activity

Note, however, these exceptions do not apply to personal emails, which means your employer should take all reasonable measures to avoid opening them, even those sent from a workplace email account.

Can my employer cut my wages?

The question today is: “Can my employer cut my wages”?

Your employer may ask you to cut your wages during difficult trading times. This is classified as a change of contract and you should consider this request carefully. Your employer cannot cut your wages as it suits them, they must consult you first.

If your employer has asked you to cut wages then I would suggest you ask for it in writing, and for them to provide the reasons why, including who else has been asked and what were their criteria for selection. I would also obtain a full copy of your employment contract and handbook for further reading.

A reduction in your income could affect your living situation, ability to manage financially and have a further psychological impact on you. It is important to consider a request like this carefully and ensure it is being executed by your employer in a fair way.

You also need to find out what the long-term goal is for your employer, and whether or not the reduction of your salary will be temporary until things improve. Bear in mind that your employer may be in financial difficulty and attempting to keep the company solvent by reducing its outgoings. A temporary reduction in pay may be better than losing your job altogether.

If you do not agree to a reduction there are a number of options available to you;

  • You may qualify to bring a claim for unfair dismissal unless your employer can prove there was a genuine financial need and that fair procedures were followed.
  • You may qualify to bring a claim for constructive dismissal because your employer has breached the terms of your contract.
  • You may be able to sue your employer through civil courts if they breach your employment contract

Accepting or refusing a cut in working hours is a big decision and professional advice should always be sought beforehand. Your employer must consult you first or any reduction in pay could be considered an unlawful deduction under the Employee Rights Act 1996.

Can my employer cut my hours?

The question today is: “Can my employer cut my hours”?

Your employer may ask you to work fewer hours when there is a downturn in business or less work for you to do. This is classified as a change of contract and you should consider this request carefully. Your employer cannot cut your hours as it suits them, they must consult you first.

If your employer has asked you to cut your hours then I would suggest you ask for it in writing, and for them to provide the reasons why, including who else has been asked and what were their criteria for selection. I would also obtain a full copy of your employment contract and handbook for further reading.

When deciding whether or not to accept the request, you may wish to consider the implications of doing so, such as how this may affect your living situation and ability to pay bills. Furthermore, will a reduction in hours suit your work/life balance and how will it be achieved? Will you work one full day less per week or two hours less each day?

Finally, what is the long-term plan in place? Your employer may look to reinstate your old contract when things improve or attempt to make you redundant.

If you do not agree to a reduction there are a number of options available to you;

  1. You may qualify to bring a claim for unfair dismissal unless your employer can prove there was a genuine redundancy situation and that fair procedures were followed.
  2. You may qualify to bring a claim for constructive dismissal because your employer has breached the terms of your contract.
  3. You may be able to sue your employer through civil courts if they breach your employment contract

Accepting or refusing a cut in working hours is a big decision and professional advice should always be sought beforehand.

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