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16
Sep 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Redundancy in the UK: A Guide to Avoiding Unfair Selection

As you all know the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has now entered its final month and will draw to a close on the 30th of September 2021. With this scheme coming to an end companies are now unfortunately faced with the possibility of redundancies having to be considered. The number of redundancies in the UK has accelerated at the fastest pace since the financial crisis. According to ACAS, redundancy related calls to their helpline have increased by over 160% compared to 2019.

If redundancies must occur then we see the following steps should be adhered to:

Collective Consultation

If an employer is proposing to make 20 or more employees redundant at one establishment within 90 days, collective consultation will be required with trade union or employee representatives.

For employers who collective redundancy applies to and who wish to make redundant by the end of the furlough scheme, they would have needed to commence their collective redundancy consultation by the 31st of August 2021.

Non-Collective Redundancy

If collective redundancy does not apply and your redundancies are on an individual level this is non-collective redundancy which is less than 20. In this case;

  • You should aim to avoid compulsory redundancies through: voluntary redundancies, agreed short-time working or other flexible staffing arrangements.
  • You should also carry out a consultation with every employee individually. The consultation must be meaningful and your plans must not be finalised at this stage.

Next is selecting staff for redundancy. Employers should use fair and objective criteria. Ideally, all employees at risk of redundancy should be put in a selection pool and assessed upon criteria such as: Standard of work, experience / qualifications and disciplinary record. Selecting those who have been on furlough over other employees may not necessarily be fair – these employees may have been parents with childcare issues or individuals with disabilities, so there could be a risk of a direct or indirect discrimination claim.

Notice of Termination

Once you have selected staff for redundancy, you need to give employees notice of their redundancy. The statutory redundancy notice periods are: 

  • At least one week’s notice if employed between one month and 2 years 
  • One week’s notice for each year if employed between 2 and 12 years 
  • 12 weeks’ notice if employed for 12 years or more. 

It is always advisable to check your contracts of employment as the contractual notice agreed may differ to statutory notice. Where contractual notice is greater than statutory notice, contractual notice will apply. However, where the contractual notice is less than statutory notice, statutory notice will apply. 

Statutory notice pay is protected. If the notice in the contract is the same or less than the applicable statutory notice, 100% of the employee’s normal pay should be paid during the notice period.

However, things are slightly different where contractual notice is greater than the statutory notice period. If contractual notice is greater, by at least 1 week, an employee should receive their normal full pay as long as they are working. If they are not working, they should receive what they would have normally been paid for that absence.

So, if you have an employee who is out of work due to furlough and being paid at 80%, and this employee’s contractual notice is greater than statutory notice, they may be paid at 80% for their notice period. For this reason, it is extremely important to always check the contract of employment.

Redundancy Payments

An individual is entitled to statutory redundancy pay if they are an employee and have been working for the employer for 2 years or more.

  • One week’s pay for each full year they have worked when 22 or older, but under 41 years old.
  • Half a week’s pay for each full year they have worked under 22 years old.
  • One and half week’s pay for each full year they have worked when 41 years old or older.

Redundancy pay is capped with a length of service being 20 years. For employees made redundant on or after 6 April 2021, a weeks’ pay is capped at £544, so the maximum statutory redundancy they can receive being £16,320.

Related Articles:

 - New Self-Isolation Rules: What the Employer Needs to Know

End of UK Lockdown: Employees Rejoice While Employers Wonder, ‘What Does Workplace Safety now look like?’

 

Posted in Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts

28
Jul 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Everyone's Talking About Flexible Working

The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has completely shifted the way we work and live. Companies have had to quickly adopt new initiatives and technologies to ensure employee safety whilst maintaining productivity. Working from home has now become the normality for many of us and adapting to these new ways of working is essential for business continuity.

The UK has been ahead of the curve with the right to request flexible working having been in place since 2014 and after more than a year of enforced home working, UK employers are anticipating an influx of flexible working requests as restrictions lift and staff begin to return to the office.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working can refer to a variety of arrangements includes but is not limited to; part-time work, ‘compressed hours’ over fewer days, remote working, ‘flexitime’ and job sharing arrangements.

Flexible working arrangements can be formal or informal. Some organisations choose to amend the written employment contract when new working arrangements are put in place, and/or include flexible working policies in the employer’s handbook. However some forms of flexible working, such as working from home, are likely to be offered informally, for example in agreement with an employee’s line manager.

Examples of kinds of flexible working that you can request include:

  • reducing your hours to work part-time
  • changing your start and finish times
  • having flexibility with your start and finish time (also known as ‘flexitime’)
  • doing your hours over fewer days (‘compressed hours’)
  • working from home or elsewhere (‘remote working’)
  • sharing the job with someone else (‘job share’)

The right to request flexible working

The legal position is that all employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment are able to make a statutory request for flexible working, in writing, for any reason. A new request can be made once every 12 months. Where a request is made, the employer must deal with that request in a reasonable manner and notify the employee of the outcome, including any appeal, within a three-month period, unless that timeframe is extended by mutual agreement.

Making a request

When making a request for flexible working there is no form however in order to qualify as a statutory request, it must:

  • Be in writing.
  • Be dated.
  • Explain the change they would like to their working pattern.
  • Explain when they would like the change to come into force.
  • Explain what effect the change would have on the business.
  • Explain how such effects might be dealt with.
  • State that it is a statutory request.
  • State if the employee has made a request previously and if so when.

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Contract of employment, Coronavirus, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Law

19
May 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Let's Get Back To The Office

There are businesses who are fortunate to be able to bring their staff back to work, and we have received questions on returning employees to work and the practicalities of bringing staff back. Some staff will have not worked yet in 2021, they are at home perhaps in a very small bubble – so it is probably a fair assumption to say that there will be some anxieties from staff in relation to returning to the workplace therefore it is important for employers to take some time to consider how best to manage the process of returning to work. 

We have been asked a number of questions from employers in relation to bringing their staff back to work, for example:

  • A staff member is refusing to come back to work. What do I do? So the first thing I would ask here is what are the individual’s reasons for not wanting to return to work. 

Do they have health & safety concerns?

People have been safe at home for a long time now and there is an understandable anxiety amongst some people about going back into the workplace. If this is the reason, then you need to show to the employee how you have met the requirements of the Protocol and how you are taking preventative measures in the workplace. 

As an employer you have a duty to ensure employee’s safety, health and welfare so it is important that you are taking the right measures and then able to put your employee’s minds at ease. By implementing return to work protocol’s you are promoting communication and collaboration between employers and employees. Employees need to be able to show employees the preventative measures they have taken. Perhaps details of risk assessments completed. If there is a particular employee with specific health concerns, you will need to take into account their specific risk factors which you may consult with the employee on. 

Are they afraid to travel on public transport?

Be open to suggestions here as much as possible such as staggering work times in order for them to avoid peak transport times which will mean packed public transport so as previously mentioned be open to suggestions as much as possible.

  • Do I need to re-issue contracts of employment for staff when they return from lay-off? ?The simple answer is no, it is not necessary. An employee’s contract of employment is not broken when they are placed on lay-off, their service remains. So assuming that they are returning to work on the same terms and conditions as when they left, then it will not be necessary to reissue a contract. 
  • When returning employees to hybrid working, do I need to re-issue a new contract? Our advice here would be yes, it would be best to re-issue the contract or at least an amendment to the contract. A person’s place of work is considered a basic term of the contract of employment, so if the place of work of work is changing that needs to be addressed. If you are agreeing, for example 2 days at home and 3 days in the office it is best to put that in writing to avoid any confusions or misinterpretations down the line. It is also worth having a flexibility line included in the place of work just to say that it may change.
  • Can I take an employee back on reduced or different hours? Due to social distancing necessities and our new norms, it is likely that this will become common practice. It is permissible, once the employee agrees as effectively it is a change to the terms and conditions of employment so it is certainly advisable to get agreement from the employee in writing. 
  • Can I return some employees from lay-off and not others? This scenario will become more common over the next few months as we reopen fully. Yes some people you can certainly bring back before others however it is important to be aware that when choosing employees to return you are using reasonable selection methods and avoiding discrimination and that you are making decisions based on what is right for the business.
We at Bright Contracts can help you get back to the office in line with government guidelines and give your employees the confidence to return with the aid of our COVID-19 policies - temporary working from home and our vaccine policy which are available along with a number of other policies in our Bright Contracts software. If you wish to avail of a free trial you can do so here or you can book a demo of the software with one of our Bright Contracts consultants. To purchase Bright Contracts & download the software you can do so here.

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Contract of employment, Coronavirus

13
May 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Role Changing During Covid-19 - Can the employer require its employees to take on different roles to cover absence?

An employer can expect its employees to carry out different roles within the business where their contract of employment permits this. The employer should consider the relevant job descriptions to see if they comprise of the proposed changes, or if the contract contains a flexibility clause that allows the employer to vary the employees' roles and/or duties. If the employment contract does not allow for this, employers must be aware of the difficulties of imposing contractual changes which could potentially result in claims for constructive unfair dismissal. Any changes to the contract of employment should therefore should be undertaken with early consultation and with a view to reaching agreement with employees.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, employees may be more prepared to accept changes to their contract of employment where there is an imperative need for the work to be carried out, or where the viability of the business may be at risk. Employees may be willing to take on different roles if they are aware that it is for a brief period. The employer should be as transparent as possible with employees about the duration of any changes to their roles. An employee may be seen as having agreed to contractual changes if they carry out the varied role without any complaint.

Employers should ensure that suitable training is provided to any employees who may be required to carry out unfamiliar tasks and a risk assessment should be carried out to cover the temporary redeployment. For example, young or pregnant workers should not be substituted into inappropriate work.

Related Articles:

- Bright Contracts YouTube

- Probation & Covid-19

- Vaccinations & The Workplace

Posted in Contract of employment, Coronavirus, Dismissals, Employee Contracts

29
Apr 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Probation & Covid-19

Recruiting has never been an easy task to undertake but recruiting in a pandemic has been even more of a challenge for businesses. A once thriving industry with an abundance of applicants may now find it hard to find the talent or the funds to hire an applicant may suddenly not be available.

Running a business is a challenge for every company but with the pandemic financial difficulty has been a common issue across the world and across many industries. Businesses initially had the funds to hire new employees, then the company takes an unforeseen hit and is no longer in the financial position to keep these new hires, so what can they do if this happens?

When considering terminating a contract of employment during the employees probationary period as a cost-saving measure, the company should first explore alternative options, for example, the availability of government assistance. Since the pandemic hit the UK Government has been trying to help businesses retain their employees through government assistance. It may be in the employer’s best interest to retain their employees during the pandemic in order to avoid having to repeat the recruitment process when the economic situation improves, especially if the employee is performing well in their role.

When new employees are hired every employee has a probationary period to allow both the employee and the employer see if they are a ‘good fit’. If an employer decides to proceed with terminating the contract of an employee on probation for economic reasons during the pandemic they must ensure the reasons for the dismissal are explained to the employee and correctly documented. Assuming the employee has less than two years’ service with the company they will be unable to claim unfair dismissal unless the dismissal was for an automatically unfair reason, for example, they could claim they were really dismissed for making a complaint about health and safety in the workplace. The employer will also need to be able to demonstrate that the dismissal was not discriminatory as dismissed employees do not need to have two years’ service to bring a discrimination claim.

The employer must give the employee their contractual notice or the statutory minimum which is set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996, section 86 (1), whichever is greater, or make payment in lieu of notice. If an employer makes payment in lieu of notice when it is not provided for under the contract of employment this will be a breach of contract and therefore they are unable to enforce any post-employment restrictive covenants. If there is a contractual dismissal procedure the employer must follow this in order to avoid a claim for breach of contract.

Related Articles:

Vaccinations & The Workplace

- How To Manage Annual Leave Requests After Furlough

Posted in Contract of employment, Coronavirus, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employment Contract, Employment Law

2
Oct 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Data Protection complaints increase since GDPR

Nearly 5 months since the General data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced across all of the European Union, complaints around Data Protection have nearly doubled in the UK according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)


GDPR was designed to give Data Subjects more control over their personal data, with more transparency and the threat of larger fines to those in breach of the new rules. The GDPR requires any company that suffers a data breach to notify its users/data subjects within 72 hours of the breach being discovered.


• Data protection complaints to the UK’s ICO rose to 4214 in July compared to just 2310 complaints received in May before the GDPR came into force. A spokes person for the ICO said the increase was expected, as more users became aware of data protection because of publicity around the new rules and following a series of high-profile data scandals involving some well-known household names, like Morrison’s and Dixons Carphone.

• In July the ICO reported that since May 25th, it had seen a four-fold increase in the number of breaches that organizations were self-reporting.

 

Experts note, however that the increase’s do not mean that the number of data breaches has suddenly gone up, but rather reflects the full scale of the data breach problem becoming better known.
Organisations that fail to comply with GDPR can face fines of up to 4% of annual global revenue or €20 million, whichever is greater. So far none of the EU’s Data Protection Agency’s have levied any fines. Multiple DPA’s told the International Association of Privacy Professionals Advisor Newsletter that it is simply too soon.


We will be hosting a free online webinar on ‘GDPR 5 Months On’ on Tuesday October 16th at 11am, where we will look at the implications of GDPR on payroll processing and how employer’s can be demonstrate compliance by following a few, simple steps.
To register for this webinar please click here.

Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Records, Employee Self Service, GDPR, General Data Protection Regulation

11
Jul 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

GDPR deadline gone - What now?

If you haven’t already updated existing policies for GDPR or if you haven’t started to look at the implication of the new regulations within your organization, you still have time. GDPR compliance will be an on-going process and therefore will need to be monitored and updated on a regular basis – it will not be just a one-off exercise, so it’s certainly not too late to make a start on those updates to get you on the road towards compliance.
The first thing you should consider is to create an inventory of all the personal data you currently store and/or process, whether that be data belonging to employees, customers or suppliers. This inventory will go a long way in helping you, as you will be able to garner from it any areas that need updating or creation of new procedures to help with meeting the GDPR requirements.


• Employee Privacy Policy - If you have employee’s, does the existing contract detail what data you process on them, with whom and what they’re rights are in relation to that data? If not then you would need to create an Employee Privacy Policy.
• Clean Desk Policy – Do you operate a Clean desk Policy? Whereby data belonging to customers or suppliers is not left out on desks overnight where cleaners/security staff may have access to them.
• Data Processor Agreement - Do you share any employee information with your accountant or pension provider? If so do you have a valid or up to date contract or letter of engagement covering the new GDPR stipulations between data controllers and data processor’s?


Realistically it will be difficult for any organization to ever be fully compliant with GDPR; however once you are not ignoring your obligations under the new rules and have or are in the process of taking steps towards demonstrating compliance this should be sufficient if you ever face a Data Protection inspection.


If you require further guidance on GDPR please see our dedicated support section on our website where you can find on-demand GDPR webinars, FAQ’s and template documents like a Data Processor Agreement.
Bright Contracts has also recently been upgraded to include a new Employee Privacy Policy feature whereby you can tick off another box to prove compliance under the new GDPR regulations. Download a free trial of Bright Contracts here. Book a free online demo of the software.

 

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Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, GDPR, General Data Protection Regulation

22
Jun 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Privacy Policies - A GDPR Requirement.

One of the main principles of GDPR is that Data shall be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner, these three elements overlap and all three must be satisfied in order to demonstrate compliance.
Employers, as both Data Controllers and Processors, must be able to show how they comply with the new data protection principles and be clear and open with their employees about the processing of data and their rights. The GDPR stipulates that anywhere personal data is being collected, either directly or indirectly, Privacy Notices should be in place, these policies are critical to complying with the transparency obligations in the GDPR. So the introduction of an Employee Privacy Policy will cover the required elements and ensure demonstratable compliance in this regard.


The Privacy Policy should be written in a clear and easily-understandable format and must include;


• What data is processed – name, address, PPS no., bank details, etc.
• How it was obtained – employee detail request form, CV, ROS, etc.
• The ‘legal basis’ for processing the data – contractual necessity, legal obligation, etc.
• Who has access to it and any third parties– HR dept., payroll clerk, pension company
• How it is stored and security – HR system, Thesaurus software, encryptions, etc.
• How long it is kept for –set in company policies or statutory requirements
• The rights of the employee – right to access, rectification, erasure, etc.
• If data is transferred outside the EEA
• Contact details of Data Controller


We have recently upgraded our Bright Contracts software to include a new Employee Privacy Policy feature, so now employers can facilitate the main GDPR principle of lawful, fair and transparent processing of the employee data. We have also updated the Data Protection Policy within the Handbook and the Data Protection Clause within the contracts.


To download a free trial of Bright Contracts, click here.
To request a free online Demo of Bright Contracts, click here.

 

BrightPay - Payroll and Auto Enrolment Software
Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employment Contract, GDPR, General Data Protection Regulation

13
Jun 18

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

Why am I getting all these emails about privacy??

Lately you may have noticed your inbox bulging each morning with lots of emails with similar subject lines to these;


“Your privacy = our priority”                   “GDPR Data Protection – Your Data is Safe with us”
“Big Changes are coming”                        “Opt-In to continue receiving our great updates”
“GDPR update – please don’t leave us!”  “We’re keeping your details safe”


New, tougher European regulations around privacy and the use of personal data have now come into force and could see companies hit with huge fines if found to be in breach of the new laws.
In order for personal data to be processed lawfully, the processor must be able to rely on the reasoning being at least one of 6 categories, the main one being Consent. So if you were previously signed up with a company to receive newsletters or emails about special offers, they can no longer continue to send you these without your explicit consent.
Previous Data Protection Legislation allowed for an option to ‘Opt-Out’ as being sufficient means to mark having your consent, however with the new GDPR this is no longer the case. Consent must be ‘freely given’ unambiguous’ and for a ‘specific purpose’. Consent must be easily read and clearly distinguishable from other text and evidence must be collected as to how consent was obtained.
Consent can no longer be assumed and the likes of pre-ticked boxes that would have needed to be unticked if you didn’t want to register are now banned. Also the facility to Unsubscribe must be clear and an easy procedure to follow.
So all the emails you have been receiving, like those listed above, are those companies that you may previously have signed up with, scrambling to cover themselves for GDPR and not wanting to lose you as a possible customer or sale.


For more information on GDPR and how it may affect your organization, please see our dedicated online support documentation here.

 

BrightPay - Payroll and Auto Enrolment Software
Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Company handbook, Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract

17
Apr 18

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Pay in Lieu of Notice (PILON) – Do you need to review your employment contracts?

Changes to the way in which termination payments are taxed came into force from 6 April 2018.

From 6 April all notice pay is to be treated as earnings and subject to tax and national insurance contributions – irrespective of whether or not there is a pay in lieu of notice clause (PILON) in the employment contract, this effectively removes the distinction between contractual and non-contractual PILON.

As a matter of best practice, we would certainly recommend that going forward all employment contracts contain a PILON clause.

In fact, in light of these recent changes, not having a PILON clause now will only leave you at a disadvantage. If you were to process a payment in lieu of notice without a contractual right to do so it could leave you at risk of not being able to rely on any post-termination restrictions such as non-competition clauses and confidentiality. Processing a PILON without a contractual right to do so would be considered a breach of contract. This is because you would be in breach of contract by making the payment and would therefore result in you not being able to rely on any of the other contractual clauses.
Contracts of employment created in Bright Contracts will contain a PILON clause by default.

To book a free online demo of Bright Contracts click here
To download your free trial of Bright Contracts click here
To subscribe to our newsletter click here

 

BrightPay - Payroll and Auto Enrolment Software
Bright Contracts - Employment Contracts and Handbooks

Posted in Contract of employment, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Pay/Wage

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