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17
May 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Changes to Flexible Working Rights

In September 2021, the UK Government published a consultation document to reform the right to request flexible working under a new Employment Bill- which is yet to be put before Parliament.

What will the new legislation mean for hybrid work?

The document will put forward five proposals;

  • Making the right to request flexible working a day one right
  • Consider whether the currently permitted business reasons for refusing a request all remain valid
  • Consider the administrative process underpinning the right to request flexible working
  • Requiring the employer to suggest alternatives to what has been requested by the employee
  • Requesting a temporary arrangement

These proposals will broaden employees’ rights to request flexible work. However, employers will retain the right to reject such requests for one or more broadly defined reasons.

What does this mean for employees?

The main change for employees would be the right to request flexible working from the first day of their employment, rather than first having to accrue 26 weeks’ service under the current legislative framework. It’s important to note that employees only have the right to make a request for flexible working, rather than a right to flexible working, and employers will still be able to refuse the request on certain broad business grounds.

Unless there is a discussion between the employer and the employee about flexible working before their employment starts, employees who want to work flexibly will have to start working on the basis of their original terms of employment while trying to change them, as there is no right to make a request before starting the job.

What does this mean for employers?

Rejecting a request might become more difficult for employers. Employers could be required to suggest, or at least consider, alternative arrangements to those requested by the employee.

As it stands, employees can only make one request every 12 months, and employers have 3 months to consider the request and make a decision. Potentially increasing how often an employee can make a request will somewhat reduce existing barriers to flexible working and would recognise that employees’ personal circumstances can quickly change. The Government suggests where these changes are temporary to encourage employees to request temporary arrangements.

Striking the right balance

Many employers already have hybrid working policies in place, meaning that any reform is likely to have a limited impact in practice. Whilst employers will clearly benefit from embracing flexible working in terms of recruitment and retention of employees, whether requests can be accommodated will very much depend on the requirements of the business and the nature of the employee’s role, and employers will have a broad range of reasons on which to reject any request if necessary.

In Bright Contracts, we have a flexible working policy which you can add to your handbook where you can edit to suit your company's needs.

Further guidance on flexible working can be found here.

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Posted in Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Hybrid Working

8
Apr 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

April 2022 Employment Law Changes

There are several changes in employment law taking place in April. Read our blog for a summary of the key changes.

Minimum Wage

From 1 April 2022, the national minimum wage increased. The new rates are:

  • National living wage (23+): £9.50 per hour
  • Adult rate (21-22): £9.18 per hour
  • Development rate (18-20): £6.83 per hour
  • Youth rate (16-17): £4.81 per hour
  • Apprentice rate (under 19 or in the first year): £4.81 per hour
  • Accommodation offset: £8.70 per day

Employers will need to ensure they are paying in line with these new rates from April 1st going forward.

Statutory Payments

Statutory payments also rose in April. Statutory sick pay increased to £99.35 per week from April 6th, 2022, and statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental, and parental bereavement pay all went up to £156.66 per week with effect from the 3rd of April 2022.

Covid-19

From the 1st of April 2022, new public health guidance was provided. Anyone with a positive Covid-19 test result is advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days after the day they took the test. Anyone with symptoms is advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with others until they stop displaying symptoms.

Free tests were withdrawn from April 1st and instead, lateral flow tests can be bought from retailers for around £2 per test.

Most employers will no longer have to consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments from April 1st.

PPE to be provided to workers

From the 6th of April 2022, the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force and amended the 1992 Regulations. Under the new rules, employers will be required to provide suitable free personal protective equipment to workers as well as employees where there is a health and safety risk. If PPE is required, employers must ensure their workers have sufficient information, instruction, and training on the use of PPE.

April looks like to be a busy month with plenty of changes and things to be aware of for employers.

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Posted in Contract of employment, Coronavirus, Employee Contracts, Employment Law, Health & Safety, Pay/Wage, Wages

6
Apr 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Wellbeing at Work

Promoting and supporting employee wellbeing is at the heart of our purpose to champion better work and working lives. Investing in employee wellbeing can lead to increased resilience, better employee engagement, reduced sickness absence and higher performance and productivity.

The last 12 months of the pandemic have seen increased reports of mental ill-health yet only 27% report receiving a well-being check-in from their employer monthly or more. This is less than half the number of workers who reported they had a well-being check in at least once a month last year.

Research from the Mental Health Foundation suggests that mental health problems cost the UK economy at least £118 billion a year. This, coupled with the demands of the pandemic and the many changes to our ways of working over this period means that employers need to step up their efforts to better support their staff.

Half of the employees that were surveyed felt most comfortable talking about their mental health face-to-face.

While employers contribute to the good well-being of their staff, employees also have a responsibility for looking after their own health and well-being. They will only benefit from well-being initiatives if they participate in the initiatives on offer and take care of their health and well-being outside of the workplace. Employers can encourage employee involvement by communicating how staff can access the support and benefits available to them. It’s also important that the organisation seeks employee feedback about its current offering so it can learn how to shape existing initiatives and plan new ones.


3 ways of improving well-being in the workplace

1. Raising awareness around the importance of mental health in the workplace
Your company could offer some counselling sessions for employees as part of their health benefits package. This may encourage employees to speak up more about their mental health issues.

2. Organise a walking meeting

Instead of sitting down in the office take the meeting outside whilst going for a walk in the fresh air. This allows employees to integrate some movement into their day while still being productive.

3. Implement flexible working hours

Flexible working hours have significant health and well-being results. This is because it contributes to a healthy work-life balance. Some examples of flexible working hours include hybrid working or condensed working weeks.

Related Articles:

Employment Engagement Part one: How to Attract and Retain Employees.

Employee Engagement Part Two: Seven Dimensions of Good Work

Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts

23
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

D Topping v Steppingstones Nursery (Hoddlesden) Limited

Darci Topping was employed by Stepping-Stones Nursery in Hoddlesden when she found out she was expecting her first child in March 2020. Her employers were informed a week after starting her new job.

The 23-year-old who was on minimum wage at the time was questioned about her pregnancy by her managers and was quizzed about the baby’s father and her intention to go through with the birth. The employment tribunal heard that she was pressured into reducing her hours as the Covid-19 pandemic hit and then made redundant unexpectedly.

The tribunal judge found the nursery liable on all counts of detriment on grounds of pregnancy; unfavourable treatment on grounds of pregnancy; and unfair dismissal on the ground of pregnancy.

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£25,000 awarded for unfair dismissal due to pregnancy

Unfair Dismissal Claims & How to avoid them

Posted in Discrimination, Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employment Law

16
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Unfair Dismissal Claims & How to Avoid Them

An unfair dismissal can occur when your employer terminates your contract of employment with or without notice or the employee terminates their contract of employment with or without notice due to the conduct of your employer.

A dismissal is automatically considered to be unfair if you are dismissed for any of the following reasons:

  • Membership or proposed membership of a trade union or engaging in trade union activities
  • Religious or political opinions
  • Legal proceedings against an employer where you are a party or a witness
  • Race, colour, sexual orientation, age, or member of the Traveller community
  • Pregnancy, giving birth or breastfeeding or any matters connected with pregnancy or birth
  • Availing of rights under legislation to maternity leave, adoptive leave, parental leave, carer’s leave, parental leave, or force majeure leave
  • Unfair selection for redundancy

 

Steps to avoid Unfair Dismissal

Have clear policies

It is important to ensure that all new and current employees have access to the companies’ policies regarding harassment, dress code and attendance policies. The policies must be easy to read for the employee and available to them at any stage during their employment. These policies are not only to keep employees informed but they are used as important reference points to use as the employer during the disciplinary process. Failing to follow these policies can result in an unfair dismissal claim.

HR & Equality training

Employers need to make sure that the dismissal is thoroughly thought through beforehand and is not an impulsive retaliation to an employee’s actions. By providing training for all staff members involved in the dismissal process you will know that the process is being conducted legally.

Keep track of employee conduct

Terminating an employee can sometimes devolve into a he-said she-sad argument with no clear winner. Without proper documentation, it can be difficult to terminate an employee without fearing an unfair dismissal claim. When you begin to see that an employee might not be suitable for your company, start keeping track of their misconduct. Use a word document or journal to keep track of any problems the employee encounters. For example, take note of any time they showed up late or were not dressed appropriately.

Implement a performance management plan

When you first discuss with the employee about potentially dismissing them, you will need to set up a performance management plan to give your employee a chance to improve. If you still need to terminate this employee, the document plan shows that you tried to help your employee. Employers can do this by setting up parameters and goals for their improvement.

 

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Posted in Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook

3
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Redundancy Part Two: Redundancy Procedures

As discussed in our Redundancy Part One blog, "Redundancy Part One: What it is & What to do”, every employer should consider having a formal redundancy procedure. The exact procedures will vary according to the time and size of the redundancy programme. Organisations should follow these stages as a minimum:

  • Planning
  • Identifying the pool for selection
  • Seeking Volunteers
  • Consulting employees
  • Selection for redundancy
  • Suitable alternative employment
  • Appeals and dismissals

Planning

Employers should always try to avoid redundancies and consider different options such as:

  • Recruitment Freezes
  • Stopping or reducing overtime
  • Offering early retirement to volunteers
  • Retraining or redeployment
  • Pay freezes
  • Short-time working

It is important to note that employers will not be able to adopt these options without breaking their employees’ contracts.

Identifying the pool for selection

The group from which employees will be selected for redundancy must be identified carefully. It consists of at least one of the following:

  • Those who undertake a similar type of work
  • Those who work in a particular department
  • Those who work at a relevant location
  • Those whose work has ceased or been reduced or is expected to be.

Seeking Volunteers

To avoid compulsory redundancies, offering a voluntary redundancy package and seeking volunteers may avoid this.

Consulting Employees

Employers are required to consult employees and give them a reasonable warning of redundancy. There is no minimum statutory timescale when less than 20 employees are made redundant the consultation must be meaningful and be covered by contractual terms or policies. The employee is also entitled to be accompanied at all consultation meetings by a trade union representative or a colleague.

If more than 20 employees at one company are to be made redundant, collective consultations with recognised trade unions or elected representatives must start within minimum time scales:

  • At least 30 days before the notification of redundancies for dismissals of 20-99 employees.
  • At least 45 days before the notification of redundancies for dismissals of 100 or more.

Collective consultation must be completed before the notice of dismissals are issued to employees.

At the start of the consultation process, the employer is legally obliged to give the following information to the representatives:

  • Reason for redundancy dismissals
  • Number of redundancies and their job types
  • Number of employees affected
  • Methods of selection
  • What procedure is going to be followed while dealing with the redundancies
  • How redundancy payment is going to be calculated

Selection for redundancy

Once the consultation is finished, the employer may need to choose individuals from within the selection pool if there are not enough volunteers for redundancy. These choices must be based on objective criteria such as:

  • Length of service
  • Attendance records
  • Disciplinary records
  • skills, competencies, and qualifications
  • Work experience
  • Performance records

Suitable alternative employment

Employers must consider offering alternative work to redundant employees. If the employee refuses alternative work, they might lose their entitlement to a statutory redundancy payment. Employees can trial the alternative work for a period of four weeks. If the employer and the employee both agree that the role is not a suitable alternative, then the employee reverts to being redundant.

Appeals and dismissals

Employers should give written notice to those selected for redundancy. Employees should be notified that they are at risk of redundancy and be invited to individual meetings. Once the individual consultation is complete, the employer must decide whether the employee is to be made redundant and give them their written redundancy notice.

Related Articles:

Redundancy Part One: What it is & What to do

Redundancy in the UK: A Guide to Avoiding Unfair Selection

 

 

Posted in Employee Contracts, Employment Contract

28
Feb 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Redundancy Part One: What it is & What to do

Redundancy can come as a surprise to many people, and it is possibly one of the most distressing events an employee can experience. The employer needs to ensure that there is fair treatment of redundant employees as well as the morale of the remaining workforce. Employers must understand their obligations including employees’ rights and the correct procedures to follow.

What is Redundancy?

Redundancy is a form of dismissal when an employer needs to reduce the size of its workforce. In the UK, an employee can be dismissed for redundancy if:

  • The employer has ceased or intends to cease, continuing the business
  • The requirements for employees to perform work of a specific type or to conduct it at the location in which they are employed, has ceased, diminished, or are expected to. 

Employers must follow a correct procedure and make redundancy and notice period payments.

Employers should:

  • Take all reasonable steps to avoid redundancies
  • Plan and develop employment strategies to deal with the requirements of short-term labour fluctuations, minimise the risk of enforced redundancies and maximise alternative resourcing opportunities.
  • Manage redundancies legally and in a way that minimises the impact on both those who lose their jobs and those who don’t.
  • Provide a communication strategy to ensure that everyone in the workplace has the correct information about any redundancies.

Redundancy during Coronavirus

Many people lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite government intervention to try and avoid redundancies. The future situation is still uncertain, especially now the “furlough” scheme has ended. Employers who decide there is no alternative to redundancies still must follow their normal redundancy procedures. Proceeding without the consideration of alternatives may encourage employees with over two years’ service to present unfair dismissal claims.

Redundancy Procedures

As an employer, you should consider having a formal redundancy procedure. Employers should follow these redundancy stages as a minimum:

  • Planning
  • Identifying the pool for selection
  • Seeking volunteers
  • Consulting employees
  • Selection for redundancy
  • Suitable alternative employment
  • Appeals and dismissals

These will be covered individually in our next blog post.

Protecting employee’s health and wellbeing

It’s important to approach the redundancy process with empathy and treat everyone with respect and kindness. How the employer handles the redundancy can determine how an employee copes with the news. Take time to explain the reasons why they are being made redundant and why it’s a hard business decision. You should also discuss the actions that were taken to avoid redundancy and facilitate redeployment. Notifying an employee of redundancy is a difficult task and employers should be trained to handle redundancies with sympathy and clarity.

Being selected for redundancy can have a huge effect on one’s mental health. Immediate and ongoing support should be available to those who have been affected by the redundancy.

Furthermore, redundancy also has an impact on other employees who are witnessing their colleagues being laid off and may feel that their jobs are at risk. It is the job of the senior managers to give all staff a full explanation of what is going on and what redundancy procedure is being used.

Related Articles: 

Redundancy in the UK: A Guide to Avoiding Unfair Selection

 

 

Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employment Contract

21
Feb 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Employee Engagement Part Two: Seven Dimensions of Good Work

As outlined in part one of this blog, Employment Engagement Part One: How to Attract and Retain Employees, the seven dimensions of good work outline the factors in which employees perform better in the workplace. The CIPD Good Work Index is an annual benchmark of good work or job quality in the UK. It provides a key indicator of the current state of work in the UK.

Here is an in-depth description of the seven dimensions of good work.

1. Pay and Benefits

There is no doubt that the amount of pay an employee earns contributes to their work ethic. Similarly, the employee's benefits from the employer, including pension contributions and other employee benefits such as additional annual leave or wellness programmes, can also contribute to the employees’ work ethic.

2. Work-life balance

Work-life balance concerns how employees manage and prioritise work and their time spent with families and other relationships and leisure activities. A fifth of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their job affects their personal life

3. Contracts

The type of contract an employee receives is a key indicator of why an employee performs better in the workplace. Non-standard contracts, temporary, zero-hours and short hours can be associated with insecurity and unstable working patterns and perhaps an indicator of how an employee performs in the workplace.

4. Job design and the nature of work

Job design can be understood as the content and organisation of one’s work tasks, activities, relationships, and responsibilities. It is evident that job design and the nature of work can be crucial to how people experience job quality. There may be benefits for workers in terms of engagement and wellbeing. There are various factors that may be seen as components of job design, these include:

  • Workload (whether one has the right amount of work)
  • Job autonomy (level of control over the content, speed, method, and time of work)
  • Resources (time, equipment, and suitable space to work effectively)
  • Purpose (feeling of doing useful work for the organisation and the wider community)
  • Job complexity (whether the job is interesting, requires learning new things)
  • Skills (the level of a person-job match in skills and qualifications)
  • Career development (whether the job provides opportunities for skill development and career progression)

 

5. Workplace relationships

There is a strong belief that good relationships at work can impact positively workplace performance. The context of workplace relationships can be influenced by the size of the workplace. The smaller the workplace the more they may benefit from direct and personal interactions in the workplace. In larger organisations, the number of staff may limit workplace relationships outside of an employee’s immediate team. It is evident that good relationships at work can impact positively an organisations performance.

6. Employee Voice

Employee voice and communication between employers and management are widely recognised as important elements of job quality. Having the confidence to speak, be listened to and have an influence are crucial to shaping and delivering other elements of job quality. The most common voice channels in UK workplaces are one-to-one meetings with line managers, team meetings and surveys.

7. Health and Wellbeing

Possibly one of the most important components of good work given the COVID-19 crisis related to employee’s health and wellbeing. During the pandemic, employers have adopted various measures to promote workers mental and physical health and safety during the pandemic.

 

Related Articles:

Employment Engagement Part one: How to Attract and Retain Employees.

Good Work Plan

 

Posted in Employee Contracts, Employment Contract, Employment Law

17
Feb 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Employment Engagement Part one: How to Attract and Retain Employees.

Employees who have good quality jobs and are managed well, will not only be happier in the workplace but will also produce better quality work and feel more motivated in the workplace. With changes in the workplace over the last two years, people have switched to jobs that better suit their needs. This has made people rethink what they do, how they do it and who they do it for. The rise in remote and hybrid working has also impacted individual, team and employer engagement.

The most important element on how to attract and retain employees is purpose. Employees need to know and understand the businesses goals and values to feel connected with them. Every job has a purpose, and it is the employer’s job to help people find that purpose.

How can you show purpose?

One way you can show purpose is by giving employees recognition. People want to be recognised for how they are making a difference to the company. A good way to start recognising your employees is by creating a culture of appreciation in the workplace.

How engaged are UK employees?

According to CIPD’s Good Work Index survey, two-thirds of workers are overall satisfied with their jobs. On a day-to-day level, just over half of UK workers usually feel enthusiastic about their jobs, one in three feel “full of energy” and over half are willing to work harder than they are required to.

However, a fifth of workers feel like they are under pressure, they feel exhausted and are likely to quit their job in the next year. The Skills and Employment Survey shows that work has become more intense over recent years mainly due to the rise in customer demands, technological change, and economic recession.

Seven Dimensions of Good Work

What promotes good work in the workplace? The seven dimensions of good work outline the factors in which employees perform better in the workplace.

  • Pay and Benefits
  • Contracts
  • Work-life balance
  • Job design and the nature of work
  • Relationships at work
  • Employee voice
  • Health and wellbeing

Related Articles: 

Good Work Plan

 

 

Posted in Employee Contracts, Employment Contract

14
Feb 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Extra Bank Holiday for the Queen’s Jubilee

As you may have heard already, there will be an extra bank holiday to mark the Queens jubilee year, celebrating 70 years on the throne. The May Bank Holiday Weekend will be moved to Thursday the 2nd of June and an additional Bank Holiday on Friday the 3rd of June will see a four-day weekend to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee.

Are my employees entitled to have extra bank holiday for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee?

It is important to note that employees do not have an automatic right to time off on a bank holiday. It will depend on the wording of their contracts.

For example, if their contracts state that their annual leave entitlement includes usual or standard bank holidays or specifies which or what numbers of bank holidays are included, they will not be entitled to this additional bank holiday.

If their contracts state that their annual leave entitlement is a certain number of days plus bank holidays, then they will be entitled to the additional day’s leave.

What are the entitlements for the extra bank holiday?

You most likely have a process in place for bank holidays, depending on whether your business needs to be staffed on these days. Here are some helpful pointers:

  • Staff are entitled to the extra bank holiday if their contract states – 20 days holiday plus bank holidays.
  • Staff in England and Wales are not entitled to the extra bank holiday if their contract states – 20 days holiday plus 8 bank holidays (listed).
  • Staff in Scotland are not entitled to the extra bank holiday if their contract states – 20 days holiday plus 9 bank holidays (listed).
  • Staff are not entitled to the extra bank holiday if their contract states – 28 days or 5.6 weeks which includes bank holidays.

If you have employees working various hours you need to remember that part-time workers should not be treated less favourably than the full-time workers.

What to do if employees are not entitled to the extra bank holiday?

You have the following options if your employees are not entitled to the extra bank holiday:

1. Open on the extra day and require your staff to work as normal.

If you decided to open on the Friday and require your staff to work, they could still request to have that day off as part of their normal annual leave entitlement. However, you do not have to grant that request.

2. Close on the extra day and require your staff to take the day as leave out of their annual leave entitlement.

If you choose this option, you will have to give your employees at least two days’ notice if they are required to use their annual leave entitlement.

3. Close on the day of the bank holiday and grant your staff an extra day’s paid leave on a discretionary basis.

Whichever option you decide to go for it would be recommended that you communicate to your staff as soon as you can.

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Annual Leave Post Covid

 

 

Posted in Annual Leave, Employee Contracts, Employment Contract, Staff Handbook

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