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Employment Law

Secret recording may be gross misconduct

Posted on: July 30th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

It’s rare that recordings of conversations during employment are encouraged. They change the atmosphere, take a long time to transcribe and can be difficult to navigate. With technology making secret recordings by employees more common, a helpful decision for employers has found that covert recordings can amount to gross misconduct.

If you don’t have ‘recording without permission’ listed as gross misconduct in a policy, you’ll need to consider the following before deciding to dismiss.

Did the employee:

  • record the conversation to entrap or manipulate you?
  • record confidential information?
  • know that recording is not allowed?

If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these, then it’s likely to amount to gross misconduct.

In practice, avoid arguments over whether a secret recording is gross misconduct or not by making sure there’s a policy that says as much (and make sure your people are aware)!

If you’d like to chat through with us in more detail, just click here!

Executive People Update

Posted on: July 23rd, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

As part of keeping you in our focus, our exec people update ensures you’re on top of the latest people opportunities, challenges and legislative changes so you’re ready to update the Board.

If you want more insight, give us a call or send us an email and we’ll make sure you’re fully up to speed with all the detail.

40% increase in employment tribunal calls to ACAS

New data in the 2018/19 report from ACAS shows a 40% increase in Early Conciliation calls from individuals who intend to sue their employer at tribunal. That said, of the 39,000 calls of this type, just under 10% ended up in front of an employment tribunal (either because the individual withdrew or settlement was entered into). Watch out for our take on tribunal trends in future updates…

Holiday pay should include voluntary overtime (sometimes)

We’ve been given further clarity on what needs to be paid to employees during their statutory four weeks’ annual leave. Provided the pattern of overtime is ‘sufficiently regular and settled’, the court was clear the overtime pay must be included within the holiday pay calculation of four weeks’ statutory leave – even if the overtime is voluntary.

Living Wage accreditation 

Join Ikea, Nestle and Aviva in securing accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation, if you:

• Pay the ‘real Living Wage’ to employees aged 18 and older (£9.00 or £10.55 in London)
• Provide at least four weeks’ notice of shifts
• Provide an accurate contract that reflects hours worked
• Provide a contract with a guaranteed minimum of 16 hours a week.

Why pay it? 86% of businesses say it’s improved their reputation…

Parental bereavement 

It’s truly tragic circumstances that give rise to such legislation, but The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act is due to come into force in April 2020. It affords two weeks’ paid leave for parents who’ve been employed continuously for 26 weeks and lost a child under the age of 18. We’ll be updating our policies on Intelligent Employment to ensure you stay ahead.

Give us a shout if you have any questions and we’d be delighted to chat through with you.

Positive practices? Addressing imbalance

Posted on: June 11th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

If you’ve taken the decision to address demographic imbalance by recruiting individuals from under-represented groups, ensure you put the right steps in place to avoid discrimination.

In a recent case, Cheshire Police were found to have discriminated on the grounds of race, sex and sexual orientation against an employee applying for the role of Constable.

If you’re addressing age, sex, race or other imbalances (whether consciously or sub-consciously) through recruitment practices, remember:

  1. You need clear evidence of an imbalance
  2. You are only able to favour a candidate because of a protected characteristic (like sex or race) if you can show that they are qualified equally to the next best candidate
  3. You can show that you’ve considered alternatives to your decision to positively discriminate
  4. That your approach to recruitment of under-represented groups is proportionate to the challenge you’re trying to overcome

If you’re considering such an approach and are in any doubt, get in touch!

Apprenticeship agreements – use them!

Posted on: May 16th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

Apprenticeships are on the increase. Although the apprenticeship levy is relatively recent concept, apprenticeships have been around for years – along with laws that govern how apprentices are treated.

Without the right agreement in place, you could find yourself tied up in old, inflexible, costly laws and stuck with a poor performing apprentice until they qualify.

Here’s how you create an apprenticeship agreement which is subject to the employment laws you’re used to:

• Ensure your agreement contains all of the usual legally required employment information. Include a statement of the skill or job they’re being training to do, that the relationship is governed by English and Welsh laws and has been entered in connection with a qualifying apprenticeship framework.

• It’s always worth including a probationary period to make clear that early employment will be subject to a shorter notice period if things don’t work out.

• If you’re able, set out college hours so it’s very clear what time can be spent away from work.

• Set out expectations in respect of exam passes and how quickly you consider qualifications should be achieved. Explain the consequences if they don’t meet these expectations.

• If you’re a levy paying employer, don’t ask for a contribution towards training costs from the apprentice or a repayment of training costs if they leave – it’s unlawful to do so.

Get in touch if you’d like to discuss your apprenticeship agreements with us in more detail.

Managing workplace relationships

Posted on: May 2nd, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

20% of us meet our partner at work – commercially there can be challenges when cupid strikes. Employment laws also mean risks are aplenty!

Striking a balance between commercial demands and employees’ private lives can be challenging. Here’s what we’d suggest….

• Lead the way – ensure your leadership team take a responsible approach to the relationships they build at work.

• Write down what’s expected of those individuals who forge relationships – including early communication, total transparency and the need to be flexible.

• Train on what amounts to sexual harassment (particularly during induction and once a year) to show you’ve clearly set out appropriate boundaries – one person’s flirting is another person’s sexual harassment.

• Be clear that you may have to restructure teams or roles if the relationship means that one or both individuals can no longer do their job (be careful that you don’t automatically focus on the female and moving her role which could amount to sex discrimination).

• Offer support where it’s needed – through appropriate access to your People Team, managers and possibly a helpline. If there’s a fallout it’s important to be able to identify early intervention may be required.

• Agree a communication plan – jungle drums are distracting!

Get in touch for support on managing relationships through our Intelligent Employment advice.