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Drug and alcohol testing

Posted on: December 18th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

It’s the season to be jolly! But when employees abuse that right and put colleagues, the business and themselves at risk, you have a duty to investigate and take appropriate action.

We’ve seen a huge increase over the last year in substance and alcohol abuse. Below is our guide to taking the appropriate steps when testing for drugs and alcohol.

Right to a private life: often cited by employees! You won’t breach this right if you can justify the testing in the interests of health, policy of public safety, and you don’t do more than is necessary.

GDPR: make sure you follow the principles by being clear on your aim, by limiting the testing and ensuring the tests are as accurate as possible.

Impact assessments: you’ll need one! It should identify the aim of the testing, who is carrying it out, why it’s necessary, the possible risks associated, whether there is an alternative to testing (and much more!).

Employment contract: it’s always helpful to have a clause confirming you have the right to test. Bear in mind though, this isn’t the perfect defence to claims for breach of data protection regulations and resignations leading to unfair dismissal.

Singling out: it goes without saying that selecting particular individuals without justification could lead to claims for discrimination and resignations leading to unfair dismissal.

You should also ensure you’ve got a robust drug and alcohol policy in place, and always seek advice if you’re unsure on how to handle any issues. Luckily, we can help in both instances! Just get in touch!


Inbox impact assessments

Posted on: November 15th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

Even though employees use work emails and you have a good email policy, doesn’t mean you can freely root around inboxes.

Whether you’re accessing an inbox when an employee’s absent, in an emergency or to investigate, here’s what you need to know.

Employee’s have the right to put their trust and confidence in you as their employer. Snooping at emails without proper cause, will breach that trust and confidence, data protection laws, right to a private life and could give rise to constructive dismissal claims (and possibly discrimination claims). So only access inboxes with good reason.

Before you open an inbox, ensure you’ve carried out an impact assessment to show:

  • the reasons for the access
  • there isn’t another way to secure the information
  • you’ve limited the search to particular terms
  • that any data found will be kept secure, not needlessly shared and deleted appropriately.

If someone is absent and you need to look at their emails, ensure that you limit the view to subject headings only and open only those which appear relevant.

As ever, a policy setting out when you may access inboxes, identifying whether personal use of work email is permitted and the need to mark personal emails as private is a must!

You can access our impact assessment template through the Intelligent Employment platform. If you don’t have access and want to know how it will benefit your business, get in touch!


Contract confidence

Posted on: November 8th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

Compliant, commercial, contemporary – the three Cs that make for a great employment contract.

We review our fair share of them…here’s what we always tend to see:

Poorly drafted post-termination restrictions (or none at all) – meaning little or no protection when the employee leaves.

Old data protection provisions – meaning you’re not securing appropriate consent to take photos of employees or provide references.

Continued accrual of benefits after five years’ service – you could well be discriminating against younger individuals.

Holiday allowance – no reminder that if employees don’t use it, they lose it (new case law makes this important).

Performance processes that are still called disciplinaries – likely to make your process unfair.

Failure to comply with employment contract fundamentals – they’ve been required by law since 1996. Without them you could be exposed to fines of up to four weeks’ pay per employee.

Complex and confusing – tone that is not simple or straight-talking devalues what should be a straightforward document.

With the Good Work Plan making agreed employment contracts a day-one right, it’s a good time to take a fresh look at your contracts. Let us know if you’d like to look into a review or update of your documents.


Consultation collection

Posted on: August 29th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

There’s lots on the employment law horizon. Here’s our employment law consultation collection. Click each header to have your say or read the consultation in full.

Non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality clauses 

What: ensure individuals receive advice on the nature and limitations of confidentiality clauses and that provisions don’t prevent disclosures to the police, regulated health and care professionals or legal advisers.

Status: will become legislation

When: TBC

Pregnancy and maternity protection 

What: redundancy protection period begins from when an employee notifies you of their pregnancy and extends for a period of six months once they’ve returned to work.

Status: will be come legislation

When: TBC

Consultation: health is everyone’s business 

What: reducing ill-health related job losses with a right to request workplace modifications for health conditions (not just disabilities) and introducing a sick pay rebate for SMEs.

Close: 7th October 2019

Consultation: sexual harassment in the workplace 

What: strengthen existing protections by introducing a duty on employers to protect their people, clarifying third-party harassment and extending time limits to bring a tribunal claim.

Close: 2nd October 2019

Consultation: one-sided flexibility 

What: zero-hours and casual workers to be given reasonable notice of work schedules and compensation when shifts are cancelled.

Close: 11th October 2019

Consultation: enforcement of employment law rights 

What: create one clear body from the seven existing state agencies (HMRC, Health and Safety Executive etc.) for people to enforce their rights through.

Close: 6th October 2019

Get in touch if you’d like to chat through what these changes might mean for your business.

Executive People Update

Posted on: August 20th, 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, threats and legislative changes so you are 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.

New harassment helpline 

There’s a new helpline giving women free legal advice if they’ve experienced sexual harassment at work. Having received high profile support from Emma Watson and significant press attention, the helpline is funded by donations and is operating limited hours at present. It is covered by two female employers aiming to support “women to exercise their legal rights in the workplace”.

Criminal record reform 

The Ministry of Justice has proposed criminal record reforms to help ex-offenders back into employment. Currently, if someone has served a sentence over four years (even as a child), this must be disclosed to potential employers for the remainder of their life.

The proposed change will mean that some sentences over four years will no longer have to be disclosed to employers after a specified time (to be determined after public consultation). This will not apply to the most serious sentences including life, or for sexual or violent offences.

EU Settlement Scheme 

Over one million people have now been granted settled or pre-settled status. If you haven’t already, audit your workforce to determine if anyone needs to apply or has already had their status granted. If any of your people still need to make an application, the Government has a useful employer toolkit to help you support.

Here are the deadlines for settled status applications in a deal/no-deal scenario:

  • Deal – 30th June 2021
  • No-deal – 31st December 2020

Good Work Plan (GWP)

We’re still hearing you don’t know about the GWP, so here’s a reminder of what you need to get in place for April 2020:

  • All workers, not just employees, will have the right to an employment contract from day-one
  • The reference period for calculating holiday pay will extend from 12 to 52 weeks

Apprenticeship agreements 

Whenever we get our hands on an apprenticeship agreement, it’s rarely flexible enough. De-risk your apprenticeship agreements by ensuring you have the flexibility to terminate the arrangement if the apprentice consistently under performs – here’s out latest update.

Let us take a look over your agreement if you’re in any doubt.