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Keeping up to date

We take seriously our responsibility to keep you up to date so that you can use changes in employment law to commercial advantage. By understanding and interpreting the latest case law and legislation we can deliver updates to you that are concise and usable. With imagination, we are able to ensure that developing law can be used to allow you to achieve commercial solutions, cost effectively and expediently.

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.

Spotlight on suspensions

Posted on: April 23rd, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

Suspension is a serious step – it needs careful thought, legal advice and proactive management. Make the wrong decision and as well as irreparably damaging your reputation and employee relations, you could face a claim of constructive unfair dismissal.

Before every suspension remember:

  1. It’s a last resort – suspension shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction. Only suspend where there’s a risk the employee could destroy or falsify evidence, influence witnesses or is a threat to your business.
  2. Think creatively – try and find workable alternatives such as homeworking, supervision or transfers to a different area/site or role (of similar status). If temporary tweaks can avoid suspension you’re expected to take them.
  3. Don’t ‘leave in limbo’ – proactively manage suspensions. Agree what should be communicated to the employee’s colleagues, clients and customers. Keep the employee updated on the progress of the investigation and provide a key contact.
  4. Pay and perks – continue with usual payments and benefits during the suspension period.
  5. Accurate records – keep notes of all conversations (verbal or written) on file.

See this recent case for more guidance.

Talk to us if you’re in any doubt on whether to suspend or how to handle a suspension lawfully.

Non-disclosure agreements

Posted on: April 10th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

Until the Government decide the fate of non-disclosure agreements you’ll want to be sure the confidentiality provisions you’re drafting are enforceable and won’t damage your reputation.

Here are our thoughts:

• Avoid confidentially provisions tainting the rest of an agreement (and potentially making it all disclosable) – put them in a separate document;

• Don’t stop disclosures to the police and other regulated authorities;

• Make clear that although you’re asking for certain information to be kept confidential the employee can still ‘blow the whistle’ (it’s their legal right and any suggestion otherwise is likely to make the agreement unenforceable);

• Recognise that confidential information sometimes doesn’t need to be kept secret forever – set a confidentiality time limit if possible;

• Suggest the employee takes legal advice on the provisions – they’re likely to be more enforceable.

To have your say on the Government’s consultation click here – the deadline to respond is 29 April.

Let us know if you’d like a hand with your confidentiality agreements.

Executive People Update

Posted on: April 2nd, 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 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.

Apprenticeship levy – use it or start losing it…

All funds within your Apprenticeship Service Account must be spent within 24 months – unused April 2017 levy payments will be lost this month unless spent. Don’t forget, you don’t just have to take on an apprentice to utilise the levy – use funds to upskill your team with some of the training opportunities available.

Government consultations

The Government considers NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) may inappropriately stop harassment victims from speaking out. Following a number of high profile cases, the Government have opened a consultation – you can submit your views until 29th April 2019.

Research says 77% of mothers have a negative or potentially discriminatory experience during pregnancy or maternity leave. To address the temptation of making redundant new mothers and those returning from adoptive or shared parental leave soon after their return, the Government is consulting on extending by another six months protection from dismissal for those individuals. The consultation closes on 5th April 2019. Make sure to have your say here.

Gender pay gap – get your skates on!

If you haven’t already published your report you have until 4th April! Early figures suggested a widening pay gap compared to last year. Make sure you explain any pay gap differences in your narrative!

Increase in possible tribunal awards

From the 6th April 2019, the following will be increasing:

• Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal – £83,682 to £86,444
• Maximum statutory redundancy payment – £15,240 to £15,750
• Statutory cap on a week’s pay – £508 to £525 (used for calculating redundancy payments etc)

We’d be delighted to chat through any of the above with you in more detail, just give us a shout.