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Getting to grips with Employment Law

Employment law is what regulates your relationship as Employers with your employees.

They are overarching laws that govern what you as Employers can expect from your employees. In addition, it stipulates what you as an Employer can ask an employee to do, and what rights do your employees have in the workplace.

As it currently stands there are 22 areas where Employment Law dictates the way in which an Employer should operate and guidance that should be adhered to, that ensure that you avoid falling foul of the law and any potential claims that could be made against you and your business.

A small example of what these covers are as follows.

  • Terms and conditions of employment
  • Working time
  • Maternity Leave
  • Disciplinary and Grievance
  • Holiday pay and entitlement
  • Transfer of undertakings (TUPE)

Employment Law also creates a positive impact for you and your teams – for example the introduction of ‘Shared parental leave has  maybe allowed your business to fully embrace flexible working and that that is a key attraction tool when recruiting potential new employees. Flexible working may be even higher on the agenda and list of Management discussion as a result of the coronavirus and the large scale overnight move from office to home working for a large majority of the nations workforce.

It is worth pointing out though that as result of the COVID19 pandemic that some of these laws have been changed albeit temporarily and a reasonable and fair approach has been advised in other areas.

For example, regards holiday and taking holiday, the government passed new emergency legislation to ensure that businesses had flexibility to respond to the virus and protect employees from losing their statutory holiday entitlement. This would be particularly pertinent for key workers, but also if you have employees on furlough who have been unable to take holiday and use holiday in the realms of what would be previously deemed as normal. During lockdown there were no opportunities to take a holiday in the ‘’normal way’’, therefore you may have a lot of team members with  more holiday at this time of year than what would be typically expected. The change was passed as ‘The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020’,

This change to regulations will enable employees to carry holiday forward where the impact of coronavirus means that it has not been ‘’reasonably practicable’’ to take it in the leave year to which it relates, allowing employees up to 4 weeks (not the full 28 days) of unused statutory leave to be carried over into the next 2 leave years ( and noting of course that different employers have different calendar years for holiday).

In addition, the normal obligation on an employer to ensure that your employees take their statutory entitlement in one year or be penalised financially has also been lifted for this purpose.

Another example is whether a disciplinary should be conducted during the pandemic.

It is important to consider the circumstance of each case on its own merit. It’s important to consider the individual circumstances and to ensure that sensitivity and tact is taken into account regards each case and how you feel it is best to proceed. For example, consider if it may be something urgent, such as a disciplinary allegation of gross misconduct or for a minor disciplinary issue such as repeated lateness it might be appropriate to consider if it can reasonably be dealt with at a later date, but noting to the employee that there is a concern however it will be ‘monitored for now’.

Going through a disciplinary or grievance procedure is likely to be a stressful situation in normal times. We have to also now take into consideration that an employee might be facing other upsetting and stressful circumstances during this time. It is recommended that Employers give careful consideration to the health and wellbeing of your employees when deciding whether and how to proceed.

If you have any uncertainty as to how to proceed with a disciplinary or any other area of employment law, we welcome a discussion as to how we can support you.

Of course, the laws surrounding employment change frequently and policies and procedures need to be reviewed and kept up to date. You will likely already have your terms ad conditions in place, your handbook and a host of applicable policies that ensure you and your business is compliant but should support be needed do not hesitate to contact us at HR Star to see how we may help you.

As HR Professionals we keep a regular eye on updates, and whilst they typically happen around April as we have seen from the pandemic they can be adapted and changed quickly.

We also know that the outcomes and impacts of Brexit will be on the horizon and it is expected that laws will change again. We left the EU on 31 January 2020 and are now (not withstanding the part that the COVID19 pandemic will play) in a transitional period that is due to end on 31 December 2020. For now, all pre-existing employment regulations will continue to apply.

At HR Star we are enthusiastic about supporting and guiding businesses to ensure an engaged workforce. If you have any questions or concerns re the implementation and adherence to employment law, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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