employment law

 

Employment law regulates the relationship between employers and employees. It governs what employers can expect from employees, what employers can ask employees to do and employees rights at work. Square Peg HR are here to provide your organisation with the support and advice you need to navigate through the sometimes choppy waters of being an employer!

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90:90 Fixed fee service


Contracts of employment

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The law says that every employer must provide a written statement of the main terms and conditions of employment to every employee. For most employers this document represents their contract with their employee. When everything is going well, typically no one looks at or refers to their contract.  However, when there is a problem then having the right contract in place with sufficient details is important. Better still, it could help to avoid the issue in the first place. Square Peg can prepare your contracts ensuring that they are sufficient detailed and legally compliant.


AMENDING TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT

A contract of employment is like any other contract in that if you want to change what’s in it, you need both parties to agree. When employers want to make changes they need to be mindful of how they go about it. For example, they are required to consult with the employee and are usually required to have a good business reason for making the change. However, if the employee doesn’t agree, there are still ways that the changes can be made without breaching the contract.


EMPLOYMENT POLICIES AND HANDBOOKS

It is important to ensure that you have appropriate employment policies in place that reflects what happens in your business, gives you the protection and flexibility you need, as well as being compliant with the law. 

The polices should explain how the organisation will deal with issues when they arise and show that the organisation operates in a fair and consistent way towards their employees. 

Square Peg HR recommend that you have the following essential policies in place:

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  • Recruitment and Selection process

  • Equal Opportunity

  • Dignity at work (including Harassment and bullying)

  • Health & Safety (where five or more staff are employed)

  • Discipline and Grievance

  • Absence Policy

  • Holidays/Annual leave policy

  • Family policies including parental rights such as maternity, paternity, adoption, parental (including shared parental) and dependents leave

  • Flexible Working

  • Whistleblowing

  • Data Protection

Square Peg HR will ensure that each policy is drafted to suit to your particular business needs in straightforward language that can be understood by everyone. 

Having the right polices in place and ensuring that all employees have access to them is essential if the organisation finds itself in a position where it needs to rely on one of its policies. 


ABSENCE MANAGEMENT

All employers will have staff that are absent from time to time – either short or long term and for a variety of reasons. Employers are required to deal with absences fairly so having a policy in place that sets out the employers’ expectations and ensuring that it is available to all employees is crucial. 

Normally a policy would include sections dealing with short term and long term absence, what is expected from the employee and what support is available from the employer. It would deal with how to monitor absences and ‘back to work’ interviews.  It may also set out any policy on Occupational Health – helpful in long term absence scenarios.  

Square Peg HR will help you to have a clear policy in place to deal with absence for whatever reason.


DISCIPLINARY AND GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

All employers must have in place Discipline and Grievance Procedures which should meet the current ACAS Code of Practice. All employees should be made aware of these policies and procedures and have access to them. 

Square Peg will help you to draft policies and procedures that are both compliant, meet the needs of your business and also meet the required standards set out by ACAS. 

No one likes dealing with disciplinary matters and likely it isn’t something you’ll be doing every day, so to have a legally qualified HR practitioner to discuss the matter with - and agree the best way forward - will help to smooth the path to a satisfactory outcome. 

Square Peg will be with you throughout to advise and support and if necessary and, where the matter is particularly complex or sensitive, will support you in person at your premises. We will take you from the investigatory stage through to the final outcome. We will provide you with any papers or correspondence you need on the way.


INTERNAL INVESTIGATION

When you are faced with carrying out an internal investigation you may want to consider appointing an independent investigator – for example, to avoid compromising your relationships with your existing employees or it may be that you simply don’t have the on-site resources.   Square Peg Development has considerable experience in carrying out a wide variety of employment related investigations in relation to potential disciplinary and grievance matters.  They possess the skills to carry out a comprehensive investigation sensitively and with a thorough understanding of the law. 


DISMISSAL

Should a disciplinary matter result in a dismissal, Square Peg will be with you to ensure that your processes and procedures are compliant, as well as ensuring that the decision to dismiss is reasonable in all the circumstances. We will also ensure that you follow due process including any appeals, all in accordance with the ACAS Code of Practice.

 


MATERNITY, PATERNITY AND FLEXIBLE WORKING

Employers likely know that most employees have the right to up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave. However, the laws and regulations governing maternity, adoption, paternity and parental leave are long and complex. 

There is now the additional right to shared parental leave introduced for parents whose baby is born on or after 5th April 2015; shared parental leave does not have to be taken in one block so an employee could request to take their leave in separate periods up to 52 weeks after the baby is born making it harder for employers to manage and monitor what time off employees are entitled to and what they should be paid. 

All employees who have 26 weeks’ continuous service with you now have the right to request flexible working. 

Employers must follow a statutory process in dealing with the requests and all requests must be treated ‘reasonably’.  An employer can refuse a request if they have a good business reason for doing so.

Square Peg can help you by providing advice and support for any issues arising around maternity/paternity and flexible working. By having the right policies in place together with the appropriate and compliant documentation, we will help you negotiate your way through the maze of maternity/paternity and flexible working regulations.


 Unlawful Discrimination

Put simply, discrimination is about the right to be treated fairly in all employment related decisions.Whilst most employers will do all they can to ensure that a culture exists within their organisation that promotes equality and fairness, discrimination continues to exist in various forms.

The laws around discrimination were combined in the Equality Act 2010. This is a complex and lengthy piece of legislation and covers all areas of discrimination from pre-employment (for example advertising, selection procedures and interviews) to post employment (for example the provision of references to former employees). 

Square Peg will support you in dealing with any claims of discrimination within your organisation. Our lawyers will guide you through the correct processes and if necessary represent you at the Employment Tribunal, if matters get that far.


REDUNDANCY

It is never easy having to consider making an employee or employees redundant. The law requires that employers follow a fair procedure and that the need for the redundancy is genuine and not covering up another reason for dismissal. 

For there to be a redundancy, one of three circumstances must be present:

·       You must have ceased or intend to cease carrying on the business for which the employee was employed

·       You must have ceased or intend to cease carrying on business in the place where the employee was employed

·       The requirement for employees to carry out work of a particular kind at a particular place must have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish

You need to carry out meaningful consultation with those whose jobs are at risk, and you must ensure that any selection process is fair and does not discriminate against any at risk employee.

 


TUPE

TUPE stands for the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations. Despite the fact that is has been around for a very long time (since 1981) it is still much misunderstood and feared by most employers.  Its purpose is to protect the rights of workers when their organisation is bought over or transfers to a new employer. The law requires both the old and new employer to follow specific procedures.

Square Peg will guide you through the processes required to meet your legal obligations, whether it is a full sale and purchase or the outsourcing of a service.


 SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS

Settlement Agreements (formerly known as Compromise Agreements) arise where the employment relationship has come to an end, and the employer wants to ensure that the employee will not bring any claim to the Employment Tribunal.

Square Peg will ensure that the terms of the Settlement Agreement are the best you can achieve and that the Agreement is fully compliant with current law. We will draft an Agreement with you appropriate to the circumstances. 

Please note: this service may incur an extra cost.


TRIBUNAL REPRESENTATION

Many of our competitors will tell you that the number of employees and former employees going to tribunal continues to increase. However, with the introduction of fees for Claimants the number of applications is in fact decreasing – in some cases quite dramatically.  

Overall, there are areas where there are an increasing number of claims for example cases involving TUPE and complex discrimination. However, the number of unfair dismissal claims have reduced.

COSTS

To give you an idea of our fixed fee: a 2 day hearing with a maximum of 3 witness to defend a claim of Unfair Dismissal would normally cost no more than £3,000 plus vat and expenses.

This is based on a daily rate of £750 and is made up of 2 days attending the hearing and up to 2 days of preparation.

The preparation normally includes meeting you and any witnesses, taking statements, drafting the ET3 (the employers response to the Claim), dealing with ACAS and early conciliation and any Preliminary Hearings prior to the full Tribunal Hearing. 


INSURANCE

EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE LIABILITY INSURANCE (EPLI) SOLUTION THAT HELPS DELIVER PEACE OF MIND

As a client of a United Employment Lawyer (UEL) business, you have exclusive access to an EPLI solution. UEL has collaborated with Marsh, a global leader in insurance broking and risk management, to develop an employment practice liability insurance solution that is exclusively available for UEL clients. The cover is underwritten by RSA, one of the worlds' leading insurance groups providing products and services in 140 countries.

For more information please contact us at info@squarepeghr.co.uk

Terms and Conditions - As with all insurance polices, terms and conditions will apply. Central Insurance Services Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh Limited, is registered in Scotland (No 100053) at Crown House, Prospect Road, Arnhall Business Park, Westhill, Aberdeen AB32 6FE.  Central Insurance Services Limited is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Firm Reference No 308762).

 Marsh Limited is registered in England and Wales Number: 1507274.  Registered office: 1 Tower Place West, Tower Place, London EC3R 5BU and is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Firm Reference No 307511).

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