CASE STUDY 1
No, we haven’t got a contract of employment in place…
Employer: “None of our employees have been issued with any documentation which set out the terms of their employment with the business. What do I do?”
When clients come to us for advice on any given matter, one of the very first things we ask to see is the written documentation which sets out their terms and conditions of employment. An employer is required to provide its employees with a written statement of terms and conditions of employment (often referred to as a "contract of employment") within two months of their employment commencing.
A clear, concise and properly drafted written statement of terms and conditions of employment can assist an employer in a number of ways. It can prevent a number of disputes arising on issues such as pay, bonuses, hours of work etc. Alternatively, if a dispute has already arisen, it is the first document when is referred to when assessing the merits of the defence to an Employment Tribunal claim.
Further, the failure to have written statements of terms and conditions, could increase any tribunal award by two to four weeks’ pay.
We ensured that we set the client up with a bespoke employment contract which satisfied section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 together with a staff handbook.
CASE STUDY 2
An employee has put a nasty comment about the company on social media can I dismiss him?
Employer: “Can we dismiss them with immediate effect?”
When we received instructions we checked whether our client had a staff handbook and if so whether that contained a social media and disciplinary policy. In particular we tried to ascertain whether they could start formal disciplinary proceedings as a result of the comments made.
In this situation the staff handbook did not contain a social media policy therefore the options available to them were limited. When considering the case in question, we had to determine the scale of the harm to our client’s business. The comment was harmful but given there was no social media policy, only disciplinary action could be taken.
To avoid a repeat of the situation in the future, we drafted a well-defined and comprehensive social media policy for the company to implement into their staff handbook and made amendments to their disciplinary policy.
As myHR clients they now have the advantage of receiving bespoke documents and policies that are tailored towards their organisation and written around their individual business requirements.
CASE STUDY 3
I have a staff member who is working at snail’s pace!
Employer: “I am wondering if you could give me a little bit of guidance please? I have a staff member who is failing to meet his targets. I have previously warned him verbally about this. Do I need to have a meeting with him to discuss it or can I just speak to him and issue a final warning?”
The first thing we checked with our client was the length of the service of the employee in question. The service requirement for an unfair dismissal claim is two years.
In this scenario the employee didn’t have two years’ service, however the business wished to retain him and allow him to improve his performance. Therefore we guided our client through the performance management process.
This client then came on board as a myHR Plus client who now has the benefit of having their own nominated advisor/advocate on hand 24/7.
CASE STUDY 4
I have just taken over a business; and I need to restructure, can I do this?
Employer: “Can I reorganise the business so that it is financially viable?”
Whether a business restructures as a result of TUPE, loss of business, closure of sites or redundancy, there are strict procedures which must be followed to ensure the fairness of any dismissal.
Our client is this case was a GP practice who was having to make redundancies due to a site closure and having to restructure the remaining site to ensure that it was financially viable. We advised them:
CASE STUDY 5
How do I avoid unfair dismissal claims being made against us?
Employer: “I want to dismiss a member of staff for gross misconduct, but want to avoid an unfair dismissal claim. ”
Given misconduct is a fair reason to dismiss the employee, therefore we guided our client through the ACAS Code of Practice when they undertook the disciplinary proceedings.
This involved ensuring:
Unfortunately following the legal procedure does not mean that a disgruntled former-employee won’t pursue proceedings though the tribunal and in this case they did. Fortunately for our client they were insurance backed and, given they followed our advice, we informed the underwriters that they were indemnified so their legal costs to defend the claim were covered.
The claim was successfully defended at a final hearing.
CASE STUDY 6
An ET1 Claim Form has landed on my desk. Help!
Employer: “I walked into the office this morning to find that an Employment Tribunal claim has been made by one of my ex-employees. What do I do?”
If this happens to you, do not panic. Contact us for advice. Employers who are signed up to the myHR service are insured against such claims (provided they have followed our advice). This means that the cost of defending the claim itself as well as any compensation paid out in settlement of a claim will be covered under the terms of an insurance policy.
However, if you are not yet a SCE Solicitors client, contact us anyway and we will soon assess the case and advise you on the merits of the claim. We will help you prepare and submit a defence to the claim we will also discuss with you, tactics and the options available to you for dealing with the claim.
The way an Employment Tribunal claim is conducted is up to the client. Some clients want us to take a very ‘hands-on’ approach to claims whilst others simply want to take our advice and instruct us to draft an initial response to the claim.
Whatever way you wish to work, SCE Solicitors is on the end of the phone offering clear, concise advice tailored to achieving your objectives.
CASE STUDY 7
An employee has lodged a grievance against her line manager alleging she is being bullied; what do we do?
Employer: “We don’t think the manager would bully anyone. How do we handle this?”
When we received instructions we checked whether our client had a staff handbook and if so whether that contained a grievance policy and an anti-harassment and bullying policy, which it did. In particular, we explained the nature of grievances and said that a manager in the business who was impartial needed to thoroughly investigate the complaints raised.
We guided the client though the entire grievance process and, having reviewed the evidence gathered, agreed with their assessment that whilst the complaint was well founded, it was borne out of the line manager performance managing the employee for a genuine reason, which she was unhappy about.
As the grievance was upheld, we informed the client action needed to be taken to address the problem and avoid this happening in the future. The line manager was taken through a disciplinary procedure and, as a result, was issued with a written warning and moved to a different department. Our client also requested we train all managers within the business on bullying and harassment and how to handle grievances.
As a myHR client, they now have the advantage of our support via a telephone and email helpline. They know they can contact us with an issues relating to their employees and we will provide practical guidance.