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  • Resignations
  • Redundancy Consultation
  • Suspension & Dismissals
  • Leavers Check List
  • Settlement Agreements 

Resignations, Suspension & Dismissals

Even the most stringent of recruitment processes and the best inductions processes cannot prevent some of your employees going ‘rogue’. This will have a massive impact of their colleagues, managers and the culture and values that you may have worked so hard to build. Some of these employees may resign, you may be able to nurture some however there will always be those where there is only one option left, dismissal.

You should have a written disciplinary and capability process. This process should be fair, transparent and applied consistently. If you have been unable to resolve any issues informally, you should then ensure that you follow your own internal policies. An employee has the right not to be unfairly dismissed. An employer may get in trouble with an Employment Tribunal for either not following a correct process or making an unreasonable decision to dismiss an employee. In such instances, Employers may get judgments made against them, the financial penalties of which may run into thousands of pounds. The average award for unfair dismissal last year (2019) was £10,812 which doesn’t take into account the hidden costs of defending the claim in terms of both money and time and of course all the stress that goes with it. 

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Just under 104,000 claims were accepted by the tribunal for the year ending March 2020, however we are starting to see a significant increase with an 18% rise on the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.  

All Employment Tribunal decisions are in the public domain and losing a tribunal can be a PR nightmare for businesses. 

We can ensure that you have the correct policies in place, ones that are legally compliant but that also suit the culture of your business. We can help you introduce these to your teams and into the workplace, we can help educate your managers on the processes and we can guide you through any situation you are currently facing to minimise the risk of challenge and litigation.

Some employers also take the view that if an employee has been with them for less than 2 years’, as they have no unfair dismissal rights then they are entitled to end their employment, without a process or giving reason. Our advice is that there are risks with any dismissals including those who have less than 2 years’ service. There is still legislation in place which may mean that as an employer, you may find yourself facing a costly and stressful legal challenge. We would urge any employer looking to terminate employment of any employee regardless of length of service to seek advice before proceeding.

Call us now to discuss any potential dismissals

What about long term health issues and sickness related absences?

As a business owner you will have undoubtedly come across short term and long-term employee absences. Some issues with health can have a detrimental effect on an employees’ ability to carry out their job.

This can have a knock-on effect on the functionality of a team; effectiveness, productivity, morale and stress which will make managing the business more difficult.

As an employer, you may be empathetic to the situation of the employee and at some stage either you or a member of your management team will have to have a conversation with them. This can sometimes be tricky and difficult and isn’t without risk of litigation should you get it wrong. You can manage sickness absence and long-term sick and dismissal is possible because of it but, there are a number of processes you should follow before taking this action.

We can help ensure you have the correct poilcies in place, we can guide you through the process, we can even coach you on the conversation or, be there and support with that conversation.  We can assist with obtaining GP reports, engaging occupational health or vocational rehabilitation report and discuss the options and implementation of proposals following such reports.

If you have any questions on how we can help guide you through this complex area simply call or email us and we’ll discuss next steps.

References

It is always useful to request references upon commencement of employment and many offers of employment will be subject to references. We can assist in requesting references from a newly recruited employees previous employer/s or character reference where there are no previous employers.

As an employer, you may therefore be requested to provide references for ex-employees. You should approach any reference requests with caution, avoiding opinion and ensuring compliance with GDPR. We can guide you through the process, help set up templates or reply to reference requests on your behalf.

 Settlement Agreements

Some key points about Settlement Agreements;

  • Settlement Agreements are used to end an employment relationship and can be proposed by either an employer or an employee, although normally it will be the employer.
  • Settlement Agreements are legally binding contracts that waive an individual’s rights to make a claim covered by the agreement to an employment tribunal or court.
  • The agreement must be in writing.
  • They usually include some form of payment to the employee and may often include a reference.
  • They are voluntary.
  • They can be offered at any stage of an employment relationship.

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There are lots of other scenarios in which Settlement Agreements are genuinely useful however, as an employer, it is important that you don’t start to see them as a short cut and easier way to exit an employee from a business. Not all employees are interested in entering into the agreement. There is a time and place for them, don’t let it become part of your culture.

Some examples of when Settlement agreements can be useful:

  • Exiting a senior employee – a redundancy process or disciplinary can be more tricky to navigate with a senior employee. It can be more amicable for both parties to agree to enter into a Settlement Agreement.
  • Dealing with on-going poor performance or employees who are poor fit with your company – there are times when an employee may not do enough to justify disciplinary action but they may take up too much management time, may be scraping by in terms of results and may also be disruptive. In these circumstances, paying to make the problem go away via a Settlement Agreement may make financial sense.
  • You’ve just got it wrong – rarely intentionally but just sometimes as an employer you may get it wrong. These things happen. As an employer, you can either wait to see if the employee brings a claim (they may have intimated as much) or, you can try to reach a Settlement Agreement with the employee in recognition of your error.
  • Enhanced redundancy pay – if you want to offer an individual an enhanced redundancy payment (more than their contractual entitlement) then using a Settlement Agreement can be a good option.

There are strict legal requirements regarding the form that the Settlement Agreement takes and, you need to follow the correct process before you even have the conversation with the employee. As an employer it is also imperative that your timing is right and, you are on the front foot.

A Settlement Agreement has a number of requirements that need to be met for it to be a legally binding document.  You should always seek expertise HR / Employment Law advice to guide you through the entire process from pre-negotiations through to the signed Agreement.  Absolute Works have a team of experts well versed in this area, don’t hesitate to call for support.

Redundancy Consultation

Some businesses, from time to time, need to make the difficult decision to reduce costs to ensure  the longevity of the business. There are many ways to do this but sometimes redundancies are unavoidable.

Employers need to know that whilst making someone redundant is a fair reason for dismissal, it is extremely important to get the process right. Failure to do so could see them in trouble in the Employment Tribunal. The employee may be successful in their claim and be awarded significant compensation. An employee/ ex-employee does not need to pay to issue a claim in the Tribunal and with many facing the prospect of not being able to secure another job, they simply have nothing to lose by submitting a claim. This can however be a massive expense to the business in terms of defending the claim and seeking legal representation but also it can cause a huge amount of stress and time for the business owners and management team involved; all of the hidden costs!

Redundancy can be difficult, challenging and distressing for all involved and ensuring it is done correctly is vital. For employers it is often a fine balance in making sure that those selected for redundancy are treated fairly, while the productivity and moral of the retained staff remains high.

Redundancy legislation is far from straightforward, and an employer needs to know what their obligations are, including employees’ rights and the correct procedures to follow. We cannot stress enough how important it is to seek advice before you start any process. Investment at the outset can save you a headache (and money) in the long run.

A fair redundancy process involves four things. These can be summarised as follows:

  • Consultation
  • Reasonable selection pools
  • Reasonable selection criteria and scoring
  • Consideration of alternative employment

To avoid any claims of discrimination, an employer should make sure all staff are included in the redundancy process, especially those on long-term sickness absence or maternity leave. These groups of employees also have additional protection. There is also additional legislation that needs to be considered where an employer is looking to make in excess of 20 employees redundant as this falls into a category known as ‘collective consultation’.

We can provide advice throughout every step of the way if you are considering making redundancies. For further advice on this or any other employment matter please contact Absolute Works on 01926 355560

Leavers Check List

A leavers’ Checklist is to remind you of the processes to be completed when an employee decides to leave or is dismissed from, this ensures any handovers are as smooth as possible. A simple list will ensure you have covered off all important tasks each time.

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The contents and format of the list will depend on the type of business you are and also the position that the employee held. There will always however be standard tasks such as confirming the unused holiday accrual position and informing payroll and the leaver information and timescales involved. 

Although recruiting new employees can bring fresh ideas and new energy to your business, recruitment may not only be expensive but also time consuming. Keeping hold of those key employees (especially once you have spent time and resource on training and development) can lie at the heart of the success of any business. You may therefore also want to consider asking outgoing employees who have resigned to take part in an exit interview as this will help understand why employees are leaving. Collating leaver feedback and may help you identify underlying issues with a number of things including: the reward package, engagement, management style of an individual or the culture within a particular team or even company-wide.

Not only can we help you draft the exit interview form, we can hold the actual interview or distribute on your behalf.  Some individuals may feel more comfortable with giving honest feedback to an independent third party.

Onboarding & Inductions

Getting your onboarding process right is essential for making sure that your new recruits are welcomed into your business, feel supported during their first few weeks and become productive members of your team quickly.

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Inductions play a key part in that onboarding process. Inductions are an opportunity for businesses to welcome their new recruit, help them settle in and ensure they have the knowledge and support they need to perform their role. Inductions may well involve an office manager or line manager, a colleague or all three, even other employees. 

  • Do your new recruits know what their responsibilities are?
  • Do they know what a typical day will look like?
  • Do they know what to do if the fire bell rings or who to report absence to?

An effective induction is sure to have a positive impact on engagement, motivation and performance as well as reduce absenteeism and presenteeism. Good onboarding contributes to improved staff retention which reinforces the importance of getting this right.

Remember, it doesn’t stop there…..probation reviews followed by regular performance reviews are also key to and engaged, motivated and committed workforce.

No two businesses are the same which is why our team of HR experts can guide you through and assist in developing an onboarding process that fits in with the values and culture of your business. 

employment law + hr

Our qualified and experienced team of Employment Law and HR experts have been helping SMEs for over three decades, providing exceptional customer service and commercial advice that you can rely on. 

apprenticeships

We deliver apprenticeships across non levy and levy paying businesses throughout the UK. We can help you with funding and finding or identifying the right apprentice for you.  

PAYROLL

We offer a fully managed payroll service which allows our experts to organise and manage your payroll for you.

hEALTH & SAFETY

Our IOSH (or equivalent) trained experts will work with you, freeing up your workforce and relieving the pressures of complying with demanding health and safety regulations.

HR SOFTWARE

Developed by our internal team of HR experts with HR administration in mind, our portal safely stores employee data and eases the administrative burden of all that paperwork!

TRAINING & E-LEARNING

Absolute Works offer in person training and E-Learning packages for all levels of your workforce from the ‘shop floor’ to the board room.

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