Experience has taught us that the worst position for an employer to be in is to be unprepared. If your employment law strategy and desired outcome is defined in advance you will achieve better results.
We are always happy to discuss your concerns and provide estimates for work. So please do call us.
Solicitors for employers
We are a boutique law firm with 20 years operating experience. Employment law is core business for us. In real life this means:
- We are up to-date with employment law and HR practices and know what we are doing.
- We can draft employment contracts, negotiate and settle disputes. Our experience includes the broader issues associated with a workforce such as Shares for employees.
- Our employment lawyers are expert and experienced in key issues such as protecting employer confidential information.
- We cover all the areas you will need. If the matter turns into litigation we have the expertise to field that. If the problem surrounds a director or shareholder we can deal with that.
- Experience builds a commercial awareness and knowledge in how to apply our skills successfully to get the job done.
Employment law for employers
Based on the most common problems we find employers face and come to us for help with we have prepared a short overview covering:
- Conducting a disciplinary hearing
- Dealing with departing employees
- Running employment litigation
- Dealing with employee absences and illnesses
Conducting a disciplinary hearing
Disciplinary procedures are disruptive, time consuming and drain valuable resources. What’s more, Employment Tribunals can increase compensation by up to 25% for an employer’s unreasonable failure to follow the ACAS code.
In many cases the employer will need to undertake or at least commence a disciplinary as a part of the dismissal process to reduce risk and cost.
What typically goes wrong for an employer at a disciplinary hearing
To help employers we explain below the areas where we see they slip up.
Lack of awareness of the disciplinary procedure
Employers do need to educate their work force and let all staff know where they can find the disciplinary procedure.
Bad handling of a disciplinary process
Thoroughly, fairly and swiftly investigate. Employers cannot make a disciplinary decision without first investigating. Even if the employee has attended an investigatory interview, always hold a disciplinary hearing once all the evidence is available, and allow the employee to put their side of the story (including calling witnesses unless this is unreasonable), before making any decision.
The decision to suspend and for how long is a judgement call which we assist employers with. What is right depends upon the case. Even if the employment contract is silent, employers can still suspend.
However, employers can only suspend for as long as is absolutely necessary to conduct the review. The requirement of reasonableness forms part of any employment relationship.
Failing to demonstrate fairness
Employers are expected to be fair and balanced. The ACAS Code leaves many questions unanswered. Often judgement is required and employers owe employees a duty of good faith.
We work with employers to not only guide them on fairness in a particular case, but also to ensure they can demonstrate fairness if challenged. Many unfair dismissal claims arise because the employee feels he was not dealt with fairly.
We work with employers who are concerned that a disgruntled employee who is leaving may create legal issues or make claims.
- If there is a risk of an employment law claim from the employee we can draft a settlement agreement.
- If the employer is worried that the ex-employee may be setting up in competition we can review the safeguards in place and suggest solutions if the existing safeguards are not adequate.
- We can support on announcements and references and timing.
Employee sickness and absence
Management of sick employees remains one of the more difficult aspects of employment law for employers. It is an area where employers can trip up if not well advised. You need to follow a plan which we can help you with.
Short term and/or repeated absences from work
We are regularly asked whether persistent short term absences can legitimately result in dismissal. The answer is yes, if management staff follow the correct procedure. You will need to consider:
- Reviewing employment contracts, policies & procedures including disciplinary, ensuring that you are complying with them.
- Seeking the employee’s co-operation for access to his or her medical records, in a repeated absence situation. Alternatively, liaising with his or her GP. You may also try to obtain the employee’s co-operation for an Occupational Health assessment by a consultant which you retain.
- Reviewing the nature, length and effect of the absences, and the employee’s past performance.
- Considering whether dismissal is justified as being fair and reasonable in all the circumstances? Dismissal should be the last resort and not the first option.
- Determining whether the employee qualifies to claim unfair dismissal in terms of length of continuous service.
If the employer can establish that absences are being claimed due to sickness but in reality the employee is not ill, there may be grounds for a dismissal based on gross misconduct.
Long term absence
Greater care is required with long term sickness. There are additional management procedures to deal with:
Determining if an employee is disabled for employment law purposes
An individual who has been absent from work by reason of illness may be protected by disability discrimination law.
The role of an employer in working out if an employee is disabled for employment law purposes requires special consideration and protection. This is to avoid disability discrimination claims, especially in light of all the expense and management time a disability discrimination act claim brings.
Disability discrimination law
A person is disabled for discrimination law purposes if they have a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
In some cases it may be obvious whether the employee is disabled. In other cases it may be necessary or prudent to obtain a medical report in order to make this assessment. The employer may have to consider the extent of any reasonable adjustments required.
Get in touch to discuss how we can help and why we are the best, most cost effective employer lawyers to assist you.