Business Update

Fed up with GDPR?

It’s more likely you’re breaking employment laws says Barrett and Co Partner Solicitor Justin Sadler.

With all the emails going out about GDPR anyone would think that the sky is going to fall in if you don’t have a data policy in place and you haven’t resubscribed all of your clients to a “new” marketing database. But the reality is that most businesses don’t keep up to date with every day legal changes – and that these are more likely to lead to trouble than the recent GDPR challenges.

“Recent changes to dismissal claims, flexible working, sick pay, holiday pay and other things can catch firms out, even those with full-time HR employees,” says  Justin.

“There are many common mistakes we find when dealing with employment issues. It really is a full time job keeping up and specialist advice can make sure you don’t get caught out, which can lead to costly and messy outcomes.”

Here are the top 10 common mistakes…

  1. Not having a written contract

Some businesses piece together terms of employment from verbal exchanges, emails, and general day to day activity. This makes it tough when problems arise, but it is also a breach of employment law. Written contracts of employment must legally be provided within two months of the start date. Working times, holidays, sick pay entitlements and notice requirements have to be set out in clear terms, so that both parties know where they stand.

  1. Not dealing properly with redundancies

There is a strict legal process for dealing with redundancies. The process depends on the number of staff involved. If less than 20 redundancies are to take place, you must: consult each individual staff member, brief anyone that is impacted by the proposed changes (not just those that at risk), be fair when selecting your redundancies, give the correct notice/pay (taking heed of any contractual rights), handle appeals, etc.

  1. Not dealing properly with grievances

Grievances can start as small problems, but can soon become time-consuming and potentially expensive battles. The law requires the employer to set out a grievance procedures and communicate it in writing to all employees. It must specify who the employee should talk to about a grievance and how they should communicate with them. It must set the time limit for each step of the process, and highlight each step in detail.

  1. Not keeping up to date with employment law

Employment law changes so often enough that it’s a full time job keeping up with it all. Business owners and managers can easily miss all the changes that take place.

Laws that have changed recently include unfair dismissal claims, flexible working, sick pay, tribunals, holiday pay and  surrogate parents’ rights. Fortunately, a well-informed and professional solicitor can help you avoid expensive mistakes by informing you of what changes are coming up and how it might affect your business.

  1. Not providing rest breaks

Do you know about the three types of rest breaks which employees are entitled to? Perhaps you’re aware that workers must have at least an unpaid rest break of 20 minutes within each 6-hour period of work. However, workers also have the right to11 hours of rest between working days or shifts and 24 uninterrupted hours each week. It is all too easy for business owners to break the law unless you know all this.

  1. Not giving proper and due notice

Dismissing an employee without giving proper notice is classified as wrongful dismissal. There are minimum periods of notice the law requires, and your employment contracts must tell your staff everything they need to know about these notice periods – for example, how much notice they must give and how much they will receive. If your employee has been working for more than one month but for less than 2 years, you have to give at least 1 week’s notice. For 2 years and more, it’s 1 week for each year worked – up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

The law takes precedent over whatever your contract says – even when you have a contract that says an employee has four weeks’ notice, when they have been working five years or more, you must give them one week’s notice for every year they have worked for you. If your contract is more generous than the statutory minimum, you must honour that.

  1. Not investigating a disciplinary matters properly

Disciplinary matters which are not investigated fully and fairly, and dealt with promptly and properly, can open you up to claims of unfair dismissal. Your disciplinary rules and procedures must be in writing and given to all staff, with full details of acceptable and not acceptable conduct. When problems do occur, your investigation must establish the facts fairly and thoroughly. In misconduct cases, you must believe the employee guilty of misconduct and have reasonable grounds for dismissal if it becomes necessary.

If you want to know more Justin is offering all readers of Reading Business Forum a special discounted £95 consultation so that you can see where you may have problems in your firm. Just email Justin.Sadler@BarrettandCo.co.uk and mention Reading Business Forum Employment Law.

Alternatively call 0118 958 9711