robbryanassociates

The Christmas Party

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2019 at 12:04 pm

It’s the season to be merry and jolly and that means a word of warning from your HR advisors about the company Christmas party.

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It’s advisable to issue a statement to employees in advance of a Christmas party or similar work-related event reminding employees of conduct matters, including the dangers of excess alcohol consumption, and behaviours that could be viewed as harassment. It would be wise to remind your employees that whilst the event is intended to be fun, it is an extension of the workplace and similar rules will apply.

The Equality Act 2010 makes employers liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by their employees in the course of employment, unless they can show that they took reasonable steps to prevent such acts.

In October 2018, a recruitment company was held vicariously liable for the actions of its boss when he punched a colleague on a Christmas night out. In Bellman v Northampton Recruitment, a “significantly inebriated” managing director caused a sales manager brain damage at a post-party drinks gathering. The ruling is of interest because technically the incident did not occur at the company event. However, because of the seniority of the staff member, the fact he was asserting his authority, and that the company had paid for alcohol and the taxis to the after-party, there was a strong enough link for vicarious liability.

Our advice is to plan your party carefully and remind all those attending of expected standards of behaviour. Employees can be disciplined for misconduct after a Christmas party if the incident is sufficiently closely connected to work to have had an impact on the working situation.

In Gimson v Display By Design Ltd, the employer was found to have fairly dismissed an employee for a brawl after the end of a Christmas party. However, you need to be careful where more than one employee is involved in the same incident. Where the circumstances are truly parallel, employees must generally be treated the same. Establishing “who is to blame”, however, can be difficult where memories are blurred by alcohol and the evidence is unclear. In Westlake v ZSL London Zoo, two zoo keepers got into a fight at London Zoo’s Christmas party as a result of which Ms Westlake was dismissed and the other zoo keeper, Ms Sanders, was issued with a final written warning. Given the lack of clear evidence as to who started the fight, the employment tribunal found Ms Westlake’s dismissal to be unfair. The tribunal observed that the employer could have legitimately dismissed them both or issued both with final written warnings.

Another issue that often crops up is what if an employee fails to come to work or arrives late the day after the Christmas party? If disciplinary action is to be taken for lateness or non-attendance after the Christmas party, employers should ensure that staff are informed that this is a possibility in the advance statement or company work events policy. Where an employee does not attend due to illness, the employer should follow its attendance management policy and procedures.

If you would like advice on your employee policies please get in touch www.robbryanassociates.org.uk/  01462 732444

Carers Rights Day – how can you support your employees who have caring responsibilities?

In contracts, Employment law, Equality on November 21, 2019 at 10:15 am

Thursday 21st November marks ‘Carers Rights Day’ – an opportunity to recognise all that carers do, as well as for employers to find out more about how to support carers in the workplace.

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Research by Carers UK and Age UK shows the importance of employers engaging with employees who are carers. One report found that 10 hours of caring per week can make it a significant challenge to stay in work. Research also tells us that:

  • 600 people a day leave the workforce to provide care for a loved one, whether that’s a spouse, parent, child or other dependant.
  • 5 million people juggle caring responsibilities with paid work.
  • 64% of those caring for parents are in the workforce. And the numbers are increasing as the UK population ages.

Those in their late thirties to fifties, known as the ‘sandwich generation’ may be balancing caring for elderly parents whilst also bringing up children and working. They are also likely to represent a higher proportion of those at the peak of their profession – talent that businesses want to retain.

According Carers UK, leading companies, such as Centrica, have demonstrated strong business benefits to supporting carers and have suggested that, cumulatively, UK companies could save up to £4.8 billion a year in unplanned absences and a further £3.4 billion in improved employee retention by adopting flexible working policies to support those with caring responsibilities.

How carer-friendly is your business? Do you have policies in place to support those who wish to more flexibly?

For short term temporary arrangements an employee may seek time off for dependants. A dependant of an employee is defined in the legislation as one of the following:

  • husband or wife or partner, child, parent, someone else who is regarded as part of the family and lives with an employee (but not tenants, boarders, lodgers or employees)
  • anyone else who is reliant on an employee in emergency situations.

The length of this leave is meant to be short and no longer than two days in most situations. It can be longer in some circumstances. An employer is not permitted to require an employee who has requested or taken time off for dependants to rearrange their working hours or make up the time that has been lost. What is reasonable time of will depend on the specific circumstances. An employment tribunal case considered an employee who had taken a total of seven days spanning six instances of absence within a 12-month period was reasonable.

Trial periods, temporary changes or even career breaks / sabbaticals in support of a retaining a skilled and knowledgeable worker who would otherwise be lost to the business could be a possibility. However, employers should seek advice from a consultant if you intend to amend terms or have a break in the relationship as continuity of employment needs to be specifically addressed as well as arrangements to return back to previous terms and conditions if that is the intention.

For permanent changes to the working relationship an employee can make a request for flexible working.

In June 2014 changes to the flexible working arrangements broaden to all employees. Previously eligibility was restricted for caring for a child or an adult in need of care. The first arrangements for flexible working in 2002 were restricted only to children under 6 years of disabled children up to 18 years of age. There was no provision for adult care. Employees, part time or full time, with 26 weeks of service, have the right to request a flexible working arrangement.

The flexibility is commonly around times of work, or days of work; however, this can also include the type or pattern of work, or even the place or work. The employer has a duty to consider the request in a reasonable manner and respond in writing as soon as practically possible no later than three months after a formal request. An employee making a request has protection from any dismissal or detriment due to their request being made.

If you would like help reviewing your employment policies, please get in touch – 01462 732444  www.robbryanassociates.org.uk 

For further reference: https://www.employersforcarers.org/resources/research/item/1460-juggling-work-and-unpaid-care-a-growing-issue

Spoilsports?

In Uncategorized on July 4, 2019 at 11:20 am

It’s the summer which means it’s a peak time for sports tournaments – whether it’s the football world cup, Wimbledon, the Olympics or many other major events; your employees may be keen to keep up with the action.

But how can employers maintain productivity without being kill-joys? Can you boost morale by allowing staff to participate?

A Flexible Approach

  • One way to facilitate employees following major tournaments is to allow games/events to be screened or listened to in the work place if your type of business allows. Remember not all employees will be fans so consider a sport free zone as well.
  • Allow employees to start or finish earlier or work later to fit in around key events.
  • Consider your internet/social media/mobile phone policy – can this be relaxed to allow employees to follow the action?

Annual Leave Requests

  • More organised fans may have already requested time off but in the case of knock out competitions as teams progress to the next round you may get a flurry of leave requests. Follow your usual policy and be fair and consistent in how requests are granted.

Absence

  • An employee calls in sick or fails to arrive on the day of the big game? Follow your usual procedures.

Hungover Staff

  • Sport and a few drinks often go hand in hand. But what if your employees are turning up for work in an unfit state? Again, your usual policy should be followed. You should also have a policy in place regarding drinking during working hours.

And as we head to the finish line…

  • Don’t forget it’s not all about UK sports. You may have staff supporting a number of different countries so make sure any flexible arrangements include them as well.
  • Some people hate sport! Avoid them becoming resentful by being open in your communications and not allowing them to have an increased work load due to others taking advantage of a flexible working approach.

If you need advice on developing or implementing your workplace policies RBA would be pleased to hear from you.

Rob Bryan Associates Limited Main Office: 01462 732444 www.robbryanassociates.org.uk