July 2023 Newsletter

July 10, 2023

How to avoid an

unfair dismissal claim

Preventing unfair dismissal claims requires employers to adhere to legal requirements and adopt fair and transparent practices when terminating an employee.

unfair dismissal claimHere are 10 steps you can take to minimise the risk of unfair dismissal claims:

1. When dismissing an employee, always ensure you comply with all relevant legal requirements, including notice periods, termination reasons, and procedural fairness.

2. Have well-drafted employment contracts that clearly outline the terms and conditions of employment, including termination provisions. Implement comprehensive policies and procedures that address performance issues, disciplinary actions, and termination processes.

3. Set clear performance expectations for employees and provide regular feedback. Conduct performance reviews or appraisals to identify any concerns early on and offer opportunities for improvement.

4. Keep thorough records of any performance-related concerns, including written warnings, performance improvement plans, and instances of poor performance. Maintain detailed records of discussions and meetings related to performance issues.

5Follow fair disciplinary procedures: If an employee’s conduct or performance falls below expectations, follow fair and consistent disciplinary procedures. Provide the employee with a clear understanding of the concerns, allow them to present their side, and offer support or training where necessary.

6. Unless there are serious breaches of employment terms, ensure you provide employees with the appropriate notice period or pay in lieu of notice as required by law or their employment contracts.

7. Consider alternative options before resorting to termination. This may include offering additional training or support, transferring the employee to a different role or department, or exploring performance improvement plans.

8. If termination is necessary, hold a termination meeting with the employee in a respectful and professional manner. Clearly explain the reasons for termination, provide relevant documentation and evidence, and allow the employee to express their views.

9. Follow legal requirements for redundancies: If termination is due to redundancy, ensure you follow the appropriate legal requirements, including consultation processes, selection criteria, and providing redundancy pay where applicable.

10. Seek legal advice if uncertain: If you have concerns or uncertainties about the termination process, contact The HR Team. We can provide guidance based on specific circumstances and walk you through a fair process, to ensure you remain legally compliant and avoid a potential unfair dismissal claim.

Do employees have to disclose medical conditions to their employer?

The short answer is No. An employee is not legally obliged to disclose a medical condition, whether mental or not, to their employer.

disclose medical conditionsDiscussing medical conditions, particularly mental illness, is a very personal matter which many find very difficult to share. However, there are several ways an employer can help create an honest, inclusive and supportive environment for all employees.

Here are some steps you can take:

1. Respect employee privacy: Employees have the right to privacy regarding their medical information. Unless the medical condition directly affects their ability to perform the job safely and effectively, employers should generally not delve into an employees medical history without their consent.

2. Create a supportive environment: Foster a workplace culture that encourages open communication and trust. Encourage employees to disclose any medical conditions or disabilities voluntarily, via a health questionnaire, assuring them that the information will be kept confidential and used only for reasonable adjustments and support.

3. Educate employees about disclosure: Provide information and training to employees about the importance of disclosing any medical conditions that may impact their ability to perform their job safely. Emphasise that disclosure enables the employer to make reasonable adjustments and ensure the employees well-being.

4. Review policies and procedures: Ensure your policies and procedures clearly outline the expectations regarding disclosure of medical conditions. Communicate these policies to employees and provide them with the necessary channels to disclose any conditions or seek reasonable adjustments.

5. Interactive process for reasonable adjustments: If an employee later discloses a medical condition that requires reasonable adjustments, engage in an interactive process. Work with the employee to understand their needs and explore possible reasonable adjustments that will enable them to perform their job effectively.

6. Assess undue hardship: While employers have a legal obligation to provide reasonable adjustments, there may be cases where an adjustment would cause undue hardship to the organisation. Assess the feasibility and impact of potential adjustments, considering factors such as cost, resources, and the nature of the job.

7. Seek HR advice: If you are unsure about your obligations or the appropriate course of action when an employee does not disclose a medical condition, consult with HR to ensure compliance with relevant UK laws and regulations.

It’s important to approach the situation with sensitivity, respecting employee privacy while balancing the need for a safe and productive work environment. Open communication, clear policies, and a supportive approach can encourage employees to disclose any medical conditions and work collaboratively to find appropriate reasonable adjustments when needed. Contact The HR Team for further advice and support.

Will expanding funded childcare get people back to work?

Childcare in the UK is among the most expensive in the world. Research indicates that many people (and evidently more women) are dropping out of the workforce as a result, but whose responsibility is it to solve the problem?

Childcare The Government revealed in its Spring Budget, that one of their plans is to support parents in returning to the workforce by extending free childcare hours for working parents in England to include all children aged from 9 months to 5 years by September 2025. The Government currently funds 30 hours of childcare per week for eligible 3–4-year-olds.

A related issue is The Gender Pay Gap, which shows the difference in average earnings between men and women. It doesn’t just cover what people get paid it also covers how many women there are, what roles they hold, and how they are progressing up the ranks. The BBC recently reported that the gap has not improved since the reporting requirements were introduced and cited the pandemic and childcare costs as the main factors.

Spiralling childcare costs is having an impact on people, particularly women, working. For many women, it is more affordable to leave work and look after their children than pay for childcare. This impacts on the gender pay gap, with motherhood becoming the most significant driver for this with women leaving their jobs. Along with the cost-of-living increase, especially for families on lower income levels, it becomes a real number crunching exercise, where even with all the will in the world to want to keep working, financially it simply isn’t viable.

The challenge for employers tends to be keeping women in their roles. If women are leaving their jobs in order to look after their children due to childcare costs, how do employers encourage them to stay in the workplace?

Companies could use initiatives such as:

  • Offering more flexible working opportunities for parents.
  • Encouraging the take up of parental leave policies and entitlements and enhance statutory benefits so it is more affordable to do so.
  • Offer financial assistance such as swapping out unused benefits for a cash equivalent to help fund childcare.
  • Encourage employees to make use of the Government’s Tax Free Childcare Scheme which has now replaced the old Childcare Vouchers Scheme.

In order to help tackle the widening Gender Pay Gap, other schools of thought suggest getting more women/girls to take up STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to encourage more females in the workforce and to tackle unconscious bias around traditional male/female roles and responsibilities.

For further help and advice around the parental benefits your company could offer to help with employee retention, contact The HR Team.

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