Employment relationships are covered by various aspects of employment law that businesses need to be aware of.
How to foster positive employment relationships
To foster positive working relationships all employers are encouraged to;
- Communicate regularly and clearly with their employees
- Set clear expectations and agreed work goals
- Provide regular management feedback and supervision
- Provide training and support
- Actively listen, seek ideas and involve employees in decisions affecting their working environment or roles
- Deal with any concerns as early and informally as possible
If attempts to resolve concerns informally do not result in the required improvements, ensure formal policies and procedures are correctly followed and appropriate advice sought.
Disciplinary and Dismissal procedures
All businesses with more than 1 employee must have a disciplinary policy.
The company disciplinary process must be followed for any misconduct or gross misconduct concern where a disciplinary sanction is likely to be issued.
Before any sanction is issued a reasonable and proportionate investigation must be carried out.
Investigations should be carried out by someone who will not be making any disciplinary decisions.
Employees have the right to be accompanied to disciplinary meetings. Any meeting must be fair and impartial.
Employees have a right of appeal.
Any formal warnings must be confirmed in writing, including the reason why it has been given.
It is against the law to instantly dismiss an employee. Employees can be suspended during an investigation and disciplinary processes. Following a disciplinary meeting they may be summarily dismissed for Gross Misconduct which means paid notice does not apply.
Contracts of employment should include clauses enabling employers to suspend, summarily dismiss or make payments in lieu of notice.
Any business with 1 or more employees must have a grievance procedure in place. This is to allow employees to raise problems or complaints with their employers.
Subject to circumstances it will often be appropriate for employee concerns to be fully discussed and / or independently investigated prior to any decisions being made.
Employees have the right to a face to face hearing, and to be accompanied to meetings.
Employees also have the right to appeal if they feel an outcome is unfair or does not resolve an issue.
Flexible working requests
Employees have the right to make a written request for flexible working after 26 weeks continuous service. They can only make 1 request in any 12-month period.
Flexible working requests should be considered and responded to within 3 months, including dealing with any appeal.
Where a business agrees to a flexible working request, the changes will be permanent.
Requests for flexible working requests can only be refused if:
1. The business would incur additional costs that might be detrimental
2. It is not possible to organise work amongst other staff
3. The business cannot recruit another employee to do the work
4. Flexible working would impact on work quality and performance
5. The business would be unable to meet customer demands
6. Work wouldn’t be available during the requested hours due to working patterns
7. The business is planning on making changes to the workforce
A business would be expected to fully discuss the request with the employee. If the request cannot be agreed in full, employers can discuss suitable alternatives with the employee.
Outcomes of any flexible working request must be confirmed in writing with reasons or details of changes to terms and conditions clearly given.
The Equality Act
The Equality Act protects people from discrimination in both employment and when accessing goods/services. It is designed to protect the rights of individuals and ensure fairness, transparency and equality of treatment.
It relates directly to individuals but also to those who are ‘in association’ with others who would be covered by a protected characteristic. For example, an employee with a disabled child.
Claims can be brought on the grounds of real or perceived unfair treatment.
Employers and employees cannot directly or indirectly discriminate, victimise, or harass anyone in the workplace, or in a wider society, based on the grounds of:
- Religion or Belief
Reasonable adaptions should be made to remove potential barriers, ensure comparable access to opportunities and facilitate all individuals to be their very best, demonstrate potential and have equal access to benefits or services available.
Part time employees and employees on fixed term contracts are also covered by specific legislation which prevent less favourable treatment from occurring within the workplace.
Working time regulations
The working week shouldn’t exceed an average of 48 hours calculated over a 17-week period unless a voluntary waiver has been agreed.
Working time is any time that the worker is available to an employer. This includes travel, working lunches, training and when “on call”.
Employees over the age of 18 are entitled to a minimum of a 20-minute break after 6 consecutive working hours.
Staff are entitled to a minimum of 11 hours rest in any 24-hour period.
A minimum of 1 day off per week should be provided.
Additional provisions are in place for young workers and night shift workers.
And don’t forget……
- Since April 2020
- written contracts of employment must be issued by the end of their first day of employment
- written contracts of employment must include clear details of normal hours and any flexible or variable working patterns; any benefits including non financial ones, probationary period rules, sick pay entitlements, family friendly leave & pay entitlements, and any compulsory or mandatory training
- Calculating a weeks’ pay for holiday purposes will be the statutory rule of average pay over the last 52 weeks or length of service if less than 52 weeks.
- Payment in lieu of notice can only be made if the contract includes a specific term
- Payment in lieu of notice is subject to normal deductions
- Your GDPR policy needs to include your employee privacy statement
- And finally good record keeping is key!
If you need advice on your legal obligations as an employer or managing relationships with your team please get in touch. Contact Debbie today, Telephone: 01278 802329. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.