As it’s bonfire night we thought we’d take the opportunity to throw a few of those employment law myths on the bonfire. If you have ever wondered about some HR practices, take a few minutes to sit back and enjoy the ‘display’.
Using probationary periods makes it easier to dismiss a short serving employee
Many employers are unaware that when it comes to dismissals probationary periods don’t give employers any additional rights. This is because employees need two years’ service to bring an ordinary unfair dismissal claim. In many cases, if there is a conduct or performance issue it can be possible to dismiss a short serving employee more quickly and easily than would be possible for one who could claim ordinary unfair dismissal – even in the absence of a probationary period.
That said, it’s important for employers to remember that there are a number of significant employment tribunal claims that employees can bring from day one of their employment irrespective of whether a probationary period is used. These include potentially costly claims such as those for discrimination, harassment and automatic unfair dismissal. Automatic unfair dismissal is where an employer dismisses an employee for a prohibited reason such as dismissing them because they are pregnant, are a whistle-blower or have taken dependent care leave. It’s always important for employers to seek advice from Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd on the facts of their case before dismissing any employee.
If your organisation does wish to use probationary periods, it’s important to ensure that these are properly drafted to avoid issues arising. Kingfisher Professionals Services Ltd can help with this.
Adult employees can never work more than an average of 48 hours a week
Whilst it’s true that there is a limit on how many hours a week on average most adult employees can work under the Working Time Regulations, there is an exception which can be helpful to employers. In most cases the limit is 48 hours a week on average (usually calculated over a 17 week reference period) but adult employees can voluntarily ‘opt-out’ of this limit either for a fixed period or indefinitely by signing what is called an opt-out agreement. If an adult employee opts out this means the average 48 hour weekly working limit does not apply to them and they can work longer hours. It will still be important for employers to ensure that the employee doesn’t work excessive hours and in most cases that they are still given at least the usual rest and breaks they are entitled to under the Working Time Regulations.
If you would like an opt-out agreement for use in your organisation, or advice on this area, please contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are happy to help.
Employers have two months to issue a contract of employment to a new employee
Whilst this used to be the case, the law changed so that new starters employed after 5th April 2020 must be issued with certain particulars of employment on or before the first day of employment. As most employers use contracts of employment to provide the required information this means that employers who are yet to do so will need to alter their recruitment processes to ensure that employment contracts are issued in accordance with the earlier deadline. If you would like further information regarding this or the information that needs to be included, Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd are happy to help.
It’s not necessary for employers to warn and consult with employees if redundancies are proposed
Whilst redundancy situations can be stressful and time sensitive for employers it’s important to ensure that they are carried out fairly. If an employee has two years’ service or more they can complain to an employment tribunal if they feel they have been unfairly dismissed. Not warning and consulting employees is one of the common reasons for employment tribunals to find that a redundancy dismissal was unfair. Others include not having what in law is considered to be a ‘genuine redundancy situation’, unfairly selecting an employee for redundancy and failing to consider alternative work.
Times are tough for many employers at the moment and if your organisation is one of those that are considering making redundancies Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd is here to help. We can provide practical advice and support from the planning stage and throughout the process so please contact us for advice on the facts of your situation before taking action.
If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are happy to help.