Five Take-aways for Employers from the Matt Hancock Situation

As many employers will be aware following all the recent publicity, Matt Hancock has resigned as Health Secretary after pictures were published of him breaching social distancing guidance by kissing a colleague, Ms Coladangelo. Furthermore, questions have been raised as to whether Ms Coladangelo’s appointment as a non-executive director of the Department of Health and Social Care was above board.

Whilst the world of government may seem far removed from the daily goings-on of most organisations, the ‘Matt Hancock situation’ highlights some key areas all employers should be thinking about.

Below we look at five take-aways for employers.

Take-aways:

1. Have a relationships at work policy and clearly communicate this to your employees

It’s a good idea to make employees aware of what is expected of them when it comes to close relationships in the workplace. This is particularly the case if a manager should have a close personal relationship with a subordinate as there is the potential for this to cause issues for the organisation due to the imbalance of power.

  • Good to know: If you would like assistance with a relationship at work policy, Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd is happy to help so please don’t hesitate to contact us.

2. Have clear and well communicated workplace rules, particularly those in relation to Covid-19

This can help to reduce the likelihood of employment law issues arising, and if they do, it can make them easier for employers to address. As employers and employees continue to grapple with the ‘new normal’ it will be particularly important for managers to be alert to issues related to Covid-19 whether in relation to concerns regarding an employee’s conduct or issues raised by employees. From an employment law perspective such situations will need to be addressed promptly and appropriately.

3. Know what to do if an employee resigns

In a lot of cases dealing with a resignation will be straightforward as an employee won’t have any issues with the organisation and will simply put their resignation in writing giving the appropriate notice. In which case an employer will usually only need to wish the employee well and accept the resignation in writing.

However not all situations are so straightforward, here’s some to watch-out for:

  • Verbal resignations – whilst an employee can resign verbally, employers should ask them to confirm this in writing. The reason for this is that if the employee later disputes that they have resigned or disputes the termination date it is easier for an employer to evidence these if the resignation is in writing.
  • Employee raises issues at the time of their verbal or written resignation, resigns ‘in the heat-of the moment’ or the employer is aware of existing issues (e.g a grievance, workplace dispute, employee relations issues, ill-health) in such situations it’s important to seek advice on the facts of the particular case from Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd before taking any action. Likewise, if an employee walks out of the workplace indicating that they may be resigning.

4. Have fair and transparent recruitment practices in place

Questions about the appointment of Ms Coladangelo to her non-executive director role has shone a spotlight on the area of recruitment.

In so doing it has highlighted the need for employers to ensure that when they are recruiting employees, they have fair and transparent practices in place. It’s important to be able to demonstrate that any recruitment decisions have been made fairly and lawfully – remember that job applicants and existing employees can complain to an employment tribunal if they feel they have been discriminated against. You can find five top tips for recruitment in one of our recent Legal Updates – “Does Your Organisation Have a Job Vacancy? Five Top Tips for Recruitment”.

5. Know about settlement agreements

Unfortunately, not all employees will fall on their sword and resign if there is a serious issue regarding their conduct. If an employer wants to exit an employee from the organisation and is unlikely to be able to achieve a fair dismissal or the applicable process, such as a disciplinary process, seems too long or cumbersome, a settlement agreement may be a useful commercial option. You can find out basic information on settlement agreements in our Legal Update – “Could a Settlement Agreement Help Your Organisation?”

  • Good to know: Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd offer a cost effective settlement agreement service. If you would like further information regarding settlement agreements, including the fixed fee in place for our settlement agreement service, please contact us as we will be happy to help.

If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd.