When did you last review your employee contracts and policies? Much has happened in the last year in terms of legislation and employment law so it’s never been a better time to review what’s in place. advo hr gives some reminders and some practical advice.
We understand that most employers will always want to do the right thing and ensure that all employee documentation is up to date. However, when employers are managing the day-to-day operation of their business, the checking of employment contracts or updating polices may be a burdensome administration task that can slip through the net!
However, if your employment contracts are out of date, poorly drafted or an employee has not been given a contract of employment, this can present the perfect opportunity for a disgruntled employee to raise a dispute. Additionally, employees may be uncertain about their entitlements and a clear contract of employment provides clarity and reduces the risk of any misunderstandings.
The Good Work Plan came into effect in 2020 and was deemed to be the one of the biggest shakeups in employment law in a generation! The Good Work Plan resulted is legislation governing statements of main terms of employment, i.e., contracts!
Some three years on, advo continues to support employers who are yet to comply with this legislation.
Employers are legally obliged to issue a contract on or before the first day of employment. The contract must include hours and days of work and if and how they may vary (also if employees or workers will have to work on Sundays, during the ‘night period’ or take overtime), holiday entitlement (and if that includes public holidays), details of any probationary period, all remuneration and benefits, e.g., private healthcare etc. , and training, whether or not this is to be paid by the employer.
On the first day of employment, the employer must also provide information about sick pay and procedures, other paid leave, e.g., maternity, paternity leave etc.) and notice periods. There is also other information that must be provided within two months of employment.
At advo, we draft comprehensive contracts for employers that incorporate all requisite information to protect the employer from risk of litigation.
With regards to policies, there are only three polices that UK law require which include a Health & safety policy (if you have more than five employees), disciplinary and dismissal policies and a grievance policy. However, the Equality Act recommend that businesses implement an Equal Opportunities policy and whilst failing to policy in place is not unlawful, a tribunal will take a negative view of this should an employer have to defend against claims of discrimination.
At advo, we would always urge employers to have a suite of non-contractual policies contained within an easily accessible Employee Handbook and there are many good reasons to have policies and procedures.
Polices ensure that employees know what their employers expect of them, e.g., who and when to contact if they are going to be absent for work and the potential consequences of not meeting those expectations and encourage consistent treatment of all employees which can be crucial to ensuring fairness and avoiding discrimination.
Employment policies can quickly become out of date with the constant changes in the law or changes in ways of working or recommended good practice.
In the event of any potential claim or employment tribunal, the contracts you have with your employees will be one of the first things to be reviewed. An adequate, up to date and compliant contract can provide a solid basis in a number of different claims.
Whilst a policy alone is unlikely to be enough to defend an employment tribunal, policies can help employers defend themselves against certain claims provided the employer can show that the policy was fully implemented.
At advo, we would remind all employers to ensure that all employees receive up to date, complaint contracts on or before the first date of their employment and ensure that all policies are up to date.