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Employment FAQs

1.   What is indirect discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 provides a wide range of protection where protected characteristics apply such as age, sex, race, religion, disability. Discrimination can take the form of direct discrimination which might involve more obvious forms of behaviour such as sexist or racist remarks. However, indirect discrimination means that a provisional criterion might have a discriminatory affect on a individual or group with a protected characteristic. Eg having a policy that prohibits or restricts the recruitment of part time workers could have a greater impact on women who tend to be the majority in the part time market. This differs from direct discrimination

2.   Whistleblowing has been in the news a lot recently - what should I do as an employer?

Someone who blows the whistle on their employers are protected from suffering any detrimental treatment.

It is worth noting that whistle blowing cases are treated in the same way as discrimination cases in that an employee would be eligible to bring a claim on day one of their employment and there is no statutory limit on the compensation available to the victim.

3.   Unfair dismissal - any advice?

According to the Employment Rights Act, an employee has the right not to be unfairly dismissed. It is crucial to conduct a fair investigation and disciplinary procedure to avoid falling foul of the employment law legislation. Parties are strongly advised to adhere to the ACAS codes of practice as failure to do so can result in any award that is made being increased by 25%. The same principle applies to a failure to to follow ACAS code of practice in a grievance procedure.

It’s important to note that there is no requirement to have employment status or any length of service to be eligible to bring a claim and protection begins right at the point of advertising the vacancy.

4.   Are all cases heard at an Employment Tribunal?

An Employment Tribunal has jurisdiction to deal with breach of contract claims up to the value of £25k. It’s important to ensure that claims are being dealt with in the right jurisdiction to avoid losing out to a more valuable claim that may be run in the civil courts.

Tribunals can hear an employer’s counter-claim for employee breach of contract but again is subject to a value limitation. The main breach of contract matters that would be dealt with within the tribunal concern cases of constructive dismissal.

5.   What are the Working Time Regulations?

The WTR governs all matters of working time such as minimum annual holiday entitlement, rest periods, working hours etc.  Despite what should be a relatively straightforward matter, issues arising from holiday entitlements have become particularly tricky and is a highly litigated area of law. Particularly in those situations where employees maybe on long term sick leave or working their notice. It’s definitely worth consulting an employment lawyer to make sure you get things right.

6.   I’m buying a business - what are my obligations to staff?

Under the TUPE regulations, there are obligations that require the seller to make disclosures regarding its employees’ liability information. There is also liability to the buyer in respect of the obligations to inform and consult with employees about matters affecting them in the transfer.

It’s important to be diligent about what exactly you are buying as part of any business or service contract and check that you will not inherit claims. It is also worth ensuring on the start up of a business or on the recruitment of new staff to have in place appropriate documents for your employees and key members such as directors’ service agreements.

7.   What is a restrictive covenant?

Restrictive covenants can, for example, lay down the rules to prohibit the poaching of a company’s clients for a period of time following the termination of an employment contract.  For such provisions to be enforceable they need to go no further than is reasonable and necessary to protect a legitimate business interest. What is necessary and reasonable will depend very much on the individual business and facts and circumstances in each case.

The costs of litigation in breach proceedings tend to be extremely high and for this reason, cases often settle at the interim stage. Nonetheless, the threat of such proceedings and or interim injunction can be extremely disruptive and it is important to ensure an effective strategy is in place if affected by the threat of such proceedings.

If you have any questions about employment in your business, call the employment team on 0117 926 4121 or make a Free Online Enquiry.