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Your HR and Employment Law questions answered

Our team of HR & Employment Law experts have compiled the most commonly asked questions and provided some quick reference answers to save you and your business time and ultimately money.

I have an employee that has been off sick for two weeks! What can I do?

During the first 7 days of sickness absence, the employee is able to self-certify their sickness, thereafter they must provide a fit note which should give you an indication as to how long they will be off work due to their sickness and also the reason for being off sick.

Some of the options you have available to you are: –

  • Contact the employee and ask how they are feeling and if there is anything you as an employer can do in order to assist them to return to work
  • If the employee’s illness is related to a disability, you may need to make reasonable adjustments within the workplace to assist their return
  • You can request the employee provides a sick note (if not already provided) otherwise it is classed as unauthorised absence and can lead to being absent without leave

It’s almost coming to the end of the financial year and one my employees has not taken all of his annual leave, what can I do?

All employees are required to take their statutory annual leave before the start of the new financial year. The employee would lose their annual leave entitlement should they choose not to use up their remaining annual leave before the holiday year comes to an end.

One of my team members has not been coming in to work for nearly 2 months. I have tried contacting her numerous times with phone calls and text messages and have had no response. Can I terminate her employment?

In order to terminate employment, you will need to invite the employee to a disciplinary meeting for going absent without leave for two months. However, if you do not receive a response you are advised to rearrange a second disciplinary meeting and again if you do not receive any response, you can then write to conduct the disciplinary in their absence. The outcome of the disciplinary would be summary dismissal for gross misconduct and would terminate their employment with immediate effect.

I recently employed a new starter just over a month ago, I have been monitoring her performance and have pulled her up on a few issues. I really do not think she is able to carry out her role, what options do I have?

You have a number of options here:

  • Put the employee on a performance plan and monitor her performance to see if it improves
  • Provide necessary training by identifying the areas she is struggling in
  • If the employee is in probation, you can look to extend probation
  • End the probation early and look to terminate the employee for failure to passing her probation, or – Dismiss the employee for reasons under capability by following the necessary dismissal procedures

A member of the team has been caught stealing on CCTV, he has been in employment for 4 years. Can I sack him straight away?

It is advised to not sack any employee for reasons of potential gross misconduct without following the correct disciplinary procedures. You can look to suspend the employee on full pay, carry out an investigation if necessary and then invite the employee to a disciplinary meeting. The outcome could lead to summary dismissal if the employee is found guilty of theft.

I recently employed a new member to be part of the team, when would I need to provide a contract?

In accordance with the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employer is required to provide a contract of employment within two months of employment. If taken to an Employment Tribunal, the judge could award 2 or 4 weeks’ pay.

In the company handbook, it states that all employees must submit their timesheets on time in order to be paid that month. One of my employees did not submit their timesheet on time, do I still need to pay them this month?

You do not have to pay the employee until they have submitted their timesheets as this is outlined in your company handbook. You can make the payment the following month if submitted late.

I have a member of the team that has been off work sick for 3 months due to back problems, what options do I have?

This depends on the level of seriousness of your employee’s back problem as this could potentially fall under the Disability Act whereby the employee would be protected under disability discrimination. When an employee suffers from a disability the employer is under a legal obligation not to act in a manner which results in them suffering a detriment because of the condition when compared to that of someone without it. In addition the employer is under a legal obligation to consider whether reasonable adjustments can be made in the workplace that alleviates an obstruction caused by the employee’s condition. A reasonable adjustment may include providing them with tools or equipment to help them carry out an important task or it could include an operational alteration such as changing hours of work or altering the nature of some duties in the role to prevent unnecessary harm or difficulty.

If the employee is on long term absence, the procedure to be carried out has three key stages:

  • Investigate by asking the employee for authority to access their medical records and obtain a report from their medical team to help you understand their condition and prognosis for recovery
  • Invite the employee to attend a medical capability hearing to determine whether employment can continue
  • If dismissal occurs as a result of the investigation and hearing, the employee has a right of appeal

One of my employees is always calling in sick on a Monday, I think it’s because he is hungover from the night before. What can I do?

If there is a regular occurrence of this employee calling in sick on Monday’s only, you can investigate and ensure there are no related issues such as discrimination. This can be done by holding an investigatory meeting the outcome of which could then lead to a disciplinary meeting and ultimately a warning.

An employee has just notified me that she is pregnant, what do I do?

We would advise that you carry out a risk assessment and ensure that the employee is able to continue with her work safely and without any difficulty. If identified of any difficulties, you will need to make reasonable adjustments. This could be reduced hours, lighter workload, temporary change of working times etc. The risk here is to ensure that you do not discriminate against the pregnant employee.

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