Helping your business manage its employees
Good relations with your employees and a firm understanding of Employment Law lead to a more profitable business. We help you get on with running your business. Managers are not always interested in the legal whys and wherefores of implementing a decision – they know it is the right decision for the business and just want to get on with it. Helix recognises that your getting on with your business is the most important issue and so we deal in swift practical solutions. You tell us what you need to do and, if it’s lawful, we tell you how to do it. We also understand that businesses need to plan their expenditure, that is why we have fixed our fees to include all advice and representation. We only want to work with businesses where our fees are far lower than the value we think we can add to the business. Our entire focus is on making the law work for your business.
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We deal with all court proceedings and tribunals without raising additional fees
If, even with our help and advice, a claim is brought by a dis-satisfied employee then we will represent you in any court proceedings or Employment Tribunal without any additional fee. We believe that it is unlikely you will face a claim if you retain us and follow our advice. Nevertheless, tribunal claims can arise whatever you do. Even if you successfully defend the claim you cannot usually recover your legal fees. These fees can run into tens of thousands of pounds. We believe that is wrong. If, as a Helix client, a claim is brought against you then we will represent you throughout without any extra charge. This is our philosophy of service – we work together with your business to help it achieve its commercial goals and we take away the risk of your business incurring unrecoverable legal costs.
Working the way you want to
We will tailor the service and the price according to your business’s particular needs, that way you only pay for what is necessary. You will get unlimited telephone support and we will keep you continually updated. You can specify the level of support you want at the price you want.
We are committed to communicating in a way that suits each particular client; Telephone, letters, email, meetings – you choose. To find out more call 01273 761990 or email [email protected]
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When taking disciplinary action against an employee you must be able to demonstrate that the process is reasonable and fair. The procedure should follow the Acas code of practice. If it is found that you unreasonably failed to follow these guidelines, the employee could receive a 25% increase in any award against you in an Employment Tribunal. (This also works in reverse – their award can be reduced by 25% if a failure is found against the employee.)
When drawing up your business’s disciplinary procedure, the following should be included:
- Your commitment to first attempt to resolve any issues informally, where appropriate.
- Your commitment to investigate and establish facts regarding any offence that leads to disciplinary action, including holding investigatory meetings.
- Your commitment to the inform the employee of the specifics of their alleged misconduct or issues of performance in writing that resulted in the disciplinary action against them. The document should also detail the possible consequences and the time, date and location of the hearing. This should be provided early enough prior to the hearing for the employee to prepare their defence.
- A statement detailing the employee’s right to attend any hearing accompanied by a colleague or trade union official, and their right to contribute. Where a trade union official is chosen, they are entitled to attend even if you do not recognise the union.
- Your commitment to give fair opportunity for the employee to state their case at each meeting and give account to any mitigating circumstances they raise.
- Examples of kinds of offences that could amount to misconduct and gross misconduct – but make clear that these examples are not an exhaustive list.
- An explanation that the severity of the offence will correspond to the stage of the disciplinary process that the case enters at. For example – serious misconduct will result in the first step of the disciplinary process being a written warning, whereas gross misconduct will skip this stage.
- Details of an adequate warning system for all but the most serious problems. For example – there should be at least one initial written warning and another final written warning before the employee is dismissed.
- A system for ensuring the written recording of all meetings and decisions, and ensuring that they are kept in the person’s personnel file. It’s best to ensure that the minutes of all meetings are made straight away and agreed as soon as possible with the employee.
- Your commitment towards allowing the employee sufficient time for improvement in the case of poor performance. You should also allow for training if necessary.
- Confirmation of the next steps of the disciplinary process if the first (and each subsequent) stage enacted does not resolve the issue. It should be made especially clear that after issuing a final warning, the next offence could end in dismissal.
- Your commitment to give fair warning of all disciplinary meetings. Any disciplinary meeting must be chaired by an impartial person at senior level of management, ideally who has not been involved in the employee’s particular disciplinary case before. If the problem consists of a relationship breakdown between employee and line manager, that line manager must not conduct or chair any meeting or especially any appeal hearing.
- The opportunity for the employee to appeal against any disciplinary action at any stage of the process. Separate meetings must be arranged to hear appeals, and the employee should be informed of every outcome. Again, ideally the person chairing appeal hearings won’t have been involved in any decisions about the initial disciplinary actions. The employee also has the right to be accompanied to any appeal.
Disciplinary cases and grievances are best resolved between employees and employers within the workplace wherever possible. When it is not, employers should consider a mediator or independent third party to help them resolve the issue. The mediator may be internal or external. Conciliation in disputes can also be chaired by Acas.
For help in ensuring your business’s disciplinary procedures company with Acas’ code of practice, and to prevent Employment Tribunal awards against you, talk to our employment lawyers today
Yes. If you employ people, a fair and reasonable disciplinary procedure is necessary to protect yourself in an Employment Tribunal and for employees to know which behaviours constitute misconduct in their workplace.
If you believe you have grounds to discipline an employee (for example, due to poor performance or misconduct) you must demonstrably act reasonably and fairly when taking action. A written disciplinary procedure helps to make sure you do. Establishing fair and reasonable rules, and steps to deal with breaking them, in written format ensures both you and all employees know how issues of misconduct will be handled.
It’s important for everyone to understand that disciplinary procedures aren’t there to penalise employees (although in some cases sanctions will be necessary). They are primarily to encourage employees to overcome performance and misconduct problems so that they can properly perform their job and peacefully cohabit the workplace again.
Where you need to make redundancies, it’s your statutory duty to inform and consult with employee representatives regarding your proposals.
If you propose to make 100 or more employees redundant from the same establishment within less than 90 days, consultations must begin 45 days in the very least before any dismissals take place.
If you propose to make between 20 and 99 employees redundant from the same establishment within less than 90 days, consultations must begin 30 days or more before any dismissals.
When proposing to dismiss less than 20 people, it is reasonable and courteous to give as much notice as possible. In any case you must observe the notice provisions set out in employee contracts.
To ensure your redundancy procedures comply with the law and protect you from Employee Tribunal action, seek advice from Helix Law.
Yes. It’s now mandatory that employees must go through Early Conciliation (EC) before taking a claim to the Employment Tribunal.
Before issuing a claim, employees with workplace grievances must first submit an online EC form to Acas. Acas will chair a conciliation meeting with the aim to reach a settlement between employer and employee.
Where a settlement cannot be reached, or either party declines to engage, Acas will provide the employee with an EC certificate entitling them to proceed to the Employment Tribunal with their claim.
Contact us for advice on how to proceed with Acas conciliation and Employment Tribunal claims.
This constitutes the duty for an employer to apply practices, provisions or criteria to ensure employees with health conditions or disabilities are not disadvantaged in carrying out their jobs.
In an Employment Tribunal, these factors are taken into account when deciding whether an adjustment would have been reasonable for an employer to make:
- Whether the adjustment would have been effective
- Whether the adjustment would have been practical
- How much the adjustment would cost, and how reasonable it would have been with reference to the employer’s finances
- Whether any assistance, such as a grant, was available to help with financial impact on the business
- The nature of the business’s activities and the scale of the undertaking
- Where the adjustment would be made in a private household – the extent that making the adjustment might disrupt the household or anyone residing there
For example, a trial period in which a disabled person worked from home is unlikely to count as a reasonable adjustment in itself in a disability discrimination claim. This would likely be treated more as a test of whether working from home would constitute a reasonable adjustment. If an employer refuses to allow a home-working trial period, they could face a disadvantage at a Tribunal if they assert that allowing the employee to work from home is not reasonable as they did not allow for a trial.
Helix Law’s employment lawyers can help both employers and employees understand what would be a reasonable adjustment in their workplace. Contact us today for advice in this area.