Kirsty Senior, Co-Founder and Director of HR software and support service citrusHR, highlights recent developments in
employment law and how they might affect your business…
1. Verbal assurances and employment contracts – which take precedence?
This came to our attention via an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) case, which had first been brought to the European Human Rights Court, where an employee tried to argue that verbal assurances given in the recruitment process were not fulfilled, even though they weren’t included in the (signed and agreed) employment contract.
In the end, whatever is in the contract will always take precedence. However, to avoid the time and hassle of employment tribunals, it is prudent to include a clause within your contract clearly stating that your written contract overrules any claims made during the recruitment process.
If you have agreed some pre-conditions with the recruit, you should include these within the contract and ensure that they read through and understand it thoroughly before signing.
2. The government’s new Fit For Work scheme
If any of your employees have been off sick for longer than four (continuous) weeks, then this will apply to you. The government has planned to introduce a new scheme, which should come into effect in late 2014, to help employees on long-term sick leave get back into work. This will work on the basis of an assessment of the employee by an occupational health professional, and then advice via phone or on the web as to what they should do next. Going through this process saves employers time and money, and a Return To Work plan will be shared with the employer to help give them information on the process.
If you can’t accommodate a Return To Work plan, you have to give good business justification as to why not or risk a discrimination claim.
If you don’t think you can accommodate it and are considering implementing a capability procedure, it may be worth waiting for the Return To Work plan to be issued before starting any formal processes.
3. Holiday pay and overtime
This has been widely covered, but the final word on the subject is yet to be set in stone. Until that time, there are some things to consider if you have been giving regular overtime to your employees. I would suggest looking at ways to restructure overtime, commission, bonuses etc. to reduce and (hopefully) remove the impact of paying more by holiday pay.