Do all employees need contracts of employment?

Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 states that a ‘Statement of Particulars’ must be put in writing and issued to any employees whose employment will last more than one month. The Statement should ideally be issued on the first day of employment, however, it must be given to the employee within two months of their employment commencing.

This is a requirement for all employers, regardless of the size of the Company.

How do I work out which bank holidays a part time employee is entitled to?

Part time employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks holiday each year, based on the number of hours they are contracted to work per week. This entitlement of 5.6 weeks includes a pro rata of the eight bank holidays that a full time employee would be entitled to.

This means it does not matter whether or not a bank holidays fall on a day that the employee works, if they are due to work when a bank holiday falls, the hours can be deducted from their overall entitlement.

For example:

Holiday entitlement for a full time employee is 20 days annual leave as well as paid the 8 recognised bank holidays in the UK.  Holiday entitlement for a part time employee working three days out of five will be three fifths of 20 days plus three fifths of 8 days, totalling 16.8 days.

What are the limits set out by the Working Time Directive?

Employees have the right to:

  • only be required to work an average 48 hours per week
  • a 20 minute break on any day they work in excess of 6 hours
  • one day off per week or 2 days per 2 weeks
  • 5.6 weeks' paid annual leave entitlement each year
  • 11 consecutive hours rest in any 24-hour period

How much notice should an employee give to take annual leave?

More often than not, this notice period is agreed by the employer and employee, however, the statutory minimum is at least twice the length of the leave that is being requested.

For example:

An employee wishing to take 5 consecutive days off, Monday to Friday, must give 10 days notice before the first day of the requested leave.

We are thinking of installing CCTV in the workplace, how does this affect our employees?

Before beginning the use of CCTV in the workplace, you should consider and be clear on the reasons for your monitoring as well as the benefits. You will need to identify any negative impact that the introduction of CCTV could have on employees and problems that may occur. One consideration is whether CCTV is really the only option for monitoring or whether there is a less invasive alternative.

Once you establish the purpose of installing CCTV in your workplace, you must notify the Information Commissioner’s Office of your reason. The system can then only be used for the purpose originally intended, for example if it is setup to detect crime it cannot then be used to monitor employee performance.

You cannot use CCTV to evidence poor employee performance if it has been brought to your attention through general monitoring of the footage. However, you can use it as a prompt for reminding employees of their expected behaviour without taking formal action. The only exception to this is in cases where an employee has been part of a criminal act, alleged gross conduct or behaviour that has put others at risk

Where CCTV is in place, this must be communicated to all employees so they are aware and clear, visible signs should also be displayed in the workplace. By doing this there is no further obligation to inform employees, however you may chose to implement a CCTV policy or cover the topic in your Company contract or handbook.

Is an employee entitled to paid leave for elective procedures such organ donation and fertility treatment?

Fertility treatments, organ donation, cosmetic surgery and even some medical procedures are considered an elective procedure and as such there is no legal right to paid leave. Therefore, as a Company you may use your discretion as to whether you offer paid and additional leave, whilst most importantly ensuring that your decisions are applied fairly and consistently across the workforce.

When offering paid or additional time off, it is important to give consideration to the length and complexity of the processes as IVF for example can stretch over several years. Would the enhancement that you offer employees in the initial months be something that you could commit to long term?

There is no need for an employer to treat time off for an elective procedure as sickness absence. Only if an employee becomes unfit to attend works as a result of the effects of treatment, or illness such as stress or depression, should it result in the sickness procedure being invoked. At this time or on receipt of a medical certificate, is an employee entitled to Company or Statutory Sick Pay.

It is advisable to ensure and encourage employees to feel able to discuss with you any elective procedures that they wish to undergo. This will allow the opportunity to support the employee, put together a plan of time off they may require as well as being able consider any impact on business needs.

If an employee is signed off as unfit to work but feels better, can they return to work?

Even if an employee considers them self to be well enough to return to work, you should not allow them back until work until the fit to work note has expired. Alternatively, the employee could seek medical evidence from their healthcare professional confirming they are fit to work, therefore voiding the original fit to work note.

What is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and when should I pay it?   
SSP is paid to employees who have been absent from work for four or more days, due to legitimate illness. The current weekly SSP is £88.45 for the 2015/16 tax year. Employees are entitled to SSP from the start of their employment, however they must earn above the weekly National Insurance limit, which is currently £109.00 before tax. 
You do not necessarily need medical evidence to pay SSP, unless you have reason to doubt their absence or they have been absent for 8 days or more. A Period of Incapacity to Work must be formed, which is four days of sickness in a row, however no payment is made for the initial three waiting days. Odd days of sickness absence cannot form a Period of Incapacity to Work. If an employee has a second period of absence within 8 weeks, this is considered to be a linking absence. In these circumstances, the three waiting days would not need to be served again and SSP can be paid from the first day of absence. If an employee has previously served two waiting days, they must serve one more as part of the linking absence, to become eligible.          
SSP is paid for Qualifying Days which are usually the days that the employee would normally work for you. SSP is payable until the employee returns to work or for a maximum of 28 weeks depending on which occurs first.