During the period December 2018 to May 2019, our Partnerships Team have supported over 16,000 partner members with a combination of both Employment Law and Health & Safety advice. We thought it may be useful to give you a flavour of the types of questions we receive on a regular basis so that you can better understand how our service may benefit your members.

Popular Employment Law topics

Examples of the questions asked by members were:

  • My employee has been signed of work with work-related stress for two weeks. Is it correct that I cannot contact them until their sick note runs out?
  • A recently recruited member of staff has had 12 days of absence in as many weeks and their attendance is not sufficient. Can I dismiss them?
  • My staff have been working the same hours and days for the past few years, but due to increasing demands on the practice and staff absences, I now need them to be more flexible. Can I just change the rota and tell them what the changes will be?

Given the prevalence of sickness absence queries, we have prepared a guidance booklet for you to share amongst your members. This offers practical advice on managing these sorts of issues with minimum disruption to business.

It is unfortunate that the rise in absence cases has roughly coincided with several High Court decisions last year relating to claims for discrimination arising from a disability. The impact of these cases mean that employers must now tread carefully when dealing with absence or conduct issues that, on the face of things, may only be loosely related to an employee’s disability. 

It is becoming clear that medical evidence is key – but obtaining such evidence inevitably takes time, making the process more drawn out. Employment law can be a minefield, and given the consequences of failing to comply with the law and best practice, it is important that members take advice from and guidance when faced with decisions like this.

Louise McGill

Senior Partnerships Manager

The latest changes to legislation

The Court of Appeal has recently ruled that voluntary overtime should be included in holiday pay calculations if it is sufficiently regular for it amount to “normal renumeration”.
For anyone who has followed the line of case law since holiday pay and overtime was first dealt with in the Bear Scotland v Fulton case a few years back, this decision is not a surprise.

However, the decision is significant in that it is the first Court of Appeal case to explicitly state that voluntary overtime should be factored into the calculation of holiday pay, thus preventing situations whereby an employee’s holiday pay is less than their typical weekly wage.

Unfortunately, there is precious little guidance as to how frequently overtime has to be worked before it forms part of the calculation. If overtime is worked to a set pattern, even if that were one week out of four, that is likely to be “sufficiently regular” to count as normal, as is a situation where overtime is worked more often than not.

As ever, each case will turn on its facts, so it’s important to take specific advice from an Employment Law expert on your company’s particular circumstances.