Employment Law Guide for Employees

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1 Agency Workers The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 S12010/93 came into effect on 01 October The regulations introduce a number of rights for temporary agency workers in the UK relating to their basic working and employment conditions. To acquire these rights, the agency worker must work for the end user Employer for a period of 12 weeks. It is estimated that there are currently around 1.3 million agency workers in the UK who often do not receive the same working conditions as employees who have been directly employed by the hirer. The regulations give agency workers with the qualifying length of 12 weeks service entitlement to the same basic employment working conditions as they would have had if they had been recruited directly. The increased protections offered to agency workers under the regulations are extremely important and have a huge impact on businesses in the UK. In January 2010 the UK Government carried out an impact assessment into the likely effects of the agency workers directive. The impact assessment assumed that 40% of agency workers will accrue the 12 week qualifying period to acquire the rights under the regulations. Beveridge & Kellas can advise you and represent you on all issues of the application of these regulations. Telephone or us now for further advice. Settlement Agreements A written agreement usually requested by the employer where, in exchange for certain payments, the employee gives up rights to make claims against the employer. Very commonly used in redundancy situations.

2 For these agreements to be effective the employee must have independent legal advice. Beveridge & Kellas can provide that advice, including advice on whether or not to accept the terms of the agreement, seek and negotiate improved terms or take legal action against the employer. Telephone or us now for further advice. Constructive Dismissal Constructive Dismissal is where an employee resigns in direct response to bad conduct by the employer, but that conduct still has to amount to a material breach of contract on the part of the employer. It is important to recognise that it is for an Employment Tribunal to decide if the employer s conduct has amounted to a material breach. If it does, the employee can claim unfair dismissal. Any employee considering resignation should urgently seek legal advice: constructive dismissal is a difficult claim to make. We would encourage you to make early contact with Beveridge & Kellas who can advise you on your options before resigning. Telephone or us now for further advice. Contracts of Employment All employees have a right to receive a written statement of the important terms and conditions of employment within the first two months of the start of employment. Frequently employers will seek to change the terms of a written contract of employment. Any employee with a problem about contracts of employment should first seek legal advice.

3 You should make early contact with Beveridge & Kellas who can advise you on your options before signing. Telephone or us now for further advice. Disciplinary Hearings Employers have to use fair and reasonable procedures in disciplinary matters. Beveridge & Kellas can advise employees on whether this is being done and how best to defend and challenge unfair disciplinary action including making a claim of unfair dismissal to an Employment Tribunal. Telephone or us now for further advice. Disability Disability Discrimination The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Equality Act 2010 are designed to promote equal opportunities for disabled employees. It is unlawful for employers to treat employees less favourably on the ground that they are disabled and employers require to make reasonable adjustments at work to avoid the employee being at a substantial disadvantage. Adjustments can include physical changes to the workplace, specialised equipment, providing assistance or changes to hours of work or duties. As with all discrimination cases, remedies are financial compensation, including compensation for injury to feelings. Beveridge and Kellas can advise on all aspects of Disability Discrimination. Telephone or us now for further advice.

4 Discrimination Age Discrimination In terms of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, employers are not allowed to treat employees less favourably because of their age, unless the employer can show that this is justified in the circumstances. As a result employees are protected against direct discrimination, for example preference being given in job applications to younger or older applicants. There is also protection against policies which affect employees of a particular age adversely. This is known as indirect discrimination. Beveridge & Kellas can advise you and represent you on all issues of age discrimination. Telephone or us now for further advice. Discrimination Racial Discrimination In terms of the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Equality Act 2010, in general terms it is unlawful for employers to treat employees and prospective employees less favourably on racial grounds. This is direct discrimination. Beveridge & Kellas can advise you and represent you on issues of race discrimination. Telephone or us now for further advice. Discrimination Religion and Beliefs It is in general terms unlawful for an employer to treat an employee or prospective employee less favourably on the grounds of the employee s religion or belief. This is direct discrimination.

5 It is also unlawful for an employer to apply an unreasonable condition to an employee which places the employee at a disadvantage due to his/her religion or belief. This is indirect discrimination. Employees are also protected from harassment because of their religion or belief. This is conduct which violates the employee s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the employee. There is also protection from victimisation if the employee has already raised an issue relating to religion or belief. Beveridge & Kellas can advise you and represent you on all issues of discrimination. Telephone or us now for further advice. Discrimination Sex Discrimination It is unlawful to discriminate against employees and prospective employees on the grounds of their sex. Employers should not give unfair preference to an employee on the basis of their sex. This includes terms and conditions, promotions, and applications for positions. This is direct discrimination. It is also unlawful for employers to introduce a condition or requirement, which would be more of a detriment to women than men. This is indirect discrimination. There is also protection from harassment where an employer or colleague subjects an employee to unwanted conduct violating the employee s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. There is also protection for employees from being victimised if they have raised an issue on the ground of sex. Financial compensation can be awarded by Tribunals,

6 including compensation for injury to feelings. Beveridge & Kellas can advise you and represent you on all issues of sex discrimination. Telephone or us now for further advice. Discrimination Sexual Orientation It is in general terms unlawful for an employer to treat an employee or prospective employee less favourably on the grounds of the employee s sexual orientation. Employees are also protected from harassment because of their sexual orientation. This is unwanted conduct which violates the employee s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the employee. There is also protection against victimisation if the employee has already raised an issue of sexual orientation. Beveridge & Kellas can advise you and represent you on all issues of this type of discrimination. Telephone or us now for further advice. Flexible Working Employees have a right to request a change in their terms and conditions of employment to allow flexible working patterns but a specific procedure has to be followed. Beveridge & Kellas can advise employees on how to make flexible working requests and whether the employers have dealt with such requests fairly and under the correct procedure.

7 If your request for flexible working has been refused, and the correct procedure has been used, one additional method of challenge is to consider whether the employer s treatment of the request is in breach of the rules on indirect sex discrimination. Beveridge & Kellas can provide advice on flexible working. Telephone or us now for further advice. Grievance Procedure This should be used by employees where informal discussions have had no effect. A reasonable employer should take steps to resolve the cause of a written grievance. It is important in any dispute for an employee to show efforts were made to resolve the issues using a grievance procedure. Beveridge & Kellas advise employees on drafting written grievances and conducting grievance procedures. Telephone or us now for further advice. Harassment Harassment is conduct directed against a person, which makes that person feel uncomfortable, threatened or vulnerable. Employees can experience harassment from colleagues and/or employers. Employees have legal protection against harassment. In particular, if an employee is harassed due to a personal characteristic covered by discrimination laws, for example race, they have additional protection. Beveridge & Kellas can provide advice and representation on remedies available for harassment at work. Telephone or us now for further advice.

8 Ill Health Absence Employers have an obligation to behave reasonably. They should wait a reasonable time before dismissing employees who have ill health. There should be no dismissal if there is a reasonable chance of the employee returning to work in a manageable time scale. Employers should ensure they are sufficiently informed about the employee s ill health before making any decisions. Some employees may have additional protection under Disability Discrimination laws. Beveridge & Kellas can provide advice and representation to employees absent from work on the grounds of health and facing issues with their employers as a result. Telephone or us now for further advice. Parental Rights Employees can be entitled to parental leave, paternity leave and time off to deal with family emergencies. Beveridge & Kellas can provide advice on all parental rights. Telephone or us now for further advice. Pregnancy and Maternity Employees have legal rights both during and following pregnancy. Apart from pay, most contractual benefits continue during ordinary maternity leave. Employees are entitled to 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave and a further 26 weeks additional maternity leave. Beveridge & Kellas can provide advice and representation to employees on

9 pregnancy and maternity matters. Telephone or us now for further advice Part Time Workers Part time workers are entitled to be treated no less favourably than full time workers who do the same kind of work for the employer. Their salaries and benefits should be pro-rata to those of comparable full time staff. If that is not so grievance and Employment Tribunal claims can be made. Beveridge & Kellas can advise you and represent you these issues. Telephone or us now for further advice. Redundancy An employer can make employees redundant where they no longer require employees of a particular type, or have too many employees of a particular type, or a particular workplace is closing down; but the employer must consult and look at alternatives including possible alternative employment. Employers selecting individuals for redundancy must use fair and objective criteria. Beveridge & Kellas can provide advice and representation on all redundancy issues. Telephone or us now for further advice. Severance Packages These are financial packages negotiated between the employee and the employer to bring the employment to an end. Legal advice is invaluable to ensure any package is fair and reasonable in the circumstances. Compromise agreements are required to put these packages in place and Beveridge

10 & Kellas are qualified to sign these as independent advisors. Beveridge & Kellas can provide advice on all severance packages. Telephone or us now for further advice. Transfer of Employment Where the employer s business has been transferred, the employee is entitled to be transferred under his/her existing terms and conditions. This can happen in take over situations. The employee is entitled to be retained by the new employer, unless the new employer can show a good economic, technical or organisational reason for changing the terms and conditions or for bringing the employment to an end. This position is covered by the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 known as TUPE. The regulations and how they operate are complex. Beveridge & Kellas can provide advice on TUPE. Telephone or us now for further advice). Unfair Dismissal For a dismissal to be fair, the employer must show that proper procedures have been followed, that the employer had a genuine belief based on a reasonable investigation of the employee s misconduct, and that dismissal is a reasonable response. What this means in general is that employees should not be dismissed unless they have been made aware the conduct is likely to result in dismissal, or there has been an obvious act of misconduct, or there have been a number of previous warnings for similar misconduct.

11 If the issue is performance, employees should always have a chance to improve their performance and the employer should provide assistance and training where appropriate. If the dismissal is unfair, compensation based on financial loss can be sought. We recommend employees contact us during the disciplinary procedure for advice on how to defend themselves against possible dismissal. If you have suffered unfair dismissal, Beveridge & Kellas can provide representation before an Employment Tribunal to make a claim. Telephone or us now for further advice.

12 For more detailed advice tailored to your needs please contact one of the following people: Graeme Duncan Mike Kemp

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