Determining a person’s employment status has been a contentious legal issue since the middle of the 20th century. Although current cases have tended to focus on employment rights, there is a large body of case law around tax, and the principles applied are not always entirely consistent, which adds to the difficulty.
Technical factsheet: Disciplinary, dismissal and grievance procedures
It is very important for employers to ensure that they follow a good procedure in disciplining and dismissing employees. If a fair procedure is not followed, a dismissal is likely to be unfair, no matter how good the employer’s reason for terminating the employment.
Staff sickness may be a considerable burden on a business, leading to additional staffing costs and increasing the workload for other workers. While all employers would want to support members of staff who are unwell, sickness absence must be managed otherwise it can cause problems in the workplace.
Every relationship between an employer and an employee is governed by a contract of employment, which is an agreement setting out their mutual obligations. The contract starts as soon as the employee starts work, and if there are no written terms, the parties’ obligations are implied by looking at how the parties conduct their relationship on a day-to-day basis.
The law in relation to age discrimination is covered by the Equality Act 2010. All employees and workers are covered, as well as those accessing vocational training, including job applicants and people who have left their job (and, for example, have not received a reference).
The Working Time Regulations were introduced in 1998 to give effect to the European Working Time Directive. They are a health and safety measure, primarily intended to ensure that working hours are limited, proper breaks are taken and that workers receive paid holidays. We do not know what impact Brexit will have on these regulations as the government will be free to repeal them if it chooses to do so. It is thought to be unlikely that there will be a wholesale repeal, but there may be some elements that are less popular with government and employers, and which may be subject to change.
The law recognises the right of an individual worker to be treated equally with others regardless of personal characteristics that should be irrelevant in decision-making, such as sex or race. These are known as ‘protected characteristics’. This area of law is about trying to prevent employers making choices that are detrimental to someone at work for reasons that are unlawful.
The settlement offer was introduced by s111A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to provide a new tool to assist employers to resolve issues at work. The offer and the subsequent discussions between the employer and the employee can result in them concluding a settlement agreement by which the employment is terminated in a mutually acceptable way.
Redundancy is a separate and specific reason for an employer to fairly terminate a contract of employment. It is a form of dismissal but the conduct or competence of the employee is irrelevant; the reason for the dismissal is economic and/or organisational reasons which have led to a reduction in the workforce. It is governed by the Employment Rights Act 1996.
A number of important rights have been introduced in an effort to address the work/life balance problems faced in modern working families. These rights are only accorded to employees. Most of them depend upon serving a particular period of continuous employment. Employers are free to provide enhancement to these rights if they wish but the outline below is the basic statutory entitlement.
Technical factsheet: rights of access to accounting records when those records are held by a third party
Documents belonging to clients must be given to clients (or their agents if authorised to do so) promptly on request, or on ceasing to act for the client, except in those cases where members are able to exercise a right of lien.