Managing a team within the workplace can be a daunting experience - we round up some more of our top tips for employers around appeals, pregnancy and office banter.
Many employers are apprehensive when it comes to more 'delicate' issues within the workplace; what exactly should you do when a female member of staff informs you that they're pregnant? How do you ensure an easygoing working environment without letting the office banter get out of hand?
We look at ways to tackle these employment issues effectively in the second portion to our Top Tips for Employers – you can take a look at Part One here.
This is a question which many of our clients ask and usually arises when an employee is due to attend a disciplinary hearing or similar. The employer normally refuses the request, stating that there will be a written note of the meeting; this, in turn, can then potentially raise data protection issues.
Rather than allowing the employee to record the meeting, an employer should state that the meeting will be recorded. This recording will avoid future disputes which tend to arise when minutes are taken and then circulated. It also lessens the risk of the employee covertly recording the meeting without your prior knowledge or consent.
The Employment Tribunal almost always allows a covert recording in as evidence despite any arguments against the same being included.
All appeals should be dealt with on their merits, of course. Those individuals that are dealing with appeals should be made aware and there should be a culture that deciding an appeal in the employee's favour doesn't mean a black mark against that individual's name.
An employer should consider the bigger picture. It may mean that it is easier to dismiss the employee in due course or that the problematic employee that you did have is now one of your best and hardworking.
Employers are more often than not liable for the acts of their employees. If you allow office banter to get out of hand, you could find yourself facing a discrimination or harassment claim.
In order to try and overcome you as an employer being vicariously liable for the acts of your employees, it is important that you can demonstrate the following factors; you have provided equality training to staff; there is an equality policy in place and it is available to all staff members; there is an effective and robust grievance process in place and an email notification or some other method of communication is sent to staff on a yearly basis, reminding them of their obligations and refer to your company's equality policy, which staff should be encouraged to read again.
It happens more than you might think. In the first instance, employers should refer to their maternity policy.
As standard, female employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks maternity leave, consisting of 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks additional maternity leave.
The earliest an employee can start maternity leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth unless the child is born prematurely before that date.
Employers should conduct a risk assessment in the first instance to ensure that the current working environment is safe and suitable for an employee who is expecting. Remember - it's a myth that pregnant employees cannot be made redundant.
Ultimately, work and life go on. If you do not have a maternity policy in place, then now is the time that you should consider having one; it is often the first question that HR or a line manager is asked when a member of staff informs them that they're pregnant. Both parties should be aware of what their rights and obligations are; for example, an employee's entitlement to maternity leave, commencing maternity leave, maternity pay, obligations during maternity leave, keeping in touch and returning to work.
For expert legal employment advice for employers, Pinney Talfourd Solicitors can help. We have an experienced and dedicated team of specialist employment lawyers based in offices across Essex and London.
We have late night and Saturday appointments available in our Essex locations and offer a free initial telephone consultation for all new employment law enquiries. You can book your free initial employment consultation using our online booking form or by calling your local office. This telephone appointment will allow you to explain the situation with an expert lawyer and discuss the best steps to minimise stress and delays.