Human Resources

As well as advising clients on how to deal with issues when claims are made, we advise clients on how to avoid issues ever escalating to claims. We advise our clients on human resources matters every day, be that by providing specific advice on a personnel issue that has arisen, or acting as a sound board for clients to run issues past.

As well as providing ad hoc advice on human resources matters, we are happy to consider general retainers for our advice.

Most employees will never give employers cause for concern about their conduct, but if and when they do it is important for the employer to ensure that the matter is dealt with appropriately and fairly.

The starting point for a fair process is usually the disciplinary policy.  We can make sure that yours is up to date, and if you don’t have one, we can draft one for you and ensure that it is properly followed.

Regardless of the seriousness of the misconduct, at some point in time the employer may consider the conduct in question when dismissing the employee, be that for repeat minor misconduct or gross misconduct.  It is therefore important to take advice on any disciplinary process in order to minimise the risk of a claim for unfair dismissal.    An unfair process can also lead to claims of constructive dismissal or discrimination.

Most misconduct is minor and can be dealt with informally, but in the case of repeat minor misconduct, an employer should ensure that it applies its disciplinary policy fairly and issues warnings when appropriate.

A failure to do this will mean that the employer is unable to rely on the earlier misconduct if considering a dismissal later down the line. It is also important at times to ensure that lines are drawn so it is clear what conduct is not acceptable.

In cases of gross misconduct an employer is likely to consider dismissing the employee.  Even if the misconduct is serious, many employers fail to undertake a fair investigation or hold a fair hearing and fall foul of the unfair dismissal legislation.

With the help of our specialist advisors we can ensure that the relevant issues are identified, suitable people are assigned to consider the Hearing and investigation (where required) and that appropriate action is taken that will stand the rigours of the Employment Tribunal.

Employees can raise grievances about anything that they are not happy about in the workplace. This can range from wages disputes and working time, to bullying and harassment.

Dealing with grievances can place a strain on managers, both in terms of the time it can take to investigate the issues and in trying to rebuild the working relationships.

A well-handled grievance can result in a once disgruntled employee being happy, motivated and productive. A poorly handled grievance however can spiral, causing widespread disruption in the workforce and potentially resulting in claims of constructive dismissal, discrimination and whistleblowing.

Grievances should not always be viewed as a negative thing by employers.  When a grievance is raised it may unearth serious issues that have gone un-noticed and need to be tackled.   For example, an employee may raise a grievance about incorrect holiday pay which could affect a large number of employees.  If the grievance is handled well it could give the employer the opportunity to remedy the broader issue and avoid liability in other cases.

Alternatively, if an employee raises a grievance about previously unknown bullying and harassment, it can give the employer the opportunity to nip the inappropriate behaviour in the bud and hopefully improve morale and productivity.

Our employment experts can help you in identifying the key issues in a grievance, ensuring that the grievance is investigated fairly, and also in highlighting any broader issues that may be a risk to the business.

Poor performance can seriously impact on the profitability of a business and can be a very difficult issue for employers to address.

Many managers are reluctant to address poor performance due to the sensitivity of raising concerns with staff and the risk of causing friction.   However, the more that poor performance is allowed to pervade, the worse it is likely to get, which can in turn damage moral amongst co-workers as well as profitability.

Addressing poor performance at an early stage is important for two main reasons.  Firstly, addressing the performance problems before they escalate will make it more likely that the employee will reach the required standards moving forwards.   Secondly, if poor performance is not managed via a fair and lawful performance plan, it is very difficult for employers to move to dismissal and can expose the company to claims of unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal.

Our team can help with performance management issues in several ways; from preparing capability policies and providing bespoke training to managers, to advising on individual cases and employment tribunal claims.

Sickness absence can place an enormous strain on employers both financially and in terms of how the absent employee’s work is covered.

If an employee has frequent short-term absence, or if they are absent for a long time, employers can consider dismissal on ill-health capability grounds. However, before dismissal can be considered the employer must ensure that a fair process is followed.

What constitutes a fair process in ill health capability cases will vary and there are numerous pitfalls which need to be avoided to mitigate against the risk of claims of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.

Each sickness absence matter will be case sensitive and expert help can assist in ensuring that a fair decision is reached and/or that appropriate action is taken. It is particularly important to try and find the route cause of the absence and get medical advice where appropriate in order to identify prognosis and steps that can be taken to improve the attendance.

There may be cases where there is something in the workplace that is preventing the employee from attending work. If that is the case, we can advise you on any appropriate action or reasonable adjustments that may need to be considered to assist the employee in returning to work. We can also advise on the legal framework surrounding disability discrimination and what steps need to be considered to meet the requirements of the Equality Act.

We can also assist employers in preparing and updating sickness absence policies, which can be a vital tool in making sure that managers know how and when to act when faced with sickness absence issues.