Launching HR Helper!

We are launching a new series of articles to give managers a helping hand when tackling HR issues. Look out for our HR Helper series for bitesize assistance with issues you may face in your organisation.

In this issue we look at some matters that may affect employers in the run-up to Christmas:
  1. An employee has called in sick but I think they’re really going Christmas shopping. What can I do?

    If there is a reasonable basis for thinking an employee is not genuinely ill the first thing to do is to fully investigate the issue. This will include holding a fact-finding meeting with the ‘sick’ employee. This could be done as part of a return to work meeting or as a separate investigation meeting. If there is sufficient evidence that the employee was not ill, it may be possible to address the matter as a disciplinary issue. However, you should discuss the facts of the case with your Employment Law Specialist.

    If the employee has over two years’ service, it is important to ensure that there is a reasonable basis for initially suspecting wrongdoing as otherwise the employee may have grounds for complaining about how they have been treated.

  2. We have refused an employee’s request for a week off over Christmas, but she has been overheard saying to a colleague that she is going to go anyway. What can we do?

    You should meet with the employee, make them aware of what was overheard and ask for their comments on it. Explain to the employee that the leave has been refused and they are required to attend work on those dates and that it will be treated as a serious conduct issue if they do not. This should be confirmed in a letter to the employee which Lloyds can help you with. In most cases this is sufficient to deter an employee from taking the holiday.

  3. What can we do if an employee turns up late for work after attending a work Christmas party?

    You should treat this the same way you would any other instance of lateness. Before taking any action, it is important to remember to find out from the employee why they were late, don’t assume it was due to the Christmas party the night before. Whilst it looks bad, the employee might have a good reason for being late!

  4. I’m going to ask employees to work overtime at Christmas as we are expecting to be busy. Are there any limits on how many hours a week they can work?

    Unless an exception applies, adult workers are limited to working a maximum of 48 hours a week on average, including overtime. The average is usually calculated over a 17-week reference period.

    That said, adult workers can voluntarily ‘opt out’ of this protection by signing what is called an opt-out agreement. If you would like an opt-out agreement for use in your organisation, please contact us as we are happy to help.

    It is important to remember that even if an employee does ‘opt-out’ they are usually still entitled to a minimum rest break and rest periods.

    Please bear in mind that there are special rules for young workers and night workers. If you would like information regarding this, please let us know.
For expert help with these and any other HR queries, please contact your Employment Law Specialist.

Please retain this Legal Update for reference as it forms part of our advice.  If you have a query regarding this update, or any other employment law related issue, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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© 13/11/2017 LELC                                                                                                  Legal Update  ELBN1117D

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