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    Bereavement can be challenging and difficult for businesses and managers to respond to when one of their employees are going through a devastating situation. It is important to understand that everyone deals with grief differently and each bereavement is unique.

    What are your obligations?
    Acas state that Section 57(A) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 gives a “day one” right for an employee to have ‘reasonable’ time off work to deal with an emergency, such as a bereavement involving a dependant.
    Employers are not required to pay for time off, however many employers do give some paid compassionate leave.
    We would advise that you have a policy that clear sets out what the employee is expected to do in such circumstances and this is communicated to the workforce.

    Impact on employers
    A loss of a loved one can have long term effects and as employers you want to be able to minimise the severity of those effects.

    There may be an increase in absence. This could be due to many factors such as feeling and being ill mentally and physically or having to make necessary practical arrangements at home. Another reason could be that they may feel anxious coming back in to work and seeing their work colleagues. The employee may experience a loss of confidence. Any increased in absence has a significant impact on the bottom line and management time, so managing this effectively will reduce this.

    The employee may behave out of character, which could impact on the team and productivity.

    Other employees within the team or business may not understand fully the situation and may be frustrated that the employee is taking time off for a length of time. Employers need to be mindful of bullying and harassment in these cases.

    If not managed effectively, employee retention may be affected and morale in the rest of the business too, as they will be able to see how the business treats their employees in times of grief.

    How can businesses support employees?
    Acknowledge their loss and find out how you can help them during this time. It is important to get their perspective and not to portray your own perceptions on how they should be behaving and feeling at this time. Stay in regular contact, do not ignore the situation.

    Consider if there are any adjustments to be made- offer phased return, work from home, work nearer home, flexible hours?

    If there are any large organisational changes scheduled be mindful of the current mental state of the employee and how this may impact on them.

    Have a clear bereavement policy in place that is easily accessible and communicated to all staff. Ensure that this policy is tailor made for the business.

    Ask the employee how much information they would like their colleagues to know.

    Training for line managers is a crucial element of support employees during a bereavement, they play a key role. It will be important for the line managers to understand that everyone grieves in different ways and will need support differently. Line managers should be able to revert to the policy for support and guidance as well as HR. In order to understand and be able to support the employee effectively the employers should learn about the 5 signs/stages of grief- Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

    Sometimes businesses experience a death of one of their employees. During this time, it be able advisable to offer counselling through an employee assistance programme. Offer the opportunity for employees to discuss the employee and the situation where necessary.

    For additional support, look into contacting charities or local support groups.

    Work may be a welcomed distraction for the employee, something to focus on. It is important to understand that a quick return does not mean that they have fully recovered from the situation. Be sensitive and limit your expectations during this early period.

    Carry out a return to work meeting and maintain open and honest dialogue in the coming months after.
    Employers must also be mindful of potential discrimination situations.

    There are many ways to support employees and we can advise further on those and any practical steps and guidance. Please call our HR Specialists for a confidential chat, or email hello@peachlaw.co.uk.

    Disclaimer
    This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

    HR Lunch Seminar- The Gig Economy: What is it? What does it mean for your business?

    We answer the question from an Employment Law perspective and HR perspective. We will look how it relates to you and the recent highly publicised cases involving Uber and Deliveroo. What are the pros and cons of the gig economy and your responsibilities!

    Think about your workforce. Do you have freelancers? Do you have flexible workers? Come and join us to know more!

    Lunch will be provided at 12pm with an opportunity to network, with the seminar starting at 12.30pm.

    We are delighted to be holding this free event in partnership with Jobwise, an award winning recruitment agency based in the North West. Jobwise has assisted both local business and job seekers for over 37 years with their total recruitment solution.

    REGISTER HERE!

    It is well known that although the UK does not have months of warm, sunny days and barmy nights during the summer, there are bursts of this weather which appear to throw a lot of people off track. Last minute holiday requests, increased absence, debates about what you can wear and the inevitable question of what is the highest temperature you can work under. The answer to that question is that there is no legal maximum temperature, but there are things you can do as a business to support your employees and manage the heat.

    Increase in holiday requests
    This time of the year is the lead up to school holidays and childcare arrangements need to be made. Do you have a holiday procedure in place? What does your policy say? Encourage employees to put in holiday requests as soon as possible and treat every request fairly. There will no doubt be overlapping requests, can your business handle this?

    Unauthorised absence.
    With the increase in holidays there may be a higher risk of employees of falling ill whilst away and may not be able to return to work when they are scheduled. Do you have a procedure in place that addresses this?

    It may be that employees are more likely to take a day off if it is going to have a warm, sunny day. Have you seen increased absences on a Monday after a warm weekend? Consider whether you require any medical certificates for the absence.

    An increase in sporting events in the summer months may affect absence in the workplace, are you prepared?

    In any event, investigation will be key and consideration should be taken whether the disciplinary procedure should be followed. If in doubt, get in touch!

    Flexible working arrangements.
    Think about flexible working requests for those parents to cover school holidays.

    Beautiful weather in the UK cannot be relied upon and doesn’t land perfectly on a weekend on bank holiday. Employers should take this opportunity to enhance their employee engagement and if business permits reward staff with an early finish or a longer lunch time.

    Perhaps allow those who come in to work earlier to avoid the busy commute and being cooped in their hot transport. It is the little things that make a difference.

    Keep cool.
    It is important in warmer conditions to keep hydrated, ensure staff have access to water. Do you have a fan or an air conditioning unit? Open windows and close blinds where possible. Consider those employees who are required to carry out physical activity and what can be done to support them. Is water readily available? IT equipment can generate heat, is there an option to turn these off when not in use?

    Dress Code
    It is advisable that loose clothing is worn during warm weather. Are your employees required to wear PPE or a uniform? Agree what is acceptable with your employees, it will be important that communication is effective in any event. Be aware of any possible resentment for those who have to wear PPE or uniform, what alternatives are available to them? Be mindful of those in customer facing roles too.

    Advise your employees on how they can contribute to minimise disruption in the summer months and encourage their involvement. If you do have any concerns or queries on how you should handle these situations please contact one of our HR Specialists on 0161 478 3800 or hello@peachlaw.co.uk on a confidential basis.

    Disclaimer
    This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

    The Advocate General at the CJEU (the Court of Justice of the European Union) has held that a workers paid holiday entitlement can carry over if they do not take the holiday because the employer refuses to pay them.

    In the case of ‘King -v- The Sash Window Workshop’, the following points were considered;
    i.) the right to carry annual leave entitlement over from one leave year to the next.
    ii.) the right to claim back pay for untaken leave in previous leave years, particularly when employment has ended.

    The CJEU is not bound by the opinion of the Advocate General but will usually be guided by this.

    The facts
    Mr King, the Claimant a self-employed salesperson was engaged by the Respondent, The Sash Window Workshop, and brought an Employment Tribunal claim against the Respondent, seeking compensation for leave that was accrued but not taken, as well as for unpaid holiday days that he had taken over the period of his employment spanning 13 years.

    The Claimant was successful in his claims for holiday pay, and also age discrimination in relation to his dismissal. The Respondent chose to appeal the Employment Tribunal’s decision on the holiday pay point.

    The matter was eventually referred to the European Court of Justice to seek clarity in respect of elements of European Law and the Working Time Regulations, where the Advocate General’s opinion was that it is not compatible with European Union law to require a worker to take leave first before being able to establish whether the worker is entitled to be paid.

    In addition, the Advocate General considered that should a worker not be provided with an opportunity to take annual leave, the worker should then be given payment in lieu of untaken leave. He also stated that if the worker does not take all of the entitled annual leave because the employer does not pay the worker for leave taken, the paid leave will carry over until it can be taken.

    In this case it is worth noting that the 3-month limit issue in holiday pay claims (‘Fulton -v- Bear Scotland’), was not considered here. The Bear Scotland case clarified that:

    Anybody making a claim must have had an underpayment for holiday pay that has taken place within three months of lodging an employment tribunal claim.

    If a claim involves a series of underpayments, any claims for the earlier underpayments will fail if there has been a break of more than three months between those underpayments.

    What does this mean for businesses?
    Businesses need to be mindful that workers are entitled to holiday pay and if your workers are not taking their holiday, they could be entitled to back pay. This case has however, been decided based on the fact that the worker did not take holidays as the employer refused to pay them. Further, this particular case does not consider the three-month limit issue in holiday pay claims, which is usually a requirement for such a claim to be progressed, and therefore, it is possible that there will be further case law updates in respect of this point, which we shall of course keep you updated on.

    This is an interesting and evolving area of law and we would suggest you contact one of our Employment Lawyers to discuss further should this be a concern for your business on 0161 478 3800 or at hello@peachlaw.co.uk

    Disclaimer
    This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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