Problems &

Disagreements

Problems & Disagreements

 

Starting a business is an empowering yet daunting time. The start-up costs are generally high and the returns in the first few months are low or non-existent.

Here you will find advice on some of the key areas of concern when encountering a problem or disagreement. 

Manage your debt

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it? Make sure you do things right when you discipline an employee. Our employment solicitors can provide you with a disciplinary hearing letter/notice to be sent to the employee which sets out in clear and simple terms the disciplinary allegations, process to be followed, the employee's rights and potential sanctions. Why is it important? If you are formally disciplining an employee for misconduct, this letter ensures that you are complying with the unfair dismissal laws. It also meets the requirements of the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It is always best practice to give the employee a right to appeal any misconduct decision. The letter should tell the employee they must appeal in writing with their grounds of appeal. If you accept an appeal by the employee, you should respond with a letter inviting the employee to an appeal hearing for misconduct. Risks Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded your employee if the case went to court.




Invitation letter to a Appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it? The right to appeal against the outcome of disciplinary action is an important element of a fair disciplinary process. Where an employee appeals against a disciplinary sanction, the employer should invite them to a disciplinary appeal hearing. Why is it important? The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation letter to an appeal hearing that helps ensure that your processes are watertight. The invitation should include information about the employee's right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing. Risks Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded if the case went to court.




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting for example, when the outcome is a warning, dismissal or no further action is to be taken by the employer.




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it? This is a letter that should be used to invite an employee to a performance appeal hearing.




Invitation letter to a performance hearing





Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the poor performance meeting when the outcome is a warning or no further action is to be taken.




Disciplinary procedure


What is it? A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’). Why is it important? You should put your disciplinary procedure in writing and make it easily available to all staff. IIt should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take. It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you do not agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision. Disciplinary steps : Your disciplinary procedure should include the following steps: A letter setting out the issue. A meeting to discuss the issue. A disciplinary decision. A chance to appeal this decision. Risks Before starting a disciplinary procedure against a member of staff , you should first see whether the problem can be resolved in an informal way. This can often be the quickest and easiest solution. If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Suspension Letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee will be suspended pending investigation of the disciplinary allegations.




Dismissal letter for misconduct


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the grounds of misconduct falling short of Gross Misconduct. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for poor performance


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal for poor performance. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


What is it? This Gross Misconduct Notice of Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the ground of gross misconduct. An employee can be dismissed “on the spot” for gross misconduct eg fighting at work. Why is it important? However it is best practice to follow up a gross misconduct “on the spot dismissal” with a letter fully explaining the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of their dismissal when they have under two years’ service with the employer. Why is it important? It is best practice to put an employee on a performance improvement plan(PIP) first before dismissing them irrespective of their length of service. This letter can be used where an employee is dismissed either with or without having been put on a performance improvement plan. In all cases, the employer should adopt a professional and respectful tone when communicating with the soon-to-be dismissed employee. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Appeal letter


What is it? This is a letter from an employee against whom a disciplinary sanction has been imposed appealing against the dismissal. If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

An appraisal is a formal process that allows you and a member of staff to assess the staff member’s performance over a period of time eg on a 6 month or 12 month basis. A detailed appraisal has a number of benefits for you and your employees.

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

1. review and provide feedback on their performance and set objectives to maximise performance.

2. It also gives the employee the opportunity to comment on their performance, suggest improvements and bring any problems to your attention.

3. It can therefore assist in motivating employees, resolution of problems and the prevention of legal disputes.

Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation to attend an appraisal meeting letter tailored to your specific requirements. This letter sets the date for the meeting, who will conduct the meeting and whether the member of staff needs to bring any particular documents or information to the meeting.

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.





Recovering a debt

Debt recovery letter


What is it? This is the payment overdue letter or debt chaser letter. This letter reminds the customer that their account is now overdue. It is a friendly reminder and not a severe warning letter. Why is it important? The first reminder letter should be sent the day after an invoice becomes due. At this early stage we do not recommend that you adopt an aggressive approach. A friendly reminder letter as in our template is all that you need at this stage. If the invoice remains unpaid after say 14 days, we recommend that you go on to the second stage i.e. the late payment letter.




Second debt recovery letter


What is it?

This is the Late Payment Reminder letter. This letter should include a copy of the relevant invoices(s) and if available a copy of the signed order form or any other document that was used to confirm the order.

Why is it important?

Adding this information will ensure that your customer has all the documents they need to see that the debt is due and payable. We recommend that you do not refer to the right to charge interest in this letter as this might upset your customer if as may be the case, the late payment was just an oversight. If you do not receive payment within 14 days escalate the process and send the Final Demand Letter.




Letter before action


What is it? This is the Final demand for payment letter.
Why is it important?
This letter is worded in a firm and formal manner and should be sent as the last action before you issue legal proceedings against the customer. If your customer does not pay you shortly after you have sent the LBA then issue proceedings after the payment deadline has passed. Do not leave a long gap between the sending of the LBA and the issue of proceedings as further delays are not likely to assist your recovery of the debt.




Recover debt - Loans


What is it? Our debt recovery lawyers can provide you with a range of individual letter templates designed to recover a range of loans. Why is it important? The letters cover each key stage in communicating with a customer or client that has an overdue loan.




Recover debt - Debt collection


What is it?

As invoices grow older the more difficult it becomes to recover the debt. We can provide you with a commercial debt recovery service on a “no win, no fee basis which means we charge a success-based fee proportionate to what we recover. This fee is charged on the basis of the age of the debt and your customer’s location. We also charge a small administration fee per customer to assist with our initial debtor verification process. This entails our debt recovery lawyers assessing the customer’s creditworthiness and checking whether there are any outstanding County Court judgments against the customer.

Alternatively, our debt recovery lawyers can provide you with a range of individual letter templates designed to assist you with recovering the money that you are owed quickly and professionally.

To discuss your requirements with one of our debt recovery lawyers and take a look at our fees in detail, call us now!




Instructing bailiffs to recover possession of property or seize goods to satisfy judgments


What is it?

You can instruct either the County Court bailiffs or High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO) to collect your judgment debt. The bailiffs will add their enforcement fees to the debt.

If your debt is under £600 you can only apply at the County Court to instruct the bailiffs. If your debt is between £600 and £5000 you can instruct either the County Court bailiffs or the HCEOs. If your debt is over £5,000 and not regulated by the Consumer Credit Act you must instruct the High Court bailiffs.

The bailiffs once instructed will contact the debtor to give them 7 days to pay the debt. If the debt is not paid the bailiffs can attend the debtor’s home or premise to recover the debt due or seize goods to the value of the debt including their fees. The goods will be sold at auction and the money raised used to pay your debt and the bailiff’s fees. Instructing bailiffs can be very effective in recovering a debt.

Risks

Bailiffs can only take goods owned solely by the debtor or jointly owned by the debtor but cannot take goods that are subject to hire purchase agreements, essential household items such as bedding, furniture, kitchen equipment etc or the debtor’s tools of trade (up to a value of £1350) ie tools which the debtor needs for his trade. The goods when sold at auction will be sold as second-hand goods so you will not recover the sale price of the goods.

If you need help in enforcing a county court judgment we can help. Our advice is quick, effective and cost-effective.





Landlord & Tenant problems

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it? Make sure you do things right when you discipline an employee. Our employment solicitors can provide you with a disciplinary hearing letter/notice to be sent to the employee which sets out in clear and simple terms the disciplinary allegations, process to be followed, the employee's rights and potential sanctions. Why is it important? If you are formally disciplining an employee for misconduct, this letter ensures that you are complying with the unfair dismissal laws. It also meets the requirements of the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It is always best practice to give the employee a right to appeal any misconduct decision. The letter should tell the employee they must appeal in writing with their grounds of appeal. If you accept an appeal by the employee, you should respond with a letter inviting the employee to an appeal hearing for misconduct. Risks Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded your employee if the case went to court.




Invitation letter to a Appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it? The right to appeal against the outcome of disciplinary action is an important element of a fair disciplinary process. Where an employee appeals against a disciplinary sanction, the employer should invite them to a disciplinary appeal hearing. Why is it important? The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation letter to an appeal hearing that helps ensure that your processes are watertight. The invitation should include information about the employee's right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing. Risks Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded if the case went to court.




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting for example, when the outcome is a warning, dismissal or no further action is to be taken by the employer.




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it? This is a letter that should be used to invite an employee to a performance appeal hearing.




Invitation letter to a performance hearing





Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the poor performance meeting when the outcome is a warning or no further action is to be taken.




Disciplinary procedure


What is it? A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’). Why is it important? You should put your disciplinary procedure in writing and make it easily available to all staff. IIt should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take. It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you do not agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision. Disciplinary steps : Your disciplinary procedure should include the following steps: A letter setting out the issue. A meeting to discuss the issue. A disciplinary decision. A chance to appeal this decision. Risks Before starting a disciplinary procedure against a member of staff , you should first see whether the problem can be resolved in an informal way. This can often be the quickest and easiest solution. If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Suspension Letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee will be suspended pending investigation of the disciplinary allegations.




Dismissal letter for misconduct


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the grounds of misconduct falling short of Gross Misconduct. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for poor performance


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal for poor performance. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


What is it? This Gross Misconduct Notice of Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the ground of gross misconduct. An employee can be dismissed “on the spot” for gross misconduct eg fighting at work. Why is it important? However it is best practice to follow up a gross misconduct “on the spot dismissal” with a letter fully explaining the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of their dismissal when they have under two years’ service with the employer. Why is it important? It is best practice to put an employee on a performance improvement plan(PIP) first before dismissing them irrespective of their length of service. This letter can be used where an employee is dismissed either with or without having been put on a performance improvement plan. In all cases, the employer should adopt a professional and respectful tone when communicating with the soon-to-be dismissed employee. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Appeal letter


What is it? This is a letter from an employee against whom a disciplinary sanction has been imposed appealing against the dismissal. If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

An appraisal is a formal process that allows you and a member of staff to assess the staff member’s performance over a period of time eg on a 6 month or 12 month basis. A detailed appraisal has a number of benefits for you and your employees.

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

1. review and provide feedback on their performance and set objectives to maximise performance.

2. It also gives the employee the opportunity to comment on their performance, suggest improvements and bring any problems to your attention.

3. It can therefore assist in motivating employees, resolution of problems and the prevention of legal disputes.

Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation to attend an appraisal meeting letter tailored to your specific requirements. This letter sets the date for the meeting, who will conduct the meeting and whether the member of staff needs to bring any particular documents or information to the meeting.

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.





Reorganisation & Redundancies

At risk of redundancy letter


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee is at risk of being made redundant.




Dismissal for redundancy letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee is being dismissed for redundancy reasons. It is best practice for the employee to be given the right of appeal against redundancy.




Invitation to a redundancy appeal meeting


What is it?

This is a letter to an employee inviting them to a redundancy appeal meeting.




Redundancy consultation letter


What is it? This is a letter to an employee informing them of the redundancy consultation procedure. The letter should contain details of the consultation procedure.





Commercial notices

Notice of breach of covenants


What is it? This is popularly called a Section 146 Notice (it is a notice required to be served by section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 and relates solely to business tenants) that warns a tenant who is in breach of covenant (other than the covenant to pay rent) of the landlord’s intention to forfeit the lease on ground of the breach of covenant. Why is it important? “Forfeiture” is the right of the landlord to re-enter the commercial property and take back possession of the property if a covenant has been breached. For the notice to be valid and binding the notice must specify the breach of covenant and if the breach is capable of remedy , require the tenant to remedy it and pay monetary compensation to the landlord for the breach. A landlord can only serve such a notice if the lease contains a right to forfeit the lease (i.e. a right of re-entry). The notice must also contain certain prescribed information. If the tenant does not remedy the breach within a reasonable time the landlord can start forfeiture proceedings in the County Court. Risks A landlord who wants to forfeit the lease must avoid “waiving” the breach of covenant. Waiver occurs where a landlord becomes aware of a breach of the lease but does not take action against the tenant within a reasonable period or acknowledges the continuation of the lease by for example demanding rent or service charges or accepting rent payments from the tenant.




Break notice


What is it? A Break Notice, also known as a Break Clauses or a break option, is an important contractual provision in a lease which allows either a landlord or tenant to bring a Lease to an early end. Some landlords often have a vested interest in making life difficult for a tenant seeking to exercise its option to break the lease by making the option subject to stringent conditions. Why is it important? Break Notices are akin to options and are therefore strictly construed by the courts . From the tenant’s perspective, a properly drafted Break Clause gives them the opportunity to avoid being tied into a lease that they can no longer afford. This is a safety-net for a tenant – especially if they are just starting out. Understandably though, a landlord who is receiving a steady rental income may be reluctant to lose a tenant, particularly in tough economic times. Risks Any tenant seeking to exercise the option to break the lease must check the lease carefully and ensure they follow the landlord’s “break clause conditions” to the letter. It is crucial when taking a lease that a tenant understands that the conditions of the Break Clause can easily defeat an option to break unless followed to the letter. If the conditions are not strictly followed the termination is not valid and the tenant remains a lessee until the expiry of the lease, the next break clause date or until the tenant is able to assign the lease with the landlord’s consent if there is such a provision in the lease. A properly advised tenant should refuse any condition, other than up-to date payment of principal rent and giving up occupation.




Tenants agreement to exclude security of tenure


What is it? The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 provides tenants of business premises with rights of ‘security of tenure’. This means that once a business tenant’s lease expires, the tenant has the right to request a new lease on the same terms as the previous lease (subject to agreement on terms, such as the amount of rent, any legislative updates etc), except where the landlord has a statutory ground to refuse a new lease (for instance, if the tenant has failed to pay rent or the landlord wishes to redevelop the premises). Why is it important? When agreeing to enter into a commercial or business lease, one of the things that will be discussed when agreeing Heads of Terms is whether your lease will be ‘protected’ with security of tenure, or ‘contracted out’ i.e. excluded’ from security of tenure. It is quite common for landlords to require that security of tenure rights are excluded from a lease. They do this by asking the prospective tenant to sign a notice in front of an independent solicitor agreeing to the exclusion of security of tenure under the lease. Risks This notice means that a tenant of commercial premises will not have the automatic right to request a renewal of their lease at the end of the term of the lease, leaving the landlord free to let the property to another tenant at the end of the term. This is because landlords often wish to retain strict control over the occupation of their property. If security of tenure is excluded, you the tenant, must vacate the property at the end of the lease in accordance with its terms unless you have negotiated a new lease with the landlord separately.




Landlords notice to exclude security of tenure





Section 25 Notice


What is it? This is a notice by the landlord under s25 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. Why is it important? It allows the landlord to start a procedure which will end either in the tenant being granted a new lease or in the tenant vacating. This notice cannot be given before the last year of the lease terms nor after the tenant has served a request for a new tenancy under s26 of the Act. Risks The s25 notice must state the date on which the landlord intends to bring the existing lease to an end.




Section 26 Notice


What is it? This is a notice given by the tenant requesting a new tenancy upon the termination of the old tenancy. Why is it important? The s26 request must specify the date on which the existing lease is to end. Risks This notice cannot be served before the last year of the agreed lease term nor can it be served after the landlord has served a s25 notice.




Licence for alterations


What is it? This is a licence from the landlord to the tenant giving the tenant the right to carry out specific works or alterations to the property that is being let. The alterations may be major or minor. Why is it important? The Licence should include provisions as to the manner in which the tenant will carry out the works, timescales, reinstatement and (to the extent applicable) the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. Drawings and specifications showing the proposed works should be attached to the Licence so that it is clear what the landlord is consenting to. If the proposed alterations are not substantial (e.g. the erection of demountable partitioning or signage) you can use a simple Letter- Licence to Alter.




Section 27 Notice


What is it? A tenant has the right under s27 of the 1954 Act to bring the tenancy to an end by giving at least three months’ notice before the date on which the tenancy would otherwise expire. If the lease term has expired but the tenancy is still continuing under the 1954 Act the tenant may bring that continuing tenancy to an end by giving not less than three months’ notice in writing to the landlord.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Breaches of contract

What is a Contract?


What is it?

A contract is a promise or agreement between two or more parties that is legally binding.

For a contract to exist there must be:

  1. An agreement by the parties created by the offer and acceptance of specific terms or obligations by either party;
  2. An intention by the parties to create legal obligations and form an enforceable agreement;
  3. Consideration – this arises where on party to the contract promises or offers to do something for the other party which the other party accepts by giving something in return. An example of consideration can be seen when a customer agrees to buy goods from a shop owner and money is exchanged for the goods.

If you need help or advice on any contract, commercial or business law issue, please contact our commercial contract solicitors.




Breaches of contract/Breaches of covenant


What is it?

A breach of contract is similar to a breach of covenant the only difference being that the term “breach of covenant” is mainly used in relation to breaches of promises or obligations in a property deed or occasionally written contract.

A breach of contract or breach of covenant occurs when one party to the agreement fails to fulfil an obligation or breaks the terms and conditions set out in an agreement. This may occur if for instance one party fails to pay for goods or services provided by the other party or the other party fails to provide the goods agreed or fails to provide services agreed to an acceptable standard.

Why is it important?

Before you decide to sue someone for breach of contract it is always worthwhile to review the merits of your claim (seek legal advice if you are unsure) , assess the value of your claim, consider whether pursuing legal action is a reasonable and cost-effective response and consider the relationship between you and the other party to the contract. Do you want the relationship to continue? Is pursuing your claim a reasonable and cost-effective response? If you have any doubts it is always best to try to negotiate a settlement rather than go to court.

For advice in relation to a breach of contract or breach of covenant call our specialist solicitors on 01234 938089.




Contract disputes: Should I sue for breach of contract?


What is it?

It is not always easy to sue someone for breach of contract. In order to stand a good chance of succeeding in your claim you need to show that:

1.The existence of a legally binding contract. If the contract was made verbally it may be difficult to prove that there was a contract that is legally binding. This shows the importance of ensuring that all contracts that you enter into is recorded in writing. You can rely on emails and letters to prove the contract existed.

2. There was a breach of contract ie the party you are suing did not fulfil their obligations under the agreement or that they did not perform their obligations properly.

3. You have suffered loss as a direct result of the breach of contract and that you deserve to be awarded damages for the loss suffered. This is a difficult hurdle to overcome as the court will only award damages if it is sure that the loss you suffered was caused by the breach of contract, you have tried to mitigate your loss (ie taken reasonable steps to try to reduce your loss) and that the damage that you suffered was not too remote.

Litigation can be costly, distressing, damaging and time consuming.

If you have a contract dispute that is bothering you and need information and advice on any breaches of contract, please contact our commercial contract lawyers.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


 
 

Issues with employer

My GP has asked me to self-isolate as my father is exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus. He has not yet been tested. Am I entitled to my pay during my period of self-isolation?


Government guidance provides that from 13 March 2020 an employee who is self-isolating in accordance with the guidance/doctor’s recommendation will be deemed incapable of work and will also be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from Day One (1) as long as the employee satisfies the SSP earnings criteria. The minimum weekly pay to qualify for ss is currently £118 per week. The current SSP weekly rate is £94.50p. You may also be entitled to contractual sick pay from your employer if you have a company sick pay scheme and your employment contract provides for this. This rate is generally higher as it is usually based on an employee’s salary. SSP is payable for up to 28 weeks.




I am well but do not feel like attending work because I am worried about coronavirus. Can I insist on working from home?


What is it?

If you are worried about coronavirus but do not fall into any of the groups that self-isolate you should check the latest guidance from the government and talk to your employer. As you may know the guidance provides that if possible all employees should work from home. If you fall within one of the high-risk groups, have an underlying medical condition or are very concerned about the virus your employer may be able to arrange for you to work from home, or take your standard or unpaid annual leave.

If you have any specific concerns eg an underlying medical condition which may amount to a disability under the Equality Act 2010 your employer may be able to arrange for you to work from home as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010. If your employer has considered your request and cannot provide you with homeworking facilities or any other suitable alternatives and you decide not to attend work your employer may be entitled to treat your non-attendance at work as a breach of contract and may withhold your pay.




I am self-employed. A friend has just told me that the Government has now delayed implementation of the new IR35 rules because of the pandemic. Is this true?


Yes it is true. The new off-payroll working rules (IR35) in the private sector were due to be operational on 6 April 2020. However, in view of the pandemic crisis the Government has moved the start date back 12 months. It is therefore likely to come into effect on 6 April 2021.




My employer is complaining that the company can no longer afford to pay staff as a result of the pandemic. It is true that business appears to be drying out. If the pandemic continues can my employer fire me?


Before considering firing an employee as a result of cashflow problems your employer should consider “furloughing” you under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and other available methods of avoiding redundancies.

“Furlough” means a temporary leave of absence from work. The CJRS is a temporary scheme set up by the Government to support employers whose operations have been affected by coronavirus. It allows an employer to keep staff on the company’s payroll without them working for a limited period of time. Under this scheme an employer can claim for 80% of a “furloughed” employee’s usual monthly salary costs (up to£2500 per month) plus the employee’s National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that salary. The details are set out on the government’s website at www.gov.uk.

Other options available to your employer would be a lay-off, redundancy and a termination of your contract if there is a clause in your contract that provides for termination in such circumstances or if you have under two years of employment. These are different from “furloughing” staff as the employee is no longer on the payroll. A lay-off means that an employee is sent home without normal pay for a time period. However, your consent to a lay-off is required unless there is a specific clause in your contract that allows a lay-off. Making you redundant would result in a termination of your employment with your employer. If your employer decides it has no alternative other than to go ahead with redundancies it should fully consult and maintain records to show why it wants to go ahead with firing you despite the availability of the CJRS.

Your employer must have a valid reason for dismissing you. There are procedures that an employer who wishes to make staff must follow. Firing you in breach of the terms in your contract and of the law would be a breach of contract. Employees may agree to a period of lay off as an alternative to the employer making redundancies, however an employer should obtain specific legal advice if it is considering lay-off.

We would suggest that you speak to your employer about placing you on “furlough”. When the furlough scheme has ended your employer can decide whether there is enough work for you and your fellow employees to return. If the work has diminished or ceased then your employer can decide to implement redundancies in accordance with the redundancy procedures .




I was taken on to provide temporary maternity cover. My employer has now dismissed me on the ground that the person for whom I provided maternity cover is returning next week.


The dismissal is fair if your employer made it clear at the start of your placement that the post was temporary.




I want to issue proceedings against my manager. Can you help me?


You may be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal if you have a problem at work that you have not been able to resolve. Before you issue proceedings it is a good idea to speak to your employer and discuss options with your employer about how you can resolve matters.

You can speak to your employer informally or put in a formal grievance if informal discussion does not resolve the matter.

You should also Inform ACAS that you are making a claim.

ACAS will offer you the option of 'early conciliation'. This is a free service. It can help you and your employer resolve the problem before you issue a claim.

You should always consider early conciliation as making a claim to a tribunal and fighting your claim can be expensive, time consuming and difficult for everyone involved.

Time limits/Limitation

A claim to an employment tribunal must generally be made within 3 months less 1 day.

This is known as the 'limitation date'.

For example, if you want to make a claim for unfair dismissal, you have 3 months less 1 day from the date of termination of your employment to make your claim.

If your claim is for equal pay or redundancy pay or equal pay you must make your claim within 6 months.

Fees - How much do I have to pay to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal?

You do not have to pay a fee to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal.





Managing employee performance

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it? Make sure you do things right when you discipline an employee. Our employment solicitors can provide you with a disciplinary hearing letter/notice to be sent to the employee which sets out in clear and simple terms the disciplinary allegations, process to be followed, the employee's rights and potential sanctions. Why is it important? If you are formally disciplining an employee for misconduct, this letter ensures that you are complying with the unfair dismissal laws. It also meets the requirements of the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It is always best practice to give the employee a right to appeal any misconduct decision. The letter should tell the employee they must appeal in writing with their grounds of appeal. If you accept an appeal by the employee, you should respond with a letter inviting the employee to an appeal hearing for misconduct. Risks Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded your employee if the case went to court.




Invitation letter to a Appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it? The right to appeal against the outcome of disciplinary action is an important element of a fair disciplinary process. Where an employee appeals against a disciplinary sanction, the employer should invite them to a disciplinary appeal hearing. Why is it important? The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation letter to an appeal hearing that helps ensure that your processes are watertight. The invitation should include information about the employee's right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing. Risks Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded if the case went to court.




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting for example, when the outcome is a warning, dismissal or no further action is to be taken by the employer.




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it? This is a letter that should be used to invite an employee to a performance appeal hearing.




Invitation letter to a performance hearing





Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the poor performance meeting when the outcome is a warning or no further action is to be taken.




Disciplinary procedure


What is it? A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’). Why is it important? You should put your disciplinary procedure in writing and make it easily available to all staff. IIt should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take. It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you do not agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision. Disciplinary steps : Your disciplinary procedure should include the following steps: A letter setting out the issue. A meeting to discuss the issue. A disciplinary decision. A chance to appeal this decision. Risks Before starting a disciplinary procedure against a member of staff , you should first see whether the problem can be resolved in an informal way. This can often be the quickest and easiest solution. If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Suspension Letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee will be suspended pending investigation of the disciplinary allegations.




Dismissal letter for misconduct


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the grounds of misconduct falling short of Gross Misconduct. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for poor performance


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal for poor performance. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


What is it? This Gross Misconduct Notice of Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the ground of gross misconduct. An employee can be dismissed “on the spot” for gross misconduct eg fighting at work. Why is it important? However it is best practice to follow up a gross misconduct “on the spot dismissal” with a letter fully explaining the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of their dismissal when they have under two years’ service with the employer. Why is it important? It is best practice to put an employee on a performance improvement plan(PIP) first before dismissing them irrespective of their length of service. This letter can be used where an employee is dismissed either with or without having been put on a performance improvement plan. In all cases, the employer should adopt a professional and respectful tone when communicating with the soon-to-be dismissed employee. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Appeal letter


What is it? This is a letter from an employee against whom a disciplinary sanction has been imposed appealing against the dismissal. If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

An appraisal is a formal process that allows you and a member of staff to assess the staff member’s performance over a period of time eg on a 6 month or 12 month basis. A detailed appraisal has a number of benefits for you and your employees.

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

1. review and provide feedback on their performance and set objectives to maximise performance.

2. It also gives the employee the opportunity to comment on their performance, suggest improvements and bring any problems to your attention.

3. It can therefore assist in motivating employees, resolution of problems and the prevention of legal disputes.

Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation to attend an appraisal meeting letter tailored to your specific requirements. This letter sets the date for the meeting, who will conduct the meeting and whether the member of staff needs to bring any particular documents or information to the meeting.

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.





 

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