Running your business

Running your business

 

When you are running your business, you want to be focused on the things that make you money, and not worrying about non-core functions such as legal. That being said having an understanding is key. 

This section covers a number of different legal matters that might come up while you are running your business.

 

Hiring & Managing Employees

Software Development Agreement


What is it? Software is intellectual property. A software development agreement is an agreement between a business or an individual and a developer by which the individual or business hires the developer to create and deliver a specific piece of software. Why is it important? This agreement is important as it clarifies the relationship between the developer and the hirer or employer. Risks When you engage a software developer if you want the software created to belong to your company or to you, you must ensure that you agree and insert an ownership clause in the agreement. If there is no ownership clause the software created by the developer will automatically belong to the developer even if your company has spent millions of pounds developing the software.




Freelancer Agreement


What is it? You may use a self-employed freelancer to do a specific task eg work on a project, design your website or do your marketing for a specific period.The standard contract used to hire a freelancer is a consultancy agreement. This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. A company consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer who operates through their own limited company. An individual consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer directly. Why is it important? More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Internship Agreement


What is it? An intern may be a volunteer, a worker or an employee. An internship agreement is an agreement between an intern and an employer where the intern agrees to provide their services in exchange for training provided by the employer or business with no expectation that the internship will result in employment with the business. Why is it important? If your intern will just be shadowing staff and will be unpaid you won’t need a contract but it is good practice to send your intern a letter confirming the agreement terms. If you want your intern to work for your business rather than just shadow staff your intern will either be an employee or a casual worker. Risks You must have a proper contract for their status and treat them accordingly. If your intern is an employee or a casual work you must pay them the national minimum wage(NMW). If you do not pay them the NMW you are at risk of HMRC prosecuting you or the intern suing you in court.




Staff Handbook


What is it? A Staff handbook is an important living document for your employees that sets out your company’s operational policies, values and culture for current and future employees. There is no legal obligation to have a staff handbook, however as there are certain policies that you must give your employees by law (eg disciplinary and grievance policies and health and safety policies) it is best practice to start a handbook when you hire your first employee as it sets expectations for what behaviour is acceptable and desirable across your business and can protect you legally. Why is it important? A staff handbook can be contractual or non-contractual(i.e. binding or non-binding). It is best practice to make it non-contractual so that you can change it at your discretion without having to consult staff. Make sure you keep your handbook updated to reflect the law and ensure that the issue date is clearly shown on the handbook. Risks If you do not have a staff handbook and you are in dispute or engaged in legal proceedings with an employee it will be more difficult to verify your policies and procedures.




Job description


What is it? A job description sets out the scope of the role (i.e. duties and responsibilities), any skills, experience and qualifications required, the ethos and culture of your business, salary and other staff benefits. It is important as it helps you clarify what you are looking for and will also help candidates determine whether they have the skills and experience for the role. Why is it important? Always review your job description before every recruitment exercise to ensure it accurately describes the job in question. Failing to do so may dissuade suitable candidates from applying or encourage unsuitable candidates to apply. Risks It is essential that you avoid using discriminatory words in your job description eg “bright, energetic, young man” or “ an Italian” person when you actually require someone who speaks Italian as these would indicate a preference based on gender, disability, age and ethnicity.




Job offer letter


What is it? You should always confirm a job offer in writing and ask the candidate to confirm their acceptance of the offer. Why is it important? A job offer letter is a letter offering employment after an interview and summarising the basic terms of employment (if you are providing the employment contract with the offer letter) or summarising the main employment terms (if you will not be providing the employment contract until a later date) Risks Always ensure that the offer letter specifies the conditions to which the offer is subject eg “subject to satisfactory references” and that you retain a signed copy of the offer letter and contract in the staff member’s personnel records.




Non-executive director letter of appointment


What is it? This is a formal letter appointing a person as a non-executive director of a company. It sets out the key terms of the appointment and the director’s duties and responsibilities. Why is it important? As a director is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants.




Senior employment contract


What is it? This is a more complex contract of employment between a senior employee or director/executive and an employer . It sets out the employment terms and conditions of employment and the standard areas of the employment. Why is it important? As a senior executive is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants and ensure any intellectual property created by the employee belongs to the business.




Zero hours contract


What is it? This is a casual agreement between an individual and a business where the worker works “as and when” the employer needs the labour. There is no guarantee of any set hours and the worker is not obliged to work the hours offered. Why is it important? A zero-hours contract should be used where the business simply wishes to hire a worker on a casual basis and would benefit from not having to give the worker a guaranteed number of hours and days of work. This contract is useful for seasonal work or special events eg in the agriculture business, hospitality and catering business; when a business is entering a new market and is unsure of how many staff members it will need; in cases of unexpected absence from work eg to provide cover where there is sudden sickness or absence from work etc. They are often used in the healthcare, agriculture, hotels, restaurants and education sectors. In the UK workers operating under zero-hours contracts are entitled to rest breaks, annual leave, sick pay and protection from discrimination and must be paid the national minimum wage for hours worked. Risks Zero-hours contracts are controversial due to the uncertainty of the work and the fact there is no guaranteed employment. They do however serve a purpose by providing a flexible labour market and a route into more permanent employment. You should ensure that your zero-hours contract clearly sets out your employee’s employee status, rights and obligations.




Consultancy agreement


What is it? A consultancy agreement is a contract between a self-employed person (Consultant) and a customer requiring the consultant’s services.It is similar to the standard contract used to hire a freelancer. Why is it important? This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Employment contract


What is it? An employment contract is an agreement between the employer and employee setting out the rights and duties of the employer and employee. An employment agreement is vital as it forms the legal relationship between the employer and the employee. Why is it important? If you have employees, you are legally obliged to provide them with a written statement of their basic terms of employment in writing no later than two months after they start work. From 6 April 2020 this obligation will extend to casual workers and all new employees must be provided with this written statement and additional information on or before the staff member’s first day of work. Risks If things go wrong an employment agreement will clarify the legal relationship between the employer and employee and will help the court or tribunal in providing a solution in the event of a dispute between the employer and employee. Think of an employment contract as your passport to nurturing good employment relations with your staff and running a good, progressive business. If your employee will be part-time do note that part-time staff and fixed term staff (temporary employees) must be treated equally with full-time staff. This means that a part-time or temporary employee on the same role must get the same pay or benefits as a comparable full-time member of staff pro-rated for the length of time they will be with you. Comparable employees are those doing the same or broadly similar work at the same place of work or at a different location.




Change to employment terms letter


What is it?

As an employer sometimes you may have business reasons that means you need to change your employees terms and conditions of employment (eg basic rate, overtime, bonus, working location, duties and responsibilities, hours/days of work, holiday or sick pay entitlement). This is called a “variation” of the contracts of employment.

Why is it important?

You can only do this if (a) you have a provision in the contract that allows the change. This clause is usually called a “flexibility clause” and may be in your contract or Company Handbook. (b) the employees agree the change or (c) the employees representative eg a Trade Union agrees the change.

Risks

You must have sound business reasons for making any change and follow a fair consultation procedure with your employees before you introduce the changes. If the employees do not agree the change and you believe that it is a reasonable change you can force a new contract on your employees. However, this should be used only as a last resort as it could lead to an employee raising a grievance and ultimately a claim to an Employment Tribunal. Once the change has been agreed you should ensure that each employee signs the new contract to confirm the employee has accepted the change and that you keep a copy.

Please contact our employment solicitors if you are thinking of making a change to your employment contracts.




Working time directive opt out letter


What is it? The Working Time Directive prevents employees from being forced to work more than 48 hours per week unless they freely agree to opt out of the directive. To opt out of the 48 hours limit your employees can sign an “Opt-out of the Working Time Directive Agreement”. Why is it important? This is an agreement between an employer and a worker or employee for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998 whereby the employee or worker agrees to opt-out of the maximum weekly working time limit of 48 hours for a period or indefinitely. Such agreements are usually signed by doctors, police officers a, long-haulage truck drivers and others whose jobs necessitate long working hours. Risks You cannot sack or treat your employee unfairly if they refused to opt out.




Probation letter


What is it? A probation letter is a letter by which an employer informs an employee that their probation period has finished and tells them the outcome of the probation. The outcome may be threefold: (a) that the employee has successfully completed their probationary period and their employment will continue OR (b) the employee’s probation will be extended as the employee’s performance needs to improve OR (c) the employee’s employment is being terminated as the employee has not met the company’s performance requirements. Our employment solicitors can provided you with a suite of sample employment probation letters to use as a guide. Employers should adapt the content to suit their requirements and or contact us for further advice if required.




Flexible working request


What is it? An employee can make a “flexible working request” to their employer if they want to work part-time instead of full-time, change their start and finishing times, work compressed hours(i.e. do their standard hours over fewer days), job-share or do “flexi-time”. Flexitime is where an employee is granted permission to be flexible with their start and finish times. Why is it important? The law provides that an employee has the right to make a flexible working request if (a) the employee has worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks (b) the member of staff is legally classed as an employee and (c) the employee has not made any other flexible working request in the last 12 months. By law, if the employee has the right to make the request the employer is obliged to look at the request fairly in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests and, make a decision within 3 months.




Grievance letter


What is it?

A grievance is a concern, problem or complaint raised by an employee in the workplace about their work, their manager, other staff member or the workplace. It could be about the employee’s pay and benefits, work conditions, workload, bullying or harassment. There is no legally binding process that an employer must follow when handling a grievance at work. However, it is best practice as an employer to have a grievance procedure.

Why is it important?

A grievance procedure is one of the ways to resolve a problem at work. This procedure can be set out in the employment contract, company handbook, HR intranet site or in your Human Resources manual.

Risks

If you do not have a grievance procedure you should ensure that you follow the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures if an employee comes to you with a grievance.

When an employee raises a workplace grievance you must take them seriously. Whether or not the grievance is valid you must investigate the grievance as it could be having a negative effect on the staff concerned and may lead to disgruntled staff and loss of valuable staff. Having an informal chat when an employee comes to you with an issue may be all that is needed. If the chat does not resolve the problem, you must investigate the problem .An employee should not be dismissed or treated unfairly for raising a genuine grievance.

An employee who is disadvantaged or dismissed for raising a grievance can raise a claim in the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal or automatic unfair dismissal. An employee would usually be expected to lodge a grievance before claiming constructive dismissal otherwise any damages awarded the employee at the Employment Tribunal could be reduced.

Avoid grievances in your workplace by contacting Pure Business law, your expert employment lawyers.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


HR Policies

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. Why is it important? 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. Why is it important? The letter should contain details of the consultation procedure.





Protecting your IP

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. Why is it important? 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. Why is it important? The letter should contain details of the consultation procedure.





Business Relationships

Software Development Agreement


What is it? Software is intellectual property. A software development agreement is an agreement between a business or an individual and a developer by which the individual or business hires the developer to create and deliver a specific piece of software. Why is it important? This agreement is important as it clarifies the relationship between the developer and the hirer or employer. Risks When you engage a software developer if you want the software created to belong to your company or to you, you must ensure that you agree and insert an ownership clause in the agreement. If there is no ownership clause the software created by the developer will automatically belong to the developer even if your company has spent millions of pounds developing the software.




Freelancer Agreement


What is it? You may use a self-employed freelancer to do a specific task eg work on a project, design your website or do your marketing for a specific period.The standard contract used to hire a freelancer is a consultancy agreement. This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. A company consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer who operates through their own limited company. An individual consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer directly. Why is it important? More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Internship Agreement


What is it? An intern may be a volunteer, a worker or an employee. An internship agreement is an agreement between an intern and an employer where the intern agrees to provide their services in exchange for training provided by the employer or business with no expectation that the internship will result in employment with the business. Why is it important? If your intern will just be shadowing staff and will be unpaid you won’t need a contract but it is good practice to send your intern a letter confirming the agreement terms. If you want your intern to work for your business rather than just shadow staff your intern will either be an employee or a casual worker. Risks You must have a proper contract for their status and treat them accordingly. If your intern is an employee or a casual work you must pay them the national minimum wage(NMW). If you do not pay them the NMW you are at risk of HMRC prosecuting you or the intern suing you in court.




Staff Handbook


What is it? A Staff handbook is an important living document for your employees that sets out your company’s operational policies, values and culture for current and future employees. There is no legal obligation to have a staff handbook, however as there are certain policies that you must give your employees by law (eg disciplinary and grievance policies and health and safety policies) it is best practice to start a handbook when you hire your first employee as it sets expectations for what behaviour is acceptable and desirable across your business and can protect you legally. Why is it important? A staff handbook can be contractual or non-contractual(i.e. binding or non-binding). It is best practice to make it non-contractual so that you can change it at your discretion without having to consult staff. Make sure you keep your handbook updated to reflect the law and ensure that the issue date is clearly shown on the handbook. Risks If you do not have a staff handbook and you are in dispute or engaged in legal proceedings with an employee it will be more difficult to verify your policies and procedures.




Job description


What is it? A job description sets out the scope of the role (i.e. duties and responsibilities), any skills, experience and qualifications required, the ethos and culture of your business, salary and other staff benefits. It is important as it helps you clarify what you are looking for and will also help candidates determine whether they have the skills and experience for the role. Why is it important? Always review your job description before every recruitment exercise to ensure it accurately describes the job in question. Failing to do so may dissuade suitable candidates from applying or encourage unsuitable candidates to apply. Risks It is essential that you avoid using discriminatory words in your job description eg “bright, energetic, young man” or “ an Italian” person when you actually require someone who speaks Italian as these would indicate a preference based on gender, disability, age and ethnicity.




Job offer letter


What is it? You should always confirm a job offer in writing and ask the candidate to confirm their acceptance of the offer. Why is it important? A job offer letter is a letter offering employment after an interview and summarising the basic terms of employment (if you are providing the employment contract with the offer letter) or summarising the main employment terms (if you will not be providing the employment contract until a later date) Risks Always ensure that the offer letter specifies the conditions to which the offer is subject eg “subject to satisfactory references” and that you retain a signed copy of the offer letter and contract in the staff member’s personnel records.




Non-executive director letter of appointment


What is it? This is a formal letter appointing a person as a non-executive director of a company. It sets out the key terms of the appointment and the director’s duties and responsibilities. Why is it important? As a director is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants.




Senior employment contract


What is it? This is a more complex contract of employment between a senior employee or director/executive and an employer . It sets out the employment terms and conditions of employment and the standard areas of the employment. Why is it important? As a senior executive is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants and ensure any intellectual property created by the employee belongs to the business.




Zero hours contract


What is it? This is a casual agreement between an individual and a business where the worker works “as and when” the employer needs the labour. There is no guarantee of any set hours and the worker is not obliged to work the hours offered. Why is it important? A zero-hours contract should be used where the business simply wishes to hire a worker on a casual basis and would benefit from not having to give the worker a guaranteed number of hours and days of work. This contract is useful for seasonal work or special events eg in the agriculture business, hospitality and catering business; when a business is entering a new market and is unsure of how many staff members it will need; in cases of unexpected absence from work eg to provide cover where there is sudden sickness or absence from work etc. They are often used in the healthcare, agriculture, hotels, restaurants and education sectors. In the UK workers operating under zero-hours contracts are entitled to rest breaks, annual leave, sick pay and protection from discrimination and must be paid the national minimum wage for hours worked. Risks Zero-hours contracts are controversial due to the uncertainty of the work and the fact there is no guaranteed employment. They do however serve a purpose by providing a flexible labour market and a route into more permanent employment. You should ensure that your zero-hours contract clearly sets out your employee’s employee status, rights and obligations.




Consultancy agreement


What is it? A consultancy agreement is a contract between a self-employed person (Consultant) and a customer requiring the consultant’s services.It is similar to the standard contract used to hire a freelancer. Why is it important? This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Employment contract


What is it? An employment contract is an agreement between the employer and employee setting out the rights and duties of the employer and employee. An employment agreement is vital as it forms the legal relationship between the employer and the employee. Why is it important? If you have employees, you are legally obliged to provide them with a written statement of their basic terms of employment in writing no later than two months after they start work. From 6 April 2020 this obligation will extend to casual workers and all new employees must be provided with this written statement and additional information on or before the staff member’s first day of work. Risks If things go wrong an employment agreement will clarify the legal relationship between the employer and employee and will help the court or tribunal in providing a solution in the event of a dispute between the employer and employee. Think of an employment contract as your passport to nurturing good employment relations with your staff and running a good, progressive business. If your employee will be part-time do note that part-time staff and fixed term staff (temporary employees) must be treated equally with full-time staff. This means that a part-time or temporary employee on the same role must get the same pay or benefits as a comparable full-time member of staff pro-rated for the length of time they will be with you. Comparable employees are those doing the same or broadly similar work at the same place of work or at a different location.




Change to employment terms letter


What is it?

As an employer sometimes you may have business reasons that means you need to change your employees terms and conditions of employment (eg basic rate, overtime, bonus, working location, duties and responsibilities, hours/days of work, holiday or sick pay entitlement). This is called a “variation” of the contracts of employment.

Why is it important?

You can only do this if (a) you have a provision in the contract that allows the change. This clause is usually called a “flexibility clause” and may be in your contract or Company Handbook. (b) the employees agree the change or (c) the employees representative eg a Trade Union agrees the change.

Risks

You must have sound business reasons for making any change and follow a fair consultation procedure with your employees before you introduce the changes. If the employees do not agree the change and you believe that it is a reasonable change you can force a new contract on your employees. However, this should be used only as a last resort as it could lead to an employee raising a grievance and ultimately a claim to an Employment Tribunal. Once the change has been agreed you should ensure that each employee signs the new contract to confirm the employee has accepted the change and that you keep a copy.

Please contact our employment solicitors if you are thinking of making a change to your employment contracts.




Working time directive opt out letter


What is it? The Working Time Directive prevents employees from being forced to work more than 48 hours per week unless they freely agree to opt out of the directive. To opt out of the 48 hours limit your employees can sign an “Opt-out of the Working Time Directive Agreement”. Why is it important? This is an agreement between an employer and a worker or employee for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998 whereby the employee or worker agrees to opt-out of the maximum weekly working time limit of 48 hours for a period or indefinitely. Such agreements are usually signed by doctors, police officers a, long-haulage truck drivers and others whose jobs necessitate long working hours. Risks You cannot sack or treat your employee unfairly if they refused to opt out.




Probation letter


What is it? A probation letter is a letter by which an employer informs an employee that their probation period has finished and tells them the outcome of the probation. The outcome may be threefold: (a) that the employee has successfully completed their probationary period and their employment will continue OR (b) the employee’s probation will be extended as the employee’s performance needs to improve OR (c) the employee’s employment is being terminated as the employee has not met the company’s performance requirements. Our employment solicitors can provided you with a suite of sample employment probation letters to use as a guide. Employers should adapt the content to suit their requirements and or contact us for further advice if required.




Flexible working request


What is it? An employee can make a “flexible working request” to their employer if they want to work part-time instead of full-time, change their start and finishing times, work compressed hours(i.e. do their standard hours over fewer days), job-share or do “flexi-time”. Flexitime is where an employee is granted permission to be flexible with their start and finish times. Why is it important? The law provides that an employee has the right to make a flexible working request if (a) the employee has worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks (b) the member of staff is legally classed as an employee and (c) the employee has not made any other flexible working request in the last 12 months. By law, if the employee has the right to make the request the employer is obliged to look at the request fairly in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests and, make a decision within 3 months.




Grievance letter


What is it?

A grievance is a concern, problem or complaint raised by an employee in the workplace about their work, their manager, other staff member or the workplace. It could be about the employee’s pay and benefits, work conditions, workload, bullying or harassment. There is no legally binding process that an employer must follow when handling a grievance at work. However, it is best practice as an employer to have a grievance procedure.

Why is it important?

A grievance procedure is one of the ways to resolve a problem at work. This procedure can be set out in the employment contract, company handbook, HR intranet site or in your Human Resources manual.

Risks

If you do not have a grievance procedure you should ensure that you follow the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures if an employee comes to you with a grievance.

When an employee raises a workplace grievance you must take them seriously. Whether or not the grievance is valid you must investigate the grievance as it could be having a negative effect on the staff concerned and may lead to disgruntled staff and loss of valuable staff. Having an informal chat when an employee comes to you with an issue may be all that is needed. If the chat does not resolve the problem, you must investigate the problem .An employee should not be dismissed or treated unfairly for raising a genuine grievance.

An employee who is disadvantaged or dismissed for raising a grievance can raise a claim in the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal or automatic unfair dismissal. An employee would usually be expected to lodge a grievance before claiming constructive dismissal otherwise any damages awarded the employee at the Employment Tribunal could be reduced.

Avoid grievances in your workplace by contacting Pure Business law, your expert employment lawyers.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Running an online business

Letter ending a contract


What is it? A letter terminating a contract also known as a Notice of Contract Termination, Notice of Cancellation of Contract or a Contract Termination Letter is a formal declaration indicating your intention to terminate a contract with the other party to the contract. When writing a letter terminating a contract ensure that you have the legal right to terminate the contract in the particular circumstances and keep your tone formal,straightforward, courteous and professional. Risks You should also ensure that :

  • The letter contains a clear description of the reasons for the termination of the contract.
  • The date of termination is mentioned.
  • The letter thanks the other party for their services.

Our contract solicitors can provide you with a bespoke letter for a reasonable fixed fee that you can use to cancel a contract or agreement.




Letter assigning a contract


What is it?

Transferring a contract from one party to another is known as ‘assigning’ a contract or ‘an assignment’ of the contract. An assignment ends one party’s involvement in the contract and transfers their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party.

Risks

Some contracts may contain a clause prohibiting assignment; other contracts may require the other party to consent to the assignment. Unless assignment is prohibited in a contract, a party may assign their rights to third party without the consent of the other party to the agreement. A letter of assignment is used to effect the assignment and will be signed by the outgoing party and the incoming party.





Buying & Selling Goods & Services

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.




Tenant's 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.




Landlord's 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


Managing a company

Software Development Agreement


What is it? Software is intellectual property. A software development agreement is an agreement between a business or an individual and a developer by which the individual or business hires the developer to create and deliver a specific piece of software. Why is it important? This agreement is important as it clarifies the relationship between the developer and the hirer or employer. Risks When you engage a software developer if you want the software created to belong to your company or to you, you must ensure that you agree and insert an ownership clause in the agreement. If there is no ownership clause the software created by the developer will automatically belong to the developer even if your company has spent millions of pounds developing the software.




Freelancer Agreement


What is it? You may use a self-employed freelancer to do a specific task eg work on a project, design your website or do your marketing for a specific period.The standard contract used to hire a freelancer is a consultancy agreement. This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. A company consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer who operates through their own limited company. An individual consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer directly. Why is it important? More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Internship Agreement


What is it? An intern may be a volunteer, a worker or an employee. An internship agreement is an agreement between an intern and an employer where the intern agrees to provide their services in exchange for training provided by the employer or business with no expectation that the internship will result in employment with the business. Why is it important? If your intern will just be shadowing staff and will be unpaid you won’t need a contract but it is good practice to send your intern a letter confirming the agreement terms. If you want your intern to work for your business rather than just shadow staff your intern will either be an employee or a casual worker. Risks You must have a proper contract for their status and treat them accordingly. If your intern is an employee or a casual work you must pay them the national minimum wage(NMW). If you do not pay them the NMW you are at risk of HMRC prosecuting you or the intern suing you in court.




Staff Handbook


What is it? A Staff handbook is an important living document for your employees that sets out your company’s operational policies, values and culture for current and future employees. There is no legal obligation to have a staff handbook, however as there are certain policies that you must give your employees by law (eg disciplinary and grievance policies and health and safety policies) it is best practice to start a handbook when you hire your first employee as it sets expectations for what behaviour is acceptable and desirable across your business and can protect you legally. Why is it important? A staff handbook can be contractual or non-contractual(i.e. binding or non-binding). It is best practice to make it non-contractual so that you can change it at your discretion without having to consult staff. Make sure you keep your handbook updated to reflect the law and ensure that the issue date is clearly shown on the handbook. Risks If you do not have a staff handbook and you are in dispute or engaged in legal proceedings with an employee it will be more difficult to verify your policies and procedures.




Job description


What is it? A job description sets out the scope of the role (i.e. duties and responsibilities), any skills, experience and qualifications required, the ethos and culture of your business, salary and other staff benefits. It is important as it helps you clarify what you are looking for and will also help candidates determine whether they have the skills and experience for the role. Why is it important? Always review your job description before every recruitment exercise to ensure it accurately describes the job in question. Failing to do so may dissuade suitable candidates from applying or encourage unsuitable candidates to apply. Risks It is essential that you avoid using discriminatory words in your job description eg “bright, energetic, young man” or “ an Italian” person when you actually require someone who speaks Italian as these would indicate a preference based on gender, disability, age and ethnicity.




Job offer letter


What is it? You should always confirm a job offer in writing and ask the candidate to confirm their acceptance of the offer. Why is it important? A job offer letter is a letter offering employment after an interview and summarising the basic terms of employment (if you are providing the employment contract with the offer letter) or summarising the main employment terms (if you will not be providing the employment contract until a later date) Risks Always ensure that the offer letter specifies the conditions to which the offer is subject eg “subject to satisfactory references” and that you retain a signed copy of the offer letter and contract in the staff member’s personnel records.




Non-executive director letter of appointment


What is it? This is a formal letter appointing a person as a non-executive director of a company. It sets out the key terms of the appointment and the director’s duties and responsibilities. Why is it important? As a director is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants.




Senior employment contract


What is it? This is a more complex contract of employment between a senior employee or director/executive and an employer . It sets out the employment terms and conditions of employment and the standard areas of the employment. Why is it important? As a senior executive is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants and ensure any intellectual property created by the employee belongs to the business.




Zero hours contract


What is it? This is a casual agreement between an individual and a business where the worker works “as and when” the employer needs the labour. There is no guarantee of any set hours and the worker is not obliged to work the hours offered. Why is it important? A zero-hours contract should be used where the business simply wishes to hire a worker on a casual basis and would benefit from not having to give the worker a guaranteed number of hours and days of work. This contract is useful for seasonal work or special events eg in the agriculture business, hospitality and catering business; when a business is entering a new market and is unsure of how many staff members it will need; in cases of unexpected absence from work eg to provide cover where there is sudden sickness or absence from work etc. They are often used in the healthcare, agriculture, hotels, restaurants and education sectors. In the UK workers operating under zero-hours contracts are entitled to rest breaks, annual leave, sick pay and protection from discrimination and must be paid the national minimum wage for hours worked. Risks Zero-hours contracts are controversial due to the uncertainty of the work and the fact there is no guaranteed employment. They do however serve a purpose by providing a flexible labour market and a route into more permanent employment. You should ensure that your zero-hours contract clearly sets out your employee’s employee status, rights and obligations.




Consultancy agreement


What is it? A consultancy agreement is a contract between a self-employed person (Consultant) and a customer requiring the consultant’s services.It is similar to the standard contract used to hire a freelancer. Why is it important? This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Employment contract


What is it? An employment contract is an agreement between the employer and employee setting out the rights and duties of the employer and employee. An employment agreement is vital as it forms the legal relationship between the employer and the employee. Why is it important? If you have employees, you are legally obliged to provide them with a written statement of their basic terms of employment in writing no later than two months after they start work. From 6 April 2020 this obligation will extend to casual workers and all new employees must be provided with this written statement and additional information on or before the staff member’s first day of work. Risks If things go wrong an employment agreement will clarify the legal relationship between the employer and employee and will help the court or tribunal in providing a solution in the event of a dispute between the employer and employee. Think of an employment contract as your passport to nurturing good employment relations with your staff and running a good, progressive business. If your employee will be part-time do note that part-time staff and fixed term staff (temporary employees) must be treated equally with full-time staff. This means that a part-time or temporary employee on the same role must get the same pay or benefits as a comparable full-time member of staff pro-rated for the length of time they will be with you. Comparable employees are those doing the same or broadly similar work at the same place of work or at a different location.




Change to employment terms letter


What is it?

As an employer sometimes you may have business reasons that means you need to change your employees terms and conditions of employment (eg basic rate, overtime, bonus, working location, duties and responsibilities, hours/days of work, holiday or sick pay entitlement). This is called a “variation” of the contracts of employment.

Why is it important?

You can only do this if (a) you have a provision in the contract that allows the change. This clause is usually called a “flexibility clause” and may be in your contract or Company Handbook. (b) the employees agree the change or (c) the employees representative eg a Trade Union agrees the change.

Risks

You must have sound business reasons for making any change and follow a fair consultation procedure with your employees before you introduce the changes. If the employees do not agree the change and you believe that it is a reasonable change you can force a new contract on your employees. However, this should be used only as a last resort as it could lead to an employee raising a grievance and ultimately a claim to an Employment Tribunal. Once the change has been agreed you should ensure that each employee signs the new contract to confirm the employee has accepted the change and that you keep a copy.

Please contact our employment solicitors if you are thinking of making a change to your employment contracts.




Working time directive opt out letter


What is it? The Working Time Directive prevents employees from being forced to work more than 48 hours per week unless they freely agree to opt out of the directive. To opt out of the 48 hours limit your employees can sign an “Opt-out of the Working Time Directive Agreement”. Why is it important? This is an agreement between an employer and a worker or employee for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998 whereby the employee or worker agrees to opt-out of the maximum weekly working time limit of 48 hours for a period or indefinitely. Such agreements are usually signed by doctors, police officers a, long-haulage truck drivers and others whose jobs necessitate long working hours. Risks You cannot sack or treat your employee unfairly if they refused to opt out.




Probation letter


What is it? A probation letter is a letter by which an employer informs an employee that their probation period has finished and tells them the outcome of the probation. The outcome may be threefold: (a) that the employee has successfully completed their probationary period and their employment will continue OR (b) the employee’s probation will be extended as the employee’s performance needs to improve OR (c) the employee’s employment is being terminated as the employee has not met the company’s performance requirements. Our employment solicitors can provided you with a suite of sample employment probation letters to use as a guide. Employers should adapt the content to suit their requirements and or contact us for further advice if required.




Flexible working request


What is it? An employee can make a “flexible working request” to their employer if they want to work part-time instead of full-time, change their start and finishing times, work compressed hours(i.e. do their standard hours over fewer days), job-share or do “flexi-time”. Flexitime is where an employee is granted permission to be flexible with their start and finish times. Why is it important? The law provides that an employee has the right to make a flexible working request if (a) the employee has worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks (b) the member of staff is legally classed as an employee and (c) the employee has not made any other flexible working request in the last 12 months. By law, if the employee has the right to make the request the employer is obliged to look at the request fairly in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests and, make a decision within 3 months.




Grievance letter


What is it?

A grievance is a concern, problem or complaint raised by an employee in the workplace about their work, their manager, other staff member or the workplace. It could be about the employee’s pay and benefits, work conditions, workload, bullying or harassment. There is no legally binding process that an employer must follow when handling a grievance at work. However, it is best practice as an employer to have a grievance procedure.

Why is it important?

A grievance procedure is one of the ways to resolve a problem at work. This procedure can be set out in the employment contract, company handbook, HR intranet site or in your Human Resources manual.

Risks

If you do not have a grievance procedure you should ensure that you follow the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures if an employee comes to you with a grievance.

When an employee raises a workplace grievance you must take them seriously. Whether or not the grievance is valid you must investigate the grievance as it could be having a negative effect on the staff concerned and may lead to disgruntled staff and loss of valuable staff. Having an informal chat when an employee comes to you with an issue may be all that is needed. If the chat does not resolve the problem, you must investigate the problem .An employee should not be dismissed or treated unfairly for raising a genuine grievance.

An employee who is disadvantaged or dismissed for raising a grievance can raise a claim in the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal or automatic unfair dismissal. An employee would usually be expected to lodge a grievance before claiming constructive dismissal otherwise any damages awarded the employee at the Employment Tribunal could be reduced.

Avoid grievances in your workplace by contacting Pure Business law, your expert employment lawyers.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Settlement agreements & Ref

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





Commercial notices

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





Letting a commercial property

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. Why is it important? 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. Why is it important? The letter should contain details of the consultation procedure.





Sale and Purchase of Commerial Property

Letter ending a contract


What is it? A letter terminating a contract also known as a Notice of Contract Termination, Notice of Cancellation of Contract or a Contract Termination Letter is a formal declaration indicating your intention to terminate a contract with the other party to the contract. When writing a letter terminating a contract ensure that you have the legal right to terminate the contract in the particular circumstances and keep your tone formal,straightforward, courteous and professional. Risks You should also ensure that :

  • The letter contains a clear description of the reasons for the termination of the contract.
  • The date of termination is mentioned.
  • The letter thanks the other party for their services.

Our contract solicitors can provide you with a bespoke letter for a reasonable fixed fee that you can use to cancel a contract or agreement.




Letter assigning a contract


What is it?

Transferring a contract from one party to another is known as ‘assigning’ a contract or ‘an assignment’ of the contract. An assignment ends one party’s involvement in the contract and transfers their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party.

Risks

Some contracts may contain a clause prohibiting assignment; other contracts may require the other party to consent to the assignment. Unless assignment is prohibited in a contract, a party may assign their rights to third party without the consent of the other party to the agreement. A letter of assignment is used to effect the assignment and will be signed by the outgoing party and the incoming party.





Buying & Selling a business

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





Operating as a Sole Trader

Letter ending a contract


What is it? A letter terminating a contract also known as a Notice of Contract Termination, Notice of Cancellation of Contract or a Contract Termination Letter is a formal declaration indicating your intention to terminate a contract with the other party to the contract. When writing a letter terminating a contract ensure that you have the legal right to terminate the contract in the particular circumstances and keep your tone formal,straightforward, courteous and professional. Risks You should also ensure that :

  • The letter contains a clear description of the reasons for the termination of the contract.
  • The date of termination is mentioned.
  • The letter thanks the other party for their services.

Our contract solicitors can provide you with a bespoke letter for a reasonable fixed fee that you can use to cancel a contract or agreement.




Letter assigning a contract


What is it?

Transferring a contract from one party to another is known as ‘assigning’ a contract or ‘an assignment’ of the contract. An assignment ends one party’s involvement in the contract and transfers their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party.

Risks

Some contracts may contain a clause prohibiting assignment; other contracts may require the other party to consent to the assignment. Unless assignment is prohibited in a contract, a party may assign their rights to third party without the consent of the other party to the agreement. A letter of assignment is used to effect the assignment and will be signed by the outgoing party and the incoming party.





Ending or Assigning an Existing Agreement

Letter ending a contract


What is it? A letter terminating a contract also known as a Notice of Contract Termination, Notice of Cancellation of Contract or a Contract Termination Letter is a formal declaration indicating your intention to terminate a contract with the other party to the contract. When writing a letter terminating a contract ensure that you have the legal right to terminate the contract in the particular circumstances and keep your tone formal,straightforward, courteous and professional. Risks You should also ensure that :

  • The letter contains a clear description of the reasons for the termination of the contract.
  • The date of termination is mentioned.
  • The letter thanks the other party for their services.

Our contract solicitors can provide you with a bespoke letter for a reasonable fixed fee that you can use to cancel a contract or agreement.




Letter assigning a contract


What is it?

Transferring a contract from one party to another is known as ‘assigning’ a contract or ‘an assignment’ of the contract. An assignment ends one party’s involvement in the contract and transfers their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party.

Risks

Some contracts may contain a clause prohibiting assignment; other contracts may require the other party to consent to the assignment. Unless assignment is prohibited in a contract, a party may assign their rights to third party without the consent of the other party to the agreement. A letter of assignment is used to effect the assignment and will be signed by the outgoing party and the incoming party.





Health & Safety

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





 
 
 
 

Planning & Highways

Software Development Agreement


What is it? Software is intellectual property. A software development agreement is an agreement between a business or an individual and a developer by which the individual or business hires the developer to create and deliver a specific piece of software. Why is it important? This agreement is important as it clarifies the relationship between the developer and the hirer or employer. Risks When you engage a software developer if you want the software created to belong to your company or to you, you must ensure that you agree and insert an ownership clause in the agreement. If there is no ownership clause the software created by the developer will automatically belong to the developer even if your company has spent millions of pounds developing the software.




Freelancer Agreement


What is it? You may use a self-employed freelancer to do a specific task eg work on a project, design your website or do your marketing for a specific period.The standard contract used to hire a freelancer is a consultancy agreement. This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. A company consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer who operates through their own limited company. An individual consultancy agreement is used to hire a freelancer directly. Why is it important? More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Internship Agreement


What is it? An intern may be a volunteer, a worker or an employee. An internship agreement is an agreement between an intern and an employer where the intern agrees to provide their services in exchange for training provided by the employer or business with no expectation that the internship will result in employment with the business. Why is it important? If your intern will just be shadowing staff and will be unpaid you won’t need a contract but it is good practice to send your intern a letter confirming the agreement terms. If you want your intern to work for your business rather than just shadow staff your intern will either be an employee or a casual worker. Risks You must have a proper contract for their status and treat them accordingly. If your intern is an employee or a casual work you must pay them the national minimum wage(NMW). If you do not pay them the NMW you are at risk of HMRC prosecuting you or the intern suing you in court.




Staff Handbook


What is it? A Staff handbook is an important living document for your employees that sets out your company’s operational policies, values and culture for current and future employees. There is no legal obligation to have a staff handbook, however as there are certain policies that you must give your employees by law (eg disciplinary and grievance policies and health and safety policies) it is best practice to start a handbook when you hire your first employee as it sets expectations for what behaviour is acceptable and desirable across your business and can protect you legally. Why is it important? A staff handbook can be contractual or non-contractual(i.e. binding or non-binding). It is best practice to make it non-contractual so that you can change it at your discretion without having to consult staff. Make sure you keep your handbook updated to reflect the law and ensure that the issue date is clearly shown on the handbook. Risks If you do not have a staff handbook and you are in dispute or engaged in legal proceedings with an employee it will be more difficult to verify your policies and procedures.




Job description


What is it? A job description sets out the scope of the role (i.e. duties and responsibilities), any skills, experience and qualifications required, the ethos and culture of your business, salary and other staff benefits. It is important as it helps you clarify what you are looking for and will also help candidates determine whether they have the skills and experience for the role. Why is it important? Always review your job description before every recruitment exercise to ensure it accurately describes the job in question. Failing to do so may dissuade suitable candidates from applying or encourage unsuitable candidates to apply. Risks It is essential that you avoid using discriminatory words in your job description eg “bright, energetic, young man” or “ an Italian” person when you actually require someone who speaks Italian as these would indicate a preference based on gender, disability, age and ethnicity.




Job offer letter


What is it? You should always confirm a job offer in writing and ask the candidate to confirm their acceptance of the offer. Why is it important? A job offer letter is a letter offering employment after an interview and summarising the basic terms of employment (if you are providing the employment contract with the offer letter) or summarising the main employment terms (if you will not be providing the employment contract until a later date) Risks Always ensure that the offer letter specifies the conditions to which the offer is subject eg “subject to satisfactory references” and that you retain a signed copy of the offer letter and contract in the staff member’s personnel records.




Non-executive director letter of appointment


What is it? This is a formal letter appointing a person as a non-executive director of a company. It sets out the key terms of the appointment and the director’s duties and responsibilities. Why is it important? As a director is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants.




Senior employment contract


What is it? This is a more complex contract of employment between a senior employee or director/executive and an employer . It sets out the employment terms and conditions of employment and the standard areas of the employment. Why is it important? As a senior executive is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants and ensure any intellectual property created by the employee belongs to the business.




Zero hours contract


What is it? This is a casual agreement between an individual and a business where the worker works “as and when” the employer needs the labour. There is no guarantee of any set hours and the worker is not obliged to work the hours offered. Why is it important? A zero-hours contract should be used where the business simply wishes to hire a worker on a casual basis and would benefit from not having to give the worker a guaranteed number of hours and days of work. This contract is useful for seasonal work or special events eg in the agriculture business, hospitality and catering business; when a business is entering a new market and is unsure of how many staff members it will need; in cases of unexpected absence from work eg to provide cover where there is sudden sickness or absence from work etc. They are often used in the healthcare, agriculture, hotels, restaurants and education sectors. In the UK workers operating under zero-hours contracts are entitled to rest breaks, annual leave, sick pay and protection from discrimination and must be paid the national minimum wage for hours worked. Risks Zero-hours contracts are controversial due to the uncertainty of the work and the fact there is no guaranteed employment. They do however serve a purpose by providing a flexible labour market and a route into more permanent employment. You should ensure that your zero-hours contract clearly sets out your employee’s employee status, rights and obligations.




Consultancy agreement


What is it? A consultancy agreement is a contract between a self-employed person (Consultant) and a customer requiring the consultant’s services.It is similar to the standard contract used to hire a freelancer. Why is it important? This agreement clarifies the basic terms of your relationship with the freelancer eg the work to be done, fees payable and other terms of the agreement eg a non-solicitation clause, confidentiality clause, data protection, ownership of any intellectual property created by the freelancer, indemnification clause for any losses you incur due to the freelancer’s breaches of third party intellectual property. Etc. More specialist freelancers may want you to sign up to their own bespoke terms and conditions when you instruct them. If that is the case you must ensure that you check all the clauses carefully to ensure that they do not conflict with your requirements and that you are happy with the terms eg consultant to be liable for breaches of your Intellectual property and third party intellectual property, confidentiality, fee payable, data protection, indemnification clause etc. Risks You should also ensure that you are aware of the IR35 tax rules. If a freelancer is providing services to you through a company your arrangement may be subject to the IR35 tax rules. This means that the freelancer may have to pay tax and national insurance as if they were employed by you. HMRC has a useful tool at www.gov.uk to enable businesses check employment status for tax purposes. From April 2020 if you are a medium or large business the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules applies to the consultancy and for payment of the income tax and national insurance on behalf of the freelancer lies with the company to whom the freelancer provides the services. If you are a “small business” (i.e. a business which satisfies two or more of the following requirements – i) a turnover of £10.2 million or less, ii) no more than 50 staff and iii) a balance sheet f no more than £5.1million the responsibility for determining whether the IR35 tax rules apply and for payment of the tax and national insurance lies with the freelancer.




Employment contract


What is it? An employment contract is an agreement between the employer and employee setting out the rights and duties of the employer and employee. An employment agreement is vital as it forms the legal relationship between the employer and the employee. Why is it important? If you have employees, you are legally obliged to provide them with a written statement of their basic terms of employment in writing no later than two months after they start work. From 6 April 2020 this obligation will extend to casual workers and all new employees must be provided with this written statement and additional information on or before the staff member’s first day of work. Risks If things go wrong an employment agreement will clarify the legal relationship between the employer and employee and will help the court or tribunal in providing a solution in the event of a dispute between the employer and employee. Think of an employment contract as your passport to nurturing good employment relations with your staff and running a good, progressive business. If your employee will be part-time do note that part-time staff and fixed term staff (temporary employees) must be treated equally with full-time staff. This means that a part-time or temporary employee on the same role must get the same pay or benefits as a comparable full-time member of staff pro-rated for the length of time they will be with you. Comparable employees are those doing the same or broadly similar work at the same place of work or at a different location.




Change to employment terms letter


What is it?

As an employer sometimes you may have business reasons that means you need to change your employees terms and conditions of employment (eg basic rate, overtime, bonus, working location, duties and responsibilities, hours/days of work, holiday or sick pay entitlement). This is called a “variation” of the contracts of employment.

Why is it important?

You can only do this if (a) you have a provision in the contract that allows the change. This clause is usually called a “flexibility clause” and may be in your contract or Company Handbook. (b) the employees agree the change or (c) the employees representative eg a Trade Union agrees the change.

Risks

You must have sound business reasons for making any change and follow a fair consultation procedure with your employees before you introduce the changes. If the employees do not agree the change and you believe that it is a reasonable change you can force a new contract on your employees. However, this should be used only as a last resort as it could lead to an employee raising a grievance and ultimately a claim to an Employment Tribunal. Once the change has been agreed you should ensure that each employee signs the new contract to confirm the employee has accepted the change and that you keep a copy.

Please contact our employment solicitors if you are thinking of making a change to your employment contracts.




Working time directive opt out letter


What is it? The Working Time Directive prevents employees from being forced to work more than 48 hours per week unless they freely agree to opt out of the directive. To opt out of the 48 hours limit your employees can sign an “Opt-out of the Working Time Directive Agreement”. Why is it important? This is an agreement between an employer and a worker or employee for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998 whereby the employee or worker agrees to opt-out of the maximum weekly working time limit of 48 hours for a period or indefinitely. Such agreements are usually signed by doctors, police officers a, long-haulage truck drivers and others whose jobs necessitate long working hours. Risks You cannot sack or treat your employee unfairly if they refused to opt out.




Probation letter


What is it? A probation letter is a letter by which an employer informs an employee that their probation period has finished and tells them the outcome of the probation. The outcome may be threefold: (a) that the employee has successfully completed their probationary period and their employment will continue OR (b) the employee’s probation will be extended as the employee’s performance needs to improve OR (c) the employee’s employment is being terminated as the employee has not met the company’s performance requirements. Our employment solicitors can provided you with a suite of sample employment probation letters to use as a guide. Employers should adapt the content to suit their requirements and or contact us for further advice if required.




Flexible working request


What is it? An employee can make a “flexible working request” to their employer if they want to work part-time instead of full-time, change their start and finishing times, work compressed hours(i.e. do their standard hours over fewer days), job-share or do “flexi-time”. Flexitime is where an employee is granted permission to be flexible with their start and finish times. Why is it important? The law provides that an employee has the right to make a flexible working request if (a) the employee has worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks (b) the member of staff is legally classed as an employee and (c) the employee has not made any other flexible working request in the last 12 months. By law, if the employee has the right to make the request the employer is obliged to look at the request fairly in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests and, make a decision within 3 months.




Grievance letter


What is it?

A grievance is a concern, problem or complaint raised by an employee in the workplace about their work, their manager, other staff member or the workplace. It could be about the employee’s pay and benefits, work conditions, workload, bullying or harassment. There is no legally binding process that an employer must follow when handling a grievance at work. However, it is best practice as an employer to have a grievance procedure.

Why is it important?

A grievance procedure is one of the ways to resolve a problem at work. This procedure can be set out in the employment contract, company handbook, HR intranet site or in your Human Resources manual.

Risks

If you do not have a grievance procedure you should ensure that you follow the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures if an employee comes to you with a grievance.

When an employee raises a workplace grievance you must take them seriously. Whether or not the grievance is valid you must investigate the grievance as it could be having a negative effect on the staff concerned and may lead to disgruntled staff and loss of valuable staff. Having an informal chat when an employee comes to you with an issue may be all that is needed. If the chat does not resolve the problem, you must investigate the problem .An employee should not be dismissed or treated unfairly for raising a genuine grievance.

An employee who is disadvantaged or dismissed for raising a grievance can raise a claim in the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal or automatic unfair dismissal. An employee would usually be expected to lodge a grievance before claiming constructive dismissal otherwise any damages awarded the employee at the Employment Tribunal could be reduced.

Avoid grievances in your workplace by contacting Pure Business law, your expert employment lawyers.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


 

Managing employee performance

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. Why is it important? 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. Why is it important? The letter should contain details of the consultation procedure.





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. Why is it important? 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. Why is it important? The letter should contain details of the consultation procedure.





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Pure Business Law is the trading name for Pure Business Law Ltd-a private limited company registered in England & Wales with company registration number 10405413. Registered office and Principal place of business : Excel House, 3 Duke Street, Bedford. MK40 3HR. VAT number 265 5386 75.

 

 

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Negotiating an existing agreement

Changing a contract.

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