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July 2015 Newsletter

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What a political week this has been, when yet again a leading politician has come unstuck, they obviously don't know we live in a high tech world and people are always willing to make a fast buck by selling a story! Whilst Lord Sewel has now resigned the story has highlighted a problem that many companies have had to address over the last few years and many more will face in the years to come.

Times have changed quite dramatically over the last few years with the ever increasing use of social media and the popularisation of recreational drugs. Your existing Contracts of employment may refer to the misuse of alcohol and ensuring that staff always represent the organisation in a positive manner, but do they cover the misuse of drugs and social media?

It is now essential that your contracts and staff/colleague handbooks have policies and guidance that cover these new issues to ensure that your staff fully understand their obligations. If you would like further advice or guidance on what be included in your contract and handbook please either call 0151 348 6660 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

The National Living Wage
With effect from April 2016 the Government are introducing a compulsory "National Living Wage" which will replace the "National Minimum Wage". From April all employees who are 25 and older will need to be paid a minimum of £7.20 per hour.

For further advice and guidance on the National Living Wage please call 0151 348 6660 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Equal Opportunities - Age Discrimination
So you believe you are an Equal Opportunities Employer? That may be the case but are your staff aware of the policy and do they adhere to it? With an aging working population age discrimination is becoming more of a concern to many employers, however there are basic rules to follow to help you with this.

Equal Opportunities Policy
The policy should begin with a statement setting out the organisation’s policy that no employee or potential employee shall receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of race, colour, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, marital status, part time status etc. All employees should be aware that the equal opportunities policy includes being positive about age. All existing employment procedures and policies should be regularly reviewed to check for compliance with the current law

  • People from all age groups should be able to apply for jobs.
  • People who select new employees must be trained in equal opportunities.
  • New appointees and rejected applicants should be monitored to show that age is never an issue, with records of the number of candidates of different age groups who apply, are short-listed for, interviewed for and appointed to positions.
  • Remove ageist language from job and promotion adverts and focus on the needs of the job. For example, to prevent claims many organisations have removed dates of birth and requirements of 'X' years experience from application forms. If date of birth information is needed this can be requested at a later stage once the employee has been offered the position.
  • If experience is required, it can be described more specifically, for example, ' This position requires candidates to have experience of managing and monitoring the performance of ten people because...'
  • Remove phrases that make assumptions about employees from performance assessments and focus on actual performance.
  • Consider whether where the organisation advertises appeals to only one age sector and diversify accordingly the places where adverts are placed.
Promotion, Training & Development
  • The policy on promotion should be honest, non discriminatory and understood by all employees.
  • There should be a good spread of ages at all levels of the workforce.
  • People of all ages should take up training and development opportunities.
  • Redundancy procedures should be based on business needs rather than age.
  • Employees and their representatives must be involved in planning for redundancy.
  • Age should not be a factor when making decisions about redundancy.
  • Enhanced redundancy payments may be made based on age and length of service.
  • If you decide to manage without a compulsory retirement age, all references to retirement should be removed across all documentation.
  • Retirements with no compulsory age should be carefully justified on a case-by-case basis and co-ordinate with performance management procedures.
  • If the you decide to manage without a retirement age, employees should be offered fair and flexible options for continued working as they get older.
  • Employer-justified retirement ages should be objectively justified.
  • If you do rely on a retirement age, your policy with regard to retirement and the procedures to be followed should be co-ordinated across all policies and procedures.
  • If you decide to adopt an employer-justified retirement age there should be an agreed flexible and fair retirement policy which all workers know about. 
If you would like more advice and guidance with regards to Equal Opportunities please call 0151 348 6660 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Question time
This is the section of the newsletter where we answer questions that have been raised by our clients & contacts over the last month. If you have a question please email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The question this month refers to a request for flexible working

We took on an office administrator 2 months ago, who has now asked about flexible working, do I have to consider this request or tell them that they have to work the hours agreed at the time we took them on?

Answer: Although employees with less than 26 weeks service do not have a statutory right to request flexible working, some employers may allow all staff to make a request.

To make a request for flexible working employees must:
  • make their request in writing, state the date the request is made, the change to working conditions they are seeking, and the date they would like the change to take effect
  • state whether they have made a previous application for flexible work and the date of that application
  • what change to working conditions they are seeking and how they think this may affect the business e.g. cost saving to the business
  • if they are making their request in relation to the Equality Act 2010, for example, as a reasonable adjustment for disabled employee.
Once you have received the request you should arrange a meeting to discuss it, this should be done as soon as possible. Although this is not a statutory requirement it is good practice. This meeting can provide an opportunity to see what changes the employee is asking for and reasons for the change, although the employee may not wish to say why it also allows any compromise to be explored.

Although not a statutory requirement, it would be good practice to allow the employee to be accompanied at a meeting by a work colleague or trade union representative.

The law requires the process to be completed within three months of the request being received, this includes any appeals. Any request that is accepted will make a permanent change to the employment contract, so if the employee wants a temporary change then an agreement may be reached together with any comprise if the original request can not be accommodated.

If you are willing to grant a request immediately then a meeting may not be necessary, however it still may be useful to discuss a request to ensure that the proposal made by the employee is the best solution for both employer and employee.

You should consider requests in a reasonable manner and can only refuse them if there is a business reasons for doing so, this reason must be from the following list:
  • the burden of additional costs
  • an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • an inability to recruit additional staff
  • a detrimental impact on quality
  • a detrimental impact on performance
  • detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
  • a planned structural changes to the business
For further advice and guidance on flexible working please call 0151 348 6660 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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