In April, I held a workshop in which I shared the latest Employment Law updates. As usual, the workshop was well received, and everyone learnt a lot of new, essential information to help run the HR aspect of their businesses both smoothly and legally.
In this blog, I talk about some of the less obvious but equally important aspects of Employment Law – Sick Pay, termination payments and Employment Tribunal fees and claims. If you couldn’t attend my workshop, check here to see if your HR is current and fully compliant. If you’re not sure, then do get in touch – I’ll be delighted to help ensure your business is fully legally compliant.
Withholding Sick Pay
An interesting question has been posed about the possibility of withholding occupational or statutory sick pay (SSP) for an employee who is frequently absent from work due to sports injuries. The answer to this is a definite ‘no’ for the SSP aspect – if the employee provides the necessary incapacity evidence, then the cause of his or her injuries is irrelevant.
However, you may be able to withhold occupational sick pay, but that is dependent on the terms of the employment contract. So make sure you check it thoroughly.
Termination and Sick Pay
Employers are often tempted to terminate the contract of an employee who’s on long-term sickness absence before their entitlement to contractual sick pay has been exhausted. I appreciate that many small businesses, in particular, may find having to pay an absent employee for months and months a huge drain on resources. But terminating a contract early means you risk having a valid claim for breach of contract or wrongful dismissal made against you. It’s essential to check the employee’s contract. If, for example, it states that he or she is entitled to three months on full pay plus three months on half pay in the event of sickness absence, a dismissal curtailing that timeframe would be in breach of contract. You could face heavy financial penalties.
Pay in lieu of notice (PILON) is a possibility, as long as you have included this in the Terms and Conditions of your employee’s contract. Also, keep in mind that if termination occurs on or after 6 April 2018, PILON is now subject to tax and NIC. Do be sure to separately label settlement agreement payments so that the tax liability can be identified.
Employment Tribunal fees and claims
Since the government stopped the court fees imposed in 2013, now deemed unlawful, there have been almost double the number of single Employment Tribunal claims. It was the trade union, Unison, who said that the fees were unfair and prevented workers from accessing justice. The Supreme Court agreed that the government was acting unlawfully.
In fact, with a total increase of 90%, multiple employment tribunal claims are up by 467%. Of the claims recently accepted, 22% were for unlawful deduction from wages, 13% were equal pay claims, 7.5% were on breach of contract and 3% were on sex discrimination. The total value of all the payments added up to £2.8 million.
Do keep a close eye on your contracts, pay scales and all other HR matters to ensure you’re fully compliant, reducing any chances of employees taking you to a tribunal.
If there’s a specific Employment Law subject that you would like more information on, do let me know. I’d be very happy to cover that in a future newsletter for you.
Register Now for the Autumn Employment Law Update Workshop
Put 25 October 2018 in your diary now!
Our next Employment Law Update Workshop is taking place on 25 October 2018. Being held in the usual place – The Meeting Room at Hennerton Golf Club in Wargrave, Berkshire – the cost is just £20 plus VAT to include refreshments, running from 9.30am to 1pm.