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1. How long is it before an employee can claim unfair dismissal?

An employee has to be continuously employed for2 years. If discrimination is involved there is no service requirement. This is also the case for whistle blowing and enforcing statutory rights amongst other exceptions.

2. How long is it before an employee is entitled to claim redundancy pay?

An employee can claim redundancy pay after 2 years service. Note that service is not counted below 18 years of age.

3. What is the youngest age a company can employ a person?

14 years of age. Some high risk jobs are 18+.

4. I have heard that maternity leave has been increased. What is it now?

All employees are now entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks maternity leave regardless of length of service.

For those who qualify, statutory maternity pay is now 39 weeks (previously 26 weeks) at £135.45 per week.

NB first 6 weeks paid at 90% of earnings the 33 weeks at £135.45 or 90% of earnings whichever is lower

5. What are the minimum break periods for employees?

20 minutes every 6 hours. If aged under 18, 30 minutes every 4.5 hours

6. I have just caught an employee red-handed stealing from the stock room. Can I sack him immediately?

No! We would recommend that a disciplinary procedure is followed to ensure compliance with the ACAS Code of practice. In this case, the employee should be immediately suspended.

7. Is there a legal right to bank/statutory holidays?

No, there is no legal entitlement to paid time off on bank/statutory holidays in the UK. Statutory minimum holiday entitlement is now 28 days, which can be inclusive of bank

8. An employee off on long term sick has asked to be paid for holidays. Surely I don’t have to pay anything other than Statutory Sick Pay?

An employee does have a right to be paid for the statutory holiday entitlement at the employee’s normal rate of pay. The right to paid holiday is a statutory right, which subsists even though the employee is on long term sickness absence.

Furthermore, new case law upholds the carry over for maternity and long term sick leave to prevent discrimination despite the regulations against carry over in the Working Time Regulations

9. Do I have to pay a subcontractor holiday pay?

Yes, the Working Time Regulations apply to ‘workers’, as opposed to just employees. A subcontractorn can accrue holiday entitlement. However, truly self employed persons are not entitled to holidays

10. An employee has been summoned for Jury Service. Do I have to pay them?

No, an employee is generally obliged to undertake Jury Service for which he or she can claim allowances towards loss of pay.

11. What is the minimum holiday entitlement I have to give my employees?

From day 1 of employment an employee is entitled 28 days minimum per holiday year, which may be inclusive of bank holidays (as above)

12. If I terminate an employee’s contract, do I have to pay notice pay, even if  he or she is  off sick?

Yes, you do have to pay notice pay at the full rate in accordance with the Employment Rights Act 1996. The minimum notice is 1 week for each complete year of service to a maximum of 12 weeks. However, if an employee resigns then goes off sick then the normal SSP rules apply.

13. Do I have to let my staff have time off to attend funerals?

There is no legislation to allow staff time off to attend a funeral. However, if you refused to allow staff to book a holiday or take unpaid leave (if holidays have already been taken) this could be deemed unreasonable. As a side issue, employees are allowed unpaid leave to deal with a family emergency which would cover if they were the relative charged with dealing with a death and the arrangements of a funeral.

14. I am a medium sized company and do not recognise a Union. Do I have to allow my staff to be accompanied at a disciplinary hearing by a Union Representative?

Yes, even though you do not recognise a Union, the Employment Relations Act 1999 allows an employee this right. This right is in addition to any contractual right and encompasses casual, temporary and part-time workers and indeed anyone who falls within the general definition of a worker.

15. Am I allowed to monitor the e-mails and telephone calls of my staff to stop them abusing the system?

Yes, you can make some checks on staff i.e. counting the number of calls made by staff on a daily/weekly basis. Electronic monitoring is also commonplace, but the general principle is that this should not be unnecessarily intrusive. There is an
implied duty of trust and confidence, which may be breached by unreasonable levels of monitoring. As an employer, you should have a policy on this matter explaining the level of monitoring and the rules of the company. If the reason for this monitoring is then to enforce the policy or rules, then this may be acceptable.

16.Can I sack someone for poor performance?

It is not expected that an employer has to retain an employee who does not perform. However, in order to deal with this matter an employer must first identify the problem and then bring this to the attention of the employee, usually in a disciplinary meeting. Targets or levels of achievement should then be set with a realistic time scale in order to achieve. If the employee fails to reach the realistic performancelevel then further disciplinary action can follow which may result in dismissal