Season's Greetings
Best Wishes
for the New Year from
Employment Law News  
BackupHR™ constantly monitors tribunal and appeal awards, as judgements may well affect advice we give to our clients. Click on the links below for more information on recent rulings and employment law changes.
 December 2016
Issue 141
We provide HR Support focussing on SMEs. We combine expert employment law knowledge with practical, business, HR expertise.

With the right HR guidance there are always business solutions to HR problems
Ten Most Common Mistakes Managers Make
1.   Doing nothing then over-reacting - passive/aggressive behaviour
A passive/aggressive Manager will do their best to avoid giving any kind of direct critique of job performance. Employees may receive little or no feedback, especially if their performance is of concern. Rather than complete an explicit dos and don'ts for employees, this Manager gives a vague set of guidelines, derived from a formula that only they know. This is the passive part of the equation as they will not directly deal with the concern. If anyone begins to stray from the picture they have in their head, they become upset, possibly invoking new, stricter rules that are even more unnecessary or unclear. The aggressive part of this management style means that they will put up with things but when they have finally had enough they will just want to get rid of people. They forget about policies and procedures and the law; they just want immediate action. Such Managers need to be re-educated that by addressing concerns early on, and being honest about the issues, rather than avoiding them, means that employees will flourish and stay.
2.   Thinking redundancy is an easier option than dealing with a poor performer
There are rigorous legal procedures for handling redundancies. The exact process depends on the number of staff involved. If fewer than 20 redundancies are likely, you will need to plan and enact a specific set of steps. You must: consult each of your staff individually, brief anyone that is impacted by the proposed changes (not just those that at risk), choose your redundant people fairly usually with defined criteria, give the correct notice and pay, handle appeals, and so on. It is a time consuming task, and Tribunals have 'got wise' to dodgy redundancies which seemed easier than managing poor performers properly.
This approach is often used by passive/aggressive Managers who believe that this is an easier option than actually dealing directly with a poor performer.  It is most definitely not an easy option, as a redundancy procedure is very detailed and requires the same, if not more effort than performance managing the individual.
3.  Leaving people on sick leave for months with no contact
We still hear from clients who have not spoken to their long term sick people since the day the employee phoned in sick, either because they do not know what to say, or because they believe it would be wrong to make such contact for some obscure (non-existent) legal reason.

The experience of all the experts in this subject is that, regular communication is key to ensuring that people return to work, and that the longer people are off work the harder it is to get them back to work. Yes you need to be sensitive, but that should not be an excuse for doing nothing, which sends a message to the employee (and a Tribunal Judge) that you just do not care. Find out what communication works best for that employee and use it, regularly.
Click here to continue reading.
Cathy Norton

 One of the UK's most experienced HR professionals, Cathy is fully qualified in HR, Employment Law and Health and Safety.
 With industrial experience across a variety of industries, in both the private and voluntary sectors, she has worked alongside Directors, Senior Managers and with HR teams as an HR Consultant.
An experienced trainer, coach and executive mentor, Cathy speaks at conferences and writes expert columns

Test Your Knowledge

Below is a taster of some of the questions given to delegates at our training course on Recognising and Avoiding Employment Myths.  If you have not got enough do to already, and with Christmas fast approaching, we thought you might enjoy having a go at some of the questions!
Most of the questions have a true or false answer, and for a full explanation of the answers go the link on our website at the bottom of the article.
  1. Employees have no rights without a written contract? 
  2. If we have less than 5 employees, we are exempt from many employment and health & safety laws, including the duty to enrol employees into a suitable pension scheme?
  3. A discrimination award can be awarded against specifically named employees. This is not only possible but does happen quite frequently?
  4. If someone honestly sees their behaviour as “just a joke” or a “bit of banter”, where they don’t mean to offend or intimidate, they will not be harassing anyone?
  5. There is no legal requirement to train employees? 
  6. It is discriminatory to hold Christmas festivities as it discriminates against other religions?
  7. We cannot be held responsible for accidents to people driving on business in bad weather?
  8. An employer can be held responsible for what happens at a Christmas party?
The answers are below and to read a full explanation click this link.
We are always keen to hear from you, with suggestions on training courses you would be interested in us running, whether it be a re-run of an existing course, or a completely new one. Please contact Jackie Bolton if you have with any suggestions, or if you would like to find out more about our public or in house training courses.
The answers:
1. False   2. False   3. True   4. False    5. False    6. False    7. False  8. True     
Client Services & Event Manager
01480 677981
Having joined in 2009, Jackie is now responsible for our client services from welcoming new clients to maintaining relations with existing clients.  She also organises all our public and in-house training events.
To see our 2017
Training Courses
click here
Udidwot?!! -  Prison Dismissal
We have an employee who has long service that has just been sentenced to two months in prison for non-payment of some bills.  Presumably it is a straight forward dismissal because he is in prison, or maybe he has dismissed himself, so we need to do nothing?
It is not that straightforward. There is no such thing as self dismissal and he has not resigned.
Case law has established a number of factors for the employer to consider in these circumstances:
  • The nature of the offence.
  • The length of the sentence.
  • The nature of the employee’s job.
  • The effect of the employee’s absence on the business.
  • The damage (if any) to the employer’s reputation.
  • The employee’s previous track record, length of service and disciplinary record.
  • Whether in all the circumstances, a reasonable employer could have been expected to wait.
You should carry out an investigation and conduct a fair disciplinary procedure, as far as possible in the employee’s absence, before deciding whether or not it would be reasonable to dismiss him.
If the employee is likely to be in prison for a long time, it may be fair for the employer to dismiss him on the grounds that he will be unable to perform the contract of employment — known as frustration of contract. Frustration is a difficult legal concept in employment law terms, as tribunals are usually reluctant to accept it as a reason, because it deprives the ex employee of any legal redress.
To continue reading the article, click here




 Peter Stanway
Senior Consultant


Peter joined our team at BackupHR in 2008. He has extensive HR experience in the commercial field and as a consultant.

 His practical, no-nonsense advice is valued by clients in their every day work and in Tribunal, where he is an experienced advocate.
As our resident HR Agony Uncle, Peter is happy to tackle difficult and interesting HR challenges.