Monthly Archives: March 2009

One size fits all?

Everyone in the world should wear the same shoes and get them for free from the government. That way no ‘small business owner’ will have to waste money on shoes that fit them. The average small business owner spent more than £1,000 on shoes and clothes last year – all of which could have been provided for free in a standard size and fit by our government! No, really!!

We are talking of course about ‘contracts of employment’ not shoes.

The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) put out a press release yesterday, saying that businesses could save thousands of pounds by using the free advice on Business Link rather than paying for consultants’ advice. The example that was given was drawing up a contract of employment.

This is a blatant example of gross “over-selling” by BERR. BERR does give advice about how to generate a statutory statement of employment particulars, but it does not give advice about constructing a good contract of employment. A good contract gives proper protection to the business in dealing effectively with problem employees. The statutory statement is often confused with a ‘contract’, but they are different things. For a free checklist on what a statutory statement should contain visit : http://tinyurl.com/IRENSTCS

If you are running a standard business with standard people and standard problems that are all the same shape and size, this may work for you. But you are not wasting your time if you want to go beyond that and get something that actually fits your business – or even suits it.

Getting the wrong shoes on the wrong feet can make walking any distance very painful. Getting the wrong contracts for your organisation can cripple you also. If you are a high heeled diva kind of organisation then those hob nailed boots will ruin your style. If you are a heavy duty walk in the country type of organisation, those light weight silver sandals won’t get you very far.

Your journey from start up to success is a long road to travel. Taking that trip with the wrong contracts for your staff will give you a lot more than blisters. By all means put on your free shoes, but as soon as you can get something that fits you better and helps you on your journey. Never buy ill fitting shoes when setting off on a long journey

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.   Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060  Website : www.irenicon.co.uk.  You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye

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Free advice on structuring redundancies

If you are thinking of redundancies you are obviously concerned about money and about getting it right. But getting it right is about much more than compliance, it is about:

  • retaining the workers you need to grow your business
  • keeping demotivation to the minimum possible level
  • being fair to those who go and those who stay

 without exposing your self or your business to unnecessary risk.

We know how tough it is, for almost 30 years now we have been dealing with businesses who have been restructuring and the last twelve months have brought many worried business people to our door.

We have put together a little mini presentation giving you some key things to think about when you are considering redundancies. This is designed to go with 20 minutes free advice . This should help you on your way to implementing something that works for your business. To claim your free advice and presentation please email info@irenicon.co.uk . We will respond (discreetly) and you can arrange a suitable time for your free consultation.

www.irenicon.co.uk tel: 08452 303050 08452 303060 info@irenicon.co.uk For more info on our redundancy services view our redundancy web pages

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.   Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060  Website : www.irenicon.co.uk.  You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye

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Filed under free stuff, redundancy

Changes to discipline and dismissal

 The repeal of the dreaded ‘statutory disputes resolution’ procedures will come as a relief to many employers. So many businesses fell foul of the ‘one strike and you are out’ approach of the old regulations. Be careful though, since the new regulations do not apply to disciplinary proceedings commenced on or before 5 April 2009. This means that if, on or before 5 April 2009:

  • you have sent a letter to an employee setting out allegations which lead you to consider taking disciplinary or dismissal action; or
  • you had a disciplinary meeting with an employee;

then the whole of the process will be covered by the old rules, including the arcane provisions about extensions of time for presenting tribunal claims. So bizarrely, it will be perfectly possible that tribunal claims made late in 2009 or early in 2010 will be covered by the old regulations.

Now might be a good moment to find a way to identify who is already in ‘process’, since in theory, it could be months until they work their way through the disciplinary system. For these cases, the old rules of ‘automatic unfair dismissal’ if the three-step procedure is not followed will still apply, as will the old compensation uplifts for procedural breaches (50%).

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.   Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060  Website : www.irenicon.co.uk.  You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye

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Opening your windows for burglars

Business owners often feel quite hard done by when dealing with employment law. In the current climate there is a feeling that ‘all this red tape’ inhibits business and reduces profitability.

At the same time nervous employees with an eye on the future can feel that employment law does not protect them enough in these difficult times.

Managers can feel that they are much too busy getting business or getting the business paid to worry about ‘paperwork’ – after all the law takes care of everyone’s rights.

New and rapidly growing businesses (and we work with a lot even in these difficult times) can feel that this is something they will take care of later – when they have the time and the money.

These businesses are sitting ducks for well informed individuals who know more about employment law than their boss!

The majority of employees are not there to ‘play the game’ but if you recruit a player AND you have not sorted out your own rights and responsibilities you are waiting for disaster to strike.

You are putting yourself in the position of someone who leaves the house with all the windows open. It is true that no-one should be burgled whether you leave your windows or not.  But you are inviting trouble if you don’t close your windows. The same is true for employment law.

If you don’t: issue itemised pay statements to your staff, have clear and simple contracts that deal with pay and bonuses or understand how and when to give a formal warning or dismiss, you have got your windows open.

It is all very well complaining about employment law, but the boss’s rights come from the contracts you issue and if you don’t issue them (properly worded) you have a lot less rights than you need.

If you are an employer send us a copy of your current contracts/handbook for a free review. Send it to info@irenicon.co.uk

For information on our contract drafting service http://www.irenicon.co.uk/Documents/default.html

For a ready-made office worker contract ready to adapt to your needs check http://koffeeklatch.co.uk/category/contracts/

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.   Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060  Website : www.irenicon.co.uk.  You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye

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Filed under contract, discipline and dismissal, free stuff

Equal pay increases tribunal claims

Man holding umberella to stop paperwork flooding him like rainThe 2008 statistics on employment tribunal claims hide some interesting information for the ordinary employer.   The number of claims increased from 132,577 to 189,303 but this was substantially fuelled by an increase in equal pay claims, which increased by 18,693 to a 62,706.

Most of these claims were against government organisations.  Local authorities in particular grapple with equal pay.

Having created the system of equal pay it seems the government itself can not comply with it. Expensive equal pay and job evaluation exercises have rolled through the education system, local government and NHS.  A whole industry exists to evaluate jobs and pay.

Equal pay legislation has been around since the 1970s.  The original Act was delayed five years to allow employers to put their house in order but still the government did not do so, leaving women  underpaid and the tax payer to pick up the tab years later.

Women still don’t earn as much as men, employers still don’t really understand equal pay.  And a lot of tax payers money goes on defending employment tribunal claims.

Ask any ordinary manager and they have no idea of the concept of ‘work of equal value’ as opposed to ‘like work’.   If you have any idea of what I am talking about you are much further ahead than most.

If the government can’t successfully implement equal pay without being sued all over the place, is it time to look at the what is really going on?

Many ordinary employers are sitting ducks for equal pay claims.  Despite years of ACAS advice, EOC guidance and so on, even fully staffed HR departments can’t always explain how pay levels are determined and owner-managers have no chance.

Is there not a simpler, cheaper way to achieve fairness than all this paperwork?  Is there no other way? And when some bright mind comes up with a great new scheme can we get the government to test it on itself to see if it is possible to comply with it before getting everyone else to comply?

This article was published in 2009.  Has anything changed?

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.   Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060  Website : www.irenicon.co.uk.  You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye

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Filed under equal pay

Hi, hope you enjoy this blog

Here's looking at you kid

Employment law is an odd thing to make sense of in this ever-changing world.

It is easy to get caught up in the small details of employment law and forget that the boss takes people on to do something (hopefully at a profit) and people turn up to work to make a living (and sometimes a life).

No-one started a business to comply with employment law and no-one applied for a job to make sure they got their rights.  We all had other plans.

Yet employment is part of the fabric of workplace relationships.  In mythology it is a monstrous hydra destroying the boss’s freedoms, or a passive machine unable to protect employees.

After more than 30 years at the sharp end  things I think that most of the public statements by politicians of all kinds about employment law are wrong, misleading and show a lack of understanding of how any one works.

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Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.   Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060  Website : www.irenicon.co.uk.  You can follow Annabel on twitter.

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