Legal time does not work the same as any other time. A legal calendar for obvious reasons has to be more precise than we normally are. Here are some things that trip people up all the time and create some interesting results.
If I give you notice today, it will start to run at midnight – in other words, whatever time today I give you notice, today won’t count (it is in effect day zero when calculating length of notice) . Technically anyone given a week’s notice on Monday is therefore employment until midnight the following Monday (and entitled to pay for that day). Similarly a month’s notice given on 1st of a month expires at the end of the 1st not the end of the last day of the month.
Why do we care? Well people who want all their money care because they can claim an extra day. Employers who get this wrong care because they have to pay an extra day’s pay if they are working on the wrong basis. Anyone giving statutory notice of their intention to take leave or require an employee to take leave on specific dates will need to allow for this………the list goes on.
2. When is a day not a day?
A day starts immediately after midnight but if you are calculating statutory sick pay, the first three days are normally waiting days and do not attract statutory sick pay. Thus anyone who is off sick from Monday to Friday is entitled to two day’s statutory sick pay in their first week of absence.
3. When does a week start?
What day of the week is the first day of the week? For many this is a religious question and depends on when a particular religion’s Sabbath is. However, in the UK a week (unless otherwise specified) starts on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday.
4. How many hours can someone work in a week?
Lots of people believe the 48 hour limit under working time means people can’t work more than 48 hours in a week (unless opted out). In reality it is an average, so as long as the average hours over 17 weeks (if no other period is agreed) do not exceed 48 hours, employees can work more than 48 hours in any given week.
5. How long is a year?
52 weeks? 12 months? Not always. For the purpose of calculating qualifying service for unfair dismissal a year can include an extra week for statutory notice (after four week’s service statutory notice entitlement is one week). Unless an individual is summarily dismissed for gross misconduct, they are entitled to add on that extra week (in order to claim unfair dismissal) even if they received money in lieu of notice. So, sometimes a year is 51 weeks long. Similarly two years is 103 week’s long.
In the mad world of employment law, few things are what you might expect and it may already be far later than you think.
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