Postman wins £22,000 at Employment Tribunal (ET)

This is a recent case that took place at an Employment Tribunal in Manchester on the 3rd – 6th April 2017 concerning a Worker who had requested flexible working back in 2012 to cover childcare, which had been agreed by their then Line Manager but his days were then altered in June 2016 without consulting him.

The former postman, Mr Adam Gregory who had worked for Royal Mail since 1993 was unfairly and constructively dismissed when he resigned over a dispute about his shift patterns and a tribunal has decided and awarded him a basic award of £10,577.00 and a compensatory award of £8,486.29 for unfair dismissal & £3,008.43 for wrongful dismissal and breach of contract. Totalling £22,000 – Employment Tribunals Judgment.

Royal Mail also had to pay costs of £4,012.50 and this does not include the cost of employing a Solicitor, which on average is £8,500 per case. (Telegraph – 27th August 2017).

Matthew from Consensus HR states “This case is a perfect example of a company making unilateral changes to a persons Contract of Employment without ensuring the correct consultation takes place with the employees involved. It also demonstrates that the preparation for this exercise was not properly prepared as an employees current Terms & Conditions should be reviewed fully prior to any proposed changes happening. Current variable agreed terms should be identified such as ‘Flexible Working’ & Royal Mail by not preparing & managing this adequately has resulted in this award.

Employers need to ensure it is carried out correctly and not in a way that could be seen as undermining the relationship of mutual trust & confidence between employer & employee.

We would also suggest that a record is kept of variations to contracts and that the employee has accepted them with a signature / date prior to any changes happening even if they are on holiday. If the whole team are going through proposed changes then regular meetings (Consultations) should be held with employees / representatives and adequate minutes taken of what is proposed / covered and who is present. Only when this has been achieved should you proceed to the next step”unfair dismissal

An article by Hayley Kirton – People Management Magazine (30th August 2017) discusses the case further:

Mr A Gregory had a daughter from a former marriage and under an access agreement saw her at weekends. Because of this, in 2012, Gregory approached his then line manager to limit his working days to Monday through Friday. The line manager allowed this and Gregory signed a letter acknowledging the new working pattern, but his official employment contract was not changed.

In 2015, Royal Mail started a restructuring exercise, which was likely to change the way duties were carried out at the Burnley office, where Gregory worked. A questionnaire to determine employees’ working preferences was sent out. Gregory was on holiday at the time, so his union representative picked his preferences for him and selected a duty, which would require Gregory to work three Saturdays a month.

When Gregory returned from holiday and discovered what had happened, he objected and submitted a new flexible working request. One of the postman’s managers considered the new request but rejected it, claiming it was partly because the work could not be reorganised among staff. Gregory appealed the decision, but this was also rejected.

Shortly after the failed appeal, around September 2015, the postman took time off sick with stress. In April 2016, while he was still off sick, his solicitor sent Royal Mail a letter to raise a formal grievance on behalf of his client. Royal Mail then acknowledged that Gregory’s contract, as far working hours were concerned, had been altered in 2012.

Gregory returned to work in May 2016 under a phased return and not working Saturdays. However, after Royal Mail sent him a letter in June 2016 confirming he was to work three Saturdays a month, Gregory resigned. Although he initially claimed jobseeker’s allowance, he started working as a painter and decorator in January this year.

Allowing Gregory’s unfair dismissal claim, Judge Holmes said “it was not physically impossible for [Royal Mail] to maintain his Monday to Friday working pattern, it was merely unsatisfactory, inconvenient, and more costly”.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Royal Mail accepted the findings of the employment tribunal and the judgment has been paid out to the former employee some time ago.”

I you wish to discuss your current Contracts of Employment and any proposal you wish have, please contact us by filling in our ‘Contact Form’ or telephoning us on 01462 621243 to discuss fully your proposals. We are here to help ensure you do not end up with any unwanted fees / awards.

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Disciplinary & Grievance, HR Support, Employment Law

Butchers ‘meal deal’ Award of £6,091.

Disciplinary & Grievance, HR Support, Employment LawThis is a case, which was recently at an Employment Tribunal (ET) & brought by a former employee for failure to follow the Acas Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures. It highlights the importance of ensuring that when managing employees you follow the correct / legal procedures or the repercussions can be financially damaging.

This case also highlights how the incorrect use of Social Media by an employee can result in the loss of their job but if not handled correctly by their employer has the opposite effect to what should have happened and end up costing the employer rather than the employee.

Michael Hayward had worked for Noel Chadwick in Standish as small and well-respected butchers in Wigan, for seven and a half years before he was dismissed for recommending a discount from online retailer Fresh Meat Packs North West to his then-girlfriend on Facebook.

Hayward was subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct and breach of contract by father and son directors John and Paul Chadwick for ‘advertising’ what they believed to be a competitor and breaching the company’s social media policy. The tribunal heard the pair, whose business did not have a formal HR function, had already decided to dismiss Hayward before they brought him into a disciplinary meeting in April 2016.

The 37-year-old said he was not issued a written or verbal formal warning, despite requesting one, nor was he given the opportunity to have someone with him at the meeting or given an explanation regarding his actions. As no appeal was arranged within a few weeks of his sacking, Hayward eventually lost confidence in Noel Chadwick and did not follow up the matter.

The tribunal also heard that Hayward had been ‘pulled up’ on his use of social media before he posted the offer, but there was no warning given to him that suggested such behaviour could lead to his dismissal.

Allowing Hayward’s unfair dismissal claim, Judge Keith Robinson called Noel Chadwick “fanciful” for suggesting it experienced any financial or reputational loss because of the Facebook post.

“Hayward’s misdemeanour, if one can call it that, was minor,” the judge continued. “This is not an advertisement; this [matter] was a wholly mishandled dismissal root and branch. The claimant was dismissed summarily in a process that was reprehensible.”

The judge awarded Hayward a £6,091 payout – £4,891 in lost wages and compensation, and £1,200 to reimburse his tribunal fees.

Matthew Pinto-Chilcott – Managing Director of Consensus HR states “This is an area that we are continually ensuring is adhered to in relation to the Acas Code of Practice On Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures when our clients are dealing with disciplinary issues in the workplace. The law is there to protect the individual as well as the company and by managing your team in the best way, your business benefits & your team become more productive & loyal and avoid unwanted claims being made to an ET.

Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures are just one of the many that employers should have within their business as well as a Contract of Employment, which an employee is entitled to within the first two months of employment. All members of the management team should have the relevant development to ensure all areas are covered correctly & reasonably.”

Chadwick added: “We would like to take this opportunity to urge other small-to-medium businesses to ensure that their HR team is doing their job properly and, if they do not have an HR team, to enlist the services of a professional HR consultancy for the protection of both employer and employee.”

If we can help your business in anyway and ensure you are not taken to an Employment Tribunal for not following the law & not having the correct Policies & Procedures in place, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01462 621243 or alternatively by completing our ‘Contact Form’

Consensus HR – “Helping Companies with their People Solutions”

Two-thirds of workers enjoy following a dress code

Matthew from Consensus HR states ” When we draft Contracts of Employment & Employee handbooks for clients one of the key areas we discuss is their dress code within the workplace and what they wish it to be and ranges continuously due to the nature of the business & its culture.  Some prefer the set uniform for everyone where others prefer to allow the individuals to wear what they prefer as long as it is professional and business like.  You also have those companies that prefer to not have any dress code and allow their team to where what they want as it fits in with the culture / product offered to the customer.  We work with businesses to identify the correct one for them taking into account their culture & product and employees thoughts / ideas and ensure these are detailed adequately in the company Policies & Procedures.”

Dress Code Research:

HR Advice, HR Support, Employment Law, Dress Code

Emily Burt of People Management (8th August 2017) states that Two-thirds (66 per cent) of UK workers enjoy following a dress code, rising to 67 per cent among 18 to 24-year olds and 69 per cent among 55 to 64-year-olds, new research has found.

Of those surveyed by CV-Library who favoured a smarter dress code, 57 per cent said they did so to look more professional to customers, 26 per cent said it made them feel professional and 9 per cent felt it made everyone equal.

By contrast, of those who felt employers should ditch their dress codes, 28 per cent said it made people feel uncomfortable, 24 per cent complained that they didn’t allow people to show off their personality and 18 per cent pointed out that styles were always changing anyway.

“There continues to be a lot of debate around dress codes in the workplace and whether it’s still a necessity to dress smart,” said Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library. “Dress codes mean different things to different people: some people prefer to dress smart, while others see it as a perk to be able to wear more casual clothes.”

The findings follow a report from personalised clothing retailer Banana Moon, which found that more than a third of workers would prefer to wear a compulsory uniform than navigate a casual dress code. The study also revealed that nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of men and more than a fifth (21 per cent) of women had been told off for wearing the wrong attire to work.

Earlier this year, the government rejected calls to ban dress codes that required women to wear high heels at work, despite a petition signed by more than 150,000 people calling for a ban on outdated and sexist dress codes.

“The recent controversy over high heels illustrates how easy it can be to run into gendered issues, and how restrictions and prohibitions around dress in the workplace can lead to challenges and incredibly divisive litigation,” Alan Delaney, director of employment, pensions and immigration at Maclay Murray & Spens, told People Management. “I suspect issues around high heels and discriminatory dress codes in the workplace were often not pursued because of the fees involved in bringing a discrimination claim. Following the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap tribunal fees, employees will be able to start bringing their claims to tribunal without any cost. I think we will see more cases coming forward in the future, and high heels could well be at the forefront of these.”

But some companies are loosening up on tighter dress code policies. Goldman Sachs was recently praised for relaxing its historically strict City dress code, which banned clothing items such as short trousers for men. In a memo to staff, the banking titan said it would be embracing a “year-round casual dress code”, though requested that employees consider their smartness when in client-facing meetings.

“Dress codes can be useful for letting people know where they stand, and alleviating concerns about getting dressed in the morning in something that’s ‘borderline’, then getting their knuckles rapped in the office – but listening to your workforce is key,” Delaney said. “If as many as two-thirds of your employees want dress codes, while others would prefer to be more casual, you should pay attention to their views. Failure to do so can end up disengaging a lot of your workforce.”

If you wish to discuss your companies dress code and how to ensure it is introduced correctly within your business give us a call on 01462 621243 or alternatively complete our ‘Contact Form’.  Consensus HR – “Helping Companies with their People Solutions.”  To sign up for our regular blog updates, fill in here: 

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MS Society – North Herts – Quiz Night 8th Sept 2017

MS SOCIETY – North Herts – Quiz Night

Put on you thinking caps and join us for a night of fun & friendly competition

Friday 8th September 2017

7pm – 10pm

The Barclay School, Walkern Road, Stevenage, SG1 3RB

Tickets = £10 per person, teams of up to 6 people.  This includes a fish & chips supper

To buy your tickets please give Helen a call on 0300 030 1008

Licensed cash bar & raffle