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.

  • Sign up for our regular HR blogs




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”

Why pay the price for ignoring the HR basics?

The Importance of HR

Since I started Consensus HR and left big industry it has amazed me the amount of businesses that do not understand the importance of HR in the workplace and being pro-active rather than re-active. We tend to get phone calls when a business is being reactive and are in a situation that they are not prepared for or equipped to handle and when the damage has already happened.

Ignoring HR and putting it down the bottom of the to do list can result in high financial and operational implications and is why we work with clients to ensure they are fully covered and working to best practice and the law.

If this has caught your attention and you want to learn more we have listed the most common HR risks that many small businesses take and the potential penalties for ignoring or getting them wrong.

  1. Failure to Provide a written Employment Contract:

why do we need HRYou are required by law to provide employees with a written statement of terms and conditions of their employment (i.e. employment contract), within 2 months of them starting to work with you.  If this is not in place, you could be taken to an employment tribunal and fined between 2-4 weeks pay.

More importantly, if you don’t have any terms of employment put in writing for an employee and there is a disagreement later down the line about what was agreed, you could be looking at a breach of contract claim.  Compensation pay-outs for breach of contract claims can be up to £25,000 if taken to an employment tribunal or £50,000 at the High Court.  Definitely not worth taking any risks.

  1. Ignoring the Law & Compliance

By law you are required to have a number of written employment policies in place, such as disciplinary and grievance procedure and equal opportunities to name but a few.  This is where an employee handbook is imperative as it lays out what you expect of the employee.

The risk if you don’t have these policies in place is, if an employee makes an unfair dismissal or discrimination claim it would most certainly count against you if you didn’t have the appropriate policies in place, leading to a larger compensation award.why do we need HR

  1. Not checking an employee’s right to work evidence

You need to check that all your employees have the right to work in the UK (by taking copies of evidence, such as a passport or work permit).  If this not carried out and an employee is found not to have the right to work in the UK, you can be fined up to £20,000 per person for employing illegal workers.

  1. Discriminating against an employee

In employment law and under the Equality Act 2010 employees are protected against being discriminated against on the grounds of age, disability, marriage or civil partnership, race, nationality, sex/sexual orientation, ethnic origin, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, religion or belief and colour.
In cases of discrimination, tribunals can award unlimited compensation and there is NO length of service requirement for employees to make a claim.  Also there is a particular risk with discrimination cases that if an employee has shown that discrimination could have taken place, it is then up to the employer to prove to the tribunal that this is not the case, which can be extremely difficult to do.

  1. Unfair dismissal of an employee

unfair dismissalDismissing an employee without having a legally fair reason or not following the correct Acas Code of Practice / legal process, can lead to an employment tribunal awarding the employee up to £74,000 compensation or a year’s pay if this is lower.

In addition to that, you will have to pay your employment lawyer’s fee even if you win, which on average is 4 days at £7k a day = £28k! However, employees need to have had 2 years service to claim unfair dismissal, although if they can show that they were discriminated against unfairly when dismissed they can make a tribunal claim regardless of their length of service (see above).

  1. Underestimating the knowledge of employees

Employees can now find any information about their rights on the internet, so tend to be very knowledgeable about their rights at work and processes their employers should be following.

As an employer if you don’t do things properly this can lead to your employees being demotivated and lower productivity. So make sure you treat your employees fairly and lawfully and it will lead them to be happier and more productive at work.

For further information and to ensure that your business is working to best practice and within the law, telephone 01462 621243 or contact us using our contact form.

 

Use of Mobile Phones whilst driving

The use of handheld mobile phones while driving is illegal. It has been since 2003. From 1 March, the penalties for holding and using your phone while driving have increased. It’s now 6 points and £200.

It is not illegal to use hands free, but any time a driver’s attention is not on the road can be dangerous.

 

 

The facts

  • Drivers using a hands-free or handheld mobile phone are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards.
  • Research shows:
    • You are four times more likely to be in a crash if you use your phone
    • Your reaction times are two times slower if you text and drive than if you drink drive, and this increases to three times if you use a handheld phone
  • Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash.

The law

  • It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving. This includes using your phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media. This applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
  • It is also illegal to use a handheld phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver.
  • You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
  • If you’re caught using a handheld phone while driving, you’ll get 6 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £200. Points on your licence will result in higher insurance costs.
  • If you get just 6 points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence.
  • Using hands free (e.g. for navigation) is not illegal. However, if this distracts you and affects your ability to drive safely, the police can still prosecute you.

For further advice on managing the use of your companies vehicles and ensuring your companies Policies & Procedures are kept up to date and within the law, contact us at Consensus HR on 01462 621 243 or alternatively use our internet ‘Contact Form’

Matthew from Consensus HR states “Employers need to ensure that the employees this applies to fully understand that failure to follow this area of the law could result in their dismissal from the company should it mean that they cannot fulfil the duties of their role or alternatively if they brought the company into disrepute”