We’re often found advising businesses on employment matters. They have often avoided taking advice or involving outside resources.
They contact us when they’re embroiled in a dispute or process which they could’ve avoided.
We felt this was time to take everything back to the beginning and cover some basic, but very common, queries.
There is no legal obligation to provide an employment contract. But there is an obligation to provide all employees with a written statement of their terms and conditions of employment. This must contain certain legal information, so most employers do this in the form of a contract.
You must give the statement within two months of the employee starting work. The employee doesn’t need to sign it, although it is good practice.
Handbooks and policies
Employers must have a disciplinary policy, grievance procedure and information about pensions.
If you have five or more staff members, you are also required to have a health and safety policy.
You must provide employees with a statement showing their gross and net pa.y. This should also include any deductions, together with the reasons for the deductions.
Generally, there is no legal right for employees to receive full pay whilst they are off sick.
Employees may be entitled to receive statutory sick pay (subject to certain eligibility criteria). If the contract provides for it, they may receive contractual sick pay.
Statutory sick pay is a specified amount available for up to 28 weeks. An employee must earn a certain amount before being eligible for statutory sick pay. It’s not payable for the first three days of sickness absence.
You must state the amount of notice required by both parties in the section 1 statement.
If you state no notice, the smallest period an employee must give you is one week. You must give an employee at least one week for each complete year of service (up to 12 weeks).
All employees with two years’ service are entitled upon request to written reasons for their dismissal. It’s advisable to provide written reasons upon dismissal.
If you dismiss an employee whilst on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave, you must provide the reasons. This is regardless of their length of service and without the need for them to make a request.
Generally, there is no legal obligation for an employer to provide a reference.
There are exceptions to this rule. For example if there is a contractual obligation or if a refusal to provide a reference is discriminatory.
It is possible to give a bad reference, but only if you believe it to be true and accurate and you have reasonable grounds for it.
There is no obligation to provide a comprehensive reference, but any information you do give must not be misleading. If in doubt, check.
Gemma Murphy, former employment lawyer and specialist HR adviser heads the ViewHR team up.
The team has experience within the Garden Centre industry.