Redundancy, absence and conduct have all maintained their positions as the top five most popular queries to our helpline. As an employer, it is not always possible to plan for every eventuality to occur, but it is important to prepare as much as possible.

Understanding certain terms, such as garden leave and PILON, and knowing where you stand if you encounter an unexpected absence will leave you in the best position to handle situations.

Redundancy

Employees whose roles are being made redundant may be put on Garden Leave. This can be done from the time their notice period starts until they leave the business.

An employee on garden leave does not come into the workplace during their notice period but they remain an employee, so are still entitled to the same rights, pay and benefits they would normally receive and are still bound by their employee obligations. This means they are unable to work for another company until the period has ended.

Pay in Lieu of Notice (PILON) is a term that refers to a payment made to an employee instead of a notice period. An employee who receives a PILON payment does not have a notice period and is free to go straight into other employment.

Absence/sickness

Unplanned absences are sometimes unavoidable, such as in cases where time off is needed to care for a dependant.

In this situation, there are several important factors to consider.

  • There is a statutory right to time off for dependants. However, the entitlement is to a “reasonable” amount of time off to deal with an emergency situation and make longer term arrangements.

  • Discuss the circumstances with the employee to ascertain if they amount to an “emergency”. This may include caring for a child when they fall suddenly ill or where there has been an unexpected interruption to a child’s care arrangements. It is unlikely to include pre-planned absences to attend an appointment with a dependant, for example.

  • You should also try and ascertain how long the employee intends to be off work for. Whether this amounts to a “reasonable” amount of time off will depend on the circumstances.

  • Unless the employee’s contract or company policy documentation states otherwise there is no need to pay the employee for the time off.

  • If the time off requested is not reasonable and or is not an emergency situation some other form of leave could be appropriate, such as compassionate or annual leave.

Policies

It is important to regularly review your absence management policy.

This should cover all aspects of staff absence, including the conditions and requirements for taking time off work due to illness. The policy should also contain the contact details for the relevant person within the company to report unplanned leave.

An absence management policy should be included in your employee handbook. This way all staff members get a copy when they join the company. Remember to send out email updates of any changes to the policy and highlight how these changes might affect your current absence management process to avoid confusion.

Conduct

Conduct in the workplace is regularly discussed, but what is the position with an employee’s conduct outside of the workplace? Could it be classed as misconduct or gross misconduct? Does it have a direct impact on their role?

When trying to determine whether an employee’s behaviour is severe enough to take action, consider the following.

  • Is their behaviour likely to bring the company into disrepute?

  • Have they revealed sensitive company information?

  • Does their behaviour pose a significant risk to colleagues or individuals under their care?

Disciplinary procedure

From time to time, your business can face situations where an employee’s behaviour breaches your rules. If this breach is serious enough, you may want to take disciplinary action to ensure it doesn’t happen again. The first part of the process is a disciplinary hearing, ie a meeting between the manager and an employee, held when you wish to discuss an allegation of gross misconduct with an employee (or any other behaviour that merits disciplinary action).

To speak with an HR advisor for advice on any of the above topics, or any other employment law guidance, call 0844 561 8149.

Last reviewed 12 March 2019