Over the past month, the most popular HR queries to our helpline have involved redundancy, conduct and absence, including sickness. While redundancy and conduct issues are always among the most frequent topics, there was a notable increase in the number of queries regarding sickness and absence correlated with the summer holidays. Find out more about the most common HR queries together with advice on how to manage these types of requests or issues. For bespoke advice, speak to a qualified consultant on: 0844 561 8149.

Conduct

How conduct is managed in the workplace will have a significant impact on the overall environment and morale. Handled in the right way, a good standard of performance can be promoted and maintained, and any conflict or misconduct will be dealt with effectively and efficiently.

Conduct issues might include punctuality, misuse of IT, or bullying, to name only a few examples. Conflict within the workplace is inevitable to a degree, which means that the right procedures must be advised and actioned, including: following full and fair investigations; keeping detailed records; conducting interviews; and following the Acas code.

It’s important to recommend having a clear code of conduct in place to spell out an organisation’s expectations of its employees, which can help to reduce risk and avoid the need to participate in any of the above procedures.

TUPE

TUPE can easily confuse the most seasoned HR professional, which is why it is always best practice to seek a second opinion on the matter.

With the right planning and approach, a TUPE process will be harmless for employers and employees. Handled in the wrong way, a TUPE transfer can cost a lot of time and money. As an example, employees being transferred are entitled to receive employee liability information from the outgoing employer. Failure to do so can see hefty penalties imposed, set as a minimum of £500 per transferee.

Redundancy

By their nature, redundancy situations will not be the most pleasant proceedings.

Given the complex nature and high risk of a redundancy process — in the same light as a TUPE transfer — seeking a second opinion will be a sensible precaution to take.

The most frequent redundancy questions were as follows.

  • Is redundancy pay taxable?

  • Who isn’t eligible for redundancy pay?

  • How do I handle short-term or temporary lay-offs?

Help with the answers to any of these questions, or any wider redundancy issue, can be found through the Croner helpline.

Absence (including sickness)

As can be expected during the holiday season, absence and sickness queries were prominent.

Of course, unpredictable circumstances will occur out of employees’ control, such as time off for dependents, which can have an unavoidable impact on business.

Other times, absence can be more premeditated, such as a suspicious period of sickness absence during a time where a holiday request may have previously been rejected. Having said this, the Office for National Statistics has recently found that the average number of sickness absence days that UK workers take has almost halved since records began in 1993.

Taking a delicate and practical approach to handling absence is vital so as to avoid the realms of unfair dismissal, particularly dismissal on the grounds of capability.

Contractual terms

A contract of employment is a legally binding agreement between an employee and employer. In the event of a contract breach, whereby one party does not conform to one or more of the written terms, serious implications can arise such as termination, tribunal and financial penalties.

Model contract templates are available as a downloadable resource from your Croner-i. Bear in mind that individual terms which have been tailored to support a specific business and its practices will work in a company’s favour.

To ensure your written contracts lay out the right rules for your business, or for any other advice regarding HR issues, speak with a professional on 0844 561 8149.

Last reviewed 3 October 2018