What Insurances Do Employees Need To Think About for Working From Home & Driving?

This month we have a guest blog from Anna Wilkinson, Anna has been telling us at Orchard about some insurances that employees should have in this hybrid and working from home world.

Have you ticked the box?

So you’ve brought an insurance policy for the protection of your

business, your clients & your staff. Well done… but your box of

‘insurance responsibility’ is yet to be ticked unless you have also

completed these tasks;

Private Car Insurance?

Did you know that “Social, Domestic, Pleasure & Commuting will

only insure you to drive to & from a single place of work? As an

employer, if your staff have to drive ANYWHERE that is not 1 place

of work, you should be advising (and preferably checking) that your

staff take out ‘Business Use’ on their private car insurance policies. This applies

even if they drop the post off on their way home. If you don’t want your staff to have uninsured claims or be charged with ‘Driving Without Insurance’ (which could hold a hefty fine and an IN10 on their driving license – or worse, a driving ban) then I urge you to ensure you have explained this.

Home Insurance?

Do your staff ever work from home? Have they told their home insurance provider? Have you told your Office/Electrical Equipment Insurance provider?
If your staff work from home then you should advise them to let their home insurance provider know, just to ensure that any personal claims are insured. Some insurers may see this as a positive because the home is occupied more frequently.
If your staff are using your business equipment then you should also jump on the phone to your Insurance provider because unless your PCs/electrical equipment are listed to be insured for ‘All Risks’ or specifically listed at your employee’s home address, then they probably aren’t insured.

Public Liability?

Do you or your staff ever have business visitors to a home address? Did you know that if your business visitor was to become injured whilst at your home address your office/business Public Liability Insurance wouldn’t cover the claim?
If you or your team have anyone at their home address – or even outside of the office for that matter – then you need to let your Public Liability provider know. Your/the staff members home insurance will not extend to cover business activities.

Employers Liability?

Have you told your Employer’s Liability provider that your staff work from home? Have you carried out a DSE assessment out on your employee’s home-working set up? Have you sorted out your HSE policies and procedures, i.e. Lone Working?
Your Employer’s Liability Insurance will only cover claims if you have carried out your legal responsibilities. If you haven’t checked up on how safely your staff are working from home & documented this, then you can’t expect the claim to be paid when an employee trips over a phone cable.

Of course, these examples apply mainly to clerical activities, but perhaps your business does online yoga, applies logos to merchandise, or makes jam?! In any scenario where your staff are in their home address – or otherwise – you need to ensure that those insurances that you hold at your business premises, still apply and protect them.

It needn’t cost an awful lot more, this isn’t about trying to squeeze more into your annual premiums, it is making sure that you aren’t paying for an insurance policy that doesn’t offer you that peace of mind and protection that your business & your staff actually need.

Insurance is one of the last professional industries where you can obtain professional advice for ‘free’ – this won’t last forever so I strongly advise that you utilise this whilst you still can. I am always happy to give advice and assist you & your business with your insurance needs.

Thank you, Anna Wilkinson, Relationship Director of 1Stop Insurance, 0208 773 2222, anna@1stopinsurance.com

What Does The Lifting Of Coronavirus Restrictions Mean For Employers?

What are the rules in place?

Covid restrictions are lifting but what does this mean for employers? Let’s start by looking at the law around Covid restrictions across the UK.

In England all restrictions will be lifted from Thursday 24th February 2022, this includes the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid19.

From 21st March 2022, the rules in Scotland will also end, including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you have had a positive test.

Self-isolation rules were never a legal requirement in Northern Ireland but there was strong guidance to do so, the guidance remains in place but all other restrictions have been eased.

Wales still has a self-isolation mandate in place, we are expecting an update from the Welsh Assembly on 4th March.

What about Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

Employees in England have been entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from day 1 of sickness if the sickness is related to Covid. Employers were able to claim the Statutory Sick Payback from the Government from day 1 to day 3 through the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate scheme. 

This scheme will end on 17th March 2022 which means that employees will be unable to claim SSP for the first 3 days of sickness.

What about Company Sick Pay (CSP)?

Some businesses have a Company Sick Pay scheme, this varies between organisations and may even be different for employees depending on their role and duration of employment. Employers and employees should check and follow the employment contract and any sick pay policies.

If there is no legal requirement to self-isolate, should staff attend work?

Although there may be no legal requirement to self isolate a business can still have its own set of rules. Generally speaking, if employees are unwell it is better for them to stay away from the workplace.

Working whilst unwell can result in: 

  • Staff taking longer to recover
  • Staff feeling undervalued
  • Other staff members and service users becoming unwell
  • Other staff members feeling uncomfortable 
  • Reduced productivity

What do I do if testing is no longer free?

There will still be the option to purchase tests. If this is the case you cannot insist that employees pay for tests but you may be able to purchase tests as an employer and ask employees to take the test.

There is no legal requirement for employees to test or to let their employer know the outcome.

What should I be doing right now?

Now is a great time to think about how your business will operate in this new era of managing Covid. Set out some clear guidelines on what staff can expect and what you expect of staff.

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Employers still have a duty to protect staff. We have all learned some great things about hand washing, PPE, ventilation, and respecting one another’s personal space. We would encourage you to keep these going to protect all staff from bugs and viruses in general.

I have more questions who can I turn to?

The information in this blog is not intended to be advice as each situation can vary. If you do need additional support with Covid related illness of employees, absence management or any other HR or Employment Law issue get in touch with us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

Round-Up of 2021

In the famous words of fictional character Forest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”.

2021 has certainly been a box of chocolates for us and our friends, we started the year working from home and in Lockdown and we got excited about eating outdoors (in the cold) when restrictions started to ease in April. 

2020 taught us that we needed robust systems but a flexible attitude and this has been a benefit to us this year. 

Employment Law is one of the fastest-changing laws in the UK so it is no surprise that there were changes. Some of the changes included:

  • The implementation of settled and pre-settled status of EU nationals
  • The end of the furlough scheme
  • Increases in minimum wage and sick pay
  • Compulsory vaccination for workers in the Care sector.

As well as some HR trends such as The Great Resignation and a more common approach to Hybrid and Working From Home.

This year we have seen some highs within Orchard Employment Law. Our wonderful clients have continued to trust in us to support them through the ups and downs of employing people. Of course, we have to mention our delight in successfully winning employment tribunal cases for our clients.

Our team has grown yet again, you may have noticed that our online presence has stepped up since George, our in-house marketeer joined the team.

We saw the return of in-person events and although we remained cautious it was great to see people at The Women In Business Big Show and The Education People Show.

Jemma has been super busy being featured in the media on television and radio shows such as Times Radio, BBC South East, ITV, BBC Radio Kent, KMTV, and Daily Mail. She was also a speaker at many virtual and in-person business events including, Chartered Institute of Management Accounts (CIMA), Omni Pro’s CPD Store, Bristol Live with In-house Recruitment, and Tourism South East’s AGM.

We got behind the bid to make Medway a City of Culture, unfortunately, Medway didn’t win the bid but it was a great opportunity to pour back into our local towns.

We are super pleased to confirm that we remain certified with ISO9001, meaning that we have good quality management systems and standards. The external auditor was impressed with all of the measures we put in place to ensure our clients have the very best and he found that we go over and above what is expected.

Looking back, we can say that we have had a good year despite challenges. We look forward to next year’s box of chocolates and wish you a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year.

What Is The Scoop On Zero Hour Contracts

What is a Zero-hour contract?

Zero-hour contracts are the in-between status of employment and self-employment.

Giving workers the freedom to pick and choose their working hours, which is great for those with other responsibilities such as caring for a child or a loved one and those looking to take home some extra cash without the commitment.

Although zero-hour contracts are often portrayed as a cruel, heartless way of hiring staff they can be beneficial to both employer and employee.

The employer doesn’t have to provide any minimum number of working hours and the worker doesn’t have to work a minimum number of hours. Sounds simple enough right? Not quite.

It’s important to get things right to avoid pitfalls Employment Law.

There are various terms for zero hour contract workers including casual worker and although strictly speaking there is nothing wrong with the term causal worker it is not recognised in Law.

Employers should also be aware that zero hour workers are still entitled to basic employment rights such as.

  • Written terms
  • Paid holidays
  • Protection from whistleblowing
  • Protection from unlawful discrimination
  • National minimum wage
  • Payslips

Like most things, Zero-hour contracts come with both pros and cons for both parties. 

Pros

The benefits for employers are…

  • Reduces cash flow worries.
  • Great alternative to employment in seasonal industries such as hospitality and entertainment which sees a reduction in income certain parts of the year.
  • Employers can get the opportunity to hire staff on an ad hoc basis before making the decision to have the commitment of an employee.

Benefits for employees

  • Flexibility, workers get to decide when they work
  • Not committed to one job. Great for those pursuing other endeavours

But like everything zero-hour contracts have their downsides…

Cons

The downsides for employers are…

  • Poor reputation: There is still a stigma surrounding zero-hour contracts
  • Staff shortages : Staff can refuse work offered to them
  • Less Control : As employer will not be providing job security they are unable to prevent staff from working for others.

Downsides for employees

  • No guaranteed salary: As the amount of work available can fluctuate
  • Difficulty getting finance: Securing payments like mortgages, rent and even car finance can be difficult without guaranteed wages 
  • Zero-hour workers are not employees and as such are covered by basic rights only. 

There are a few myths still surrounding zero-hour contracts which are taken as common knowledge but are a violation of worker rights, and as such should be avoided.

Do workers on zero-hour contracts still get paid holidays? 

They still accumulate holiday pay the same as everyone else, all employees are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday a year.

 What about any other forms of paid leave?

Along with paid holiday. They may also be entitled to maternity/paternity pay along with SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) but these are not guaranteed to them, the worker may take the time off as they do not have to make themselves available for work.

Okay, but I don’t have to have any of this in writing?

You certainly do! Any contract given to workers must be given in writing and recent changes require you to hand the contract by day one of work.

To conclude, it’s crucial you state within the contract that as an employer you don’t intend to create an employment relationship. There are several things you should consider when drafting a zero-hour contract like how the individuals’ contract will be brought to an end, how entitlements will be accrued and more. If all this seems daunting and you don’t know where to start. Get in contact us over at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk.

How Do Employers Manage Quarantine After Holidays?

We may have had Freedom Day in the UK but the pandemic is still very much here. What do employers do if employees wish to holiday abroad and how do we manage swift changes in the isolation rules? 

Holidays abroad seemed like a thing of the past for a while until the government introduced a traffic light system which has different procedures for those who wish to travel to another country.

The Traffic Light System

Currently Green countries are those countries which do not require quarantine upon return to the UK.

Amber destinations are deemed to have more risk than Green countries and will require quarantine for people who have not been vaccinated or travel before the rules change on August 16th 2021.

Red destinations are countries which the government has advised against travelling to and require a hotel quarantine period.

But what happens when a country moves suddenly from Green to Amber, Amber to Red or when the rules change at short notice just as they did with Paris?

Banning Staff From Going Abroad

Of course we cannot and would not want to ban staff from travelling abroad. Travelling means different things to different people. For some it is the joy of seeing somewhere new, to others it may mean a long awaited hug from a family member or loved one and for others still it is a matter of business.

It would not be reasonable or appropriate to stop staff from travelling and if it resulted in dismissal it could lead to an unfair dismissal claim.

However we do suggest advising staff that travelling might be at their own financial risk if they are required to isolate.

Do I have to pay staff to Self-Isolate following travel?

The current rules are that staff who are required to self isolate by law are entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from Day One of isolation. You can pay more but SSP is the minimum that you must pay.

Can I request that staff work during isolation?

If staff are able to work from home and they are well enough to do so you can ask staff to work from home. If staff are working from home they should receive full pay.

Can I insist that staff attend their place of work during Self Isolation?

As of September 2020 it became illegal for an employer to allow a member of staff to work anywhere but their place of isolation during self isolation. Insisting that a staff member attend work when they should be in quarantine can result in a £10,000 fine for the employer.

Aside from the legalities and the fine, it would also put other staff, service users and clients at risk.

What can I do if my employee asks to use annual leave during self isolation?

There is nothing stopping you allowing a staff member to use annual leave during self isolation. It may well help them financially.

Employers can also request that staff use annual leave at any time providing they give twice as much notice as the leave they would like the employee to take. In real terms this means, 2 days notice for 1 day annual leave or 8 days notice to use 4 days annual leave.

Should I be telling my staff the procedure for self isolation following the holiday?

There is no legal requirement to outline a self- isolation procedure following annual leave but this is good practice. It will help staff know what they should do if they find themselves in a quarantine situation after a holiday. It also helps managers know what they should be doing.

Where can I get HR and Employment Law Support with staff?

You can get free advice from acas and from our newsletters.

We are always happy to help employers with Employment Law, email us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk or visit our website at www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk to see how we can help you.

Introducing George to Team Orchard

The Orchard Employment Law team is growing and we are really pleased to be able to offer George the opportunity to learn and work as a marketeer within the business. There is nothing quite like practical experience and support.

Prior to George starting with the team all of the marketing was done by CEO Jemma and Executive Assistant Lucy, although they are not marketeers they have learned a lot over the years. In true Orchard style we took the opportunity share our knowledge to help George Kickstart his career.

We asked George to tell us a bit about himself and this was his response:

Tell us about your marketing journey so far.

“I started my marketing journey within the music industry, I would handle the social media side of things with various bands I was a part of. I then decided to study music business in Brighton and quickly realised I had a knack for marketing and decided to pursue things further.

During my time at university, I’d be tasked with promoting gigs for various venues alongside acting as the assistant manager for a couple of bands in the area. But things quickly changed as my course was taken online so I soon began adapting by studying various marketing theories with the help of my tutors.

Within my final year is when I began putting my knowledge to use by working closely with two bands, assisting them with marketing strategies, marketing analysis, content creation. All the while establishing a conversational podcast and the creative responsibilities which come with that for my final year project.”

Tell us a bit more about you as a person.

“I’ve always been a hands-on person so being able to assist Jemma and the rest of the Orchard team in all things marketing is an exciting opportunity.

When I’m not at work you can find me taking part in a few sporting activities whether that’s running long distance, biking about the place or at the climbing gym. But when I’m not moving, I’m most likely eating. I LOVE to cook; I’ve recently discovered the joys of making fresh pasta at home and I’m obsessed!

Alongside all the exercising I’m a music buff, in my late teens I would take up any opportunity to go local gigs and support local bands the best I could. If you were to ask me who my favorite musician is, I’d have real trouble choosing just one!

With that said I enjoy my relaxation time, and to me there is no better way to spend the evening then sitting back and watching a documentary or my favourite stand-up comics.”

Stress Awareness Month

A blog for employers on managing stress in the workplace

April is Stress Awareness Month and each year we discuss reducing stress as well as coping techniques. Over the last year there has been an increase in people feeling stressed in the UK.

Many of the reasons for the increased stress is due to the pandemic but it is important to realise that this has affected people in different ways and for different reasons. Some people have experienced loneliness, homeschooling, zoom fatigue, burnout, reduction or loss in income, shielding, loss of loved ones, illness, long covid, increase in caring responsibilities and more.

Both employers and employees have had to adjust, whether it be to a lack of or abundance of work and many businesses have undergone a change to remote working. 

We have put together some suggestions of how to manage or reduce stress:

  • Stress Risk Assessment

Employers have a legal duty to protect staff from stress in the workplace. The Health and Safety Executive provides a free downloadable stress risk assessment which you can use. You can download it here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/risk-assessment.htm

  • Ask

It sounds simple doesn’t it? However it is easy to get caught up in the day to day things or to think that staff are no longer stressed because the lockdown is easing. Make a point of asking yourself and staff if they are ok. Not just ok in the workplace but ok overall. 

This can be done in formal reviews but can also be done in everyday conversations. 

  • Keep in touch

If you are still remote working as a temporary measure or as permanent measure make an effort to keep in touch. Not working in the same place sometimes means that you don’t see when someone is feeling a bit down. Emails, slack and other forms of business communication can easily just be about business so be intentional about keeping in touch. 

You may choose to have regular video meetings, team catch ups or quizzes, or physically meet up once a month or so.

This can help in fostering a culture where staff feel able to talk if they need to.

  • Monitor the workload

Some businesses have experienced a boom over the last year, others may have made staffing cuts and shared the work amongst the remaining staff. Try not to overload staff with too much work, too much over time can cause burnout which will result in more mistakes, lower quality work and sick days. By looking after your staff you will be looking after your business.

  • Have a shut down time

Being able to work from anywhere at any time sounds amazing but it can lead to us having less time to relax. It can be tempting to send an email at 11pm or on a Sunday morning because we can. The problem with this is that it can mean we don’t get dedicated time where we are not thinking about work. It may also mean that the recipient of that email feels the need to think about work during those unsociable hours. Try to have boundaries which includes a clear shut down time each day.

  • Remind people to take annual leave

This applies to both employers and employees. The ban on non-essential travel and the ability to work from home may mean that staff are less likely to take a break. Encourage staff to use their annual leave. Annual leave is a health and safety measure, it is there to help people to rest and recoup.

  • Training

Managers do not always know how to manage or identify stress in the workplace. You may want to consider stress in the workplace training for managers and their team members.

  • Contact professionals

Even though employers have a duty to protect staff from stress they are not always qualified or equipped to help. 

There are many mental health charities and professionals who can help with workplace wellbeing. You can reach out to them as a manager or colleague or you may choose to signpost staff to them.

Examples include:

Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/

Anxiety UK https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/

We hope you have found this blog useful. We have a number of other blogs on Employment Law and HR topics, you can find these on our website at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

Employer Responsibilities After Brexit

Now that the UK has officially left the EU, employers may be wondering what if anything they need to do about current and future staff who are  EU nationals. This blog is a whistle stop tour on where we are and what we need to do next.

Audit

The first step is to access whether any of your staff are directly impacted by Brexit. This means doing an audit of your staff to see how many EU nationals you currently have working for you. 

Remind and Encourage

All EU nationals who were in the UK up until 31st December 2020 are able to apply for an imingration status which will allow them to continue to have the right to work and live in the UK. 

There are two types of status which EU nationals can apply for and they are known as Settled and Pre-Settled.

Settled status is available to people who have been in the UK for 5 years or more.  Settled status allows EU nationals to work and live in the UK indefinitely providing they do not leave the UK for a period longer than 5 years.

Pre- Settled status is available to staff who have been in the UK for  less than 5 years. This status gives them the right to work and live in the UK for a temporary period and those with Pre-Settled status can apply to convert their status into Settled status once they have been in the UK for 5 years.

EU nationals have a deadline of 30th June 2021 to apply, employers should inform and gently encourage staff to apply. However, employers should be careful not to harass staff members.

After 30th June employers will need to check that all staff have the right to work.

Check qualifications

If your staff work in a regulated industry you will need to check to see whether their EU qualifications are still valid. In most cases they will be valid but it is still important to check via the .gov.uk website.

Sponsorship

EU nationals who arrived in the uk after 31st December 2020 will need to be sponsored by  a UK employer if they wish to work in the UK.

Employers must have a sponsorship licence in order to sponsor an employee. There is a cost for the licence and it can take up to 8 weeks for the licence to be approved.

If you currently have staff who require sponsorship or you have a business model which employs foreign nationals it is a good idea to apply for this licence early. You should note that sponsorship is not transferable so you cannot rely on sponsorship provided by a previous employer.

Staff who require sponsorship will be subject to a minimum earnings threshold of £25,600 per year and must be doing a job which has a minimum qualification entry of A levels or equivalent.

The minimum earnings threshold is reduced to £20,480 if the job is listed on the shortage occupation list.

There are also a number of other criteria which the employee or worker must meet in order to be eligible for sponsorship.

Need further information?

We hope that you have found this blog useful, if you require specific information about anything in the blog or any other Employment Law or HR matter please feel free to contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

Reflecting On 2020

Here we are again in the final month of the year but  we can honestly say that this year has been like no other.

At Orchard Employment Law we have been a socially distanced shoulder to cry on, a virtual ear, a supporter of those businesses who have experienced growth and have had to keep up Employment Law changes which seemed to change almost monthly. We deciphered phrases like furlough, job support scheme and job retention scheme and tried to be there whenever we were needed.

We have seen some of our colleagues and clients struggle both personally and in business. Missing their loved ones, working from home whilst homeschooling, feeling the challenge of limited or no work or an increased demand for which they had not planned for. It is not all doom and gloom, we have also witnessed some amazing business pivots and even business mergers. Best of all community spirit has been wonderful and we have all learned to appreciate some of the simpler things in life.

Our team has grown to include Natalie one of our HR advisors. Lucy celebrated her 3rd year at Orchard. We also moved into a bigger office but ironically have spent much of the year working from home and it is fair to say that Jemma’s speaking skills have been in demand.

Jemma started the year by speaking at Olympia, a well known venue in London. By March it seemed as though business events would be a thing of the past but event planners and delegates across the UK moved to host some of the biggest digital events we had ever seen. It has been amazing to see how resilient and creative people can be. This resulted in Jemma speaking at over 20 events this year.

At this time of year we would usually be talking to readers about planning for the new calendar year however, we know that for many there is too much uncertainty for grand plans. 

So with that in mind we just want to wish you a Merry Christmas and hope for a happy New year.

The importance of managing misconduct (even if it is a small issue)

It is important to deal with employee matters as soon as possible, even if they are minor issues.

One reason for this is to avoid what we call ‘The Straw Effect’. The straw effect is where managers ignore small issues (usually because they want to be nice or do not wish to make a fuss) and then act what seems like unreasonably for a minor issue when in reality is is ‘the last straw’ or ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back.’

Employees need to be aware of what is and what is not acceptable in the workplace and if they are not informed of these then they will behave and carry out their work in the way(s) that they feel are correct.

It may be the case that minor issues are dealt with by having an informal chat with the employee. If the employee then carries as before then formal disciplinary actions may be required. If an employer does not deal with conduct issues at the time that they occur, there is very little that can be done about these in the future. They can be used as historical evidence in any future matters but, unless a disciplinary or conduct hearing is held and warnings are given to the employee at the time of the incident(s), an employer cannot give warnings for these incidents in the future, without reasonable reasoning. Misconduct issues should be dealt with and investigated as soon as they become known to management.

Failure to investigate misconduct not only sends the wrong message to employees but also runs the risk of scrutiny by third parties. Fair disciplinary procedures should apply to all alleged incidents of misconduct. These include investigation and disciplinary meetings (where necessary), the right for the employee to appeal the decision, and different individuals carrying out the different aspects of the process, i.e. one person carrying out the investigation, a second person carrying out the disciplinary and a third person dealing with any appeal.

If a business does not have enough members of management to carry out the different stages of the process, it may be that an outside party, such as a business owner from another business or an HR consultancy firm, carries out some of the process.

When disciplinary proceedings involve accusations of alleged historical misconduct that have only now come to light, additional issues must be taken into consideration, including: –

● Why have the allegations only come to light now?

This could simply be down to evidence only emerging now. The investigator should consider the time of the alleged incident(s) and whether the employee’s behaviour might not have merited disciplinary action at the time of the incident(s).

● Was the employee’s line manager aware of the alleged misconduct at the time it occurred?​

If the answer is yes then it is crucial that the investigation considers why disciplinary action was not undertaken earlier. If the misconduct was ignored or accepted by the line manager, there is the possibility that this could undermine any subsequent decision to dismiss or impose any other disciplinary action on the employee. If you have concerns that line managers are not performing to the correct duties, you should consider providing training on how to deal with misconduct in the workplace, including the importance of dealing with misconduct when it arises.

● How can we investigate something that happened in the past?

You must believe that the alleged misconduct actually took place, and be serious enough, for a dismissal to be considered fair. A proper investigation and disciplinary hearing must be carried out and evidence provided to support this belief. The circumstances of the alleged misconduct will determine what is reasonable. If witnesses are no longer available, you could base your decision on evidence if this evidence can be corroborated, sounds feasible and there appears to be no ulterior motive. If documents or other evidence are unavailable, then it may not be reasonable to rely on personal recollections of the contents of that evidence.

A recent case held at the Employment Tribunal has awarded the Claimant £25,000 compensation for unfair dismissal. Mr. Trice had worked for Southeastern Railway for eight years and, at the time of the incident which led to his dismissal, was working light duties at Paddock Wood Railway Station after suffering a broken ankle.

Mr Trice had found himself alone in the ticket office after his colleague had left the window open to go to the shop. A customer approached the window to buy a ticket and, although Mr Trice was not authorised to issue tickets, he went ahead and assisted the customer. Southeastern Railway started an investigation and during this period, Mr Trice admitted that he had acted incorrectly and was very apologetic.

Despite his contrition, Southeastern Railway dismissed him without notice. The colleague who had left the ticket window unattended to go to the shop was only giving a warning, despite also breaking the rules. The Employment Tribunal held that Mr Trice had been wrongly dismissed, saying: -​

“We agree that the Claimant’s actions constituted misconduct and warranted at least a warning but we do find it outside the reasonable range to dismiss. “The Claimant’s motive was to assist a customer, albeit misguided, and there was clear contrition and acceptance he should do differently in future.”

The tribunal went on to say that, instead of dismissing Mr Trice, Southeastern Railway should have provided further training.

This case highlights the fact that employers should consider both motive and whether or not a staff member is remorseful about any alleged misconduct.

We do not know the history of Mr Trice’s employment with Southeastern Railway and, therefore, cannot say if there had been any previous incidents which should have been investigated by Southeastern Railway but in which nothing was done.

It could be that Mr Trice’s conduct and disciplinary record with Southeastern Railway was, on paper, very good but if there were incidents that were not investigated and/or dealt with following correct procedures, then this could have influenced the decision to dismiss Mr Trice.

If you would like any further guidance on carrying out or assistance with conducting a proper disciplinary hearing, or for more information on management training, please feel free to contact us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

“We agree that the Claimant’s actions constituted misconduct and warranted at least a warning but we do find it outside the reasonable range to dismiss. “The Claimant’s motive was to assist a customer, albeit misguided, and there was clear contrition and acceptance he should do differently in future.” The tribunal went on to say that, instead of dismissing Mr Trice, Southeastern Railway should have provided further training. We do not know the history of Mr Trice’s employment with Southeastern Railway and, therefore, cannot say if there had been any previous incidents which should have been investigated by Southeastern Railway but in which nothing was done. It could very well be that Mr Trice’s conduct and disciplinary record with Southeastern Railway was, on paper, very good but if there were incidents that were not investigated and/or dealt with following correct procedures, then this could have influenced the decision to dismiss Mr Trice. If you would like any further guidance on carrying out or assistance with conducting a proper disciplinary hearing, or for more information on management training, please feel free to contact us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

If the answer is yes then it is crucial that the investigation considers why disciplinary action was not undertaken earlier. If the misconduct was ignored or accepted by the line manager, there is the possibility that this could undermine any subsequent decision to dismiss or impose any other disciplinary action on the employee. If you have concerns that line managers are not performing to the correct duties, you should consider providing training on how to deal with misconduct in the workplace, including the importance of dealing with misconduct when it arises. ● How can we investigate something that happened in the past? You must believe that the alleged misconduct actually took place, and be serious enough, for a dismissal to be considered fair. A proper investigation and disciplinary hearing must be carried out and evidence provided to support this belief. The circumstances of the alleged misconduct will determine what is reasonable. If witnesses are no longer available, you could base your decision on hearsay evidence if this evidence can be corroborated, sounds feasible and there appears to be no ulterior motive. If documents or other evidence are unavailable, then it may not be reasonable to rely on personal recollections of the contents of that evidence. A recent case held at the Employment Tribunal has awarded the Claimant £25,000 compensation for unfair dismissal. Tony Trice had worked for Southeastern Railway for eight years and, at the time of the incident which led to his dismissal, was working light duties at Paddock Wood Railway Station after suffering a broken ankle. Mr Trice had found himself alone in the ticket office after his colleague had left the window open to go to the shop. A customer approached the window to buy a ticket and, although Mr Trice was not authorised to issue tickets, he went ahead and assisted the customer. Southeastern Railway started an investigation and during this period, Mr Trice admitted that he had acted incorrectly and was very apologetic. Despite his contrition, Southeastern Railway dismissed him without notice. The colleague who had left the ticket window unattended to go to the shop was only giving a warning, despite also breaking the rules. The Employment Tribunal held that Mr Trice had been wrongly dismissed, saying: -​