CIPD Level 5: Module #3 Employment Law | Regulation

Employment Law

The below is a module 3 submission for the CIPD Level 5 certification, kindly shared by one of our clients to help you on your own HR journey. Next is, Employment Law!

Check out the other 7 module submissions here:

Contents  

Part One – Understand the purpose of employment regulation and the way it is enforced in practice 
  Explain the aims and objectives of employment regulation  Pages 3 & 4 
  Describe the role played by the tribunal and courts system in enforcing employment law 
  Explain how cases are settled before and during formal legal procedures 
Part Two – Know how to manage recruitment and selection activities lawfully 
  Identify the main principles of discrimination law in recruitment and selection and in employment  Pages 4 & 5 
  Explain how contracts of employment are established 
Part Three – Know how to manage change and reorganisation lawfully 
  Describe when and how contracts can be changed lawfully  Pages 5 & 6 
  Explain the main requirements of redundancy law 
  Explain the main requirements of the law on business transfers 
Part Four – Know how to manage issues relating to pay and working time lawfully 
  Identify the major statutory rights workers have in the fields of pay, leave and working time  Pages 6, 7 & 8 
  Explain the major requirements of equal pay law 
  Explain major maternity, paternity and other family-friendly employment rights 
Part Five – Be able to ensure that staff are treated lawfully when they are at work 
  Identify the major requirements of health and safety law  Pages 8 & 9 
  Explain the significance of implied duties as regards the management of employees at work 
  Explain the principles of the law on freedom of association 
Part Six – Know how to manage performance and disciplinary matters lawfully 
  Explain the main requirements of unfair dismissal law in respect of capability and misconduct issues  Pages 10 & 11 
  Explain the scope of the right for employees to be accompanied at serious discipline and grievance hearings. 

Aims and Objectives of Employment Law 

It is suggested that the aims and objectives of employment regulation are to regulate the employer and employee relationship (CIPD, n.d.)  Employment regulation also known as employment law, enforces rules and sets expectations for both the employer and employee so there is fairness and consistency on both sides.  Employment law provides protection for the employer and employees when unreasonable decisions or behaviour might occur on either side.  It helps to regulate the employee and employer relationship so regulations are upheld on both sides, especially around the employing or dismissal of staff. 

Employment law consists of common law, statute and European law.  They all have the same objective which is to help provide working conditions that are free from bias for everyone.  A majority of UK employment law consists of statutes that provide the fairness highlighted above and examples of these are the Equality Act 2010 (Taylor and Woodhams, 2016), Disability Discrimination Act 2005, National Minimum Wage Act 1998 (Russell, n.d.) 

Tribunal and Courts System

If an employee feels they have been unfairly treated, they are able to raise a tribunal claim against their employer.  During a tribunal hearing, an employment judge and two other people will assess as to whether or not the employees employment rights have been met then make a ruling in favour of either the employee of employer; depending on the evidence given and supported (CIPD, 2019).  I believe the tribunal process plays a vital part within employment law as it gives the employee a voice that wouldn’t necessarily be heard otherwise; especially since the fee was removed in 2017. 

Employment law through the court system is typically listed as ‘civil law’ or ‘private law’ and this is where one party (the claimant) raises a claim against another party (the respondent) that needs to be resolved in a court.  These cases will generally be raised by an existing employee, an employee that has left the business or someone who has been unsuccessful in a job application.  

An employment law case can be heard in a criminal or civil court.  A criminal court will hear a case brought by government or state agencies like HM Revenue & Customs and Crown Prosecution Service.  A criminal court will presume one party is guilty (respondent) and the other innocent (claimant); it is therefore the responsibility of the respondents defence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the evidence provided is false or floored in some way.  During a civil court hearing the rules of different in that either party can be requested to prove their case “on the balance of probabilities” e.g. an employee needs to prove that their employer has acted in an unlawful way OR an employer needs to prove that they have not acted in an unlawful way CIPD. (2019).  

Before a case can be heard there are certain steps to be taken that exhaust all other options before a move to legal proceedings is undertaken.  Third party conciliation or ADR (alternative dispute resolution), Mediation and Arbitration are all voluntary processes available for both parties and where possible, they should be investigated first in hope that a suitable and more cost effective agreement can be reached (Crane, 2019).  If all else fails, before an employee is allowed to raise a tribunal claim, they must contact ACAS to try one last time and resolve the dispute through an early conciliation process (CIPD, 2019) 

In some instances before legal proceedings/cases are fully committed to, a settlement agreement may be offered and voluntarily entered into by both parties.  It is important to note that this doesn’t always result in the termination of an employment contract; it could be that the employer has recognised a grievance raised but they would prefer to come to a quiet result (Hurst, 2019). 

When cases are settled during formal legal proceedings such as a tribunal or a civil court case there will almost always be fines or awards that one or both parties will have to pay unless they can have a protected conversation where the employer and employee discuss a way forward. 

Recruitment and Selection Activities 

Discrimination during recruitment and selection is when people and organisations are seen to be treating a person differently because of their sexuality, gender, religion or age.  If an organisation does not employ someone because of a certain characteristic, they are discriminating against that person and breaking the law in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.  There are nine protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010 and therefore if any organisation show any evidence of not employing someone because of them, they failed applicant could raise a tribunal claim against the hiring company.   

The Citizens Advice Bureau (2019) list the nine protected characteristics as:   

  • age 
  • disability 
  • gender reassignment 
  • marriage or civil partnership (in employment only),  
  • pregnancy and maternity 
  • race 
  • religion or belief 
  • sex 
  • sexual orientation 

Discrimination can be direct or indirect.  Direct is where an individual is treated differently because of who they are, are thought to be or is with someone that is thought of in a less favourable manner.  Indirect discrimination is based around policies that target everybody in the same manner and potentially disadvantage people who share one or more of the protected characteristics listed above (Citizensadvice.org.uk, 2019).  I believe indirect discrimination is more prevalent in the selection of roles within organisations. 

So How are Contracts Established? 

A contract of employment is a legally binding agreement that is enforceable by law between an organisation and employee.  A contract of employment does not need to be in writing and can be verbal as long as acceptance is given to the initial offer. “In the UK, the term ‘employee’ is defined by the Employment Rights Act 1996 as an individual who has entered into or works under a contract of service or apprenticeship” as cited by Ayling and Suff (CIPD, 2019). 

When contracts of employment are established they need to consist of common law elements (A4id.org, n.d.) such as: 

  • An offer 
  • This is a proposal of undertakings where certain terms are listed with the intention of making it a legally binding document.  The offer must be an unprejudiced action of intent known as an “objective manifestation” which means that the person offering the contract wants it to be bound once the other party has accepted 
  • Acceptance of the offer 
  • The acceptance from the party receiving the offer must show objective manifestation where intentional consent is given  
  • Consideration 
  • All contracts must have consideration to be binding in the court of law and this means that there must be an offering of substance, such as salary, to the other party who in this case would be the potential employee 
  • Contractual Intention 
  • An offer is not always legally binding if consideration has been given as there needs to be the intention from both parties (employer and employee) to make this enforceable 

Managing Change and Reorganisation  

A contract of employment can be changed but would generally need the employee to be in agreement with the changes, depending on how many and what was proposed.  Some elements of a contract can be changed without consent but it must state in their original contract that the elements are not contractual e.g. a benefit of some kind 

According to Acas an employer can make a change if there is a flexibility clause (something that allows the change), the employee has no objection to the change or the employee’s trade union or representation agree to the proposed changes (Beta.acas.org.uk, 2019) 

A flexibility clause is normally listed as something the employer can change such the place of work, start or finish time or bonus entitlement but it must be very clear.  Where the employee has no objection to the change, a consultation process would normally take place to prevent legal action.  The employer would propose the change, highlight reason behind the decision to the employee/s were both parties would exchange views and opinions and agree.   

Trade unions would be consulted in the same way as an employee but they can also agree on behalf of the employee to changes if it is specifically written into the employee’s contract, however, if trade unions would normally agree everything for the employees they represent that is also allowed as it is an implied term. 

Managing Redundancy and TUPE:  

Redundancy is a form of dismissal and a way of reducing a department or company size where money needs to be saved, when a job is no longer required due to amalgamation of roles or when the role ceases to exist.  In any situation, redundancy should be used as a last resort (CIPD, 2019).   

Acas state that the main requirements of redundancy by law are the right to a minimum notice period but depending on length of service this would be 12 weeks for anyone employed for 12 years or more, at least one week for anyone employed from one month to two years and one weeks’ notice for each year where anyone has served between two and 12 years.  A redundancy payment and a payment in lieu of notice (PILON) are also required but before this can be achieved, there are certain activities that should take place. 

If cost is the main focus a company should exhaust all other options such as recruitment freezes or pay in general, reduced working hours, natural attrition loss or in some cases, early retirement could be offered to those who welcome it but where a role is no longer required, secondments or cross training could be offered where suitable. 

Redundancy needs to be fair and all employees performing the same or very similar roles should be considered for it.  Voluntary should be offered where skill set is not an issue so individuals have the chance to take it if they wish.  

Business transfers are often referred to as TUPE which is an acronym for ‘Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981’ (Fidler, 2019) 

When an organisation is ‘bought out’ there could be an agreement to retain the employees already employed.  Organisations must be based in the United Kingdom unless they are part of a larger umbrella company where the parent can be based in a different country and the size of the company has no impact on the process.  An example of when TUPE applies is when a company is acquired for services provided and there is a need to retain the existing employees for their skill set.  TUPE also applies where the affected employee’s current employment terms and conditions listed in their contract are transferred and where continuousness employment is upheld. 

There are two types of TUPE that fall under the regulation that are called “business transfers” and “service provision changes” (GOV.UK, 2019) 

Business transfers are where an organisation (or part of it) is sold to another organisation (as above) or where a merger takes place, however, for the TUPE protection to be recognised, the identity of the original company must transform. 

Service provision change is when an in-housed service such as cleaning or catering is outsourced to a contractor or vice versa where the cleaning or catering contract ends and the service is in-housed.  Service provision change can also occur when the existing contract naturally comes to an end and is tendered for someone else to take on or given to an alternative provider. 

Statutory Rights for Pay, Leave and Working Time 

If a person has a contract (either verbal or written) and broadly speaking, they are performing a task in exchange for something in return, they are classed as a worker and all workers have employment rights (GOV.UK, 2019).    

Gov.uk say the major statutory rights workers have in the fields of pay are:  

  • Equal pay – This law was introduced in 1970 by the Equal Pay Act and has since, been incorporated into the Equality Act 2010.  This law provides women and men with the right to be paid the same salary for the same or similar job/s 
  • National Minimum Wage – This is dependent on age as per the below diagram and anyone 25 or over will be paid the National Living Wage.  Both wages are revisited every year and can change each April 

The major statutory rights around leave and working time are:  

  • Working Time Regulations cover all workers, not just employee’s e.g. contractors or sub-contractors are entitled to at least 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year.  Adults must have a 20 minute unpaid break in a working day that exceeds six hours whereas young adults (aged 16 to 18) must receive a 30 minute break for anything over four and a half hours (CIPD, 2019) 
  • Holiday (or leave) is accrued when someone is on adoption, maternity or paternity leave and if a worker is sick from work, they will still accrue holiday and be entitled to take it once they return (depending on the return date) or be paid for it 

Equal Pay Law, Maternity, Paternity and Other Family-Friendly Employment Rights 

As stated above, the equal pay law was established in 1970 and now forms part of the Equality Act 2010.  The equal pay law is part of the UK sex discrimination law that dates back for more than 40 years (CIPD, 2019). 

The Chartered Institute of Professional Development state “The law gives a woman the right to be paid the same as a man (and vice-versa) for 

  • Like work– two employees who are doing the same or broadly similar roles, or 
  • Work rated as equivalent by analytical job evaluation study – could be totally different jobs which have been given the same rating as the result of an analytical job evaluation, or 
  • Work of equal value – when there are two jobs that are very different, but the employee claims that they require a similar level of skill and ability. For example, a female cook comparing her work to that of painters, insulation engineers and joiners who work for the same organisation” 

Where an organisation is held responsible for a case around pay discrimination, they are expected to participate in an “equal pay audit”; unless a system has been used and it falls under one of the four exceptions.  Once complete, the audit must appear on the organisation website for three years and if they do not comply with this they can be fined up to £5,000. 

Times have changed with families being much more blended and multifaceted.  So much so that women are not the only workers entitled to statutory rights when a child is brought into the equation by natural birth or adoption.   

Maternity leave consists of three parts totalling a period of 52 weeks leave, however, not everyone is entitled to all three.  Compulsory Maternity Leave states that where a mother has given birth, she must not return to work for the first two weeks (four for factory workers) and this is a right for all birth mothers.  (GOV.UK, 2019) 

Ordinary Maternity Leave is a six month period given to birth mothers and where no length of service is required beforehand.  This leave is determined by the employee and when they would like to start the leave, unless the baby decides to arrive early or the mother cannot attend work due to sickness related to pregnancy within the four week leading up to the date given.   

Additional Maternity Leave is only offered to mothers in permanent employment no matter how long they have been employed.  

Paternity Leave is offered to the person who would normally take the traditional ‘father’ place of the child, whether it is of natural or adoptive circumstances, same sex relationship or surrogacy.  The person receiving paternity leave must be an employee who has been employed by the same company for in excess of 26 weeks. (GOV.UK, 2019) 

Employees are also entitled to take time off for emergencies in their family but this would be unpaid.  Where childcare may be an issue, employees can take up to four months off for parental leave but again this would be unpaid and they can also request a flexible working pattern but this can be rejected. 

Requirements of Health and Safety Law 

Health and safety is ruled by legislation and common law as all employers have a duty of care to ensure their employees are kept safe whilst working no matter what their environment might be.  There are many major requirements listed by health and safety law but the CIPD, 2019 suggest a few to be: 

  • To carry out risk assessments and determine what physical or mental harm could potentially happen to an employee or employees if something is not completed either to a certain standard or at all e.g. maintaining electrical equipment, ensuring there is clean water for consumption and hygienic toilets are readily available for use etc. 
  • Establish and maintain a health & safety policy relevant to the company where all employees have visibility of it 
  • All employers must have Employers Liability Insurance to cover employees in the event of an accident 
  • Employers should have health and safety advisors and these could be already be part of the facilities team or in a different role within the organisation. They should be competent and have the knowledge to give advice and guidance to others as and when they are asked in order to prevent accidents 
  • Risk assessments should be carried out and this could include Display Screen Equipment (DSE).  These assessments should be carried out on anyone using a computer screen and regardless if an assessment has been made in the past, if an employee’s circumstances changes e.g. they become pregnant, then the company are responsible for carrying out another assessment to ensure everything has been covered and that the employee is, where possible, removed from potential danger 

Implied Duties and Principles of the Law on Freedom of Association: 

I believe it is extremely important that managers have a certain level of expectation for their employees to apply common sense around hazards in the workplace, take it seriously and take a reasonable amount of responsibility for their actions.  If an employer were expected to include all potential hazards for all environments and variations of individuals in a contract or health and safety policy, it would be never ending.   

As long as an employer provides a “safe place of work”, “a safe system of work”, an “adequate plant and equipment” which is industry specific and they “recruit competent and safety conscious staff” then they have shown that they have a duty of care over their employees that they take seriously however, where an employer is found to have not taken realistic care in any of the above, an employee could claim “constructive unfair dismissal and personal injury” due to them feeling like they had to leave their role. The role of management to ensure this implied term is recognised by employees and therefore alleviate the risk of harm to anyone CIPD. (2019). 

Any organisation could be taken to court or a tribunal if they fail to meet the minimum expectation of the HSE and have not implemented the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.  Employees must take some responsibility for keeping themselves safe and in helping the organisation to remain a safe place.   

“Freedom of association is a right to associate with any group they wish, including joining or leaving the group, and for the group to take collective action on behalf of its individual members” (HRZone, 2019) 

The main beliefs of the law based on freedom of association are built around the Human Rights Act and were established around values consisting of “dignity, fairness, equality, respect and autonomy” Archive.acas.org.uk. (2019).  

Article 11 from the Human Rights Act is solely based around the Freedom of assembly and association.  It stipulates that everyone has the right to meet and join peacefully in organisations such a trade unions and that no restriction will be placed on exercising the right unless it falls within law boundaries including matters of national security and public interest (Equalityhumanrights.com, 2018).   

An example of when freedom of association has been questioned is when the English Defence League (EDL) planned a protest in August 2010 and due to previous events resulting in violence, the community dynamics were taken into consideration as it was largely made up of Muslim families (in support of Unite Against Fascism).  Pockets of the community were spoken to about how individuals have the right to protest peacefully and it was decide that the protest would go ahead. 

By working together, the law enforcement and community helped make the protest a peaceful one without altercation. 

Main Requirements of Unfair Dismissal for Capability and Misconduct Issues 

In my opinion, capability and misconduct are different and should therefore be looked into on their own merit where an unfair dismissal case is raised, however, all employees have a statutory right to not be dismissed unfairly  

Mangers should be aware that for capability: 

  • The employer must show that they have dismissed the employee in a fair manner 
  • To constitute as an unfair dismissal based around capability, a tribunal court/judge will look at whether or not the individual has been given 
  • The proper guidance and training to aid him or her in completing the job at hand 
  • They have been given the opportunity to improve once additional training has been given 
  • That a suitable alternative role was offered where possible and that the individual was fully aware of their need to improve their capability (Solicitors, 2012). 

Misconduct is slightly different to capability as this is more around a person’s behaviour and the want to complete their role to the required and expected company standard or not as the case may be.   

Managers should be aware that for misconduct a tribunal will look to see if: 

  • The employer has completed a full and through investigation on the evidence surrounding why they think the employee is guilty of misconduct 
  • This need to be completed by an investigating officer who has no biases toward anyone involved 
  • The employer only needs to have reasonable grounds to believe the employee is guilty and does not need to prove beyond all reasonable doubt (Citizensadvice.org.uk, 2019) 

In both cases of unfair dismissal, a legal test will be carried out to help evaluate all evidence provided that would then go towards forming a judgment around the claim raised. 

Rights for Employees to be Accompanied at Serious Discipline and Grievance Hearings: 

Under section 10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999, workers/employees have a right to be accompanied during a disciplinary or grievance hearing unless they are providing a contract of service (EMPLOYEE RESCUE, 2019). 

The right of accompaniment does not mean the person supporting the employee has the right to represent them and there are certain boundaries that must be adhered to, such as:  

  • A companion will generally be either a fellow worker, a trade union representative or a trade union official unless it is stated in the employees contract that they can have other support such as their partner, husband or wife or legal representation 
  • As above, the employee does not have the right for legal representation to be present unless it is stated in their contract or it has been agreed with the employer first 
  • An employee can ask a family member to be present but they can only attend when agreed with the employer 
  • An employer can refuse the employees ‘support’ companion if they feel there is an implied term of trust and confidence breach (CIPD, 2019) 
  • A companion can assist by asking questions, clarify views with the employee and voice them on the employee’s behalf.  They can even question witnesses if present. 
  • A companion cannot answer questions on behalf of the employee, interrupt the employer whilst they are presenting their side of evidence or the case and a general rule, the companion must hold your trust and not break it in any way 

References 

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  • Taylor, S. and Woodhams, C. (2016). Human Resource Management: People and Organisations. 2nd ed. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, p.27. 
  • Russell, T. (n.d.). A Guide to UK Employment Law. [online] Tim-russell.co.uk. Available at: http://www.tim-russell.co.uk/upimages/Employment%20Guide.pdf [Accessed 3 Dec. 2019]. 

 Bibliography 

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  • CIPD. (2019). UK Court System & Employment Law | Factsheets | CIPD. [online] Available at: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/about/court-system [Accessed 12 Dec. 2019]. 
  • Crane, C. (2019). Contemporary Developments in Employment Relations. London: Unpublished, p.11.
  • CIPD. (2019). Employment Tribunals | Factsheets | CIPD. [online] Available at: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/tribunals/factsheet [Accessed 12 Dec. 2019]. 
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