Employment Rights Act 1996 and the employer
It can really worry you when an employee starts quoting various acts at you and then ends the conversation with ‘ I know my rights’. With ERA 1996 ringing in your ears you look it up and see a dusty old legal document and are wondering how to apply it to what’s just happened. We can help. Firstly, a few lines on what it means to you.
The Employment Rights Act 1996 consolidated or amended several earlier pieces of legislation to create a protective legal fence around the rights of employees.
It provided for a Statement of Employment Particulars to be issued to employees within two months of the start of their employment. If you have not dealt with this and your employee is working for you weeks after this time scale talk to us on 01244 300413 to save problems down the line!
Disciplinary procedures are also covered by the Act, as are some aspects of pensions.
Pay statements are to be clearly itemised showing rates of pay and the reasons for any variations in rates.
Also concerning pay, the Act makes very clear the circumstances under which pay can be deducted from an employee and employers who deduct on a whim may face serious consequences.
However, an employee operating in retail who is held responsible for a monetary or stock deficiency may, in certain circumstances, be liable to a deduction from wages in respect of that deficiency of up to 10% of the gross payment due on that pay-day.
Sunday working increasingly arises as retail businesses attempt to operate more profitably in a climate of 24hr/7 day shopping trends. ERA 1996 provides for the process by which shop and betting workers would be offered Sunday working. It also makes provisions under which an employer of protected shop or betting workers may reduce contractual hours (and commensurately pay) in the event of such a worker opting out of Sunday working.
ERA 1996 also defines the term ‘protected disclosure’, which we more commonly refer to as whistle blowing when discussing information released by an employee that the employer is operating outside the parameters of certain legislation.
Whistle blowing (or protected disclosure) applies when an employer is committing criminal offences, contravening Health and Safety legislation in a manner which is likely to endanger one or more people, is involved in a miscarriage of justice (or has the potential to be involved in the immediate future), is damaging the environment, is failing to comply with other legal obligations or has been involved in any of these acts or omissions and is concealing that they have occurred.
It is expected, under the provisions of the Act, that the worker discloses the information, in the first instance, to his employer. However, if he has reasonable grounds to believe that he will be treated detrimentally as a result of a disclosure to his employer he may disclose the damaging information to ‘prescribed persons’ – as defined within the Act.
As can be seen, ERA 1996 is wide-ranging. It has far greater scope than is covered here and has been subsequently amended (for example, in respect of parenting leave). Any employer not familiar with the provisions therein is at risk of breaching legislation unknowingly and, as we all know too well, ignorance is never an excuse as you, the employer are expected to know all of these things. Talk to us. For a low monthly fee we can help you keep all your business covered and avoid those difficult employee conversations where the odds are stacked against you.
Phone employment law at Law Hound on 01244 300413