Employment Laws That Don’t Exist in the UK But Should

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There are many labour laws in place in the UK that address issues such as pay, working hours, discrimination, pensions and so much more.

Yet, there are still many areas within HR that aren’t covered by any laws and prove to become quite complicated, and seemingly unfair when left in the hands of employers.

The purpose of employment law is to establish a just standard across all businesses for dealing with certain employee issues. They aim to protect employees and maintain a strong employer/employee relationship without effecting the productivity of businesses.

Here are just some HR issues that do not have any employment laws in place, but probably should:

Employee Handbook

An employee handbook is not a legal requirement, but we really think that it should be!

Not only does it clearly outline your policies and procedures for employees to reference whenever needed, but it can also be a great tool for employers when dealing with misconduct and employee tribunals.

If you have written evidence of your policies from day one, and these have been read and understood by your employees, then you can make a strong case when these policies are broken.

Bereavement Leave

There is currently no law that states employers must give their staff time off when a family member or friend dies.
It is completely at the employers’ discretion (potentially on a case by case basis) as to how much, paid or unpaid, leave employees receive for bereavement, also known as compassionate leave.

It appears laws are potentially being put into place that will ensure that substantial paid leave is available when someone loses a dependent.

But, currently, it is completely up to the employer as to what they offer to their employees who lose a parent, child, friend or partner, and this policy should be included in the company handbook.

Child Care

If an employee calls you in the morning to let you know their child is ill, or there has been an issue with childcare and they won’t be able to come into work, you are under no obligation to pay them for the time off.

Instead, you can offer what is known as ‘dependent leave’ or ’emergency leave’ which won’t count towards their annual leave or sickness absence and goes unpaid.

However, some employer’s do choose to be a little more sympathetic in those situations and offer to pay or accept a ‘working from home’ policy.

With flexible working becoming more and more prevalent in businesses around the world, it seems that there should be allowances made for parents who have no choice but to stay home with their child for a day or two.

Social Media

Although there are Data Protection laws in place to ensure that confidential, personal information – be it the employers’ or employees’ – is collected, handled and used appropriately, there is not yet a law that explicitly addresses social media; although there has been case law precedents set for this.

Over the past decade, social media profiles on sites such as Twitter and Facebook, have become commonplace within society.

Employment law should keep up with these progressions in technology and the impact that it can have on employer/employee relationships by setting a clear standard or policy on the matter.

Most businesses will have their own policy on social media and the expectations that you, the employer, has for their employees who are representing the company even when they’re not on the premises.

However, if you dismiss an employee based on something they have mentioned on Twitter or a picture they have posted on Instagram it can still end up in an employment tribunal as unfair dismissal if you have not clearly communicated sufficient policies to your employees.

The law should protect businesses and employer’s by making it clear that any derogatory, offensive or slanderous posts on social media can and will lead to dismissal. But it should also counteract this by stating that employee’s do have a right to use their social media for their choosing and that, for example, drunk selfies are not enough grounds for dismissal.

The definition of unacceptable behaviour on social media needs to be made clear to both the employer and employee in the law so that everyone is fairly protected.

Regular Breaks

There are some laws in place regarding staff breaks such as workers having the right to a 20-minute uninterrupted break if they work more than six hours and 11 hours’ rest between working days.
This applies to 9-5 workers over the age of 18 as there are separate laws for young workers, night workers and other specialist roles such as emergency services.

But following findings from research on the impact of technology and being sat at a desk all day has on our physical health, this should be reflected in an updated law.

For example, research has found that physical inactivity is one of the biggest contributors to death and disability in the UK. So, introducing a law which states that for every two hours an employee is sat stationery at a desk they are entitled to a ten minute break as well as their lunch break.
This could not only help reduce health risks, but it will also improve motivation and morale.

If you have some concerns about your bereavement leave policy, or would like some assistance writing up your employee handbook, then call us on 0845 2626 260 and you can book a free consultation

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