An employee says they are fit to return to work but their fit note hasn’t expired, I’ve asked them to get a fit note to say then can return to work, is that right?

No, GP’s will not provide fit notes to confirm an employee is fit to return to the workplace, if the employee deems themselves fit to return they should be allowed, a discussion should take and any potential reasonable adjustments considered and implemented.

Can I include unauthorised days leave in the employees sickness record?

No, sickness record should reflect the employees absence of when they deem themselves unfit to attend work, no other type of absence should be included in the list.

My employee has stated that he not going to work his full contractual notice, how can I make them?

Unfortunately, an employer can’t make an employee fulfil their contractual obligation, you can express your disappointment and if your contract and situation allows make the employee aware of potential deductions you could make from their pay for loss caused to the business by their actions.

My employee has been off absent for 6 weeks, I have had no contact, can I call them?

Yes, welfare calls or meetings are encouraged, it allows the employer to gain more information on the reason for absence, have discussions about potential reasonable adjustments or support that can be offered and maintain the working relationship withy your employee during their absence.

How do you calculate accrued annual leave?

Total annual leave for the year (inclusive of bank holidays)/12 = annual leave accrued per month.

To work out how much your employee has accrued to date multiply the annual leave accrued per month total by the total number of months worked in the annual leave year.

E.g.: Susan, 28 days entitlement, Jan to April annual leave year, Susan is leaving 30 May.

28/12 = 2.8 x 5 = 11.6, 12 days accrued

What must I pay my employees when statutory sick pay runs out?

Statutory sick pay is payable for 28 weeks to employees whose average earnings are above the lower earnings threshold in the 8 weeks prior to them falling ill.  You must fill in and issue a SSP1 form to the employee when an employee cannot get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), or when an employee’s SSP has come or is coming to an end.  Once 28 weeks of SSP has been paid to the employee you no longer pay SSP to the employee. The employee is then able to claim any benefits they may be entitled to from DWP.  Despite no longer being eligible for SSP, employees continue to accrue holiday through any period of sickness.

What holiday entitlement must I provide for my employees?

Employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks of annual leave per annum, inclusive of any bank/public holiday entitlement.  
5.6 weeks equates to 28 days for those who work 5 or more days per week.  If someone works less than 5 days per week then they would receive a pro rata number of days, but still receive 5.6 weeks annual leave.  For example, for an employee who works 4 days per week, they would receive 4/5ths of the 28 days. 
The simplest calculation is to use the 5.6 weeks and multiply by the days worked each week which is 4 days in this example = 22.4 days, rounded up to 22.5 days.
For employers who have a higher holiday entitlement than 28 days for their full time staff, the number of weeks holiday can be calculated by taking the number of days and dividing by 5.  For example 33 days divided by 5 = 6.6 weeks of holiday entitlement.

My employee started a few months ago and it’s not working out, what do I do?

New employees should have a probationary period when they first start their employment, usually 3 or 6 months.  Their contract of employment should include a probationary period clause which sets out what will happen if the employee fails their probationary period, which can be to extend the probationary period or dismiss because the probationary period has been failed.

My employee wants to go part time, what do I do?

Employees who have over 26 weeks service are able to put in a flexible working request.  If such a request is received, a formal flexible working process must be followed.  The employer has three months from receipt of the request to hold a formal meeting, agree or decline the request and confirm the outcome of the flexible working request meeting in writing to the employee, providing a right of appeal.  If a request is declined then there are only certain specific reasons that can be relied upon and it is insufficient to just state one of those reasons without adding justification as to how that reason applies to the individual’s request.

Can I pay holiday pay to an employee who is on maternity leave?

It is not allowable to pay holiday to an employee who is on maternity leave. The leave accrues throughout their maternity leave and should be available for the employee to take upon their return from maternity leave. If a maternity leave period spans two holiday years then the holiday accrued in on year should be carried forward into the next holiday year.

Can I demand staff to take a COVID test?

There is no obligation for employees to undergo COVID-19 testing however employers can bring it in as part of their workplace policy and COVID risk assessment. It is entirely down to the employer and what they feel is best for their business, although it is best advised to consult with employees first in case there are any concerns or objections.

If you are unsure whether you need to implement regular testing, or how best to approach this matter with your staff, please get in touch.

What do I do if staff still haven’t had their COVID-19 vaccination or refuse to have it?

Members of staff can refuse the vaccine and have a right to do so for many reasons – whether it be religious or personal choice, health reasons, or a general fear of needles. Consulting with staff to find out the reason they are unwilling to receive the vaccine will be useful in deciding your steps going forward. You can implement this into your COVID risk assessment and determine what additional control measures need to be put in place for those who will remain unvaccinated.

Those working in the care sector are required to receive both doses of their COVID-19 vaccinations unless they are medically exempt. Read more in our blog here.

Can I ask staff to prove they have had their COVID vaccination?

You can ask staff to provide proof of their vaccination, especially in industries where vaccinations are mandatory – like in the care sector.

However, please keep in mind that any information on a person’s health is considered special category data, therefore you will need the employee’s express consent to process this data under GDPR standards.

What do I do if staff want to stay working from home?

People are no longer required to work from home however an employee may request to continue working from home using the flexible working rules.

Having the option to work from home has been a welcome, and positive adjustment for many employees. It may be useful for employers to consider how having this option could benefit their business and retain employees.

When dealing with flexible working requests, it is advised to do so under the flexible working rules. If flexible working is not a viable option for your business then you can refuse, however you will need to abide by the flexible working rules, therefore a fair reason for turning down the request will be required.

What do I do if employees refuse to return to work from furlough?

The furlough scheme has now ended therefore employees are required to return to work.

However, if they refuse and are absent without consent to leave, employers will need to follow their Absent Without Leave (AWOL) process.

Is a COVID risk assessment still necessary?

It is important that employers are still managing COVID-19 safety measures in the workplace to prevent the spread of the virus and keep their employees safe.

COVID-19 should be treated like any other risk therefore regular COVID-19 risk assessments should be conducted and adjusted to ensure you are always adhering to the latest Government guidelines.

Do we still need to social distance, and should my staff wear face masks?

From your COVID-19 risk assessment you will find out what measures you will need to implement in your business as it will vary by industry. Face masks are a requirement in some sectors and for those working in Wales and Scotland, the requirements may differ.

What do I do with an employee’s annual leave that has mounted up over furlough?

Employees will have accumulated annual leave during their furlough and will need to use it when they return to work. However, don’t forget that if they were unable to use their annual leave due to COVID-19, this can be carried over for up to 2 years due to new legislation that was passed last year.

Employers can enforce annual leave but will need to provide double the noticed, for example, to impose 1 weeks’ holiday, you will need to give 2 weeks’ notice.

Can I ask for proof if a member of staff has been asked to self-isolate?

Yes, and it is advised that you do so. You can request proof of the isolation notification via the NHS App.

If a member of my staff is pinged by the NHS Track and Trace app, do they have to self-isolate?

No, but it is still advised that you isolate if you are contacted by the app as a precautionary measure however it is totally down to the individual and the employer on how they wish to handle this.

However, if you have been notified by the Track and Trace app to isolate immediately then it is a legal requirement to do so. You could be fined £1,000 if you do not.

Can I forbid use of the COVID-19 app amongst my employees?

It is a personal choice for employees to use the NHS Track and Trace app therefore you cannot.

Can I claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for staff who have been advised to isolate?

You can and will likely be able to do so until the pandemic is over for good.

Am I obligated to pay staff if they are advised to self-isolate when they return from a holiday abroad?

No, employers should update their holiday request process so that employees clearly express whether they are travelling to a destination that may necessitate quarantine upon their return.

They are, you may either decline the request, as you have the right to do so, or you can grant and figure out how you will handle the quarantine period with the employee. There are multiple options to consider, such as extending the holiday period, agreeing to unpaid leave, or working from home. It is advised you agree to this in writing.

I have care home staff who refuse to have the COVID jab: can I dismiss them?

From 11th November 2021, unless exempt, all those working or volunteering in care homes will need to be fully vaccinated otherwise they can be dismissed.

Employers may need to pay notice of dismissal so be sure to consider all of your options (i.e., whether you can redeploy workers from the front line) before going straight into dismissal.