First Tuesday Q&A

The claimant was dismissed by reason of gross misconduct and in particular.

An employee has a Facebook profile which is public for all to see. The employee added the company where they work on their profile page. They then make very serious racist comments. The posts are brought to the company’s attention. What action is required?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 03/12/2013 It is possible for employers to take action against employees who make inappropriate or derogatory comments about fellow employees or their employer on social media sites or where they bring the employer’s reputation into disrepute as the case may here. This is particularly the case where employee ...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Discipline and Grievance Discrimination and Equality Policies and Procedures

What is the legal status on the use of spying on potential candidates using social media?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 05/11/2013 According to a recent Microsoft survey, less than 15% of candidates all across the UK believe information which is available on social media affects their chances of securing employment. The same survey, however, showed that 45% of employers in the UK admit to using it regularly and rejecting candi...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Discrimination and Equality Policies and Procedures Recruitment and Selection

We are intending to amend our employees’ terms and conditions of employment by amending the employees' bonus scheme. We intend to do this through consultation with employees and by seeking their agreement. I read somewhere that changing terms and conditions of employment for a large number of employees can trigger collective consultation and a requirement to inform DEL. I would be grateful for any clarity on this point.

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 03/09/2013 The main issue here is whether the company envisages dismissing and re-engaging the employees if they do not consent to the changes in the bonus arrangements. Where an employer changes employees' terms through termination and re-engagement, the dismissals would count as redundancies (for the purpos...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Redundancy Collective and Trade Union Issues Policies and Procedures

I have a query regarding the anonymity of complainants/witnesses, particularly relating to disciplinary cases. The original question related to two staff members complaining separately about a work colleague but neither of them wanted to be identified. In summary the answer outlined that the employer should investigate the reasons for the anonymity request and balance the complainant’s right of confidentiality with the accused right to a fair hearing. The answer provided was very helpful, although it was silent on the issue of the Data Protection Act and personal data. Statements given by complainants or witnesses will contain information about the behaviour or actions of another employee and I wondered if that employee has particular rights under DPA (e.g. subject access) to see what has been written about him/her, or does the data belong to the witness/complainant or is there a balance to be considered? I appreciate that all material may be required to be made available at Tribunal, but I am thinking here more of the internal disciplinary process.

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 02/07/2013 Ideally all witness statements and other documents to be relied on should be made available to the employee before a disciplinary hearing. This helps to give the employee a full picture of the nature of the allegations and the case they have to meet. Obviously, if the employer has given a promise o...

Should Whistleblowing be added as a new policy to employee handbooks or as an addition to, for example, our Data Protection policy?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 05/02/2013 The whistleblowing legislation imposes no positive obligations on employers to encourage whistleblowing or to implement a whistleblowing policy. It merely requires them to refrain from dismissing workers because they have made a "protected disclosure" or subjecting them to any other detriment becau...

Payment of performance based bonuses - How do we stand for those employees off on maternity leave during the year ? Also can we pro-rata an employee off on sick leave?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 05/02/2013 A performance related bonus can measure “performance” in many different ways, for example, on the employer’s performance as a whole, the individual’s/team’s performance against certain criteria or on the employee’s attendance record.(a) Maternity Where a contractual bonus is paid in recognition of ...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Absence and Sickness Working Time Policies and Procedures Pay

A Manager wishes to issue the following memo to all staff; It has been decided that, in all disciplinary meetings all communications must be in English. It will not be permitted for anyone to communicate in any other language. This will ensure that everyone present knows what is being discussed. Is there any way in which this can be justified without breaching race discrimination law?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 05/02/2013 While we are unaware of the background leading you to consider issuing this memo, you are likely to struggle justifying its position, particularly as, we assume, you have employees who are not fluent in English. A core principle of carrying out a fair disciplinary procedure is for employees to unde...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Discipline and Grievance Discrimination and Equality Policies and Procedures

Is it acceptable for an employer to gain access/view an employee’s Facebook, Twitter account etc, particularly if it’s written in a company policy?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 08/01/2013 Social media activity (or employee comments posted thereon) is not necessarily private or restricted to that employee (and his “friends”); employers can therefore look at employees’ social media sites. It is important and useful, however, for an employer to have a clear social media policy in place...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Policies and Procedures

We dismissed a male employee a year ago for sending intimidating messages to a female employee. He has now posted a further offensive message on the same employee’s facebook page. At the time the employee left he signed a compromise agreement. What should we do following this female member of staff drawing this to our attention?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 06/11/2012 An employer has a duty of care towards its employees, but can this be extended to protection from beyond the employment? The Sex Discrimination Order 1976 (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2008 amended the definition of harassment. The new provision makes an employer liable for third party harassment. I...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Dismissal Discrimination and Equality Policies and Procedures

We work in a very dangerous environment with knives and machinery and want to implement a drug & alcohol policy that would allow for random, with cause and pre-employment testing. Can we do this with Union agreement and without the consent of each employee?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 01/05/2012 Health and safety considerations are very important in circumstances such as this as employers have, under common law and statute, a duty to ensure, so far as practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees. Therefore, while drug and alcohol testing is often a controversial a...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Health and Safety Contracts of Employment Policies and Procedures