Legal Answers to HR Dilemmas

Legal Answers to HR Dilemmas

Retraction of job offers, extending probationary periods, conducting difficult performance discussions, handling sensitive redundancies, addressing cases of gross misconduct - if you are navigating any, or all, of these sensitive tasks - help is at hand!

Join us for a comprehensive exploration of the 5 most challenging HR dilemmas from start to finish of the employment relationship, that may result in complicated dismissals:

  • Recruitment
  • Probation
  • Unsatisfactory performance
  • Misconduct/gross misconduct
  • Redundancy

Plus a dedicated session at the end of the day to answer your tricky questions....

Our expert panel of legal professionals will guide you through the intricate maze of employment law in these 5 areas, offering practical solutions, best practices, and legal insights to help you navigate these complex waters with confidence while ensuring your organisation stays legally compliant and reducing the risk of costly employment litigation and consuming valuable senior management resources.  

Whether you are a seasoned HR professional or just starting your career in the field, this is your ticket to mastering the complexities of employment law and HR in today's dynamic workplace landscape. Don't miss out on this opportunity to sharpen your HR toolkit, gain a competitive edge and ensure legal compliance while achieving your organisation's HR goals of securing and retaining optimal talent. 

Who should attend this event?

HR professionals, line managers and anyone else within an organisation with responsibility for invoking company policies and procedures, risk assessment, compliance and governance, including those who make manage, advise and/or make decisions regarding employment contracts, probation periods, performance, misconduct, redundancy, dismissal etc.   

This event is in partnership with:




Get to Know Us:  Familiarise yourself with the functions of our online event to ensure you maximise return on your investment. Christine Quinn from Legal Island’s Knowledge Team welcomes delegates to our event 




Risk 1: Recruitment Roulette  

In this session, we delve into the world of HR recruitment where we will unravel the complexities and pitfalls of tricky dilemmas that HR professionals often encounter. From navigating diverse candidate pools to handling sensitive situations, our expert speaker will share their legal knowledge and strategies to empower HR professionals to recruit with confidence and compliance. 

Ian McFarland, Partner inEversheds Sutherland answers your questions on recruitment including: 

  1. Discrimination do employers have a free hand when deciding who to hire for the role? What is positive discriminationShould I be doing it? Are there any risks?  

  1. Interviews are there implications for how employers conduct interviews? Should I retain interview notes? Is there any difficulty “weeding out” CVs and only granting interviews to certain candidates? What can I ask and when? 

  1. Background Checks how do I legally conduct background checks? What am I entitled to find out? What can I do with the information a check tells me? Are references necessary or even useful anymore? 

  1. Offers should I make offers ‘subject to contract’? Can I later retract an offer, even if the contract of employment is signed? Can I make an offer conditional? What if an employee accepts the offer and doesn’t show up or later retracts their acceptance?  


Comfort break 




Risk 2: Probationary Predicaments 

A probationary period is a very useful mechanism to enable employers to trial the working relationship and assess the employee during the early part of the employment journeyHowever, in practice, probationary periods are misunderstood and can be challenging for employers as they involve making critical decisions about the employee’s suitability in a short space of time (usually while navigating legal complexities). So how do you make the probationary period work for your organisation? And what do you do if it doesn’t?    

In this session, Ian McFarland, Partner, Eversheds Sutherland discusses various aspects of probationary periods including their purpose and the legal consequences that flow from them. This session will also dispel some of the myths around their operation and discuss what constitutes best practice both during a probationary period and in the event of an extension.   

You will learn how to get the most out of the probationary period by getting top tips and best practice guidance on: 

  1. Contracts - is your probationary clause fit for purpose in 2024?  

  1. Assessment properly assessing unsatisfactory issues, including performance, during probation.   

  1. Extension or Exit? - how to extend or end a probationary period and terminate the contract of employment quickly, legally and to avoid claims of wrongful dismissal, discriminatory dismissal or unfair dismissal.   


Comfort Break  




Risk 3: Performance Management Challenges 

Effective performance management boosts productivity, addresses issues, and helps retain talentHowever, employers are often reluctant to engage in the process or do so only half-heartedly, which often compounds the issue. 

In this case study session, Ian McFarland is back to address some of the most common challenges you face in performance management day to day including how to: 

  1. Enhance employee performance carrying out regular performance reviews and producing well-documented performance improvement plans, conducting effective evaluations while considering mental health and facilitating reasonable adjustments/accommodations for disabilities and, finally, handling dismissals thoughtfully, especially in cases of sickness or discrimination claims. 

  1. Resolve conflict and ensure legal compliance - navigating formal and informal processes using LRA guidance and best practices, addressing grievances during performance issues and smooth transition to disciplinary actions when warranted 

  1. Improve workforce management - striking the right balance between evaluation of performance and employee well-being, fostering a workplace that is not only compliant with legal requirements but also fair and supportive and consistently delivering effective performance management solutions. 



Welcome Back.  Introduction to Afternoon Sessions. 



Risk 4: Misconduct Dilemmas 

Prioritising the fair, reasonable and lawful handling of employee misconduct allows you to safeguard your organisation's reputation, minimise legal risks, and nurture a productive and cohesive workplace culture. Legal compliance also protects your organisation from costly litigation and preserves its reputation. 

Join Emma McIlveen BL as she tackles some of the prevalent day-to-day challenges encountered in management of workplace misconduct, including strategies for addressing issues such as: 

  1. Effective misconduct management - dealing with misconduct inside and outside the workplace, identifying the criteria for categorising misconduct as "gross misconduct”. How, and when, to suspend. 

  1. Fair procedures - conducting thorough investigations and effective evidence collection, navigating the disciplinary process and any subsequent appeal with fairness, including demonstrating ‘reasonableness’ in your decision, and addressing grievances raised during the process. 

  1. Practical lessons - the legal cases and other practical guidance you need to be aware of to improve best practices in your organisation. 


Risk 5: Redundancy Risks  

As an HR professional, it's essential that you deal with redundancies (individual or collective) fairly in your organisation to minimise disruption, maintain employee morale and trust, and minimise potential risk and liability. Fair treatment during redundancies will help you build and preserve your organisation’s reputation, attracting and retaining talent in the long run. Ensuring fairness in the process also reduces the risk of costly legal disputes and fosters a harmonious workplace culture, which ultimately contributes to your organisation's overall success. 

Jason Elliott BL discusses: 

  1. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail – laying the groundwork for a fair process.  What is your business case? 

  1. Fair consultation and selection - collective and individual consultation – the law and best practice, what does ‘meaningful’ consultation actually mean? And special categories – dealing with employees on maternity leave, sick leave or those requiring reasonable adjustments/accommodations. 

  1. A fair exit - defining ‘suitable’ in alternative employment? What if an employee accepts the alternative role? What if they refuse the alternative role? Statutory redundancy pay and enhanced redundancy pay. How, why and when to use a Compromise Agreement. 


Comfort Break 


The Tricky Questions 

This is your chance to put your questions to Ian McFarland, Partner at Eversheds Sutherland and employment law barrister Jason Elliott BL! 

Do you have a tricky question of your own? Drop us a line before the event and we will put it to the Eversheds Sutherland Partners – 


Summary and Close 



  • Emma McIlveen
    Emma McIlveen

    Emma McIlveen is a barrister with extensive experience of employment law and discrimination issues.

    She has appeared in the Employment Tribunals, Court of Appeal and in front of Regulatory Panels. Emma represents both Claimants and Respondents and has acted as sole counsel in a wide range of matters including complex discrimination matters dealing with disability, age, race, pregnancy and sex discrimination. She also has experience of handling claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination by association, unfair recruitment and selection procedures, TUPE and unlawful deduction of wages. In addition to this, she has experience of representing vulnerable Claimants and is well versed on Galo adjustments.

    Emma serves on the committee of the Employment Lawyers Group in Northern Ireland. Emma is also called to the Bar of Ireland and is an accredited mediator with the Resolution Centre in Belfast. 

  • Ian McFarland
    Ian McFarland Partner
    Eversheds Sutherland

    Ian is a Partner in Eversheds Sutherland's Belfast Employment Law team. He has over 10 years of knowledge and expertise in employment law, particularly in complex matters for high-profile clients. Ian's work since the onset the pandemic has been varied and often urgent, including significant collective redundancy exercises (affecting 500+ employees) and all associated issues, advice in relation to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and hybrid/home working arrangements.


  • Jason Elliott
    Jason Elliott Lecturer in Law and Barrister
    Ulster University

    Jason Elliott was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 2013 and is the Associate Head of School of Law at Ulster University.  As a practising barrister, he has developed a largely civil practice representing individuals, companies and public bodies in litigation.  This covers a wide range of areas including personal injuries, wills and employment law. In terms of employment law, he has represented both applicants and respondents in the Industrial Tribunal. At Ulster University, Jason lectures extensively on the civil areas of practise such as Equity and Trusts and delivers employment law lectures for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. 

Event details


9:30pm - 4:00pm


28 February 2024


Online - zoom


Standard Price: £395

Standard charity/ small business rate: £345