First Tuesday Q&A

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

When, if ever, it is appropriate for an employer to argue frustration of contract?

For example, if an employee is given a prison sentence of 3 or more years for an offence that is no way connected with their employment, can an employer claim frustration rather than have to go through the statutory dismissal procedure using "some other substantial reason" as the potential reason for dismissal?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 01/12/2015 Case law confirms that a custodial sentence imposed on an employee is capable of frustrating the contract of employment but whether it does or not depends on the circumstances of the case with the length of the term to be served by the employee being a significant factor to be considered. Tribunals...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Disciplinary and Grievance Issues Contracts of Employment

How can we change the wording in our handbooks?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 01/12/2015 The key issues when updating (or for that matter creating) a staff handbook are: how contractual terms are distinguished from non-contractual terms; and which parts of the handbook apply only to employees and which will also apply to other workers, for example, agency workers. It is generally rec...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Contracts of Employment

If you hire an employee on a 2+ year fixed term contact, are they entitled to redundancy if/when they are dismissed at the end of the contract? Is there any way to avoid this if an entitlement exists?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 03/11/2015 The non-renewal of a fixed-term contract will be potentially fair by reason of redundancy. The usual "band of reasonable responses" test will apply to whether it was fair to dismiss for that reason, and the usual rules regarding adherence to a fair redundancy procedure must be followed. Employers s...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Redundancy and Reorganisation Contracts of Employment

Are there any restrictions on how long someone can be on a fixed-term contract? How often can you extend?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 03/11/2015 Under Regulation 8 of the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002, employees who have been continuously employed for four years or more on a series of successive fixed-term contracts are automatically deemed to be permanent employees (that ...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Contracts of Employment

Can an employer change any policies and procedures within the organisation, without consulting with staff, as long as it is communicated to them afterwards?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 02/09/2015 This will depend on whether the policies / procedures in question, or the relevant provisions contained therein, are contractual. Contractual terms can normally only be amended with the employee’s consent. In other words, an employer cannot make a “unilateral” change to such terms. Policies will of...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Contracts of Employment Policies and Procedures

Can we offer employees a car allowance where previously we provided a company car?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 02/09/2015 Assuming that your company cars are provided as a contractual benefit, moving employees on to a car allowance can be done, but it is not simply a matter of providing the requisite notice. In broad terms, you must first establish whether there is a power in your contracts of employment to vary speci...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Contracts of Employment

Like many organisations we may have to reduce staffing costs. Is it lawful to terminate employees on fixed term contracts first or must they always be considered equally with full time permanent staff?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 02/09/2015 If an employee’s fixed-term contract expires, without renewal on the same terms as before, or is terminated as in a redundancy situation, the employee will have the same rights to unfair dismissal and redundancy protection as a permanent employee, subject to the usual qualification periods. The emp...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Unfair Dismissal Redundancy and Reorganisation Contracts of Employment

Is it possible to include a clause in employment contracts that allows the employer the possibility to ask the employee to use their accrued annual leave during his/her notice period?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 05/08/2015 Yes, such a provision can be advantageous for employers in that it avoids the need to make a payment for unused leave on termination and it can also be a useful mechanism for putting some distance between the employer and employee at what can be a sensitive time. However, it is important that emplo...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Contracts of Employment Working Time and Leave

By law is an employee entitled to paid time off for doctor/dentist appointments?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 08/04/2015 No, there is no statutory right to time off for medical or dental appointments, except in relation to antenatal appointments. How an employer deals with such requests is at their discretion and governed by the express or implied terms of the contract of employment. The employee is not at work and, ...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Contracts of Employment Working Time and Leave Policies and Procedures

Can an employee give notice of resignation when on maternity leave?

Posted in: First Tuesday Q&A NI on 08/04/2015 Yes. The employee will be bound by the notice of termination provisions in her contract. As such, an employee who does not wish to return to work after her leave period must notify her employer in accordance with the notice provision specified in her contract of employment in the usual way. The emp...
This article is listed under the following topics:
Contracts of Employment Working Time and Leave