Contracts of Employment / Directors' Service Agreements
It is fundamental to the success and protection of your business, to have the appropriate documentation in place and for it to be structured in a way that best suits your commercial needs.
There should be a distinction between what needs to be inserted into your Contract of Employment/Directors’ Service Agreement and what can be included in the Staff Handbook.
Basic terms are required by law, but the Employment Rights Act is there to offer protection to employees. Therefore, the Contract of Employment is your opportunity to extend the terms to include clauses that protect your business, rather than your employee.
Some examples of this include:
Often there is highly sensitive and commercially valuable information relating to your business to which the employee may have access while employed by you. You ought to ensure that during the employment, and afterwards, that such information is protected and cannot be used to your detriment by, for example, falling into the hands of a competitor.
Post –Termination Restrictions
While many regard these as unenforceable, properly drafted restrictive covenant clauses should be enforceable and can therefore prevent an outgoing employee from:
- working in competition
- soliciting business and/or dealing with your clients/customers
- attempting to take other staff with them to a competitor
- interfering with supplier relationships
- holding themselves out as still connected with your business.
However, for such clauses to be enforceable they need to be carefully drafted. Clauses that are drafted too widely may be held unenforceable because they are in restraint of trade. In order to maximise the chances of restrictions being held to be valid they should be specific to your business and provide no more than adequate protection of your legitimate business interests.
If there is a possibility that your employees may develop or be involved in developing new inventions, designs, technology or ideas while employed by you, you should ensure that such information belongs to you and is protected. Particularly for technology businesses and other employers involved in areas where IP rights are being created, it is vitally important to ensure that employees’ contracts contain appropriate provisions.
Often misunderstood, garden leave only applies once notice has been served by either party. Typically, where a departing employee is going to a competitor it may be prudent to keep them away from the business in order to protect confidential business information. If you want the flexibility to not provide work (which may otherwise place you in breach of Contract) then you need to clearly specify what is to happen for garden leave purposes in the Contract. Without valid garden leave provisions any restrictive covenants in the Contract may be unenforceable.
Social media/internet and email
If employees have access to your information and communication systems then you should ensure that the Contract contains adequate protection to allow such facilities to be monitored to ensure they are not abused. Where the Contract is silent on this you may be in breach by, for example, monitoring email or internet usage.
You are only allowed to make deductions from an employee’s salary in very limited situations. You need the express written permission of an employee to make deductions and the Contract is the ideal place to record the ways in which you can make deductions.
Resignation from Office
If you are engaging a Director, you should ensure that you can require the Director to resign his/her office/Directorship should his/her employment come to an end and, again, the Contract is one way in which this can be achieved.
More from the Downs Blog
In April of each year, the Government increases statutory payments that are payable to workers and employees.
Under new government guidance, you should work from home if you can effectively do so. However, some employers may ask their employees to return to work whilst restrictions are in place - particularly if it is not reasonable to carry out that work at home. For those who are concerned about health problems, or juggling childcare, where do you stand in the eyes of the law?
The third lockdown in England legally came into force on 6 January 2021. How long it will last is uncertain. At least until mid-February and possibly until late March. Vaccination provides a route out of the pandemic, but businesses need to survive this final and possibly longest of the lockdowns.
During these uncertain times, it is good to know you can count on us.
Even after the recent Government announcement of another national lockdown we remain open for business and are here to help you.
On Thursday 5 November 2020, the Chancellor announced that the furlough scheme is to be extended until the end of March 2021. During this period you will be able to claim up to 80% of an Employees salary up to a cap of £2500.
The Chancellor announced over the weekend that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) that was due to end on 31st October will be extended until 2nd December. The level of support available under the extended scheme will mirror that of what was available under the CJRS in August, with the Government paying 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500.
The Chancellor announced on Thursday 22 October that the Government contribution to employers’ wage costs under the Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be increased. Employers will be expected to pay 5% of the cost of unworked hours instead of the 33% originally announced.
Back in the summer the Chancellor announced that employers could receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for every employee who had previously been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme provided they remained continuously employed to the end of January 2021. Businesses will be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus from 15 February 2021 and the Government has stated that further guidance will be provided by the end of January 2021.
With new government guidance on Covid coming into force today and the current furlough scheme coming to an end next month, as expected, the Chancellor has today announced a new scheme to help businesses.
As Covid-19 cases continue to climb, the UK faces ever tougher restrictions. But, with the furlough scheme winding down, what rights do employers and employees have when returning to work?
Barclays Bank has withdrawn a system that monitored employees’ computers, tracking individual working patterns and how much time each day was spent on breaks. Details of the pilot project came to light after a Barclays whistle blower reported it to a newspaper.
From 6 April 2020 there will be changes to the minimum written terms that must be provided to employees AND the timing of when these terms must be provided to them. These terms are known as Section 1 statements, referring to Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA).
Downs Solicitors is pleased to play a small part in helping to raise awareness of a new and important piece of employment law that is coming into force in April 2020. The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations will be known as Jack’s Law. This is in memory of Jack Herd who died in 2010 and whose mother, Lucy, has campaigned tirelessly ever since for mandatory leave for grieving parents.
One of the big focuses in recent years has been on flexible working and how it has changed the concept of a “normal” working day. From challenging the norms of 9-5 working to commuting time counting as working time, there’s no doubt that the new decade could bring a new shape of working – but what does that mean for business leaders and their HR teams?
Jordi Casamitjana was dismissed in 2018 by The League Against Cruel sports for gross misconduct. Mr Casamitjana, an ethical vegan, claims that his dismissal came after telling colleagues that their employer’s pension fund was being invested in companies involved in animal testing. His solicitors claimed that the decision to dismiss was made because of his beliefs around ethical veganism.
We've woken up to the news this morning that, following a public vote in a general election, the Conservative party will be forming a government after winning the biggest majority vote in over 30 years.
With the General Election looming on 12th December what are the main parties saying in their election manifesto's on workers' rights. David Seals, Head of Employment, takes a look at the key messages.
Improving the conversation about the menopause at work is important for both workers and employers. For the worker experiencing symptoms, the onset of the menopause can be a challenging time and one that is a sensitive and personal matter. For an employer, menopause is a health and well-being concern for their workers and one that needs managing sensitively.
Whilst many see flexible working as an opportunity to juggle a work life balance more successfully, a lot of work needs to be done around overall wellbeing for the employee – and ways in which the employer can help facilitate that.
No sooner have we published a blog about British Airways’ largest GDPR fine on record, we find another story in the news.
British Airways (BA) looks set to face the largest GDPR penalty by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of £183m for last year’s data breach that put 500,000 customers’ details at risk.
This week, 13 - 19 May 2019, is Mental Health Awareness Week. So, what better time to talk about mental health within the workplace.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is nearly one year old, having come into effect on May 25th 2018. Many businesses in the UK and abroad have made amendments to elements of their practices to ensure GDPR compliance. As with any substantial change, there has been a steep learning curve and inevitable growing pains. With the one year mark fast approaching it seems an appropriate time to look at the impact and success, if any, of GDPR.