Tag Archives: Employee rights

Zero hours workers must be able to work elsewhere

The Government is pushing ahead with its proposal to ban exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.

Exclusivity clauses state that although the employer is under no obligation to offer work, the worker is prohibited from accepting work from any other employer.

This has long been seen as unfair and the Government has now published a draft set of regulations to bring this ban into force. The regulations will also include penalties for employers who try to avoid this prohibition, generally by offering a very low number of guaranteed hours or no work or fewer opportunities to workers who also undertake work elsewhere.

The bottom line is, if you offer zero hours contracts you must allow workers to accept work elsewhere if offered and you must not subject them to any detriment if they do so.

Posted by: Clare Nicolaou Employment lawyer,  Novalex Solicitors

Shared parental leave – are you ready?

Shared parental leave is nearly upon us and we lawyers are still breaking out into a cold sweat at the mere thought of this, arguably the most complicated piece of employment legislation ever to be passed!

In a nutshell, parents whose babies are due to be born on or after 5 April 2015 can elect to opt in to shared parental leave and have up to a year off between them.

Their leave can run separately or concurrently, so, for example, each parent could have the first six months off after the birth together, or they could each take separate blocks of leave that add up to one year.

The devil as always is in the detail and the detail in this case is in the notification procedures that need to be given to their respective employers.

Explaining this in a blog would be far too lengthy and detailed. Whilst we don’t yet know what the uptake will be, some employers are waiting to see whether they get requests before putting policies into place. If you would like further information please contact me at clare.nicolaou@novalex.co.uk

E-cigarettes in the work-place

An employee working in a secondary school has recently lost a constructive dismissal case. She had resigned in response to pending disciplinary proceedings after she was seen vaping an e-cigarette in front of pupils.

There isn’t much to learn from this case apart from the fact that employers should make clear their rules about the use of e-cigarettes or other nicotine containing devices at work.

Do you want to prohibit them in the same way you do cigarettes or will there be a more relaxed approach?

Employers working in the retail sector or with children are unlikely to want to allow employees to vape freely but other sectors may decide differently.

Whatever you decide the important part is to communicate this to your employees. If you don’t do this you may find it difficult to take action against those who go against the rules.

Posted by: Clare Nicolaou Employment lawyer,  Novalex Solicitors 


Tips for achieving flexible working

Posted by: Clare Nicolaou Employment lawyer,  Novalex Solicitors 

Flexible working has a number of benefits for both employers and employees, with increased motivation and retention of talent being key. If you are an employee and you would like to work flexibly, here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Talk to your boss informally about the concept of flexible working. There’s no need to follow the statutory procedure for the sake of it and informal arrangements can work very well.
  2. Give real consideration to how your proposed work pattern will impact on your colleagues or the workplace. If there are potential barriers that your boss may be concerned about think about how these can be overcome.
  3. Be prepared to be flexible yourself. If possible have other options so that if your proposed work pattern is not feasible there may be a slightly different alternative that could work for both you and your employer.
  4. Ask your boss if you can try your proposal for a trial period. This can help allay any fears your boss may have about whether the changes will impact on the business.



Flexible working – what kind of a right is it?

Posted by: Clare Nicolaou Employment lawyer,  Novalex Solicitors

There is a commonly held misunderstanding about the statutory right to request flexible working.  The right is not an absolute one.  (Small businesses as well as employees sometimes think it is.)

It is not a case of “ask and ye shall receive”; rather, ask and your employer must reasonably consider your request.

The right to request flexible working was originally available only for childcare reasons but since 30 June 2014 employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment have been able to make a request for flexible working for any reason.

The common sense behind this, and sensibly, is that employers who can accommodate flexible working patterns may have a more productive and happier workforce.  It really  doesn’t matter if the flexibility is to allow the employee to play golf every Monday or to write that novel all of us have within us.

The employee triggers the procedure by making a written request.  The employer then has a three-month decision period (which can be extended by agreement) within which to:

  • discuss the request with the employee,
  • give it some proper consideration, and
  • notify the employee of the outcome.

Applications must be dealt with in a reasonable manner and employers may only refuse a request for one of the eight reasons set out in the legislation (The Flexible Working Regulations 2014).

One potential downside for both parties is that once a flexible working application is agreed it is a permanent change to an employee’s contract.

Generally though, in my experience, employees will first broach the subject with their line manager. This is a great opportunity to try and agree a trial period for the arrangement, assuming it is workable, or to work together to try and find a happy medium. It avoids having to go through the statutory procedure and if one or both parties decides it is not working out then there is the option to revert to the original working pattern, or try an alternative.

An ACAS booklet guiding handling requests is here: Booklet