1.1 Describe the internal and external factors that impact on the employment relationship.
Following the numerous studies and researches around the employee relations like the CIPD Change agenda (2005) , there is still no set definition for Employee Relations.
But the majority of views agree that Employee Relations is concerned with “managing the employment contract and relationships; communication with employees; promoting retention, involvement and engagement; collective processes of negotiation and consultation.”(1)
Managing the employment relationship effectively is a key part of the role of the human resources (HR) practitioner. Organisations are recognising that “motivating their staff to perform is a much more complex issue than just providing financial incentives.” (CIPD, www.cipd.co.uk, Reflections on employee well-being and the psychological contract, June 2005).
There are both internal and external factors which can impact and effect employment relationships. Some internal factors could be classed as the management style of the company, culture of the company and benefits awarded to employees. If the company has a positive and encouraging management style which engages with employess, this can create good working relationships. A diverse and positive culture of the company will create good external perceptions of the company, increase talent and recruitment and create a strong working base for employees. A good benefits and incentive package could create a harder working workforce, enhance relationships with management and can attract talent to the company.
Some external factors which could impact employment relations are economic climate and competition. If the economic climate is low, there could be more pressure on companies to make cuts and this could dampen employee relations. When competitors introduce new services and products which could take away from market share, this could affect employee relations within the given company as profits are down.
1.2 Explain the different types of employment status.
When it comes to employment status, it is very important to determine the type of employment, in order to identify the employee rights and employer responsibilities, as these vary. The employment contract is it an agreement between employee and employer, that outlines the responsibilities, rights, duties and working conditions.
There are several different types of employment status in the UK. One of these is a Permanent employee, which applies to the largest group of workers in the market. They work under a contract of employment and have the right to Statutory Sick Pay, Maternity and Paternity Leave, a minimum statement of employment terms and the right to not be unfairly dismissed. Another type of employment status would be an agency worker, who has rights which have been entrenched by the Agency Workers Regulation 2010. After spending “12 weeks in the same job with the same hirer, these workers qualify for equal treatment. This means they are entitled to the same basic terms and conditions as ‘comparable workers’ – employees doing the same job in the same workplace.” (https://www.gov.uk/agency-workers-your-rights/overview, 10th March 2015)
From day one of the temporary assignment the worker is entitled to the same access to job vacancies as permanent members of staff and collective facilities such as staff canteens, childcare facilities and transport services. A third type of employment status is volunteer workers who are individuals who carry out tasks or services of their freewill and without payment, often, though not necessarily, for charities. Volunteer workers are not in a contractual relationship with an organisation as there is not intention to create legal relations, no financial remuneration and no enforceable obligations on either side.
1.3 Identify and analyse the reasons why it is important to determine an individual’s employment status.
As there are so many different employment status types, it is important to determine the status as “employers will be exposed to the majority of employment rights only if the ‘working person’ can prove they are an employee rather than self-employed.” (CIPD, www.cipd.co.uk, Why is employee status so significant and what legislation covers it?, 24th Sept 2014.
The definition of ’employee’ and ‘worker’ differs slightly from one area of legislation to another, but generally workers have less rights than employees, however if rights apply to a ‘worker’ they usually also apply to an ’employee’.
2.1 Explain the importance of work life balance within the employment relationship and how it can be influenced by legislation
David Clutterbuck (Managing the Work-Life Balance 2003) defines work-life balance as being aware of different demands on time and energy, having the ability to make choices in the allocation of time and energy and knowing what values to apply to choices and having the ability to make choices.
As the working environment has changed considerably over the years and due to becoming a more service based economy, consumers expect service at a time which suits them in a 24 hour and 7 day society therefore more and more people have to juggle responsibilities at home and in the workplace.
There are considerable benefits to business when introducing policies to encourage a good work life balance. These can include higher productivity and competitiveness, raised morale, motivation, commitment and engagement and meeting legal requirements.
The Working Time Regulations govern the hours most workers can work and set limits on a average working week, statutory entitlement to paid leave for most workers, limits on the normal hours of night work and regular health assessments and special regulations for young workers.
The Regulations apply to workers whether part- or full-time, including the majority of agency workers and freelancers, although certain categories of workers are excluded (see Appendix 5 of the Advisory booklet – Flexible working and work-life balance).
2.2 Summarise the legal support that may be given to employees as a family member
Legal support can be given to employees as family members in the categories of Maternity, Paternity, Parental and Flexible Working.
Mothers are entitled to 52 weeks statutory leave, but do not have to take this whole time. They must take a minimum of 2 weeks after the baby is born. They are also entitled to statutory maternity pay for 39 weeks.
Fathers are allowed to take either one or 2 weeks off after their baby has been born which must be taken in one go. The statutory weekly rate of Ordinary Paternity Pay and Additional Paternity Pay is £136.78, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).
Parental Leave is quite different from Maternity and Paternity as this is unpaid. In order to be applicable for this the child must be under the age of 5 (or 18 in special circumstances). The limit on how much parental leave can be taken a year is 4 weeks (unless the employer agrees otherwise).
Flexible working has been introduced in 2014 as way of working which suits the employee’s needs. All employees have the right to request flexible working, not just parents and carers. This is known as making a statutory application, however employees must have worked with the same employer for 26 weeks in order to be eligible.
2.3 Explain the reasons for treating employees fairly in relation to pay
Employees should be treated fairly in relation to pay for a number of reasons. Firstly, this could give rise to a motivated workforce if there is transparency in pay. This in turn could lead to higher retention rates for companies and therefore increased growth and an competitive edge in the market.
Fair and equal pay will also decrease the amount of tribunals which may result from employee dissatisfaction with pay. Equal pay between men and women is also morally and socially desired in today’s society
2.4 Summarise the main points of discrimination legislation
There are four main areas of discrimination governed by the Equalities Act 2010. These are Direct Discrimination which occurs when a person is treated less favourably due to their sex or race than a person of the opposite sex or race in the same circumstances. The second is
Indirect sex discrimination which occurs when a requirement or condition is applied equally, but the condition has the effect that it disadvantages one group more than another. The third is Victimisation which is treating employees less favourably as a result of actions taken by those employees to assert their non-discrimination rights. Finally there is Harassment which is unwanted behaviour that violates dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
2.5 Explain the good practice that underpins organisational policies and can contribute to the psychological contract.
The term ‘psychological contract’ can be defined as “…the perceptions of the two parties, employee and employer, of what their mutual obligations are towards each other. These obligations will often be informal and imprecise: they may be inferred from actions or from what has happened in the past, as well as from statements made by the employer, for example during the recruitment process or in performance appraisals. Some obligations may be seen as ‘promises’ and others as ‘expectations’. The important thing is that they are believed by the employee to be part of the relationship with the employer.” (The psychological contract, www.cipd.co.uk, July 2012)
It is the psychological contract that effectively tells employees what they are required to do in order to meet their side of the bargain and what they can expect from their job. The contract is also based on employees’ sense of fairness and trust and their belief that the employer is honouring the ‘deal’ between them. Where the psychological contract is positive, increased employee commitment and satisfaction will have a positive impact on business performance. However it is important to incorporate best practices which means for example if a worker has a psychological contract to have Friday working from home, and on one particular Friday they were needed in the office to attend meetings, then the employee should be flexible to do this and the employer would compromise in another area. The needs of the business should always come first when undertaking psychological contracts.
3.1 Explain the differences between fair and unfair dismissals
For a fair dismissal the employer must show a valid reason that they can justify and have acted reasonably in the circumstances.
Valid reasons include their capability or conduct, redundancy or something that prevents them from legally being able to do their job, eg a driver losing their driving licence. There could be other fair reasons also and these are called ‘other substantial reasons’. The employer must also be consistent, not dismiss someone for doing something that they let other employees do and thoroughly investigate the situation fully before dismissing.
The employer should have also acted reasonably so even if there is a fair reason, the dismissal is only fair if the employer has acted reasonably during the dismissal and disciplinary process. There’s no legal definition of ‘reasonableness’, but the following points would need to have been considered. The reason must have been genuinely fair, proper investigations carried out where appropriate, followed the relevant procedures, told the employee why they were being considered for dismissal and listened to their views, allowed the employee to be accompanied at disciplinary/dismissal hearing and given the employee the chance to appeal. Reasonableness might also depend on whether the employee could be expected to understand the consequences of their behaviour.
An example of a fair dismissal could be that an employer takes on an employee to provide temporary maternity cover and dismiss them when the cover period ends.
The dismissal is fair if the employer made it clear at the start of their placement that the job was only temporary.
Unfair dismissal can be defined as having no good reason for dismissing someone, the reason given for the dismissal was not the real one or the employer has acted unreasonably by not giving the employee enough warning about their dismissal. Even if the employer has acted reasonably, some reasons for dismissal are classed automatically unfair. These are to do with the following areas:
pregnancy, including all reasons relating to maternity
family, including parental leave, paternity leave (birth and adoption), adoption leave or time off for dependants
acting as a trade union representative
joining or not joining a trade union
being a part-time or fixed-term employee
discrimination, including protection against discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation
pay and working hours, including the Working Time Regulations, annual leave and the National Minimum Wage
Asked for flexible working
Refused to give up your working time rights – eg to take rest breaks
Resigned and gave the correct notice period
Needed time off for jury service
An example of unfair dismissal would be to dismiss someone on the basis that they have fallen pregnant and this could mean a company has to employ someone else to carry out their maternity leave.
3.2 Explain the importance of exit interviews
Exit Interviews can provide useful information to the employers but also be beneficial to the employee also. They can provide feedback to the company to improve practices, shape future recruitment decisions for the company and promote employee engagement.
Exit Interviews can be beneficial to the employee also as they can have input in how the company shapes future decisions, the employee can leave the company with good professional relations and could leave the door open in the future if the employee wanted to return.
3.3 Summarise the key stages to be followed when managing redundancies.
A genuine redundancy arises only when either there has been, or there is going to be:
a cessation of business
a cessation of business at the employee’s site
a reduction or cessation of work.
The employer would need to inform the government, specifically the Department Business Innovation & Skills if the level of redundancies are more than 20.
In order for a redundancy to be implemented properly there must be sufficient, planning, identifying the pool for selection, seeking volunteers, consulting employees, selection, appeals and dismissals, finding suitable alternative employment, redundancy payment and providing counselling and support.
Employers are legally obliged to give the following information to the representatives:
the reason for the redundancy dismissals
the number of proposed redundancies and their job types
the total number of employees affected
the proposed methods of selection
the procedure to be followed in dealing with the redundancies
the method of calculating redundancy payment
When the approach has been agreed, individuals must be selected from within the wider pool and must be based on the following criteria:
length of service
skills, competencies and qualifications
Employees may be entitled to redundancy payments if they have been continuously employed for at least 2 years and are dismissed due the closure of a business or the closure of the employee’s workplace or a diminishing need for employees to do the available work.