Frequently Asked Questions

They say that 'Knowledge is Power'. Our aim is to Empower you and your business with answers to your questions.

What information should I take with me when I hold a meeting to discuss absence with an employee?

Ensure that you have an accurate record of the employees absence (you can use your HR Platform for this), including reasons for absence and any patterns of absence for any initial discussion about levels of absence.

What happens if my employee wants to have their salary paid into someone else’s bank account? Can I do this?

Care should be taken if an employee requests this as it could be an indicator that they are being used as a modern day slave, forced human exploitation for labour, as defined by the modern slavery act. The legal contract is formed by them working and you paying them, if you pay someone else the contract could be in breach.

An employee has raised some concerns what should I do?

Meet with the employee to discuss the concerns and make aware of the Company grievance policy. This will help them decide whether this should be raised formally or handled informally. It is always best to attempt to resolve this informally before proceeding to formal procedures. Encourage open two way communication with your employees, they need to feel they will be heard and support is available. 

An employee has requested annual leave which was declined but they have taken it anyway, what should I do?

Call the employee if they do not arrive for work. Meet with them on their return to discuss reason for the absence, remind them of the policy and not making holiday arrangements until leave is approved. Potentially, this is unauthorised absence and they could face disciplinary action.

Can I take disciplinary action for an issue with an employee which I have not previously dealt with?

It would depend on circumstances and the severity of the misconduct but usually, you would need to have tried to resolve the issue informally before taking formal action.

Is there a maximum and minimum workplace temperature required by law?

There are no maximum and minimum workplace temperatures required by law. However, workplace temperatures should provide reasonable comfort and employers must take all reasonable steps to ensure that this can be achieved. The minimum temperature in a workplace should normally be 16℃ (13℃ if work activities require rigorous physical effort). Some workplaces are exempt such as those where food is kept chilled.

If temperatures are uncomfortably high then all reasonable steps must be taken to achieve a comfortable temperature. This may include providing air-cooling plant, shading windows and re-siting workstations. Local cooling, fans and increased ventilation may also be necessary in order to achieve a comfortable temperature throughout the workplace.

An employee is required to wear safety goggles whilst sanding with power tools but they wear glasses for sight, what do I need to do?

Prescription safety glasses that incorporate side shields are widely available for workers who wear corrective lenses for vision but are also required to wear personal protective eyewear in the workplace. Employers must consult with the employees to identify suitable safety glasses. Also, employers cannot charge employees for PPE (personal protective equipment) where it is required to perform the work activity safely.

How do I determine if a workplace injury is reportable under RIDDOR?

Firstly, the injury must have occurred as a result of a ‘work-related activity’ (e.g. the injury occurred as a result of the use of work equipment, the condition of the work environment or the way in which the work is carried out). Secondly, the injury must be one of the specified injuries listed under the Regulations OR resulted in the injured employee being absent from their normal work duties for a period of seven days. (This time period starts on the day following the accident and includes rest-days and weekends). For instance, if an injured worker is absent for five days and returns to work on ‘light’ duties for a further three days then this would be reportable under the Regulations.

Can a Fork Lift Truck driver continue to work without a valid driving licence?

It is acceptable for the driver to continue operating the Fork Lift Truck on a work premises as the driving licence is only relevant when driving on a public road. All Fork Lift Truck drivers must have received certified training (current valid certificate) and be over 18. The driver should continue to be supervised on-site to ensure they follow safe systems of work and site rules. 

An employee has been signed off from work by a GP with a back injury but wishes to return early. Is this allowed?

In certain circumstances it is acceptable (with the employees consent) for an employee to return to work early. In such cases the employer must carry out and document a Risk Assessment and consult with the employee to identify suitable alternative work that will not expose them to risk of further injury (e.g. identify work activities that avoid the need for manual handling). Of course Manual Handling training should be provided to all staff.

Why do I have to carry out COSHH Assessments for cleaning substances that I also use at home?

Many businesses use standard household cleaning chemicals in the workplace. Employers have a legal duty to assess the risks to employees that handle and use these products if they have hazardous properties. This does not need to be an onerous task if only small quantities are used and stored in the workplace. A low-risk COSHH Assessment can be carried out utilising relevant information from the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and also including local procedures (e.g. where is it stored, what PPE should be worn and where to find it, what the emergency arrangements are if there is a spillage or accident). COSHH Assessments must be documented if five or more persons are employed.

How often should I test emergency lighting?

Emergency lighting should be inspected visually on a daily basis to ensure that a battery power light indicator is displayed. This inspection should be complemented with a monthly test which may involve ‘flicking’ the light on and off at the test switch with a special fish tail key to ensure that there is enough power in the battery to illuminate the light sufficiently. It is good practice to keep a record of tests and any failures within the fire log book for the premises. A competent person should carry out a full service of emergency lighting on an annual basis which will include a full discharge of back-up batteries.

How often should Lung Function tests be carried out for employees exposed to hazardous dust?

Lung Function tests performed by an Occupational Health Professional should be carried out on an annual basis or as advised by the professional. For instance, following the monitoring of results for trends, the Occupational Health Professional may recommend an increase in testing for a period of time.

What H&S Training do employees need?

It is a legal requirement for employers to provide training to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health & safety of their employees at work. As a minimum;

  • Employees must receive information on hazards as part of initial induction training.
  • Employees must also receive training on the significant findings from Risk Assessments & Safe Working Procedures to enable them to carry out their job safely.
  • It is recommended that employees also receive Basic H&S Awareness training covering relevant common topics for example Risk Assessment, Fire Safety, Manual Handling, Accidents, Vehicles & Pedestrians, Machinery, Work Equipment, Noise, Vibration, Electricity, Hazardous Substances, Stress, Violence, Display Screen Equipment, Asbestos & Personal Protective Equipment.
  • More specific training will be required for certain employees such as Fire Wardens, First Aiders and those that operate specialist equipment such as Fork Lift Trucks or Mobile Elevated Work Platforms.
  • Training should be refreshed on a regular basis. As a rule it is acceptable to refresh Basic Awareness training every three years but this could be more frequent depending upon the hazards present.

What should be in the contents of a first aid box?

There is no legal standard of what should be in a first aid box. Contents should be decided following the completion of a first aid needs assessment and will be dependent upon a number of factors such as the number of employees, the work activities and hazards present, whether there is shift working or remote working and whether there are other persons to consider such as members of the public. As a general rule, a standard first aid box in a low hazard workplace is likely to contain the following items;

  • A first aid guidance leaflet
  • Sterile plasters and eye pads
  • Triangular bandages
  • Large and medium sized sterile dressings
  • Disposable gloves (should be latex-free)

My employee has not turned up today – what should I do?

Call the employee and ask where they are, leave a voicemail asking them to get in contact that day. If there is no response, call employees emergency contact. If you don’t have a response write to them advising that their absence is unauthorised and subject to disciplinary action and to contact the company.

I have received a subject access request, what do I do?

Provide a copy of the relevant information to the employee within 1 month of the request, free of charge.

My employee is having a lot of time off with Mental Health Issues, what should I do?

Meet with the employee to discuss their level of absence, this could potentially be classed as a disability so you should consider an occupational health assessment/medical advice and provide support to the employee as well as reasonable adjustments to the employees role if suggested.

I have received a flexible working request from an employee’ what should I do?

Arrange to meet with the employee to discuss the request and consider whether the change in hours meets the business needs. Either accept the change or decline the request in line with the 8 acceptable business reasons. The employee would have the right to appeal any request that is refused

I have an employee who is over 65 can I make them retire?

No, there is no longer a retirement age so any dismissal would be unfair

Can an employee take holiday while on sick leave?

Yes, the employee and employer can agree to use some of the holiday entitlement to offset some of the sickness absence, this is likely to be when an employee is off long term and may be receiving SSP or on pay and wish to increase their pay for a period.

Can an employee work elsewhere whilst on sick leave?

If an employee has more than one place of work, they may be fit to work one of their jos, but may not be fit to work their other, for example, if they had a labour intensive role they may not be fit to do this but may be able to perform another role that is not labour intensive. A period of voluntary work may also be suggested for an employee if a GP feels this would benefit the employee.



What should an employer do if they receive a fit note stating the employee may be fit for work taking into account the following advice?

Review the advice from the GP and look at whether th employer can accommodate the advice taken, it may be that the advice has suggested a phased return to work, or reduced duties, the employer would need to look and see whether it would be feasible to accommodate the suggestions. This needs to be done with open discussions with the employee, for example welfare meetings.

What happens if the employer cannot accommodate the recommendations on a doctor's fit note?

The employee would remain absent for work and would continue to receive their sick pay.

What should an employer do if an employee fails to attend work and hasn't notified the employer of their absence?

Phone the employee, if the employee doesn't answer leave them a message with details of how to contact you. If you still cannot reach the employee and you are concerned phone their emergency contact. Depending on the situation this may result in a disciplinary or a dismissal.

Is it acceptable for a line manager to maintain contact with an employee during a period of long term sickness?

Yes, the line manager should agree with the employee a timescale of how often they will keep in touch with them. The purpose would be to establish how they are and whether there are any updates to their current condition, and to keep  them up to date with what has been happening at work while they have been away.

Can an employee be employed indefinitely on a fixed term contract?

Under Regulation 8 of the Fixed Term Employees Regulation, employees who have been employed continuously for 4 years or more are automatically considered to be a permanent employee, unless there is a specific reason why they cannot be considered this.

Do employers need to re-issue contracts to take into account the GDPR Regulations?

No, updating the privacy notice and ensuring the Data Protection Policy is up to date and that employees have seen it is sufficient so that you do not have to re-issue contracts to all employees. New employees going forward should have a different contract that has been updated to reflect the new legislation.

Where the employee has been employed on a fixed term contract, can the contract be terminated early if the employee they are covering chooses to return early i.e. maternity/paternity/shared parental/adoption/sabbatical etc.?

This would depend on the wording in the contract. The employee may be able to claim breach of contract, which if there is a substantial length of time left on the contract may mean the full period of the contract has to be paid as the breach.

Where an individual accepts a job offer but subsequently accepts another offer from a different company, will the first employer be ale to do anything about it?

This would be seen as a breach of contract, however, it is likely to be too costly to try and claim anything from the individual. The contract would have a termination clause whereby the employee is able to give notice to leave if they had already started, this notice period would also apply prior to starting employment.

Where an individual has accepted an offer of employment, but the employer can no longer sustain the offer, can it be withdrawn?

Consideration should be taken into why the offer is being withdrawn, if it is because it is discovered the individual has a protected characteristic then the individual may be able to make a claim for discrimination.  The withdrawal would be a breach of contract, however there would be a notice clause within the contract, so notice should be paid in line with the notice regardless of whether the employee had started or not.

Can an employer change the date that they pay people?

You should consult with all employees to change their pay date and agree with them, changing without their agreement could be breach of contract.

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Juliet Price is the Managing Director here at Park City and has extensive, specialist knowledge in HR, Health & Safety and staff development. Enter your question below and we'll be back in touch soon with an answer!

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