E102 EMPLOYMENT LETTER PACK
Please note that these Explanatory Notes are for guidance only and do not form part of the contract
This pack contains a number of template letters to be used in dealings with staff on a variety of subjects. We hope they are largely self-explanatory and a few notes on each letter are set out below. They may either be used with our Staff Handbook and draft Contracts of Employment or as ‘stand-alone’ documents (with such necessary changes as are required to reflect an employer’s own documentation)..
As employment law is changed quite often, you are advised to have your employment documentation reviewed on a regular basis.
LETTER 1: CONFIRMATION OF PROBATIONARY PERIOD
You need to be explicit about what increased benefits may apply on successful completion of the employee’s probationary period - e.g. bonus/pension.
LETTER 2: EXTENSION OF THE EMPLOYEE’S PROBATIONARY PERIOD
It is important that you are specific about the reason for extending the probationary period and how you will monitor/measure any improvement. Also specify how you will support the employee to successfully fulfil the role. Any extension to the probationary period should be made so that in aggregate the probationary period does not exceed 12 months thus giving statutory rights to claim Unfair Dismissal. Legal advice should be sought before dismissing any employee.
LETTER 3: TERMINATION AFTER PROBATIONARY PERIOD
On termination of an employee's probationary period it would be normal not to require the employee to work his/her notice period and pay the equivalent amount in lieu. It is important to be explicit about how you will handle any reference request for the individual and to ensure that in giving any reference you only comment on factual information. Employers asked to provide references must ensure that information given is factual/accurate so as to avoid claims for damages from either the former employee or a misled prospective employer.
LETTER 4: LETTER FOR WOMAN GOING ON MATERNITY LEAVE
Outlines statutory Maternity Leave provisions only. You may wish to enhance the amount of paid time you provide for a woman on Maternity Leave or the level of pay. On return from Maternity Leave it is important that any requests for changes to working hours including flexible working requests are considered positively and where possible the woman’s request agreed. To avoid the risk of allegations of Sex Discrimination, always seek specialist legal advice before selecting for redundancy a pregnant employee, an employee on maternity leave, or an employee recently returned from Maternity Leave.
LETTER 5: LETTER FOR EMPLOYEE GOING ON PATERNITY LEAVE
Outlines statutory Paternity Leave provisions only. You may wish to enhance the amount of paid time you provide for an employee on Paternity Leave or the level of pay. Note that in the case of adoption it is open to either parent to claim Adoption Leave or Paternity Leave (regardless of gender) in respect of the adopted child.
LETTER 6: LETTER FOR EMPLOYEE GOING ON ADOPTION LEAVE
Outlines statutory Adoption Leave provisions only. You may wish to enhance the amount of paid time you provide for an employee on Adoption Leave or the level of pay. See the note on letter 5 regarding adoption and Paternity Leave.
LETTER 7: LETTER FOR EMPLOYEE GOING ON PARENTAL LEAVE
Outlines statutory Parental Leave provisions only. Note that valid requests may only be postponed once for no more than 6 months on the basis of disruption to business (compare requests for flexible working, letter 8, where an employer may refuse a request). Note too that the right to take Parental Leave may be exercised consecutively following Maternity/Paternity/Adoption Leave.
LETTER 8: LETTER TO EMPLOYEE REQUESTING FLEXIBLE WORKING
Outlines statutory procedures to be followed when making/considering requests for Flexible Working. Unlike requests for Parental Leave, requests for Flexible Working may be refused provided that the employer can show at least one of the reasons set out as bullet points in the letter apply. Consideration should be given to a mutually acceptable trial period of, say, 2 or 3 months, before the changes requested are finally agreed.
LETTER 9: INVITATION TO DISCIPLINARY MEETING
It is advisable to include a copy of the organisation’s Disciplinary Procedure when sending this letter. It is important that the employee has sufficient information to both understand the allegations made against him/her and to prepare a defence. The length of notice of a disciplinary meeting should reflect the complexity of the allegations. Please note the right to take a companion to the hearing. The description of the alleged offence must not make any assumptions about the outcome of the meeting. Suspension with pay prior to a disciplinary meeting should only be considered where an employer has reason to believe that the employee’s continued attendance at work might hinder its investigations or otherwise disrupt the business. Suspension is not and should never be used as a disciplinary sanction. To avoid the risk of procedural unfairness and a finding of Unfair Dismissal it is essential to have in place a disciplinary procedure compliant with the relevant ACAS Code and to adhere to that procedure. You can find the ACAS Code at:
LETTER 10: LETTER GIVING A FORMAL WARNING
Please make sure that you give a brief summary of the incident discussed at the Disciplinary Meeting and state the name of the Manager to which the appeal should be addressed. Customarily there are six stages of disciplinary sanction of increasing severity short of dismissal: informal verbal reprimand (not noted in writing); verbal warning (which despite its name is recorded in writing); written warning; transfer; demotion and final written warning. This letter is suitable for verbal, written and final written warnings. Verbal warnings should remain on file for, say, 6 months and written or final written warnings for, say, 12 months.
LETTER 11: REFERENCE REQUEST
It is advisable to only use references to confirm basic factual information. Therefore the reference letters does not ask the referee to comment on an individual in any other way. [see also notes for letter 3.] Please note that this letter is not suitable for use within the financial services sector where the Financial Services Authority applies its own rules.
LETTER 12: LETTER TO CHANGE WORKING PATTERNS
Note that this letter is intended to be used as a covering letter enclosing a new contract following the grant of a flexible working application. Legal advice should be sought before imposing any contractual changes. Additional statutory consultation obligations apply where more than 20 employees will be affected by a change. Where an employer recognises a Trade Union or Works’ Council/Staff Association it may be required to consult with those representative bodies and/or in accordance with any Information and Consultation Agreement/Collective Bargaining Agreement or similar.
LETTER 13: LETTER FOR PROMOTION
Please detail all changes to the employee’s terms and conditions and the effective date of commencement.
NEW PENSION REGULATIONS 2012
The government introduced compulsory workplace pensions from 2012 and vast numbers of employers, from the largest to the smallest, are affected.
Initially, smaller businesses with fewer staff need not to worry, because the reform will be carried out in stages.
employers with over 30,000 staff were forced by law to offer their workers a company pension scheme in 2012.
By 2013 any employer with more than 350 staff on its books wasobliged to set up and contribute into workplace plan for its employees.
Between 2014 and 2016, those employers with less than 350 staff will be subject to the same rules.
Employees will be auto-enrolled and can expect their company to put a minimum 3% of any earnings between £5,035 and £3,540 into each worker's fund.
To help, the government is introducing NEST – National Employment Savings Trust – which will be provide a state-led alternative for any employer wishing to use it.
Here are some tips for employers to consider as the reform come into effect.
1. Budget now
Consider the cost impact of the compulsory 3% employer contribution or if you offer a higher contribution rate, the cost and sustainability of enrolling all staff on this basis. Consider also whether you will make contributions on the full salary amount or band earnings.
The key is to budget now for the new measures, so that bigger pension contributions will not mean a sudden spike in costs. One solution may be for employers to consider reviewing their total remuneration package to absorb the extra costs and looking at methods such as salary sacrifice as a cost-effective way of increasing pension contributions.
2. Decide which type of pension you want to offer staff
Consider the advantages and disadvantages of an employer pension scheme and the NEST scheme and decide which is more appropriate for your own organisation. It may be that a combination of the two schemes is the best approach in the first instance, with different staff being eligible for different schemes e.g. senior and employed staff being enrolled into an occupational scheme and contract staff being enrolled into a NEST.
3. Consider the impact on retaining and recruiting employees
What do you want your pension to say about your organisation? Consider how you want your pension scheme to fit in with your overall benefits package. While some employers may take this opportunity to reduce their pension contributions, organisations that provide pension schemes above the standard laid out by the Government are likely to be a more attractive proposition for new and existing employees and demonstrate a commitment to their workforce.
Employers who do intend to offer schemes with contribution rates above the statutory minimum may be interested in applying for a pension quality mark to differentiate their scheme from others. (www.pensionqualitymark.org.uk)
4. Does your existing scheme meet the Government's requirements?
Examine any existing pension schemes you have in place to determine if they will meet the minimum requirements set out by the Pensions Act. Also consider the likely cost implications of enrolling all non-members into this scheme. In particular, I would advise employers to review their default funds to ensure that they are appropriate for all staff, taking into account the ages of employees, especially those nearing retirement and any ethical or moral views regarding investment.
5. How will you communicate the changes to your staff?
Consider how you will go about communicating these changes to your staff. It is important to try and engage employees with their pension and there are a variety of methods on hand to do this.
6. Do you have systems in place to deal with the administration?
It is important to ensure that your payroll and HR systems are able to cope with any extra administration. This will be particularly relevant for any organisations that intend to run both an occupational pension scheme and enrol some staff into the NEST system.
7. When do you need to start considering what to do?
Starting to prepare for the reform now is a good idea. Beginning sooner, rather than later, will enable changes to be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks rather than waiting for the Pensions Regulator to begin contacting employers directly, which it is scheduled to do from 2012.
For more information for employers and employees visit:
For guidance on signing contracts please see our notes at http://www.contractstore.com/signing_contracts