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.