The senior employment lawyer on how to avoid grievances as staff return to offices

I have been hearing from clients that grievances are increasing amongst their workforce. COVID-19 upended most people’s lives and forced employers to adapt to a new way of working, with many having to switch from an office-based to a home-based workforce.

The challenge now is how to return employees to the office or adopt a hybrid approach without upsetting anyone, and this is where conflicts can arise which can eventually turn into grievances.

Grievances can be time-consuming, sensitive and emotionally-charged issues to deal with and sometimes it can be helpful to speak to an impartial third party to make sure you are doing things correctly. Grievances can often give rise to tricky issues that employers can come unstuck over, e.g. is the employee entitled to be represented at a grievance hearing? Can the employee bring witnesses? How long can I take to respond to a grievance? If a business doesn’t have an HR department, (or even if they do sometimes!) these issues can be difficult to resolve and could make the difference between dealing with the grievance successfully and ending up in the Employment Tribunal.

It is not just grievances, either. Employers will want reassurance about day-to-day issues, such as do I need to pay contractual sick pay or statutory sick pay to an employee on sick leave? What is the current National Minimum Wage rate for an employee over the age of 25? Do I have to include overtime in my holiday pay calculations? Is a zero-hours worker entitled to annual leave?

I know from experience that a lot of businesses think that approaching a lawyer with a quick query or asking them to run an eye over a document is going to cost them thousands of pounds. However, this is not necessarily the case.

Bell & Buxton Solicitors offer employers a business support package, which for an affordable monthly fee will give you access to an experienced and fully qualified employment lawyer, with experience of dealing with all aspects of employment law including representation for Employment Tribunal claims. These packages are designed for employers to be able to approach a lawyer with a relatively quick query, and receive a prompt response, without any fuss.

There are three different packages that employers can choose from, each with differing levels of support and costs, and which also gives discounts on services that fall outside the package, such as defending Employment Tribunal claims.

Access to legal advice at an early stage can often save money in the longer term, by resolving the issues to the employee’s satisfaction and avoiding Tribunal claims.

If you would like to speak to Matthew Ainscough about the business support package, please contact him on 0114 249 5969 or M.Ainscough @bellbuxton.co.uk

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