With GB plc now back in full flow, across the country businesses will be taking steps to put in place their strategic plans for 2016 and beyond. Such plans will doubtless involve a consideration of the workforce, whether it be the need to reduce headcount to address specific challenges or, hopefully more so, to recruit and retain the best talent available to consolidate, expand and grow the business. With that in mind we spoke to employment law specialists at Thrings LLP about legislative developments and how businesses can keep up.
The modern workforce is increasing diversified and increasingly sophisticated. Largely gone are the days where employees would simply turn up and be told to "get on with it". Both sides of the employment relationship now expect a certain standard throughout the employment relationship, from cradle to grave. New starters in many industries would now be given a detailed induction or "on-boarding" as a matter of course, together with detailed and up-to-date contractual and ancillary documentation. In fact, it may look strange if they did not receive such a welcome.
As employers look to implement their vision for 2016, they may wish to review their standard employment contracts and contracts to ensure that they are fit for purpose and afford both employer and employee the necessary protections. As the frequent news articles in the press show, employment law is an area in almost semi-permanent flux, where things do not stand still for long. A precedent contract which may justifiably have been considered the "gold standard" even two or three years ago may not have kept pace with key legislative, judicial and, increasingly, practical and technical developments.
The headline issues we would invite employers to consider in carrying out such reviews are as follows:
Have your provisions on confidential information and intellectual property adjusted to the increasing involvement in social media in the modern workplace? For instance, if you invite and even pay for your employees to use LinkedIn or comparable platforms as part of their duties, what control do you have over that use? Who owns the connections the employees make during that usage? What limitations will there be on employees from engaging with their connections for their own ends, or those of a competitor, after leaving your employment?
Are your standard post-termination restrictive covenants fit for purpose? Are they truly still relevant to the legitimate business interests you are seeking to protect? Have they kept up with developments in your business, such as your geographical area of operations or your market?
Does the holidays clause adequately take into account the impact on holiday and holiday pay entitlement of sickness absence and “family friendly rights”, such as statutory maternity and shared parental leave?
- What about pensions? Have your contracts caught up with your duties as an employer to automatically enrol employees into a pension scheme?
We hope that this article is useful to employers in keeping abreast of some of the key developments in employment law and in addressing the impact of such developments on their businesses and workforce.
Should you be looking to bring in the best talent into your business, do not hesitate to contact us at Page Personnel, where we will always point you in the right direction. Should you wish to undertake a contract review, or have any other questions relating to employment law, we work very closely with a team of expert employment lawyers at Thrings LLP and we are always happy to make an introduction to our contacts there.