Coronavirus and the Key Employment Law issues

The outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 has rarely been out of the media over recent weeks. With the world on high alert and efforts by governments to contain the spread of the virus, this has undoubtedly presented real challenges for businesses.

Sarah Begley, Solicitor in the Employment Team at The Wilkes Partnership considers the key problem areas and practical guidance for employers. She says “In terms of people management, this is a balancing exercise between both employment law and health and safety obligations”.

How can we reduce the risk to our employees?

The risk level is currently identified as moderate. It is sensible for employers to send round an email/guidance encouraging employees to be extra-vigilant with washing their hands, using and disposing of tissues etc. If you have the capacity to do so, it may be worth designating an ‘isolation room’ where an employee who feels ill can go and sit away from the rest of the company and privately call ‘111’ before taking any further necessary action.

If an employee is not sick but is in quarantine or self-isolation, do we have to pay them sick pay?

There is no legal right to sick pay in these circumstances, but it would be good practice. Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, told MPs on Wednesday, 27 February “Self-isolation on medical advice is considered sickness for employment purposes”. Considerations could be given, where appropriate, to working remotely for 14 days following an employee’s return from a specified infected zone. If that is not possible, the general principle is that employees who are ready and willing to come to work should continue to be paid. Otherwise you run the risk of them coming into work and potentially spreading the virus to the rest of the workforce. There is also a (fairly low) risk of an argument that – by choosing not to pay someone who has self-isolated – you have breached the implied term of trust and confidence and hence constructively dismissed them. If they do present symptoms, then you should pay them sick pay in accordance with the normal company sick pay policy.

What if employees do not want to come to work?

Some people may be worried about catching coronavirus and therefore unwilling to come into work. If this is the case you should listen carefully to the concerns of your employees and if possible, offer flexible working arrangements such as homeworking. Employees can also request time off as holiday or unpaid leave but there is no obligation on employers to agree to this. If an employee refuses to attend work, you are entitled to take disciplinary action. This is likely to fall within a misconduct offence of failing to obey a reasonable management instruction to come to work. However, it is likely that dismissal would be considered to be outside the range of reasonable responses, at least for now.  If someone refuses to come into work and the COVID-19 issues continue into the medium term that may change.

Discriminatory behaviour

It is prudent to remind employees of their obligations under any company anti-discriminatory policy and carefully monitor any complaints or grievances which suggest discriminatory behaviour directed towards employees of Asian origin.

Sarah adds “this is a rapidly changing situation and the guidance provided is frequently updated. I would advise businesses to pay attention to the Government updates currently published daily at 2pm as well as very useful workplace specific guidance provided by ACAS”.

If your industry has been affected by coronavirus and you have a downturn in work, you may also find this guidance on short time working and lay-offs useful.

To discuss anything arising from this update, please contact Sarah Begley on 0121 733 4312 or via email at sbegley@wilkes.co.uk.

Following a recent preliminary hearing in the case of Mr J Casamitjana Costa v The League Against Cruel Sports, employment Judge Postle held that ethical veganism is capable of being a philosophical belief and therefore is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

According to an article recently published by the BBC, there are currently 600,000 vegans in the UK, and the number is growing. The Vegan Society defines veganism as follows:

‘A philosophy and way of life which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose and by extension promotes the development and use of animal free alternatives for the benefit of humans / animals and the environment, in dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.’

Judge Postle considered the principles found in the Equality and Human Rights Commission Code of Practice on Employment 2011, particularly paragraph 2.59 which sets out the conditions for a philosophical belief to be protected under the Equality Act 2010 as follows:-

  • ‘It must be genuinely held;
  • It must be a belief and not an opinion or view point based on the present state of information available;
  • It must be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour;
  • It must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance; and
  • It must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.’

In passing the decision, the Judge referred to the Claimant’s day-to-day lifestyle to conclude that ethical veganism was a protected belief. References were made to the fact that the Claimant ate no animal products, would rather go hungry than eat animal products, did not wear any clothes from animal products and would walk an hour to his destinations in order to avoid using transport posing risks to insects and birds.

Judge Postle concluded his decision by stating that he was satisfied, and in fact found it easy to conclude that, there was overwhelming evidence before him that ethical veganism was capable of being a philosophical belief and thus amounted to a protected characteristic. It is unlawful to discriminate against someone on the grounds of nine protected characteristics in total including religion or belief.

The full merits hearing of Mr Casamitjana’s substantive claims relating to the reasons for his dismissal is to take place imminently.

Lisa Moore, Associate in our Employment Team, comments: “This topical case highlights the potential difficulties employers can face in determining what may amount to a protected philosophical belief. However, it does not necessarily mean that all individuals practising veganism will now be entitled to enhanced protection. This decision was very much based on the specific facts of the case including the Claimant’s particular belief system and his way of life. It will certainly be interesting to see what the wider effect of this ruling is moving forwards.”

To discuss anything arising from this update, please contact Lisa Moore on 0121 710 5847 or via email at lmoore@wilkes.co.uk. You can also contact any other member of the Employment Team on 0121 233 4333 or email us at employment@wilkes.co.uk.

Lisa Moore, Defamation Solicitor. The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors, Birmingham


What is defamation?

Defamation can occur when someone says or publishes something which is untrue and causes serious harm to your reputation or the reputation of your business.

Defamatory statements can be published in a variety of ways including in a spoken statement, in newspapers, magazines, employee references, on social media or on websites.

There are several defences available which are specific to defamation including that the statement made was true, was of honest opinion and/or that the statement was made in the public interest.

This area of law is relevant to both individuals and businesses in a variety of contexts including in the workplace.

How might reputational risk arise in the workplace?

In an employment setting, the most common issues in this respect include the following:-

  • Employees/former employees making defamatory remarks about your business in various forms such as verbally or on social media platforms;
  • Customers publishing defamatory reviews online in which they could potentially name specific members of staff;
  • Employees/former employees making defamatory remarks about competitors or suppliers;
  • The provision or receipt of misleading or untrue employment references for prospective/ex-employees;
  • Statements made about employees/former employees during disciplinary or grievance procedures and/or during employment disputes; and
  • The misuse of employees’ private information or breach of confidence.

What are the implications for employers?

Defamatory acts by individuals, including customers as well as employees, can cause reputational damage resulting in significant financial loss.

Depending on the circumstances, employers can be held to be vicariously liable for unlawful statements made by an employee if they are deemed to be made in the course of the individual’s employment.

On the other hand, if an employer receives the threat of a defamation action, they could face legal proceedings such as a claim for damages or even an application for an injunction to restrain further publication of the statement in question.

What can businesses do to protect their position?

As a starting point, employers should have a robust policy in place in order to ensure that employees are fully aware as to what behaviour is expected of them. The policy should set out what is considered to be acceptable with regard to social media and it should be wide enough to cover personal use outside of work. It should also prohibit the making of derogatory remarks about the business and its employees more generally.

Where a member of staff is found to be in breach of this policy, consideration should be given as to whether it would be appropriate to commence disciplinary action.

Where a customer raises a complaint, all steps should be taken to resolve the position as far as reasonably practicable.

Lisa Moore, Associate at The Wilkes Partnership comments: “Particularly where libellous comments have been posted online, it is essential to act quickly and try to ensure the removal of the offending statements as soon as possible. Comments made online can be circulated incredibly quickly thereby causing significant financial harm to a business.

A formal demand should be sent to the individual involved initially requesting the immediate removal of the material and putting them on notice of potential claims which may be pursued. If the individual fails to take action to delete the comments or prevent further publication, where the comments appear online, the host site should be urgently contacted to seek to have the statement removed.

There is increasing pressure for host sites to take action where offending comments have been published online. Notably, an Australian court recently ordered Google to identify the person responsible for a negative review of a dentist in order that he could pursue a claim for defamation.

After following the above steps, employers should give thought as to whether any further action is necessary. For instance, if damage has been caused by the offending statements and it is not possible to reach an agreement regarding losses incurred, a claim could be issued for damages. Employers should be aware that, again, they would need to act relatively quickly in this respect. The limitation period for defamation claims is quite short, being 1 year from the date upon which the defamatory statement was published.”

We would be happy to assist with any queries you may have relating to either defamation or reputational risk management.

To discuss anything arising from this update, please contact Lisa Moore or Nigel Wood on 0121 233 4333 or email lmoore@wilkes.co.uk.

The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors, Law Firm of the Year

The Wilkes Partnership, has been announced in the shortlist as one of the region’s leading legal experts for Law Firm of the Year (Regional) at the Birmingham Law Society’s Legal Awards 2020.

In its 19th year, the Legal Awards are Birmingham Law Society’s recognition of the best talent in the region and The Wilkes Partnership is one of only four firms to be shortlisted for Law Firm of the Year (Regional).  The judges were very impressed with the calibre of nominees and the quality of work being done in Birmingham.

Wilkes will now have to wait, alongside all nominees across 12 categories, until 27 March 2020 to find out whether it has been crowned Law Firm of the Year.

Ellie Holland, managing partner at The Wilkes Partnership, said: “We are proud to have been shortlisted for this award.“

“Last year was certainly one of progress for Wilkes, bolstering both experience and expertise across teams with many clients expressing just how much they value our consultation and legal expertise as we grow with them. We feel that being shortlisted for this award is public recognition of that value we bring to clients and we want to build on the fantastic reputation we have built.”

You can find out more about the Birmingham Law Society here.

Fact or Fiction? The Reality Of Making A Will

Settlement Agreements can be a useful tool in resolving workplace disputes and for bringing employment relationships to an end in a mutually agreed way.  It is a legally binding contract between employer and employee which settles claims that the employee may have against their employer.

Sarah Begley Solicitor in the Employment Team at The Wilkes Partnership considers how Settlement Agreements work and when to use them, key terms and common negotiation points.

What is a Settlement Agreement?

 

Settlement Agreements, formerly known as Compromise Agreements, are legally binding contracts which can be used to end an employment relationship on agreed terms. They can also be used where the employment is ongoing, but both parties want to resolve a dispute that has arisen between them.   These Agreements can be offered at any stage of an employment relationship and can be proposed by either an employer or an employee, although in most cases it will usually be the employer.

There are specific conditions that must be met in order for a Settlement Agreement to be valid, they are:-

 

  1. The Agreement must be in writing
  2. The Agreement must relate to a particular complaint or proceedings
  3. The employee must have received advice from a relevant independent advisor, such as a Lawyer or a certified and authorised member of a Trade Union
  4. The independent advisor must have a current contract of insurance or professional indemnity covering the risk of a claim by the employee in respect of loss arising from the advice
  5. The Agreement must identify the advisor
  6. The Agreement must state that the applicable statutory conditions regulating the Settlement Agreement have been met

Settlement Agreements usually include some form of payment to the employee and often include a reference.  All Settlement Agreements are entered into on a voluntary basis.

Once a valid Settlement Agreement has been signed, the employee will be unable to make an Employment Tribunal claim about any type of claim, which is listed in the Agreement save for limited claims in respect of pension, personal injury and claims to enforce the Agreement itself.

Reaching a Settlement Agreement

 

A reasonable amount of time should be given to the employee to consider the proposed conditions of the Agreement.

The ACAS Code of Practice stipulates a minimum of 10 calendar days unless agreed otherwise between the parties.

Settlement Agreements are voluntary and parties do not have to agree to them or enter into any discussion about them. There can be a process of negotiation during which both sides make proposals and counter proposals until an agreement is reached or both parties decide no agreement can be reached.

If a Settlement Agreement is not reached and depending on the nature of the dispute or issue, resolution may be pursued through a performance management, disciplinary or grievance process, or mediation whichever is best suited. It is important that employers follow a fair process. If the employee is dismissed, failure to do so may give grounds for a claim of unfair dismissal.

Settlement Agreement Meeting

 

Although there is no statutory right for the employee to be accompanied at any meeting to discuss the Agreement, as a matter of good practice, it is sensible for employers to allow an employee to be accompanied when meetings are held as this can often help progress meaningful discussions.  The Settlement Agreement will specify a date when the employment relationship will come to an end along with details of payment and the timing of that payment.  Payment should be made as soon as practicable after the Agreement has been reached.

Other non-financial terms can include an agreed reference, a confidentiality clause and a clause preventing the employee from making any derogatory comments about the employer.

Ending The Employment Relationship

 

When the Settlement Agreement includes an agreement to end the employment relationship, then employment can end with the required notice, or the timing can be agreed as part of the Settlement Agreement.

Details of payment and the timing should be included in the Agreement; any payments should be made as soon as practicable after the Agreement has been reached.

Sarah Begley comments:  “Employers are reminded that Settlement Agreements provide a very useful tool to resolve work place disputes without the need to undertake legal action. However, Settlement Agreements are technical legal documents which contain important terms regarding employment rights post termination of employment.  Independent legal advice is a legal requirement for individuals but for employers, early professional advice is recommended.”

To discuss anything arising from this update, please contact Sarah Begley on 0121 733 4312 or via email at sbegley@wilkes.co.uk You can also contact any other member of the Employment Team on 0121 233 4333 or email us at employment@wilkes.co.uk.

IR35 Reform, The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors, Employment Law, Jas Dubb

Last year, HM Revenue & Customs (‘HMRC’) published draft legislation for IR35 reform in the private sector. It details plans to make medium and large companies responsible for determining whether the off-payroll working rules apply from 6 April 2020.

“Off-payroll working” is the term used by HMRC to describe the situation where an individual worker provides his/her personal services via their own Personal Service Company (‘PSC’).

The IR35 rules target contractual workers who operate through an intermediary, usually a limited company and/or via an agency, to offer and provide services to an end business user, but, who would otherwise be deemed a full-time employee if they did not work through such an intermediary or agency. HMRC defines these workers as “disguised employees” as they may be awarded the same rights and benefits that a full-time employee have, but are paying significantly less in tax. It is estimated the cost to the Exchequer will reach £1.3 billion by 2023/4 in lost revenue.

IR35 rules have been implemented by the government since 2000, but the legislation has been subject to continual changes and advancements – the latest being the rules which effect the private sector. HMRC created the IR35 legislation to combat tax avoidance by a PSC. The legislation has caused some frustration within the contractor workforce, with many battling with HMRC to prove that they are outside of IR35, and therefore not liable to be taxed at a higher rate.

Jas Dubb of The Wilkes Partnership considers the impact of the new rules and how companies can prepare for the challenges ahead.

HMRC are running checks on contractual workers to discover whether or not they have been using their limited company status to avoid paying the higher tax and national insurance that a permanent employee is subject to. If these individuals are found to be inside IR35, they will have to pay HMRC what is deemed unpaid tax and national insurance.

What does this mean for the Private Sector?

Since the implementation of IR35, there have been several amendments made by HMRC to ensure that contractors are paying the correct tax. However, there was a belief that a lot of PSC owners subject to the IR35 regime were paying too little tax and national insurance. Because of this, new ‘off-payroll’ rules were implemented in April 2017 for contractors working for public sector organisations.

In the original legislation, it stated that the sole responsibility for paying the right amount of tax according to IR35 rules sat with the contractor. This has changed so that the obligation now sits with the end business user hiring the contractor. If the contractor is found to be within the IR35 rules, the end user client must deduct employees’ national insurance and tax from the contractor’s pay, as well as paying the correct amount of employers’ national insurance. These rules apply to most private sector businesses from April 2020, although the smallest 1.5 million businesses are excluded.

Ultimately, medium and large businesses will be responsible for concluding whether the contractors they engage fall inside or outside IR35 and apply the off-payroll rules deduct the relevant tax and national insurance from their pay and give it to HMRC.

What are some of the changes?

  • The IR35 legislation has already been implemented in the Public Sector, and it is going to be extended to the Private Sector from 6 April 2020.
  • From 2020, the liability for assessing IR35 status for tax purposes is no longer solely on the contractor’s intermediary but the end business organisation.
  • Small organisations will be exempt.

Jas Dubb explains that: “Many businesses that use contract workers may have their plans in place for IR35 reform. However, with just months to go, it is vital that companies prepare and give this complicated tax reform the focus it undoubtedly deserves.

Companies and self-employed individuals should be mindful to have up to date contracts. It is also important for companies to have policies and procedures in place to ensure the new IR35 legislation is taken into account.”

For any further guidance on this issue or any other employment related matter, please contact Jas Dubb on 0121 710 5929 or at jdubb@wilkes.co.uk. You can also contact any other member of the Employment Team on 0121 233 4333 or email us at employmentlaw@wilkes.co.uk.

“When you fall in love with your dream home it is sometimes difficult to see it without rose tinted glasses. Buying property is more complex than it has ever been before,” said Amanda Holden, Partner and Head of Residential Conveyancing at The Wilkes Partnership.

According to a report from The Conveyancing Association in December 2019; ‘as the global climate undergoes rapid and unprecedented changes, the frequency and severity of flood events in the UK are due to increase.’

Amanda continues: “We all remember the first two weeks of November 2019 when we saw bigger floods and new areas of flooding on our roads around Birmingham and Solihull. This increased flood risk has a knock-on effect on the house buying process.”

“As part of the conveyancing process we carry out a drainage search which checks whether a property is connected to the mains foul water sewer or whether it has its own septic tank. It will also confirm whether the property is connected to the mains surface water system and the location of the nearest mains surface water drain to the property. If the drainage search doesn’t reveal where surface water goes then you may have a problem as it is essential to know where the surface water drains to from a flooding point of view. We also carry out an environmental search which contains information as to the flood risk of a particular property”.

“You will want to know if the property is at risk of flooding and importantly whether you will be able to obtain suitable insurance under normal terms. If your property is in an area affected by flooding you will need to check whether there are any exclusions on the buildings insurance policy you have chosen. Any mortgage lender must be satisfied that those exclusions don’t prejudice their lending,” Amanda said.

In addition, if the property you have your heart set on has a paved drive you will need to find out whether it is permeable. Due to the increasing trend to fully pave front driveways, which reduces the ability for the ground to absorb excess surface water, regulations have been in force since 2008 requiring driveways to be built with permeable material.

The risk of flooding is just one of many aspects of the house buying process that Wilkes will consider for you.  The residential conveyancing team at Wilkes offer an efficient, friendly service in the community where you can see somebody face to face who will handle your sale and purchase from beginning to end.

If you would like any advice on Residential Conveyancing you can contact Amanda Holden at The Wilkes Partnership on 0121 733 4307 or aholden@wilkes.co.uk.

Leenamari Aantaa-Collier, Planning Lawyer, The Wilkes Partnership

The Wilkes Partnership, has expanded its international reach by adding to its Planning team with Legal 500 named Leenamari Aantaa-Collier, as Partner and Head of Planning.

Leenamari is a renowned specialist in public and private sector areas, including work for the NHS on issues arising from applications, obligations, appeals and plan making. Her expertise also spans to litigation, energy subsidy issues and advising the select committee in the House of Lords on the conflict between the planning and licensing regimes.

At Wilkes Leenamari will use this experience to lead the planning team in navigating planning legislation for clients as well as working to grow the firm’s excellent reputation in both the private and public sector.

Leenamari Aantaa-Collier, Partner & Head of Planning at The Wilkes Partnership, said: “I’ve joined Wilkes because I know that the legal talent here is very strong and the culture right for me. After being at Wilkes earlier in my career, I feel like I am coming home and I want to help continue the good work that has been done for clients already as well as help grow the firm.”

“We have hit the ground running using our planning expertise to help clients diversify, use their land in innovative ways and adapt to become more sustainable businesses. Good planning law can unlock so much potential for both public and private sector businesses, and that is exactly what we aim to do for clients.”

Due to her wealth of experience overseas, Leenamari’s arrival bolsters the experience of The Wilkes Partnership in the UK, but also it’s offering abroad. Current Finnish consulate for Birmingham Leenamari brings strong links to business in Finland.

Nigel Wood, Senior Partner at The Wilkes Partnership, says: “Leenamari’s appointment is a crucial step in our development. During decades of legal experience, she has developed an international reputation for great work in planning across both the public and private sector – this will be priceless to the development of our planning team. Her business knowledge and connections in Finland will also prove valuable as our firm has been growing into new jurisdictions in recent years. We’re very happy to welcome Leenamari to the team and I’m looking forward to working with her.”

According to Article 5 of the Equality and Human Rights Commission nobody can be deprived of their liberty without reason.

If a relative of yours has been moved into a care home against their wishes and they are unable to leave, you have the right to appeal for their liberty through the court of protection, according to Ann-Marie Aston Partner in the Private client team at Wilkes.

The law is very clear on this matter, she says. Providing due process has been followed then the deprivation of their liberty is lawful. However if any of these three criteria have not been meet then you have grounds for appeal:

  1. The individual has a diagnosis of mental illness
  2. The individual lacks the mental capacity to agree to being locked up
  3. The individual is over 18

In 2009 Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs) were added to the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The safeguards have been put in place to make sure that people in care homes and hospitals are looked after in a way that does not inappropriately restrict their freedom.

Unfortunately, there are many instances where due process has not been carried out by the Local Authority and families are often unaware of their rights to appeal. Many elderly people can be provided with appropriate care within their own homes and so do not need to be moved.

Even in instances where the Local Authority or the NHS has granted a deprivation order, the family still has the right to appeal against the decision.

There are 850,000 people in the UK who have been diagnosed with dementia and each year there are growing numbers of DoL applications. Clearly with an ageing population this is a problem that is not going to go away and with increasing pressure on care homes it is important for individuals to be cared for in their own homes for as long as possible.

If you would like more information on Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards please contact Ann-Marie Aston on 0121 733 8000 aaston@wilkes.co.uk.

The Office Christmas Party – Avoiding More Than Just A Hangover

The festive season can have a big impact on businesses in terms of potential workplace issues.  For instance, difficulties can arise with winter travel disruption resulting in possible unauthorised absences and, if not managed properly, an increase in holiday requests for the Christmas break could lead to staff shortages.

Lisa Moore, Associate in the Employment Team, considers several issues which employers may need to consider at this time of year:-

On-line shopping– As Christmas approaches and people become busier, they may well be inclined to carry out their shopping on-line whilst at work. Employers are advised to have a very clear IT policy setting out what is and is not acceptable and should remind employees of this as necessary.

Secret Santa– Secret Santa is something that workplaces are increasingly participating in during the run up to Christmas. Whilst seemingly harmless fun, it does have the potential to cause problems. Employers have no direct control over what an employee may choose to buy for another employee. However, they could find themselves potentially liable for claims such as bullying, harassment and/or discrimination if an entirely inappropriate gift is purchased that causes offence to the recipient. Employers may therefore wish to ensure that members of staff are clearly informed of the need to exercise caution when purchasing gifts and that buying inappropriate gifts that could cause offence is likely to lead to disciplinary action. Employers could also provide examples of gifts that would (and would not be) acceptable in attempt to avoid any misunderstanding arising.

Annual leave– The Christmas break can be a very difficult time for employers in this respect. Where a business intends to close for Christmas but employees are required to use their annual leave during this period, then it must be made clear well in advance. Where the office is open as usual, the business should consider the minimum staffing levels required which would ensure that it could still adequately continue to operate. Where competing leave requests are made which cannot all be agreed, then it is essential to authorise leave in a fair and consistent manner. For instance, denying someone a leave request over Christmas because their religious beliefs are such that they do not celebrate it, could result in a complaint of discrimination.

The office party– Firstly, in terms of planning for an office party, it is important to remember to include all staff members in the invitation. This could include those on sick or maternity leave. It would also be a mistake to deliberately exclude any members of staff who maybe do not celebrate Christmas. Equally, employees who may have, say, childcare responsibilities should not be forced to attend an event outside of normal office hours. Secondly, care should be taken when organising the catering for a party. Employers should ensure that there is a sufficient range of options in terms of food and drinks so that everyone is catered for. Prior to the event, employers may wish to encourage employees to consider and plan how they will get home. In terms of the party itself, members of staff should be clearly reminded in advance that whilst they may well be in their own time and off work premises, the event is in every respect an extension of the work place. Accordingly, any inappropriate behaviour is no more acceptable than it would be on a routine basis and employees should be aware that such behaviour would be dealt with in accordance with the company’s usual disciplinary rules.

Social media– Either during or following Christmas events, employees should be reminded not to post any comments which may bring the company into disrepute on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. Similarly, members of staff should be warned against sharing photographs from events which could cause offence or perhaps would infringe another employee’s right to privacy. Again, if necessary, members of staff should be made aware as to any implications of breaching the company’s social media policy.

Lisa Moore comments, “In order to protect their position as far as possible, employers should review their existing policies which relate to these issues then communicate/re-state them to all members of staff and make any contingency plans as may be necessary. Further to the points outlined above, Acas have recently published some helpful guidance for employers on ‘workplace issues over the winter months’ which businesses may find useful. This note can be accessed via the ‘Advice and Guidance’ section on the Acas website.”

To discuss anything arising from this update, please contact Lisa Moore or any member of the Employment Team on 0121 233 4333.