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ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2015

EMPLOYMENT MYTHS AND LEGENDS

I often receive calls from my clients who “ just want to check something out……”

Of course Salon owners can’t know everything but often they are confused by a rule that applies to another employer that they have heard about and, incorrectly, assume it applies to all employees in every business.

I would like to share them with you. Remember, before you begin reading all of the following are incorrect the correct answers are in brackets

Working Hours and Time

  • You can require staff to report to work half an hour early and not pay them (if they are required to be at work it is working time and must be paid).
  • If staff work on a Sunday or a bank holiday they have to get a higher rate of pay (any higher pay rate is totally discretionary).
  • You can’t require staff to work on Bank Holidays (You can if they normally work on that day of the week).
  • Staff have to get 2 breaks if they work 10 hours a day (the only rule is a minimum of 20 minutes after 6 hours).
  • Staff don’t get holiday pay unless they have a permanent contract (this is just incorrect).

Holidays and Holiday Pay

  • Staff must get time off and be paid for 8 bank holidays a year ( in the UK the requirement is for a 5 days worker to receive 28 days paid holiday, this doesn’t necessarily include all 8 bank holidays for example Monday could be the employees day off or you might open)
  • If staff are happy they can be paid for holidays instead of having time off (No holidays are for health and safety purposes to ensure employees have a rest)
  • Give staff a contract for 8 hours a week but they work full time. This means they only have 8 hours pay when they take their holidays ( this isn’t correct they should receive the rate of pay they would have received had they worked)
  • Staff don’t accrue holidays in their probationary period (this isn’t the law, as an employer you could say staff can’t take holidays in their probation)
  • Employees must be paid double time for working a Sunday (this is totally the decision of the employer)

The National Minimum Wage

  • My staff receive a very low basic wage (under the minimum wage) but I give very generous commission, they are paid weekly. “Most weeks” they are paid dramatically more than the minimum wage , some weeks they aren’t but I am sure It evens out over 6months—I have been told this is ok ( it is unlawful staff must receive the NMW for all hours worked in their pay period-in this case each week)
  • My apprentice is now aged 19 but is not yet competent to work independently. Therefore we agreed that they will not receive the minimum wage for another year. (they can’t agree to something which is illegal)
  • The national Minimum wage doesn’t apply to over 65s (It does)

Sickness and Attendance Issues

  • When employees are off sick you can’t contact them at home ( it isn’t illegal, the employee will tell you if they are unhappy, there are positive and supportive reasons for keeping in touch)
  • When staff are off sick they don’t accrue holiday pay (they do)
  • If an employee is off for 6 months and has exhausted their SSP just dismiss them ( you can’t, the decision is a management one based on medical advice and isn’t related to SSP)
  • You can’t discipline staff if they always get a sick note when they are off ( you can, the action would be for persistent absenteeism. It might be different if they had an underlying single medical complaint)

Disciplinary Issues

  • Staff must have a verbal warning for first offences( it depends how serious the offence is, the first stage of the disciplinary procedure can be a written warning)
  • You can’t go straight to a final warning for a serious offence ( you can, but ideally your disciplinary procedure should say so)
  • If staff have a written warning and commit another but different offence they have to receive another written warning (incorrect it is cumulative like points on a driving licence)
  • If someone commits gross misconduct it means instant dismissal there and then, so there wouldn’t be a disciplinary hearing. (There must always be a disciplinary hearing with the allegations specified in writing and the employee advised of their right of representation. You would normally suspend the employee until the hearing)
  • You can’t discipline staff for things they do outside of work ( you certainly can if it impacts on their job or the employers reputation)

Maternity

  • Employees don’t accrue holidays whilst on maternity leave ( yes they do)
  • If employees don’t want to come back to work on a full time basis I can just terminate their employment ( incorrect an employee has a right to request flexible working)
  • Staff on maternity leave can’t be made redundant ( yes they can, you would of course act with a little caution and with HR advice)

In most cases you can understand perhaps where the idea has come from and the Salon owners were genuinely surprised when advised their view was incorrect. Don’t be disheartened the questions raised by employees are even more outlandish!!!



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