“I see the Employee Handbook”, said the Judge…

“But I cannot see the Company’s name on it. Has the employee seen it? The Company is contesting a claim for constructive dismissal and there is a lot at stake.

The employee had worked for the Company almost all his adult life. If he proves the Company have treated him in such a way that he is entitled to consider himself dismissed then he stands to gain the equivalent of a year’s earnings. That is an award the Company will have to pay. Although this split two day Tribunal case (paused at the time of writing) has many aspects, but failure to show that the employee knew how to raise a grievance could be fatal.

What can we learn?

  • Employee Handbooks are important and Employment Judges take them seriously.
  • Make sure your Employee Handbook is clearly yours. If you are a care home, for example, the Handbook should bear your organisation’s name and refer to “the Home” rather than “the Company”, if that is the relevant description. Important positions, such as HR Manager if you have one, should be described correctly and appear in appropriate places.
  • Distribute the Handbook to employees, preferably when they join the organisation. Induction is a good time because it can go on the induction checklist, which you keep, of course.
  • Keep the Handbook up to date. Legislation, relevant Tribunal cases and good practice changes continually. The Handbook needs to do the same.
  • Consider an Employee Handbook service such as that provided by Employer Solutions. Their templates are tailored to your organisation, there is a wide range of policies, so relevant versions can be chosen, and the Handbook goes online.
    The latter means all you need to give to the employee is a web address or a “Quick Read” code that you print on the contract of employment . No cumbersome paper distribution is involved and the Handbook is kept continually up to date, just like the software on your Smartphone. In the premium version you can even have proof that the employee has looked at any particular policy. Job done!

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