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Blog of the Week - Take Notice!

Take notice!

“Please accept one month’s notice from the above date”. Sounds pretty clear doesn’t it? However, some things deserve a second look.

Mrs Levy worked for the Records Department in an NHS Trust. She was offered a job in the Radiology Department. She duly wrote the above phrase to her manager, who accepted her notice in writing. However, the Radiology Department withdrew their job offer and, as a result, Mrs Levy sought to remain with the Records Department. The Records Department refused and confirmed her leaving date on the basis of the notice given.

An Employment Appeals Tribunal has just upheld that this was unfair dismissal. They found that it was ambiguous as to whether her notice was to leave the Department or to leave the Trust. Mrs Levy was able to keep the £25,000 awarded to her by the original Employment Tribunal.

The moral of this story, if someone gives you their notice, always make sure it is clearly written as to exactly what they are giving you one month’s notice of.

Do I have to provide a reference?

From time to time, I am asked whether you are legally obliged to give a reference for an ex-employee. Generally, the answer is “no”. There are some exceptions, for example, you may have agreed to provide one as part of a settlement agreement.

Any reference given must be “fair, true and accurate”. If it is not, the new employer may be able to claim damages against you. On the other hand, if you say something that you cannot prove about your ex-employee that causes them to lose the opportunity, you could also find yourself in deep water. For that reason, never let anyone other than a Company Director write a reference on your headed paper or from their company email.

Compassionate leave

We will all sadly have times in our lives when someone close to us dies. As an employer, you will no doubt face a time when you must decide how much time off to give an employee and what to pay them for it. At present, other than a day or two unpaid dependent’s leave, there is no legal requirement to give leave, let alone paid leave.

I am pleased to see that a new bill has been passed which will mean parents who lose a child under 18 or have a still born child after 24 weeks, will have the right to two weeks’ leave. Leave will be paid at the statutory rate, yet to be confirmed.
Of course, a good employer would seek to be supportive in such difficult circumstances and would not wait until 2020 for this to become law.