Disciplinary proceedings Nothing seems to be able to budge the issue of discipline from the top of our poll! You remain consistently busy with the alleged misdemeanours of your employees and having to call them into investigatory hearings, gather any potential evidence against them, hold a disciplinary hearing and then come to a decision based on the evidence. We can never stress enough the significance of keeping a ‘paper trail’ of the proceedings – make notes, more notes, and even more notes, recording dates and times of meetings, names of people in attendance, photocopies of statements etc. Tribunals love to be able to see the facts in front of them to support your oral evidence. Redundancy and alternatives The country does not yet seem to have pulled itself out of financial difficulty and this is reflected in the number of calls we are still receiving on the issue of redundancy. We always try to steer clients towards considering alternatives to redundancy, for example, short time working or lay off. These aren’t always appropriate depending on the client’s actual circumstances, but sometimes clients don’t realise there are other measures they can take which don’t carry the finality of redundancy. Pensions Although automatic enrolment into company pensions became necessary at the start of October 2012, it is only employers with 120,000 or more employees who must comply from this date. Small businesses will not need to comply until approximately 2014 at the earliest. Nevertheless, many clients having been requesting advice on the implications of auto-enrolment in preparation for their staging dates. Changing terms and conditions Some employers are looking at downgrading some of the terms and conditions that their employees currently enjoy in order to decrease their outgoings. The calls we receive in this regard are commonly in relation to occupational sick pay, or pension scheme contributions. Simply going ahead and changing terms and conditions without the employee’s agreement is likely to land you in a lot of trouble. Once again, procedure is key and the correct steps must be taken before making any changes. TUPE Another knock on effect of the current economic climate is the high number of calls we receive about businesses being bought out, and consequent obligations under the transfer of undertakings regulations. People who are employed by the company being sold will, where TUPE applies, automatically transfer over into the employ of the new owner and you must be careful how you treat their terms and conditions after transfer because attempts to make changes are in most circumstances not permitted. For any further clarification, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.