IGA News

Human Resources Q&A – Christmas Special

Human Resources Q&A – Christmas Special

30 November 2018

HR support is included as part of your IGA membership. As well as guidance from the member helpline team, and legal team if needed, a full HR toolkit can be found in the IGA Members Area. This includes example contracts, work policies, disciplinary procedures and letters, terms and conditions, job specifications and more.

If you would like your question to be featured, you can contact us via our member helpline at 0845 305 4230

Q: I am a female working in a dealership and have recently discovered that some of my male colleagues carrying out a similar job to me receive more pay. They have been working for the company longer than me but is this really fair and is there anything I can do?

A: Under the Equal Pay Act 1970 it is unlawful to offer different pay and conditions where women and men are doing the same or work rated as equivalent or similar in terms of effort, skill and decision making. This will also still apply where two roles may appear dissimilar but are of “like work”.

If you feel you have a claim you should speak to your manager about it in the first instance as this could be a genuine mistake. However, if they fail to adequately justify the difference with a genuine reason then you do have a legal right to lodge a claim at an employment tribunal whilst still in your job or up to six months after leaving the related position. Your employer should be aware that unequal pay claim can be backdated for up to six years.

Q: We would like to put up Christmas decorations in our staff room, but I am concerned about offending employees that do not celebrate Christmas. What should I do?

A: Legislation on religion and belief do not outlaw traditional customs. As most Christmas decorations such as tinsel, lights and trees are not particularly religious, they should not cause offence to non-Christians. However, if you want to include all of your employees in the seasonal festivities you could avoid putting up signs that say “Merry Christmas” and instead use signs worded with “season’s greetings” and opt for fun seasonal images such as snowmen instead of religious images.

Q: Can I dismiss somebody for being drunk at the Christmas party?

A: This really depends on the context of the situation and how their drunken state caused them to act. However, if you want to avoid drunken behaviour then consider not providing employees with free alcohol, or putting a credit card or cash behind the bar, as you are unlikely to be able to justify a dismissal if you contributed to their drunken state. Alternatively send out a communication to all staff prior to the party setting out the behaviour you expect from them, and the potential consequences should anyone ignore the advice. You also need to take care with any employees under 18. As their employer you will be responsible for them and should not allow them to drink alcohol under any circumstances.

Q: One of my workers’ partners is expecting a baby and is asking for paid time off work. Do I have to allow this?

A: If the employee has worked for you for at least 26 weeks then they are entitled to take up to two weeks paid paternity leave. They must take the leave within 56 days of the date of birth of the child.

Q: Is it ok for me to refuse an employee permission to take time off as holiday for a religious holiday or celebration?

A: It really depends on your reasons for refusing the time off and provided there is clear justification. For example, a small garage with only a couple of employees would be better placed to justify refusing release of an employee for a religious holiday that fell in a busy period due to not having adequate cover. However, a large garage or dealership with a large number of employees would find it difficult to justify such a refusal during that period if other staff were able to cover.

Any refusal for time off for religious reasons could potentially be classed as being indirectly discriminatory and all requests should be carefully considered before making a decision.

For further resources, look at the HR toolkit, located in the Members Area of the IGA website.