Questions we have been asked over the past month and our top tips


25 February, 2016

Employment and HR queries we have received from schools this month:

Q: Is it possible to place an employee on formal absence review for sickness absence whilst still signed off?

A: Should a situation arise where an employee is absent due to long term sickness, it would be best practice to send a letter to the employee inviting them to a meeting to discuss their continued sickness absence and enquire as to whether any reasonable adjustments can be made in order to assist them in their return to work. However, the employee is not obliged to attend the meeting, therefore it may be advisable to include within the letter that the employee can specify a more convenient date for the meeting to be held. It is possible to endeavour to arrange a formal absence review meeting in the employee's absence, but only after three unsuccessful attempts at engaging with the employee in question.

Q: What would be best practice in terms of placing staff on consultation of redundancies following a restructure?

  • The first port of call with regard to consulting staff would be to review the policies in place which govern Restructure and Redundancies. This would usually provide a clear process to follow.
  • The next step would be to review collective agreements and set up pre-consultation meetings with staff, it is advisable to do this on an individual basis, although this may not always be possible.
  • All relevant Trade Unions would have to be notified of any potential restructure and that there will be the risk of redundancies taking place.
  • When holding any consultation meetings, employees must be invited formally, in writing.
  • At all points during the process staff should be reminded of their right to be accompanied by a Trade Union Representative or colleague.
  • Staff should always be given the opportunity to make comments or counter proposals during any consultation meetings held.
  • Equally, it is always advisable to ensure that staff understand the reasons for the re-structure and are aware of the potential outcome of the restructure in terms of how it will affect their particular role.
  • Finally, it may be advisable to provide for Expressions of Interest within the consultation period, whereby employees are invited to express their interest in suitable alternative roles, should it be the case that their particular role is at risk

Q: What does the Equality Act (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2016 mean for Schools going forward?

  • The new regulations are currently in draft format and are open for consultation until 11 March 2016.
  • The new regulations will apply to employers with over 250 employees.
  • Schools with over 250 employees will have to introduce procedures and processes providing for the analysis of their gaps in gender pay.
  • Employers will be required to submit an annual report detailing their findings to the relevant government bodies, however they will be given 18 months after the initial introduction of the regulations to submit preliminary findings.
  • The draft regulation provides a method in which employers can calculate their pay gap, as they will be required to submit both their mean and median gender pay gaps.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact Ruth Rule-Mullen on 01772 220195 or Ruth Rule-Mullen


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