Employment Tribunals and Employee Handbooks
How Important is Your Employee Handbook?
Failure to communicate your handbook can be the difference between winning and losing at an employment tribunal claim!
Employment Tribunal cases are full of references to Employee Handbooks and illustrate how important the Handbook can be in the event of a dispute. They show us how failure to communicate your Handbook or updates to your Handbook can mean the difference between winning and losing your case.
Before we look at how to solve this problem, here are some examples and abstracts from cases that demonstrate the point.
An employee was dismissed for the unauthorised use of company vehicles. He claimed unfair dismissal, saying he was not aware of the new policy. The Company argued that they had changed and communicated this.
The Tribunal said “The Respondent’s case is that in August 2013 a new handbook was introduced and distributed to all members of staff. The Claimant says that he was never given a copy. The Respondent is not able to produce any direct evidence either of the distribution of the handbook to its employees or of any communication about any changes that this handbook contained.
In the absence of any …direct evidence about the circumstances in which the handbook was communicated I prefer the evidence of the Claimant and find on the balance of probabilities that a copy of the handbook was not supplied to him”.
The outcome of this case was that the Tribunal found that the employee had been unfairly dismissed.
In another case the Tribunal stated:
“There was an issue about whether the claimant had seen the staff handbook which contained the hotel’s employment policies…… The respondent said that all employees were given a copy of the handbook and they would sign a docket confirming that they had received it. However, he admitted that the hotel had no evidence of receiving a docket signed by the claimant. He said that a copy of the handbook was also kept in the office implying that the claimant was somehow bound by its terms because of that. We find that there is no evidence to show that the claimant received the handbook or had seen it in the office.
We accept the Claimant’s evidence that he was not provided with a copy of this Handbook until the disciplinary proceedings… (the Respondent) says that all new employees are provided with the Handbook and other policies on induction….. However, the Respondent has been unable to provide any evidence that the Claimant was provided with this Handbook and given that employees are required to sign to confirm receipt, it is reasonable to assume that he would have so signed and HR would have a copy which could be produced… there is no explanation for the absence of such supporting evidence.
So, what is the solution? How do you guarantee that you will not be in this position? How do you ensure that you clearly communicate and can evidence this?
You can ask employees to sign a document during induction and then on every occasion you update your Handbook. If you do this consistently and keep the records this will suffice. But as we have seen above, in reality, this does not always happen, and things get missed.
It’s also time consuming. One business leader told me it took 3 days to issue an update to the handbook to all staff.
So, the answer is to automate the process and do it digitally.
YourHR.space does just that. YourHR.space displays all your HR policies and procedures for employees to read via a secure log-in. When there is a change, every employee is automatically informed via an email notification and directed to the full details that are displayed on YourHR.space. This is all done for you and there is an audit trail of the communications.
At the start of employment, induction is managed on-line, with induction checklists completed by employees, providing an ongoing record that they have seen all the relevant information they need.
No employee can say, “I didn’t know, I wasn’t told”.
YourHR.space is an ongoing reference for employees throughout their employment. Employees can also request holiday via the site and update their personal details, making YourHR.space the most effective HR platform for HR compliance and communication.
To find out more, visit www.yourhr.space and watch the short walk through video to understand how YourHR.space can revolutionise how you do HR.
Cases referred to:
Mr R Portwin Deans Blinds & Awnings UK Ltd Held at London South
Claimant: Miss R Buglass Respondent: (1) BSD Hotels Limited (2) Mr Jagroop Dulal
MR. H. BIRDI v MEARS LIMITED Heard at: London Central On: 23, 24 and 25 January 2018