Flexible working policy

About this policy

We are committed to providing equality of opportunity in employment and to developing working practices and policies that support work-life balance. This Flexible Working Policy gives eligible employees an opportunity to formally request a change to their working pattern in accordance with the statutory procedure for such requests. Managers are encouraged to facilitate requests unless they cannot be accommodated for business or operational reasons. 
No one who makes a request for flexible working will be subjected to any detriment or lose any career development opportunities as a result.
This policy applies to all employees. It does not apply to agency workers, consultants or self-employed contractors. 
This policy does not form part of any employee's contract of employment and we may amend it at any time.

Personnel responsible for implementing the policy

Managers have a specific responsibility to ensure the fair application of this policy and all members of staff are responsible for supporting colleagues and ensuring its success.

Forms of flexible working

Flexible working can incorporate a number of possible changes to working arrangements, such as:

reduction or variation of working hours;
reduction or variation of the days worked; and/or
working from a different location (for example, from home).

The possible changes to working arrangements mentioned in paragraph 4.1 may also involve:

starting a job share;
working a set number of hours a year, rather than a week (annualised hours);
working from home (whether for all or part of the week);
working only during term-time (part-year working);
working compressed hours; and/or
working flexi-time.

Office Core Hours are 09:00 - 17:30

Eligibility for the formal right to request procedure

To be eligible to make a request under the formal procedure set out in paragraph 5 to paragraph 8 you must:

be an employee;
have worked for us continuously for at least 26 weeks at the date your request is made;
not have made a formal request to work flexibly during the last 12 months.

If you are not eligible to make a formal request, you may make an informal request under paragraph 10.

Making a formal flexible working request

Any employee interested in flexible working is advised to speak informally with [their line manager OR [POSITION]] to discuss their eligibility, the different options and the effect of their proposed work pattern on colleagues and service delivery, before submitting a formal or informal request.
You will need to submit a written application if you would like your flexible working request to be considered under the formal procedure.
Your application should be submitted to your line manager OR HR in good time and ideally at least two months before you would like the changes to take effect. It should:

state that it is a flexible working request;
explain the reasons for your request, especially if you think our Equal Opportunities Policy may be relevant, for example, if your request concerns childcare or other family commitments, religious or cultural requirements, or adjustments because of a disability;
provide as much information as you can about your current and desired working pattern, including working days, hours and start and finish times, and give the date from which you want the changes to take effect;
identify the effect the changes to your working pattern will have on the work that you do, that of your colleagues and on service delivery. If you have any suggestions about dealing with any potentially negative effects, please include these in your written application; and
provide information to confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria set out in paragraph 5 of this policy including the dates of any previous formal requests for flexible working.

In most cases we will need to have a meeting with you before making a decision. In some cases we may be able to approve your request without a formal meeting, although it will usually be helpful to your manager to discuss the request with you to ensure it is the best solution. 

Formal request: meeting

Where necessary, your line manager OR HR will arrange a meeting with you after your application has been submitted. The meeting may also be attended by a member of the Human Resources Department. You may bring a colleague to the meeting as a companion if you wish. Your companion will be entitled to speak during the meeting and confer privately with you, but may not answer questions on your behalf. 
In most cases, the meeting will be held at your usual place of work. We will try to ensure that the meeting is held at a time and place that is convenient to everyone.
The meeting will be used to discuss the working arrangements you have requested. You will be able to explain how the arrangements will accommodate your needs. You will also be able to discuss what impact your proposed working arrangements will have on your work and that of your colleagues. If we cannot accommodate the arrangements you have requested, discussion at the meeting also provides an opportunity to explore possible alternative working arrangements. 
Your line manager OR HR may suggest starting new working arrangements under an initial trial period to ensure that they meet your needs and those of your team OR department.

Formal request: decision

We will notify you of the decision in writing as soon as possible.
If your request is accepted, or where we propose an alternative to the arrangements you requested, your line manager OR HR will write to you with details of the new working arrangements, details of any trial period, an explanation of changes to your contract of employment and the date on which they will commence. You will be asked to sign and return a copy of the letter. This will be placed on your personnel file to confirm the variation to your terms of employment. 
Unless otherwise agreed (and subject to any agreed trial period) changes to your terms of employment will be permanent. You will not be able to make another formal request until 12 months after the date of your most recent request.
If your line manager OR HR needs more time to make a decision, for example, where they need more time to investigate how your request can be accommodated or to consult several members of staff, they will discuss this with you.
There will be circumstances where, due to business and operational requirements, we are unable to agree to a request. In these circumstances, your line manager OR HR will write to you:

explaining the business reason(s) for turning down your application; and
setting out the appeal procedure.

The eight business reasons for which we may reject your request are:

the burden of additional costs;
detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
inability to reorganise work among existing staff;
inability to recruit additional staff;
detrimental impact on quality;
detrimental impact on performance;
insufficiency of work during the periods that you propose to work; and
planned changes.

Formal request: appeal

If your request is rejected, you have the right to appeal.
Your appeal must:

be in writing and dated;
set out the grounds on which you are appealing; and
be sent to the Human Resources Department within 14 days of the date on which you received the written rejection of your request. 

The Human Resources Department will arrange for a meeting to take place following receipt of your appeal. We will try to hold the meeting at a convenient time for all those attending. You may be accompanied by a colleague of your choice.
Where possible, the appeal meeting will be conducted by a more senior manager who has not been previously involved in considering your request.
You will be informed in writing of the decision as soon as possible after the appeal meeting. 
If your appeal is upheld, you will be advised of your new working arrangements, details of any trial period, an explanation of changes to your contract of employment and the date on which they will commence. You will be asked to sign and return a copy of the letter. This will be placed on your personnel file to confirm the variation to your terms of employment.
You should be aware that changes to your terms of employment will be permanent and you will not be able to make another formal request until 12 months after the date of your original application. 
If your appeal is rejected, the written decision will give the business reason(s) for the decision and explain why the reason(s) apply in your case. You will not be able to make another formal request until 12 months after the date of your original application. 

Extending time under the formal procedure

There may be exceptional occasions when it is not possible to complete consideration of your request within the expected time limits. Where an extension of time is agreed with you, your line manager OR HR will write to you confirming the extension and the date on which it will end.
If you withdraw a formal request for flexible working, you will not be eligible to make another formal request for 12 months from the date of your original request. In certain circumstances, a formal request will be treated as withdrawn. This will occur if you fail to attend a meeting and a re-arranged meeting, or an appeal meeting and a re-arranged appeal meeting, without good cause. 

In such circumstances, your line manager OR HR will write to you confirming that the request has been treated as withdrawn.

Making an informal flexible working request

Employees who are ineligible to make a formal request for flexible working may make an informal request to their line manager OR HR, who will consider it according to our business and operational requirements.
It will help your line manager OR HR to consider your request if you:

make your request in writing and confirm whether you wish any change to your current working pattern to be temporary or permanent;
provide as much information as you can about your current and desired working pattern, including working days, hours and start and finish times, and give the date from which you want your desired working pattern to start; and 
think about what effect the changes to your working pattern will have on the work that you do and on your colleagues, as well as on our service delivery [and that of your [team OR department]]. If you have any suggestions about dealing with any potentially negative effects, please include these in your written application. Your line manager OR HR can consider whether they are workable.

Your line manager OR HR will advise you what steps will be taken to consider your request, which may include inviting you to attend a meeting, before advising you of the outcome of your request. 

Equal opportunities policy

Equal opportunities statement

Birkenhaus Corporation is committed to promoting equal opportunities in employment. You and any job applicants will receive equal treatment regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation (Protected Characteristics).

About this policy

This policy sets out our approach to equal opportunities and the avoidance of discrimination at work. It applies to all aspects of employment with us, including recruitment, pay and conditions, training, appraisals, promotion, conduct at work, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and termination of employment.
This policy covers all employees, officers, consultants, contractors, [volunteers,] [interns,] casual workers and agency workers.
This policy does not form part of any employee's contract of employment and we may amend it at any time.

Who is responsible for this policy?

HR has overall responsibility for the effective operation of this policy and for ensuring compliance with discrimination law. Day-to-day operational responsibility for this policy, including regular review of this policy, has been delegated to Line Managers.
All managers must set an appropriate standard of behaviour, lead by example and ensure that those they manage adhere to the policy and promote our aims and objectives with regard to equal opportunities. Managers will be given appropriate training on equal opportunities awareness and equal opportunities recruitment and selection best practice. Jack Powell has overall responsibility for equal opportunities training.
If you are involved in management or recruitment, or if you have any questions about the content or application of this policy, you should contact HR to request training or further information.
Staff are invited to comment on this policy and suggest ways in which it might be improved by contacting HR.

Discrimination

You must not unlawfully discriminate against or harass other people including current and former employees, job applicants, clients, customers, suppliers and visitors. This applies in the workplace, outside the workplace (when dealing with customers, suppliers or other work-related contacts [or when wearing a work uniform]), and on work-related trips or events including social events.
The following forms of discrimination are prohibited under this policy and are unlawful:

Direct discrimination: treating someone less favourably because of a Protected Characteristic. For example, rejecting a job applicant because of their religious views or because they might be gay.
Indirect discrimination: a provision, criterion or practice that applies to everyone but adversely affects people with a particular Protected Characteristic more than others, and is not justified. For example, requiring a job to be done full-time rather than part-time would adversely affect women because they generally have greater childcare commitments than men. Such a requirement would be discriminatory unless it can be justified.
Harassment: this includes sexual harassment and other unwanted conduct related to a Protected Characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating someone's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. Harassment is dealt with further in our Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy.
Victimisation: retaliation against someone who has complained or has supported someone else's complaint about discrimination or harassment. 
Disability discrimination: this includes direct and indirect discrimination, any unjustified less favourable treatment because of the effects of a disability, and failure to make reasonable adjustments to alleviate disadvantages caused by a disability.

Recruitment and selection

Recruitment, promotion, and other selection exercises such as redundancy selection will be conducted on the basis of merit, against objective criteria that avoid discrimination. Shortlisting should be done by more than one person and with the involvement of the Human Resources Department, where possible. Our recruitment procedures should be reviewed regularly to ensure that individuals are treated on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities.
Vacancies should generally be advertised to a diverse section of the labour market. Advertisements should avoid stereotyping or using wording that may discourage particular groups from applying. They should include a short policy statement on equal opportunities and a copy of this policy will be made available on request.
We take steps to ensure that our vacancies are advertised to a diverse labour market and, where relevant, to particular groups that have been identified as disadvantaged or underrepresented in our organisation. Where appropriate, the Human Resources Department may approve the use of lawful exemptions to recruit someone with a particular Protected Characterisic, for example, where the job can only be done by a woman. The advertisement should specify the exemption that applies.
Job applicants should not be asked questions which might suggest an intention to discriminate on grounds of a Protected Characteristic. For example, applicants should not be asked whether they are pregnant or planning to have children.
Job applicants should not be asked about health or disability before a job offer is made. There are limited exceptions which should only be used with the approval of the Human Resources Department. For example:

Questions necessary to establish if an applicant can perform an intrinsic part of the job (subject to any reasonable adjustments).
Questions to establish if an applicant is fit to attend an assessment or any reasonable adjustments that may be needed at interview or assessment. 
Positive action to recruit disabled persons.
Equal opportunities monitoring (which will not form part of the selection or decision-making process).

Where necessary, job offers can be made conditional on a satisfactory medical check.

We are required by law to ensure that all employees are entitled to work in the UK. Assumptions about immigration status should not be made based on appearance or apparent nationality. All prospective employees, regardless of nationality, must be able to produce original documents (such as a passport) before employment starts, to satisfy current immigration legislation. The list of acceptable documents is available from the Human Resources Department or UK Visas and Immigration.
To ensure that this policy is operating effectively, and to identify groups that may be underrepresented or disadvantaged in our organisation, we monitor applicants' ethnic group, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and age as part of the recruitment procedure. Provision of this information is voluntary and it will not adversely affect an individual's chances of recruitment or any other decision related to their employment. The information is removed from applications before shortlisting, and kept in an anonymised format solely for the purposes stated in this policy. Analysing this data helps us take appropriate steps to avoid discrimination and improve equality and diversity.

Training and promotion and conditions of service

Training needs will be identified through regular appraisals. You will be given appropriate access to training to enable you to progress within the organisation and all promotion decisions will be made on the basis of merit. 
Workforce composition and promotions will be regularly monitored to ensure equality of opportunity at all levels of the organisation. Where appropriate, steps will be taken to identify and remove unjustified barriers and to meet the special needs of disadvantaged or underrepresented groups.
Our conditions of service, benefits and facilities are reviewed regularly to ensure that they are available to all of you who should have access to them and that there are no unlawful obstacles to accessing them. 

Termination of employment

We will ensure that redundancy criteria and procedures are fair and objective and are not directly or indirectly discriminatory.
We will also ensure that disciplinary procedures and penalties are applied without discrimination, whether they result in disciplinary warnings, dismissal or other disciplinary action. 

Disabilities

If you are disabled or become disabled, we encourage you to tell us about your condition so that we can support you as appropriate. 
If you experience difficulties at work because of your disability, you may wish to contact your line manager OR the Human Resources Department to discuss any reasonable adjustments that would help overcome or minimise the difficulty.Your line manager OR The Human Resources Department may wish to consult with you and your medical adviser about possible adjustments. We will consider the matter carefully and try to accommodate your needs within reason. If we consider a particular adjustment would not be reasonable we will explain our reasons and try to find an alternative solution where possible. 
We will monitor the physical features of our premises to consider whether they might place anyone with a disability at a substantial disadvantage. Where necessary, we will take reasonable steps to improve access.

Part-time and fixed-term work

Part-time and fixed-term staff should be treated the same as comparable full-time or permanent staff and enjoy no less favourable terms and conditions (on a pro-rata basis where appropriate), unless different treatment is justified. 

Breaches of this policy

We take a strict approach to breaches of this policy, which will be dealt with in accordance with our Disciplinary Procedure. Serious cases of deliberate discrimination may amount to gross misconduct resulting in dismissal.
If you believe that you have suffered discrimination you can raise the matter through our Grievance Procedure or through our Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy as appropriate. Complaints will be treated in confidence and investigated as appropriate.
There must be no victimisation or retaliation against staff who complain about discrimination. However, making a false allegation deliberately and in bad faith will be treated as misconduct and dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.

Disciplinary procedure

About this procedure

The aims of this Disciplinary Procedure are to provide a framework within which managers can work with employees to maintain satisfactory standards of conduct and to encourage improvement where necessary. The standards of conduct expected of all employees are set out in the Disciplinary Rules which are appended to this procedure. 
It is our policy to ensure that any disciplinary matter is dealt with fairly and that steps are taken to establish the facts and to give employees the opportunity to respond before taking any formal action. 
The procedure applies to all employees regardless of length of service. It does not apply to agency workers or self-employed contractors.
This procedure is used to deal with misconduct. It does not apply to cases involving genuine sickness absence, proposed redundancies or poor performance. In those cases reference should be made to the appropriate policy or procedure.
This procedure does not form part of any employee's contract of employment and it may be amended at any time. We may also vary this procedure, including any time limits, as appropriate in any case.

Minor conduct issues

Minor conduct issues can often be resolved informally between you and your line manager. These discussions should be held in private and without undue delay whenever there is cause for concern. Where appropriate, a note of any such informal discussions may be placed on your personnel file but will be ignored for the purposes of any future disciplinary hearings. In some cases an informal verbal warning may be given, which will not form part of your disciplinary records. Formal steps will be taken under this procedure if the matter is not resolved, or if informal discussion is not appropriate (for example, because of the seriousness of the allegation).
If you have difficulty at any stage of the procedure because of a disability, you should discuss the situation with your line manager as soon as possible.

Confidentiality

Our aim is to deal with disciplinary matters sensitively and with due respect for the privacy of any individuals involved. All employees must treat as confidential any information communicated to them in connection with an investigation or disciplinary matter. 
You, and anyone accompanying you (including witnesses), must not make electronic recordings of any meetings or hearings conducted under this procedure. 
You will normally be told the names of any witnesses whose evidence is relevant to disciplinary proceedings against you, unless we believe that a witness's identity should remain confidential.

Investigations

The purpose of an investigation is for us to establish a fair and balanced view of the facts relating to any disciplinary allegations against you, before deciding whether to proceed with a disciplinary hearing. The amount of investigation required will depend on the nature of the allegations and will vary from case to case. It may involve interviewing and taking statements from you and any witnesses, and/or reviewing relevant documents. An Investigating Officer will usually carry out the investigation.
Investigative interviews are solely for the purpose of fact-finding and no decision on disciplinary action will be taken until after a disciplinary hearing has been held.
You do not normally have the right to bring a companion to an investigative interview. However, we may allow you to bring a companion if it helps you to overcome any disability, or any difficulty in understanding English. 
You must co-operate fully and promptly in any investigation. This will include informing us of the names of any relevant witnesses, disclosing any relevant documents to us and attending investigative interviews if required.

Criminal allegations

Where your conduct is the subject of a criminal investigation, charge or conviction we will investigate the facts before deciding whether to take formal disciplinary action.
We will not usually wait for the outcome of any prosecution before deciding what action, if any, to take. Where you are unable or have been advised not to attend a disciplinary hearing or say anything about a pending criminal matter, we may have to take a decision based on the available evidence.
A criminal investigation, charge or conviction relating to conduct outside work may be treated as a disciplinary matter if we consider that it is relevant to your employment.

Suspension

In some circumstances we may need to suspend you from work. The suspension will be for no longer than is necessary to investigate the allegations and we will confirm the arrangements to you in writing. While suspended you should not visit our premises or contact any of our clients, customers, suppliers, contractors or staff, unless you have been authorised to do so by your Manager.
Suspension of this kind is not a disciplinary penalty and does not imply that any decision has already been made about the allegations. Pay and benefits during suspension will be calculated as set out in your contract.

Notification of a hearing

Following any investigation, if we consider there are grounds for disciplinary action, you will be required to attend a disciplinary hearing. We will inform you in writing of the allegations against you, the basis for those allegations, and what the likely range of consequences will be if we decide after the hearing that the allegations are true. We will also include the following where appropriate:

a summary of relevant information gathered during the investigation;
a copy of any relevant documents which will be used at the disciplinary hearing; and
a copy of any relevant witness statements, except where a witness's identity is to be kept confidential, in which case we will give you as much information as possible while maintaining confidentiality.

We will give you written notice of the date, time and place of the disciplinary hearing. The hearing will be held as soon as reasonably practicable, but you will be given a reasonable amount of time, usually two to seven days, to prepare your case based on the information we have given you. 

The right to be accompanied

You may bring a companion to any disciplinary hearing or appeal hearing under this procedure. The companion may be either a trade union representative or a colleague. You must tell HR who your chosen companion is, in good time before the hearing.
A companion is allowed reasonable time off from duties without loss of pay but no-one is obliged to act as a companion if they do not wish to do so.
If your companion is unavailable at the time a meeting is scheduled and will not be available for more than five working days afterwards, we may ask you to choose someone else.
We may, at our discretion, allow you to bring a companion who is not a colleague or union representative (for example, a member of your family) if this will help overcome a disability, or if you have difficulty understanding English.

Procedure at disciplinary hearings

If you or your companion cannot attend the hearing you should inform us immediately and we will arrange an alternative time. You must make every effort to attend the hearing, and failure to attend without good reason may be treated as misconduct in itself. If you fail to attend without good reason, or are persistently unable to do so (for example for health reasons), we may have to take a decision based on the available evidence.
The hearing will be chaired by a Managee. The Investigating Officer AND/OR a member of the Human Resources Department will also be present. You may bring a companion with you to the disciplinary hearing (see paragraph 8). 
At the disciplinary hearing we will go through the allegations against you and the evidence that has been gathered. You will be able to respond and present any evidence of your own. Your companion may make representations to us and ask questions, but should not answer questions on your behalf. You may confer privately with your companion at any time during the hearing. 
You may ask relevant witnesses to appear at the hearing, provided you give us sufficient advance notice to arrange their attendance. You will be given the opportunity to respond to any information given by a witness. However, you will not normally be permitted to cross-examine witnesses unless, in exceptional circumstances, we decide that a fair hearing could not be held otherwise.
We may adjourn the disciplinary hearing if we need to carry out any further investigations such as re-interviewing witnesses in the light of any new points you have raised at the hearing. You will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the hearing is reconvened.
We will inform you in writing of our decision and our reasons for it, usually within [one week] of the disciplinary hearing. Where possible we will also explain this information to you in person.

Disciplinary penalties

The usual penalties for misconduct are set out below. No penalty should be imposed without a hearing. We aim to treat all employees fairly and consistently, and a penalty imposed on another employee for similar misconduct will usually be taken into account but should not be treated as a precedent. Each case will be assessed on its own merits.
You will not normally be dismissed for a first act of misconduct, unless we decide it amounts to gross misconduct or you have not yet completed your probationary period. 
Stage 1 - First written warning. It will usually be appropriate for a first act of misconduct where there are no other active written warnings on your disciplinary record.
Stage 2 - Final written warning. It will usually be appropriate for:

misconduct where there is already an active written warning on your record; or
misconduct that we consider sufficiently serious to warrant a final written warning even though there are no other active warnings on your record.

Stage 3 - Dismissal. It will usually only be appropriate for:

any misconduct during your probationary period;
further misconduct where there is an active final written warning on your record; or
any gross misconduct regardless of whether there are active warnings on your record. Gross misconduct will usually result in immediate dismissal without notice or payment in lieu of notice (summary dismissal). Examples of gross misconduct are set out in our Disciplinary Rules, which are appended to this procedure.

Alternatives to dismissal. In some cases we may at our discretion consider alternatives to dismissal which will usually be accompanied by a final written warning. Examples include:

Demotion.
Transfer to another department or job.
A period of suspension without pay.
Loss of seniority.
Reduction in pay.
Loss of future pay increment or bonus.
Loss of overtime.

The effect of a warning

Written warnings will set out the nature of the misconduct, the change in behaviour required, the period for which the warning will remain active, and the likely consequences of further misconduct in that active period. 
A first written warning will usually remain active for six months and a final written warning will usually remain active for 12 months. In exceptional cases verging on gross misconduct OR DETAILS OF COMPANY SPECIFIC MISCONDUCT WHICH MAY WARRANT INDEFINITE WARNINGS SUCH AS DANGEROUS BREACHES OF HEALTH AND SAFETY, a final written warning may state that it will remain active indefinitely. Your conduct may be reviewed at the end of a warning's active period and if it has not improved sufficiently we may decide to extend the active period.
After the active period, the warning will remain permanently on your personnel file but will be disregarded in deciding the outcome of future disciplinary proceedings. 

Appeals

If you feel that disciplinary action taken against you is wrong or unjust you should appeal in writing, stating your full grounds of appeal, to HR within one week of the date on which you were informed of the decision.
If you are appealing against dismissal, the date on which dismissal takes effect will not be delayed pending the outcome of the appeal. However, if your appeal is successful you will be reinstated with no loss of continuity or pay.
If you raise any new matters in your appeal, we may need to carry out further investigation. If any new information comes to light we will provide you with a summary including, where appropriate, copies of additional relevant documents and witness statements. You will have a reasonable opportunity to consider this information before the hearing, and you or your companion may comment on any new evidence arising during the appeal before any decision is taken.
We will give you written notice of the date, time and place of the appeal hearing. This will normally be two to seven days after you receive the written notice. 
The appeal hearing may be a complete re-hearing of the matter or it may be a review of the fairness of the original decision in the light of the procedure that was followed and any new information that may have come to light. This will be at our discretion depending on the circumstances of your case. In any event the appeal will be dealt with as impartially as possible.
Where possible, the appeal hearing will be conducted impartially by a more senior manager who has not been previously involved in the case. The Investigating Officer AND/OR a member of the Human Resources Department AND/OR the manager who conducted the disciplinary hearing will also usually be present. You may bring a companion with you to the appeal hearing (see paragraph 8). 
We may adjourn the appeal hearing if we need to carry out any further investigations in the light of any new points you have raised at the hearing. You will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the hearing is reconvened.
Following the appeal hearing we may:

confirm the original decision;
revoke the original decision; or
substitute a different penalty.

We will inform you in writing of our final decision as soon as possible, usually within one week of the appeal hearing. Where possible we will also explain this to you in person. There will be no further right of appeal.
ll be no further right of appeal

Disciplinary rules
Policy statement

These Disciplinary Rules should be read in conjunction with our Disciplinary Procedure. The aim of the Disciplinary Rules and Disciplinary Procedure is to set out the standards of conduct expected of all staff and to provide a framework within which managers can work with staff to maintain those standards and encourage improvement where necessary.
It is our policy to ensure that any disciplinary matter is dealt with fairly and in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure.
If you are in any doubt as to your responsibilities or the standards of conduct expected you should speak to your line manager.

Rules of conduct

While working for us you should at all times maintain professional and responsible standards of conduct. In particular you should:

observe the terms and conditions of your contract, particularly with regard to:

hours of work;
confidentiality;
ANY OTHER IMPORTANT CONTRACTUAL TERMS;

observe all our policies, procedures and regulations which are included in the Staff Handbook or notified to you from time to time by means of notice boards, email, the intranet or otherwise;
take reasonable care in respect of the health and safety of colleagues and third parties and comply with our Health and Safety Policy;
comply with all reasonable instructions given by managers; and
act at all times in good faith and in the best interests of our business, customers and staff OR our best interests and those of our customers and staff.

Failure to maintain satisfactory standards of conduct may result in action being taken under our Disciplinary Procedure.

Misconduct

The following are examples of matters that will normally be regarded as misconduct and will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure:

Minor breaches of our policies including the Sickness Absence Policy, Electronic Information and Communications Systems Policy, and Health and Safety Policy;
Minor breaches of your contract;
Damage to, or unauthorised use of, our property;
Poor timekeeping;
Time wasting;
Unauthorised absence from work;
Refusal to follow instructions;
Excessive use of our telephones for personal calls;
Excessive personal email or internet usage;
Obscene language or other offensive behaviour;
Negligence in the performance of your duties; or
Smoking in no-smoking areas.

This list is intended as a guide and is not exhaustive. 

Gross misconduct

Gross misconduct is a serious breach of contract and includes misconduct which, in our opinion, is likely to prejudice our business or reputation or irreparably damage the working relationship and trust between us. Gross misconduct will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure and will normally lead to dismissal without notice or pay in lieu of notice (summary dismissal).
The following are examples of matters that are normally regarded as gross misconduct:

Theft or fraud; OR Theft, or unauthorised removal of our property or the property of a colleague, contractor, customer or member of the public; OR Fraud, forgery or other dishonesty, including fabrication of expense claims and time sheets;
Physical violence or bullying; OR Actual or threatened violence, or behaviour which provokes violence;
Deliberate and serious damage to property; OR Deliberate damage to our buildings, fittings, property or equipment, or the property of a colleague, contractor, customer or member of the public;
Serious misuse of our property or name;
Deliberately accessing internet sites containing pornographic, offensive or obscene material;
Serious insubordination; OR Repeated or serious failure to obey instructions, or any other serious act of insubordination;
Unlawful discrimination or harassment;
Bringing the organisation into serious disrepute;
Serious incapability at work brought on by alcohol or illegal drugs; OR Being under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or other substances during working hours;
Causing loss, damage or injury through serious negligence;
Serious breach of health and safety rules; OR Serious or repeated breach of health and safety rules or serious misuse of safety equipment;
Serious breach of confidence; OR Unauthorised use or disclosure of confidential information or failure to ensure that confidential information in your possession is kept secure;
Accepting or offering a bribe or other secret payment [or other breach of our Anti-corruption and bribery policy;
Accepting a gift above the value of £5.00 from a customer, supplier, contractor or other third party in connection with your employment without prior consent from your line manager;
Conviction for a criminal offence that in our opinion may affect our reputation or our relationships with our staff, customers or the public, or otherwise affects your suitability to continue to work for us;
Possession, use, supply or attempted supply of illegal drugs;
Serious neglect of duties, or a serious or deliberate breach of your contract or operating procedures;
Knowing breach of statutory rules affecting your work;
Unauthorised use, processing or disclosure of personal data contrary to our Data Protection Policy;
Harassment of, or discrimination against, employees, contractors, clients or members of the public, related to gender, marital or civil partner status, gender reassignment, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, disability, religion or belief or age contrary to our Equal Opportunities Policy or our Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy;
Refusal to disclose any of the information required by your employment or any other information that may have a bearing on the performance of your duties;
Giving false information as to qualifications or entitlement to work (including immigration status) in order to gain employment or other benefits;
Knowingly taking parental, paternity or adoption leave when not eligible to do so or for a purpose other than supporting a child;
Making a disclosure of false or misleading information under our Whistleblowing Policy maliciously, for personal gain, or otherwise in bad faith;
Making untrue allegations in bad faith against a colleague;
Victimising a colleague who has raised concerns, made a complaint or given evidence or information under our Whistleblowing Policy, Anti-corruption and bribery policy, Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy, Grievance Procedure, Disciplinary Procedure or otherwise;
Serious misuse of our information technology systems (including misuse of developed or licensed software, use of unauthorised software and misuse of email and the internet) contrary to our Information and Communications Systems Policy;
Undertaking unauthorised paid or unpaid employment during your working hours;
Unauthorised entry into an area of the premises to which access is prohibited.

This list is intended as a guide and is not exhaustive.

Sickness absence policy

About this policy

This Sickness Absence Policy sets out our procedures for reporting sickness absence and for the management of sickness absence in a fair and consistent way.
Sickness absence can vary from short intermittent periods of ill-health to a continuous period of long-term absence and have a number of different causes (for example, injuries, recurring conditions, or a serious illness requiring lengthy treatment).
We wish to ensure that the reasons for sickness absence are understood in each case and investigated where necessary. In addition, where needed and reasonably practicable, measures will be taken to assist those who have been absent by reason of sickness to return to work.
This policy applies to all employees. It does not apply to agency workers, consultants or self-employed contractors.
This policy does not form part of any employee's contract of employment and we may amend it at any time.

Personnel responsible for this policy

Human Resources has overall responsibility for the effective operation of this policy and for ensuring compliance with the relevant statutory framework. Day-to-day responsibility for operating the policy and ensuring its maintenance and review has been delegated to your Team Leader.
Managers have a specific responsibility to ensure the fair application of this policy and all members of staff are responsible for supporting colleagues and ensuring its success.

Disabilities

We are aware that sickness absence may result from a disability. At each stage of the sickness absence meetings procedure (set out in paragraph 14 of this policy), particular consideration will be given to whether there are reasonable adjustments that could be made to the requirements of a job or other aspects of working arrangements that will provide support at work and/or assist a return to work.
If you consider that you are affected by a disability or any medical condition which affects your ability to undertake your work, you should inform HR OR your line manager.

Sickness absence reporting procedure

If you are taken ill or injured while at work you should report to your Team Leader AND be given permission to leave work. Managers should contact HR to make arrangements for anyone who is unwell to be accompanied home AND/OR to receive medical treatment where necessary.

If you cannot attend work because you are ill or injured you should normally telephone your line manager OR HR as early as possible and no later than 90 minutes after the time when you are normally expected to start work. The following details should be provided:

The nature of your illness or injury.
The expected length of your absence from work.
Contact details.
Any outstanding or urgent work that requires attention.

Managers should ensure that:

Any sickness absence that is notified to them is recorded and reported to HR.
Arrangements are made, where necessary, to cover work and to inform colleagues and clients (while maintaining confidentiality).

You should expect to be contacted during your absence by your line manager AND/OR HR who will want to enquire after your health and be advised, if possible, as to your expected return date.

Evidence of incapacity

For sickness absence of up to seven calendar days you must complete a self-certification form which is available from HR. 
For absence of more than a week your must obtain a certificate from your doctor (a "Statement of Fitness for Work") stating that you are not fit for work and the reason(s) why. This should be forwarded to HR as soon as possible. If your absence continues, further medical certificates must be provided to cover the whole period of absence.
If your doctor provides a certificate stating that you "may be fit for work" you should inform HR immediately. We will discuss with you any additional measures that may be needed to facilitate your return to work, taking account of your doctor's advice. This may take place at a return-to-work interview (see paragraph 12). If appropriate measures cannot be taken, you will remain on sick leave and we will set a date to review the situation.
Where we are concerned about the reason for absence, or frequent short-term absence, we may require a medical certificate for each absence regardless of duration. In such circumstances, we will cover any costs incurred in obtaining such medical certificates, for absences of a week or less, on production of a doctor's invoice.

Unauthorised absence

Cases of unauthorised absence will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.
Absence that has not been notified according to the sickness absence reporting procedure will be treated as unauthorised absence.
If you do not report for work and have not telephoned your line manager OR HR to explain the reason for your absence, your Team Leader or HR will try to contact you, by telephone and in writing if necessary. This should not be treated as a substitute for reporting sickness absence.

Sick pay

You may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you satisfy the relevant statutory requirements. Qualifying days for SSP are Monday to Friday, or as set out in your employment contract. The rate of SSP is set by the government in April each year. No SSP is payable for the first three consecutive days of absence. It starts on the fourth day of absence and may be payable for up to 28 weeks. If you are not eligible for SSP or if your SSP entitlement is coming to an end we will give you a form SSP1 telling you the reasons.

You will be entitled to receive statutory sick pay provided you have completed your probationary period and have complied with this policy in all respects.

 

If you have been on long term sick leave continuously for more than a year you will not qualify for Company sick pay again until you have returned to work for a total of 53 weeks.
If a period of sickness absence is or appears to be occasioned by actionable negligence, nuisance or breach of any statutory duty on the part of a third party, in respect of which damages are or may be recoverable, you must immediately notify HR of that fact and of any claim, compromise, settlement or judgment made or awarded in connection with it and all relevant particulars that we may reasonably require. If we require you to do so, you must co-operate in any related legal proceedings and refund to us that part of any damages or compensation you recover that relates to lost earnings for the period of sickness absence as we may reasonably determine, less any costs you incurred in connection with the recovery of such damages or compensation, provided that the amount to be refunded to us shall not exceed the total amount we paid to you in respect of the period of sickness absence.
You will retain the use of any benefits in kind such as company car AND/OR mobile telephone for the first 4 weeks after which they shall be at our discretion.
Any employer and employee pension contributions will continue subject to the relevant scheme rules during any period of company sick pay or SSP.

Sick leave and holidays

If you become sick or injured while on annual leave such that you would be unfit for work you may ask us to treat the period of incapacity as sick leave and reclaim the annual leave.
To be able to claim company sick pay you must notify your manager of your incapacity immediately, and the usual requirements for medical evidence in this policy will also apply, even if you are abroad.
If you are on sick leave you may choose to cancel any pre-arranged annual leave that would otherwise coincide with your sick leave. You should notify your manager as soon as possible that you wish to do this.
If your period of sick leave extends into the next holiday year, or if there is not enough time left in the current holiday year to make it practicable to take your remaining holiday entitlement, you can carry any unused holiday entitlement over to the following leave year [to be used within three months of your return to work]. Any annual leave not taken within 15 months of the end of the holiday year in which it accrues (whether or not you have returned to work) will be lost.

Keeping in contact during sickness absence

If you are absent on sick leave you should expect to be contacted from time to time by your line manager AND/OR HR in order to discuss your wellbeing, expected length of continued absence from work and any of your work that requires attention. Such contact is intended to provide reassurance and will be kept to a reasonable minimum.
If you have any concerns while absent on sick leave, whether about the reason for your absence or your ability to return to work, you should feel free to contact your line manager AND/OR HR at any time.

Fit for Work service (FFW)

FFW is a government-funded occupational health assessment service. The service is intended to assist employees return to work, using a return-to-work plan where appropriate. If you want to know more about FFW please speak to [your line manager OR HR.
Once you have been absent for four weeks, either we or your doctor may suggest referring you to FFW. Your doctor may do this before you have been absent for four weeks if they think it would be beneficial for you. 
If your doctor refers you to FFW please let your line manager OR HR know, unless you would prefer not to tell us. If your case manager at FFW wishes to speak to us, please ask them to contact [your line manager OR HR.

Medical examinations

We may, at any time in operating this policy, require you to consent to a medical examination by our Occupational Health Department AND/OR a doctor nominated by us.
You will be asked to agree that any report produced in connection with any such examination may be disclosed to us and that we may discuss the contents of the report with our advisers and the relevant doctor.

Return-to-work interviews

If you have been absent on sick leave for more than 7 days we will arrange for you to have a return-to-work interview with your line manager OR HR.
A return-to-work interview enables us to confirm the details of your absence. It also gives you the opportunity to raise any concerns or questions you may have, and to bring any relevant matters to our attention.
Where your doctor has provided a certificate stating that you "may be fit for work" we will usually hold a return-to-work interview to discuss any additional measures that may be needed to facilitate your return to work, taking account of your doctor's advice. 

Returning to work from long-term sickness absence

We are committed to helping members of staff return to work from long-term sickness absence. As part of our sickness absence meetings procedure (see paragraph 14), we will, where appropriate and possible, support returns to work by:

obtaining medical advice;
making reasonable adjustments to the workplace, working practices and working hours;
considering redeployment; and/or
agreeing a return-to-work programme with everyone affected.

If you are unable to return to work in the longer term, we will consider whether you are entitled to any benefits under your contract and/or any insurance schemes we operate.

Sickness absence meetings procedure

We may apply this procedure whenever we consider it necessary, including, for example, if you:

have been absent due to illness on a number of occasions;
have discussed matters at a return-to-work interview that require investigation; and/or
have been absent for more than 20 days.

Unless it is impractical to do so, we will give you 7 days' written notice of the date, time and place of a sickness absence meeting. We will put any concerns about your sickness absence and the basis for those concerns in writing or otherwise advise why the meeting is being called. A reasonable opportunity for you to consider this information before a meeting will be provided.
The meeting will be conducted by your line manager OR HR. You may bring a companion with you to the meeting (see paragraph 15).
You must take all reasonable steps to attend a meeting. Failure to do so without good reason may be treated as misconduct. If you or your companion are unable to attend at the time specified you should immediately inform your line manager OR HR who will seek to agree an alternative time.
A meeting may be adjourned if your line manager OR HR is awaiting receipt of information, needs to gather any further information or give consideration to matters discussed at a previous meeting. You will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the meeting is reconvened.
Confirmation of any decision made at a meeting, the reasons for it, and of the right of appeal will be given to you in writing within 7 days of a sickness absence meeting (unless this time scale is not practicable, in which case it will be provided as soon as is practicable).
If, at any time, your line manager OR HR considers that you have taken or are taking sickness absence when you are not unwell, they may refer matters to be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.

Right to be accompanied at meetings

You may bring a companion to any meeting or appeal meeting under this procedure.
Your companion may be either a trade union representative or a colleague. Their details must be given to the manager conducting the meeting, in good time before it takes place.
Employees are allowed reasonable time off from duties without loss of pay to act as a companion. However, they are not obliged to act as a companion and may decline a request if they so wish.
We may at our discretion permit other companions (for example, a family member) where this will help overcome particular difficulties caused by a disability, or difficulty understanding English.
A companion may make representations, ask questions, and sum up your position, but will not be allowed to answer questions on your behalf. You may confer privately with your companion at any time during a meeting.

Stage 1: first sickness absence meeting

This will follow the procedure on the arrangements for and right to be accompanied at sickness absence meetings.
The purposes of a first sickness absence meeting may include:

Discussing the reasons for absence.
Where you are on long-term sickness absence, determining how long the absence is likely to last.
Where you have been absent on a number of occasions, determining the likelihood of further absences.
Considering whether medical advice is required.
Considering what, if any, measures might improve your health and/or attendance.
Agreeing a way forward, action that will be taken and a timescale for review and/or a further meeting under the sickness absence procedure.

Stage 2: further sickness absence meeting(s)

Depending on the matters discussed at the first stage of the sickness absence procedure, a further meeting or meetings may be necessary. Arrangements for meetings under the second stage of the sickness absence procedure will follow the procedure set out in paragraphs [NUMBERS] on the arrangements for and right to be accompanied at sickness absence meetings.
The purposes of further meeting(s) may include:

Discussing the reasons for and impact of your ongoing absence(s).
Where you are on long-term sickness absence, discussing how long your absence is likely to last.
Where you have been absent on a number of occasions, discussing the likelihood of further absences.
If it has not been obtained, considering whether medical advice is required. If it has been obtained, considering the advice that has been given and whether further advice is required.
Considering your ability to return to/remain in your job in view both of your capabilities and our business needs and any adjustments that can reasonably be made to your job to enable you to do so.
Considering possible redeployment opportunities and whether any adjustments can reasonably be made to assist in redeploying you.
Where you are able to return from long-term sick leave, whether to your job or a redeployed job, agreeing a return-to-work programme.
If it is considered that you are unlikely to be able to return to work from long-term absence, whether there are any benefits for which you should be considered.
Agreeing a way forward, action that will be taken and a timescale for review and/or a further meeting(s). This may, depending on steps we have already taken, include warning you that you are at risk of dismissal.

Stage 3: final sickness absence meeting

Where you have been warned that you are at risk of dismissal, we may invite you to a meeting under the third stage of the sickness absence procedure. Arrangements for this meeting will follow the procedure set out in paragraphs on the arrangements for and right to be accompanied at sickness absence meetings.
The purposes of the meeting will be:

To review the meetings that have taken place and matters discussed with you.
Where you remain on long-term sickness absence, to consider whether there have been any changes since the last meeting under stage two of the procedure, either as regards your possible return to work or opportunities for return or redeployment.
To consider any further matters that you wish to raise.
To consider whether there is a reasonable likelihood of you returning to work or achieving the desired level of attendance in a reasonable time.
To consider the possible termination of your employment.

Termination will normally be with full notice or payment in lieu of notice.

Appeals

You may appeal against the outcome of any stage of this procedure and you may bring a companion to an appeal meeting (see paragraph 15).
An appeal should be made in writing, stating the full grounds of appeal, to your line manager OR HR within 7 days of the date on which the decision was sent to you.
Unless it is not practicable, you will be given written notice of an appeal meeting within one week of the meeting. In cases of dismissal the appeal will be held as soon as possible. Any new matters raised in an appeal may delay an appeal meeting if further investigation is required.
You will be provided with written details of any new information which comes to light before an appeal meeting. You will also be given a reasonable opportunity to consider this information before the meeting.
Where practicable, an appeal meeting will be conducted by a manager senior to the individual who conducted the sickness absence meeting.
Depending on the circumstances, an appeal meeting may be a complete rehearing of the matter or a review of the original decision.
The final decision will be confirmed in writing, if possible within one week of the appeal meeting. There will be no further right of appeal.
The date that any dismissal takes effect will not be delayed pending the outcome of an appeal. However, if the appeal is successful, the decision to dismiss will be revoked with no loss of continuity or pay.

Spillage Procedure

7 steps that will ensure effective spill response: 

Assess the risk
Select personal protective equipment
Confine the spill
Stop the source
Evaluate the incident and implement clean-up
Decontaminate the site
Complete required report

These steps along with the correct equipment and training will ensure that spill response is both fast and effective.

1. Assess the risk

From the moment a spill occurs and throughout response, responders should determine the risks that may affect human health, the environment and property. This could be instant because you know the liquid spilled because you were working with it, or it may involve some investigation. The spilled material can be identified from the container label or the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). 

Next, identify how much has been spilled and the primary dangers posed to the spill responders and the environment. Once the extent of the spill and the risks are understood, appropriate measures may need to be taken to isolate the spill area (e.g., setting up exclusion zones).

2. Select personal protective equipment (PPE)

The spill responder may already be wearing the necessary PPE because they were working with the spilled liquid, but if not, it is crucial that the appropriate PPE is chosen. Consulting the SDS, Chemical Manufacturers literature or the PPE Manufacturers literature can aid in choosing. If the danger is uncertain and the material is unknown, the worst should be assumed and the highest level of protection used.

PPE should be specifically chosen by the company using it so that the appropriate protection is chosen.  

3. Confine the spill

Confining the spill may be a simple task for spills of a few litres or it could be more difficult for larger spills, so it is important to make sure that the correct absorbents and size of spill kit are available for the liquids that have been spilled. Spill Kits come in a variety of sizes to accommodate both large and small spills. 

Once the correct absorbents or kits have been chosen, responders should limit the spill area by blocking, diverting, or confining the spill. The flow of the liquid should also be stopped before it has a chance to contaminate a water source – minimising the spill area and protecting drains are the priorities. Make sure the barrier is placed far enough away from the spill to ensure you can complete the setup but also far away from sensitive areas, such as drains and waterways.

4. Stop the source

This step may happen before the spill is even confined depending on the extent or the size of the spill. This could simply involve turning a container upright, or plugging a leak from a damaged drum or container. Once the leak has been stopped the liquids should be transferred from the damaged container to a new one.

5. Evaluate the incident and implement clean-up

Once the spill is confined and the leak has been stopped, it is time to reassess the incident and develop a plan of action for implementing the spill clean-up. First, responders should make sure they have enough spill response supplies to deal with the incident. Pads should be used to quickly absorb the spill and should be placed throughout the confined spill area. Additional products can also be used such as vacuums, pumps and containers. Once the absorbents are saturated, they may be considered hazardous waste and should be disposed of properly.

6. Decontaminate

The site, personnel, and equipment should be decontaminated by removing or neutralising the hazardous materials that have accumulated during the spill. This may involve removing and disposing of contaminated media, such as soil, that was exposed during the spill incident. PPE may be able to be reused after inspection and clean-up. An effective decontamination area should also be created to ensure the health and safety of emergency responders.

7. Complete required reports

As soon as possible after the spill, all spill notifications and reports required by local and national guidelines should be completed. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties. Typical reports include medical reports, local council or district reports, Environment Agency reports and company safety reports.

The steps above are simply a guide for companies to follow when responding to spills. They do not constitute a spill response plan in themselves, but together they provide a framework for companies to build a customized plan. Taking these steps will help companies be more prepared and able to respond effectively to unexpected spills.

Birkenhaus Corporation

Team Services


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Holidays policy

About this policy

This policy sets out our arrangements for staff wishing to take holidays (also known as annual leave).
This policy covers all employees at all levels and grades, including full-time, part-time, permanent and fixed-term employees, managers, directors, trainees, and homeworkers.
This policy does not form part of any employee's contract of employment and we may amend it at any time. We may also vary the policy as appropriate in any case.

Your holiday entitlement

The company's holiday year runs from 1 January to 31 December. If your employment starts or finishes part way through the holiday year, your holiday entitlement during that year shall be calculated on a pro-rata basis rounded up to the nearest half day.
Unless otherwise set out in your employment contract, you are entitled to 28 days' paid holiday in each holiday year, or the pro rata equivalent if you work part time. This includes the usual public holidays in England and Wales or days in lieu where we require staff to work on a public holiday.
Except as set out in this policy, holiday entitlement must be taken during the holiday year in which it accrues. Any holiday not taken by the end of the holiday year will be lost and you will not receive any payment in lieu.
Unused holiday can only be carried over to another holiday year:

in cases involving sickness absence, as set out in paragraph 5;
in cases of maternity, paternity, adoption, parental or shared parental leave, as set out in paragraph 6;
in any other case where the HR Manager has given permission in writing limited to no more than one week and to be taken in the first three months of the next leave year; and
if otherwise required by law.

Taking holiday

All holiday must be approved in advance by your line manager. You should normally give at least four weeks' notice of holiday requests to allow planning of rotas or work schedules where necessary. You must not make travel bookings until approval has been given.
We may require you to take (or not to take) holiday on particular dates, including when the business is closed, particularly busy, or during your notice period.

Sickness during periods of holiday

If you are sick or injured during a holiday period and would have been incapable of work, you may choose to treat the period of incapacity as sick leave and reclaim the affected days of holiday. 
Employees already on sick leave before a pre-arranged period of holiday may choose to cancel any days of holiday that coincide with the period of incapacity and treat them as sick leave. 
Dishonest claims or other abuse of this policy will be treated as misconduct under our disciplinary procedure.

Long-term sickness absence and holiday entitlement

Holiday entitlement continues to accrue during periods of sick leave.
If you are on a period of sick leave which spans two years, or if you return to work after sick leave so close to the end of the holiday year that you cannot reasonably take your remaining holiday, you may carry over unused holiday to the following leave year. 
Carry over under this rule is limited to the four-week minimum holiday entitlement under EU law (which includes bank holidays), less any leave taken during the holiday year that has just ended. If you have taken four weeks' holiday by the end of the holiday year, you will not be allowed to carry anything over under this rule. If you have taken less than four weeks, the remainder may be carried over under this rule. For example, a full time employee who has taken two weeks' holiday plus two bank holidays before starting long-term sick leave can only carry over one week and three days. This limit does not affect your right to carry over holiday under paragraph 2.5.
Any holiday that is carried over under this rule but is not taken within 18 months of the end of the holiday year in which it accrued will be lost.
Alternatively you can choose to take your paid holiday during your sick leave, in which case you will be paid at your normal rate.

Family leave and holiday entitlement

Holiday entitlement continues to accrue during periods of maternity, paternity, adoption, parental or shared parental leave (referred to collectively in this policy as family leave).
If you are planning a period of family leave that is likely to last beyond the end of the holiday year, you should discuss your holiday plans with your manager in good time before starting your family leave. Any holiday entitlement for the year that [is not taken OR cannot reasonably be taken] before starting your family leave can be carried over to the next holiday year. 
For the avoidance of doubt this covers your full holiday entitlement.
Any holiday carried over should be taken immediately before returning to work [or within three months of returning to work after the family leave].

Arrangements on termination

On termination of employment you may be required to use any remaining holiday entitlement during your notice period. Alternatively, you will be paid in lieu of any accrued but untaken holiday entitlement for the current holiday year to date, plus any holiday permitted to be carried over from previous years under this policy or as required by law. You are entitled to be paid at a rate of 1/260th of your [full-time equivalent] basic salary for each day of untaken entitlement.

Here you'll find more information about working for our Company including specific job requirements, health and safety and our policies. 


For individual Risk Assessments, please contact our Office on 02920 100 004 (Option 5 for Staff)


Your Team Leader will have more information on the requirements of the position and the specific work required. For further and specific information, you should contact your Team Leader or HR for Guidance.


If you are a Team Leader in need of further assistance, please contact your Manager or HR Department.


For further information on Policies, please see below. For Training and Induction, please Click Here.

Grievance procedure

About this procedure

It is our policy to ensure that all employees have access to a procedure to help deal with any grievances relating to their employment fairly and without unreasonable delay. We aim to investigate any formal grievance you raise, hold a meeting to discuss it with you, inform you in writing of the outcome, and give you a right of appeal if you are not satisfied.
This procedure applies to all employees regardless of length of service. It does not apply to agency workers or self-employed contractors.
This policy does not form part of any employee's contract of employment and we may amend it at any time.

Using this procedure

Issues that could cause grievances may include:

terms and conditions of employment;
health and safety;
work relations;
bullying and harassment;
new working practices;
working environment;
organisational change; and
discrimination.

This Grievance Procedure should not be used to complain about dismissal or disciplinary action. If you are dissatisfied with any disciplinary action, you should submit an appeal under the appropriate procedure in the Staff Handbook OR which is available from HR.
We have a separate Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy that may be useful if you have been the victim of bullying or harassment or wish to report an incident of bullying or harassment involving other people. It is set out in the Staff Handbook OR available from HR.
We operate a separate Whistleblowing Policy to enable employees to report illegal activities, wrongdoing or malpractice. However, where you are directly affected by the matter in question, or where you feel you have been victimised for an act of whistleblowing, you may raise the matter under this Grievance Procedure.
If you have difficulty at any stage of the Grievance Procedure because of a disability or because English is not your first language, you should discuss the situation with your line manager OR HR as soon as possible.
Written grievances will be placed on your personnel file along with a record of any decisions taken and any notes or other documents compiled during the grievance process. 

Raising grievances informally

Most grievances can be resolved quickly and informally through discussion with your line manager OR HR. If you feel unable to speak to your manager, for example, because the complaint concerns him or her, then you should speak informally to a more senior manager OR HR. If this does not resolve the issue, you should follow the formal procedure below.

Formal written grievances

If your grievance cannot be resolved informally you should put it in writing and submit it to your line manager OR HR, indicating that it is a formal grievance. If the grievance concerns your line manager, you may submit it to HR instead.
The written grievance should contain a brief description of the nature of your complaint, including any relevant facts, dates, and names of individuals involved. In some situations we may ask you to provide further information.

Investigations

It may be necessary for us to carry out an investigation into your grievance. The amount of any investigation required will depend on the nature of the allegations and will vary from case to case. It may involve interviewing and taking statements from you and any witnesses, and/or reviewing relevant documents. The investigation may be carried out by your line manager OR HR or someone else appointed by us.
You must co-operate fully and promptly in any investigation. This may include informing us of the names of any relevant witnesses, disclosing any relevant documents to us and attending interviews, as part of our investigation.
We may initiate an investigation before holding a grievance meeting where we consider this appropriate. In other cases we may hold a grievance meeting before deciding what investigation (if any) to carry out. In those cases we will hold a further grievance meeting with you after our investigation and before we reach a decision.




Right to be accompanied

You may bring a companion to any grievance meeting or appeal meeting under this procedure. The companion may be either a trade union representative or a colleague. You must tell HR OR the person holding the grievance meeting who your chosen companion is, in good time before the meeting.
At the meeting, your companion may make representations to us and ask questions, but should not answer questions on your behalf. You may talk privately with them at any time during the meeting.
Acting as a companion is voluntary and your colleagues are under no obligation to do so. If they agree to do so they will be allowed reasonable time off from duties without loss of pay to act as a companion.
If your chosen companion is unavailable at the time a meeting is scheduled and will not be available for more than five working days afterwards, we may ask you to choose someone else.
We may, at our discretion, allow you to bring a companion who is not a colleague or union representative (for example, a member of your family) if this will help overcome a disability, or if you have difficulty understanding English.

Grievance meetings

We will arrange a grievance meeting, normally within one week of receiving your written grievance.
You and your companion (if any) should make every effort to attend grievance meetings. If you or your companion cannot attend at the time specified, you should inform us immediately and we will try, within reason, to agree an alternative time.
The purpose of a grievance meeting is to enable you to explain your grievance and how you think it should be resolved, and to assist us to reach a decision based on the available evidence and the representations you have made.
After an initial grievance meeting we may carry out further investigations and hold further grievance meetings as we consider appropriate. Such meetings will be arranged without unreasonable delay.
We will write to you, usually within one week of the final grievance meeting, to inform you of the outcome of your grievance and any further action that we intend to take to resolve the grievance. We will also remind you of your right of appeal. Where appropriate we may hold a meeting to give you this information in person.

Appeals

If the grievance has not been resolved to your satisfaction you may appeal in writing to HR, stating your full grounds of appeal, within one week of the date on which the decision was sent or given to you.
We will hold an appeal meeting, normally within one week of receiving your written appeal. This will be dealt with impartially by a more senior manager who has not previously been involved in the case (although they may ask anyone previously involved to be present). You have a right to bring a companion to the meeting.
We will confirm our final decision in writing, usually within one week of the appeal hearing. This is the end of the procedure and there is no further appeal.

Drugs policy


Introduction


Drug misuse or abuse can be a serious problem within the workplace.  Employees who take unlawful drugs are more likely to endanger their colleagues, have accidents at work, be absent from work and work inefficiently.  


This policy applies to drugs that are unlawful under the criminal law and not to prescribed medication.


Aims of the policy


The employees of the Company are its most valuable assets.  However, the Company recognises that, for a number of reasons, employees could develop drug-related problems during the course of their employment.  The aims of this policy are to:

Promote a responsible attitude to drugs by:

Making known to employees the harmful effects of drugs; 
Minimising problems and accidents at work arising from the misuse of drugs;
Promoting the well-being and health of employees.

Offer assistance and advice to employees who need it by:

Identifying employees with possible problems relating to drug misuse at an early stage;
Offering guidance and, where required, actively encouraging employees with possible problems to seek appropriate help;
Offering employees known to have drug-related problems affecting their work referral to an appropriate agency for diagnosis.



Advice and counselling


It is the Company's intention to deal constructively and sympathetically with an employee's drug-related problems, such as drug dependency.  When it is known that an employee has a drug problem, (name) will be able to provide advice and guidance on how to seek suitable treatment.  The primary objective of any discussions of this type will be to assist the employee with the problem in as compassionate and constructive a way as possible.

Whilst certain personnel records will be necessary, any discussions of the nature of an employee’s drug problems and the records of any treatment will be strictly confidential unless the employee agrees otherwise.

If you have a drug problem, you should seek appropriate help.  If you have a drug problem which affects your conduct or performance at work and you refuse the opportunity to receive help, the matter will be referred for action under the Company’s disciplinary procedure as appropriate. Likewise, if after accepting counselling and assistance, and following review and evaluation, your conduct or work performance reverts to the problem level, the matter may also be dealt with through the disciplinary procedure.


Prohibition on drugs in the workplace


If an employee is found under the influence of drugs at work, there could be serious health and safety consequences (see the section below on misconduct).

No drugs must be brought onto or consumed on Company premises at any time, and for these purposes this includes performance-enhancing drugs, even if they are not unlawful under the criminal law, unless they have been medically prescribed by a doctor.  Staff must never take drugs if they are required to drive private or Company vehicles on Company business.  Staff must also never take drugs when they are on operational standby or on call. 

Employees representing the Company at business functions or conferences, providing hospitality or attending Company organised social events outside normal working hours are absolutely prohibited from taking drugs on these occasions.

A breach of these provisions is a disciplinary offence and will be dealt with in accordance with the Company’s disciplinary procedure.  Depending on the seriousness of the offence, it may amount to gross misconduct and could result in the employee’s summary dismissal.


Drug-related misconduct


Whilst these rules are aimed at assisting employees with drug problems, action will nevertheless be taken under the Company’s disciplinary procedure if misconduct takes place at work as a result of taking drugs, or if an employee is found to be under the influence of drugs whilst at work.  Incapacity or misconduct caused by drugs at work is a potential gross misconduct offence under the Company’s disciplinary procedure and the employee is therefore liable to be summarily dismissed.  This also applies to any employee believed to be buying or selling drugs or in possession of or consuming drugs on the Company’s premises.

The Company reserves the right in any of these circumstances to arrange for the employee to be escorted from the Company’s premises immediately and sent home without pay for the rest of the day or shift.  The Company also reserves the right to suspend the employee on full pay while carrying out an investigation. 


Drug screening


On the grounds of protecting health and safety and only where necessary to achieve a legitimate business aim, the Company reserves the right to carry out random drug screening tests on employees in the workplace whose activities and job duties have a significant impact on the health and safety of others.  The guidelines promulgated in the Company’s equal opportunities policy are to be followed in relation to drug screening. 

If an employee receives a positive test result, this will be viewed as a potential gross misconduct offence and renders the employee liable to summary dismissal under the Company’s disciplinary procedure.  Unreasonable refusal to submit to a drug screening test will be dealt with through the disciplinary procedure.


Alcohol policy


Introduction

Alcohol misuse can be a serious problem within the workplace.  Employees who drink excessively, or inappropriately, in relation to work are more likely to endanger their colleagues, have accidents at work, be absent from work and work inefficiently.

Aims of the policy

The employees of the Company are its most valuable assets.  However, the Company recognises that, for a number of reasons, employees could develop alcohol-related problems during the course of their employment.  The aims of this policy are to:

Promote a responsible attitude to drinking within the Company by:

Encouraging safe and sensible drinking habits;
Making known to employees the harmful effects of the excessive consumption of alcohol; 
Minimising problems and accidents at work arising from alcohol and its misuse;
Promoting the well-being and health of employees.

Offer assistance and advice to employees who need it by:

Identifying employees with possible problems relating to alcohol misuse at an early stage;
Offering guidance and, where required, actively encouraging employees with possible problems to seek appropriate help;
Offering employees known to have alcohol-related problems affecting their work referral to an appropriate agency for diagnosis.


Advice and counselling


It is the Company's intention to deal constructively and sympathetically with an employee's alcohol-related problems, such as alcohol dependency.  When it is known that an employee has an alcohol problem, (name) will be able to provide advice and guidance on how to seek suitable treatment.  The primary objective of any discussions of this type will be to assist the employee with the problem in as compassionate and constructive a way as possible.

Whilst certain personnel records will be necessary, any discussions of the nature of an employee’s alcohol problems and the records of any treatment will be strictly confidential unless the employee agrees otherwise.

If you have an alcohol problem, you should seek appropriate help.  If you have an alcohol problem which affects your conduct or performance at work and you refuse the opportunity to receive help, the matter will be referred for action under the Company’s disciplinary procedure as appropriate. Likewise, if after accepting counselling and assistance, and following review and evaluation, your conduct or work performance reverts to the problem level, the matter may also be dealt with through the disciplinary procedure.



Prohibition on alcohol consumption in the workplace


Social drinking after normal working hours and away from the Company’s premises is, of course, a personal matter and does not directly concern the Company, although the Company is keen to raise the level of awareness amongst staff of the risks of alcohol abuse.  The Company's concern only arises when, because of the pattern or amount of drink involved, the employee's attendance at work, work performance or conduct at work deteriorates.  Even a small amount of alcohol can affect work performance and, if an employee is found under the influence of alcohol at work, there could be serious health and safety consequences (see the section below on misconduct).

No alcohol must be brought onto or consumed on Company premises at any time.  Staff must never drink alcohol if they are required to drive private or Company vehicles on Company business.  Staff must also not drink alcohol when they are on operational standby or on call. 

Employees representing the Company at business functions or conferences, providing hospitality or attending Company organised social events outside normal working hours are expected to be moderate if drinking alcohol and to take specific action to ensure they are well within the legal limits if they are driving.

A breach of these provisions is a disciplinary offence and will be dealt with in accordance with the Company’s disciplinary procedure.  Depending on the seriousness of the offence, it may amount to gross misconduct and could result in the employee’s summary dismissal.


Alcohol-related misconduct


Whilst these rules are aimed at assisting employees with alcohol problems, action will nevertheless be taken under the Company’s disciplinary procedure if misconduct takes place at work as a result of drinking alcohol, or if an employee is found to be under the influence of alcohol whilst at work.  Incapacity or misconduct caused by an excess of alcohol at work is a potential gross misconduct offence under the Company’s disciplinary procedure and the employee is therefore liable to be summarily dismissed. 


The Company reserves the right in any of these circumstances to arrange for the employee to be escorted from the Company’s premises immediately and sent home without pay for the rest of the day or shift.  The Company also reserves the right to suspend the employee on full pay while carrying out an investigation. 


Alcohol screening

On the grounds of protecting health and safety and only where necessary to achieve a legitimate business aim, the Company reserves the right to carry out random alcohol screening tests on employees in the workplace whose activities and job duties have a significant impact on the health and safety of others.  The guidelines promulgated in the Company’s equal opportunities policy are to be followed in relation to alcohol screening. 

If an employee receives a positive test result, this will be viewed as a potential gross misconduct offence and renders the employee liable to summary dismissal under the Company’s disciplinary procedure.  Unreasonable refusal to submit to an alcohol screening test will be dealt with through the disciplinary procedure.
.

Maternity policy

About this policy

This policy outlines the statutory rights and responsibilities of employees who are pregnant or have recently given birth, and sets out the arrangements for pregnancy-related sickness, health and safety, and maternity leave. It does not apply to agency workers or the self-employed.
Arrangements for time off for antenatal care and to accompany a pregnant woman to antenatal appointments are set out in our Time off for Antenatal Appointments Policy.
In some cases you and your spouse or partner may be eligible to opt into the shared parental leave (SPL) scheme which gives you more flexibility to share the leave and pay available in the first year after birth. However, you must take a period of compulsory maternity leave first. (See paragraph 18.) Details of SPL are set out in our Shared Parental Leave (Birth) Policy.
This policy does not form part of any employee's contract of employment and we may amend it at any time.

Personnel responsible for implementing the policy

HR has overall responsibility for the effective operation of this policy and for ensuring compliance with the relevant statutory framework. HR has delegated day-to-day responsibility for operating the policy and ensuring its maintenance and review.
Managers have a specific responsibility to ensure the fair application of this policy and all members of staff are responsible for supporting colleagues and ensuring its success.

Entitlement to maternity leave

All employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks' maternity leave which is divided into: 

Ordinary maternity leave of 26 weeks (OML). 
Additional maternity leave of a further 26 weeks immediately following OML (AML). 

provided they comply with the notification requirements set out in paragraph 4.

Notification of pregnancy

You should inform us as soon as possible that you are pregnant. This is important as there may be health and safety considerations (see paragraph 6).
Before the end of the fifteenth week before the week that you expect to give birth (Qualifying Week), or as soon as reasonably practical afterwards, you must tell us:

that you are pregnant;
the week, starting on a Sunday, in which your doctor or midwife expects you to give birth (Expected Week of Childbirth); and
the date on which you would like to start your maternity leave (Intended Start Date) (see paragraph 7).

You must provide a certificate from a doctor or midwife (usually on a MAT B1 form) confirming your Expected Week of Childbirth.

Sickness

Periods of pregnancy-related sickness absence shall be paid in accordance with the statutory sick pay scheme in the same manner as any other sickness absence. 
Periods of pregnancy-related sickness absence from the start of your pregnancy until the end of your maternity leave will be recorded separately from other sickness records and will be disregarded in any future employment-related decisions.
If you are absent for a pregnancy-related reason during the four weeks before your Expected Week of Childbirth, your maternity leave will usually start automatically (see paragraph 7).

Health and safety

Once you have notified us of your pregnancy, we will carry out a risk assessment, and identify any preventive and protective measures that we consider we need to take. We will take such steps as necessary to avoid any risks identified affecting your health and safety as a new or expectant mother or that of your baby. This may involve:

changing your working conditions or hours of work;
offering you suitable alternative work on terms and conditions that are the same or not substantially less favourable; or
suspending you from duties, which will be on full pay unless you have unreasonably refused suitable alternative work.

Starting maternity leave

The earliest date you can start maternity leave is 11 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth (unless your child is born prematurely before that date).
You can postpone your Intended Start Date by informing us in writing at least 28 days before the original Intended Start Date, or if that is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable.
You can bring forward the Intended Start Date by informing us at least 28 days before the new start date, or if that is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable.
Your maternity leave will start on the earliest of:

your Intended Start Date (if notified to us in accordance with this policy).
the day after any day on which you are absent for a pregnancy-related reason during the four weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth. If this happens you must let us know as soon as possible in writing. Maternity leave will be triggered unless we agree to delay it.
the day after you give birth. If you give birth before your maternity leave was due to start, you must let us know the date of the birth in writing as soon as possible.

Shortly before your maternity leave starts we will discuss with you the arrangements for covering your work and the opportunities for you to remain in contact, should you wish to do so, during your leave. Unless you request otherwise, you will remain on circulation lists for internal news, job vacancies, training and work-related social events.
The law prohibits you from working during the two weeks following childbirth.

Maternity pay

Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is payable for up to 39 weeks. SMP will stop being payable if you return to work (except where you are simply keeping in touch in accordance with paragraph 13). You are entitled to SMP if:

you have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks at the end of the Qualifying Week and are still employed by us during that week;
your average weekly earnings during the eight weeks ending with the Qualifying Week (the Relevant Period) are not less than the lower earnings limit set by the government;
you provide us with a doctor's or midwife's certificate (MAT B1 form) stating your Expected Week of Childbirth;
you give at least 28 days' notice (or, if that is not possible, as much notice as you can) of your intention to take maternity leave; and
you are still pregnant 11 weeks before the start of the Expected Week of Childbirth or have already given birth.

SMP is calculated as follows:

First six weeks: SMP is paid at the Earnings-Related Rate of 90% of your average weekly earnings calculated over the Relevant Period.
Remaining 33 weeks: SMP is paid at the Prescribed Rate which is set by the government for the relevant tax year, or the Earnings-Related Rate if this is lower.

SMP accrues from the day on which you commence your OML and thereafter at the end of each complete week of absence. SMP payments are made on the next normal payroll date and income tax, National Insurance and pension contributions are deducted as appropriate.
You are still eligible for SMP if you leave employment for any reason after the start of the Qualifying Week (for example, if you resign or are made redundant). In such cases, if your maternity leave has not already begun, SMP starts to accrue in whichever is the later of:

the week following the week in which employment ends; or
the eleventh week before the Expected Week of Childbirth.

If you become eligible for a pay rise before the end of your maternity leave, you will be treated for SMP purposes as if the pay rise had applied throughout the Relevant Period. This means that your SMP will be recalculated and increased retrospectively, or that you may qualify for SMP if you did not previously qualify. We shall pay you a lump sum to make up the difference between any SMP already paid and the amount payable by virtue of the pay rise. Any future SMP payments at the Earnings-Related Rate (if any) will also be increased as necessary.

Terms and conditions during OML and AML

All the terms and conditions of your employment remain in force during OML and AML, except for the terms relating to pay. In particular:

benefits in kind [such as life insurance, health insurance, gym membership and use of a company vehicle if applicable] shall continue;
annual leave entitlement under your contract shall continue to accrue (see paragraph 10); and
pension benefits shall continue (see paragraph 11).

Annual leave

During OML and AML, holiday entitlement will accrue at the rate provided under your contract.
Our holiday year runs from 01-Jan to 31-Dec. In many cases a period of maternity leave will last beyond the end of the holiday year. Any holiday entitlement for the year that is not taken before starting your maternity leave can be carried over to the next holiday year and must be taken immediately before returning to work unless your manager agrees otherwise. You should try to limit carry over to one week's holiday or less. Carry over of more than one week is at your manager's discretion.
You should discuss your holiday plans with your manager in good time before starting your maternity leave. All holiday dates are subject to approval by your manager.

Pensions

During OML and any further period of paid maternity leave we shall continue to make any employer contributions that we usually make into a money-purchase pension scheme, based on what your earnings would have been if you had not been on maternity leave [provided that you continue to make contributions based on the maternity pay you are receiving]. If you wish to increase your contributions to make up any shortfall from those based on your normal salary then please contact the Human Resources Department. 
During unpaid AML we shall [not] make any payments into a money purchase scheme and the time shall not count as pensionable service under the final salary scheme. You do not have to make any contributions but you may do so if you wish, or you may make up for missed contributions at a later date.

Redundancies during maternity leave

In the event that your post is affected by a redundancy situation occurring during your maternity leave, we shall write to inform you of any proposals and shall invite you to a meeting before any final decision is reached as to your continued employment. [Employees on maternity leave shall be given first refusal on any suitable alternative vacancies that are appropriate to their skills.

Keeping in touch

We may make reasonable contact with you from time to time during your maternity leave.
You may work (including attending training) for up to ten days during maternity leave without bringing your maternity leave or SMP to an end (Keeping in Touch Day). This is not compulsory and must be discussed and agreed with your line manager OR the Human Resources Department. In any case, you must not work in the two weeks following birth.
You will be paid at your normal basic rate of pay for time spent working on a Keeping in Touch Day and this will be inclusive of any maternity pay entitlement. Alternatively, you may agree with your line manager OR the Human Resources Department to receive the equivalent paid time off in lieu.

Returning to work

Once you have notified us in writing of your Intended Start Date, we shall send you a letter within 28 days to inform you of your Expected Return Date. If your start date has been changed (either because you gave us notice to change it, or because maternity leave started early due to illness or premature childbirth) we shall write to you within 28 days of the start of maternity leave with a revised Expected Return Date.
Shortly before you are due to return to work, we may invite you to have a discussion (whether in person or by telephone) about the arrangements for your return. This may cover:

updating you on any changes that have occurred during your absence;
any training needs you might have; and
any changes to working arrangements (for example if you have made a request to work part-time; see paragraph 19).

Changing your return date

If you wish to return to work earlier than the Expected Return Date, you must give us eight weeks' notice. It is helpful if you give this notice in writing. If you do not give enough notice, we may postpone your return date until eight weeks after you gave notice, or to the Expected Return Date if sooner.
If you wish to return later than the Expected Return Date, you should either:

request unpaid parental leave [in accordance with our Parental Leave Policy], giving us as much notice as possible but not less than 21 days; or
request paid annual leave in accordance with your contract, which will be at our discretion.

If you are unable to return to work due to sickness or injury, this will be treated as sickness absence and our Sickness Absence Policy will apply.

Deciding not to return

If you do not intend to return to work, or are unsure, it is helpful if you discuss this with us as early as possible. If you decide not to return you should give notice of resignation in accordance with your contract. The amount of maternity leave left to run when you give notice must be at least equal to your contractual notice period, otherwise we may require you to return to work for the remainder of the notice period.
Once you have given notice that you will not be returning to work, you cannot change your mind without our agreement.
This does not affect your right to receive SMP.

Your rights when you return

You are normally entitled to return to work in the same position as you held before commencing leave. Your terms of employment shall be the same as they would have been had you not been absent.
However, if you have taken any period of AML or more than four weeks' parental leave, and it is not reasonably practicable for us to allow you to return into the same position, we may give you another suitable and appropriate job on terms and conditions that are not less favourable.

Switching to shared parental leave

In some cases you and your spouse or partner may be eligible to opt into the SPL scheme which gives you more flexibility to share the leave and pay available in the first year after birth. Your partner should check with their employer if they are eligible.
You would need to give us at least eight weeks' written notice to end your maternity leave and opt into SPL. You can give this notice before or after the birth, but you must remain on maternity leave until at least two weeks after birth. You would then be able to share any remaining leave with your partner. For further information about how SPL works, see our Shared Parental Leave (Birth) Policy.

Flexible working

We will deal with any requests by employees to change their working patterns (such as working part-time) after maternity leave on a case-by-case basis. There is no absolute right to insist on working part-time, but you do have a statutory right to request flexible working and we will try to accommodate your wishes unless there is a justifiable reason for refusal, bearing in mind the needs of our business. It is helpful if requests are made as early as possible. The procedure for dealing with such requests is set out in our Flexible Working Policy.

Capability procedure

About this procedure

The primary aim of this procedure is to provide a framework within which managers can work with employees to maintain satisfactory performance standards and to encourage improvement where necessary.
It is our policy to ensure that concerns over performance are dealt with fairly and that steps are taken to establish the facts and to give employees the opportunity to respond at a hearing before any formal action is taken. 
This policy does not apply to cases involving genuine sickness absence, proposed redundancies or misconduct. In those cases reference should be made to the appropriate policy or procedure in the Staff Handbook.
This procedure applies to all employees regardless of length of service. It does not apply to agency workers or self-employed contractors.
This procedure does not form part of any employee's contract of employment and it may be amended at any time.

Identifying performance issues

In the first instance, performance issues should normally be dealt with informally between you and your line manager as part of day-to-day management. Where appropriate, a note of any such informal discussions may be placed on your personnel file but will be ignored for the purposes of any future capability hearings. The formal procedure should be used for more serious cases, or in any case where an earlier informal discussion has not resulted in a satisfactory improvement. Informal discussions may help:

clarify the required standards;
identify areas of concern;
establish the likely causes of poor performance and identify any training needs; and/or
set targets for improvement and a time-scale for review.

Employees will not normally be dismissed for performance reasons without previous warnings. However, in serious cases of gross negligence, or in any case involving an employee who has not yet completed their probationary period, dismissal without previous warnings may be appropriate.
If we have concerns about your performance, we will undertake an assessment to decide if there are grounds for taking formal action under this procedure. The procedure involved will depend on the circumstances but may involve reviewing your personnel file including any appraisal records, gathering any relevant documents, monitoring your work and, if appropriate, interviewing you and/or other individuals confidentially regarding your work.

Disabilities

Consideration will be given to whether poor performance may be related to a disability and, if so, whether there are reasonable adjustments that could be made to your working arrangements, including changing your duties or providing additional equipment or training. We may also consider making adjustments to this procedure in appropriate cases.
If you wish to discuss this or inform us of any medical condition you consider relevant, you should contact your line manager or HR.

Confidentiality

Our aim is to deal with performance matters sensitively and with due respect for the privacy of any individuals involved. All employees must treat as confidential any information communicated to them in connection with a matter which is subject to this capability procedure. 
You, and anyone accompanying you (including witnesses), must not make electronic recordings of any meetings or hearings conducted under this procedure. 
You will normally be told the names of any witnesses whose evidence is relevant to your capability hearing, unless we believe that a witness's identity should remain confidential.

Notification of a capability hearing

If we consider that there are grounds for taking formal action over alleged poor performance, you will be required to attend a capability hearing. We will notify you in writing of our concerns over your performance, the reasons for those concerns, and the likely outcome if we decide after the hearing that your performance has been unsatisfactory. We will also include the following where appropriate:

A summary of relevant information gathered as part of any investigation.
A copy of any relevant documents which will be used at the capability hearing.
A copy of any relevant witness statements, except where a witness's identity is to be kept confidential, in which case we will give you as much information as possible while maintaining confidentiality.

We will give you written notice of the date, time and place of the capability hearing. The hearing will be held as soon as reasonably practicable, but you will be given a reasonable amount of time, usually two to seven days, to prepare your case based on the information we have given you.

Right to be accompanied at hearings

You may bring a companion to any capability hearing or appeal hearing under this procedure. The companion may be either a trade union representative or a colleague. You must tell the manager conducting the hearing who your chosen companion is, in good time before the hearing.
A companion is allowed reasonable time off from duties without loss of pay but no-one is obliged to act as a companion if they do not wish to do so.
If your companion is unavailable at the time a hearing is scheduled and will not be available for more than five working days we may require you to choose someone else.
We may, at our discretion, allow you to bring a companion who is not a colleague or union representative (for example, a member of your family) where this will help overcome a particular difficulty caused by a disability, or where you have difficulty understanding English.

Procedure at capability hearings

If you or your companion cannot attend the hearing you should inform us immediately and we will usually arrange an alternative time. You must make every effort to attend the hearing, and failure to attend without good reason may be treated as misconduct. If you fail to attend without good reason, or are persistently unable to do so (for example, for health reasons), we may have to take a decision based on the available evidence including any written representations you have made.
The hearing will normally be held by your line manager [or a more senior manager] [and will normally be attended by a member of the Human Resources Department]. You may bring a companion with you to the hearing (see paragraph 6). Your companion may make representations, ask questions, and sum up your case, but will not be allowed to answer questions on your behalf. You may confer privately with your companion at any time during the hearing.
You may ask relevant witnesses to appear at the hearing, provided you give us sufficient advance notice to arrange their attendance. You will be given the opportunity to respond to any information given by a witness. However, you will not normally be permitted to cross-examine witnesses unless, in exceptional circumstances, we decide that a fair hearing could not be held otherwise.
The aims of a capability hearing will usually include:

Setting out the required standards that we believe you may have failed to meet, and going through any relevant evidence that we have gathered.
Allowing you to ask questions, present evidence, call witnesses, respond to evidence and make representations.
Establishing the likely causes of poor performance including any reasons why any measures taken so far have not led to the required improvement.
Identifying whether there are further measures, such as additional training or supervision, which may improve performance.
Where appropriate, discussing targets for improvement and a time-scale for review.
If dismissal is a possibility, establishing whether there is any likelihood of a significant improvement being made within a reasonable time and whether there is any practical alternative to dismissal, such as redeployment.

A hearing may be adjourned if we need to gather any further information or give consideration to matters discussed at the hearing. You will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the hearing is reconvened.
We will inform you in writing of our decision and our reasons for it, usually within [one week] of the capability hearing. Where possible we will also explain this information to you in person.

Stage 1 hearing: first written warning

Following a Stage 1 capability hearing, if we decide that your performance is unsatisfactory, we will give you a first written warning, setting out:

The areas in which you have not met the required performance standards.
Targets for improvement.
Any measures, such as additional training or supervision, which will be taken with a view to improving performance.
A period for review.
The consequences of failing to improve within the review period, or of further unsatisfactory performance.

The warning will normally remain active for six months from the end of the review period. After the active period the warning will remain permanently on your personnel file but will be disregarded in deciding the outcome of any future capability proceedings.
Your performance will be monitored during the review period and we will write to inform you of the outcome:

if your line manager is satisfied with your performance, no further action will be taken;
if your line manager is not satisfied, the matter may be progressed to a Stage 2 capability hearing; or
if the manager feels that there has been a substantial but insufficient improvement, the review period may be extended.

Stage 2 hearing: final written warning

If your performance does not improve within the review period set out in a first written warning, or if there is further evidence of poor performance while your first written warning is still active, we may decide to hold a Stage 2 capability hearing. We will send you written notification as set out in paragraph 5.
Following a Stage 2 capability hearing, if we decide that your performance is unsatisfactory, we will give you a final written warning, setting out:

the areas in which you have not met the required performance standards;
targets for improvement;
any measures, such as additional training or supervision, which will be taken with a view to improving performance;
a period for review; and
the consequences of failing to improve within the review period, or of further unsatisfactory performance.

A final written warning will normally remain active for six months from the end of the review period. After the active period, the warning will remain permanently on your personnel file but will be disregarded in deciding the outcome of future capability proceedings.
Your performance will be monitored during the review period and we will write to inform you of the outcome:

if your line manager is satisfied with your performance, no further action will be taken;
if your line manager is not satisfied, the matter may be progressed to a Stage 3 capability hearing; or
if the manager feels that there has been a substantial but insufficient improvement, the review period may be extended.

Stage 3 hearing: dismissal or redeployment

We may decide to hold a Stage 3 capability hearing if we have reason to believe:

your performance has not improved sufficiently within the review period set out in a final written warning;
your performance is unsatisfactory while a final written warning is still active; or
your performance has been grossly negligent such as to warrant dismissal without the need for a final written warning.

We will send you written notification of the hearing as set out in paragraph 5.

Following the hearing, if we find that your performance is unsatisfactory, we may consider a range of options including:

Dismissing you.
Redeploying you into another suitable job at the same or (if your contract permits)]a lower grade.
Extending an active final written warning and setting a further review period (in exceptional cases where we believe a substantial improvement is likely within the review period).
Giving a final written warning (where no final written warning is currently active).

Dismissal will normally be with full notice or payment in lieu of notice, unless your performance has been so negligent as to amount to gross misconduct, in which case we may dismiss you without notice or any pay in lieu.

Appeals against action for poor performance

If you feel that a decision about poor performance under this procedure is wrong or unjust you should appeal in writing, stating your full grounds of appeal, to HR within one week of the date on which you were informed in writing of the decision.
If you are appealing against dismissal, the date on which dismissal takes effect will not be delayed pending the outcome of the appeal. However, if your appeal is successful you will be reinstated with no loss of continuity or pay.
If you raise any new matters in your appeal, we may need to carry out further investigation. If any new information comes to light we will provide you with a summary including, where appropriate, copies of additional relevant documents and witness statements. You will have a reasonable opportunity to consider this information before the hearing.
We will give you written notice of the date, time and place of the appeal hearing. This will normally be two to seven days after you receive the written notice. 
The appeal hearing may be a complete re-hearing of the matter or it may be a review of the fairness of the original decision in the light of the procedure that was followed and any new information that may have come to light. This will be at our discretion depending on the circumstances of your case. In any event the appeal will be dealt with as impartially as possible.
Where possible, the appeal hearing will be conducted by a more senior manager who has not been previously involved in the case. A member of the Human Resources Department will also usually be present. You may bring a companion with you to the appeal hearing (see paragraph 6). 
A hearing may be adjourned if we need to gather any further information or give consideration to matters discussed at the hearing. You will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the hearing is reconvened.
Following the appeal hearing we may:

confirm the original decision;
revoke the original decision; or
substitute a different penalty.

We will inform you in writing of our final decision as soon as possible, usually within one week of the appeal hearing. Where possible we will also explain this to you in person. There will be no further right of appeal.