In January we had the pleasure of collaborating with our friends at Stone King Solicitors to bring you a webinar exploring the top 20 employment law queries they’ve received from their school clients, and the tools to solve those problems quickly and succinctly.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Can an employer withdraw their offer of employment if I’ve already started?

Employers can withdraw their offer of employment for several reasons, including unsatisfactory references; qualifications not as promised; issues with a pre-employment health check; and not receiving all the documents giving an employee the right to work in the UK.

An employee can already have started working for a company when their offer of employment is withdrawn. If this is the case they would normally leave with immediate effect and be paid up to that date for the time they had worked for the company so far, and any expenses or holiday entitlement they may be owing.

Whether or not notice pay is applicable will depend on if a confidential offer is being withdrawn due to a failure to meet the conditions and if there is any evidence of gross misconduct, such as lying about references or providing misleading information.

2. Is a fixed term contract the same as a trial period?

It’s important that employers do not treat fixed term workers less favourably than permanent employees doing the same or a similar job.

Fixed term contracts should not be used to ‘trial’ an employee, as this is what a probation period is for.

So, you want to end a fixed term contract? Make sure you know the date that it is due to expire, and the notice provisions attached. Try to informally discuss the expiry of contract with the employee to manage their expectations. You should write to the employee setting out the date on which the FTC ends, and the reason for ending the contract. Depending on how long the fixed term has been in place, it may be necessary to follow a full form process to ensure fairness.

Remember that the expiry and non-renewal of a FTC is technically a dismissal. Fixed term workers who work continually for the same employer for two years or more have the same redundancy rights and the right to claim unfair dismissal as a permanent employee – so you will need to be careful when ending an FTC after 2 years has elapsed.

3. Can schools have probationary periods for staff?

A probationary period comes at the start of an employment relationship, and during that time the employee is assessed by their employer. Following this assessment period, they are notified as to whether their appointment will be made permanent.

Typically, a probationary period can last between 3 and 6 months, however it is possible to extend the probationary period, and often in schools this extension can go to 9 months – effectively covering the first year of employment. Probationary periods are becoming increasingly popular in the academy sector.

It is very useful to be able to tailor terms of employment, such as sick pay and notice, to limit their effect during the probationary period and also to expressly state that staff management policies will not apply during this time.

4. Could my ‘wild’ youth stop me from being hired?

An applicant’s suitability for a position should be judged in the light of the results of all the relevant pre-appointment checks carried out on him or her. The fact that a person has a criminal record does not automatically make them unsuitable for work with children.

Employers, alongside the registered body or person authorised to receive disclosure information, must make a judgement about suitability, considering only those offences which may be relevant to the job or situation in question.

There are some convictions which are serious enough to lead to an automatic bar from working in regulated activity. These can be found on the DBS website.

See it for yourself…

Did you miss this webinar but want to know more? Contact us today and we will arrange a viewing for you – [email protected]

Want to see more?

Every is continuing its partnership with Stone King Solicitors to bring you our 2020 Roadshow sessions! We are hosting four free sessions across the UK that have been designed to provide you with the opportunity to connect, share and discuss the common issues facing HR in education.