Legal Q and A

This
week’s legal Q&A

Q:
Should we insist that employees obtain a doctor’s sick note each time they are
off sick?

A
This is a matter of judgement. GPs are not obliged to provide a medical
certificate until the seventh day of sickness, although some will do so during
the first six days in return for a fee. It is worth having a term in your
contract that enables you to call for a sick note during the first six days if
necessary.

Q:
One of our team is proposing to adopt her partner’s child next year.  Will she be entitled to adoption leave?

A
No. Adoption leave will not be available in these circumstances. The child must
be newly adopted into the family.  

Q:
We have an employee who works three days per week. Full-time employees work a
five-day week. How much holiday is she entitled to?

A
Under the Working Time Regulations this employee is entitled to take 12 days
holiday per year, including Bank Holidays. Trade unions now claim the UK has
implemented EC law incorrectly and that the EC intended employees to be entitled
to Bank Holidays in addition.  

Q:
I have heard that adoptive mothers will be able to take paternity leave from
next April. Is this correct?

A
Yes. A couple who are adopting jointly can choose who is to take adoption leave
and who is to take paternity leave. If they decide that the male is to take the
adoption leave, the female could take the paternity leave, and thus she would
be entitled to two weeks’ leave at £100 per week so long as she has 26 weeks’
service by the week that they are notified of being matched with a child.

Q:
One member of staff has just become a magistrate. Must we let him have the time
off, and if so, must we pay him?

A
You must let him have a reasonable amount of time off work in order to perform
this public duty, but you do not need to pay him.  If you unreasonably refuse to let him take the time off, he can
bring a claim in the employment tribunal. If the tribunal considers his claim
to be well founded, it can make a declaration to that effect and/or order that
the employer pays compensation.

Q:
Unfortunately, we have to make some positions redundant. Are we obliged to
offer paid time off for jobhunting to all those who are selected for
redundancy?

A
No. You are only obliged to offer paid time off to those who have two years’
service by the date their notice expires; the entitlement arises only if they
are serving their notice period. The time should be paid at the appropriate
hourly rate for the period of absence from work.

Q:
We are about to renew a fixed- term contract. Do the Fixed Term Employee
(Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 prevent us from
doing this?

A
Not yet. From July 2006 employers will have to justify renewing the contract on
a fixed-term rather than a permanent basis in cases where the employee has four
or more years’ service. If a fixed-term cannot be justified, the employee must
be offered permanent employment.

By
Nicholas Moore, head of the national employment law team at Osborne Clarke

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