FAQs

Health and Safety

What makes a person competent in health and safety? 

Competence can be described as the combination of training, skills, experience and knowledge.

Can Agility be our competent person?

Yes, however there are certain criteria that we need to have to become your competent person. These include knowledge of your activities, your health and safety management system and health and safety processes and procedures. We also need to visit your site at least once a year to undertake a health and safety evaluation.

Can you provide assistance in completing health and safety accreditations such as CHAS and Construction Line?

Yes, we can tailor a health and safety support package to meet your business requirements, including naming Agility as your competent health and safety advisor.

Do your offer template risk assessments?

No. Each risk assessment should be specific to the individual task. We do offer an online risk assessment manager where risk assessments can be built and saved in your library and copied and amended to new activities and jobs.

Do I need a health and safety policy?

Yes, if you have five or more employees, the policy must be in writing and be made available to your employees.

Do I have to provide any equipment or clothing for my workforce?

You must provide Personal Protective Equipment or clothing (PPE) whenever there is a risk that cannot be controlled by any other means. This should be provided free of charge.

Employment Law and HR

When do I have to issue a contract of employment? 

Within two months of the employee’s start date.

How would Agility keep us up to date with changes in legislation? 

We will update your contract of employment/handbook as required, as and when legislation dictates. We also send out a monthly newsletter, which includes any upcoming changes in legislation or case law.

Do you offer indemnity insurance against tribunals costs and awards? 

Yes, we offer two levels of insurance – Absolute and Essential. Absolute policy is a marking leading indemnity policy, the policy is unique as employment claims are not subject to the reasonable prospects of success clause, meaning that claims can be paid even in those cases where the client may have failed to follow the correct procedure to the letter.

The Essential policy is equivalent to a market standard in terms of cover and importantly is subject to reasonable prospect of success clause. The policy will only provide indemnity if the claim has a better than 51% prospect of being successful.

Does Agility offer settlement agreements (formerly compromise agreements)? 

Agility can draft and negotiate settlement agreements, carry out the negotiation with the employee’s solicitor and also deal with any phone calls and administration during the process.

Does Agility chair grievance and/or disciplinary meetings? 

Yes, these can either be held at your own premises or at Agility’s offices.

Will Agility represent us at employment tribunals? 

Agility will assist with the preparation and representation at any potential employment tribunals.

What is included in a standard retainer contract with Agility? 

Clients will benefit from tailored employment contracts and employee handbooks, telephone and email support and access to various other HR templates. Other benefits also include a monthly newsletter, discounts on training, access to a dedicated employment law advisor and invitations to client-only seminars.

Can Agility act as my internal HR department? 

Yes, we can tailor our retainer agreement to your business requirements and give you as much on-site support as you require.

Audiometric Screening

What is audiometric screening?

In a nutshell, audiometric screening is a hearing test for all employees who are exposed to noise at work.

At what point should we be screening our employees? 

In 2006 audiometric screening became mandatory for all UK employees exposed to levels of 85dB on a regular basis.

How often should we test our employees? 

Tests should be no more than three years apart, however best practice would be yearly; this can be dependent on previous results and changes in the working environment.

Where is the testing carried out? 

Testing can be carried out in one of our purpose-built audiometric mobile sound masking booths, or alternatively, if you have an appropriate quiet room, testing can be done on-site.

How long do the tests last? 

No longer than 15 minutes, normally tests are around eight to ten minutes long.

Can we keep the audiograms, are there any issues with data protection? 

Yes, each employee signs the questionnaire and audiogram form to confirm they understand the information will be kept by the company. These are however private and confidential and should be treated as such.

Can an employee refuse to attend screening? 

No, refusal to attend without good reason should be treated as refusal to apply with health and safety requirements.

Training

I have been given some health and safety responsibilities and need to go on a course, which would be best?

Our most popular course, IOSH Managing Safely, is perfect for anyone who has health and safety responsibility as part of their role. The course gives delegates a good overview of health and safety as a whole. The course looks at assessing and controlling risks, understanding your responsibilities, identifying hazards and investigating accidents and incidents.

How many first aiders do we need? 

There is no set law on how many first aiders should be allocated per number of employees. However, there are a number of circumstances that should be taken into consideration, including risk level, number of staff, ergonomics and shift patterns. Please contact one of our team who will be happy to advise further.

Can legal action be taken against first aiders? 

It is very unlikely that any action would be taken against a first aider who has used the first aid training knowledge they have received. This tends to be a scare-mongering myth.

How often should we do asbestos awareness training? 

Employees should initially have full awareness training; typically this is a three to four hour course. There is no need to repeat a full training course every year, however some suitable refreshers should be given, this could take the form of a toolbox talk.

HR – Redundancy

What is a redundancy?

A redundancy is a situation where an employer decides to reduce the number of employees. This can be done in a number of ways i.e. reducing the number of employees in a particular function, job role, work site or the business as a whole.

Employers can decide to make redundancies for the following reasons:

  • Relocation of business
  • Internal reorganisation
  • Closure of the business
  • Reduction in need for employees’ work i.e. a downturn in sales in that function of the business or business as a whole

What procedure do we need to follow when making redundancies?

You have to follow a proper redundancy procedure in order to avoid the risk of an unfair dismissal tribunal claim. The best way to reduce this risk is to have a redundancy procedure in place and follow each step.

A redundancy procedure should include:

  • Identifying a reasonable ‘pool for selection’, i.e. the group of employees from whom the employees selected for redundancy will be chosen
  • Adopting objective selection criteria and applying them fairly to the employees within this pool
  • Warning and consulting employees about the potential redundancy situation
  • Seeking a view from the union (if any)
  • Informing and consulting employee representatives in cases of collective redundancy
  • Considering alternative employment for employees whose roles are redundant
  • Giving employees reasonable paid time off to look for work or make arrangements for training for future employment

 

Please note that if you are making individual employees redundant you must follow fair and reasonable procedures. You can contact us for more guidance on redundancy and specific advice on fair and reasonable procedures in redundancy.

How much notice do you have to give when making redundancies? 

If you are proposing to dismiss under 20 employees, it is best practice to follow a fair procedure. I.e. issue a warning letter, hold individual consultation meetings with each affected employees and offer the right to appeal.

If you are proposing to dismiss between 20 and 99 employees for redundancy at one establishment within 90 days or less, consultation must begin at least 30 days before the first dismissal takes place.

If you are proposing to dismiss 100 or more employees for redundancy from one establishment within 90 days or less, consultation must begin at least 45 days (previously 90 days) before the first dismissal takes place.

If you are making collective redundancies, you have a statutory duty to inform and consult employee representatives about your proposals.

What is bumping? 

Bumping is the process of moving a potentially redundant employee into another role and dismissing the employee currently performing that role. It is best to seek advice when considering bumping employees.

Can an employee who does not have the two years continuous service bring an employment tribunal claim against my business if they are dismissed for redundancy? 

Yes, employees can still be able to bring employment tribunal claims if you do not give the right notice (called wrongful dismissal) or they believe they were dismissed because of their protected characteristic as they can make a discrimination claim. E.g. if you dismiss an older worker for redundancy.

Protected characteristics include factors such as age, sex, race, pregnancy, disability, sexual orientation (please see our discrimination page for more information). If you are unsure, then contact us and we will talk you through your options and the risks.

How much do we have to pay in redundancy pay?

The amount of the statutory redundancy payment depends on the employee’s age, length of service and pay. It is calculated using the following:

  • One and a half week’s gross pay for each full year of service in which the employee was aged 41 years or more
  • One week’s gross pay for each full year in which the employee was between the ages of 40 and 22
  • Half a week’s gross pay for each full year in which the employee was aged up to and including 21

An employee must have two years’ continuous employment at the relevant date in order to qualify for a redundancy payment. The maximum length of service that may be taken into account is 20 years.
The week’s pay is subject to a statutory maximum (£464 per week from 6 April 2015). Rates increase every April.

You would also need to refer to the employee’s contract of employment to see if they are due any enhanced contractual redundancy pay.

Is there a way to prevent an employee making a claim for unfair dismissal against me if I make them redundant? 

Yes you can offer the employee a settlement agreement (formerly known as a compromise agreement). A settlement agreement ensures that the employee cannot bring any employment tribunal claims against you. We can help you with this, please refer to our settlement agreement page for further information or contact us.

If we are planning on taking over another business can we make some of their staff redundant?

This would depend on the circumstances of the takeover as it is possible the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE regulations) may apply which would make it difficult to dismiss employees for redundancy. It is best to seek legal advice as this is a technical area of law. If you need advice on whether TUPE applies then contact us, or for further information, see our TUPE page.