Staff Handbook

Contents

  1. WELCOME TO THE DAY
    1. We are an equal opportunities employer and do not discriminate on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, marital or civil partner status, gender reassignment, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, disability or age.
  2. USING THE STAFF HANDBOOK
    1. This Staff Handbook sets out the main policies and procedures that you will need to be aware of while working for us. You should familiarise yourself with it and comply with it at all times. Any questions you may have with regard to its contents or what you have to do to comply with it should be referred to the Managing Director.
    2. The policies and procedures set out in this handbook apply to all staff. They do not form part of the terms of your contract with us, which are provided to you separately.
  3. RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE STAFF HANDBOOK
    1. The Managing Director has overall responsibility for the operation of this Staff Handbook and for ensuring that its policies and procedures comply with our legal obligations.
    2. All managers have a specific responsibility to operate in accordance with the provisions set out in this Staff Handbook, ensure that all staff understand the standards of behaviour expected of them and to take action when behaviour falls below those requirements
    3. Those working at a management level have a specific responsibility to set an appropriate standard of behaviour, to lead by example and to ensure that those they manage adhere to the policies and procedures and promote our aims and objectives with regard to equal opportunities.
    4. Everyone should ensure that they take the time to read and understand the content of this handbook and act in accordance with its aims and objectives. All staff must ensure that they are familiar with and comply with and support its policies and procedures.
    5. Questions about the content or application of the handbook should be directed to the Managing Director. In addition, staff are invited to submit any comments or proposals with regard to the handbook or any of its content to the Managing Director
  4. PERSONAL DETAILS, HOME ADDRESS AND NEXT OF KIN
    1. The Managing Director is responsible for maintaining up-to-date details of the home address, next of kin and emergency contact telephone numbers of each member of our staff.
    2. This information will be requested by the Managing Director when you start work and you should advise of any changes straight away.
    3. It is important that we maintain accurate details in case a member of staff has an accident or an entitlement to a dependant's pension or other benefits arises. Information is held in confidence and is only used when needed.
    4. Priority is at all times given to health and safety requirements.
  5. EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES POLICY
    1. We are committed to promoting equality of opportunity for all staff and job applicants. We aim to create a working environment in which all individuals are able to make best use of their skills, free from discrimination or harassment, and in which all decisions are based on merit.
    2. We do not discriminate against staff on the basis of their gender, sexual orientation, marital or civil partner status, gender reassignment, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, disability or age (the protected characteristics).
    3. The principles of non-discrimination and equality of opportunity also apply to the way in which staff treat visitors, clients, customers, suppliers and former staff members.
    4. All staff have a duty to act in accordance with this policy and treat colleagues with dignity at all times, and not to discriminate against or harass other members of staff, regardless of their status.

      Breaches of the policy

    5. If you believe that you may have been discriminated against you are encouraged to raise the matter through our Grievance Procedure. If you believe that you may have been subject to harassment you are encouraged to raise the matter through our Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy. If you are uncertain which applies or need advice on how to proceed you should speak to the Managing Director

    6. Allegations regarding potential breaches of this policy will be treated in confidence and investigated in accordance with the relevant procedure. Staff who make such allegations in good faith will not be victimised or treated less favourably as a result. False allegations which are found to have been made in bad faith will, however, be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.

    7. Any member of staff who is found to have committed an act of discrimination or harassment will be subject to disciplinary action. Such behaviour may constitute gross misconduct and, as such, may result in summary dismissal. We take a strict approach to serious breaches of this policy.

  6. ANTI-HARASSMENT AND BULLYING POLICY
    1. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all staff are treated and treat others with dignity and respect, free from harassment and bullying. All staff should take the time to ensure they understand what types of behaviour are unacceptable under this policy.

    2. This policy covers harassment or bullying which occurs both in and out of the workplace, such as on business trips or at events or work-related social functions. It covers bullying and harassment by staff and also by third parties such as customers, suppliers or visitors to our premises.

    3. Staff must treat colleagues and others with dignity and respect, and should always consider whether their words or conduct could be offensive. Even unintentional harassment or bullying is unacceptable.

    4. We will take allegations of harassment or bullying seriously and address them promptly and confidentially where possible. Harassment or bullying by an employee will be treated as misconduct under our Disciplinary Procedure. In some cases it may amount to gross misconduct leading to summary dismissal.

      Informal steps

    5. If you are being bullied or harassed, you should initially consider raising the problem informally with the person responsible, if you feel able. You should explain clearly to them that their behaviour is not welcome or makes you uncomfortable. If this is too difficult or embarrassing to do on your own, you should speak to the Managing Director, who can provide confidential advice and assistance in resolving the issue formally or informally.

    6. If you are not certain whether an incident or series of incidents amount to bullying or harassment, you should initially contact the Managing Director informally for confidential advice.

    7. If informal steps have not been successful or are not possible or appropriate, you should follow the formal procedure set out below.

      Raising a formal complaint

    8. If you wish to make a formal complaint about bullying or harassment, you should submit it in writing to the Managing Director, whose role is to achieve a solution wherever possible and to respect the confidentiality of all concerned.

    9. Your written complaint should set out full details of the conduct in question, including the name of the harasser or bully, the nature of the harassment or bullying, the date(s) and time(s) at which it occurred, the names of any witnesses and any action that has been taken so far to attempt to stop it from occurring.

    10. As a general principle, the decision whether to progress a complaint is up to you. However, we have a duty to protect all staff and may pursue the matter independently if, in all the circumstances, we consider it appropriate to do so.

      Formal investigations

    11. We will investigate complaints in a timely and confidential manner. Individuals not involved in the complaint or the investigation should not be told about it. The investigation will be conducted by someone with appropriate experience and no prior involvement in the complaint. The investigation should be thorough, impartial and objective, and carried out with sensitivity and due respect for the rights of all parties concerned.

    12. We will arrange a meeting with you, usually within one week of receiving your complaint, so that you can give your account of events. You have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union representative of your choice, who must respect the confidentiality of the investigation. You will be given a provisional timetable for the investigation. The investigator will arrange further meetings with you as appropriate throughout the investigation.

    13. Where your complaint is about an employee, we may consider suspending them on full pay or making other temporary changes to working arrangements pending the outcome of the investigation, if circumstances require. The investigator will also meet with the alleged harasser or bully who may also be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative of their choice to hear their account of events. They have a right to be told the details of the allegations against them, so that they can respond.

    14. Where your complaint is about someone other than an employee, such as a contractor, customer, service user, supplier, or visitor, we will consider what action may be appropriate to protect you and anyone involved pending the outcome of the investigation, bearing in mind the reasonable needs of the business and the rights of that person. Where appropriate, we will attempt to discuss the matter with the third party.

    15. We will also seriously consider any request that you make for changes to your own working arrangements during the investigation. For example you may ask for changes to your duties or working hours so as to avoid or minimise contact with the alleged harasser or bully.

    16. It may be necessary to interview witnesses to any of the incidents mentioned in your complaint. If so, the importance of confidentiality will be emphasised to them.

    17. At the end of the investigation, the investigator will submit a report to the Managing Director nominated to consider the complaint. The Managing Director will arrange a meeting with you, usually within a week of receiving the report, in order to discuss the outcome and what action, if any, should be taken. You have the right to be bring a colleague or a trade union representative to the meeting. A copy of the report and the Managing Director's findings will be given to you and to the alleged harasser.

      Action following the investigation

    18. If the Managing Director considers that harassment or bullying has occurred, prompt action will be taken to address it.

    19. Where the harasser or bully is an employee the matter will be dealt with as a case of possible misconduct or gross misconduct under our Disciplinary Procedure.

    20. Where the harasser or bully is a third party, appropriate action might include putting up signs setting out acceptable and unacceptable behaviour; speaking or writing to the person or their superior about their behaviour; or, in very serious cases, banning them from the premises or terminating a contract with them.

    21. Whether or not your complaint is upheld, we will consider how best to manage the ongoing working relationship between you and the alleged harasser or bully. It may be appropriate to arrange some form of mediation or counselling, or to change the duties, working location or reporting lines of one or both parties.

    22. Any staff member who deliberately provides false information or otherwise acts in bad faith as part of an investigation may be subject to action under our Disciplinary Procedure.

      Appeals

    23. If you are not satisfied with the outcome you may appeal in writing to the Managing Director, stating your full grounds of appeal, within one week of the date on which the decision was sent or given to you.

    24. We will hold an appeal meeting, normally within one week of receiving your written appeal. This will be dealt with impartially by a manager who has not previously been involved in the case (although they may ask anyone previously involved to be present). You may bring a colleague or trade union representative to the meeting.

    25. 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.

      Protection for those making complaints or assisting with an investigation

    26. Staff who make complaints or who participate in good faith in any investigation conducted under this policy must not suffer any form of retaliation or victimisation as a result.

    27. If you believe you have suffered any such treatment you should inform the Managing Director. If the matter is not remedied you should raise it formally using our Grievance Procedure or this procedure if appropriate.

    28. Anyone found to have retaliated against or victimised someone for making a complaint or assisting in good faith with an investigation under this procedure will be subject to disciplinary action under our Disciplinary Procedure.

      Confidentiality and data protection

    29. Confidentiality is an important part of the procedures provided under this policy. Everyone involved in the operation of the policy, whether making a complaint or involved in any investigation, is responsible for observing the high level of confidentiality that is required. Details of the investigation and the names of the person making the complaint and the person accused must only be disclosed on a "need to know" basis.

    30. Information about a complaint by or about an employee may be placed on the employee's personnel file, along with a record of the outcome and of any notes or other documents compiled during the process.

    31. Breach of confidentiality may give rise to disciplinary action under our Disciplinary Procedure.

  7. SICKNESS ABSENCE POLICY
    1. This policy sets out our procedures for reporting sickness absence and for the management of sickness absence in a fair and consistent way.

    2. 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).

    3. 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.

    4. We may vary the procedures set out in this policy, including any time limits, as appropriate in any case. Sickness absence reporting procedure

    5. If you are taken ill or injured while at work you should report or be taken to the DEPARTMENT OR be given permission to leave work. Managers should contact DEPARTMENT to make arrangements for anyone who is unwell to be accompanied home OR to receive medical treatment where necessary.

    6. If you cannot attend work because you are ill or injured you should normally telephone your line manager OR the Managing Director as early as possible and no later than 30 minutes after the time when you are normally expected to start work. The following details should be provided:

      1. The nature of your illness.
      2. The expected length of your absence from work.
      3. Contact details.
      4. Any outstanding or urgent work that requires attention.
    7. You should expect to be contacted during your absence by your department OR your line manager OR DEPARTMENT OR RELEVANT the Managing Director who will want to enquire after your health and be advised, if possible, as to your expected return date.

      Evidence of incapacity

    8. For sickness absence of up to OR between four and seven calendar days you must complete a self-certification form which is available from your line manager OR the Managing Director OR DEPARTMENT.

    9. 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 your line manager OR the Managing Director as soon as possible. If your absence continues, further medical certificates must be provided to cover the whole period of absence.

    10. If your doctor provides a certificate stating that you "may be fit for work" you should inform your line manager OR the Managing Director 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 9.27). If appropriate measures cannot be taken, you will remain on sick leave and we will set a date to review the situation.

    11. Where we are concerned about the reason for absence, or the level of 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

    12. Cases of unauthorised absence will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.

    13. Absence that has not been notified according to the sickness absence reporting procedure will be treated as unauthorised absence.

    14. If you do not report for work and have not telephoned the Managing Director to explain the reason for your absence, the Managing Director 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

    15. You should refer to your contract for details of the sick pay to which you are entitled.

      Keeping in contact during sickness absence

    16. If you are absent on sick leave you should expect to be contacted from time to time by your line manager the Managing Director 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.

    17. 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 the Managing Director at any time.

      Medical examinations

    18. We may, at any time in operating this policy, ask you to consent to a medical examination by our Occupational Health Department OR a doctor nominated by us (at our expense).

    19. 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.

    20. We are committed to helping employees OR members of staff return to work from long-term sickness absence. As part of our sickness absence meetings procedure (see paragraph 9.32 to paragraph 9.38), we will, where appropriate and possible, support returns to work by:

      1. Obtaining medical advice;
      2. Making reasonable adjustments to the workplace, working practices and working hours;
      3. Considering redeployment; or
      4. Agreeing a return to work programme with everyone affected.
    21. 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 or any insurance schemes we operate.

  8. CAPABILITY PROCEDURE
    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      What is covered by the policy?

    3. This policy is used to deal with poor performance. It 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.

      Identifying performance issues

    4. 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:

      1. clarify the required standards;
      2. identify areas of concern;
      3. establish the likely causes of poor performance and identify any training needs; or
      4. set targets for improvement and a time-scale for review.
    5. 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.

    6. 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 or other individuals confidentially regarding your work.

      Disabilities

    7. 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.

    8. If you wish to discuss this or inform us of any medical condition you consider relevant, you should contact your line manager or a member of the Human Resources Department OR the Managing Director.

      Confidentiality

    9. 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.

    10. You, and anyone accompanying you (including witnesses), must not make electronic recordings of any meetings or hearings conducted under this procedure.

    11. 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

    12. 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:

      1. A summary of relevant information gathered as part of any investigation.
      2. A copy of any relevant documents which will be used at the capability hearing.
      3. 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.
    13. 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

    14. 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.

    15. 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.

    16. If your choice of companion is unreasonable we may require you to choose someone else, for example:

      1. if in our opinion your companion may have a conflict of interest or may prejudice the hearing; or
      2. if your companion works at another site and someone reasonably suitable is available at the site at which you work; or
      3. if your companion is unavailable at the time a hearing is scheduled and will not be available for more than five working days.
    17. 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

    18. 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 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.

    19. 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 10.14 to paragraph 10.17). 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.

    20. 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.

    21. The aims of a capability hearing will usually include:

      1. Setting out the required standards that we believe you may have failed to meet, and going through any relevant evidence that we have gathered.
      2. Allowing you to ask questions, present evidence, call witnesses, respond to evidence and make representations.
      3. Establishing the likely causes of poor performance including any reasons why any measures taken so far have not led to the required improvement.
      4. Identifying whether there are further measures, such as additional training or supervision, which may improve performance.
      5. Where appropriate, discussing targets for improvement and a time-scale for review.
      6. 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.
    22. 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.

    23. 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 OR improvement note

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

      1. The areas in which you have not met the required performance standards.
      2. Targets for improvement.
      3. Any measures, such as additional training or supervision, which will be taken with a view to improving performance.
      4. A period for review.
      5. The consequences of failing to improve within the review period, or of further unsatisfactory performance.
    25. A first written warning OR An improvement note may be authorised by MANAGEMENT GRADE.

    26. The warning OR improvement note will normally remain active for six months from the end of the review period, after which time it will be disregarded for the purposes of the capability procedure.

    27. 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.

    28. Your performance will be monitored during the review period and we will write to inform you of the outcome:

      1. if your line manager is satisfied with your performance, no further action will be taken;
      2. if your line manager is not satisfied, the matter may be progressed to a Stage 2 capability hearing; or
      3. 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

    29. If your performance does not improve within the review period set out in a first written warning OR an improvement note, or if there is further evidence of poor performance while your first written warning OR improvement note is still active, we may decide to hold a Stage 2 capability hearing. We will send you written notification as set out in paragraph 12.19 to paragraph 12.20.

    30. Following a Stage 2 capability hearing, if we decide that your performance is unsatisfactory, we will give you a final written warning, setting out:

      1. the areas in which you have not met the required performance standards;
      2. targets for improvement;
      3. any measures, such as additional training or supervision, which will be taken with a view to improving performance;
      4. a period for review; and
      5. the consequences of failing to improve within the review period, or of further unsatisfactory performance.
    31. A final written warning may be authorised by MANAGEMENT GRADE.

    32. A final written warning will normally remain active for six OR 12 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.

    33. Your performance will be monitored during the review period and we will write to inform you of the outcome:

      1. if your line manager is satisfied with your performance, no further action will be taken;
      2. if your line manager is not satisfied, the matter may be progressed to a Stage 3 capability hearing; or
      3. 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

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

      1. your performance has not improved sufficiently within the review period set out in a final written warning;
      2. your performance is unsatisfactory while a final written warning is still active; or
      3. 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 12.19 to paragraph 12.20.

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

      1. Dismissing you.
      2. Redeploying you into another suitable job at the same or (if your contract permits) a lower grade.
      3. 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).
      4. Giving a final written warning (where no final written warning is currently active).
    36. The decision may be authorised by MANAGEMENT GRADE.

    37. 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

    38. 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 the Managing Director within one week of the date on which you were informed in writing of the decision.

    39. 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.

    40. 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.

    41. 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.

    42. 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.

    43. 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 OR the manager who conducted the capability hearing will also usually be present. You may bring a companion with you to the appeal hearing (see paragraph 10.14 to paragraph 10.17).

    44. 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.

    45. Following the appeal hearing we may:

      1. confirm the original decision;
      2. revoke the original decision; or
      3. substitute a different penalty.
    46. 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.

  9. DISCIPLINARY RULES
    1. 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.

    2. It is our policy to ensure that any disciplinary matter is dealt with fairly and in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure.

    3. If you are in any doubt as to your responsibilities or the standards of conduct expected you should speak to your line manager or a member of Human Resources.

      Rules of conduct

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

      1. observe the terms and conditions of your contract, particularly with regard to:
        1. hours of work;
        2. confidentiality;
        3. ANY OTHER IMPORTANT CONTRACTUAL TERMS;
      2. ensure that you understand and follow our Code of Conduct which is set out in the Staff Handbook OR on the intranet OR available from the Managing Director;
      3. observe all our policies, procedures and regulations which are included in this Staff Handbook or notified to you from time to time by means of notice boards, e-mail, the intranet or otherwise;
      4. take reasonable care in respect of the health and safety of colleagues and third parties and comply with our Health and Safety Policy;
      5. comply with all reasonable instructions given by managers; and
      6. act at all times in good faith and in the best interests of the company, its customers and staff OR our best interests and those of our customers and staff.
    5. Failure to maintain satisfactory standards of conduct may result in action being taken under our Disciplinary Procedure.

      Misconduct

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

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

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

      Gross misconduct

    7. 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 employer and employee. 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).

    8. The following are examples of matters that are normally regarded as gross misconduct:

      1. 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;
      2. Physical violence or bullying; OR Actual or threatened violence, or behaviour which provokes violence;
      3. 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;
      4. Serious misuse of our property or name;
      5. Deliberately accessing internet sites containing pornographic, offensive or obscene material;
      6. Serious insubordination; OR Repeated or serious failure to obey instructions, or any other serious act of insubordination;
      7. Unlawful discrimination or harassment;
      8. Bringing the organisation into serious disrepute;
      9. 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;
      10. Causing loss, damage or injury through serious negligence;
      11. Serious breach of health and safety rules; OR Serious or repeated breach of health and safety rules or serious misuse of safety equipment;
      12. 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;
      13. Acceptance of bribes or other secret payments;
      14. Accepting a gift above the value of £VALUE from a customer, supplier, contractor or other third party in connection with your employment without prior consent from your line manager;
      15. 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;
      16. Possession, use, supply or attempted supply of illegal drugs;
      17. Serious neglect of duties, or a serious or deliberate breach of your contract or operating procedures;
      18. Knowing breach of statutory rules affecting your work;
      19. Unauthorised use, processing or disclosure of personal data contrary to our Data Protection Policy;
      20. Harassment or discrimination against employees, contractors, clients or members of the public on the grounds of 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;
      21. 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;
      22. Giving false information as to qualifications or entitlement to work (including immigration status) in order to gain employment or other benefits;
      23. Knowingly taking parental, paternity or adoption leave when not eligible to do so or for a purpose other than supporting a child;
      24. Making a disclosure of false or misleading information under our Whistleblowing Policy maliciously, for personal gain, or otherwise in bad faith;
      25. Making untrue allegations in bad faith against a colleague;
      26. Victimising a colleague who has raised concerns, made a complaint or given evidence information under our Whistleblowing Policy, Anti- harassment and Bullying Policy, Grievance Procedure, Disciplinary Procedure or otherwise;
      27. Serious misuse of our information technology systems (including misuse of developed or licensed software, use of unauthorised software and misuse of e-mail and the internet) contrary to our Electronic Information and Communications Systems Policy;
      28. Undertaking unauthorised paid or unpaid employment during your working hours;
      29. Unauthorised entry into an area of the premises to which access is prohibited.

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

  10. DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE
    1. The aims of this Disciplinary Procedure and its associated Disciplinary Rules are to set out the standards of conduct expected of all staff and to provide a framework within which managers can work with employees to maintain satisfactory standards of conduct and to encourage improvement where necessary.

    2. 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.

      What is covered by the procedure?

    3. 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 elsewhere in this Staff Handbook.

    4. 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 capability 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).

    5. 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.

    6. If you have difficulty at any stage of the procedure because of a disability, you should discuss the situation with your line manager OR a member of the Human Resources Department as soon as possible.

      Confidentiality

    7. 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.

    8. You, and anyone accompanying you (including witnesses), must not make electronic recordings of any meetings or hearings conducted under this procedure.

    9. 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

    10. 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, or reviewing relevant documents. The Human Resources Department will usually appoint an Investigating Officer to carry out the investigation.

    11. 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.

    12. 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.

    13. 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 charges

    14. 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.

    15. 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.

    16. 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

    17. 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 the Managing Director.

    18. Suspension of this kind is not a disciplinary penalty and does not imply that any decision has already been made about the allegations. You will continue to receive your full basic salary and benefits during the period of suspension OR Pay and benefits during suspension will be calculated as set out in your contract.

      Notification of a hearing

    19. 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:

      1. a summary of relevant information gathered during the investigation;
      2. a copy of any relevant documents which will be used at the disciplinary hearing; and
      3. 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.
    20. 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

    21. 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 the Managing Director who your chosen companion is, in good time before the hearing.

    22. 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.

    23. If your choice of companion is unreasonable we may require you to choose someone else, for example:

      1. if in our opinion your companion may have a conflict of interest or may prejudice the hearing; or
      2. if your companion works at another site and someone reasonably suitable is available at the site at which you work; or
      3. if your companion is unavailable at the time a hearing is scheduled and will not be available for more than five working days.
    24. 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 disability, or where you have difficulty understanding English.

      Procedure at disciplinary hearings

    25. 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.

    26. The hearing will be chaired by DESCRIPTION OF APPROPRIATE MANAGER. The Investigating Officer 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 12.21 to paragraph 12.24).

    27. 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.

    28. 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.

    29. 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.

    30. 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

    31. 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.

    32. Stage 1 - First written warning. A first written warning may be authorised by MANAGEMENT GRADE. It will usually be appropriate for a first act of misconduct where there are no other active written warnings on your disciplinary record.

    33. Stage 2 - Final written warning. A final written warning may be authorised by MANAGEMENT GRADE. It will usually be appropriate for:

      1. misconduct where there is already an active written warning on your record; or
      2. misconduct that we consider sufficiently serious to warrant a final written warning even though there are no other active warnings on your record.
    34. Stage 3 - Dismissal. Dismissal may be authorised by MANAGEMENT GRADE. It will usually only be appropriate for:

      1. any misconduct during your probationary period;
      2. further misconduct where there is an active final written warning on your record; or
      3. 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 contained in the Staff Handbook OR set out on the Intranet OR available from the Human Resources Department.
    35. Alternatives to dismissal. In some cases we may at our discretion consider alternatives to dismissal. These may be authorised by MANAGEMENT GRADE and will usually be accompanied by a final written warning. Examples include:

      1. Demotion.
      2. Transfer to another department or job.
      3. A period of suspension without pay.
      4. Loss of seniority.
      5. Reduction in pay.
      6. Loss of future pay increment or bonus.
      7. Loss of overtime.

      The effect of a warning

    36. 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.

    37. 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.

    38. 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 against disciplinary action

    39. 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 the Managing Director within one week of the date on which you were informed of the decision.

    40. 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.

    41. 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.

    42. 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.

    43. 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.

    44. 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 OR a member of the Human Resources Department 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 12.21 to paragraph 12.24).

    45. 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.

    46. Following the appeal hearing we may:

      1. confirm the original decision;
      2. revoke the original decision; or
      3. substitute a different penalty.
    47. 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.

  11. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE (LONG FORM)
    1. 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.

    2. Issues that may cause grievances include:
      1. terms and conditions of employment;
      2. health and safety;
      3. work relations;
      4. bullying and harassment;
      5. new working practices;
      6. working environment;
      7. organisational change; and
      8. discrimination.

      Using this procedure

    3. 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 the Managing Director as soon as possible.

    4. 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 this Staff Handbook OR which is available from the Managing Director.

    5. 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 this Staff Handbook OR available from the Managing Director.

    6. 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.

    7. This procedure does not apply to grievances concerning two or more employees (collective grievances) raised by a representative of the TRADE UNION OR OTHER REPRESENTATIVE BODY. These will be dealt with under the procedure set out in DOCUMENT OR as appropriate to the facts of the case.

    8. 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. These will be processed in accordance with our Data Protection Policy.

      Raising grievances informally

    9. Most grievances can be resolved quickly and informally through discussion with your line manager OR the Managing Director. 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 the Managing Director. If this does not resolve the issue, you should follow the formal procedure below.

      Formal written grievances

    10. If your grievance cannot be resolved informally you should put it in writing and submit it to your line manager OR the Managing Director, indicating that it is a formal grievance. If the grievance concerns him or her, you may submit it instead to the Managing Director.

    11. 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 need to ask you to provide further information.

      Investigations

    12. In some cases 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, or reviewing relevant documents. The investigation may be carried out by your line manager OR the Managing Director or someone else appointed by us.

    13. 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.

    14. 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

    15. 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 the Managing Director OR the person holding the grievance meeting who your chosen companion is, in good time before the meeting.

    16. At the meeting, 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 meeting.

    17. 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.

    18. If your choice of companion is unreasonable we may ask you to choose someone else, for example:

      1. if in our opinion your companion may have a conflict of interest or may prejudice the meeting; or
      2. if your companion works at another site and someone reasonably suitable is available at the site at which you work; or
      3. if your companion is unavailable at the time a meeting is scheduled and will not be available for more than five working days afterwards.

      Grievance meetings

    19. We will arrange a grievance meeting, normally within one week of receiving your written grievance.

    20. 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.

    21. 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.

    22. 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.

    23. Your companion at a grievance meeting 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 meeting.

    24. 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

    25. If the grievance has not been resolved to your satisfaction you may appeal in writing to the Managing Director, stating your full grounds of appeal, within one week of the date on which the decision was sent or given to you.

    26. 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 (see paragraph 13.15 to paragraph 13.18).

    27. 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.

  12. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE (SHORT FORM)

    Who is covered by the procedure?

    1. This procedure applies to all employees OR staff regardless of length of service. It does not apply to agency workers or self-employed contractors. However, it does not form part of any employee's contract of employment OR your contract. It may be amended at any time and we may depart from it depending on the circumstances of any case.

      Using the grievance procedure

    2. Most grievances can be resolved quickly and informally through discussion with your line manager or the Managing Director, SUCH AS THE OFFICE MANAGER OR HR MANAGER. If this does not resolve the problem you should initiate the formal procedure below reasonably promptly.

      Step 1: written grievance

    3. You should put your grievance in writing and submit it to your line manager. If your grievance concerns your line manager you may submit it to THE MANAGING DIRECT OR SUCH AS THE OFFICE MANAGER OR HR MANAGER.

    4. The written grievance should set out the nature of the complaint, including any relevant facts, dates, and names of individuals involved so that we can investigate it.

      Step 2: meeting

    5. We will arrange a grievance meeting, normally within one week of receiving your written grievance. You should make every effort to attend.

    6. You may bring a companion to the grievance meeting if you make a reasonable request in advance and tell us the name of your chosen companion. The companion may be either a trade union representative or a colleague, who will be allowed reasonable paid time off from duties to act as your companion.

    7. If you or your companion cannot attend at the time specified you should let us know as soon as possible and we will try, within reason, to agree an alternative time.

    8. We may adjourn the meeting if we need to carry out further investigations, after which the meeting will usually be reconvened.

    9. We will write to you, usually within one week of the last grievance meeting, to confirm our decision and notify of you of any further action that we intend to take to resolve the grievance. We will also advise you of your right of appeal.

      Step 3: appeals

    10. If the grievance has not been resolved to your satisfaction you may appeal in writing to the Managing Director, stating your full grounds of appeal, within one week of the date on which the decision was sent or given to you.

    11. We will hold an appeal meeting, normally within two weeks of receiving the appeal. This will be dealt with impartially by a more senior manager who has not previously been involved in the case. You will have a right to bring a companion (see paragraph 14.6).

    12. We will confirm our final decision in writing, usually within one week of the appeal hearing. There is no further right of appeal.

  13. WHISTLEBLOWING POLICY
    1. We are committed to conducting our business with honesty and integrity, and we expect all staff to maintain high standards in accordance with our Code of Conduct. However, all organisations face the risk of things going wrong from time to time, or of unknowingly harbouring illegal or unethical conduct. A culture of openness and accountability is essential in order to prevent such situations occurring or to address them when they do occur.

    2. The aims of this policy are:

      1. To encourage staff to report suspected wrongdoing as soon as possible, in the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously and investigated as appropriate, and that their confidentiality will be respected.
      2. To provide staff with guidance as to how to raise those concerns.
      3. To reassure staff that they should be able to raise genuine concerns in good faith without fear of reprisals, even if they turn out to be mistaken.
    3. This policy takes account of the Whistleblowing Arrangements Code of Practice issued by the British Standards Institute and Public Concern at Work. It has been agreed OR implemented following consultation with the TRADE UNION OR WORKS COUNCIL OR STAFF ASSOCIATION.

      What is whistleblowing?

    4. Whistleblowing is the disclosure of information which relates to suspected wrongdoing or dangers at work. This may include:

      1. criminal activity;
      2. miscarriages of justice;
      3. danger to health and safety;
      4. damage to the environment;
      5. failure to comply with any legal or professional obligation or regulatory requirements;
      6. financial fraud or mismanagement;
      7. negligence;
      8. breach of our internal policies and procedures including our Code of Conduct;
      9. conduct likely to damage our reputation;
      10. unauthorised disclosure of confidential information;
      11. OTHER WORKPLACE-SPECIFIC CONCERNS;
      12. the deliberate concealment of any of the above matters.
    5. A whistleblower is a person who raises a genuine concern in good faith relating to any of the above. If you have any genuine concerns related to suspected wrongdoing or danger affecting any of our activities (a whistleblowing concern) you should report it under this policy.

    6. This policy should not be used for complaints relating to your own personal circumstances, such as the way you have been treated at work. In those cases you should use the Grievance Procedure or Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy as appropriate.

    7. If you are uncertain whether something is within the scope of this policy you should seek advice from the Whistleblowing Officer, whose contact details are at the end of this policy.

      Raising a whistleblowing concern

    8. We hope that in many cases you will be able to raise any concerns with your line manager OR the Managing Director. You may tell them in person or put the matter in writing if you prefer. They may be able to agree a way of resolving your concern quickly and effectively. In some cases they may refer the matter to the Whistleblowing Officer.

    9. However, where the matter is more serious, or you feel that your line manager OR the Managing Director has not addressed your concern, or you prefer not to raise it with them for any reason, you should contact one of the following:

      1. The Whistleblowing Officer, NAME.
      2. Our confidential external telephone hotline.

      Contact details are set out at the end of this policy.

    10. We will arrange a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss your concern. You may bring a colleague or union representative to any meetings under this policy. Your companion must respect the confidentiality of your disclosure and any subsequent investigation.

    11. We will take down a written summary of your concern and provide you with a copy after the meeting. We will also aim to give you an indication of how we propose to deal with the matter.

      Confidentiality

    12. We hope that staff will feel able to voice whistleblowing concerns openly under this policy. However, if you want to raise your concern confidentially, we will make every effort to keep your identity secret. If it is necessary for anyone investigating your concern to know your identity, we will discuss this with you.

    13. We do not encourage staff to make disclosures anonymously. Proper investigation may be more difficult or impossible if we cannot obtain further information from you. It is also more difficult to establish whether any allegations are credible and have been made in good faith. Whistleblowers who are concerned about possible reprisals if their identity is revealed should come forward to the Whistleblowing Officer or one of the other contact points listed in paragraph 15.8 to paragraph 15.11 and appropriate measures can then be taken to preserve confidentiality. If you are in any doubt you can seek advice from our confidential counselling hotline or Public Concern at Work, the independent whistleblowing charity, who offer a confidential helpline. Their contact details are at the end of this policy.

      External disclosures

    14. The aim of this policy is to provide an internal mechanism for reporting, investigating and remedying any wrongdoing in the workplace. In most cases you should not find it necessary to alert anyone externally.

    15. The law recognises that in some circumstances it may be appropriate for you to report your concerns to an external body such as a regulator. It will very rarely if ever be appropriate to alert the media. We strongly encourage you to seek advice before reporting a concern to anyone external. The independent whistleblowing charity, Public Concern at Work, operates a confidential helpline. They also have a list of prescribed regulators for reporting certain types of concern. Their contact details are at the end of this policy.

    16. Whistleblowing concerns usually relate to the conduct of our staff, but they may sometimes relate to the actions of a third party, such as a customer, supplier or service provider OR INSERT OTHER APPROPRIATE TERMS. The law allows you to raise a concern in good faith with a third party, where you reasonably believe it relates mainly to their actions or something that is legally their responsibility. However, we encourage you to report such concerns internally first. You should contact your line manager OR the Managing Director or one of the other individuals set out in paragraph 15.8 to paragraph 15.11 for guidance.

      Investigation and outcome

    17. Once you have raised a concern, we will carry out an initial assessment to determine the scope of any investigation. We will inform you of the outcome of our assessment. You may be required to attend additional meetings in order to provide further information.

    18. In some cases we may appoint an investigator or team of investigators including staff with relevant experience of investigations or specialist knowledge of the subject matter. The investigator(s) may make recommendations for change to enable us to minimise the risk of future wrongdoing.

    19. We will aim to keep you informed of the progress of the investigation and its likely timescale. However, sometimes the need for confidentiality may prevent us giving you specific details of the investigation or any disciplinary action taken as a result. You should treat any information about the investigation as confidential.

    20. If we conclude that a whistleblower has made false allegations maliciously, in bad faith or with a view to personal gain, the whistleblower will be subject to disciplinary action.

      If you are not satisfied

    21. While we cannot always guarantee the outcome you are seeking, we will try to deal with your concern fairly and in an appropriate way. By using this policy you can help us to achieve this.

    22. If you are not happy with the way in which your concern has been handled, you can raise it with one of the other key contacts in paragraph 15.8 to paragraph 15.11. Alternatively you may contact the chairman of the Audit Committee OR board of directors (the board) or our external auditors. Contact details are set out at the end of this policy.

      Protection and support for whistleblowers

    23. It is understandable that whistleblowers are sometimes worried about possible repercussions. We aim to encourage openness and will support staff who raise genuine concerns in good faith under this policy, even if they turn out to be mistaken.

    24. Staff must not suffer any detrimental treatment as a result of raising a concern in good faith. Detrimental treatment includes dismissal, disciplinary action, threats or other unfavourable treatment connected with raising a concern. If you believe that you have suffered any such treatment, you should inform the Whistleblowing Officer immediately. If the matter is not remedied you should raise it formally using our Grievance Procedure.

    25. Staff must not threaten or retaliate against whistleblowers in any way. Anyone involved in such conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.

  14. MATERNITY POLICY
    1. This policy outlines the statutory rights and responsibilities of employees who are pregnant or have recently given birth, and sets out the arrangements for ante-natal care, pregnancy-related sickness, health and safety, and maternity leave. It does not apply to agency workers or the self-employed.

      Definitions

    2. The definitions in this paragraph apply in this policy.

      Expected Week of Childbirth: the week, starting on a Sunday, in which your doctor or midwife expects you to give birth.

      Qualifying Week: the fifteenth week before the Expected Week of Childbirth.

      Notification

    3. You must inform us as soon as possible that you are pregnant. This is important as there may be health and safety considerations (see paragraph 16.11 to paragraph 16.12).

    4. Before the end of the Qualifying Week, or as soon as reasonably practical afterwards, you must tell us:

      1. that you are pregnant;
      2. the Expected Week of Childbirth; and
      3. the date on which you would like to start your maternity leave (Intended Start Date) (see paragraph 16.14 to paragraph 16.22).
    5. You must provide a certificate from a doctor or midwife (usually on a MAT B1 form) confirming your Expected Week of Childbirth.

      Time off for ante-natal care

    6. If you are pregnant you may take reasonable paid time off during working hours for ante-natal care. This may include any relaxation or parentcraft classes that your doctor, midwife or health visitor has advised you to attend. You should try to give us as much notice as possible of the appointment.

    7. We may ask you to provide the following, unless it is the first appointment:

      1. a certificate from the doctor, midwife or health visitor stating that you are pregnant; and
      2. an appointment card.

      Sickness

    8. Periods of pregnancy-related sickness absence shall be paid in accordance with the statutory sick pay scheme OR your contract of employment OR our Sickness Absence Policy in the same manner as any other sickness absence. Sick pay under your contract of employment OR our Sickness Absence Policy is normally paid for up to NUMBER days' OR weeks' OR months' absence in any 12 month period. Any payment of sick pay in excess of this as a result of pregnancy-related sickness shall be entirely at our discretion.

    9. 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.

    10. 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 16.14 to paragraph 16.22).

      Health and safety

    11. We have a general duty to take care of the health and safety of all employees. We are also required to carry out a risk assessment to assess the workplace risks to women who are pregnant, have given birth within the last six months or are still breastfeeding.

    12. We will provide you with information as to any risks identified in the risk assessment, and any preventive and protective measures that have been or will be taken. If we consider that, as a new or expectant mother, you would be exposed to health hazards in carrying out your normal work we will take such steps as are necessary (for as long as they are necessary) to avoid those risks. This may involve:

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

      Entitlement to maternity leave

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

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

      Starting maternity leave

    14. 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).

    15. You must notify us of your Intended Start Date in accordance with paragraph 16.4(c). We will then write to you within 28 days to inform you of the date we will expect you to return to work if you take your full entitlement to maternity leave (Expected Return Date).

    16. 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.

    17. 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.

    18. Maternity leave shall start on the earlier of:

      1. your Intended Start Date (if notified to us in accordance with this policy); or
      2. 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; or
      3. the day after you give birth.
    19. If you are absent for a pregnancy-related reason during the four weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth, you must let us know as soon as possible in writing. Maternity leave will be triggered under paragraph 16.18(b) unless we agree to delay it.

    20. 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.

    21. The law prohibits you from working during the two weeks following childbirth.

    22. 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.

      Statutory maternity pay

    23. 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 18.37 to paragraph 16.38). You are entitled to SMP if:

      1. 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;
      2. 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;
      3. you provide us with a doctor's or midwife's certificate (MAT B1 form) stating your Expected Week of Childbirth;
      4. 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
      5. you are still pregnant 11 weeks before the start of the Expected Week of Childbirth or have already given birth.
    24. SMP is calculated as follows:

      1. First six weeks: SMP is paid at the Earnings-Related Rate of 90% of your average weekly earnings calculated over the Relevant Period;
      2. 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.
    25. SMP accrues from the day on which you commence your OML and thereafter at the end of each complete week of absence. SMP payments shall be made on the next normal payroll date and income tax, National Insurance and pension contributions shall be deducted as appropriate.

    26. You shall still be 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 shall start to accrue in whichever is the later of:

      1. the week following the week in which employment ends; or
      2. the eleventh week before the Expected Week of Childbirth.
    27. 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

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

      1. benefits in kind such as life insurance, health insurance, gym membership and use of a company vehicle if applicable shall continue;
      2. annual leave entitlement under your contract shall continue to accrue (see paragraph 16.29 to paragraph 16.31); and
      3. pension benefits shall continue (see paragraph 16.32 to paragraph 16.34).

      Annual leave

    29. During OML and AML, annual leave will accrue at the rate provided under your contract.

    30. Annual leave cannot usually be carried over from one holiday year to the next. If the holiday year is due to end during your maternity leave, you should ensure that you have taken the full year's entitlement before starting your maternity leave.

    31. Our holiday year runs from 1 January to 31 December.

      Pensions

    32. 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 or the Pensions Administrator directly.

    33. The period of OML and any further period of paid maternity leave counts towards our final-salary pension scheme as pensionable service, provided you make the necessary minimum contributions based on the maternity pay you are receiving.

    34. 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

    35. 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

    36. We may make reasonable contact with you from time to time during your maternity leave.

    37. You may work (including attending training) for up to ten days during maternity leave without bringing your maternity leave or SMP to an end. The arrangements, including pay, would be set by agreement with your line manager or the Human Resources Department. You are not obliged to undertake any such work during maternity leave. In any case, you must not work in the two weeks following birth.

    38. 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:

      1. updating you on any changes that have occurred during your absence;
      2. any training needs you might have; and
      3. any changes to working arrangements (for example if you have made a request to work part-time; see paragraph 16.51).

      Expected return date

    39. 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.

    40. We will expect you back at work on your Expected Return Date unless you tell us otherwise. It will help us if, during your maternity leave, you are able to confirm that you will be returning to work as expected.

      Returning early

    41. If you wish to return to work earlier than the Expected Return Date, you must give us eight weeks' prior notice. It is helpful if you give this notice in writing.

    42. If not enough notice is given, we may postpone your return date until eight weeks after you gave notice, or to the Expected Return Date if sooner.

      Returning late

    43. If you wish to return later than the Expected Return Date, you should either:

      1. 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
      2. request paid annual leave in accordance with your contract, which will be at our discretion.
    44. 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.

    45. In any other case, late return will be treated as unauthorised absence.

      Deciding not to return

    46. 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.

    47. Once you have given notice that you will not be returning to work, you cannot change your mind without our agreement.

    48. This does not affect your right to receive SMP.

      Your rights when you return

    49. You are normally entitled to return to work in the same the Managing Director as you held before commencing leave. Your terms of employment shall be the same as they would have been had you not been absent.

    50. 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 the Managing Director, we may give you another suitable and appropriate job on terms and conditions that are not less favourable.

      Returning to work part-time

    51. 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.

  15. PATERNITY POLICY
    1. This policy outlines employees' entitlement to paternity leave and sets out the arrangements for taking it. The policy does not apply to agency workers or the self-employed.

    2. No-one will be discriminated against or subjected to a detriment for taking leave in accordance with this policy.

      Definitions

    3. The definitions in this paragraph apply in this policy. Partner: someone (whether of a different sex or the same sex) with whom you live in an enduring family relationship, but who is not your parent, grandparent, sister, brother, aunt or uncle.

      Expected Week of Childbirth: the week, beginning on a Sunday, in which their doctor or midwife expects your spouse, civil partner or Partner to give birth.

      Expected Placement Date: the date on which an adoption agency expects that it will place a child into your care with a view to adoption.

      Personnel responsible for implementing the policy

    4. Our board of directors (the board) OR COMMITTEE OR the Managing Director has overall responsibility for the effective operation of this policy and for ensuring compliance with the relevant statutory framework. The board OR COMMITTEE OR the Managing Director has delegated day-to-day responsibility for operating the policy and ensuring its maintenance and review to the Managing Director.

    5. 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 paternity leave

    6. Certain employees can take paternity leave in relation to the birth or adoption of a child. However, in adoption cases paternity leave is not available to an employee who decides to take adoption leave. Further details of adoption leave are set out in our Adoption Policy.

    7. You are entitled to ordinary paternity leave (OPL) if you meet all the following conditions:

      1. You have been continuously employed by us for at least 26 weeks ending with:
        1. in birth cases, the week immediately before the 14th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth.
        2. in adoption cases, the week in which you or your Partner are notified by an adoption agency that you/they have been matched with a child.
      2. You:
        1. are the biological father of the child;
        2. have been matched with a child by an adoption agency;
        3. are the spouse, civil partner or Partner of the child's mother; or
        4. are the spouse, civil partner or Partner of someone who has been matched with a child by an adoption agency.
      3. You:
        1. expect to have main responsibility (with the child's mother, coadopter or adopter) for the child's upbringing; or
        2. are the child's biological father and you expect to have some responsibility for the child's upbringing.
      4. Your intended leave is for the purpose of caring for the child, or supporting the child's mother, adopter or co-adopter in caring for the child.
    8. If your baby is due on or after 3 April 2011 or you are notified of having been matched for adoption on or after 3 April 2011, you are entitled to additional paternity leave (APL) if, in addition to the conditions in paragraph 17.7 above:

      1. You remain employed by us until the week before the first week of your APL;
      2. The child's mother or your co-adopter, as the case may be, has been entitled to statutory leave:
        1. in birth cases, the child's mother has been entitled to maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance in respect of her pregnancy, or
        2. in adoption cases, the child's adopter has been entitled to one or both of adoption leave or statutory adoption pay in respect of the child's adoption; and
      3. The child's mother or your co-adopter, as the case may be, had returned to work.

      Timing and length of paternity leave

    9. OPL must be taken as a period of either one week or two consecutive weeks. It cannot be taken in instalments.

    10. OPL can be taken from the date of the child's birth or adoption placement, but must end:

      1. In birth cases, within 56 days of the child's birth, or if the child is born before the first day of the Expected Week of Childbirth, within 56 days of the first day of the Expected Week of Childbirth.
      2. In adoption cases, within 56 days of the child's placement.
    11. APL must be taken as multiples of complete weeks and as one period. The minimum amount of APL that can be taken is two weeks and the maximum is 26 weeks.

    12. APL must be taken in the period beginning 20 weeks after the child's date of birth, or adoption placement, and ending 12 months after that date of birth or adoption.

      Notification (birth)

    13. If you wish to take OPL in relation to a child's birth, you must give us notice in writing of your intention to do so and confirm:

      1. The Expected Week of Childbirth;
      2. Whether you intend to take one week's leave or two consecutive weeks' leave; and
      3. When you would like to start your leave. You can state that your leave will start on:
        1. the day of the child's birth;
        2. a day which is a specified number of days after the child's birth; or
        3. a specific date later than the first date of the Expected Week of Childbirth.
    14. You must give notice under paragraph 17.13 before the 14th week prior to the Expected Week of Childbirth (or, if this is not possible, as soon as you can).

    15. We may require a signed declaration from you that you are taking OPL for a purpose for which it is intended; namely, to care for the child or to support the child's mother in caring for the child.

    16. If you wish to take APL in relation to a child's birth, you must provide us with the following at least eight weeks before the date on which you would like to start your leave:

      1. A written "leave notice" stating:
        1. the Expected Week of Childbirth;
        2. the child's date of birth; and
        3. the dates on which you would like your APL to start and finish.
      2. A signed "employee declaration" confirming that:
        1. you are either the child's father or that you are the spouse, Partner or civil partner of the child's mother;
        2. apart from the child's mother, you have or expect to have the main responsibility for the upbringing of the child; and
        3. you wish to take APL in order to care for the child.
      3. A written "mother declaration" from the child's mother stating:
        1. her name, address and National Insurance number;
        2. the date she intends to return to work;
        3. your relationship with the child;
        4. that, to her knowledge, you are the only person exercising an entitlement to APL in respect of the child; and
        5. that she consents to us processing the information she has provided.

        A combined leave notice and employee declaration form and a mother declaration form are available from Human Resources OR IDENTIFY SOURCE.

    17. We will write to you to confirm the start and finish dates of your APL within 28 days of receiving your leave notice, your employee declaration and the child's mother's declaration.

    18. We may require you to provide a copy of the child's birth certificate and the name and address of the mother's employer or, if she is self-employed, her business address.

      Notification (adoption)

    19. If you wish to take OPL in relation to the adoption of a child, you must give us notice in writing of your intention to do so and confirm:

      1. The date on which you or your spouse, civil partner or Partner were notified of having been matched with the child, together with the Expected Placement Date;
      2. Whether you intend to take one week's leave or two consecutive weeks' leave; and
      3. When you would like to start your leave. You can state that your leave will start on:
        1. the day on which the child is placed with you or the adopter;
        2. a day which is a specified number of days after the child's placement; or
        3. a specific date later than the Expected Placement Date.
    20. You must give notice under paragraph 17.19 no more than seven days after you or your spouse, civil partner or Partner were notified of having been matched with the child (or, if this is not possible, as soon as you can).

    21. We may require a signed declaration from you that you are taking OPL for a purpose for which it is intended; namely, to care for the child or to support your spouse, civil partner or Partner in caring for the child.

    22. If you wish to take APL following a child's adoption, you must provide us with the following at least eight weeks before the date on which you would like to start your leave:

      1. A written "leave notice" stating:
        1. the date on which you were notified that you had been matched with the child;
        2. the date on which the child was placed with you; and
        3. the dates on which you would like your APL to start and finish.
      2. A signed "employee declaration" confirming that:
        1. you have been matched for adoption with the child;
        2. you are either the spouse, Partner or civil partner of the child's co-adopter; and
        3. you wish to take APL in order to care for the child.
      3. A written "adopter declaration" from the child's adopter stating:
        1. their name, address and National Insurance number;
        2. the date they intend to return to work;
        3. that you are their spouse, Partner or civil partner; and
        4. that they consent to us processing the information they have provided.

        A combined leave notice and employee declaration form and an adopter declaration form are available from Human Resources OR IDENTIFY SOURCE.

    23. We will write to you to confirm the start and finish dates of your APL within 28 days of receiving your leave notice, your employee declaration and the adopter's declaration.

    24. We may require you to provide the following:

      1. The name and address of the adopter's employer or, if they are self- employed, their business address.
      2. Documentary evidence issued by the adoption agency that matched you with the child which confirms:
        1. the name and address of the adoption agency;
        2. the date on which you were notified that you had been matched with the child; and
        3. the date on which the agency expected to place the child with you.

      Changing the dates of OPL or APL

    25. Where you are to take OPL in respect of a child's birth, you can give us written notice to vary the start date of your leave from that which you originally specified in the notice given under paragraph 17.13. This notice should be given:

      1. Where you wish to vary your leave to start on the day of the child's birth, at least 28 days before the first day of the Expected Week of Childbirth.
      2. Where you wish to vary your leave to start a specified number of days after the child's birth, at least 28 days (minus the specified number of days) before the first day of the Expected Week of Childbirth.
      3. Where you wish to vary your leave to start on a specific date (or a different date from that you originally specified), at least 28 days before that date.
    26. Where you are to take OPL in respect of a child's adoption, you can give us written notice to vary the start date of your leave from that which you originally specified in the notice given under paragraph 17.19. This notice should be given:

      1. Where you wish to vary your leave to start on the day that the child is placed with you or the adopter, at least 28 days before the Expected Placement Date.
      2. Where you wish to vary your leave to start a specified number of days after the child's placement, at least 28 days (minus the specified number of days) before the Expected Placement Date.
      3. Where you wish to vary your leave to start on a specific date (or a different date from that you originally specified), at least 28 days before that date.
    27. If you are unable to give us 28 days' written notice of the wish to vary the start of your leave as set out above, you should give us written notice of the change as soon as you can.

    28. Where you are to take APL, following either the birth or adoption of a child, you are entitled to give us written notice to cancel or vary the start or finish dates that you previously notified to us in accordance with paragraph 17.16 or paragraph 17.22. You need to do this:

      1. At least six weeks before the date you originally told us was the date on which you wanted to start your APL; or
      2. If you want to start your APL earlier than that original start date, at least six weeks before the date on which you now wish your APL to start.
    29. If you are unable to give six weeks' notice you should give us written notice of your wishes as soon as possible. However, in these circumstances, if we are unable to accommodate your request we may require you to take a period of APL of up to six weeks starting on either your original or revised start date. If you wish to discuss varying or cancelling your APL in these circumstances you should speak to Human Resources OR IDENTIFY DEPARTMENT OR POST.

      Statutory paternity pay

    30. In this paragraph, Relevant Period means:

      1. In birth cases, the eight-week period ending immediately before the 14th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth.
      2. In adoption cases, the eight-week period ending immediately before the week in which you or your spouse, civil partner or Partner were notified of being matched with the child.
    31. If you take OPL in accordance with this policy, you will be entitled to ordinary statutory paternity pay (OSPP) if, during the Relevant Period, your average weekly earnings are not less than the lower earnings limit set by the government.

    32. If you take APL in accordance with this policy, you may be entitled to additional statutory paternity pay (ASPP). Whether and, if so, for how long you may be entitled to ASPP will depend on:

      1. Your average weekly earnings being not less than the lower earnings limit set by the government during the Relevant Period; and
      2. The child's mother or your co-adopter, as the case may be, having returned to work without having taken at least two weeks of their maternity allowance, maternity pay or adoption pay period. Your entitlement to ASPP will equate to the number of weeks of unexpired maternity allowance, maternity pay or adoption pay that remained when the child's mother or your co-adopter returned to work.
    33. OSPP and ASPP are paid at a prescribed rate which is set by the government for the relevant tax year, or at 90% of your average weekly earnings calculated over the Relevant Period if this is lower. For details of the current prescribed rate, please contact the Human Resources Department OR DEPARTMENT OR the Managing Director.

      Terms and conditions during OPL and APL

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

      1. Benefits in kind such as life insurance, health insurance, gym membership and use of a company vehicle if applicable shall continue;
      2. Annual leave entitlement under your contract shall continue to accrue; and
      3. Pension benefits shall continue.

      Annual leave

    35. During OPL and APL, annual leave will accrue at the rate provided under your contract.

    36. Annual leave cannot usually be carried over from one holiday year to the next. If the holiday year is due to end during your absence on paternity leave, you should ensure that you have taken your full year's entitlement before your paternity leave starts.

    37. Our holiday year runs from 1 January to 31 December.

      Pensions

    38. During OPL and APL 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 paternity leave provided that you continue to make contributions based on the paternity pay you are receiving. If you wish to increase your contributions to make up any shortfall from those based on your normal salary you should contact the Human Resources Department OR the Pensions Administrator directly OR OTHER.

    39. The periods of both OPL and APL count towards our final-salary pension scheme as pensionable service, provided you make the necessary minimum contributions based on the paternity pay you are receiving.

    40. During any unpaid APL we shall not make any payments into a money purchase scheme and the time shall not be counted as pensionable service under our 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 APL

    41. In the event that your post is affected by a redundancy situation occurring during paternity 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 APL will be among those given priority with regard to suitable alternative vacancies that are appropriate to their skills.

      Keeping in touch during APL

    42. We may make reasonable contact with you from time to time during your APL.

    43. You may work (including attending training) for up to ten days during APL without bringing your paternity leave or your ASPP to an end. The arrangements, including pay, would be set by agreement with your line manager or the Human Resources Department. You are not obliged to undertake any such work during paternity leave.

    44. 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 on your return. This may cover:

      1. Updating you on any changes that have occurred during your absence;
      2. Any training needs you might have; and
      3. Any changes to working arrangements (for example, that you may have requested come into effect on your return).

      Returning to work

    45. You are normally entitled to return to work following either OPL or APL to the same the Managing Director you held before commencing leave. Your terms of employment will be the same as they would have been had you not been absent.

    46. However, if you have combined your OPL or APL with a period of:

      1. additional maternity leave;
      2. additional adoption leave; or
      3. parental leave of more than four weeks,

      and it is not reasonably practicable for you to return to the same job, we will offer you a suitable and appropriate alternative the Managing Director.

    47. If you wish to return early from APL, you must give us at least six weeks' prior notice. Your ability to do so is subject to the matters set out in paragraph 17.25 to paragraph 17.29.

    48. If you wish to postpone your return from APL, you should either:

      1. 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
      2. Request paid annual leave in accordance with your contract, which will be at our discretion.
    49. If you are unable to return to work from APL as expected due to sickness or injury, this will be treated as sickness absence and our Sickness Absence Policy will apply.

    50. In any other case, a late return will be treated as unauthorised absence.

    51. We will deal with any requests by employees to change their working patterns (such as working part-time) after paternity leave on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with our Flexible Working Policy. We will try to accommodate your wishes unless there is a justifiable reason for refusal, bearing in mind the needs of the business. It is helpful if requests are made as early as possible.

    52. 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 submit your resignation in accordance with your contract. Once you have done so you will be unable to change your mind without our agreement. This does not affect your right to receive SPP.

  16. PARENTAL LEAVE POLICY
    1. The law recognises and we respect that there will be occasions when working parents wish to take time off work to care for or spend time with their child or children.

    2. This policy reflects the statutory right of employees with at least one year's continuous service to take up to 13 weeks' unpaid parental leave in respect of each child, and up to 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave in respect of a child who is entitled to disability living allowance.

    3. No-one will be subjected to a detriment for taking or seeking to take parental leave in accordance with this policy.

    4. This policy does not apply to agency workers, consultants or self-employed contractors.

      Entitlement to parental leave

    5. Employees who fulfil the criteria set out in paragraph 19.7 and paragraph 19.8 are entitled to take up to 13 weeks' parental leave in relation to each child for whom they are responsible. This entitlement is increased to 18 weeks where the child is entitled to a disability living allowance. The rules on how and when parental leave can be taken are set out in paragraph 19.9 to paragraph 19.19.

    6. Any parental leave that employees take in relation to a child while working for another employer counts towards their 13-(or 18-) week entitlement. If you have taken parental leave in relation to a child during previous or concurrent employment, you should provide details to the Managing Director.

    7. To take a period of parental leave in relation to a child, you must:

      1. have at least one year's continuous employment;
      2. have or expect to have responsibility for the child; and
      3. be taking the leave to spend time with or otherwise care for the child.
    8. You have responsibility for a child for the purposes of paragraph 19.7 if you:

      1. are the child's biological mother or father (whether or not you are living with the child);
      2. are the child's adoptive parent; or
      3. otherwise have legal parental responsibility for the child. For example, if you are the child's guardian.

      Timing of parental leave

    9. You can only take parental leave:

      1. before the child's fifth birthday; or
      2. in the case of a child entitled to a disability living allowance, before the child's 18th birthday; or
      3. in the case of an adopted child, before the fifth anniversary of the date of placement or, if sooner, the child's 18th birthday.
    10. Unless the leave is to be taken in respect of a child entitled to a disability living allowance, you:

      1. can only take parental leave in blocks of a week's leave or a multiple of a week's leave; and
      2. are only entitled to take four weeks' parental leave each year in relation to each child. A year for this purpose begins on the date when you became entitled to take parental leave in relation to the child in question.

      Notification requirements

    11. You must give your line manager OR the Human Resources Department OR the Managing Director notice of your intention to take parental leave. It would be helpful if you can give this notice in writing. The notice requirements are as follows:

      1. If you wish to take parental leave commencing immediately on the birth of a child, you must give notice of this intention at least 21 days before the start of the expected week of childbirth (EWC). The notice must specify the EWC and the duration of the period of leave required.
      2. If you wish to take parental leave commencing immediately on the adoption of a child, you should give notice of this intention at least 21 days before the start of the expected week of placement (EWP). If this is not possible, you must give as much notice as you can. The notice must specify the EWP and the duration of the period of leave required.
      3. In all other circumstances, you must give notice of your intention to take parental leave at least 21 days before you intend the leave to start. The notice must specify the dates on which the period of leave is to begin and end.
    12. If you wish to take a period of parental leave immediately after a period of paternity leave, it would be helpful if you could give your line manager OR the Human Resources Department OR the Managing Director notice of that intention at least 21 days before the start of the EWC (or EWP, if applicable). If this is not possible, you should give as much notice as you can. If you do not give notice at least seven days before your period of paternity leave starts, we might not allow you to take the period of parental leave requested. However, we shall consider each case on its merits.

      Evidential requirements

    13. Before you take a period of parental leave under this policy, you must provide us with evidence of:

      1. your responsibility or expected responsibility for the child;
      2. the child's date of birth or date of adoption placement; and
      3. if applicable, the child's entitlement to a disability living allowance.
    14. For details of what evidence is required in your particular circumstances, or if you have difficulties obtaining the evidence, please contact your line manager OR the Human Resources Department OR the Managing Director.

      Our right to postpone parental leave

    15. Where you give notice in accordance with paragraph 19.11 of your intention to take parental leave on the birth or adoption of a child, we shall not postpone that leave.

    16. We shall not postpone parental leave if, in the case of an adopted or disabled child, the postponement would result in the leave being taken after the child's 18th birthday.

    17. However, in any other circumstances we might postpone a proposed period of parental leave for up to six months where the leave as planned would unduly disrupt our business. We might do so, for example, where:

      1. you wish to take parental leave during a peak period;
      2. a number of employees wish to take parental leave at the same time;
      3. your work is of importance to a time-critical project; or
      4. cover for your work cannot be found before the date on which your parental leave is due to start.
    18. If we decide to postpone your parental leave, we shall:

      1. consult with you about the date to which the leave might be postponed; and
      2. no more than seven days after you gave notice of your intention to take the leave, give you written notice stating the reason for the postponement and the new beginning and end dates of the leave which we will allow you to take.
    19. You will not lose your parental leave entitlement if, because our postponement of such leave, the leave remains untaken on your child's fifth birthday (or on the fifth anniversary of the child's adoption placement, if applicable).

      Terms and conditions during parental leave

    20. Parental leave under this policy is unpaid. Your contractual provisions relating to pay and benefits are suspended during parental leave.

    21. However, during parental leave you are entitled to benefit from any contractual terms you have in relation to being given notice, redundancy compensation and disciplinary and grievance procedures.

    22. During parental leave you will remain bound by your obligation of good faith towards us, as well as any contractual terms relating to the giving of notice, the disclosure of confidential information, the acceptance of gifts and benefits, and your freedom to participate in another business (for example, by working for a third party).

      Pensions

    23. If you are a member of a defined benefit (final salary) pension scheme, a period of parental leave under this policy will count towards your pensionable service.

    24. If you are a member of a defined contribution (money purchase) pension scheme, we shall not make contributions during a period of unpaid parental leave.

      Returning to work

    25. You are normally entitled to return to work following parental leave to the same the Managing Director you held before commencing leave. Your terms of employment will be the same as they would have been had you not been absent.

    26. However, it might not be possible for us to allow you to return to the same job where your period of parental leave has been longer than four weeks, or has been combined with a period of additional maternity or adoption leave. In such circumstances, we will offer you a suitable and appropriate alternative the Managing Director.

    27. We will deal with any requests by employees to change their working patterns (such as working part-time) after parental leave on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with our Flexible Working Policy. 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 flexible working requests are made as early as possible.

      Abuse of this policy

    28. Where an employee takes a period of parental leave under this policy for purposes other than spending time with or otherwise caring for their child, this will be dealt with as a disciplinary issue under our Disciplinary Procedure.

  17. TIME OFF FOR DEPENDANTS POLICY
    1. The law recognises and we respect that there will be occasions when you will need to take time off work to deal with unexpected events involving one of your dependants OR someone close to you.

    2. This time off for dependants policy gives all staff OR employees the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to deal with certain situations affecting their dependants. We are committed to a programme of action to make this policy effective and to bring it to the attention of all staff OR employees.

    3. No-one who takes time off in accordance with this policy will be subjected to any detriment.

    4. This policy does not apply to agency workers, consultants or self-employed contractors.

      The right to reasonable unpaid time off

    5. All staff OR employees have a right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work when it is necessary to:

      1. provide assistance when a dependant falls ill, gives birth, is injured or assaulted;
      2. make longer-term care arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured;
      3. take action required in consequence of the death of a dependant;
      4. deal with the unexpected disruption, termination or breakdown of arrangements for the care of a dependant; or
      5. deal with an unexpected incident involving their child during school hours (or those of another educational establishment).
    6. A dependant for the purposes of this policy is:

      1. an employee's OR your spouse, civil partner, parent or child;
      2. a person who lives in the same household as the employee OR you, but who is not their OR your tenant, lodger, boarder or employee; or
      3. anyone else who reasonably relies on the employee OR you to provide assistance, make arrangements or take action of the kind referred to in paragraph 20.5.
    7. Staff OR Employees are only entitled to take time off under this policy to provide personal care for a dependant where there is an immediate crisis. If you know well in advance that you wish to take time off to care for a dependant yourself, rather than arrange for someone else to do so, this policy will not apply. You should take advice from the Managing Directori f you need to take time off work in these circumstances.

    8. For the right to time off under this policy to arise, it must be necessary for you to take action in relation to a dependant. Whether action is necessary will depend on the nature of the problem, the closeness of the relationship between you, and whether someone else is available to assist. Action is unlikely to be considered necessary if you knew in advance that a problem might arise but didn't make alternative arrangements for a dependant's care.

    9. Reasonable time off in relation to a particular problem will not normally be more than one day OR two days. However, we will always consider each set of circumstances on their facts.

      Exercising the right to time off

    10. You will only be entitled to time off under this policy if, as soon as is reasonably practicable, you tell the Managing Director:

      1. the reason for your absence; and
      2. how long you expect to be away from work.
    11. If you fail to notify us as required by paragraph 20.10, you may be subject to disciplinary proceedings under our Disciplinary Procedure for taking unauthorised time off.

    12. Where it is possible to do so in advance or when you return to work after taking time off under this policy, we might ask you to provide evidence for your reasons for taking the time off. Suspected abuse of this policy will be dealt with as a disciplinary issue under our Disciplinary Procedure.

  18. COMPASSIONATE LEAVE
    1. Compassionate leave is designed to help a member of staff OR an employee where they need to deal with necessary arrangements for or assist a close relative who is seriously or critically ill.

      Entitlement

    2. Staff OR Employees are entitled to take paid compassionate leave of up to NUMBER days in any 12-month period in respect of a spouse or partner, child, stepchild, grandchild, parent, step-parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, brother or sister, stepbrother or stepsister, or brother or sister-in-law.

    3. We may exercise our discretion to grant paid compassionate leave in respect of any other relative or close friend, depending on the circumstances of each case.

    4. A member of staff OR An employee who is unable to return to work following a period of compassionate leave should contact their line manager OR the Human Resources Department. It may be appropriate to take a period of annual leave or unpaid leave in those circumstances.

      Requesting compassionate leave

    5. We recognise that it may not always be possible to request compassionate leave in advance. However, where it is possible, you should make a request to your line manager OR the Managing Director. You should tell them the reasons for your request and the number of days leave you would like to take.

    6. Where it is not possible to request leave in advance you should contact your line manager OR the Managing Director as soon as possible to tell them the reason for your absence and the number of days you expect to be absent. Someone can do this on your behalf if necessary.

    7. In exceptional circumstances we may have to refuse a request for compassionate leave. If so your line manager OR the Managing Director will give you a written explanation for the refusal. If you are dissatisfied with this decision you may appeal to the Managing Director in writing OR make a complaint under our Grievance Procedure within NUMBER days of receipt of the written reasons for refusal.

  19. BEREAVEMENT LEAVE
    1. Bereavement leave is designed to help a member of staff OR an employee cope with the death of a close relative, to deal with necessary arrangements and attend their funeral.

      Entitlement

    2. Staff OR Employees are entitled to take paid bereavement leave of up to NUMBER days in the event of the death of a spouse or partner, child, stepchild, grandchild, parent, step-parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, brother or sister, stepbrother or stepsister, or brother or sister-in-law.

    3. We may exercise our discretion to grant paid bereavement leave in the event of the death of any other relative or close friend, depending on the circumstances of each case.

    4. A member of staff OR An employee who is unable to return to work following a period of bereavement leave should contact their line manager OR the Human Resources Department. It may be appropriate to take a period of sickness absence, annual leave or unpaid leave in those circumstances.

      Requesting bereavement leave

    5. We recognise that it may not always be possible to request bereavement leave in advance. However, where it is possible, you should make a request to your line manager OR the Managing Director. You should tell them the reasons for your request and the number of days leave you would like to take.

    6. Where it is not possible to request leave in advance you should contact your line manager OR the Managing Directoras soon as possible to tell them the reason for your absence and the number of days you will be absent. Someone can do this on your behalf if necessary.

    7. In exceptional circumstances we may have to refuse a request for bereavement leave. If so your line manager OR the Managing Director will give you a written explanation for the refusal. If you are dissatisfied with this decision you may appeal to the Managing Director in writing OR make a complaint under our Grievance Procedure within NUMBER days of receipt of the written reasons for the refusal.

  20. HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY
    1. We are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our staff and customers OR and clients OR and anyone affected by our business activities and to providing a safe environment for all those attending our premises through regular assessments of risks in the workplace.

    2. In particular we are committed to maintaining safe and healthy working conditions through control of the health and safety risks arising from our work activities , provision and maintenance of safe plant and equipment , ensuring the safe handling and use of substances , consulting with our staff and providing appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision and taking steps to prevent accidents and cases of work-related ill health.

      What is covered by this policy?

    3. In accordance with our health and safety duties, we are responsible for:

      1. Assessing risks to health and safety and identifying ways to overcome them.
      2. Providing and maintaining a healthy and safe place to work and a safe means of entering and leaving our premises, including emergency procedures for use when needed.
      3. Providing information, instruction, training and supervision in safe working methods and procedures as well as working areas and equipment that are safe and without risks to health.
      4. Ensuring that equipment has all necessary safety devices installed, that equipment is properly maintained and that appropriate protective clothing is provided.
      5. Promoting co-operation between members of staff to ensure safe and healthy conditions and systems of work by discussion and effective joint consultation and the establishment of a safety committee, safety representatives and accident investigations where applicable.
      6. Regularly monitoring and reviewing the management of health and safety at work, making any necessary changes and bringing those to the attention of all staff.
    4. The board OR Chief Executive has overall responsibility for health and safety and the operation of this policy. The board OR Chief Executive has nominated the Managing Director as the Principal Health and Safety Officer with day-today responsibility for health and safety matters.

    5. All staff must also recognise that everyone shares responsibility for achieving healthy and safe working conditions. You must consider the health and safety implications of your acts or omissions and take reasonable care for your health and safety and that of others.

    6. Any health and safety concerns should be reported to the Principal Health and Safety Officer.

      Standards of workplace behaviour

    7. You must co-operate with the Principal Health and Safety Officer, supervisors and managers on health and safety matters and comply with any health and safety instructions.

    8. You must take reasonable care of your own health and safety and that of others by observing safety rules applicable to you and following instructions for the use of equipment (including safety equipment and protective clothing).

    9. Any health and safety concern, however trivial it might seem, including any potential risk, hazard or malfunction of equipment, must be reported to the Principal Health and Safety Officer or your line manager.

    10. You must co-operate in the investigation of any accident or incident that has led, or which we consider might have led, to injury.

    11. Failure to comply with health and safety rules and instructions or with the requirements of this policy may be treated as misconduct and dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.

      Information and consultation

    12. We are committed to providing information, instruction and supervision on health and safety matters for all staff as well as consulting with them regarding arrangements for health and safety management.

      Equipment

    13. All staff must use equipment in accordance with operating instructions, instructions given by managers OR supervisors and any relevant training. Any fault with, damage to or concern about any equipment or its use must immediately be reported to the Principal Health and Safety Officer OR the Managing Director.

    14. Employees must ensure that health and safety equipment is not interfered with and that any damage is immediately reported.

    15. No member of staff should attempt to repair equipment unless trained and designated to do so. Failure to report damage to or a fault with equipment or failure to use it as directed may result in action under our Disciplinary Procedure.

      Accidents and first aid

    16. Any accident at work involving personal injury should be reported to the Principal Health and Safety Officer so that details can be recorded in the Accident Book. All staff must cooperate with any resulting investigation.

    17. Details of first aid facilities and trained first aiders are displayed on the notice boards OR available from the Principal Health and Safety Officer OR the Managing Director OR DEPARTMENT. First aiders are also noted in the telephone directory. When an accident or illness occurs dial NUMBER and ask for the duty first aider. Give your name, location and brief details of the problem.

    18. If you suffer an accident at work you (or someone on your behalf) must report that fact to the Principal Health and Safety Officer or your manager as soon as possible. All accidents should be reported, however trivial. The accident will be recorded in our Accident Book which is kept in the Human Resources Department.

      Emergency evacuation and fire precautions

    19. You should familiarise yourself with the instructions about what to do in the event of fire which are displayed on notice boards OR on the intranet OR available from the Principal Health and Safety Officer OR the Managing Director OR DEPARTMENT. You should also know where the fire extinguishers are, ensure that you are aware of your nearest fire exit and alternative ways of leaving the building in an emergency.

    20. Fire wardens are responsible for the effective evacuation of designated areas. In the event of a suspected fire or fire alarm you must follow their instructions.

    21. Regular fire drills will be held to ensure that our fire procedures are effective and to ensure you are familiar with them. These drills are important and must be taken seriously.

    22. You should notify the Principal Health and Safety Officer or your manager as soon as possible if there is anything (for example, impaired mobility) that might impede your evacuation in the event of a fire. A personal evacuation plan will be drawn up and brought to the attention of the fire warden responsible for overseeing your evacuation and colleagues working in your vicinity.

    23. If you discover a fire you should not attempt to tackle it unless you have been trained or feel competent to do so. You should operate the nearest fire alarm and, if you have sufficient time, call reception or the Managing Director and report the location of the fire.

    24. On hearing the fire alarm you should remain calm and walking quickly, not running, evacuate the building immediately following the instructions of the fire wardens. Do not stop to collect personal possessions , do not use the lifts, and do not re-enter the building until you are told that it is safe to do so. Risk assessments, DSE and manual handling

    25. General workplace risk assessments are carried out when required or as reasonably requested by members of staff or management. Managers are responsible for ensuring that any necessary risk assessments are undertaken and that recommended changes to the workplace and working practices are implemented.

    26. If you use a computer for prolonged periods of time you can request a workstation assessment by contacting the Principal Health and Safety Officer or your line manager. Information on the use of display screen equipment can also be obtained from the Principal Health and Safety Officer OR DEPARTMENT.

    27. Information on the regulation of manual handling can be obtained from the Principal Health and Safety Officer OR DEPARTMENT.

  21. NO-SMOKING POLICY
    1. We are committed to protecting your health, safety and welfare and that of all those who work for us by providing a safe place of work and protecting all workers, service users, customers and visitors from exposure to smoke.

    2. All of our workplaces (including our vehicles) are smoke-free and all staff and visitors have a right to a smoke-free environment.

    3. This no-smoking policy has been devised on the basis of advice from professional bodies as well as in consultation with EMPLOYER'S UNION or EMPLOYEE REPRESENTATIVES OR WORKS COUNCILS and complies with the Health Act 2006 and associated regulations. We are committed to a programme of action to make this policy effective and to bring it to the attention of all staff.

      Scope and implementation of the policy

    4. Smoking is banned in any enclosed or substantially enclosed premises within OR at our workplace. The ban applies to anything that can be smoked and includes, but is not limited to, cigarettes, pipes (including water pipes such as shisha and hookah pipes), cigars and herbal cigarettes.

    5. No-smoking signs are displayed at the entrances to enclosed or substantially enclosed premises at our workplace.

    6. Staff may only smoke outside in designated areas during breaks. When smoking outside, staff should ensure that they dispose of cigarette butts and other litter in the receptacles provided OR appropriately.

    7. Staff using our vehicles, whether as a driver or passenger, must ensure the vehicles remain smoke-free. Any of our vehicles that are used primarily for private purposes are excluded from the smoking ban. Any questions concerning these provisions should be directed to the Managing Director.

    8. We are committed to making this policy effective and to promoting a healthy working environment. Workers who experience particular difficulty complying with this policy should discuss their situation with their line manager or the Managing Director.

      Breaches of the policy

    9. Breaches of this policy will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure and, in serious cases, may be treated as gross misconduct leading to summary dismissal.

    10. Smoking in smoke-free premises or vehicles is also a criminal offence and may result in a fixed penalty fine or prosecution.

  22. STRESS POLICY
    1. We are committed to protecting your health, safety and well-being and that of all those who work for us. We will endeavour to maintain a working environment in which everyone treats one another with dignity and respect and is able to co-operate with and trust their colleagues.

    2. We recognise that, whatever its source, stress is a health and safety issue in the workplace. We acknowledge the importance of a supportive environment and working culture and of identifying and reducing workplace stressors.

    3. We are committed to a programme of action to make this policy effective and to bring it to everyone's attention. However, this policy can only be effective if everyone co-operates to achieve its aims.

      What is stress?

    4. Stress is the adverse reaction experienced in response to excessive pressures or demands. Stress is not an illness but, sustained over a period of time, it can lead to mental or physical illness.

    5. There is an important distinction between working under pressure and experiencing stress. Certain levels of pressure are acceptable and normal in every job. They can improve performance, enable individuals to meet their full potential and provide a sense of achievement and job satisfaction. However, when pressure becomes excessive it produces stress.

    6. Pressures outside the workplace, whether the result of unexpected or traumatic events such as accidents, illness, bereavement, family breakdown or financial worries, can result in stress. They can also compound normal workplace pressures.

    7. We recognise that what triggers stress and the capacity to deal with stress varies from person to person. Individuals react to similar situations in different ways.

      Legal obligations

    8. We have a legal duty to take reasonable care to ensure that your health is not put at risk by excessive pressures or demands arising from the way work is organised.

    9. This policy takes account of our obligations under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, Employment Rights Act 1996, Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Working Time Regulations 1998 and Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

      Scope and purpose of the policy

    10. We are committed to identifying, tackling and preventing the causes of work- related stress and to providing appropriate support and consideration to staff suffering from stress, on a confidential basis where appropriate.

    11. We are committed to:

      1. Promoting a culture of open communication, participation and encouragement. Through training, effective planning and allocation of workloads and ensuring feedback is provided on performance, we want staff to develop their skills and confidence and to feel able to raise any concerns they have about their work or working environment.
      2. Using staff development, staff support systems and policies reflecting current good practice to help staff understand and recognise the causes of stress and to address work-related stress and the impact of external stressors at work.
      3. Providing a workplace free from harassment, bullying and victimisation.
      4. Addressing violence, aggression and other forms of inappropriate behaviour through disciplinary action.
      5. Ensuring risk assessments include or specifically address workplace stress.
      6. Maintaining an appraisal process to ensure the suitability of workloads, supported by a capability procedure.
      7. Facilitating requests for flexible working where reasonably practicable in accordance with our flexible working policy.
      8. Following comprehensive change management procedures.
      9. Providing support services, such as occupational health, for staff affected by or absent by reason of stress.

      Personnel responsible for implementation of the policy

    12. Recognition of stress as a genuine problem requires management support and action. Those working at management and supervisory level have a specific responsibility to:

      1. Participate in the culture of open communication and encouragement, ensure that staff they manage receive training, effectively plan and allocate workloads and provide feedback on performance.
      2. Monitor workloads and reallocate work where necessary.
      3. Ensure that staff they manage understand the standards of behaviour expected of them and others and act on behaviour that falls below those standards.
    13. To facilitate this process, managers and supervisors will be given training on best practice and are encouraged to seek advice from the DEPARTMENT on how to recognise stress in the staff they manage.

    14. However, all members of staff are responsible for the success of this policy and must ensure that they:

      1. Familiarise themselves with the policy and act in accordance with its aims and objectives.
      2. Plan and organise their work to meet personal and organisational objectives.
      3. Speak to their manager if they experience or are aware of a situation that may lead to a stress problem.
      4. Co-operate with support, advice and guidance they may be offered by their line manager OR the Human Resources Department.
    15. the Managing Director will have responsibility for informing all staff of this policy and their role in its implementation. All new staff will be given a copy of the policy during their induction. Further copies are available from the Managing Director OR the Human Resources Department.

      Resolving cases of stress at work

    16. If you believe you are suffering from stress you should discuss this with your manager or supervisor in the first instance. If you feel unable to do so you should contact DEPARTMENT OR access the support services referred to in paragraph 30.16(b).

    17. Once an issue affecting your health comes to the attention of your manager, supervisor or DEPARTMENT OR the Managing Directorsteps will be taken to address that issue. Those steps may include any of the following:

      1. A workload review, reallocation of work, monitoring of future workload or possible redeployment. Our Capability Procedure may be applied.
      2. Where appropriate, investigation under our Disciplinary or Grievance Procedures.
      3. Referral for medical advice OR a medical report to be provided by the Occupational Health Department OR our medical advisers OR the GP (and any medical specialist) treating the member of staff concerned.
      4. If you are on sickness absence, discussion of an appropriate return to work programme. Our Sickness Absence Policy may be applied.
    18. The Occupational Health Department OR Counselling services will continue to be used appropriately to help staff overcome problems associated with work-related stress as well as other stress and the impact that has on their ability to do their duties.

  23. DATA PROTECTION POLICY
    1. Everyone has rights with regard to how their personal information is handled. During the course of our activities we will collect, store and process personal information about our staff, and we recognise the need to treat it in an appropriate and lawful manner.

    2. The types of information that we may be required to handle include details of current, past and prospective employees,suppliers,customers,OTHER and others that we communicate with. The information, which may be held on paper or on a computer or other media, is subject to certain legal safeguards specified in the Data Protection Act 1998 (the Act) and other regulations. The Act imposes restrictions on how we may use that information.

      Status of the policy

    3. This part of our handbook sets out our rules on data protection and the legal conditions that must be satisfied in relation to the obtaining, handling, processing, storage, transportation and destruction of personal information.

    4. The Data Protection Compliance Manager is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and with this part of our handbook. That post is held by NAME, DEPARTMENT, TELEPHONE EXTENSION, E-MAIL ADDRESS. Any questions or concerns about the operation of this part of our handbook should be referred in the first instance to the Data Protection Compliance Manager.

    5. If you consider that our provisions for complying with the Act have not been followed in respect of personal data about yourself or others you should raise the matter with your line manager or the Data Protection Compliance Manager.

      Definition of data protection terms

    6. Data is information which is stored electronically, on a computer, or in certain paper-based filing systems.

    7. Data subjects for the purpose of this policy include all living individuals about whom we hold personal data. A data subject need not be a UK national or resident. All data subjects have legal rights in relation to their personal data.

    8. Personal data means data relating to a living individual who can be identified from that data (or from that data and other information in our possession). Personal data can be factual (such as a name, address or date of birth) or it can be an opinion (such as a performance appraisal).

    9. Data controllers are the people who or organisations which determine the purposes for which, and the manner in which, any personal data is processed. They have a responsibility to establish practices and policies in line with the Act. We are the data controller of all personal data used in our business.

    10. Data users include employees whose work involves using personal data. Data users have a duty to protect the information they handle by following our data protection and security policies at all times.

    11. Data processors include any person who processes personal data on behalf of a data controller. Employees of data controllers are excluded from this definition but it could include suppliers which handle personal data on our behalf.

    12. Processing is any activity that involves use of the data. It includes obtaining, recording or holding the data, or carrying out any operation or set of operations on the data including organising, amending, retrieving, using, disclosing, erasing or destroying it. Processing also includes transferring personal data to third parties.

    13. Sensitive personal data includes information about a person's racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or similar beliefs, trade union membership, physical or mental health or condition or sexual life, or about the commission of, or proceedings for, any offence committed or alleged to have been committed by that person, the disposal of such proceedings or the sentence of any court in such proceedings. Sensitive personal data can only be processed under strict conditions, and will usually require the express consent of the person concerned.

      Data protection principles

    14. Anyone processing personal data must comply with the eight enforceable principles of good practice. These provide that personal data must be:

      1. Processed fairly and lawfully.
      2. Processed for limited purposes and in an appropriate way.
      3. Adequate, relevant and not excessive for the purpose.
      4. Accurate.
      5. Not kept longer than necessary for the purpose.
      6. Processed in line with data subjects' rights.
      7. Secure.
      8. Not transferred to people or organisations situated in countries without adequate protection.

      Fair and lawful processing

    15. The Act is intended not to prevent the processing of personal data, but to ensure that it is done fairly and without adversely affecting the rights of the data subject. The data subject must be told who the data controller is (in this case EMPLOYER'S NAME), who the data controller's representative is (in this case the Data Protection Compliance Manager), the purpose for which the data is to be processed by us, and the identities of anyone to whom the data may be disclosed or transferred.

    16. For personal data to be processed lawfully, certain conditions have to be met. These may include, among other things, requirements that the data subject has consented to the processing, or that the processing is necessary for the legitimate interest of the data controller or the party to whom the data is disclosed. When sensitive personal data is being processed, more than one condition must be met. In most cases the data subject's explicit consent to the processing of such data will be required.

      Processing for limited purposes

    17. Personal data may only be processed for the specific purposes notified to the data subject when the data was first collected or for any other purposes specifically permitted by the Act. This means that personal data must not be collected for one purpose and then used for another. If it becomes necessary to change the purpose for which the data is processed, the data subject must be informed of the new purpose before any processing occurs.

      Adequate, relevant and non-excessive processing

    18. Personal data should only be collected to the extent that it is required for the specific purpose notified to the data subject. Any data which is not necessary for that purpose should not be collected in the first place.

      Accurate data

    19. Personal data must be accurate and kept up to date. Information which is incorrect or misleading is not accurate and steps should therefore be taken to check the accuracy of any personal data at the point of collection and at regular intervals afterwards. Inaccurate or out-of-date data should be destroyed.

      Timely processing

    20. Personal data should not be kept longer than is necessary for the purpose. This means that data should be destroyed or erased from our systems when it is no longer required. For guidance on how long certain data is likely to be kept before being destroyed, contact the Data Protection Compliance Manager OR the Managing Director OR DEPARTMENT.

      Processing in line with data subject's rights

    21. Data must be processed in line with data subjects' rights. Data subjects have a right to:

      1. Request access to any data held about them by a data controller.
      2. Prevent the processing of their data for direct-marketing purposes.
      3. Ask to have inaccurate data amended.
      4. Prevent processing that is likely to cause damage or distress to themselves or anyone else.

      Data security

    22. We must ensure that appropriate security measures are taken against unlawful or unauthorised processing of personal data, and against the accidental loss of, or damage to, personal data. Data subjects may apply to the courts for compensation if they have suffered damage from such a loss.

    23. The Act requires us to put in place procedures and technologies to maintain the security of all personal data from the point of collection to the point of destruction. Personal data may only be transferred to a third-party data processor if he agrees to comply with those procedures and policies, or if he puts in place adequate measures himself.

    24. Maintaining data security means guaranteeing the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the personal data, defined as follows:

      1. Confidentiality means that only people who are authorised to use the data can access it.
      2. Integrity means that personal data should be accurate and suitable for the purpose for which it is processed.
      3. Availability means that authorised users should be able to access the data if they need it for authorised purposes. Personal data should therefore be stored on our central computer system instead of individual PCs.
    25. Security procedures include:

      1. Entry controls. Any stranger seen in entry-controlled areas should be reported.
      2. Secure lockable desks and cupboards. Desks and cupboards should be kept locked if they hold confidential information of any kind. (Personal information is always considered confidential.)
      3. Methods of disposal. Paper documents should be shredded. Floppy disks and CD-ROMs should be physically destroyed when they are no longer required.
      4. Equipment. Data users should ensure that individual monitors do not show confidential information to passers-by and that they log off from their PC when it is left unattended.

      Dealing with subject access requests

    26. A formal request from a data subject for information that we hold about them must be made in writing. A fee is payable by the data subject for provision of this information. Any member of staff who receives a written request should forward it to their line manager OR the Data Protection Compliance Manager immediately.

      Providing information over the telephone

    27. Any member of staff dealing with telephone enquiries should be careful about disclosing any personal information held by us. In particular they should:

      1. Check the caller's identity to make sure that information is only given to a person who is entitled to it.
      2. Suggest that the caller put their request in writing if they are not sure about the caller's identity and where their identity cannot be checked.
      3. Refer to their line manager OR the Data Protection Compliance Manager for assistance in difficult situations. No-one should be bullied into disclosing personal information.
  24. ELECTRONIC INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS POLICY
    1. Our electronic communications systems and equipment are intended to promote effective communication and working practices within our organisation, and are critical to the success of our business. This part of our handbook deals mainly with the use (and misuse) of computer equipment, e- mail, the internet, telephones, Blackberries, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and voicemail, but it applies equally to the use of fax machines, copiers, scanners, CCTV, and electronic key fobs and cards. It outlines the standards we require users of these systems to observe, the circumstances in which we will monitor use of these systems and the action we will take in respect of breaches of these standards.

    2. All staff are expected to protect our electronic communications systems and equipment from unauthorised access and harm at all times. Failure to do so may be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure and, in serious cases, may be treated as gross misconduct leading to summary dismissal.

      Equipment security and passwords

    3. Staff are responsible for the security of the equipment allocated to or used by them, and must not allow it to be used by anyone other than as permitted by this handbook.

    4. If given access to the e-mail system or to the internet, staff are responsible for the security of their terminals. If leaving a terminal unattended or on leaving the office they should ensure that they lock their terminal or log off to prevent unauthorised users accessing the system in their absence. Staff without authorisation should only be allowed to use terminals under supervision.

    5. Desktop PCs and cabling for telephones or computer equipment should not be moved or tampered with without first consulting the IT department OR DEPARTMENT OR the Managing Director.

    6. Passwords are unique to each user and must be changed regularly to ensure confidentiality. Passwords must be kept confidential and must not be made available to anyone else unless authorised by the Managing Director. For the avoidance of doubt, on the termination of employment (for any reason) staff must provide details of their passwords to the Managing Director and return any equipment, key fobs or cards.

    7. Staff who have been issued with a laptop, PDA or Blackberry must ensure that it is kept secure at all times, especially when travelling. Passwords must be used to secure access to data kept on such equipment to ensure that confidential data is protected in the event of loss or theft. Staff should also be aware that when using equipment away from the workplace, documents may be read by third parties, for example, passengers on public transport.

      Systems and data security

    8. Staff should not delete, destroy or modify existing systems, programs, information or data which could have the effect of harming our business or exposing it to risk.

    9. Staff should not download or install software from external sources without authorisation from the Managing Director. This includes software programs, instant messaging programs, screensavers, photos, video clips and music files. Incoming files and data should always be virus-checked by the IT department OR DEPARTMENT OR the Managing Director before they are downloaded. If in doubt, staff should seek advice from the IT department OR DEPARTMENT OR the Managing Director. The following must never be accessed from the network: online radio, audio and video streaming, instant messaging and webmail (such as Hotmail or Yahoo) and social networking sites (such as Facebook, Bebo, Second Life, YouTube, Twitter). This list may be modified from time to time. A stand-alone terminal is provided in the reception area OR AREA for access to webmail.

    10. No device or equipment should be attached to our systems without the prior approval of the IT department. This includes any USB flash drive, MP3 or similar device, PDA or telephone. It also includes use of the USB port, infrared connection port or any other port.

    11. We monitor all e-mails passing through our system for viruses. Workers should exercise caution when opening e-mails from unknown external sources or where, for any reason, an e-mail appears suspicious (for example, if its name ends in .ex). The IT department OR DEPARTMENT OR the Managing Director should be informed immediately if a suspected virus is received. We reserve the right to block access to attachments to e-mails for the purpose of effective use of the system and for compliance with this part of our handbook. We also reserve the right not to transmit any e-mail message.

    12. Staff should not attempt to gain access to restricted areas of the network, or to any password-protected information, unless specifically authorised.

    13. Staff using laptops or wi-fi enabled equipment must be particularly vigilant about its use outside the office and take any precautions required by the IT department OR DEPARTMENT OR the Managing Director from time to time against importing viruses or compromising the security of the system. The system contains information which is confidential to our business or which is subject to data protection legislation. Such information must be treated with extreme care and in accordance with our Data Protection Policy.

      E-mail etiquette and content

    14. E-mail is a vital business tool, but an informal means of communication, and should be used with great care and discipline. Staff should always consider if e-mail is the appropriate means for a particular communication and correspondence sent by e-mail should be written as professionally as a letter or fax. Messages should be concise and directed only to relevant individuals. Our standard disclaimer should always be included. Hard copies of e-mails should be kept on the appropriate file.

    15. Staff should not send abusive, obscene, discriminatory, racist, harassing, derogatory or defamatory e-mails. Anyone who feels that they have been harassed or bullied, or are offended by material received from a colleague via e-mail should inform their line manager OR the Human Resources Department.

    16. Staff should take care with the content of e-mail messages, as incorrect or improper statements can give rise to claims for discrimination, harassment, defamation, breach of confidentiality or breach of contract. Staff should assume that e-mail messages may be read by others and not include anything which would offend or embarrass any reader, or themselves, if it found its way into the public domain.

    17. E-mail messages may be disclosed in legal proceedings in the same way as paper documents. Deletion from a user's inbox or archives does not mean that an e-mail cannot be recovered for the purposes of disclosure. All e-mail messages should be treated as potentially retrievable, either from the main server or using specialist software.

      Use of the internet

    18. When a website is visited, devices such as cookies, tags or web beacons may be employed to enable the site owner to identify and monitor visitors. If the website is of a kind described in paragraph 33.31, such a marker could be a source of embarrassment to the visitor and us, especially if inappropriate material has been accessed, downloaded, stored or forwarded from the website. Such actions may also, in certain circumstances, amount to a criminal offence if, for example, the material is pornographic in nature. This is further considered in paragraph 33.30 to paragraph 33.32.

    19. Staff should therefore not access any web page or any files (whether documents, images or other) downloaded from the internet which could, in any way, be regarded as illegal, offensive, in bad taste or immoral. While content may be legal in the UK, it may be in sufficient bad taste to fall within this prohibition. As a general rule, if any person (whether intended to view the page or not) might be offended by the contents of a page, or if the fact that our software has accessed the page or file might be a source of embarrassment if made public, then viewing it will be a breach of our Electronic Information and Communications Systems Policy.

    20. Staff should not under any circumstances use our systems to participate in any internet chat room, post messages on any internet message board or set up or log text or information on a blog or wiki, even in their own time. A standalone terminal is provided in the reception area OR AREA for use outside working hours.

      Monitoring of use of systems

    21. Our systems enable us to monitor telephone, e-mail, voicemail, internet and other communications. For business reasons, and in order to carry out legal obligations in our role as an employer, use of our systems including the telephone and computer systems, and any personal use of them, is continually monitored by use of automated software OR OTHERWISE. Monitoring is only carried out to the extent permitted or as required by law and as necessary and justifiable for business purposes.

    22. We reserve the right to retrieve the contents of messages or check searches which have been made on the internet for the following purposes (this list is not exhaustive):

      1. to monitor whether the use of the e-mail system or the internet is legitimate;
      2. to find lost messages or to retrieve messages lost due to computer failure;
      3. to assist in the investigation of wrongful acts; or
      4. to comply with any legal obligation.

      Inappropriate use of equipment and systems

    23. Access is granted to the internet, telephones and other electronic systems for legitimate business purposes only. Incidental personal use is permissible provided it is in full compliance with our rules, policies and procedures (including this policy, the Equal Opportunities Policy, Anti-harassment Policy, Data Protection Policy and Disciplinary Procedure).

    24. Misuse or excessive use or abuse of our telephone or e-mail system, or inappropriate use of the internet in breach of this policy will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure. Misuse of the internet can, in certain circumstances, constitute a criminal offence. In particular, misuse of the e- mail system or inappropriate use of the internet by participating in online gambling or chain letters or by creating, viewing, accessing, transmitting or downloading any of the following material will amount to gross misconduct (this list is not exhaustive):

      1. pornographic material (that is, writing, pictures, films and video clips of a sexually explicit or arousing nature);
      2. offensive, obscene, or criminal material or material which is liable to cause embarrassment to us or to our clients;
      3. a false and defamatory statement about any person or organisation;
      4. material which is discriminatory, offensive, derogatory or may cause embarrassment to others;
      5. confidential information about us or any of our staff or clients (which you do not have authority to access);
      6. any other statement which is likely to create any liability (whether criminal or civil, and whether for you or us); or
      7. material in breach of copyright.

      Any such action will be treated very seriously and is likely to result in summary dismissal.

    25. Where evidence of misuse is found we may undertake a more detailed investigation in accordance with our Disciplinary Procedure, involving the examination and disclosure of monitoring records to those nominated to undertake the investigation and any witnesses or managers involved in our Disciplinary Procedure. If necessary such information may be handed to the police in connection with a criminal investigation.

  25. REDUNDANCY POLICY
    1. It is our intention to manage our business in a manner which results in secure employment for our employees. We will always try to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies but sometimes these may be necessary. The pattern or volume of our business or methods of working may change and requirements for employees may reduce.

      The purpose of the policy

    2. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that, whenever reduction in employee numbers may become necessary:

      1. we communicate clearly with all affected employees and ensure that they are treated fairly;
      2. we try to find ways of avoiding compulsory redundancies;
      3. we consult with employees and with recognised trade unions OR employee representatives; and
      4. any selection for compulsory redundancy is undertaken fairly and reasonably.

      Avoiding compulsory redundancies

    3. Where we are proposing to make redundancies we will enter into consultation with all affected employees on an individual basis and, where appropriate, also with recognised trade unions OR employee representatives.

    4. In the first instance we will consider steps that might, depending on the circumstances, be taken to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies. Examples of such steps include:

      1. Reviewing the use of agency staff, self-employed contractors and consultants.
      2. Restricting recruitment in affected categories of employee and in those areas into which affected employees might be redeployed.
      3. Reducing overtime in affected departments to that needed to meet contractual commitments or provide essential services.
      4. Freezing salaries for a specified period.
      5. Considering the introduction of short-time working, job-sharing or other flexible working arrangements, where these are practicable.
      6. Identifying suitable alternative work with us or with any other companies within the Group that might be offered to potentially redundant employees.
      7. Inviting applications for early retirement or voluntary redundancy. In all cases the acceptance of a volunteer for redundancy will be a matter of our discretion and we reserve the right not to offer voluntary redundancy terms or to refuse an application where it is not in the interests of our business to do so.
    5. Any measures adopted must not adversely affect our business and our ability to serve our customers.

      Making compulsory redundancies

    6. When it is not possible to avoid making compulsory redundancies, all affected employees and, where appropriate, recognised trade unions OR employee representatives will be advised that compulsory redundancies cannot be avoided. They will be consulted on the procedure that will then be followed and the criteria that will be applied.

    7. The criteria used to select those employees who will potentially be made redundant will be objective, transparent and fair and based on the skills required to meet our existing and anticipated business needs.

    8. Those employees who have been provisionally selected for redundancy will be consulted with individually.

    9. Where selection for redundancy is confirmed, employees selected for redundancy will be given notice of termination of employment in accordance with their contracts and written confirmation of the payments that they will receive. Employees will be given the opportunity to appeal against this decision.

    10. We will continue to look for alternative employment for redundant employees and inform them of any vacancies that we have until their termination dates. The manner in which redundant employees will be invited to apply for and be interviewed for vacancies will be organised depending on the circumstances existing at the time. Alternative employment may be offered subject to a trial period where appropriate.

    11. Where we are unable to offer alternative employment we will assist employees look for work with other employers. Outplacement assistance will also be provided. Employees under notice of redundancy may OR will be entitled to take a reasonable amount of paid time off work to look for alternative employment or to arrange training for future employment.

  26. RETIREMENT POLICY
    1. The aim of this policy is to set out the procedure we use for the compulsory retirement of employees. It does not affect voluntary retirement. The provisions set out in the policy reflect the requirements of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 (Age Regulations).

    2. We are committed to adopting a flexible approach to retirement and recognise the benefits that it can have for both employees and our organisation as a whole.

      Normal retirement age

    3. The normal retirement age for all our employees is 65 unless a different retirement age is specified in an individual's contract of employment.

    4. Compulsory retirement of an employee under this policy cannot take place before they have reached their normal retirement age but can take place at any point after the normal retirement age has been reached. This does not affect an employee's ability to take voluntary early retirement.

      Who is covered by the policy?

    5. This policy covers employees only. It does not apply to freelance workers, consultants or partners OR non-executive directors OR OTHER OFFICERS.

      Notification of Intended Retirement Date

    6. Between six and 12 months before the date on which we intend you to take retirement (Intended Retirement Date) we will give you written notice that your employment will terminate by reason of retirement on the Intended Retirement Date. That notice will not be less than any notice of termination to which you are entitled under your contract. At the same time, we will give you written notice of your right to make a request to carry on working beyond your Intended Retirement Date (Right to Request).

    7. If your contract gives you the right to more than 12 months' notice of termination on retirement, we will give you notice in accordance with your contract. In order to comply with the Age Regulations, we will also give you a second notice between six and 12 months before the Intended Retirement Date to confirm the Intended Retirement Date and inform you of the Right to Request.

      Request to work beyond Intended Retirement Date

    8. If you wish to continue working after the Intended Retirement Date, you should send a request in writing to NAME OR the Managing Director between three and six months before the Intended Retirement Date. You should state whether you would like to continue working indefinitely, for a specific period or until a specific date.

    9. Only one request may be made with respect to any Intended Retirement Date.

    10. If you do not make a request, your employment will terminate on the Intended Retirement Date.

      Meeting to deal with the request

    11. On receiving a request to work beyond the Intended Retirement Date, we will arrange a meeting with you to discuss it. We will aim to hold the meeting no more than 14 days after receiving your request if possible. If you cannot attend the meeting at the specified time, you should contact the Managing Director and we will endeavour to rearrange it.

    12. If it is not possible to arrange a meeting within a reasonable time, we may ask you to make written representations so that we can consider your request without a meeting.

    13. A meeting will not be necessary where we write to inform you that we agree to your request in full.

    14. You may bring a colleague (who may be a trade union representative) 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.

    15. If your chosen companion is unable to attend the meeting at the time specified, you should contact the Managing Director and we will try to rearrange it. If the meeting cannot be rearranged within seven days of the original date, we may suggest that you bring a different companion or come alone.

      Decision

    16. We will give you our decision in writing, normally within 14 days of the meeting:

      1. If we agree to your request, either in full or with modifications, we will set out the arrangements in writing. We will confirm whether your employment will continue indefinitely or for a fixed period. If it is for a fixed period we will confirm your new retirement date. Any agreed changes to your contract of employment will also be set out as appropriate.
      2. If we refuse your request, we will write to confirm the date on which your employment will terminate.
    17. If we refuse your request or agree to a shorter period of continued employment than you had requested, you may appeal. Our decision will include confirmation of your right to do so.

    18. We are not obliged to give reasons for refusing a request but may do so at our discretion.

      Appeal

    19. Appeals should be sent in writing to the Managing Director, normally no more than seven days after receiving the decision.

    20. On receiving your appeal, we will arrange an appeal meeting with you. We will aim to hold the appeal meeting no more than 14 days after receiving your appeal where possible. If you cannot attend the meeting at the specified time, you should contact the Managing Director and we will endeavour to rearrange the meeting.

    21. If it is not possible to arrange an appeal meeting within a reasonable time, we may ask you to make written representations so that we can consider your appeal without a meeting.

    22. An appeal meeting will not be necessary where we write to inform you that we uphold your appeal in full.

    23. You may bring a colleague (who may be a trade union representative) to the appeal 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.

    24. If your chosen companion is unable to attend the appeal meeting on the date we specify, you should contact the Managing Director and we will try to rearrange the meeting. If the meeting cannot be rearranged within seven days of the original date, we may suggest that you bring a different companion or come alone.

      Final decision

    25. We will give you our final decision in writing, normally within 14 days of the appeal meeting:

      1. If we agree to change our original decision, we will set out the new arrangements in writing. We will confirm whether your employment will continue indefinitely or for a fixed period. If it is for a fixed period we will confirm your new retirement date. Any agreed changes to your contract of employment will also be set out as appropriate.

      2. If we refuse your appeal, we will confirm the date on which your employment will terminate.

    26. We are not obliged to give reasons for refusing an appeal but may do so at our discretion.

      Retirement after a request has been granted

    27. If you make a request to continue working beyond your Intended Retirement Date and your employment is extended for a fixed period of six months or less beyond that date, your employment will terminate automatically at the end of that extended period without the need for any further procedure.

    28. If your employment is extended for a fixed period of more than six months or without fixing a new retirement date, the procedure set out in this policy will be followed again before your compulsory retirement can take place.

      Pension benefits

    29. Working beyond your normal retirement age may have implications for your pension benefits. For further information on pensions contact the Human Resources Department OR the Pensions Administrator directly.

      Breaches of policy

    30. If you believe that we have not complied with this policy, you should raise the matter informally at first with the person concerned. If this does not resolve the issue it can be raised formally through our Grievance Procedure.