October 30th, 2012 / Insight posted in

HR Issues

The Employer’s Charter

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has published an ‘Employer’s Charter’ which, it says, is intended to “dismiss some of the myths about what employers can and can’t do in managing their workforce”. The BIS believes that there needs to be a better balance between the protection of employees and the ability of businesses to operate effectively, and that guidance on employment law often concentrates too heavily on the rights of employees.

The charter says that as long as employers act fairly and reasonably, they are entitled to:

  • ask an employee to take annual leave at a time that suits the business 
  • contact a woman on maternity leave and ask when she plans to return 
  • make an employee redundant if the business takes a downward turn 
  • ask an employee to take a pay cut 
  • withhold pay from an employee when he/she is on strike 
  • ask an employee whether he/she would be willing to opt out from the 48-hour limit in the Working Time Regulations 
  • reject an employee’s request to work flexibly if there is a legitimate business reason 
  • talk to employees about their performance and how they can improve 
  • dismiss an employee for poor performance 
  • stop providing work to an agency worker (as long as they are not employed by the employer) 
  • ask an employee about his/her future career plans, including retirement.

Copies of the charter can be downloaded from the BIS website, www.bis.gov.uk