Question 1 – Essay
“Good Regulation is essential to successful businesses…The UK Government will always consider the needs of small businesses when designing new rules, using our new freedom after Brexit to ensure that British rules work for British companies”.
Analyse the accuracy and validity of this statement in the light of the UK’s recent departure from the European Union. (50 Marks)
Question 2- Problem Question
Best Kitchens Ltd. is a company designing and manufacturing fitted and custom-made kitchen furniture operating from a Business Park in Chelmsford and from three other locations in East Anglia. There are 250 workers in the company, which has been operating successfully for fifteen years. You are the new Human Resources Manager based at the Head Office. You have found that managers at the company have had no formal training or guidance on handling difficult HR issues. There is a formal disciplinary procedure and a formal grievance procedure in place, both of which appear to have been copied from an out-dated Government website without modification. There is also a ‘Staff Handbook’, which is given to all new employees when they start work at Best Kitchens Ltd., but which also appears to be quite flimsy and out of date.
Extracts from the Disciplinary and Grievance procedures, and the Staff Handbook, are included in the bundle of documents which appears below.
Like many other businesses, Best Kitchens Ltd. had to close all its premises as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak at the end of March 2020. The company was able to continue to perform administrative functions by some of its employees working from home, but the majority of employees were placed on ‘furlough leave’ under the government’s Job Retention Scheme. Now that some of the restrictions are starting to ease a little, Best Kitchen’s Ltd. is keen to try to get the company running again as soon as possible. It wants its staff to return to work, but realises that this has to be dealt with in a way that ensures that risks from the virus to staff, customers and other visitors to the company’s premises are either eliminated or minimised. The company has altered its premises to try to minimise the risks and has planned a ‘phased return’ of employees by reducing their working hours and the number of days per week worked initially, with a view to building these up gradually over the forthcoming months. The company’s Managing Director, Tony Hancock, has written to all staff to explain the company’s plans to them. Extracts from this letter are included in the bundle of documents below.
NOTE TO STUDENTS: THESE DOCUMENTS FORM AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE ASSIGNMENT. PLEASE READ THEM BEFORE YOU START TO WRITE YOUR ADVICE
In response to the letter, one of the sales assistants based at the Chelmsford showroom, Emma Chambers, telephoned her boss, Tim Martin. Emma told Tim that she was very concerned about having to return to work. Emma said that she did not drive, so would have to use public transport, she did not think the measures taken by the company were adequate, and she was concerned that work colleagues and customers would ignore the social distancing rules. Mr Martin was not very sympathetic to Emma’s concerns. He told her ‘…the company needs to get everybody back to work and it has done everything it can to make things safe. Everybody else is coming back to work. You are young and healthy, so there is no danger – stop being so soft. I expect to see you in work on Monday morning’.
The following Monday, Emma did not turn-up for work. When Tim telephoned Emma later that day to find out why she had not come to work she said ‘because I don’t want to catch coronavirus’. Tim told her that it was a serious disciplinary matter not to attend work without a good reason, and that he would be putting Emma on a ‘disciplinary charge’. Emma replied, ‘Don’t bother, Tim. I am not prepared to put my life and my kids’ lives at risk for you bunch of wankers. You can stick your job up your arse’. Emma then ended the call.
This morning you have received notification from ACAS that Emma has approached them seeking Early Conciliation of claims of ‘constructive dismissal and discrimination’ against the company.
You have checked Emma’s personal file and found that she is 28 years old, married, has two young children, and has been with Best Kitchen’s Ltd. since January 2017. There is no record of Emma having taken any periods of sick leave apart from occasional days off for colds. There is no record of any physical or mental health conditions and when she joined the company, Emma stated that she had ‘no known disability’. Emma has a clean disciplinary record and all her annual appraisals rate her as a ‘very good’ employee.
Prepare a report for Mr Hancock, the company MD, setting out the potential claims that Emma might bring against the company if the Early Conciliation procedure does not resolve the dispute, any legal liability the company may have towards Emma, and your recommendations for how the situation might be resolved.
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