What Can Happen if my Staff Handbook is Out of Date?
Staff Handbooks, like everything that relates to the law or legislation, needs to be kept up to date and make sure that it moves with the times. If you look at a number of the areas of core regulation, particularly around Family Friendly Policies that support family based legislation such as Maternity Leave or Paternity Leave, they are constantly changing, being updated and goal posts being shifted. So let’s delve a little more into the consequences of not having an up to date Staff Handbook…
Scenario: You have a meeting with a staff member and she tells you she is 6 weeks pregnant. She is going to start to show soon and over the course of her pregnancy she could develop physical symptoms of the pregnancy such as morning sickness, backache and tiredness. Potential Consequences: Without a compliant policy to cover the way in which your business supports expectant mothers, the chances are that you will not follow a process that is compliant with legislation. This will leave your business open to employment disputes such as an Employment Tribunal. If you don’t follow your obligations as an employer (for all statutory areas of coverage) you are breaking the law and leaving yourself and your business exposed to financial and reputational penalty. As an example, if you don’t have a compliant maternity policy, how and when do you look at expectant mother risk assessments? As a responsible employer you are obliged to ensure that the working environment for your pregnant staff member is safe and that there are no unnecessary risks associated with her pregnancy. Without a compliant policy in your Handbook, how is your pregnant staff member, for example, to know that she has to provide you (the employer) with a MATB1 form from her midwife at 20 weeks. Mishandling of Maternity leave can create a real problem both financially and with regard to stress and business reputation. Solution:
Fortunately the solution to this problem is simple… Make sure you have a compliant, up-to-date Staff Handbook that covers at a minimum, your statutory obligations as an employer. We recommend that your Maternity Policy in your Staff Handbook cover the following areas: Purpose and Scope Policy Antenatal Care Maternity Leave Starting Maternity Leave Notification Requirements Maternity Pay inc. Eligibility for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) Pension Contributions Health and Safety Compulsory Leave Returning to Work Combining Maternity Leave and Parental Leave