FIRE SAFETY TRAINING When was the last time your employees sat a f ire safety training course? MENTAL HEALTH AND JOB INTERVIEWS Should appl icants disclose mental health issues? EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS What makes a good employment contract?
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FIRE SAFETY TRAINING Did you know that fire kills as many as 700 people a year here in the UK and costs British businesses millions of pounds every year?
We recently came across a news story that illustrates just how important fire safety training is to businesses. On Friday 22nd June a fire broke out at The Somers Town Coffee House in London (part of the Yummy Pub Co) at 8:06pm. Staff were alerted when residents living opposite the pub spotted flames coming from the upper floors and raised the alarm. Fire engines were on the scene within seven minutes, but it took 72 fire fighters and 10 engines ninety minutes before the fire was under control. The part of the story that really piqued our interest – and highlighted the importance of fire safety training – is that during a busy Friday night when the pub was filled with customers over three levels, staff were able to safely evacuate 350 people within three minutes. This quick action meant that nobody was injured and firefighters arriving on scene could just focus on tackling the fire.
A statement put out by the company after the event said: “The team moved through each floor of the building whilst Ian Delgado, a Yummy supervisor, battled the flames on the top floor of the pub. The team were a credit to Yummy with customers reporting the professionalism and calmness as the building was cleared.” Tim Foster is co-owner at Yummy Pub Co. He said: “My team were simply incredible. Nothing prepares you for situations like this. It’s been an incredibly long weekend, but this pub is opening and opening quickly! My target date (to re-open) is 5 July. We’ll have to take every day as it comes but we have never taken things lying down in Yummy and I intend that attitude to stay!”
In our opinion whoever carried out the fire safety training for the team at The Somers Town Coffee House did a fantastic job. Clearly it paid off and saved, potentially, 350+ lives All UK employers are required to ensure that their employees receive basic level 1 fire safety training. This training will give them the knowledge they need to protect themselves, their colleagues, customers and workplace in the event of an emergency. It’s also a legal requirement for every organisation to have a designated competent person with a higher level of fire safety training. We’ve developed a level 2 fire safety principles and practice training course for anyone who wants to take on more specific fire safety roles within the workplace, as well as a specific fire marshal training course believe that training should be fun and know from experience that people are more likely to recall their training if they have enjoyed it. Should the worst happen and your business experiences a fire then you want your staff to react the way the Yummy team did and carry out a swift, safe evacuation of the premises. a fire in a meaningful way. We’ve developed specialist fire simulation equipment which can simulate any kind of fire, meaning your team will learn the skills they need to deal with them in a safe, controlled environment getting hands on practical experience that will really benefit your business. For more information on our on-site fire safety training course talk to our training team today. Call 08450 50 40 60 or email email@example.com We believe in going the extra step to provide the best possible service to our clients. We also Each and every participant on an ELAS fire safety training course gets to really work at putting out
Is it legal to be questioned about your mental health during a job interview?
Generally no, this would not be legal. Employers should make all efforts to avoid any questions relating to health at the interview stage, particularly in relation to mental health. The main reason being if you do ask the question and the candidate discloses that they have an issue, there is then a very high risk that if that candidate is then rejected for the role, they will link that to the disclosure of their health condition and make a claim for discrimination. The employer then has to spend time and money proving that the candidate was objectively not the best person for the role in order to avoid a successful claim against them. Avoiding the question avoids the potential for a claim application stage, however, this should only be used to ask if they need any adjustments for the interview process. For example, if a candidate is in a wheelchair they may need assistance in attending the interview, and may need to disclose this prior to the interview. Likewise, a blind applicant may need adjustments made in terms of application forms, presentations etc. or a candidate with Tourette Syndrome may mention it at this point to avoid worrying about tics at interview. As somewhat of a side note, it is possible to ask candidates about medical issues at the
MENTAL HEALTH AND JOB INTERVIEWS Mental illness is a very personal thing. Whilst societal stigmas surrounding it have changed, it can still be difficult to talk about even to your nearest and dearest. Employees may be reluctant to open up if they’re struggling with mental illness at work and it can be daunting to discuss gaps in CV’s caused by mental illness when applying for a job. We asked ELAS employment law consultant Jacob Demeza-Wilkinson to explain what applicants are and aren’t required to disclose at interview:
Are applicants legally obliged to disclose mental illness during an interview?
No, a candidate does not have to mention any medical condition during a job interview. Even if asked, there is no obligation to answer the question.
Generally, an organised employer will provide a health questionnaire once a job offer has been made and accepted. The purpose of this form is to see if the incoming employee suffers from any medical condition(s) which could affect their ability to perform the role, and which could warrant adjustments being made to assist them in their role. A simple example could be an employee with ongoing back problems that may need a special chair or someone with vision problems who needs a larger computer screen. Generally you would only disclose conditions that could affect your role, and which may warrant a consideration of adjustments. Employers expect honesty so if there is a reasonable probability that your mental health will impact on your ability to do your job then you should disclose it. If not, are they legally obliged to then disclose it if they are offered the job?
It would not be breaking the law but you do have to be careful. If an employee states in the health questionnaire that they don’t have any medical condition(s) which would affect their work and then takes considerable time off due to an ongoing condition, there is an argument that they have not been truthful. An employer could pull them up on this. If, however, your absence is very limited this should not be a concern. Mental health is high on most employers’ radar these days and there are many things that can be put in place to help support employees with mental health problems, enabling them to stay in work. If employees do not disclose mental illness then it can make it harder for their employers to support them in a timely manner for example, if their work is suffering as a result of declining mental health but the employer is not aware they will just think that the work is not up to standard and take steps relating to that. If, however, the employee has been honest regarding their mental health then there are options that an can take such as flexible working, adjusting the workload or extending deadlines, where possible, to reduce the pressure that they are under. Is it breaking the law to not disclose mental illness and then need to take time off as a result?
How should employers respond if an undisclosed medical condition starts to significantly affect an employee’s attendance?
The first and most important thing an employer should do is put in place a robust pre-placement medical questionnaire and accompanying procedure as part of your recruitment practices. Whilst you cannot ask a candidate directly about medical conditions during the interview and overall recruitment process, apart from where necessary to allow a fair interview, after a job offer has been made and accepted it is ok to ask the candidate to disclose any conditions which, they believe, could affect their work. If you have this clear process in place and, further down the line, it comes to light that something should have been disclosed but wasn’t, then you can take action on the basis of dishonesty rather than in relation to the illness itself.
on into their employment, then it is important to carry out a risk assessment and meet with the employee to discuss the condition. Further medical evidence may be needed, where applicable. Once you have done this then you can put into place any reasonable adjustments that might be needed to assist them in their role. The idea with reasonable adjustments is that, once they are in place, any time off due to the condition should be drastically reduced or eliminated. If the changes you have made do not have the desired effect then it may be time to consider whether the employee is medically capable to continue in that particular role. You should always seek advice before embarking on a medical capability process as it is important that everything is done correctly.
If the employee does disclose an illness, whether that’s during the recruitment process or further
WRITING A GOOD CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT
A contract of employment, also known as a contract of service or statement of terms and conditions, is a document that sets out the framework for the relationship between an employer and employee. But what makes a good employment contract? ELAS employment law consultant Liam Grime looks at the key points:
Employment law is derived from contract law in that for any employment relationship to exist, there must first be a contract in place. Although a contract of employment can be established verbally, both employers and employees will find it beneficial to have a physical contract drawn up to help avoid any misunderstanding, uncertainty or doubt as to what the terms of their relationship are. One key to writing good employment contracts is ensuring that whoever writes the contract is aware of what must be included and that the document is both compliant with current legislation and reader friendly.
The Employment Rights Act 1996 sets out employees’ statutory rights and protection. The law provides that employers who have not given an employee a written contract must provide a Statement of Initial Employment Particulars, also known as an S1 Statement, no later than eight weeks after the employee begins work. Failure to provide this could lead to a tribunal claim which, if successful, could see the claimant being awarded two to four weeks’ pay. When drafting employment contracts, employers need to ensure that anything that is required to be in the S1 statement is present in the contract of employment.
There are certain things which an employment contract must contain, including:
One of the most important things to consider when putting together contracts is ensuring that they are as reader friendly as possible, avoiding any legal jargon that may confuse or worry employees. Employees should be allowed time to go through any contract offered to ensure that they understand and agree to the terms contained within; remember that a contract is an agreement between two parties rather than a one-sided order, so you should give employees the opportunity to raise any concerns or queries they might have about the terms contained within it. Many employers often believe that a contract of employment must be signed and returned to them, however, there is no legal requirement for this to happen. So long as the employee has been issued with their contract and continues to work under its terms without raising any concerns, then it can be reasonably implied that the employee has agreed to the terms contained within the contract. Due to the ever-changing nature of employment law, employers must ensure that they have access to regular legislative updates as contracts will need be kept up to date, regardless of how long an employee has been with the company.
Names of both employer and employee Dates on which employment and the period of
continuous employment began Scale and rate of remuneration
Intervals at which remuneration is paid Any terms relating to hours of work Terms relating to annual leave entitlement and incapacity for work due to sickness or injury, including provisions for sick pay Pensions Notice of termination obligations from both employer and employee Job title Period of employment, if not permanent, and the date on which it will end Place of work Information as to whether or not there are any collective agreements applicable to the So long as all the above have been included in the contract of employment, then employers will have met their statutory obligations, however, there is additional information which could also come up. Company sick pay, bonus or commission schemes and enhanced annual leave entitlement can also be considered when drawing up a contract of employment but it’s important to note that if they are included then they become a contractual right, so employers need to consider whether they are able to sustain the terms before putting them down in writing. If you prefer to have more control over which benefits are provided and when, then it’s best to ensure that the wording in the clause(s) detailing the terms makes them a discretionary or conditional entitlement, dependent on the employee meeting certain factors or criteria.
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