Labor Law, Employee Law and Relations

Introduction

In all organizations, every employee is entitled to some form of statutory rights. These rights have to be honored by the employer. Some of the rights that employees should enjoy include equal pay, maternity and paternity leave, flexibility in working, redundancy pay, and periods of notice (Changing and terminating of an employment contract).

Case 1

Mike Harris has been an accounts supervisor for two years. Recently GLC and Mike agreed to change his contractual status to that of “consultant”. GLC paid to have a “home” based office set up for him, and paid for the equipment and installation. Mike is free to do the work at any time so long as he submits a weekly report. He is also free to take private contracts so long as they do not compromise the GLC work. Last week GLC decided to terminate the “consultancy” arrangement, saying that they no longer required his “services”.

Mike’s legal position

Every employer has to get consent from the employee in case they want to alter the employment contract. This is done because the new contract might not be in favor of the employee. Mike’s employment contract changed to that of consultant. From the case illustrated, this was with the consent of Mike. If a contract is changed without the consent of the employee, the employer is likely to get into trouble with the law and specifically the employment tribunal unless there is a provision in the original contract for a change on particular grounds.

On the other hand, a contract can only be terminated legally if the employee is given proper notice. The employer has to make sure that they follow the correct procedure any time they wish to dismiss a worker. Chapter eight of the European law sheds some light on the termination of employment contracts. It states the procedure which can be followed by employees whose services have been terminated on economic or business grounds if they want to confront the discharge (Termination of an employment contract). This however applies if the employee does not wish to sue but wants compensation.

The law clearly states that an employee who has been in employment for at least three months be given two weeks’ notice before termination. If this does not happen, then they should be given pay in lieu. Under part three of this law, employees are entitled to additional pay which is severance pay. The severance pay is likened to reasonable notice. Under the labor law, it is based on the length of time that one has worked for a particular company. The law states that for every year of service, there should be two days severance pay. A minimum of five days is payable to all the employees. This is provided without the employee having to incur costs for suing the company (Termination of an employment contract). Mike should therefore seek compensation from the company or seek legal action from the employment tribunal.

Case 2

Maxine Jones is the GLC restaurant manager. She has been employed full-time by GLC for nine months, but these hours are affecting the care of her children. Maxine requested that GLC allows her to reduce her hours to part-time because in the previous few months she has taken several individual days off to care for her children who were ill. Her request has been refused on the basis that “the company needs full-time commitment from their managers”.

Maxine’s legal position

The working Time Directive came into force in the United Kingdom on the first of October 1998. The law applies to part-time employees as well as those who work full-time (Employment law explained). An employer under this law is not supposed to force any employee to work more than forty-eight hours every week unless it is with a written agreement. The employee in question should not be forced to agree to work more hours and if this happens, they can always file a complaint in the employment tribunal. In addition, this law states that if an employee refuses to work more than 48 hours, case law does not allow for a reduction in the employee’s pay (Working time directive).

This law defines working time as that time when a worker is “working at his employer’s disposal and carrying out his activities or duties” (Legal basics: Employment). In addition, adult workers have a right to a day off every seven days while young workers have two days.

If an employee wishes to work fewer hours than what they are used to, they are required to give notice to their employer. The notice should be at least 7 days before it is effected. If an employee needs more free time for reasons that are beyond help, then the employer has no right whatsoever to deny that worker free time. The employer should be rational enough to consider the needs of their employees so that the latter are comfortable at work.

A part-time worker is that employee whose normal hours of working when computed on a weekly basis add up to less than the normal working hours of that employee who works full time. The European law provides for the removal of prejudice against part-time employees. It also provides for the improvement of the quality of part-time work. The signatory parties for this law have agreed that part-time work should be facilitated on voluntary grounds. Companies, therefore, should be flexible in their working hours in order to take into account the various needs of the diverse group of employees. The agreement in this section of European law applies to workers who wish to work part-time and who have an employment contract as is allowed by the law (Council directive 97/81/EC).

Under the labor law agreement, the member states in the context of the first clause of the agreement on non-discrimination of part-time workers are obliged to identify and evaluate the legal obstacles that would come in the way of opportunities for part-time work. They should then look for ways to eliminate these obstacles.

It is up to employers to give some consideration to the requests workers put forward for transfer from full-time to part-time work. The employer should also provide measures to assist in the access of part time work at all levels in the organization regardless of position. If Maxine understands the rights she has over the labor law, then it is possible for her to file a complaint at the employment tribunal that will follow up on the refusal of part time work. The law will require that the employer provide viable reasons for this refusal or seek that Maxine be compensated (Council directive 97/81/EC).

Conclusion

Discrimination of employees on grounds of the period of time they are working, whether part time or full-time does not go down well with the employee body. Employees have various needs which call for accomplishment. Such discrimination could result in low turnover of employees and even trouble of employers with the law. On the other hand, illegal termination of employees incites uproar among employees. Should employees live in fear of uncertain termination productivity of a company goes down since they will spend more time on the issue of the uncertainty than they will working.

References

Collected Courses of the Academy of European Law: 1997 European Community Law, Academy of European Law, Kluwer Law International, 2001.

“Changing and terminating an employment contract.” Web.

Council Directive 97/81/EC of 15 December 1997 concerning the framework agreement on part-time work concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC, Official Journal of the European Communities. Web.

Employment law explained: Working time directive. “Legal basics: Employment.” Web.

Termination of employment relationships: Legal situation in the Member States of the European Union. European Commission Directorate General Employment, social affairs and equal opportunities, Unit D2, 2006. Web.

“Termination of employment contract.” Web.