Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

July 18, 2012

This Bill is still rumbling away as it is being debated by Parliamentary committees , and a new clause has been added that would allow an employer to have a discussion with an employee without fearing that this conversation would be used in subsequent Employment Tribunal proceedings.

These conversations have been dubbed by the government as ‘protected conversations’.  Many small employers will be quite shocked to hear that informal conversations with employees could later come back to bite them.  The reality is that in most small businesses the relationships are close and it is rare that either party might be looking to use conversations against each other in the future.

Whilst the government proposals are fraught with potential loopholes, they do serve to remind employers to take care in all conversations with employees, as a formal contractual relationship always exists between the parties and this should be respected.

If you need to speak to an employee on a potential employment issue, make sure you are properly prepared, keep informal notes and think through the potential implications of what you say and how you say it.  If you do find yourself dealing with a potential dispute, then, the ‘protected conversation’ if it becomes law, may be a useful means of having an open discussion…..but beware, you will need to predicate any conversation with an agreement that this is what its status is, and you still need to maintain good employment practice at all times.

For further help and advice on the above, please contact lia@hitchinhr.co.uk or call Jenny on 07974 314312.