Employment Law Considerations

Employment Law Considerations


Are you dealing with Flexible Working Requests Properly?

Employers should be aware that they are required to consider a request from an employee for flexible working hours. A request of this nature must be made in writing, setting out details of the request, the date it is made and disclosing the date of any previous request. A request must be dealt with and responded to within three months of the request being made.

What many employers are probably not aware of is what can happen if that request finds its way to the bottom of a pile of everything else a practice owner has to deal with, and the practice owner fails to consider and deal with the request.

Providing an employee has 26 weeks of employment with the employer, the employee has a statutory right to request flexible working hours. If the employer fails to consider the request, it is possible for the employee to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal and assert this statutory right. The claim that would be brought by the employee is a breach of statutory rights.

If the employment tribunal were to make a judgment in favour of the employee, they could do one of the following:

  • Make an order that the employer reconsider the request for flexible working; OR
  • Award compensation for up to a maximum of 8 weeks statutory pay.

The statutory maximum for this type of award is £4,064 from 6 April 2018.

As with all statutory or contractual breaches, discrimination claims could be tagged on to claims such as this which could have grave financial implications, as well as unfavourable publicity exposure for an employer.

Where a request is rejected, a record of this should be kept and reasonable business justification should be set out when confirming the rejection. Where a request is accepted, a variation to the contract of employment should be issued and signed by both parties to note the variation to contracted hours.

It is important to have policies and procedures in place to deal with flexible working requests in a compliant and efficient manner, in order to avoid ending up in the above situation.

It is also worth noting that an employee may only make one request in any 12 month period.

Latest on the Taylor Report – Extension of Employee Rights?

As we have already touched upon, any changes in employment legislation are likely to take longer than usual, whilst the political landscape is dominated by Brexit-related legislation.

However, last month, the government issued its response to the Taylor Report. The points to note in this response are that none of these proposals are guaranteed to happen and will be subject to legislation. Moreover, these proposals will certainly not be implemented before March 2019, save for the issue of payslips.

There is a suggestion that employees could benefit from new ‘day one’ rights that give workers the right to being provided with payslips from the commencement of their employment, which would have to include the number of hours that the employee is being paid for where the employee is not salaried.

What else is being proposed?

  • A new tier/definition of worker in the mould of the ‘dependent contractor’ following on from the landmark Uber case;
  • A universal right for everyone in the workforce (employees, workers, agency workers, zero hour contract workers) to ask for a variation to their contract. This would, of course, not go so far as being able to demand a variation and it remains to be seen the nature of variations which would be asked for;
  • The right to be provided with a written statement of employment particulars from the first day of employment (at present, this is within 2 months of employment commencing and only applied to employees).

Whether these proposals are going to make it into law and regulations will depend upon if trade unions have an appetite for these concessions, if they will be rejected in the pursuit of more far-reaching protections and rights for employees, or whether employers and business groups are willing to accept such changes – given some of their considerable practical hurdles and, arguably, increased bureaucracy.

Statutory Sick Pay – the Facts

The issue of when, how much and for how long statutory sick pay (SSP) is payable by the employer is often a point which is misunderstood or simply ignored. This has the potential to be financially detrimental to a business and/or in breach of the law.

Without going into extensive details, here are some of the common misconceptions:

  1. Not everybody is entitled to SSP. You must be an employee, have carried out some work for your employer and earn no less than £113 per week (i.e if your employee works 8 hours per week at £8 per hour, they are not eligible).
  2. From the minute they are off work, employees are not entitled to SSP due to illness/sickness absence. The employee must have been ill for at least 4 days – which includes non-working days – before an employee is eligible.
  3. SSP is not payable for an indefinite term. It is only payable for a maximum of 28 weeks;
  4. Once this 28 week period comes to an end, the employee is not necessarily left without any money to live on thereafter and may be able to apply to the state for Employment Support Allowance;
  5. That isn’t to say you don’t do anything at the end of the 28 week period. If it is a reasonable expectation that the employees’ sickness absence is going to pass the 28 week period, then you should obtain an SSP1 Form (available from on the 23rd week of the 28 week SSP period. This should be completed and given to the employee so that they can access the government funded allowance at the end of their 28 week period.

The increase in SSP rates which were announced in December are due to come into effect from 6 April 2018 and from which date will be £92.05 per week.


Ben Williams (pictured below) of Goodman Grant Solicitors – contact on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information visit or contact your nearest office:

London: 0203 114 3133

Leeds: 0113 834 3705

Liverpool: 0151 707 0090

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Are you up-to-date with the National Living Wage? - Michael Lansdell

Are you up-to-date with the National Living Wage? - Michael Lansdell

For an employee to feel truly valued, they need to know that they are being paid adequately for the job they do and that their employer is committed to their welfare and wants them to stay. As a dental practice owner, you will probably employ part-time staff – are you sure that you are paying them enough, even if they are not working as many hours as others are?


This is essential after the prime minister unveiled changes to the rules around the National Living Wage (NLW) in September 2015. The measures significantly toughened the regulations that were already in place, emphasising a message of ‘zero tolerance’ for employers who fail to comply.


Under the new laws, the NLW for workers over the age of 25 will be £7.20 an hour from April 2016 and by 2020, it will be at least £9. To ensure that employers comply with this, the government also announced a new unit at HMRC created specifically to deal with firms that are not paying the NLW.


Until the measures were announced, if an employer was caught out, they had to repay the amount they had underpaid plus a non-payment penalty. In September, the prime minister confirmed that this penalty would be doubled to a whopping 200% of the underpayment. Moreover, any business owner found guilty may also be disqualified from being a company director for 15 years.


These penalties are harsh and a small-to-medium-sized business, which many dental practices are, would simply not survive them. Whilst some employers are making a genuine mistake, it is still the responsibility of the business owner to make sure the new rules are properly enforced and all criteria met.


Don’t get caught out! Part of running a successful dental practice is looking after every member of staff and making it a great place to work. Get expert advice to keep you up-to-date with the law, so that everyone can focus on delivering the very best in patient care.


Specialist medical and dental accountants Lansdell & Rose can help you understand and apply employment law. The team also has a wealth of knowledge on a range of topics from pensions to tax to help your business grow. Visit or call 020 7376 9333.


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Protect yourself and your staff - Goodman Grant Lawyers for dentists

Protect yourself and your staff - Goodman Grant Lawyers

On average, there are approximately 6,000 employment tribunals being presented each month in this country. In dentistry, we see a large volume of cases in which practice principals have failed to issue their staff with proper employment contracts. Despite the fact that the provision of such contracts has been a statutory requirement since 1978, there are still many practices that fail to do so – why this should be the case is hard to determine, but it is indicative of an attitude that fails to recognise the importance of the staff. 


Failing to provide employment contracts to any member of your team is not only a breach of statutory requirement, it can also leave practice owners vulnerable should there be dispute with a member of staff. For example, without an employment contract, there is no clear procedure for staff holidays, sick pay, overtime of discipline.


It is also quite likely that if a tribunal comes across a case where an employer has not provided a contract, they are likely to sympathise with the employee’s position. Thus, the lack of a contract can actually jeopardise the chances of successfully defending against such proceedings.


But by including a clause in an employment contract, that defines the procedures that will be followed in all aspects of work within your practice, you will be suitably protected.


To reinforce this, it is also prudent to supply a comprehensive staff handbook. This must be bespoke to your dental practice and will expand upon the terms detailed in the employment contract, focussing on specific circumstances that may be unique to you and your team. Of course, it must be regularly updated to reflect new legislation and practice changes, and it is absolutely vital to include a thorough introduction to the handbook in any staff inductions.


Ultimately there are two reasons to invest yourself in a comprehensive handbook like this. Firstly, you will be able to significantly reduce the chances of becoming embroiled in a dispute and being taken to a tribunal. The second is that your business will come across as professional, serious, fair and competent.


Of course, these precautions are not guaranteed to stop all staff misconduct, but they do provide an efficient safety-net to fall back on if matters turn nasty. What’s more, it will promote staff happiness, because they will feel protected and valued – and, of course, happy staff should equal happy patients.


John Grant of Goodman Grant Lawyers for Dentists - a NASDAL member

For more information call John Grant on 0113 834 3705 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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Grow your Practice Cost and Hassle-Free - Valerie Bostrom

Valerie Bostrom from Munroe Sutton

Many modern companies in all industries offer an array of employee benefits. There are various different schemes available, from those that provide tax incentives for employees cycling to work, to others supporting child care costs. The nature of the benefits provided will depend on each team and their individual needs.

Aside from the obvious compensations to employees, these benefit schemes also offer advantages to the employer and business. Happier staff tends to increase their engagement and maximise productivity, ultimately having a positive effect on profitability.

Healthcare benefits will also help improve the health and wellbeing of staff for reduced sickness absences. These are probably one of the most cherished schemes offered, as they entitle employees to private health and dental care, with a considerable proportion of the cost covered.

But how is this relevant to you as a dental care provider?

Most dental practices are run as a business, and an increase in new patients, higher frequency footfall and busier chair occupancy is the ultimate goal from a ‘bottom-line’ perspective. By being part of these healthcare plans and working with those who offer them, patients who use the cover will come to you for their treatment. There are businesses out there that manage healthcare plans in this way, liaising with insurance companies and dental providers to provide the highest quality of dental care for those who take out cover.

Munroe Sutton has more than 3 decades of experience in designing, organising and managing dental plans that improve the affordability and accessibility of quality dental treatment. Their dental plan was created by dentists, for dentists, so is committed to providing fair compensation and supporting the patient relationship. By working with leading financial, insurance and healthcare companies, as well as the smaller local unions and trade associations, Monroe Sutton is able to promote your practice to a huge number of new patients, all at no cost to you.

Further still, Monroe Sutton believes in prompt payment for the services provided to healthcare plan patients, ensuring a reliable cash flow.

Attracting new patients is an integral aspect of your business’ success, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive to you. By getting involved with the healthcare and dental plans offered to businesses and individuals, you can not only help more people enhance their oral and general health, but also build your patient base and grow your business.


For more information please call 0808 234 3558

or visit

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The Rule of 10%

I told you January was interesting …

First we have a BDA EGM on the cards. Anyone who reads tea leaves must be thinking Friday 21st of February is the new Ides of March. While the BDA turns in on itself in what some might see as a death roll, the world moves on and, boy, how fast!

The DFT numbers have been formally announced – see the link – and the big picture?  1 in 5 students have not got a job to look forward to – nice motivation if you can get it – NOT!  Approximately 240 out the UK Graduate bag of about 1100 have been ‘placed on a “Reserve List” I say approximately – the numbers are not entirely clear even if the big picture is.   What’s that – about 10% in the end? well, give or take.

Have we all been witness to a Coup d’Etat in dentistry – CoPDenD have quietly become the most influential body in dentistry. If you are a student on the receiving end, it must feel like a very unfair and cruel arbitrary selection process.

You know what sucks?  It is clear that CoPDenD would have you believe that the NHS and it’s public funding is the only kid on the block. They saw off Private Vocational Training and now have a monopoly grip on the peri-graduation phase of ones career. Is it me or does CoPDenD have a funny smell around it?

The size of the private dental market is now likely bigger than all of the NHS dental funding for dental care, both primary and secondary.

So why is there not a flourishing private-public partnership in dentistry in which the shortfalls of NHS funded DFT are more than taken up by a commercial organisation?  If ever an opportunity for the FGDP to do something practical ever has been missed this must be it.  I’ll bet if SERCO or Compass were bidding, Private VT would be up and  running by now.

And now ... midway though a Manpower Review at the Higher Education Funding body…  the word on the block  is that a blanket 10% student cut across the board has been enacted with immediate effect.  The Twittersphere is lighting up this week as the well  hinted cuts are finally publicised.

Perversely, that actually sounds like some form of a solution.  Fewer graduating dentists are an inevitable consequence of reduced Government funding. Since we all know the Government IS broke, maybe this 10% cut will be in ADDITION to the chopping of two dental schools, which is being widely trawled.

That will in 2 years mean a broad reduction of about 270 students per annum - job done, CoPDenD’s DFT books balanced.

But where is the drive to use the vibrant private market to create educational opportunities which support and supplement the NHS funded basic training? Lots of willing weekenders but no structure.

In its small way, dentistry is now witnessing the effects of lack of public funding. If the profession of dentistry is a thermometer for public finances, the mercury is falling.  So be it. Can’t spend what we don’t have.  It is not entirely unexpected after all

But there is a £7Bn, and growing,  private market for dentistry.   In fact, year on year growth of 10% and more is anticipated.

There has to be a better way.  The big picture of publicly funded dentistry is gaining a degree of focus.  We need to ensure that private dentistry builds its own big picture, and fast.

How? By whom?

Questions a’plenty. Answers on a postcard please!  If 10% of you reply…

See you soon people. How much more news can there be?


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Staff Selection

Dental Staff recruitment - how to keep out of court

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