HR Consultant

HR Consultant – Protected Characteristics


Following on from our last blog, this blog will discuss ‘protected characteristics’ in more detail.

Protected characteristics are vital to a HR consultant and employers alike. These protected characteristics are there to protect both employees and also prospective employees from different types of discrimination. In this video, I discuss what these characteristics are, where they came from and how we can protect our companies from any claims against them.

If you have been employing people for over ten years then it’s very likely that you would remember that we used to have things like sex discrimination, age discrimination and race discrimination. However, in 2010 all of these discriminations laws were bound together and was put into something that is called the Equality Act. Since then, these discrimination laws within the equality act, have been known as protected characteristics.

It’s really important for an employee to know exactly what these characteristics are, and in fact, there are nine. The protected characteristics are:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Civil Partnerships and Marriage
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Pregnancy and Maternity

It is vital for you to know them as if you have an employee who is covered by any of these characteristics then you will need to make some reasonable adjustments for that person. For example, if you have an employee who has a disability you would need to make adjustments within the workplace to ensure that they can carry out their role without being discriminated against.

If you have any other questions about protected characteristics or feel you could benefit from some advice from a HR consultant please get in touch today.


HR advice

HR Advice – Why does length of service matter?


When giving HR advice we will reassure our clients in saying that length of service only really matters when you are planning to dismiss a member of staff.

If someone has been an employee in your company for two years or more they have the right to claim unfair dismissal. This can result in you and your company to be taken to an employment tribunal.

However, if the employee has been employed for less than two years, they won’t have rights to claim unfair dismissal. But this doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods when it comes to dismissing an employee. Some people who you choose to employ may have what we call ‘protected characteristics’. This video explains what protected characteristics are and how to safeguard yourself when dismissing someone who may have these.

What are protected characteristics?

Protected characteristics are what we know as discriminations. So for example, this could be anything from age discrimination to disability discrimination. These characteristics are so important for you as an employer to understand. This is because someone doesn’t actually have to be employed by you to make a discrimination claim. These people could have applied for a job with you, didn’t get an interview and could then claim against you.

When giving HR advice, we worry about these discrimination claims as they can, if won, be a very expensive claim. This is because there is currently no cap on what an individual can be paid if they win their case for discrimination. Although, with an unfair dismissal claim there is a cap on how much a person can be paid if they win their case.

To conclude, if you are planning on dismissing a member of staff you firstly need to check if they have under 2 years of service. If so great, no unfair dismissal claims but then you also need to check if they have any protected characteristics. If you have any more questions about dismissing a member of staff get in touch today.


HR Consultant – Can I sack someone if they’re on probation?


One of the questions we often get asked as a HR consultant is, “can I sack someone if they’re on probation” the answer is yes. We get this question and questions like this all of the time.

That’s why hiring an HR consultant is really important for your company to ensure you are compliant and understand the legal implications when it comes to managing employees.

Probation periods for employees are completely normal, but before you create any probation policy’s there are some recommendations we have. Some companies have a 3-month probation period while others have 6 months. We would recommend a 3-month probation period with a 30, 60- and 90-day review period.

As an HR consultant company, we come across issues like this every day. So, in this video below we discuss some more expert advice on probation periods and whether or not you can sack someone during their probation.

One of the biggest tips we can give you when it comes to employees and probation is to talk to them. Make sure you’re having regular reviews,  talk to them about how things are going and most importantly give feedback. This way you can gauge how your employee is feeling and most importantly, they can understand if anything more is needed of them and how they are performing. As a HR consultant company, we also offer a variety of templates you may need for all of your HR needs. If you would like a copy of our review form simply get in touch today or email

If you think you need to hire a HR consultant company to help you deal with these common employee issues, get in touch today. Together we can come up with a plan that suits you and find the best solution for you and your employees.


Jacqui Mann

Why your business needs HR Processes, systems, and rules?


Why Your Business Needs HR Processes, Systems, and Rules

Many companies skirt over these essential processes and suffer as a result. You see, things such as your employment contracts, employee handbook, sickness and absence procedures, rules for taking holiday, grievance procedures etc. create the rules of the workplace. If you’re a creative, entrepreneurial business owner, then it won’t surprise me if you find these foundations a little restrictive – even frustrating.

Fit for Purpose

In any business, HR processes and procedures must be up-to-date, fit for purpose and set up to give you the business owner the flexibility to do what’s best for the company. The clue here is in the fit for purpose. Processes and rules create unified standards that ensure all employees are treated fairly more importantly everyone understands what they need to do to ensure consistency.

Many business owners wrongly believe their employees know what to do and what’s expected of them. A lack of processes, systems or procedures leads to inconsistency – in behaviour, performance, discipline, and results. When staff is seen to ‘get away with it’, resentment builds, which slowly kills morale and encourages poor performance.

I’ve worked with so many owners who complain about employees who don’t do things the way they want them done, maybe you can start to see why now.

When I go into the business to help cure their people disease I discover nothing is written down, it’s all in the owners head. I tell the owner that employees are not telepathic. How do they expect them to know what to do, they can’t read your mind.

If you mention HR to most owners they think of policies, procedures, employment law and lots of red tape. Ok, I admit there is some of that but there is so much more to HR than the majority of people realise.

Strategic Growth

HR is about developing people and working with the business from a strategic perspective to support growth. Business owners will need more HR expertise to support workplace culture in the future. Many business owners believe that by having policies in place it will stop them doing the things in their business that they want to do. That’s not true. Policies and procedures need to be designed around the company and the ‘rules’ should be in line with the company culture and values.

Download our guide ‘ Are Your Employment Contracts Legal?’


I meet many business owners who don’t have employment contracts in place for their staff and they have been in business for over ten years. This is madness. Why? Because you are not protecting your business, your employment contract can contain clauses that will give your business protection. Not only that, it makes it very clear from the beginning to both parties as to what the expectations are. The number of times I have had to resolve issues for owners when the relationship has gone wrong. It can become very costly. So much of it could have been prevented if the foundations had been right at the beginning.

I don’t want to get into too much legal stuff so let’s look at it this way. When everything is going well at the beginning of the employment relationship it’s great, but when the relationship turns sour that’s when you wish you’d paid more attention to the really boring stuff, like the employment contract.

I hear many business owners say they don’t like having rules, people can make their own decisions. Everyone knows what’s expected of them around here. It’s that telepathy thing again. I have news for you; they don’t know what’s expected. It may surprise you but the majority of people like to have rules. They like to know what they can and can’t do. It’s also good for your culture as any new employees understand very quickly ‘how things are done around here’.

Expectations and Consequences

A workplace with rules has defined boundaries, expectations, and consequences. Underpinned by the core values the HR processes and systems, help support the business and make it a great place to work. That’s why you need to get these foundations in place before you can begin to implement the P.E.O.P.L.E.™ System itself.

Does your employment contract protect your business? Find out now. Download our guide ‘ Are Your Employment Contracts Legal?’


Constructive dismissal - Jacqui Mann

What Is Constructive Dismissal?


Recently we have had an employer contact us for HR support to find out if an employee can make a claim for constructive dismissal.

So what is constructive dismissal?

Different from ‘wrongful dismissal’, ‘constructive dismissal’ is where an employee terminates their employment in response to their employer’s treatment of them. Although there has been no actual dismissal, the treatment is sufficiently bad that the employee is entitled to regard themselves as having been dismissed.

What does the employee have to prove?

To prove a constructive unfair dismissal, an employee must show that:

  • the employer has breached the employment contract and
  • this is a significant or fundamental breach of contract and
  • they terminated their employment in response to that breach and did not delay resigning

An example of constructive dismissal

An example of a case where the employment tribunal found that an employee’s resignation was not in response to the employer’s breach of contract is Thomas v The Arts Council of Wales (unreported, ET/1604301/08 17 June 2009, ET).

The employee requested to work part-time after her maternity leave. The employer refused, saying they needed full time hours. The problem the employer had was that they didn’t deal with the flexible working request correctly. The employee claimed the way they dealt with it was a fundamental breach of contract, breaking the implied term of trust and confidence. The tribunal was not satisfied that this breach was the reason for her resignation. The employee failed to show that she had been constructively unfairly dismissed. (However, the employee won her claim of unlawful indirect sex discrimination).

Also Read: How to Manage Employees’ Probationary Period

How easy is it to show constructive dismissal?

A constructive dismissal is far more difficult to prove than an employee often thinks. First they must prove a fundamental (rather than minor) breach of contract by the employer.

The employee must also show that their decision to terminate their employment was in response to the breach. An employment tribunal will need to satisfy itself that the employee did not delay too long in resigning. A tribunal will usually expect an employee to have tried to resolve the complaint through the grievance procedure before resigning.Employment Contract

How to avoid constructive dismissal claims

Constructive dismissal claims are usually based on a grievance that the employee has. It’s therefore important to invite the employee to a grievance meeting, giving them the right to be accompanied.  Listen to what they have to say and then respond to the grievance in writing.

Getting to the bottom of the grievance is the key to reassuring the employee or, if they are determined to leave, weakening any potential tribunal claim they may bring.

So the moral of this story is always follow your procedures and whatever you do don’t ignore a grievance!