Habia resident Health and Safety advisor Wendy Nixon and Employment Law expert David Wright keep you updates with the most common issues salon owners are facing.
Rumour Has It by Wendy Nixon
Ever wondered where rumours start? It's a common question within health and safety as many are left baffled by bizarre statements and demands made under the banner of health and safety legal requirements.
As a consequence, the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) set up a Myth Buster Challenge Panel whose responsibility is to look into and challenge advice and decisions made in the name of health and safety that are believed to be disproportionate or legally inaccurate.
Since the concept was developed the team have dealt with almost 400 cases to date. Here are a few examples:
Case 367 - A lady fainted in a shop and the staff could not give her a glass of water because of health and safety
Whilst in a shop recently a lady fainted and the enquirer immediately went to assist. The enquirer heard the lady ask the very kind staff in the shop who had given her a comfy chair to sit in, for a drink of water. She was told sorry we can't give you one - health and safety rules. The enquirer was wondering if this is a true ruling by H&S.
Refusing the lady who had fainted a drink of water after she came round and was sitting up was a bizarre and ridiculous response. The panel is at a loss to understand why anyone could possibly think they could not do this for "health and safety". There is no such rule and it would have been quick and easy to accommodate the request.
Case 300 - No mirror in disabled toilet
Enquirer's mum is registered disabled and needed to use the disabled toilet. When she came out, she asked the landlady why there wasn't a mirror in the toilet. The landlady stated that it was for health and safety reasons.
It is ridiculous to suggest that a mirror cannot be provided in a disabled toilet for "health and safety" reasons. This is clearly not the case given that British Standards even specify how mirrors should be positioned to meet the needs of disabled people. The contractor who refurbished the toilet clearly used "health and safety" as an excuse to cut costs and appears to be happy to pass on this feeble excuse to customers.
Case 241 - Shop door left open in cold weather
On trying to close a shop door that was left open in cold weather the enquirer was told that the door had to remain open to allow wheelchair users access, apparently this had come from 'Health and Safety'.
Health & Safety at Work legislation does not require shops to keep their doors open for wheelchair users. The company has confirmed that it has an 'open doors' policy, but has made clear that this has nothing to do with health and safety or wheelchair access. It is a business decision.
It is not clear whether the shop assistant was aware of the reason for the policy or not, but the company should ensure that the employees understand and do not mislead customers by using health and safety as a catch-all excuse.
Case 132 - A client was not allowed a drink in a hair salon
During a lengthy visit at a hairdressers a client was informed that she could not have a drink due to health and safety. The client challenged the hairdresser who suggested that the reasons were because of the electrical items present in the salon and possible spillages.
This is a clear example of the "health and safety" excuse being given for poor customer service. If the no frills package being offered by the hairdresser does not include complimentary drinks they should say so, not hide behind a convenient excuse.
If you are left in doubt as to what is required under health and safety in your salon, DON'T listen to rumors. Furthermore, don't give health and safety as the reason you want to instigate a new company policy unless it is an actual legal requirement. Be honest, clear and practical. Get advice from Habia and ensure you don't get Busted!
Don't Forget The Reason by David Wright
I am often contacted to discuss disciplinary situations. The salon owner will have a shopping list of concerns regarding staff in terms of their behaviour or performance.
Ironically, this can be unhelpful. If you call an employee for their first disciplinary hearing the outcome is usually a written warning. So you only have to prove one issue of poor performance or misconduct to issue a warning. Having 5 incidents still results in a written warning so stick to the allegations or allegation the is clear and not in dispute.
The situation is even more important in cases of gross misconduct where you are contemplating dismissal. Legally you have to be specific regarding why you have dismissed an employee and the allegation needs to be really serious. It is pointless, for example, to say the allegation is that " you have stolen £200 from the till " and adding " you were 5 minutes late on the 5th January". One is clearly misconduct and fairly minor whereas the other is a serious incident probably resulting in dismissal
Fair Reasons For Dismissal
These are covered by UK law and let me summarise them below. It is important that you advise the employee that they are dismissed under one of these headings and this would be confirmed in the letter of dismissal.
In your disciplinary procedure you should give examples of misconduct and gross misconduct, the latter are issues that result in summary dismissal ,these are typically issues like theft, harassment or in a salons case poaching clients .Typically misconduct issues relate to timekeeping, attendance, poor performance. Of course you will be expected to follow a fair process and adhere to your disciplinary procedure
2. Capability or qualifications
It is less common for an employee to be dismissed instantly for poor performance or lack of capability, this heading often includes long term sickness. Normally there is a process of identifying the shortfall and giving the employee support and training to fill the gap. Typically, if performance doesn't improve the disciplinary procedure i.e. a series of warnings are issued prior to dismissal
Redundancy is another fair reason for dismissal. There is a statutory process for you to follow involving consultation with staff and attempting to avoid redundancies. There reason for redundancy must be genuine i.e. a reduction in demand, closure or reduction in the requirement for work of a particular kind and if only some staff are selected for redundancy the selection process must be fair and objective. Note staff with 2 years' service are entitled to a redundancy payment and redundancy is a dismissal so employees always get a right of appeal!
4. Some other substantial reason (SOSR)
This sound like a catch-all to justify any dismissal but it isn't.
In a recent case a major client indicated they would take their business elsewhere if a particular employee remained following a heated argument. The loss of the business would have effectively closed the business. The employee might have been blameless but dismissal was the only solution available and was deemed to be fair
5. Statutory Reason
This is where it would be illegal for you to continue to employ the person. Good examples are where an employment work visa expires and they no longer have a right to work in the UK. Another example might be where a driver loses their driving license (and redeployment isn't a viable alternative)
Of course the employee has the right to appeal any decision to dismiss and make a claim for unfair dismissal if they have 2 years' service with you
And finally . . .
6. Wrongful Dismissal
Wrongful dismissal occurs when the employer terminates the contract of employment, and in doing so breaches the contract. The most common example is terminating a contract without giving the contractual notice period.
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Features of the pack:
Downloadable official forms and notices for you to use in your salon.
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An accident book for your business, Health and Safety Risk Assessments, Fire Risk Assessments and COSHH Risk Assessments in example formats for guidance and as blank forms for you to complete.
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Habia Employment Law Pack For Salons £90
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Features of the pack:
Salon ready contracts of employment and workplace rules.
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Work Time Regulations.
Advice on appointing staff, inductions and appraisals
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