Common HR Myths exposed

Exposing Common Employment Law Myths

Mandy Fitzmaurice, a leading HR expert and Managing Director of Purple HR, uncovers a few commonly held myths about employment law.

For employers, managing a business whilst trying to navigate the minefield of our nation’s employment law can be a real headache. When your attention is naturally drawn to looking after your customers and keeping the cash flowing, it can be very tempting to take a few short cuts, make a few assumptions, sign a few contracts and move on.  But it’s so easy to miss those important little details and develop misconceptions about what you can and can’t do when it comes to employment and managing your employees.

To help you avoid some of those nasty minefields, here’s a few common myths that regularly catch employers out.


Part-time Workers Have Fewer Rights

It’s a common belief that part-time workers have fewer rights than their full-time counterparts.  Not true – part-time workers have the right not to be treated less favourably than a full time worker doing the same or similar work when it comes to the terms of employment (holiday entitlements and pay are pro ratad according to hours worked).

They are also entitled to the same opportunities for pensions, benefits, holidays, training, promotion, transfer, redundancy, and career breaks.

The only exception will be when you can show ‘objective justification’. You would have to jump over significant hurdles to justify a reason to breach discrimination laws, such as safety considerations or a need for a particular skill-set, but it’s very difficult to do.


I Can’t Contact Sick Employees

I can tell you that you are most definitely allowed to contact a sick employee when they are signed-off, in fact you have a ‘duty of care’ to keep in touch and see how they are doing.

However, keeping in touch doesn’t mean daily calls – that would be harassment!  Regular contact with a sick employee should be compassionate and focus on their well-being not just when they will return to work. My tip is to keep in touch, be sensitive to their situation and don’t forget to explore what, if any reasonable adjustments they may need to help them return to work.


A Pregnant Employee Can’t Be Fired

Understandably this misconception has arisen from a fear of accusations of sex discrimination.  However, hard is it may sound, it is possible to dismiss a pregnant employee providing your reasons have absolutely nothing to do with the employee’s pregnancy, a pregnancy related illness, pending maternity leave, or gender.

It goes without saying that you must always have a genuine reason for dismissing any employee, pregnant or otherwise and follow a fair process whether that be disciplinary, capability or redundancy.  The best advice I can give in these instances is seek professional advice before you do anything!


I Must Give Time Off For Bank Holidays

It’s up to you whether you want your employees to work on bank holidays. If you close your business on bank holidays, you can also make your employees take time off as part of their annual leave entitlement.

Providing you give your employees the minimum statutory holiday entitlement, which is 5.6 weeks a year, you can include bank holidays within this entitlement.  Another myth about bank holidays concerns pay – it is a matter of fact that there is no legal right to be paid extra for working on a bank holiday, unless you offer this in the contract.

The best advice to give here is to make sure you set out how you treat bank holidays in the contract of employment, so employees are left in no doubt.

If you have some uncertainties about employment law, your legal obligations as a business owner or simply want to maximise your businesses potential, we can help you stay safe and keep on the right side of the law.

For more information and advice about employment law visit:

Author: Editorial Team

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