Company Handbook

Welcome to the Company

May we take this opportunity of welcoming you to MH Sibson & Co LLP.

This handbook is an important part of our journey towards meeting our strategic goals and ensuring we do the right thing for our customers and our people. How successful we are in this is going to depend heavily on how respectful and helpful we are with each other and, of course, our customers.

From time to time this Handbook may be amended and updated to reflect the needs of the Company and any legal developments.

Please do take the time to read this handbook because it has been put together to provide you with as much information as possible with regards to your employment, and we are sure it will answer many questions you have. However, should you have any questions or problems relating to its contents, please contact your Line Manager.

We wish you a long and successful career with us and welcome you to our Company.

Page

Table of Contents

Welcome to the Company

2

Part 1

Probationary Period

10

Induction

10

Hours of Work, Overtime and Place of Work

3.1 Hours of Work

3.2 Overtime

3.3 Place of Work / Mobility / Transfer

10

4. Remuneration (Payment of Salary)

4.1 Salary Administration – Payment and Deductions

4.2 Income Tax and National Insurance Enquiries

10

Travel

Introduction

Accommodation and Meals

Transport

5.3.1 Cars

Use of Private Vehicle

Use of Company Cars

Taxis

Car Hire

Rail and Air Travel

5.4 Other Matters

11

Expenses

Introduction

Responsibilities of Managers and Employees

Fraud, Bribery and Corruption

Nitty Gritty – what is allowable

6.4.1 Travel Related Expenses

6.4.2 Accommodation

6.4.3 Meals

Other Expense Claims

Exceptions

Store Petty Cash Form

Process

15

7. Absence From Work

7.1 Public / Bank Holidays

19

7.2 Time Off in Lieu (TOIL)

7.3 Annual Leave

7.4 Apportioning Leave Entitlement

7.5 Carrying Annual Leave Forward

7.6 Cancellation of Leave

7.7 Sickness Prior to and During Annual Leave

7.8 Leave entitlement on Leaving the Company

7.9 Compassionate Leave

7.10 Medical and Dental Appointments

7.11 Public Duties

7.12 Jury Service / Acting as a Witness

7.13 Unauthorised Absence

7.14 Weather Policy

8. Sick Leave and Pay Policy

8.1 Statement
8.2 Principles
8.3 Types of Sickness
8.4 Sick Leave Reporting Procedure

8.5 Evidence of Incapacity

8.6 Medical Assessments

8.7 Sickness whilst on Leave

8.8 Return to Work

8.9 Medical Statement of Fitness to Work

8.10 Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

8.11 Sickness Management Process

8.11.1 Appropriateness of using Formal Action in Managing Sickness

8.11.2 Informal Stage

8.11.3 Frequent/Persistent Short Term Sickness Absence

8.11.4 Long Term Sickness Absence

8.11.5 Appeals

8.11.6 Grievances

8.11.7 Rearranging Hearings

8.11.8 Right to be Accompanied

24

9. Notice Periods and Termination of Employment

9.1 Notice Period

9.2 Pay in Lieu of Notice

9.3 Garden Leave

9.4 Return of Company Property and Representation

36

10. Safeguards and Security of Information

10.1 Rights of Search
10.2 Cash Handling and Financial Transactions

10.3 Anti Money Laundering Policy

10.4 Anti Bribery

10.4.1 Introduction

10.4.2 Statement

37

10.4.3 Responsibilities and Reporting Procedure

10.4.4 Record Keeping

10.4.5 Sanctions for Breach

10.4.6 Gifts and Entertainment

10.4.7 Facilitation Payments

10.4.8 Donations and Sponsorship

10.4.9 Employees

10.5 Copyright
10.6 Statements to the Media
10.7 Personal Telephone Calls, Mobile Telephones and Other Remote Devices
10.7.1 Personal Telephone Calls
10.7.2 Mobile Telephones
10.7.3 Other Remote Devices
10.8 Personal Correspondence
10.9 Personal Information
10.9.1 Records
10.9.2 Privacy
10.10 Data Protection

10.10.1 Introduction

10.10.2 Data Protection Principles

10.10.3 Consent to Processing

10.10.4 Your Rights to Access Personal Information

10.10.5 Your Obligations in Relation to Personal Information

11. Computer Security Policy

11.1 Introduction
11.2 Security
11.3 Unauthorised Access
11.4 Software

48

12. Email and Internet Policies

12.1 Email Policy
12.2 Internet Usage Policy

12.3 Virus Protection Procedures

12.4 Usage

50

13. Social Media Policy

13.1 Policy Statement

13.2 Personal Use at Work

13.3 Monitoring

13.4 Responsible Use of Social Media

13.4.1 Professional Representation

13.4.2 Privacy

13.4.3 Confidentiality

52

14. Business Interests

55

15. Retirement

56

15.1 Retirement Age
15.2 Discussing Your Future Plans

15.3 Giving Notice of Retirement

16. Pension

16.1 Introduction

16.2 Categories of Employees for Automatic Enrolment

16.3 Contact for Support

56

17. Variation Provision

58

18. Limits of Authority

58

58

PART 2

A: Professional Conduct

1. Conduct and Behaviour

1.1 Appearance

1.2 No Smoking Policy

1.3 Alcohol and Drugs Policy

1.3.1 Introduction

1.3.2 Prohibition of Alcohol and Drugs in the Workplace

1.3.3 Alcohol and Drugs Testing

1.4 Gambling

1.5 Price Fixing

1.6 Gifts

1.7 Personal Relationships at Work

2. Equal Opportunities Policy

2.1 Equal Opportunities Statement

2.2 Recruitment

2.3 Eliminating Discrimination

2.4 Employment Verification

2.5 Training and Development

2.6 Post-Employment Discrimination

2.7 Monitoring

2.8 Discrimination Grievances

65

3. Harassment and Bulling (Dignity at Work) Policy

3.1 Harassment and Bullying (Dignity at Work) Statement
3.2 Harassment and Bullying
3.3 Complaining About Harassment or Bullying

3.3.1 Informal Complaint

3.3.2 Formal Complaint

3.4 General Comments

68

4. Whistle Blowing Policy

4.1 Introduction

4.2 What is Whistle Blowing?

4.3 Company Policy

4.4 Qualifying Disclosures

4.5 Protected Disclosures

4.6 Disclosure Procedure

71

5. Disciplinary Policy and Procedure

5.1 Purpose of the Policy and Procedure
5.2 Informal Resolution Procedure

74

5.3 Formal Procedure

5.4 Suspension

5.5 Disciplinary Meeting

5.6 Adjourning the Disciplinary Meeting

5.7 Stages of the Process

5.8 Gross Misconduct

5.9 Appeals

5.10 Escalation Procedure for Incorrect Advice Provided by Sales People to Customers

5.11 Compliance

6. Grievance Policy and Procedure

6.1 Procedure

6.1.1 Stage 1

6.1.2 Stage 2

78

7. Capability Policy and Procedure

7.1 Introduction

7.2 Procedure

7.2.1 Stage 1: First Capability Warning

7.2.2 Stage 2: Final Capability Warning

7.2.3 Stage 3: Dismissal

7.3 Appeals

79

8. Health and Safety Policy

8.1 Introduction

8.2 Our Responsibilities as the Employer

8.3 Duties of Employees

8.4 Communication and Updates

8.5 Workplace Accidents

8.6 What to do in the Event of a Fire

82

9. Eye Test Policy

84

10. Bomb Threat Policy

10.1 Introduction

10.2 Bomb Threats Received at a Workplace

10.3 Bomb Threats Received by Police or Security Forces

10.4 Implied Threat of a Bomb

10.5 Bomb Threats Received Outside of Business Hours

10.6 Bomb Searches

84

11. Prevention of Violence in the Workplace and Personal Safety

11.1 Prevention of Violence in the Workplace and

11.2 Personal Safety

86

B: Statutory Benefits / Work Life Balance

1. Maternity Leave

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Maternity Leave

1.2.1 Ordinary Maternity Leave

1.2.2 Additional Maternity Leave

1.3 Notification Requirements

1.4 Maternity Pay

1.5 Annual Leave Entitlement

1.6 Pension Scheme

1.7 Other Benefits

1.8 Antenatal Appointments

1.9 Start of Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML)

1.10 Contact During Maternity Leave

1.11 Keeping in Touch Days

1.12 Date of Return to Work

1.13 Rights After Return to Work

1.14 Failure to Return to Work

1.15 Suspension on Grounds of Health and Safety

1.16 Working Comfortably

1.17 Request for Flexible Working

1.18 Termination of Employment

87

2. Adoption Leave and Pay Policy

2.1 Introduction
2.2 Ordinary Adoption Leave (OAL) and Additional Adoption Leave (AAL)
2.3 Notification Requirements

2.4 Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP)

2.5 Contact During Adoption Leave

2.6 Keeping in Touch Days

93

3. Paternity Leave and Pay Policy

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Eligibility for Ordinary Paternity Leave (OPL)

3.3 Duration of Ordinary Paternity Leave

3.4 Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay (OSPP)

3.5 Notification of Ordinary Paternity Leave

3.6 Rights During and Following Ordinary Paternity Leave

93

4. Parental Leave

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Entitlement To Parental Leave

4.3 Duration of Parental Leave
4.4 When Parental Leave May be Taken
4.5 Evidence of Entitlement and Notification Requirements
4.6 Postponement of Parental Leave

94


4.7 Continuing Obligations During Parental Leave
4.8 Termination of Employment
4.9 Dishonest Claims to Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave

Introduction

Definition of Shared Parental Leave

Entitlement to Shared Parental Leave

Notification Requirements

Ending Maternity Leave

Taking Shared Parental Leave in separate blocks

Changing or ending Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Pay

Shared Parental Leave In Touch (SPLIT) Days

Terms and Conditions of Employment

Return to work

100

6. Time Off Work for Dependants Policy

6.1 Introduction

6.2 Eligibility

6.3 What Is a “Dependant”

6.4 Notification Requirements

6.5 Duration

101

7. Flexible Working Policy

7.1 Introduction

7.2 Eligibility

7.3 Changes

7.4 Application

7.5 Criteria for Assessment

7.6 Grounds of Refusal

7.7 Procedure

7.8 Appeal

102

8. Working Time Regulation Policy

104

C: Discretionary Benefits and Related Policies

Introduction

105

Childcare Voucher Scheme

105

Part One

Probationary Period

Your contract of employment states your probationary period, if applicable. This allows both the Company and you to assess whether the employment is satisfactory.

During your probationary period, you must demonstrate that you have the capacity to meet the tasks and responsibilities of the position and your attendance record and conduct have been satisfactory. We reserve the right to extend your probationary period by a further three months if required. Please also refer to Part One: Notice Periods and Termination of Employment.

At the end of your probationary period, a decision will be taken as to whether or not you are considered suitable for ongoing employment.

Induction

It is the aim of the Company to ensure that your induction is dealt with in an organised and consistent manner, to enable you to be introduced into a new position and working environment quickly, in order that you can contribute effectively and efficiently as soon as possible.

We believe that all new employees must be given induction training when they join the Company. This training is regarded as a vital part of employee recruitment and integration into the working environment. We are also committed to ensuring that all employees are supported during the period of induction, to the benefit of you and the Company alike.

Hours of Work, Overtime and Place of Work

Hours of work

Your normal hours of work are set out in your contract of employment.

Your Manager will let you know of break entitlements, etc. In certain areas of the business you may be required to work late nights and weekends, which form part of your normal working hours.

To ensure flexibility and continuity of employment, you may be required to carry our alternative work or change your hours of work in accordance with the needs of the business.

You are expected to report for work punctually at all times and follow timekeeping and absence procedures. A failure in this regard is detrimental to the efficient running of the business and imposes an unnecessary burden on your colleagues.

You have no right to be paid for time not worked due to lateness, unacceptable levels of absence and/or unauthorised absence may form the basis for disciplinary action. The Disciplinary Policy and Procedure are set out below.

You must adhere to the minimum hours as set down in your Contract of Employment.

We will ensure that you do not work more than an average of 48 hours a week over a 17-week reference period if you have decided to opt out (see Working Time Regulations Policy).

Overtime

In order to help us maintain optimal service levels, in addition to your normal hours of work, you may be required to work such additional hours as the needs of the business dictate.

Any overtime payments you are entitled to will be paid in arrears in the adjustment weeks.

The Company reserves the right to make overtime payments in the form of “Time in Lieu” where agreed with your Manager.

Overtime must be approved in advance by your Manager.

Overtime payments are specified in your Contract of Employment.

Place of Work / Mobility / Transfer

The place of work that you can consider as ‘normal’ is shown in your Contract of Employment. However there may be times when, either for your development or because of the needs of the business, we the business, may ask you to work in a different location (temporarily) or transfer to another location (permanently).

If you are a Manager, you may be required to undertake a greater degree of mobility. This may involve relocation to any other Company locations.

Whilst we will of course take into account your individual wishes, decisions on mobility and
transfer (including any requirement concerning relocation) will be at the Company’s discretion.

Remuneration (Payment of Salary)

Salary Administration – Payment and Deductions

Your salary will be paid by direct transfer into your bank/building society account each month. Full details are contained in your contract of employment.

Itemised payslips are issued to coincide with the above credit transfer via the epayslips website.

Any pay changes will be confirmed to you in writing.

When you join or leave the Company, your salary will be calculated on a pro-rata basis.

We will make the statutory deductions from your salary in respect of Income Tax and National Insurance contributions. Deductions will also be made, where appropriate, for contributions to the Pension Scheme. You authorise the Company to deduct and retain from any sums owed to you and/or from any pay in lieu of notice (or, if no sums are owed to you, to require repayment of) in respect of the following:

Any overpaid salary, sick pay, holiday pay, expenses or other debt owed by you to the Company, whether such overpayment was made by mistake, misrepresentation or otherwise.

The balance repayable of any loan made to you by the Company.

Any losses incurred by the Company during the course of your employment, which are caused through your negligence, deliberate or wilful act(s) of misconduct or any dishonesty on your part (following an investigation by us and you being found guilty of the same).

A day’s pay for each day of unauthorised absence from your employment.

Any other deductions which are required to be made by law, or that you have previously agreed to in writing.

You shall be notified of any such deductions not less than seven days in advance of the date on which the deduction shall be made, unless this is not reasonably practicable.

If these deductions would cause hardship, arrangements may be made for the overpayment to be recovered over a longer period at our discretion.

Income Tax and National Insurance Enquiries

At the end of each tax year, you will be given a Form P60 via epayslips showing the total pay you have received from the Company during that year and the amount of deductions for Income Tax and National Insurance. You may also be given a Form P11D showing non-salary benefits. You should keep these documents in a safe place as you may need to produce them if making enquiries with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) or Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), or if completing a Self-Assessment Form. The law does not allow us to issue duplicate copies.

You should refer any specific Income Tax enquiries to your line manager. General queries regarding Income Tax should be directed to HMRC.

For National Insurance enquiries, you should refer to your local office, quoting your National Insurance Number.

Travel Policy

5.1 Introduction

If you travel on Company business to a destination which is considered to be away from your normal place of work, you must travel by whatever means of travel is appropriate, taking into account the cost of time spent travelling and the destination. Whichever transport means you choose should be agreed in advance with your Line Manager.

The Expenses Policy below refers to how to claim back reasonable and authorised expenses which are incurred on behalf of the Company.

You should travel by standard/economy class of transport, whether that is by air, rail or sea.

Employees are expected to arrange the timing of their flights to allow for a reasonable recuperation period when necessary. If your working arrangement does not allow this accommodation, the rest period should be taken at the earliest convenience. You should agree any rest break with your Line Manager as soon as possible.

5.2 Accommodation and Meals

You may occasionally be required to stay away from home in the course of your duties.

Where this is necessary, an appropriate hotel should be booked by the store manager. All costs should be reclaimed through the Expenses Policy as outlined below supported by VAT invoices and using the expenses forms.

When staying in a hotel, the Company will reimburse the cost of a simple evening meal and breakfast for UK business trips and in addition the cost of a simple lunch for overseas business trips.

However, where the business trip is overseas the Company will reimburse your invoiced and receipted expenses of this nature up to the HMRC limit of £10 per night.

The Company reserves the right to withhold any expenses if the Employee fails to follow the above procedure.

The average price-to-beat for a hotel room is £120 for dinner, bed and breakfast.

You are responsible for all hotel cancellations.

Always inform others of your overnight location so we can comply with Duty of Care requirements. Tell your line manager your travel itinerary (or a colleague if they are away).

You can claim for meals while staying overnight, or if travelling for business early or late in the day. The actual amounts which can be claimed back are detailed in the Expense Policy below.

5.3 Transport

As stated above, if you travel on Company business to a destination which is considered to be away from your normal place of work, you must travel by whatever means of travel is appropriate, taking into account the cost of time spent travelling and the destination. You should travel by standard/economy class of transport, whether that is by air, rail or sea.

Cars

If your role involves driving in the ordinary course of your duties, you will need to have a valid driving license.

If you are disqualified from driving and you are no longer able to perform your role effectively, your Contract of Employment may be terminated.

Any disqualifications must be notified to your Manager immediately.

Use of Private Vehicles Policy

Before using your private vehicle on Company business, you must ensure that your Insurance Policy indemnifies the Company against all third party claims (including those concerning passengers) arising from the use of your vehicle for business purposes.

You must provide a copy of your current driving licence, Insurance Policy and MOT certificate to your Line Manager to confirm this indemnity is in place. You must also ensure your vehicle is maintained in good repair and in an efficient roadworthy condition and that it has a valid tax disc. Your vehicle must not be used for business travel if you know or suspect it may have a defect or in any other way may not be roadworthy.

Upon request, you must provide your full driving licence for inspection. Failure to comply with such a request within a reasonable period of time will be regarded as a serious disciplinary offence and could lead to your dismissal.

We accept no responsibility for loss, damage, or any liability (however incurred) to or in respect of your vehicle, including accessories and personal contents, while being used on Company business. It is your responsibility to ensure that adequate insurance cover exists.

Vehicles parked on Company premises are parked at the owner’s risk and must not obstruct access. The Company does not guarantee parking facilities.

No payment will be made for parking or speeding fines, or any other fine.

Details of mileage claims and what other travel expenses can be claimed are to be found under the Expenses Policy below.

5.3.3 Taxis

Always try to use public transport instead of taxis where it is practicable and reasonable to do so.

5.3.4 Car hire

You can rent cars if it’s more cost-effective than taking public transport (or if it’s not practical or public transport isn’t available).

You cannot claim trips from your usual place of work to home.

The class of vehicle booked should be the minimum size and specification necessary to allow duties to be performed.

5.3.5 Rail and Air Travel

All travel must be booked as soon as possible and at the lowest cost. All travel should be booked through the store manager where this would be the most cost effective method.

Please note that in the more exceptional event of you booking travel yourself, you must always travel standard class, preferably pre-booking your tickets to travel on specific (timed) trains. You may only book an open ticket if you have no way of knowing what time your meeting will finish. In this case, you should still book a restricted (set time) ticket for your outward journey.

Exceptionally first class travel can be booked if the following apply:

where there are no standard class facilities to accommodate disabled or other special needs requirements under reasonable adjustment guidelines;

where there are serious security concerns; and

where the overall cost of the first class ticket is less than the overall cheapest ticket for standard class. Evidence (such as a screen shot from the booking page) must be retained for audit purposes.

5.4 Other Matters

Refunds for unused tickets

Unused tickets must never be destroyed as refunds are usually possible (subject to the type of ticket purchased and any ticket rules / restrictions). Please contact the store manager as soon as possible.

Business entertainment

Whilst modest hospitality is an accepted courtesy of a business relationship, the Company should avoid a situation whereby giving/accepting the hospitality may be deemed to have influenced a business decision or lead to allegations of a conflict of interest. Please refer to the Anti Bribery Policy for further details.

Travel with a partner

If an employee is accompanied by a spouse or partner who is not involved in Sofa Workshop business, the traveller must bear the cost of their spouse/partner. It is not permitted to downgrade the travel or accommodation booked in order to fund travel costs for a companion. If there is a business reason for a spouse or partner to accompany the Sofa Workshop member of staff, this should be pre-approved in writing by the relevant Director and any additional costs incurred by Sofa Workshop for the companion will be treated as a benefit in kind.

Expenses

Introduction

This policy applies to all employees of Sofa Workshop and is effective from August 2016. It is a framework that covers how employees can claim and be reimbursed for reasonable and authorised expenses which are incurred on behalf of the Company.

Responsibilities of Managers and Employees

As an employee, we expect you to:

Behave honestly, responsibly, and within the guidelines of this policy (e.g. keep costs low)

Seek approval from your Line Manager prior to any travel booking

Submit expenses as soon as possible and with enough details to explain why you have made the purchase

Keep all receipts and provide VAT receipts (not just credit card slips) so we can reclaim VAT and because HMRC requires them.


As a manager, we expect you to:

Check that purchases comply with the policy

Approve them promptly

Ensure they are claimed promptly.

If employees do not comply with this policy, we can delay reimbursement or reject claims. Persistent or deliberate non-compliance may result in disciplinary action.

Managers and employees should note that line managers have no authority to vary or waive this policy.

Fraud, Bribery and Corruption

Our Company has a zero tolerance approach to bribery – in compliance with relevant anti-bribery laws in all the regions in which we operate. Offering or accepting a bribe, or behaving corruptly in anticipation of a bribe or advantage is not acceptable.

We respect your personal integrity and expect that Expense Forms will be completed honestly, accurately and promptly.

Any claims found to be fraudulent will be disallowed or revoked and subsequently the amount previously paid to you will be recovered from your next salary payment

The “Nitty Gritty” – what is allowable and what is not

Travel Related expenses

Travel must be agreed by your Line Manager prior to any booking arrangements being made.

Mileage

The form must include the date that the journey took place, the reason for the trip, the area where you have travelled from and to, and the mileage covered. You must also be insured for using your car for business purposes. You must be the driver of the vehicle to claim mileage expense and ordinary commuting cannot be claimed. All mileage claims include wear and tear, therefore actual motor expenses such as road tax, insurance, repairs and servicing cannot be claimed.

A mileage reimbursement will be payable at the rate as determined by the company based on relevant guidance provided by HM Revenue and Customs to not give rise to a taxable benefit (as of 4th April 2011, 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles per tax year and 25p per mile thereafter).

The claim must include actual odometer readings and only cover excess miles travelled over and above the normal commute from home to a regular work location, i.e. – from the home store to the new store.

Parking, Tolls, Congestion Charges

These can be recovered if reasonably incurred.

Taxis

Always try to use public transport instead of taxis where it is practicable and reasonable to do so, in which case, taxis may be able to be claimed.

Car hire

As mentioned above, you can rent cars if it’s more cost-effective than taking public transport (or if it’s not practical or public transport isn’t available).

Always keep a VAT invoice/receipt that includes the date. You can’t claim trips from your usual place of work to home.

The cost of the hire/use of a GPS with hired cars in unfamiliar locations may be reimbursed.

Rail and Air Travel

All such travel must be booked through the store manager.

Please note that in the more exceptional event of you booking travel yourself, you must always book such travel as allowed under the Travel Policy.

Accommodation

Providing that accommodation has been booked in line with the Travel Policy above, this can be claimed.

Meals

You can claim for meals while staying overnight, or if travelling for business early or late in the day.

If one member of a team pays a bill on behalf of other members of staff, details of the date, reason, location and the names of staff must be shown on the expenses claim. Claiming shares of joint expenses is not permitted under any circumstances. Claims cannot exceed the number of staff multiplied by the relevant per head cost for the type of meal.

Where a gratuity/service charge is included in the bill, then it will be reimbursed. Other tips are at the discretion of the diner and claims will not be reimbursed.

Sofa Workshop will reimburse the actual cost of relevant meals on presentation of receipts, up to the limits (including VAT and service) set out below:

Claim Amounts

Meal Type

Claim Amount

Basic Criteria

5 Hour Rate

(one meal rate)

£5.00

Be away from home for at least 5 consecutive hours

Incur a cost for a meal purchased away from your home

Do not claim 10 Hour Rate

10 Hour Rate

(two meal rate)

£10.00

Be away from home for at least 10 consecutive hours

Incur a cost for a meal/s purchased away from your home

Do not claim 5 Hour Rate

Usually when hotels are booked for overnight accommodation, the cost of breakfast and/or dinner will be included in the rate. Therefore, claims for breakfast and dinner will not be reimbursed. However if this has not been pre-booked, you will be entitled to an evening meal allowance of £20. If the meal is more than this, you will be responsible for this additional cost.

All entertainment claims must include a business reason and the name and company of all attendees – even those who work for our Company. This ensures we comply with the UK Bribery Act and also helps us apply the right VAT treatment.

Alcoholic drinks will only be reimbursed if consumed with a meal.

However, where the business trip is overseas the Company will reimburse your invoiced and receipted expenses of this nature up to the HMRC limit of £10 per night.

The Company reserves the right to withhold any expenses if the Employee fails to follow the above procedure.

Other Expenses Claims

The following expenses are acceptable and employees will be reimbursed for them:

Professional membership fees (where relevant to your profession and agreed with your line manager)

Postage for business purposes

Annual eye-testing fees (please see the Eye Test Policy below)

The costs of training and seminars may be offset if they are necessary for your specific role and agreed by your line manager.

Mobile phones and internet connectivity may be reimbursed. Employees should use free Wi-Fi whenever possible. Reasonable internet connectivity charges can be added to a hotel bill unless already part of the negotiated rate. In exceptional circumstances if you require to use your own home or mobile phone on Company business, the cost of itemised business calls will be met on production of an itemised bill providing that details of the call, including the length and to whom, are included on the expense claim. No rental charges will be paid by the Company, irrespective of whether these include a certain amount of free call time. HM Revenue & Customs will only allow the Company to reimburse the business call costs.

Exceptions

The following expenses will not be reimbursed:

Credit, debit and charge card fees (including interest, annual costs) However, if you have submitted a correctly completed expenses claim in sufficient time and payment was subsequently delayed through no fault of your own, causing you to incur interest, you may submit a claim for the relevant charges.

Laundry service/dry-cleaning (Unless the trip is longer than 7 nights, if this were to be the case, such costs would need to be reasonable and pre-approved).

Mini-bar contents.

Movies/videos, newspapers.

Parking or speeding fines or fines incurred for the use of a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving.

The loss/theft of goods.

Childcare or pet care.

Cleaning of vehicles.

Cost of a side-trip for personal convenience.

Personal credit card fees and interest charges.

Hotel videos, gym fees and mini bars in hotel rooms.

Any personal elements.

Spa and health/fitness clubs.

Clothing or toiletries (unless caused by airline delay or overbooking) and such purchases are not covered under an insurance policy.

Flowers, sweets, confectionary.

Birthday cakes or cards for employees.

Please note this is not an exhaustive list and there may be other things that we won’t accept.

Store Petty Cash Form

The following are not to be included on a Personal Expense Form and should be included on a Store Petty Cash Form:

Toilet Rolls

Stamps

Teas, coffees etc

Stamps

Cleaning Materials

Light bulbs

Flowers for store display

Drinks for customers

Colouring books and pens

Should you have any questions, please contact the Finance Department.

Process

All expense claims should be submitted with full details and receipts on the appropriate form. This should be signed by your Manager. Please ensure all receipts are fully itemised.

All billable expenses are reimbursed to you in full and attract no Tax or NIC’s.

We reserve the right to withhold payment of expenses that are not submitted within a reasonable due date. Expenses should be submitted within one month.

It is imperative that VAT receipts are submitted with each claim, except for mileage claims. Failure to do so will result in the claim being rejected. Credit card slips or statements will not be accepted as evidence of business expenditure.

Should you have any queries on the completion or reimbursement of expenses then you should speak to the store manager.

Absence From Work

Please also refer to Part Two for our Policies on Maternity, Adoption, Paternity, Parental Leave and Time off Work for Dependants.

Public / Bank Holidays

For those who work in England or Wales, you are entitled to the current eight statutory public / bank holidays.

New Year’s Day

Good Friday

Easter Monday

Early May Bank Holiday

Spring Bank Holiday

Late Summer Bank Holiday

Christmas Day

Boxing Day

Time Off in Lieu (TOIL)

Time Off in Lieu is time taken off work to recompense for additional hours worked outside of normal working hours, Bank Holidays, or any other days which are not specified in your contract of employment as normal working days.

TOIL is not a tool to be used to accrue time to enable extra days leave to be taken. Most duties should be carried out within normal contractual working hours.

You need to inform your Line Manager of any time to be worked outside of normal working hours in advance. If this is not practical for any reason, you need to contact your Line Manager as soon as possible afterwards.

Requests for TOIL should be sent to your Manager for his/her approval no more than two weeks from the occurrence. The TOIL date booked should be no later than six weeks after the occurrence, unless agreed in advance.

Lieu time must be taken within the holiday year (Jan-Dec) and may not be carried forward except in exceptionalcircumstances. TOIL accrued and not redeemed will be considered lost and is not transferable to pay in lieu.

Annual Leave

Our annual leave year begins on 1st January and ends on 31st December each year.

Your basic paid annual leave entitlement is detailed in your contract of employment.

The request for annual leave should be submitted on the Holiday Form. All requests for annual leave must be approved by your Line Manager in advance and approval will be subject to operational requirements.

Holiday requests will be dealt with on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis. If, because of a previously authorised holiday for another member of staff, the business of the Company would be unduly disrupted by you taking holiday as requested, we may have no alternative but to refuse your request for holiday.

If a request for holiday is refused, you must re-arrange your holiday. If leave is still taken under these circumstances, you may be liable to disciplinary proceedings.

You must give as much notice as possible and, in any event, at least one month before you take leave. Leave must be taken in whole days or half days.

By the last working day in April you should have booked a minimum of 10 days leave, not necessarily consecutively.

Requests for annual leave of more than two consecutive working weeks will only be granted at the discretion of your Line Manager in accordance with the needs of the business.

Annual leave cannot be booked during January.

To ensure correct staffing levels are maintained in stores, only one person will be permitted to be off at any time.

Annual leave entitlement will accrue during sick leave and maternity leave. For the avoidance of doubt, please note that you will not be able to take annual leave whilst on maternity leave. However, you may apply to take annual leave during long-term sick leave, or to coincide with the end of your period of maternity leave. You must follow the normal notice procedure.

Only minimum holiday entitlement as defined under the Working Time Regulations will accrue during unpaid leave.

We reserve the right to require you to take any unused holiday during your notice period without giving you any minimum notice that we require you to take such holiday.

Note: A minimum of four weeks’ annual leave needs to be taken in any one holiday year including public/bank holidays, and holiday cannot be paid in lieu unless you are leaving the Company’s employment. We will encourage you to take the minimum requirement of leave.

Apportioning Leave Entitlement

The following Procedure applies in calculating leave entitlement where you join or leave during the leave year or work part-time:

You will receive a certain number of days’ annual leave entitlement for each month or part month worked.

Fractions of days resulting from the calculation may, at the Company’s discretion, be rounded up to the nearest half day.

Your annual leave entitlement is calculated on a pro-rata basis by reference to the number of hours worked in an ordinary working week.

Carrying Annual Leave Forward

Your holiday allowances should be fully taken within each calendar year, as any outstanding days cannot be carried over to the next year. Any holidays not taken by the end of the year will be lost. There will be no cash alternative available for unused holidays.

In exceptional circumstances and the discretion of the Company, you may be able to take additional holidays without pay.

You will accrue annual leave entitlement whilst on long term sickness absence and maternity leave. Accrued statutory annual leave entitlement may be carried over from one holiday year to the next if you have been prevented from taking it due to sickness or other leave. In circumstances where you have been prevented from taking your leave due to sickness and you wish to carry your holiday entitlement to the next holiday year, you should contact your Manager in good time and in any event at least one month before the end of the holiday year to request that your entitlement be carried forward. Should you fail to do so, any entitlement above the statutory maximum will be lost and will not be carried over to the next holiday year. Where you have been prevented due to other absence, such as maternity leave, your entitlement will be carried over in any event.

Cancellation of Leave

With the agreement of your Manager, any leave previously approved may be cancelled and such entitlement taken at a later date.

Sickness Prior to and During Annual Leave

If you are ill or injured prior to or during a period of pre-arranged annual leave, and your illness would have prevented you from attending work, you may elect to treat the days of incapacity as sickness absence instead of annual leave.

If you wish to do so, you must inform your Manager of your illness and its likely duration as soon as possible in accordance with the usual reporting requirements of the Company’s Sick Leave and Pay Policy, even if you are abroad.

You will not receive company sick pay for any such period of absence unless you have complied with the reporting requirements of the Company’s Sick Leave and Pay policy and provided a medical certificate or other evidence of your incapacity at your own expense for the full period of incapacity.

Annual leave may be reclaimed for the days you are sick provided that a medical certificate or other evidence of your incapacity is supplied to cover these days. Where you are abroad for this period, you should seek to get a medical certificate and this should be translated if the original is not in English. Each case will be reviewed before

agreement is given.

Leave Entitlement on Leaving the Company

On leaving the Company, it is at our sole discretion whether you are required to take any accrued leave entitlement during your period of notice, or whether it is converted to a taxable payment.

If we decide to make you a payment in lieu of annual leave entitlement, the amount payable to you will be the number of annual leave days accrued to date but not yet taken, multiplied by your daily rate of basic salary (and subject to statutory deductions for Income Tax and National Insurance).

If you leave the Company having taken annual leave in excess of your accrued entitlement, we will deduct the appropriate amount from your final salary or any other monies owing to you. You hereby authorise any such deduction. Any outstanding balance will become immediately repayable to the Company on the termination of your employment and you agree to immediately repay such amount to the Company.

Compassionate Leave

Compassionate leave may be granted at the discretion of your Manager. Circumstances that may justify such leave include the serious illness, death or funeral of a close relative.

Definitions of a ‘close’ relative include spouse, civil partner, child, parent or a person living in the employee’s household as part of the family.

Your request should be made in the first instance to your Manager, and each request will be considered on an individual basis. You should tell your Manager the reason for your request and the number of days leave you would like to take.

There is no contractual entitlement to remuneration for absences relating to compassionate leave. Payment of salary during compassionate leave is at the absolute discretion of the Company.

The number of days allowed will depend on the circumstances, and these should be discussed with your Manager. However, the Company will consider each case on an individual basis and aims to be as flexible and understanding as possible in times of bereavement.

Our Policy on Time off Work for Dependants can be found later in this Handbook.

Medical and Dental Appointments

Reasonable time off with pay will be allowed for hospital, doctors and dentist appointments or for emergency medical or dental treatment.

Any time off for attendance at appointments must, where possible, have the prior approval of your Line Manager.

Staff are expected to make every effort to ensure that routine appointments are made before or after the working day. Where this is not possible, it expected that appointments will be arranged to minimise disruption to an individuals work (i.e. within the first or last working hour or possibly around a lunchtime period-with agreement).

It is accepted that there are cases when the employee has no control over appointment times, e.g. those allocated by a hospital or clinic, where the employee has been subject to a waiting list process.

With the exception of ante-natal appointments, there is no contractual entitlement to remuneration for absences

relating to attendance at medical appointments. Payment of salary during attendance at such appointments is at the absolute discretion of the Company.

Public Duties

You are entitled to reasonable time off work during working hours to perform the duties associated with certain positions, such as Justices of the Peace, members of a Local or Police Authority, or statutory Tribunals.

Payment for time off work to cover these duties is at the discretion of your Manager and you should make your request as soon as you are aware that you will need the time off.

Each request for time off will be considered on its merits, in the circumstances in which it is made including:

Whether the activity is reasonable in relation to your employment.

How much time off is reasonably required for the duty in question.

How much time off you have already taken for the public duty in question.

How your absence will affect our business.

Jury Service / Acting as a Witness

If you are required to attend Court as a witness or serve on a jury, you must inform your Manager immediately. You must report for work on those days / half days when you are not required to be at Court.

You may be required to attend Court every day during the period of jury service. However, it may be possible to release you, either for whole days or half days, during that period of jury service. If this happens, then you must return to work if at all practicable.

Depending on the demands of our business, we may request that you apply to be excused from or defer your jury service.

You may be entitled to payments from the Court to compensate for partial loss of earnings and a form will be sent with the Jury Summons asking for details. Please pass this to your Manager for completion.

When your period of jury service is completed and you receive payment from the Court, please advise your Manager of the amount received. We will supplement the money you receive from the Court to bring the total up to your basic salary.

7.13 Unauthorised Absence

Unauthorised absence is absence from work which is either, without:

the prior permission of your Manager; or

cause, i.e. where there is no acceptable reason or explanation for your absence.

Approved annual leave, family leave periods (for example, maternity, paternity or adoption leave) and approved compassionate or special leave do not constitute unauthorised absence.

Sick leave is not unauthorised absence provided always that it is genuine and that it justifies time off work.

We will take a serious view if employees take sick leave that is not genuine and this will constitute unauthorised absence.

Likewise, a failure to notify us, without good reason, that you are ill in accordance with the Sick Leave and Pay

Policy will amount to unauthorised absence.

You will not be paid for any days of unauthorised absence.

Unauthorised absence may form the basis for disciplinary action. Our Disciplinary Policy and Procedure is set out in Part Two of the Handbook.

Weather Policy

The Company understands that there may be occasions when adverse weather will affect travel and transportation. This policy is designed to outline how the Company will deal with weather related conditions.

The Company expects staff to make all reasonable efforts to attend work. If you cannot get to work due to adverse weather conditions you should ring your Manager.

In the case of extreme weather conditions, the owner may decide that the Company be closed.

If this decision has to be taken overnight, it will be communicated to the staff by SMS message by a member of the Management Team.

If weather conditions deteriorate during the course of the working day, a decision to close the Company will be taken by the most senior person available at that time.

8. Sick Leave and Pay Policy

8.1 Statement

The Company is committed to improving the health, well-being and attendance of all employees. We recognise the role our employees have in ensuring our success. Therefore, when an employee is unable to work for any reason, their contribution is missed.

This Sickness Absence Policy sets out our procedures for reporting sickness absence and for managing sickness absence in a fair and consistent way. This Policy explains what is expected from managers and employees when handling absence and how we can work together to reduce absence levels.

Sickness absence can vary from short intermittent periods of ill-health to a continuous period of long-term absence and have a number of different causes (for example, injuries, recurring conditions, or a serious illness requiring lengthy treatment).

We wish to ensure that the reasons for sickness absence are understood in each case and investigated where necessary. In addition, where needed and reasonably practicable, measures will be taken to assist those who have been absent by reason of sickness to return to work.

8.2 Principles

The Company’s sickness absence policy is based on the following principles:

a) Regular, punctual attendance is an implied term of every employee’s contract of employment. Employees should take responsibility for achieving and maintaining good attendance.

We may use the Company’s Disciplinary Procedure if an explanation for absence is not forthcoming, is not thought to be satisfactory, or where someone has abused the system. This may result in warnings or, in certain circumstances, dismissal.

We are committed to maintaining the highest standard of service to our customers.

We respect the confidentiality of all information relating to an employee’s sickness. The policy will be implemented in line with all Data Protection legislation, the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 and Access to Health Records Act 1990. Access to employee’s sickness absence records will be restricted to authorised persons only.

In cases where the formal procedure needs to be invoked, all employees will have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work place colleague.

8.3 Types of Sickness

Not all patterns of absence fall precisely into one of the following groups and/or the pattern may vary over a period of time, so flexibility of approach may be necessary.

Repeated Short Term Sickness Absence

This is where an employee has been absent from work through sickness or injury on a number of occasions within a defined time frame or absences which fall into a pattern over the same period.

Long-term Sickness Absence

When an employee has been or is expected to be absent from work for more than 4 consecutive weeks.

The trigger for review is not prescriptive, but it is generally considered that the following levels will initiate the appropriate sickness absence process:

Four separate incidents (of any length) in a consecutive four-month period;

10 non-continuous working days or more in a 12 month period;

4 weeks/28 days continuous absence;

Any recurring recognisable patterns;

Sickness absence related to mental health issues e.g. depression, anxiety, stress or because of a physical impairment an employee needs workplace modifications;

Other reasons for absence that may cause concern.

8.4 Sick Leave Reporting Procedure

You must inform your immediate supervisor / manager of the reason of your absence as soon as possible to their mobile and in any event you must do so no later than 1 hour after the beginning of the working day on which the absence occurs. The notification should, where possible, include a provisional diagnosis and a likely return date.

It is also recommended that someone is made aware of any urgent work or other internal/external colleagues who may need to be informed of the absence (but not the reason for it).

The only exception to this requirement is in the event that you are unable to contact the Company personally due to a severe illness or injury. In this case the Company will accept information from your close family or

dependents. You should ensure therefore that they are aware of your responsibility to contact the Company, whom to contact and the required method of contact.

Managers should ensure that:

Any sickness absence that is notified to them is recorded.

Arrangements are made, where necessary, to cover work and to inform colleagues (while maintaining confidentiality).

You should expect to be contacted during your absence by your line manager who will want to enquire after your health and be advised, if possible, as to your expected return date.

You are expected to telephone your Line Manager on a daily basis to keep them updated on the progress of your illness. If it is impractical for the employee to make contact e.g. in the event of hospitalisation, s/he should ensure that someone carries out this responsibility on their behalf.

Failure to notify the Company in accordance with this procedure, without good reason, will amount to unauthorised absence, which is considered to be gross misconduct. The Company may therefore take disciplinary action against you if you have failed to follow the reporting procedure.

If you do not report for work and have not telephoned your line manager to explain the reason for your absence, your line manager will try to contact you, by telephone and in writing if necessary. This should not be treated as a substitute for reporting sickness absence.

8.5 Evidence of Incapacity

For the first seven consecutive days of illness (including weekends and days on which you do not normally work), you must complete a Self-Certification of Sickness form giving the reasons for your absence as soon as you return to work.

Medical certificates signed by your general practitioner (called statements of fitness for work) will be required for periods of absence of more than seven consecutive days (including weekends and days on which you do not normally work). Self-Certification of Sickness forms and medical certificates must be submitted to your Manager before the end of the 8th day of sickness. If you do not do so, you may lose your entitlement to statutory sick pay (SSP).

If such absence continues after the first certificate has expired, further certificates must be obtained as necessary to cover the whole period of absence and forwarded to your Manager immediately on each occasion.

If you fall ill whilst working away or travelling on Company business, the same notification process applies. Hotels will have access to details of a local Doctor or Dentist for emergency use and these are normally held at the Hotel’s Reception.

If your doctor provides a certificate stating that you “may be fit for work” you should inform your line manager immediately. We will discuss with you any additional measures that may be needed to facilitate your return to work, taking account of your doctor’s advice. If appropriate measures cannot be taken, you will remain on sick leave and we will set a date to review the situation.

For ongoing periods of sickness absence, medical certificates should continue to be sent regularly to the Payroll Department, until the employee is fit for normal duties. If an employee wishes to return to work before the expiry date of their medical statement, advice should be sought from a Health Professional before they are allowed to do so.

The first step in managing sickness absence is to identify unusual and/or heavy patterns of absence which need to be addressed. This can only be done though maintaining records and monitoring absence levels on an individual and group basis. Maintaining accurate statistical information also enables the Company to fulfil its obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act (RIDDOR regulations 1995), its general duty of care to employees, and ensures a fair and consistent approach.

It also facilitates positive action by providing information that will:

Monitor an employee’s progress towards recovery and assists the return to work of employee’s who have been absent due to illness.

Promote working conditions and practices which contribute to employee attendance by investigating underlying causes of high levels of absence within areas and taking follow-up action, as appropriate.

8.6 Medical Assessments

It is in the interests of both you and the Company to ensure that you are fit to carry out your duties while you are at work. Circumstances may arise when the Company will request to review your GP records as appropriate, for example, if you have been absent from work due to sickness for 4 weeks or more, information to be obtained from your GP. Such a request will be made according to the Access to Medical Records Act 1988.

In addition, you may be requested to attend an Independent Medical Assessment. Again, you will be asked to give your written consent.

We may also ask you to attend further Independent Medical Assessments in the following circumstances:

Before or after resuming work following an absence due to an injury at work.

After prolonged absence due to illness.

In order to comply with statutory regulations.

At the request of management, when there is doubt regarding the validity of your periods of self certified absence.

8.7 Sickness whilst on Annual Leave

Please refer to the Sickness Prior to and During Annual Leave section.

8.8 Return to Work

You should notify your Manager as soon as you know on which day you will be returning to work, if this differs from a date of return previously notified.

If you have been suffering from an infection or contagious disease or illness, such as rubella, hepatitis or a pandemic virus, you must not report for work without clearance from your own Doctor. We will need to see a medical certificate confirming you are fit to return to work.

Immediately after return to work following absence for sickness or injury, you are required to complete a ‘Self-Certification of Sickness form’ available from your Manager detailing the last day and the reasons for absence. This request will be approved/declined by your Manager and retained on your personal file.

Upon returning to work, you may be interviewed by your Manager for the purposes of ascertaining your wellbeing.

A return to work discussion should:

Welcome the individual back to work;

Confirm the reason for the employee’s absence;

Find out if the employee has a health problem and, if so, whether there is some support which is reasonable and practicable to provide;

Ensure that the appropriate medical certificates have been completed and submitted;

Update the individual of any changes or developments;

Enquire whether the illness is work related;

If the line manager is concerned about the individual’s absence or has identified any potential patterns of sickness, this should be brought to the individual’s attention. If the line manager has any specific concerns or identified a potential pattern, advice should be sought in the first instance.

Submission of a medical certificate or Self-Certification of Sickness form, despite giving us the reason for your absence, may not always be regarded by us as sufficient justification for accepting your absence. Sickness is just one of a number of reasons for absence and, whilst it is understandable that if you are sick you may need time off, we must also pay due regard to our business needs.

If you are frequently or persistently absent from work your absence may damage efficiency and productivity, and place an additional burden of work on your colleagues. We, therefore, aim to strike a reasonable balance between the pursuit of our business needs and your genuine need to take occasional short periods of time off work because of sickness.

In deciding whether your absence is acceptable or not, we will take into account the reasons and extent of all your absences, including any absence caused by sickness. We cannot operate with an excessive level of absence as all absences, for whatever reason, reduce the Company’s efficiency. We will comply with the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 if your absence relates to a disability.

We consistently operate an absence management procedure whereby if any employee’s absence levels exceed a certain threshold then formal absence management proceedings are instigated which could lead to disciplinary action.

We will take a serious view if you take sickness/injury leave that is not genuine, and it will result in disciplinary action being taken.

8.9 Medical Statement of Fitness to Work (the ‘Fit Note’)

These will fall into one of 2 categories:

Fit for Work with Adjustments

It is the responsibility of the employee to contact their line manager immediately if they receive a medical statement which indicates they are fit to return to work with recommended work place adjustments.

Not Fit for Work

Regular communication with the line manager should be maintained. If an employee is requested to return to their GP before resuming work they must do so as it maybe that their GP will recommend adjustments or a phased return. If they are able to return to work when their medical statement expires without a requirement to see their GP before doing so, then an informal discussion on the employee’s welfare should take place on his/her return to work.

8.10 Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Provided you have complied with all statutory requirements, we will pay you SSP for each qualifying day that you are absent from work owing to sickness or injury. Qualifying days are the days that you would normally be required to work, as per your normal Terms and Conditions of Employment. The first three qualifying days of

absence are ‘waiting days’ for which SSP is not payable. Where a second or subsequent period of incapacity (of four days or more) occurs within 56 days of a previous period of capacity, waiting days are not served again.

SSP is payable by us to you (providing you are eligible) and have been absent from work because of illness for four or more consecutive days including weekends and public/bank holidays. It will be paid for a maximum of 28 weeks in relation to any one incident of sickness, in accordance with HMRC regulations.

SSP payments are treated like salary and are subject to statutory deductions.

8.11 Sickness Management Process

8.11.1 Appropriateness of using Formal Action in Managing Sickness

The use of disciplinary action for absence will be limited to unauthorised absence and falsely claiming sick leave when sickness is not the cause of absence.

It is recognised that persistent or long term sickness absence cannot be supported indefinitely by the Company no matter how genuine the sickness is. The processes described in this policy and in particular the cautions are not intended to be punitive but instead are used to advise the individual of the seriousness of their situation and the impact that continued absence is likely to have on their employment contract.

8.11.2 Informal Stage

Where the employee’s absence record gives cause for concern, the line manager should discuss this with the member of staff on an informal 1:1 basis in the first instance.

The manager should investigate whether there is an underlying problem resulting in the sickness absence(s). Consideration should be given to the reasons for the absence and any appropriate support should be discussed.

A monitoring period of normally 8-12 weeks should be set in which significant improvement should be made. The employee should be made aware that if sufficient improvement is not demonstrated, that the matter may be referred to the formal process.

As this would be an informal meeting, there is no requirement at this stage for the right to be accompanied by a union representative or fellow employee.

8.11.3 Frequent / Persistent Short Term Sickness Absences

Frequent and persistent short-term absences relate to situations where an employee is absent as a result of minor ailments. These absences may or may not be covered by medical certificates.

A minimum of 48 hours notice should be given of any formal “Managing Attendance Meeting”. At all formal Managing Attendance meetings, the manager may be accompanied by the store owner and the employee will be entitled to be accompanied by a trade union representative or fellow employee.

Any Cautions that are issued will be held on file for 12 months.

If an individual is unable to make a formal scheduled meeting s/he can suggest an alternative date within 5 working days of the original date set. It should be noted that if a date cannot be arranged within a reasonable time frame, a decision may be taken in the employee’s absence.

Stage 1 – First Formal

If no significant improvement is made in the attendance level within the monitoring period, and the employee continues to have frequent/persistent intermittent sickness absences from work, then a professional opinion will be sought via the HR Department. This may include obtaining a report from an independent Medical Consultant or similar health professional and/or the individuals’ GP as required. Once the advice has been obtained, the line manager should invite the employee to a formal “Managing Attendance Meeting”.

Whether or not there is an underlying medical reason for the absence, the manager should advise the employee of the effect that their absence is having on the department. Consideration should be given to the reasons for the absence and appropriate support should be identified.

The manager will consider the employee’s submission and do the following:

Decide that no further action is necessary; or

Specify what, if any, assistance can be offered to the employee;

AND

Issue the employee with an Improvement Notification advising the individual that the level of their sickness absence is unacceptable and that significant improvement in the level of attendance is required normally within 8-12 weeks to avoid moving to the next stage of the procedure.

At the end of the specified review period, the employee’s level of attendance will be assessed by the line manager as follows:

Where an improvement to below the appropriate Company trigger level(s) for sickness absence has been demonstrated, no further action will be taken.

Where a significant improvement has been demonstrated, however absence levels remain above the Company trigger level(s) for sickness absence, the line manager will continue to monitor the absence on an informal basis until the employee’s absence levels fall below the trigger level.

Where there has been no or little improvement in the sickness absence, the line manager will consider whether there are factors relating to the employee’s absence which suggest that the present high level of absence will be temporary. If such evidence exists, the line manager will use their discretion to decide whether to instigate a further formal review period of normally 8 – 12 weeks.

Where such evidence does not exist, the line manager will issue a Stage 1 Caution and progress the matter to Stage 2 – Second Formal.

Where an improvement to below the appropriate Company trigger level(s) for sickness absence has been demonstrated in the past, but a further related deterioration in absence is identified, or where the absence remains above the trigger levels or deteriorate during the 12 month period following the review period, the line manager may use their discretion to refer directly to Stage 2 – Second Formal.

Stage 2 – Second Formal

Whether or not an underlying medical condition can be established, the steps outlined in Stage 1 – First Formal should be repeated.

At Stage 2 – Second Formal a Stage 2 Caution will apply.

At the end of the specified review period, the employee’s level of attendance will be assessed by the line manager as follows:

Where an improvement to below the appropriate Company trigger level(s) has been demonstrated, no further action will be taken.

Where a significant improvement has been demonstrated, however absence levels remain above the

Company trigger level(s) for sickness absence, the line manager will continue monitor the absence on an informal basis until the employee’s absence levels fall below the trigger level.

If within 12 months of the date of issue of the Level 1 Caution the employee’s absence levels deteriorate to a point where they reach one of the triggers, the individual will return to Stage 2 – Second Formal.

A further report from an Occupational Health Professional or other suitable independent medical professional may be obtained or if the circumstances have not changed then the previous reports that have been obtained may be used.

Where there has been no improvement, the Line Manager will consider whether there are factors relating to the employee’s absence which suggest that the present high level of absence will be temporary. If such evidence exists the line manager will decide whether to instigate a further period of review.

Where an improvement to below the appropriate Company trigger level(s) for sickness absence has been demonstrated in the past, but a further related deterioration in absence is identified, or where the absence remains above the trigger levels, the line manager may use their discretion to refer directly to Stage 3. Where evidence does not exist, the line manager will issue a Level 2 Caution and progress the matter to Stage 3 – Final Formal.

Stage 3 – Final Formal

Whether or not an underlying medical condition can be established, the steps outlined in Stage 1 – First Formal should be repeated.

At the end of the specified review period, the employee’s level of attendance will be assessed by the line manager as follows:

Where an improvement to below the appropriate Company trigger level(s) have been demonstrated, no further action will be taken.

If a significant improvement has been demonstrated, however, absence levels remain above the Company trigger level(s), the line manager will monitor on an informal basis until the employee’s absence levels fall below these.

If within 12 months of the date of issue of the Level 2 Caution the employee’s absence levels deteriorate to a point where they reach one of the triggers, the individual will return to Stage 3 – Final Formal.

A further report from an Occupational Health Professional or other suitable independent medical professional may be obtained or if the circumstances have not changed then the previous reports that have been obtained may be used.

Where there has been no improvement, the Line Manager will consider whether there are factors relating to the employee’s absence which suggest that the present high level of absence will be temporary. If such evidence exists the line manager will decide whether to instigate a further period of review.

Where evidence does not exist, the line manager will review the case and submit a report to their line manager. A copy of the report will also be sent to the employee and HR.

Where an improvement to below the appropriate Company trigger level(s) for sickness absence has been demonstrated in the past, but a further related deterioration in absence is identified, or where the absence remains above the trigger levels the line manager may use their discretion to refer directly to their line manager for review as outlined below.

This line manager will initially review the case and may take any of the following actions:

Require the employee’s line manager to submit further information;

Require the employee’s line manager to instigate a further investigation as to what alternative employment can be offered or adjustments can be made to the post to enable the employee to return to work;

Write to the staff member inviting them to attend a meeting to discuss the case.

They will review the case based on a number of factors including, but not exclusively, medical reports and a workplace review of the role and the impact that the absence has on the delivery of the service. The employee

will be given the opportunity to make representations in support of why their contract of employment should not be terminated.

They will review the evidence and make a decision on whether to:

Terminate the contract of employment on the grounds of failing to adequately and consistently carry out the duties of the post and dismiss on the grounds of medical incapability.

Set a further review period.

Not to dismiss.

Where it is decided to recommend termination of the employee’s contract, the individual will be advised of this decision and the reasons for it at the end of the meeting.

The final decision will be confirmed in writing. The individual will be entitled to pay in lieu of the notice period if termination of contract is confirmed.

The employee is entitled to appeal the decision to terminate the contract.

If the decision is taken not to dismiss and the staff member’s absence levels deteriorate during the 12 month period following the meeting with the staff member, the member of staff may be required to return to the third formal stage.

8.11.4 Long Term Sickness Absence

For the purpose of this policy, long term sickness absence is identified as absence certified as sickness which lasts for more than four weeks.

It is recognised that there are occasions when individuals may need to take a protracted period of absence to recover from more serious health conditions.

These types of absences fall into two general categories:

a) Long/medium term planned absence to cover health conditions where the length of absence can be predicted (e.g. broken bones or inpatient operative procedures requiring rehabilitation).

b) Long/medium term unplanned absence or much more difficult to predict the likely duration of the sickness absence period (e.g. glandular fever, depression etc).

If absence is likely to be protracted, i.e. more than four weeks continuously, there is a shared responsibility for the Company and the employee to maintain contact at agreed intervals. Employees should be aware of their duty to inform their manager of all possible eventualities at the earliest stage and that whilst a sympathetic, supportive and flexible approach will always be taken when dealing with long term sickness absence, ultimately if the individual is unable to return to work within 1 year and all options have been considered (reasonable adjustments to the existing post, redeployment, ill health retirement etc) then the line manager may need to decide that the contract of employment be terminated on the grounds of capability.

The final decision will be taken by the owner. A meeting will be arranged with the employee and their manager to confirm this decision and this will be confirmed in writing.

Process for managing predictable/planned long term sickness absence

Where an employee has a condition which is recognised by their GP, for which they are likely to need a predictable period of leave, the individual should submit certificates in the normal way and give an indication when, on the advice of their GP or Consultant, they have been advised that they are likely to be able to return to

work. This will be noted as the “expected return date”. No action need be taken until one week prior to the expected return date when the employee should notify the manager to confirm either that they will be returning to work as planned or that their absence period is to be extended.

If it then transpires that they require to further extend the period of sickness absence, the management of this employee’s case will automatically transfer to the process of “managing unpredictable sickness absence”, which is outlined below.

Process for managing unpredictable/ongoing long term sickness absence

Where an employee has been absent for four weeks and there is no predictable return date, then the individual should be referred to an Occupational Health Professional for assessment.

If, upon advice from Occupational Health, the employee is likely to be fit to return to work imminently no further action should be required.

Managers should review the situation at regular intervals, normally every 8 weeks. The employee will be given first level cautions at this point advising them that the level of their sickness absence cannot be sustained by the organisation in the longer term and that if they are unable to return to work in the given timescale that they may move to the next stage of the procedure and ultimately to termination of the contract on the grounds of capability.

Where an early return to work is unlikely, or difficult to predict, further medical guidance will be sought by Occupational Health to enable the appropriate future management of the situation.

At this stage the employee may be issued with a second level caution advising them that their long term sickness absence has reached a level that cannot be sustained in the Company and that unless an improvement can be demonstrated within a period advised by the Occupational Health Department and agreed by the manager, or an alternative option can be found, the manager may recommend that the individual be dismissed on the grounds of capability.

The final decision will be taken by the owner and this will be confirmed in writing to the employee. If the further advice received via Occupational Health, is that the member of staff is likely to remain unfit for an indefinite period, an interview should be arranged with the member of staff to discuss the options available.

These options may include the following:

Reasonable adjustments

Instances where the employee is unable to work in their current role under existing conditions but it may be possible to make an alteration to either the job content or environment to make it possible for the individual to work. In order to make an assessment of what adjustments might be needed, an Occupational Health Professional will be asked to give advice after they have completed a workplace assessment. Any adjustments advised will be considered and where reasonable will be agreed and actioned. However, it should be noted that adjustments must be “reasonably practicable” and there must be an expectation that after the adjustment has been made, the individual will be able to return to work. The decision as to whether the adjustment is reasonable is an employer decision, further to appropriate consultation. Short term adjustments may be recommended by the employee’s GP on the Statement of Fitness to Work, in this instance the employee will be referred to occupational health for advice.

Redeployment

Instances where the employee is unable to work in their current role and no adjustments can be made to the

post. In this circumstance, it may be possible for the individual to undertake alternative work within the organisation. Occupational Health advice will be sought as to what would constitute suitable alternative employment. On this advice the employee, with the assistance of the representative, will consider what vacant posts within the Company might be considered as suitable.

Ill Health Retirement

An employee may wish to retire on grounds of ill health. In such cases, the owner shall arrange to meet the employee with his/her representative to confirm the employee’s decision and to discuss what action is necessary, including looking at other options.

Dismissal on the grounds of capability

Dismissal will be considered where an Occupational Health Physician has advised the line manager/HR that the individual is unlikely to return to work within a reasonable period of time, no reasonable readjustments can be made to the post, redeployment is not possible and the individual does not wish to or is unable to take early retirement/ill health retirement.

The line manager will advise the employee that they will be recommending that the individual’s contract of employment be terminated on the grounds of capability.

The owner will initially review the case and may take any of the following actions:

Require the manager to submit further information;

Require the manager to instigate a further investigation as to what alternative employment can be offered or adjustments can be made to the post to enable the employee to return to work;

Write to the employee inviting them to attend a meeting to discuss the case. This meeting will be attended by the owner, the manager responsible for putting forward the case and the employee and his/her representative.

The case will be reviewed and the employee will be given the opportunity to make representations in support of why their contract of employment should not be terminated. The Head of Department for Head Office or Regional Sales Manager for Stores will review the evidence and make a decision on whether to:

Terminate the contract of employment on the grounds of failing to adequately and consistently carry out the duties of the post and dismiss on the grounds of medical incapability.

Set a further review period

Not to dismiss.

The final decision will be taken by the owner.

Where it is recommended that the employee’s contract be terminated, the individual will be advised of this decision and the reasons for it at the end of the meeting. The individual will be entitled to pay in lieu of the notice period. The employee is entitled to appeal the decision to terminate the contract.

Terminal Illness

Where terminal illness has been confirmed, no further formal action under this procedure is appropriate. Such cases will always be dealt with sympathetically and every possible support will be given to the employee, particularly in respect of pay and pension arrangements.

8.11.5 Appeals

There is no right of appeal against the outcome of the informal stage of this procedure.

If the employee wishes to appeal any of the outcomes made at any formal stage of the Sickness Procedure, they should appeal to the Manager in the first instance, in writing, within 10 working days of receiving the written decision, stating the grounds for appeal.

An Appeal Hearing may or may not be a re-hearing of the case depending on the circumstances of the case.

The employee must be specific about the grounds of appeal; these will effectively form the agenda for the hearing.

Appeals may only be raised on the grounds of:

Procedure – a failure to follow procedure had a material effect on the decision;

Decision – the evidence did not support the conclusion reached or is inconsistent with other decisions within the Company;

New evidence – which has genuinely come to light since the first hearing. Where new evidence is raised, further investigations may need to be carried out which may require the Appeal Hearing to be delayed pending the outcome of these investigations and to give the employee an opportunity to consider any new information obtained.

The decision of the Appeal shall either:

confirm the original decision;

revoke the original decision; or

substitute a different decision.

The decision of the Appeal committee shall be final and there shall be no further right of appeal.

8.11.6 Grievances

In cases where the employee raises a grievance against the actions of the Company in relation to his/her sickness, the grievance procedure will not normally be available to the employee whilst the sickness procedure is being considered, unless it is agreed there are grounds for hearing the grievance first. Due consideration will be given as to whether in these particular circumstances, the grievance should be dealt with before proceeding with the sickness procedure and/or whether another line manager of equivalent grade should deal with it. Any penalty from the sickness procedure will not be decided upon until the grievance has been heard.

8.11.7 Rearranging Hearings

If the employee or his/her representative cannot attend at the time specified for a hearing, the employee must inform his/her line manager and/or HR immediately and an alternative time will be arranged. The employee must make every effort to attend a hearing and failure to attend without good reason may be treated as misconduct. If the employee fails to attend without good reason, or persistently is unable to attend, the hearing may be heard in his/her absence on the available evidence.

8.11.8 Right to be Accompanied

The employee must tell their line manager who they have chosen to act as his/her representative in good time before the hearing. The employee may be required to choose an alternative if the chosen representative is unavailable for the scheduled hearing and will not be available for more than five working days after the scheduled date of the hearing. The representative may make representations, and sum up the employee’s case

but is not allowed to answer questions on the employee’s behalf. There is no requirement on a work colleague to accept a request to accompany an employee.

Notice Periods and Termination of Employment

9.1 Notice Period

During your probationary period, either party may terminate your employment by serving notice. Full details are provided in your contract of employment.

After your probationary period (if applicable) both parties are required to give the periods of written notice as set out in your contract of employment.

We reserve the right to terminate your employment without notice in circumstances of gross misconduct, examples of which may be found in, but are not limited to, those set out in the Disciplinary and Grievance Policies (see Part Two of the Handbook). Please note that these examples are non-exhaustive and the Company reserves the right to treat other matters as gross misconduct in appropriate circumstances.

9.2 Pay in Lieu of Notice

We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to pay you in lieu of any period of notice and any such payment will comprise basic salary only.

9.3 Garden Leave

Once either side has given notice of termination, the Company may decide that you should be placed on a period of ‘garden leave’ for some or all of your notice period.

We may (at our discretion) at any time (including during any period of notice given by either party) amend your duties and/or suspend you from the performance of your duties and/or exclude you from any premises of the Company, and/or our clients, and/or require you to return any Company property and/or work from home, if appropriate. During such time, we reserve the right for you to remain employed and to receive your salary and benefits.

You shall, throughout any such period of suspension, exclusion and/or requirement(s), continue to be an employee of the Company and must comply with your obligations under your contract of employment. You will therefore not be entitled, either directly or indirectly, to work for any other employer or to work for yourself until your employment with the Company has terminated. You are also prohibited from having contact with any of the Company’s customers or suppliers, unless you are specifically requested to do so in the course of any duties which you are asked to perform during your notice period.

9.4 Return of Company Property and Representation

Upon termination of your employment for whatever reason, you must return to the Company:

all equipment, laptops, mobile phones, tools, keys, security passes, uniforms, correspondence, documents, Employee Handbook, lists, discs, CDs, DVDs, USB memory sticks, electronic folders and files, PDAs (or other means of storing or recording information), paperwork and

all other property belonging to the Company or any Group Company, which may be in your possession or under your control and you must not without our written consent take any copies thereof.

Failure to return such items will result in the reasonable replacement cost of the items being deducted from any monies outstanding to you.

Safeguards and Security of Information

10.1 Rights of Search

We have the contractual right to carry out searches of employees and their property (including vehicles) whilst they are on Company premises. These searches are random and do not imply suspicion in relation to any individual concerned, although we also reserve the right to search an employee when we reasonably suspect they have committed a criminal offence.

If this should happen, if practicable, you will be accompanied by a third party who is on the premises at the time a search is taking place, or at the time that any further questioning takes place.

You may be asked to remove the contents of your pockets and bags, remove outer clothing such as shoes and jackets and allow your vehicle to be inspected, etc. Searches may also be conducted on your work area, including desk, cabinets and locker.

Whilst you have the right to refuse to be searched, refusal by you to agree to being searched will be deemed to constitute a Breach of Contract, which could result in your dismissal.

Any employee caught in unauthorised possession of property belonging to the Company or property belonging to another employee or other third party, or otherwise caught in possession of an item in breach of this Handbook’s provisions (such as an illegal substance), will be subject to disciplinary action. Our Disciplinary Policy and Procedure is set out in Part Two of the Handbook.

The Company also reserves the right to call in the Police at any stage.

10.2 Cash Handling and Financial Transactions

If you are involved in financial transactions with customers, you must ensure that you are aware of and comply fully with our Procedures as set out below.

An official Sofa Workshop receipt must be issued to the customer for all transactions ( cash, cheque or credit/debit card);

Cash must be counted and checked using a counterfeit pen in the presence of a customer before issuing a receipt;

Immediately after the payment is taken, the cash must be counted, placed into an envelope, sealed and signed by 2 members of staff (if possible) then secured into the store safe;

The safe must be kept locked except when specific access is required for banking etc.;

The end of day banking must be made and balanced by one person and checked by another
(when possible);

The person taking responsibility for the banking must sign to acknowledge receipt of the cash;

The banking must be kept secure until lodged into the company bank account;

The banking should be carried out as early as possible;

Whenever cash is handed over by an employee to a colleague, it must be signed for and counted to confirm the amount is correct.

You must ensure that accurate recordings are made of all monetary transactions handled in the course of your duties.

The Company is registered under The Money Laundering Regulations 2003 and acceptance of excessive cash can result in a criminal prosecution. It is Company policy to only accept cash amounts of up to £10,000. You should decline acceptance of cash in excess of £10,000 and ask for the balance by cheque, Banker’s Draft or Bank

Transfer. If a customer attempts to pay cash of more than £10,000, you must refer the matter to a Director.

Credit cards must be checked that they are valid and the customer’s pin number or signature obtained. You must obtain authorisation or the transaction cannot be actioned.

Cheques must be correctly completed, dated and signed. They cannot be accepted without a valid cheque guarantee card. You must ensure that the signature on the card matches the signature on the cheque. In addition, you must write the card number and expiry date on the reverse of the cheque.

Cheques take up to 10 working days to clear therefore goods cannot be delivered and orders cannot be confirmed until 10 days after they are cashed.

Refunds must be authorised and carried out by the assistant manager or store manager.

You must report any discrepancies/shortages immediately to the store manager.

We reserve the right to deduct shortfalls from your earnings.

Fraudulent recording of financial transactions constitutes gross misconduct and disciplinary action will be taken accordingly.

Acceptance of cash in excess of £10,000 without reference to a Director constitutes gross misconduct and disciplinary action will be taken accordingly.

10.3 Anti Money Laundering Policy

What is Money Laundering?

Money laundering is a process that hides the proceeds of any criminal activity.

How could money laundering affect Sofa Workshop?

A customer could pay for goods with stolen money, or money that has been gained through crime.

They could purchase goods on credit to then sell for cash to help fund crime*.

What are the chances of money laundering being carried out at Sofa Workshop?

The risk of money laundering being conducted at Sofa Workshop is low. This is mainly due to the nature of our product (large furniture items that are difficult to ‘sell on’), the average transaction value being under £2000 and delivery times of up to 3 months.

How does Anti-Money Laundering (AML) legislation affect Sofa Workshop and its employees?

It can be an offence for Sofa Workshop and/or its employees to:

Knowingly assist in money laundering activities as set out above and

‘Tip off’ a person who has been reported/investigated for money laundering

What must Sofa Workshop employees do to comply with AML legislation?

Identity must be verified for all cash orders over £10,000.

Please follow the steps below:

You must verify the customer’s identity by obtaining valid photographic ID and separate proof of address

from the customer. Acceptable proof are:

Photographic ID

A valid photo driving licence

A valid passport

Proof of address

Utility bill dated in the last 3 months

Bank Statement dated in the last 3 months

The Sales Advisor must check and sign a copy of the photo ID to confirm it is a true likeness of the customer.

Note on the order notes the type of ID verified.

Fax the verified ID to the Finance Department and telephone the Finance Department to confirm that it has been received.

Dispose of the copies of ID and address by shredding the documents.

Failure to check ID properly may be classed as assisting in money laundering activities and therefore an offence.

Goods must not be delivered, or taken away by the customer, until the identification checks have taken place in store.

If any employee becomes aware of a cash order for more than £10,000 being taken without the relevant identification checks being carried out, you must notify the Finance Department immediately.

What are the consequences of non-compliance?

Any employee failing to comply with the Anti-Money Laundering policy may be subject to disciplinary action and could potentially have further personal liabilities.

10.4 Anti Bribery Policy

10.4.1 Introduction

The company is committed to carrying out its’ business fairly, honestly and openly and has a zero tolerance of bribery and corruption. The company does not make or accept bribes, or condone the offering or acceptance of bribes on its behalf.

All Directors and employees are required to comply with this policy.

A bribe is an inducement or reward offered, promised or provided in order to gain any commercial, contractual, regulatory or personal advantage.


Bribes may take the form of gifts (money, goods, services), hospitality (meals, entertaining, tickets to events, travel expenses), political or charitable donations, sponsorship or favours.

This Policy sets out the Company’s position on any form of bribery and corruption and provides guidelines to:

ensure compliance with anti-bribery laws, rules and regulations;

enable employees and persons associated with the Company to understand the risks associated with bribery and to encourage them to be vigilant and recognise, prevent and report any wrongdoing, whether by themselves or others;

provide suitable and secure reporting and communication channels and ensure that any information that is

reported is properly and effectively dealt with;

create and maintain an effective framework for dealing with any suspected instances of bribery or corruption.

This Policy applies to all permanent and temporary employees of the Company (including any of its intermediaries, subsidiaries or associated companies). It also applies to any individual or corporate entity associated with the Company or who performs functions in relation to, or for and on behalf of, the Company, including, but not limited to, directors, agency workers, casual workers, contractors, consultants, seconded staff, agents, suppliers and sponsors (“associated persons”). All employees and associated persons are expected to adhere to the principles set out in this Policy.

It is an offence in the UK to:

offer, promise or give a financial or other advantage to another person (i.e. bribe a person), whether within the UK or abroad, with the intention of inducing or rewarding improper conduct;

request, agree to receive or accept a financial or other advantage (i.e. receive a bribe) for or in relation to improper conduct;

bribe a foreign public official.

You can be held personally liable for any such offence.

It is also an offence in the UK for an employee or an associated person to bribe another person in the course of doing business intending either to obtain or retain business, or to obtain or retain an advantage in the conduct of business, for the Company. The Company can be liable for this offence where it has failed to prevent such bribery by associated persons. As well as an unlimited fine, it could suffer substantial reputational damage.

10.4.2 Policy statement

All employees and associated persons are required to:

comply with any relevant anti-bribery and anti-corruption legislation;

act honestly, responsibly and with integrity;

safeguard and uphold the Company’s core values by operating in an ethical, professional and lawful manner at all times;

bribery of any kind is strictly prohibited.

The giving of business gifts to clients, customers, contractors and suppliers is not prohibited provided the following requirements are met:

the gift is not made with the intention of influencing a third party to obtain or retain business or a business advantage, or to reward the provision or retention of business or a business advantage;

it complies with local laws;

it is given in the Company’s name, not in the giver’s personal name;

it does not include cash or a cash equivalent (such as gift vouchers);

it is of an appropriate and reasonable type and value and given at an appropriate time;

it is given openly, not secretly;

it is approved in advance by a director of the Company.

In summary, it is not acceptable to give, promise to give, or offer, a payment, gift or hospitality with the expectation or hope that a business advantage will be received, or to reward a business advantage already given, or to accept a payment, gift or hospitality from a third party that you know or suspect is offered or provided with the expectation that it will obtain a business advantage for them.

10.4.3 Responsibilities and Reporting Procedure

It is the responsibility of all employees and associated persons to take whatever reasonable steps are necessary to ensure compliance with this Policy and to prevent, detect and report any suspected bribery or corruption.

You must immediately disclose to the Company any knowledge or suspicion you may have that you, or any other employee or associated person, has plans to offer, promise or give a bribe or to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe in connection with the business of the Company.    

Confidentiality will be maintained during the investigation to the extent that this is practical and appropriate in the circumstances. 

The Company will support anyone who raises genuine concerns in good faith under this Policy, even if they turn out to be mistaken. It is also committed to ensuring nobody suffers any detrimental treatment as a result of refusing to take part in bribery or corruption, or because of reporting in good faith their suspicion that an actual or potential bribery or corruption offence has taken place or may take place in the future.

10.4.4 Record keeping

All accounts, receipts, invoices and other documents and records relating to dealings with third parties must be prepared and maintained with strict accuracy and completeness. No accounts must be kept “off the record” to facilitate or conceal improper payments.

10.4.5 Sanctions for Breach

A breach of any of the provisions of this Policy will constitute a disciplinary offence and will be dealt with in accordance with the Company’s disciplinary procedure. Depending on the gravity of the offence, it may be treated as gross misconduct and could render the employee liable to summary dismissal. 

As far as associated persons are concerned, a breach of this Policy could lead to the suspension or termination of any relevant contract, sub-contract or other agreement.

10.4.6 Gifts and Entertainment


As gifts and entertainment can sometimes disguise bribes, or be misinterpreted as bribes, we have established the following guidelines which clearly define what we consider to be genuine and acceptable and what is not.

We may accept gifts of small items of limited value (less than £200).  We may not accept valuable items. Valuable items received as gifts will be returned, or disposed of as agreed by management.

Although we may accept a gift on occasion, we may not accept gifts which are given regularly or often.

Gifts we give must be of moderate value, legal under local law and agreed by management.

We may give and accept reasonable, hosted entertainment which is in the legitimate interests of the business.

We will not give or accept lavish or frequent entertainment, or entertainment which is not hosted.

The company recognises that gifts and hospitality may form an acceptable part of building relationships. However the offer or acceptance of gifts which could affect or be perceived to affect the outcome of business transactions, or which are not reasonable and in good faith, is prohibited.

10.4.7 Facilitation Payments

Facilitation payments are small amounts demanded by providers of services to secure or ‘facilitate’ services to which the payer is already entitled, such as obtaining a visa.  Equally they can be inducements offered to or demanded by customs, immigration and other officials to speed up the granting of services and permits.  In either case, they are illegal and must not be offered or paid.

It is Company policy that our agents and other intermediaries, contractors and suppliers do not make facilitation payments on our behalf.

10.4.8 Donations and Sponsorship


Charitable donations (to registered charities only) may be made with the approval of the owner.  No donations are made to charities connected to business partners while any bid/contract process is ongoing.

Political contributions may only be made with the full consent of the Board. Donations may only be made to

registered political parties; no donations may be made to individuals.

Sponsorship payments are made for business promotional purposes and are distinct from charitable donations.  All sponsorship arrangements must be clearly documented and terms agreed in writing with the sponsee as to the amount to be paid and the promotional benefits to be received in return.

10.4.9 Employees


Employees must not solicit, arrange or accept bribes intended for their benefit or that of their family, friends, associates or acquaintances.

Employees must not offer, promise or give a bribe to anyone in connection with their work for the company.

Employees should consult their manager if in any doubt about whether a gift or hospitality may be accepted.

Where an employee has been offered a bribe, or suspects that others may have offered or accepted a bribe, they should in the first instance report it to their line manager if possible.

Where this is not possible or appropriate (for example if the line manager is suspected of being involved), the matter should be reported to another manager or Director.

Alternatively, employees can raise concerns through the Company’s Whistle Blowing Procedure.

Employees will not be penalised for the loss of contracts or other impact on the business arising from refusing to pay or accept a bribe.

10.5 Copyright

All written materials (whether held on paper, electronically or magnetically) which were made or acquired by you during the course of your employment with the Company, are our property and we retain copyright ownership.

At the time of termination of your employment with us, or at any other time upon demand, you shall return to us any such materials in your possession and delete them from any electronic device. We reserve the right to request written confirmation from you that you have done this.

10.6 Statements to the Media

Any statements to reporters from newspapers, radio, television, etc, in relation to the Company’s business will only be given by a Director of the Company.

10.7 Personal Telephone Calls, Mobile Telephones and Other Remote Devices

10.7.1 Personal Telephone Calls

If personal calls are necessary during working hours, they must be kept to a minimum and have the prior permission of your Manager.

Non-urgent personal calls should be made during your official rest breaks from your personal phone where possible.

Not only does excessive time engaged on personal telephone calls lead to loss of productivity, it also constitutes

an unauthorised use of the Company’s time.

Whilst we will tolerate essential personal telephone calls made or received on company telephones concerning your domestic arrangements, excessive use of the company’s telephone for personal calls is prohibited. This includes lengthy, casual chats, nonessential calls, calls outside the UK and calls at premium rates.

If we discover that company telephone systems have been used excessively for personal calls or use, this will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Policy and you may be required to repay any costs incurred.

10.7.2 Mobile Telephones

Please be aware that certain operations performed on company mobile phones may breach our rules and procedures. Despatch of text messages or digital images that are – or could be – deemed offensive is strictly prohibited.

Photographing or filming of fellow colleagues, customers, visitors or any member of the public without their consent may breach an individual’s right to privacy and could, in certain circumstances, constitute sexual harassment.

If you use an appropriate hands-free mobile phone device permitted by legislation whilst driving and lose proper control of the vehicle, you are still potentially liable to criminal prosecution.

You should be aware that the fixed fine, if offered and accepted, is currently £60.00 or a fine on conviction of up to £1,000 if the matter proceeds to Court.

You will be responsible for the payment of any fines.

10.7.3 Other Remote Devices

You are not permitted to use, listen to or watch iPods, iPhones, MP3 players, portable CD players or other similar personal music or display screen devices during working hours. If you fail to comply with this rule you will be subject to disciplinary action.

10.8 Personal Correspondence

You must not conduct any personal correspondence from our office/site addresses.

All mail received by us will be opened, including mail addressed to you. Private mail, therefore, should not be sent care of our address.

No private mail may be posted at the Company’s expense, except in those cases where a formal re-charge arrangement has been made.

10.9 Personal Information

10.9.1 Records

It is important that we maintain up-to-date records of key information on all of our employees. You should, therefore, notify the store manager of any changes in your personal circumstances as soon as they occur.


Examples include change of address and/or telephone number, marital status, next-of-kin and next-of-kin’s address for contact purposes. From time to time, we may ask you to complete a new Personal Information form

to ensure our records are up-to-date.

10.9.2 Privacy

We consider it is essential that personal information about our employees should be kept confidential. You will, upon request, be informed who has access to this information. In addition, you have the right to know what information of a personal nature the Company holds. To ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act (see below).

We hold the minimum personal data necessary to enable us to perform our functions and every effort is made to ensure that data is accurate and up-to-date.

We will provide any employee who requests it with a written copy of personal data currently held on them. Should a material inaccuracy be discovered, then the data will be corrected or erased and a further written copy will be provided showing the amended details.

Any enquiries regarding the above should be directed to your Manager.

10.10 Data Protection

10.10.1 Introduction

In the course of your work, you may come into contact with and use confidential personal information about other employees, clients, customers, suppliers, agents, contractors and other people, such as their names and home addresses.

This Policy helps you to ensure that you do not breach the Data Protection Act 1998. The Act provides strict rules governing the collection, retention, storage, use and disclosure of personal information. Information protected by the Act includes not only personal data held on computer but also certain manual records that form part of a structured filing system.

If you are in any doubt about what you can or cannot disclose and to whom, do not disclose the personal information until you have sought further advice from your Manager. It is a criminal offence to knowingly or recklessly disclose personal data in breach of the Act. Accessing another employee’s personal records without authority is a disciplinary offence and may amount to potential gross misconduct.

We hold personal data about you and will process this data in accordance with your rights under the Act.

10.10.2 The Data Protection Principles

The Act requires that eight data protection principles be followed in the handling of personal data. These are that personal data must be:

Fairly and lawfully processed.

Processed for limited purposes and not in any manner incompatible with those purposes.

Adequate, relevant and not excessive.

Accurate.

Not kept for longer than is necessary.

Processed in accordance with the data subject’s rights.

Secure.

Not transferred between countries without adequate protection.

We are committed to following these principles and will be open and transparent about what the data will be

used for. We will process personal data about you only as far as is necessary for the purpose of managing the Company’s business in which you are employed. Unless you expressly authorise its disclosure, your personal data will not be disclosed to anyone else other than authorised employees, those who provide relevant products to the Company (such as advisers and payroll administrators), regulatory authorities, potential or future employers, governmental or quasi-governmental organisations and potential purchasers of the Company or of that part of the business in which you work. We will only obtain personal data about you that we require for the purpose of managing our business and dealing with you as an employee of that business.

We will take all reasonable steps to ensure that the personal data we process is accurate and not excessive. Personal data will be retained as necessary during the course of your employment and records will be retained for up to six years after you leave the Company’s employment in case legal proceedings arise during that period. Different categories of data may be retained for different periods of time depending on legal, operational and financial requirements. Data will only be retained for a period of longer than six years if it is material to ongoing legal proceedings or it should otherwise be retained in the interests of the Company after that period.

Manual personal data, such as personnel files, is stored in locked filing cabinets. Personal data held on computer is stored confidentially by means of password protection. We have a network of back-up procedures to ensure that data on computers cannot accidentally be lost or destroyed.

The Act prohibits the transfer of personal data outside the European Economic Area to countries that do not have similar protection of data except in some circumstances or with the subject’s consent. It is a term of your contract of employment that you expressly consent to such transfers should they be necessary. This is because, with the use of the Internet and email, data can be transferred to a computer or server in such a country in the course of a transfer between parties within the European Economic Area. Also the Company may have offices or subsidiary companies or agents or contractors in such countries (now or in the future) and therefore transfers of data could be necessary as part of the management of the Company’s business and the performance of your contract of employment.

10.10.3 Consent to Processing

It is a requirement under the Act that you consent to us processing personal data about you. Some data is referred to in the Act as ‘sensitive’ personal data. This means personal data comprising information relating to:

Race or ethnic origin.

Political opinions.

Trade Union membership.

Religious or other beliefs.

Physical or mental health or condition.

Sexual life.

Criminal offences both committed and alleged.

It therefore follows that some of the personal information that we will have to process about you will be sensitive personal data, for example, information about your physical or mental health in order to monitor sick leave and take decisions about your fitness for work and your racial or ethnic origin, or religious or similar beliefs, in order to monitor compliance with equal opportunities legislation.

It is a term of your contract of employment that you expressly consent to the Company collecting, retaining and processing data including sensitive personal data about you for legal, personnel, administrative and management purposes. This data includes but is not limited to your name and address, salary details, bank details, date of birth, age, sex, ethnic origin, next of kin, sickness records, medical reports and details of criminal convictions. This information will only be used in order that we can monitor our compliance with the law and best practice in areas such as equal opportunity, pay and benefits, administration, performance appraisal and disciplinary matters. If your personal information changes, you should let us know so that our records can be updated.

Unless you give this consent it is not necessarily lawful for us to process the personal data that we need in order to keep the necessary records about your employment and, therefore, it is not possible for us to meet the needs of running our business in relation to your employment without your consent.

10.10.4 Your Rights to Access Personal Information

Under the Act, you have the right to find out what personal information we hold about you, and to ask for a copy of that personal data. You also have the right to demand that any inaccurate data be corrected or removed and to seek compensation where you suffer damage as a result of any breach of the Act by the Company.

You have the right on request to:

Be told by the Company whether and for what purpose personal data about you is being processed.

Be given a description of the personal data concerned and the recipients to whom it is or may be disclosed.

Have communicated in an intelligible form the personal data concerned, and any information available to the Company as to the source of the data.

Be informed in certain circumstances of the logic involved in computerised decision-making.

A request for access to any personal data that relates to you should be made in writing to your Manager and should specify what personal data your request relates to. You can use our Personal Data Request Form for this purpose, a copy of which can be obtained from your Manager. We reserve the right to charge a fee of up to £10.00 or such higher amount as permitted by law from time to time before access can be granted. The Company also reserves the right to make further enquiries of you in order to satisfy ourselves as to your identity and to help us locate the personal data that you have requested.

Upon receipt of a request it is our policy to provide copies of all personal data that we are obliged to disclose within 40 days of your request being received. We consider that if a period of less than one year has elapsed since any previous request for access to your personal data was complied with, it is not reasonable to expect us to be obliged to comply with a further request unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Should you wish to bring any inaccuracy in disclosed data to our attention you must do so in writing to your Manager. It is the Company’s policy to ensure that all data is as accurate as possible and all necessary steps will be taken to ensure that this is the case and to rectify any inaccuracies.

Where we have requested a reference in confidence from a referee and that reference has been given on terms that it is confidential and that the person giving it wishes that it should not to be disclosed to you, it is our policy that it would normally be unreasonable to disclose such a reference to you unless the consent of the person who gave the reference is first obtained.

We reserve the right not to disclose to you any management forecasts or management planning documentation, including documents setting out the Company’s plans for your future development and progress.

10.10.5 Your Obligations in Relation to Personal Information

You must comply with the following guidelines at all times:

Do not give out confidential personal information except to the data subject. In particular, it should not be given to someone, either accidentally or otherwise, from the same family or to any other unauthorised third party unless the data subject has given their explicit consent to this.

Be aware that those seeking information sometimes use deception in order to gain access to it. Always verify the identity of the data subject and the legitimacy of the request, particularly before releasing personal information by telephone.

Only transmit personal information between locations by fax or email if a secure network is in place, for example, a confidential fax machine or encryption is used for email.

If you receive a request for personal information about another employee, you should forward this to your Manager.

Ensure that any personal data which you hold is kept securely, either in a locked filing cabinet or, if it is computerised, it is password protected.

Do not include personal data in any email addressed to a recipient outside the European Economic Area (EEA) without their prior explicit consent. Note: the EEA comprises Member States of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Computer Security Policy

11.1 Introduction

Set out below is our Computer Security Policy relating to computer equipment and information. You are responsible for ensuring that these rules are adhered to and any breach of these rules may result in disciplinary action being taken against you including, in serious cases, dismissal without notice or pay in lieu of notice.

You agree we may take all actions necessary to ensure our Computer Security Policy is adhered to.

All PCs and related computer hardware, including printers, are considered corporate assets and are the property of the Company (not individuals, departments or projects).

Leavers’ network accounts will be disabled and the contents of personal drives made available to the Manager and/or any employee deemed by the Manager to require access for an agreed period before being archived from the network.

No hardware should be installed or uninstalled into any PC without the knowledge of your Manager. No user should open a PC to attempt to repair. This act contravenes applicable health and safety regulations and could invalidate any warranty on the hardware.

11.2 Security

As all information regarding our business interests is strictly confidential (see Confidential Information section above), all computerised information should be securely managed within the Company.

You should treat electronic information with the same care that you would any written documentation. In particular:

Appropriate security levels should be set on all documents within the computer system. If a document is highly confidential, or contains price-sensitive material, then access should be limited to the specific individuals who have good reasons to use the document.

Great care should be taken in transmitting documents electronically.

Portable computers containing confidential information should never be left unattended when off-site or

elsewhere.

Information about the Company, including details of our financial affairs and future operational plans, is highly confidential. Much of this information is available to authorised employees via the computer system and should not be made available to anyone outside the Company.

11.3 Unauthorised Access

There are a number of security measures built into the computer system to prevent unauthorised access to our systems and data.

They are designed to provide a high degree of security against external attack or intrusion (for example, malicious hacking or computer viruses). However, in order to be fully effective, these formal security measures need to be backed up with your full cooperation and support.

Specifically, it is important that all employees respect the following at all times:

Never disclose your password to anyone else. If you think that your password has been compromised, you should take appropriate measures to change your password immediately and, if appropriate, inform your Manager.

Log off and switch off your computer workstation at the end of each day. Remember that a workstation logged onto the computer provides a means of access to all your files.

Documents or other data held on, e.g. discs/CDs/DVDs or on hardware devices such as PDAs, portable memory, memory sticks or other USB devices, must never be loaded onto our computer system, except by authorised personnel. This is to prevent the accidental introduction of computer viruses, which are capable of causing serious disruption.

Similarly, no software of any kind may be loaded onto a workstation or run without authorisation, as this may disrupt our existing systems and could also contravene the software licence.

No attempt should be made to by-pass the existing security measures.

11.4 Software

We use software from a number of different suppliers and make every effort to comply with the obligations of our licensing agreements. You are obliged to respect the following:

Software must never be copied from or to any of the Company’s computers, including portable computers. This includes transfer to, e.g. discs/CDs/DVDs, or on hardware devices, such as PDAs, portable memory, memory sticks, and other USB-type devices or via email.

Software licensed to the Company must never be used outside the Company without specific written authorisation.

You must not download additional software from the Internet or install it from, e.g., discs/CDs/DVDs, without authorisation from your Manager, including downloading or installing screensavers, desktop wallpaper, games, pirate copies, etc.

Email and Internet Policies

12.1 Email Policy

Our email facility is intended to provide effective communication within the organisation, and externally with clients and customers, on business matters. It should, therefore, be used for business purposes. While there are

many advantages to be gained from the correct use of internal and external mail, there are also certain dangers.

When sending internal or external emails, please ensure that you comply with the following:

All client and customer communications (incoming and outgoing) should be printed and recorded on file in the same way as a letter or fax.

Emails should not be used for confidential communications unless the consent of the person to whom the information relates has been obtained, both in relation to the content of the email and the form in which it is transmitted (i.e. encrypted or unencrypted).

If you receive an email that has been incorrectly delivered to your email address you should notify the sender of the message by re-directing the message to that person. If the email contains confidential information you must not disclose or use that information.

Emails should be checked thoroughly before sending (including checking that they have been properly addressed), using the same care you would give to a formal letter on the Company’s letterhead.

You must not impersonate any other person when using email.

You must not amend messages received and then store, print or forward as if they were received in the altered state.

Be aware that legally binding contracts can be formed by email.

Use of the email system for reasons other than work is not permitted at any time.

General personal messages to a large number of addressees must not be sent.

Do not use internal or external emails for any material that could potentially be defamatory, for example, containing untrue, malicious or otherwise inappropriate statements about our customers, competitors or other employees.

Do not respond to “Junk Mail” or give warnings to new email viruses.

Do not send ‘fun’ or ‘flame’ emails; what may seem harmless fun to some can be offensive to others and may be regarded as harassment. If you receive an email which you consider offensive, you should raise the issue with your Manager. The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination and harassment because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

Do not respond to, or forward on, chain letter-type emails.

Do not disclose information that is protected by embargo or could in any way be considered confidential to the business and/or the employees.

Do not make any statements via email which intentionally or unintentionally create a binding contract or make negligent statements.

Do not initiate or forward emails that contain obscene, pornographic and/or offensive material.

If you are sending out attachments by email, please ensure that you have obtained the consent of the author of the attachment if not an employee; otherwise you may infringe the author’s copyright.

Bear in mind that, in some cases, recipients can view previous changes to attachments.

Never import unknown messages, files or attachments onto your system without authorisation.

Do not send large graphics files unless they are related to the Company’s business.

You must ensure you log off your computer workstation if leaving it for any length of time. You should change your personal password regularly and only disclose it to others as authorised/required by the Company.

Please remember that we have the authority and ability to intercept, read and print out all internal and external (incoming and outgoing) emails, including those marked ‘personal’. Communications of a sensitive or confidential nature should not be sent by email because they are not guaranteed to be private.

You agree that we may take all actions necessary to ensure our Email Policy is adhered to. We reserve the right to open any email file.

The purposes for which we may intercept, read and print out emails include, but are not limited to:

Promoting productivity and efficiency.

Ensuring there is no unauthorised use of the Company’s time.

Ensuring that all employees are treated with respect and dignity at work, by discovering and eliminating any

material that is capable of amounting to unlawful discrimination or harassment.

Ensuring the security of the system and its effective operation.

Ensuring there is no breach of commercial confidentiality.

Personal emails which are clearly marked as such will only be read in exceptional circumstances where a problem relating to an employee’s excessive or unauthorised use is suspected.

The Procedures, as set about above, are of critical importance. Non-compliance or breach of this Email Policy will be viewed as misconduct and may result in disciplinary action being taken against you including, in serious cases, dismissal without notice or pay in lieu of notice.

12.2 Internet Usage Policy

Internet access, including Internet email, is provided to employees for the purpose of conducting business-related activity for the benefit of the Company and our customers. Since our IT resources are costly and require significant work to maintain, it is important that you adhere to the Internet Usage Policy, thus ensuring these resources are available to everyone for legitimate, business-related purposes.

If your Manager has agreed, you may use the Internet as a research tool for business purposes only.

Please remember that we have the authority and ability to access, read and print out details of all Internet sites and emails sent/ received accessed by persons using its computer systems.

Personal use of the Internet should be minimal and in any event should not be used in a manner that:

Interferes with one’s work-related responsibilities.

Is offensive to others.

Burdens or degrades any of the Company’s systems or network resources.

Threatens the security of the systems, or

Allows unauthorised access to the systems.

Logging on to sexually explicit, gambling or any other inappropriate websites is prohibited. Should you visit inappropriate websites unwittingly through unintended response of search engines, unclear hypertext links, misleading banner advertising or miss-keying, you must exit immediately and inform your Manager of the incident.

Breach of this Internet Usage Policy will be viewed as misconduct and may result in disciplinary action being taken against you including, in serious cases, dismissal without notice or pay in lieu of notice.

The law with regard to email and Internet access and use is still evolving. This Policy takes into account the current legal situation but you should be aware that it will continue to change, often at great pace. For this reason, you will be notified of any changes and you must ensure you update yourself regularly with the current version of this Policy that is available from your Manager.

12.3 Virus Protection Procedures

In order to prevent the introduction of virus contamination into the software system, the following must be observed:

Unauthorised software including public domain software, magazine cover discs, CDs or Internet/Worldwide Web downloads, etc, must not be used.

All software must be virus checked using standard testing procedures, before being used.

Breach of these Virus Protection Procedures may result in disciplinary action that may lead to dismissal.

12.4 Usage

These Policies are designed to prevent problems with email and Internet usage and, therefore, you are expected to be familiar and comply with the contents of the Email and Internet Policies. If you are unsure about whether anything you propose to do might breach these Policies, you should speak to your Manager.

Breach of these Policies will be viewed as misconduct and may result in disciplinary action being taken against you. This could include your access to our email facilities and the Internet being suspended or withdrawn, or, in serious cases, dismissal without notice or pay in lieu of notice.

Social Media Policy

13.1 Policy statement

This policy applies to the use of social media for both business and personal purposes, whether during office hours or otherwise and whether the social media is accessed using our IT facilities and equipment or equipment belonging to members of staff. This policy concerns the use of all forms of social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Wikipedia, all other social networking sites, and any other internet postings including blogs.

The Company recognises the importance of the Internet in shaping public perception of our business, our brand and current or potential products. The Company also recognises the importance of employees contributing and helping shape corporate identity and direction through blogging and interaction in Social Media.

We understand there needs to be a balance between corporate responsibility and flexibility, and the guidelines in the Social Media Policy will help you make appropriate decisions about your work-related blogging and your personal internet activity.

All employees are required to adhere to this policy and should ensure that they take the time to read and understand it. Any misuse of social media should be reported to your Line Manager. Questions regarding the content or application of this policy should be directed to the store manager.

We expect all employees to adhere to this policy. Breach of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. Disciplinary action may be taken regardless of whether the breach is committed during working hours, and regardless of whether our equipment or facilities are used for the purpose of committing the breach. Any member of staff suspected of committing a breach of this policy will be required to co-operate with our investigation, which may involve handing over relevant documentation.

13.2 Personal use of social media at work

Personal use of social media is never permitted during working time or by means of our computers, networks and other IT resources and communications systems.

13.3 Monitoring

The Company reserve the right to monitor, intercept and review, without further notice, staff activities using our IT resources, to ensure that our procedures are being complied with and for legitimate business purposes and you consent to such monitoring by use of such resources and systems. This might include without limitation, the monitoring, interception, assessing, recording, disclosing, inspecting, reviewing, retrieving and printing of transactions, messages, communications, postings, images, log-ins, recordings and other uses of the systems as

well as keystroke capturing and other network monitoring technologies.

We may store copies of such data or communications for a period of time after they are created, and may delete such copies from time to time without notice.

We monitor the use of the Company’s name on the internet and therefore if we become aware of any breach of this policy through our monitoring, or by other means, disciplinary action may be taken up to and including dismissal.

13.4 Responsible use of Social Media

Social media should never be used in a way that breaches any of our other policies. For example, employees are prohibited from using social media to:

breach any obligations they may have relating to confidentiality;

breach our Disciplinary Rules;

defame or disparage the organisation or its affiliates, customers, clients, business partners, suppliers, vendors or other stakeholders;

harass or bully other staff in any way;

unlawfully discriminate against other staff or third parties;

breach our Data protection policy (for example, never disclose personal information about a colleague online);

breach any other laws or ethical standards (for example, never use social media in a false or misleading way, such as by claiming to be someone other than yourself or by making misleading statements).

Unless given permission by your Line Manager, you are not authorised to speak on behalf of the Company, nor to imply that you do so.

If you disclose your affiliation as an employee of our organisation, you must also state that your views do not represent those of your employer and that you are speaking on your own behalf. You should also ensure that your profile and any content you post are consistent with the professional image you present to clients and colleagues.

13.4.1 Professional Representation

The Company encourage you to write knowledgeably, accurately and using appropriate professionalism. Despite disclaimers, your Web interaction can result in members of the public forming opinions about the Company, the brand and its employees, parent Company, products and services.

Employees are personally responsible for what they communicate in social media. Remember that what you publish might be available to be read by the masses (including the organisation itself, future employers and social acquaintances) for a long time. Keep this in mind before you post content.

In order to protect our business reputation, staff must not post disparaging or defamatory statements about:

our organisation;

our clients;

suppliers and vendors; and

other affiliates and stakeholders,

and staff should also avoid social media communications that might be misconstrued in a way that could damage our business reputation, even indirectly.

Staff should make it clear in social media postings that they are speaking on their own behalf. Write in the first person and use a personal e-mail address when communicating via social media.

If you disclose your affiliation as an employee of our organisation, you must also state that your views do not represent those of your employer. For example, you could state, “the views in this posting do not represent the views of my employer”. You should also ensure that your profile and any content you post are consistent with the professional image you present to clients and colleagues.

Avoid posting comments about sensitive business-related topics, such as our performance. Even if you make it clear that your views on such topics do not represent those of the organisation, your comments could still damage our reputation.

If you see content in social media that disparages or reflects poorly on our organisation or our stakeholders, you should contact your manager. All staff are responsible for protecting our business reputation.

Employees should not post any material linked to the company that is:

Defamatory

Pornographic

Threatening

Inappropriate

Harassing

Unethical

Discriminating

Libellous, or

Likely to create a hostile work environment.

In order to protect the Company’s intellectual property and confidential information, staff should not do anything to jeopardise our valuable trade secrets and other confidential information and intellectual property through the use of social media.

In addition, staff should avoid misappropriating or infringing the intellectual property of other companies and individuals, which can create liability for the organisation, as well as the individual author.

Do not use our logos, brand names, slogans or other trademarks, or post any of our confidential or proprietary information without prior written permission.

To protect yourself and the organisation against liability for copyright infringement, where appropriate, reference sources of particular information you post or upload and cite them accurately. If you have any questions about whether a particular post or upload might violate anyone’s copyright or trademark, ask a Senior Manager before making the communication.

Staff may be required to remove internet postings which are deemed to constitute a breach of this policy. Failure to comply with such a request may in itself result in disciplinary action.

13.4.2 Privacy

Employees should never disclose personal information about their colleagues, customers, suppliers, the parent

Company and competitors, and should always seek the written permission of a subject before writing about them.

13.4.3 Confidentiality

Employees may not share information that is confidential and inappropriate about the Company. This includes information about trademarks, customer information, upcoming product releases, sales, finances, the number of products sold, company strategy, and any other information that has not been permitted by the Company to be released.

Employees should avoid misappropriating or infringing the intellectual property of other companies or individuals, which can create liability for the Company, as well as the individual author.

Business Interests

During your normal hours of work, you shall devote your whole time and attention to the business of the Company and may not, without our prior written approval, devote any time to any business other than the business of the Company.

During the continuance of your employment you may not (without our prior written approval), whether paid or unpaid, be directly or indirectly engaged or concerned in any activities which may:

Conflict with our business interests;

Adversely affect our reputation or relations with others; or

Prejudicially affect your ability to properly and efficiently discharge your job duties and responsibilities.

The decision as to whether or not an activity would conflict with the Company’s business interests, adversely affect the Company’s reputation or relations with others or have a prejudicial effect on your ability to discharge your job duties and responsibilities shall be in our absolute discretion. We will always have regard to our obligations under the Working Time Regulations 1998.

Except with our prior written approval, you may not, during the continuance of your employment with us, be directly or indirectly interested, engaged or have any financial interest in any capacity in any other business, trade, profession or occupation provided that this shall not prohibit you from holding shares or debentures so long as not more than 3% of the shares or stock of any class of any one company is so held and provided such company does not carry on a business which is in competition with our business.

Retirement

15.1 Retirement Age

Unless, due to the nature of your particular job role, your contract of employment specifies a compulsory retirement age, the Company does not generally operate a normal retirement age and therefore you will not be compulsorily retired on reaching a particular age.

Instead, we operate a flexible Retirement Policy that permits you to choose to voluntarily retire at any time. You should advise your Manager as early as possible of your wishes in relation to retirement.

15.2 Discussing Your Future Plans

It is helpful to this business for you to discuss your short, medium and long-term plans with your manager, as the need arises. We need to plan for the business, and so may indicate to staff from time to time that it would be helpful to know what their plans are, whatever their age or their current working arrangements. There is no

obligation for us or you to hold workplace discussions about your future plans, but it may be mutually beneficial to do so. Therefore, should you wish at any stage to discuss your retirement plans, you should feel free to do so, without concern.

Your employment or promotion prospects will not be prejudiced because you have expressed an interest in retiring or changing work patterns, whether you decide to proceed with retirement/changes to working patterns or not.

15.3 Giving Notice of Retirement

If you would like to retire you should give the notice required under your contract of employment as a minimum. However, it would help the business to plan for any handover or recruitment needs if you are able to give as much notice as possible.

If you indicate that you are thinking of retiring, you are free to change your mind at any time until you have actually given notice to terminate your employment. Once you have given notice to terminate your employment, there is no obligation on the Company to agree to any request to retract your resignation.

Pension

16.1 Introduction

New legislation required MH Sibson LLP to automatically enrol all “eligible” staff members into a company pension scheme on 5/2/2016.

The new company pension scheme will be provided by NEST.

From 5th February 2016 all “eligible” staff members will automatically join the scheme and contributions will commence as follows (unless you actively decide to opt-out):

The minimum contribution is made up of money from a worker’s pay, money from their employer and tax relief from the government.

  

The employer’s contribution is currently 1%, rising to 2% and then 3%, so total contributions are as the table above.

As mentioned above, all “eligible” staff members will have the opportunity to opt-out after automatically becoming a member of the pension scheme. You will not be able to do this before you have automatically been enrolled. If you do decide to opt out, any contributions that have been paid will be returned to you providing that the correct opt out procedure has been followed.

If you are not “eligible”, slightly different rules will apply.

16.2 Categories of Employees for Automatic Enrolment

“Eligible” employees:

Earn more than £10,000 per annum

Aged over 22

Under State Pension Age

Eligible employees will be automatically enrolled into the pension scheme, but can opt out.

“Non–eligible” employees:

Earn more than £5,772 per annum and less than £10,000 per annum, and

Aged between 16 and 74

or

Earn over £10,000 per annum, and

Under 22, or over State Pension Age (and under 75)

Non–eligible employees will not be automatically enrolled into the pension scheme, but can opt in and then be enrolled. Sofa Workshop will then pay into the scheme and will inform employees how much they need to pay.

“Entitled” employees:

Earn less than £5,772 per annum, and

Under age 75

Entitled employees will not be automatically enrolled into the pension scheme, but can still join. Sofa Workshop can choose whether or not to contribute to the scheme.

16.3 Contact for Support and Further Information

All eligible new starters are issued with further information from NEST when they are automatically enrolled. This information will explain the details of the scheme as well as details on how to opt out. Should you have any questions in the meantime, please contact the store manager.

Variation Provision

We may amend or vary any non-contractual Policies and Procedures from time to time for various reasons relating to business needs or to reflect legal developments.

We may amend or vary your contract of employment (including Part One of this Handbook) from time to time in order to reflect legislative or other legal developments. We may also make minor, non-fundamental changes to your contract of employment from time to time.

Any minor changes made in accordance with the sections above may be made by email notification with immediate effect.

Limits of Authority

You are not permitted to:

Authorise any variation to our Terms of Business, agree any discounts on charges or authorise any expenditure for any reason without the authority of a Senior Manager

Entertain any of our clients/suppliers in or out of the office without our prior authorisation.

Divulge your home telephone number or address to any client/supplier unless authorised by a Senior Manager.

Part Two

A: Professional Conduct

Conduct and Behaviour

Appearance

You are expected to maintain an appropriate standard of dress, appearance and hygiene to ensure that our professional image and reputation are maintained.

It is the responsibility of the Line Manager to determine whether dress or appearance conforms to the Company’s standard.

You are required to adhere to the following minimum dress and appearance standards:

You may wear “business attire” clothing to work provided it is neat, clean and in a good state of repair.

You should wear clean and smart shoes.

Hair should be neat, tidy and well-groomed.

Any earrings worn should be small and unobtrusive.

Nose rings, eyebrow rings and other facial piercings are prohibited.

The following items of clothing are not permitted to be worn:

Scruffy/torn Jeans, leggings or trousers.

Shorts.

Mini skirts.

Sports clothing, for example tracksuits or football shirts.

Vest tops.

Trainers.

Excessive jewellery.

A polite, courteous and professional demeanour must be maintained at all times, especially in the presence of customers and suppliers, and towards colleagues.

We accept that members of certain ethnic or religious groups are subject to strict religious or cultural requirements in terms of their clothing and appearance. Subject to necessary health, safety and hygiene requirements and maintaining appropriate business dress, we will not insist on dress rules which run counter to the religious or cultural norms. If you are uncertain as to whether an item of clothing is acceptable, please refer to your Manager.

If you fail to comply with these rules you will be subject to disciplinary action. In addition, depending on the circumstances of the case, you may be required to go home and change your clothing. If this happens, you have no right to be paid for the duration of your absence from work.

No Smoking Policy

It is our Policy that all our workplaces (including Company cars and other Company vehicles are smoke-free and that you have a right to work in a smoke-free environment. We are committed to protecting the health and safety of all employees. Smoking is, therefore, not permitted at any time in any area of our business premises with no exceptions. The smoking ban includes meeting rooms, waiting areas, corridors, lifts, stairwells and toilets.

This No Smoking Policy applies to all employees, contractors, clients, customers and other visitors to the Company’s premises.

Appropriate ‘No Smoking’ signs are clearly displayed at the entrances to the Company’s premises.

We are under no obligation to provide a designated outdoor smoking area and we do so at our discretion.

This Policy also applies to work vehicles and therefore no smoking is allowed in Company-owned cars (including pool cars), vans or any other Company-owned vehicle or those cars for which the owner receives a Company car allowance. Note: You are permitted to smoke if you are the only person that ever uses the vehicle. It is your responsibility whilst driving Company vehicles to ensure that your passengers also refrain from smoking.

Smoking inside your own vehicle is allowed. However, you must refrain from smoking when using your vehicle for work-related purposes if you are carrying passengers in the vehicle with you.

Cigarettes must be extinguished prior to leaving your vehicle and cigarette stubs are not to be dropped in the car park.

Two smoking breaks of 10 minutes are permitted, one during the morning and one during the afternoon.

You must return to your duties at any time during smoking breaks, if so requested to do so by your Manager.

Never smoke in ‘No Smoking’ areas and, where smoking is permitted outside, ensure that smoking materials are properly extinguished and disposed of.

Support for smokers who want to stop smoking is available and can be obtained from the following sources, or from your local GP’s surgery:

Local NHS Stop Smoking Services – smokers are four times more likely to give up smoking with the support of their local NHS Stop Smoking Service and nicotine gum and patches. Call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 022 4 332 or visit http://smokefree.nhs.uk/ to find a local service.

The NHS Smoking Helpline –if you are a smoker, you can speak to a Specialist Adviser or request resources by calling 0800 022 4332 – lines are open daily from 07.00 to 23.00.

Together – a support programme which is free to join and designed to help stop smoking, using both medical research as well as insights from ex-smokers. For more information call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 022 4 332 or visit: http://smokefree.nhs.uk/.

You are required to adhere to the No Smoking Policy at all times. Anyone who wishes to report an incident of smoking in the workplace should therefore speak to their Manager.

If you have any queries, disputes or require further information regarding this policy or other health and safety issues please refer to your Manager, either informally or, if deemed necessary, formally through the Company’s grievance procedure.

Any breach of this Policy will result in disciplinary action. Where smoking in breach of the ban creates a clear health and safety hazard, such behaviour constitutes potential gross misconduct and could render you liable to summary dismissal.

If you do not comply with the smoking ban, you are also liable to a fixed penalty fine and possible criminal prosecution, and you expose the Company to similar action.

Alcohol and Drugs Policy

Introduction

Alcohol or drug misuse or abuse can be a serious problem within the workplace. Employees who drink excessively or take unlawful drugs are more likely to work inefficiently, be absent from work, have work-related accidents and endanger their colleagues. We have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of all our employees. However, we recognise that, for a number of reasons employees could develop alcohol or drug-related problems. In relation to drugs, these rules apply to those that are unlawful under the criminal law and not to prescribed medication. You must inform your Manager regarding any prescribed medication that may have an effect on your ability to carry out your work safely and you must follow any instructions subsequently given. These provisions aim to promote a responsible attitude to drink and drugs, and to offer assistance to those who may need it.

Prohibition on Alcohol and Drugs in the Workplace

Alcoholic drinks or drugs must not be brought onto, stored or consumed on Company premises at any time, except where alcohol is consumed at a specifically-approved Company function. You must not attempt to sell or give alcohol or drugs to any other employee or other person on our premises.

Working whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs is forbidden. Even a small amount of alcohol or drugs can affect work performance and, if you are found under the influence of alcohol or drugs whilst at work, there could be serious health and safety consequences.

You must never drink alcohol or take drugs if you are required to drive private or Company vehicles on Company business. You must also not consume alcohol or take drugs when you are on operational standby or undertaking

‘on call’ duties, whether or not on Company premises.

If you represent the Company at business or client functions or conferences or attend Company-organised social events outside normal working hours you are expected to be moderate if drinking alcohol and to take specific action to ensure you are well within the legal limits if you are driving. You are expressly prohibited from taking drugs on these occasions.

Disciplinary action will be taken against you if you breach these rules. Depending on the seriousness of the offence, it may amount to potential gross misconduct and could result in your summary dismissal. We also reserve the right to arrange for you to be escorted from our premises immediately and sent home for the rest of the day or shift. If this happens, you have no right to be paid for the duration of your absence from work.

Alcohol and Drug Testing

On the grounds of protecting health and safety and where necessary to achieve a legitimate business aim, we reserve the right to carry out random alcohol and drug screening tests on those employees in the workplace whose activities and job duties are safety-critical, including those working with machinery, those whose job duties involve driving and those whose job duties involve responsibility for the care of others. Testing may also be carried out where we have reasonable grounds to believe or suspect that an employee is or may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Testing will be carried out only by qualified and competent personnel who will use reliable and accepted methods and who will ensure that tests are carried out with the least possible intrusion into your privacy. Measures will be put in place to ensure confidentiality of test results.

If you receive a positive test result, where there are safety issues involved this will be viewed as a potential gross misconduct offence and it could result in your summary dismissal. Alternatively, or in addition to, disciplinary action taken which is short of dismissal, where you accept that you have a problem with alcohol or drug misuse and you are willing to receive help, we may make an offer to you to undergo a programme of medical treatment, rehabilitation or counselling. Unreasonable refusal to submit to an alcohol or drug screening test may result in disciplinary action being taken against you.

Gambling

Participation in any form of major gambling through the use of the Company’s time, equipment and other resources for gambling related activities is prohibited. For example, placing bets with external book-making operations, using Company equipment (e.g., phone, facsimile machines, computers, etc) or other resources for gambling purposes, or engaging in any kind of gambling activity during your working time are strictly prohibited.

Serving as an intermediary between Company employees and any external bookmaking or other betting group, or otherwise soliciting employees to place bets with outside persons is also strictly prohibited.

We understand that you may participate in minor forms of betting outside your working hours. However, we consider these activities of a personal nature to you.

Price Fixing

The Office of Fair Trading investigation into European truck manufacturers in the UK is a timely reminder that companies must avoid actions that could be viewed as price fixing or pricing agreements with competitors. In order to avoid serious legal consequences, employees must avoid any communications with competitors on pricing that could be viewed as linked to pricing agreements, including, amongst others, conversations, emails or “gentlemen’s agreements” with a competitor regarding:

prices or any element of price, such as discounts, mark-ups, terms of sale, financing, warranties or resale prices;

production volumes or output levels;

dividing markets or territories so as to reserve a particular territory for one company or to limit sales to maintain current sales levels;

which type of product or product specifications each will build or sell.

The types of agreements listed above are not exhaustive and any agreement or communication that restricts or distorts competition is to be avoided.

This type of conduct is considered by the Company to be gross misconduct and therefore if any employees are found to be price fixing or agreeing prices with competitors they will be subject to disciplinary action which may result in their dismissal.

Gifts

Occasionally, satisfied customers, clients or other third parties may seek to reward you with a gift. Whilst the Company has no desire to stop you receiving a small token of gratitude or appreciation from a customer or client, we do recognise that there is the potential for abuse. In addition, some suppliers or contractors may offer ‘reward schemes’ which allow you to obtain free gifts or discount vouchers in return for ordering services or products on behalf of the Company from that supplier or contractor. The Company needs to be sure that its suppliers and contractors are competitive and that you are acting in the best interests of the Company when using a particular supplier or contractor.

The Company does not believe that it is appropriate for you to accept anything of greater value than small tokens of appreciation from customers, clients, suppliers, contractors or from any other person or organisation with which the Company has, or might have, business connections. This is because it is important to ensure that no employee acts in any way that is inconsistent with the integrity of the business by accepting a gift in circumstances where it could influence, or be seen to influence, that employee’s business decisions or actions.

For the purposes of this policy, a ‘gift’ is deemed to be any payment or item given to you on an apparent ex gratia basis by any party in connection with your employment by the Company.

You are under an obligation to report the receipt of a gift, including the nature of the gift and the identity of the sender, to your Manager as soon as it is received. Failure to report the receipt of a gift from any party constitutes a disciplinary offence and will lead to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

If the gift is anything other than a small token of appreciation having no substantial financial value, you will be required to return it to the sender with a polite letter thanking them and explaining it is the Company’s policy that employees should not receive gifts. If, in the opinion of your Manager, the gift might constitute a bribe or other inducement, you will be asked to pass the gift to a Director of the Company who will return it to the sender with a suitable letter explaining the Company’s policy and asking the sender to comply with the policy in future.

In cases where your Manager determines that the gift constitutes a small token of appreciation for you as a personal reward, you may, at your Manager’s discretion, be permitted to retain the gift. However, unless the sender of the gift specifically states or makes clear that it is intended for you as a personal reward, all gifts are deemed to be the property of the Company and may be shared amongst other members of staff as appropriate.

Thus, small gifts that are genuinely given as a token of appreciation are acceptable, provided always that you properly declare the gift in line with this policy and provided you do not subsequently treat the sender of the gift more favourably than other clients, customers, suppliers or contractors.

If the Company discovers a supplier or contractor has been used wholly or mainly because of the incentive of a free gift and, as such, you have not acted in the best interests of the Company, this will also constitute a disciplinary offence and will lead to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

This policy does not apply to promotional gifts i.e. items such as pens, mugs, calendars or stationery that bear the company name or logo of another organisation, provided these have no significant financial value.

Personal Relationships at Work

We recognise that employees who work together may form personal friendships and, in some cases, close personal relationships.

As a general rule, we do not wish to interfere with these personal friendships and relationships. However, we must also ensure that employees behave in an appropriate, professional and responsible manner at work and that they continue to fulfil their job duties both diligently and effectively. These rules are therefore aimed at striking a balance between your right to a private life and our right to protect our business interests.

The following rules apply to employees embarking on close personal relationships at work, whether the relationship is with a fellow employee, client, customer, supplier, agency worker or contractor and they apply to all employees at all levels of the business:

You must not allow your personal relationship to influence your conduct at work. Intimate behaviour during working time is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, holding hands, other close physical contact, discussions of a sexual nature or kissing.

If you embark on a personal relationship with another employee who also works in your Department, you should declare this to your Manager as soon as reasonably practicable.

Where the personal relationship is between a Manager and an employee whom he or she supervises, there is the risk of the employee being afforded more favourable treatment than other employees, or less favourable treatment if the relationship subsequently breaks down. In order to avoid a situation where you have managerial authority over a more junior employee with whom you are having a personal relationship or where you are having a personal relationship with someone who has managerial authority over you, the Company reserves the right to elect to transfer one or both of you to a job in another Department, either on a temporary basis or permanently. We will first consult with both of you to try and reach an amicable agreement on transfer. Alternatively, we reserve the right to alter the reporting structure, either on a temporary basis or permanently, so that one of you no longer has managerial authority over the other.

If you embark on a personal relationship with a client, customer, supplier or contractor and your job allows you authority over the client, customer, supplier or contractor, you must declare the relationship to your Manager as soon as reasonably practicable. In these circumstances, the Company reserves the right to elect to transfer you to a job in another Department where you will not be able to exert undue influence over the other party, either on a temporary basis or permanently. We will consult with you to try and reach an amicable agreement on transfer. Alternatively, we reserve the right to alter working arrangements, either on a temporary basis or permanently, so that you no longer have any authority over the client, customer, supplier or contractor.

If a personal relationship (or the breakdown of a personal relationship) at work starts to affect your performance or conduct, your Manager will speak to you with a view to your previous level of performance or conduct being restored. However, if your performance or conduct fail to improve or they revert to a problem level, the matter will be referred for disciplinary action.

If you are having or have had a personal relationship at work and you are found to have afforded either more or less favourable treatment to the other employee because of this relationship, or you have exercised undue influence over a client, customer, supplier or contractor, this is a serious disciplinary offence and will lead to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

Equal Opportunities Policy

Equal Opportunities Statement

It is our policy to provide equal opportunities in employment regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or religious or philosophical belief, sex or sexual orientation. In this Policy, these are called the ‘protected characteristics’.

This Policy applies to all employees and to all applicants for employment.

We are committed to the promotion of equal opportunities and to ensure that the talent and skills of all employees are maximised.

Our policy is to treat all employees with respect and dignity, and to ensure that employees are not victimised or subjected to harassment or discrimination on the grounds outlined above.

We seek to fulfil this commitment to equal opportunities through the application of Policies and Procedures, which are consistent and equitable, and recognise the expertise and ability of each individual.

All allegations of discrimination or harassment will be thoroughly and promptly investigated. Where allegations are substantiated, appropriate disciplinary action up to and including dismissal will be taken against any person responsible.

We are committed to equal pay and equality of terms and conditions in employment. We believe male and female employees should receive equal pay for like work, work rated as equivalent or work of equal value. In order to achieve this, we will endeavour to maintain a pay system that is transparent, free from bias and based on

objective criteria.

We will make reasonable adjustments to our standard working provisions, criteria or practices, or to physical features of the workplace, to ensure that a disabled employee is not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled.

Recruitment

When appropriate, vacant posts within the Company will be advertised internally, whether or not they are also advertised externally. All Terms and Conditions of Employment and related benefits shall be non-discriminatory, except in cases where, having regard to the nature and context of the work, having a particular protected characteristic is an occupational requirement and that occupational requirement is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, the Company will apply that requirement to the job role.

All applicants for employment and all employees applying for alternative positions or promotion within the Company shall be assessed according to their skills, experience and ability to do the job.

When vacancies are advertised, both internally and externally, we will continue to ensure that such advertising, both in placement and content, is compatible with the Terms of this Policy.

To this end, “word of mouth” advertising, personal contacts and family relationships will be discouraged as the only means of recruiting new staff or promoting existing staff.

Advertisements will encourage applications from all suitably qualified and experienced people. When advertising job vacancies, in order to attract applications from all sections of the community, we will, as far as reasonably practicable:

Ensure advertisements are not confined to those publications which would exclude or disproportionately reduce the numbers of applicants with a particular protected characteristic.

Avoid prescribing any unnecessary provisions or criteria which would exclude a higher proportion of applicants with a particular protected characteristic.

Where vacancies may be filled by promotion or transfer, they will be published to all eligible employees in such a way that they do not restrict applications from employees of any particular age group, racial group, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation or from disabled employees, those who are married or in a civil partnership, those who have undergone or are undergoing gender reassignment or those who are pregnant or on maternity leave.

Internal applicants for vacancies should expect a full review of their work history, including their work performance, salary history and other information in their personnel file.

With disabled job applicants, we will have regard to our duty to make reasonable adjustments to work provisions, criteria or practices or to physical features of work premises in order to ensure that the disabled person is not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled.

Eliminating Discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs when a job applicant or an employee is treated less favourably than other job applicants or employees are treated or would be treated because of one of the protected characteristics. The treatment will still amount to direct discrimination even if it is based on the protected characteristic of a third party with whom the job applicant or employee is associated and not on the job applicant’s or employee’s own protected characteristic. In addition, it can include cases where it is perceived that a job applicant or an employee has a particular protected characteristic when in fact they do not. The Company will take all reasonable steps to eliminate direct discrimination in all aspects of employment.

Indirect discrimination is treatment that may be equal in the sense that it applies to all job applicants or employees but which is discriminatory in its effect on, for example, one particular sex or racial group. Indirect discrimination occurs when there is applied to the job applicant or employee a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) which is discriminatory in relation to a protected characteristic of the job applicant’s or employee’s. A PCP is discriminatory in relation to a protected characteristic of the job applicant’s or employees if:

It is applied, or would be applied, to persons with whom the job applicant or employee does not share the protected characteristic;

The PCP puts, or would put, persons with whom the job applicant or employee shares the protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage when compared with persons with whom the job applicant or employee does not share it;

It puts, or would put, the job applicant or employee at that disadvantage; and

It cannot be shown by the Company to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim;

The Company will take all reasonable steps to eliminate indirect discrimination in all aspects of employment.

Employment Verification

We will provide information to prospective external Employers and others regarding any dates of employment and positions held. We will also verify the accuracy of salary information released by the employee.

Employees or former employees should refer those seeking employment verification to their Manager.

Training and Development

You will be appraised against relevant, objective criteria to measure performance and training needs.

Equal consideration will be given to all employees for training opportunities, both to perform their job and to develop personally.

Promotion prospects will be governed by individual merit, ability, achievement and development potential.

It is a Condition of your employment that you are required to attend appropriate induction/ training/educational courses.

We will train, develop and promote on the basis of merit and ability only.

Post-Employment Discrimination

We will not discriminate against any former employee because of a protected characteristic; for example, when providing references for future employment, or in conducting the Appeals Procedure for any former employee.

Monitoring

We will, from time to time, review the Equal Opportunities Policy and progress in achieving its objectives. Where

barriers to equal opportunities are identified, any necessary changes will be made to this Policy.

Discrimination Grievances

If you believe that you have been subjected to direct or indirect discrimination because of a protected characteristic, you should invoke the Company’s Grievance Procedure as set out in this Handbook.

In view of the sensitivity of this subject, you may, if preferred, approach a Partner directly rather than your immediate Manager. In either case, we will treat the matter as strictly confidential.

Harassment and Bullying (Dignity at Work) Policy

Harassment and Bullying (Dignity at Work) Statement

It is our policy to maintain a non-discriminatory working environment that is free from harassment or bullying. In this Policy, we refer to the ‘anti-harassment protected characteristics’ which are age, disability, gender reassignment, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or religious or philosophical belief, gender or sexual orientation.

Employees must not harass, bully or intimidate other employees for any reason. Where harassment or bullying relates to a protected characteristic, this not only contravenes the Company’s policy but it may also constitute unlawful discrimination.

Any harassment or bullying will be treated as potential gross misconduct under the Company’s disciplinary procedure and could render the employee liable to summary dismissal. Employees should bear in mind that they can be held personally liable for any act of unlawful harassment. Employees who commit serious acts of harassment may also be guilty of a criminal offence.

All employees are responsible for conducting themselves in accordance with this policy and the Company will not condone or tolerate any form of harassment, bullying or intimidation, whether engaged in by employees or by outside third parties who do business with the Company, such as clients, customers, contractors and suppliers.

It is the responsibility of all employees to eliminate any harassment, bullying or intimidation of which they are aware by informing their manager of suspected cases of harassment, bullying or intimidation.

All allegations of harassment or bullying will be thoroughly and promptly investigated. Where allegations are substantiated, appropriate disciplinary action up to and including dismissal will be taken against any person responsible. We will also take appropriate action against any third parties who are found to have committed an act of harassment against our employees.

This policy covers bullying and harassment in the workplace and in any work-related setting outside the workplace, for example, business trips and work-related social events.

Harassment and Bullying

All staff should take the time to ensure they understand what types of behaviour are unacceptable under this policy.

Harassment is any unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. A single incident can amount to harassment.

It also includes treating someone less favourably because they have submitted or refused to submit to such behaviour in the past.

Unlawful harassment may involve conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment), or it may be related to the ‘anti-harassment protected characteristics’. Harassment is unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of these categories.

Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened. Power does not always mean being in a position of authority, but can include both personal strength and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation.

Legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism of a worker’s performance or behaviour, or reasonable instructions given to workers in the course of their employment, will not amount to bullying on their own.

Harassment or bullying may be physical, written, verbal or non-verbal conduct. Examples include:

Unwanted physical conduct or “horseplay”, including touching, pinching, pushing, grabbing, brushing past someone, invading their personal space, and more serious forms of physical or sexual assault;

Unwelcome sexual advances or suggestive behaviour (which the harasser may perceive as harmless), and suggestions that sexual favours may further a career or that a refusal may hinder it;

Continued suggestions for social activity after it has been made clear that such suggestions are unwelcome;

Sending or displaying material that is pornographic or that some people may find offensive (including e-mails, text messages, video clips and images sent by mobile phone or posted on the internet);

Offensive or intimidating comments or gestures, or insensitive jokes or pranks;

Mocking, mimicking or belittling a person’s disability;

Racist, sexist, homophobic or ageist jokes, or derogatory or stereotypical remarks about a particular ethnic or religious group or gender;

Outing or threatening to out someone as gay or lesbian; or

Ignoring or shunning someone, for example, by deliberately excluding them from a conversation or a workplace social activity;

Shouting at, being sarcastic towards, ridiculing or demeaning others;

Physical or psychological threats;

Overbearing and intimidating levels of supervision;

Inappropriate and/or derogatory remarks about someone’s performance;

Abuse of authority or power by those in positions of seniority; or

Deliberately excluding someone from meetings or communications without good reason.

These examples are not exhaustive and disciplinary action at the appropriate level will be taken against employees committing any form of harassment, bullying or intimidation.

Complaining About Harassment or Bullying

Informal Complaint

We recognise that complaints of harassment and bullying (particularly of any type of discriminatory related harassment) can sometimes be of a sensitive or intimate nature, and that it may not be appropriate for you to raise the issue through the normal Grievance Procedure. In these circumstances, you are encouraged to raise such issues with a senior person of your choice (whether or not that person has a direct supervisory responsibility for you) as a Confidential Assistant, who will be responsible for investigating the matter if it becomes a formal complaint. This person cannot be a Director.

If you are the victim of minor harassment, you should make it clear to the harasser on an informal basis that their behaviour is unwelcome and ask the harasser to stop. If you feel unable to do this verbally, then you should hand a written request to the harasser, and your Confidential Assistant can help you in this.

Formal Complaint

If you believe you have been subjected to harassment or bullying (whether by a fellow employee or third party), you should invoke the Grievance Procedure as set out in this Handbook.

In view of the sensitivity of this subject, you may, if preferred, approach the store owner directly rather than your immediate Manager. In either case, we will treat the matter as strictly confidential. However, in order to effectively investigate an allegation, we must be able to determine the scope of the investigation and the individuals who should be informed or interviewed about the allegation. For example, your identity and nature of the allegations must be revealed to the alleged harasser so that he or she is able to fairly respond to the allegations.

If possible, you should keep notes of the harassment so that the written complaint can include:

Name of the alleged harasser.

Nature of the alleged harassment.

Dates and times when the alleged harassment(s) occurred.

Name(s) of any witnesses.

Any action already taken by you to stop the alleged harassment.

Upon receipt of a formal complaint, we will take action to separate you from the alleged harasser to enable an uninterrupted investigation to take place. This may involve a temporary transfer of you or the alleged harasser to another work area or suspension with pay of either party until the matter has been resolved.

The person dealing with the complaint will carry out a thorough investigation in accordance with the Grievance Procedure. Those involved in the investigation will be expected to act in confidence and any breach of confidence will be a disciplinary matter. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you may appeal against the decision in accordance with the Grievance Procedure.

As a general principle, the decision whether to progress a complaint is up to you. However, we have a duty to protect all staff and may pursue the matter independently if, in all the circumstances, we consider it appropriate to do so.

General Comments

If the report concludes that the allegation is well-founded, the harasser will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure. An employee who receives a formal warning or who is dismissed for harassment may appeal against the disciplinary action by following the Disciplinary Appeal Procedure.

In so far as possible, we will also take appropriate action against a third party harasser.

If you bring a complaint of harassment, you will not be victimised for having brought the complaint. However, if the report concludes that the complaint is both untrue and has been brought with malicious intent, disciplinary action will be taken against you.

Anyone found to have retaliated against or victimised someone for making a complaint or assisting in good faith with an investigation under this procedure will be subject to disciplinary action under our Disciplinary Procedure.

Whistle Blowing Policy

Introduction

Open reporting is to be encouraged, and it is a cornerstone of this Policy that employees should be comfortable in bringing any concerns forward in the secure knowledge that they will be taken seriously – and there will be no adverse repercussions where they have acted in good faith.

It is important to the Company that any fraud, misconduct, bribery or other wrongdoing by workers is reported and properly dealt with. It is the responsibility of all employees to raise any concerns they might have about malpractice within the workplace. We therefore encourage all employees to raise any concerns they may have about the conduct of others in the business or the way in which the business is run. This Policy sets out the way in which employees and other third parties who perform functions in relation to the Company may raise their concerns and how we will deal with those concerns.

Alternatively, you may wish to bring a complaint using the normal Grievance Procedure set out in this Handbook.

What is Whistle Blowing?

A Whistle Blower is someone who discloses information to their Employer or to the relevant authorities which relates to some danger, fraud or other illegal or unethical conduct in the workplace.

The law recognises that Whistle Blowing occurs and protects employees who are Whistle Blowers from suffering detrimental treatment or from being unfairly dismissed as a result. To be protected by legislation a Whistle Blower must fall within the stringent legal rules. Anyone who does not act in good faith will not be protected.

Company Policy

We seek to conduct our business honestly and with integrity at all times. It is our policy as an Employer to ensure that at every level of management our business is conducted in such a way as to comply with all legal requirements that govern our activities. However, we acknowledge that all businesses face the risk of their activities going wrong from time to time, or of unknowingly harbouring malpractice.

We believe we have a duty to take appropriate measures to identify such situations and to attempt to remedy them. By encouraging a culture of openness and accountability, we believe we can help prevent such situations occurring. There is no reason for any employee to believe that he or she will suffer a detriment for speaking up if they believe something is wrong.

Qualifying Disclosures

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (“the Act”) protects Whistle Blowers from suffering detriment in employment and makes dismissal for having made certain disclosures automatically unfair. There is no qualifying period of employment for this protection.

Employees who raise legitimate concerns about specified matters are protected under the Act. Specified matters are called “qualifying disclosures”. A qualifying disclosure is one made in good faith by an employee who has a reasonable belief that:

A criminal offence has been committed, is being committed, or is likely to be committed.

A person has failed, is failing, or is likely to fail to comply with a legal obligation.

A miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring, or is likely to occur.

The health and safety of any individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered.

The environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged.

Information tending to show any matter falling within any one of the above categories has been, is being, or is likely to be deliberately concealed.

It is not necessary for you to have proof that such an act is being, has been or is likely to be committed – a reasonable belief is sufficient, even if that belief later turns out to be wrong. You have no responsibility for investigating the matter. It is our responsibility to ensure an appropriate investigation takes place.

If you have a complaint relating to your personal circumstances in the workplace, then you should use the normal Grievance Procedure set out in this Handbook.

Protected Disclosures

In order to qualify for protection, there are specified methods of disclosure, or procedures, which you must have followed in order to disclose one of the above matters. We encourage employees to raise their concerns under the procedure outlined in this Policy in the first instance. The aim of this Policy is to provide an internal mechanism for reporting, investigating and remedying any workplace wrongdoing. It is, therefore, desirable that you will not find it necessary to alert external organisations.

A qualifying disclosure is protected if it is made to the Company under the terms of this Policy or to another person, other than the Company, whom you reasonably believe to be solely or mainly responsible for the relevant failure. You must act in good faith at all times.

Disclosure Procedure

This Procedure applies to all employees. In addition, third parties such as agency workers, consultants and contractors and any others who perform functions in relation to the Company are encouraged to use it.

In the event of you wishing to make a qualifying disclosure, you should follow the steps below:

In the first instance, report the situation to your Manager. If you do not wish to speak to your Manager, you can instead speak to the owner. Such disclosures should be made promptly so that an investigation may proceed and any action taken expeditiously.

All qualifying disclosures will be treated seriously. The disclosure will be promptly and fairly investigated and, as part of the investigatory process, you will be interviewed and asked to provide a written witness statement setting out the nature and details of the disclosure and the basis for it. Confidentiality will be maintained during the investigatory process to the extent that this is practical and appropriate in the circumstances. However, in order to effectively investigate a disclosure, we must be able to determine the scope of the investigation and the individuals who should be informed of or interviewed about the disclosure. If it becomes necessary to disclose your identity, we will make efforts to inform you that your identity is likely to be disclosed. In order not to jeopardise the investigation, you are also expected to keep the fact that you have raised a concern, the nature of the concern and the identity of those involved confidential. The length and scope of the investigation will depend on the subject matter of the disclosure. We reserve the right to arrange for another Manager to conduct the investigation other than the Manager with whom you raised the matter. In addition, an investigative team with experience of operating workplace procedures or specialist knowledge of the subject matter of the disclosure may be appointed. It is not normally appropriate to set a specific timeframe for completion of investigations in advance, because the diverse nature of disclosures makes this unworkable.

Once the investigation has been completed, you will be informed in writing of the outcome, together with our conclusions and decision in a timely manner. However, the need for confidentiality may prevent us from giving you specific details of the investigation or actions taken. We are committed to taking appropriate action with respect to all qualifying disclosures which are upheld.

When our conclusions have been finalised, any necessary action will be taken. This could include either reporting the matter to an appropriate external Government Department or Regulatory Agency and/or taking internal disciplinary action against relevant members of staff. We will endeavour to inform you if a referral to an external agency is about to or has taken place, although we may need to make such a referral without your knowledge or consent if this is appropriate in the circumstances. We will also review and implement any recommendations for change to minimise the risk of the recurrence of any malpractice or impropriety which has been uncovered. If no action is to be taken, the reasons for this will be explained you.

If, upon conclusion of the above stages, you reasonably believe that appropriate action has still not been taken, you may then report the matter to the proper authority in good faith. The Act sets out a number of prescribed external bodies or persons to which qualifying disclosures may be made. These include HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), The Financial Services Authority (FSA), Office of Fair Trading (OFT), Health & Safety Executive (HAS) and the Environment Agency. However, we always encourage employees to raise their concerns directly in the first instance, rather than externally.

Please note that personal grievances are not covered by whistleblowing law, unless your particular case is in the public interest. Such concerns will need to be raised through the Grievance Policy as outlined in Part 2, Section 6 below.

Disciplinary Policy and Procedure

Purpose of the Policy and Procedure

Disciplinary rules are important for the running of the Company so that everyone understands what is expected of them and operates safely and lawfully. The Company expects all of its staff to follow all of its rules, policies and procedures at all times. Disciplinary procedures are necessary so that employees who breach the rules of conduct expected by the Company are treated reasonably, consistently and fairly in every case.


This policy and procedure has been updated in line with the 2009 ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures to ensure that all staff are treated fairly and with respect and dignity and that the Company meets all its legal requirements.

It is not practicable to specify all disciplinary rules or offences, which may result in disciplinary action, as they may vary depending upon the nature of the work. In addition to the specific examples of unsatisfactory conduct, misconduct and gross misconduct shown in this Handbook, a breach of other Conditions, Procedures, Rules, etc, within this Handbook will also result in the Disciplinary Procedure being invoked to deal with such matters.

This Disciplinary Procedure is entirely non-contractual and does not form part of your contract of employment.

The Company does reserve the right not to apply the Disciplinary Procedure for colleagues during their first two years of employment.

Informal resolution procedure

For minor infringements of discipline, your line manager will make every effort to resolve the matter by informal discussions. Your manager will discuss the nature and circumstances of the misconduct and suggest a remedy and timeframe within which the misconduct should be rectified. A record of the discussion (Improvement Note) under this procedure will be kept on your personal file. Where this approach fails to resolve the issue, or repeated minor breaches of discipline occur, the formal disciplinary procedure will be implemented.

Formal Procedure

Investigation

Where appropriate, the Company will carry out investigations into any alleged misconduct by a person other than the one conducting a disciplinary hearing.

Suspension

In the event of serious or gross misconduct, you may be suspended while a full investigation is carried out. Such suspension will be on full basic pay. Suspension is a neutral act, which does not imply guilt or blame, and will be for as short a period as possible. Suspension is not considered to be disciplinary action. During the period of any suspension from duty, you may be required to comply with any or all of the following provisions:

To return your office keys, swipe card or pass card pending the outcome of the disciplinary process.

To comply with such conditions as the Company may specify in relation to your attendance at, or remaining away from, Company premises.

To comply with such conditions as the Company may specify in relation to your not having contact with the Company’s clients, customers, suppliers and contractors or your fellow employees (in the latter case, other than for the purpose of exercising your statutory right to be accompanied at any disciplinary hearing).

To remain available for work during your normal working hours.

Not to perform work for any other employer, or undertake self-employment, during your normal working hours.

Should you fall ill, to comply with the sickness absence reporting procedure set out in the Sick Leave and Pay section in Part One of the Employee Handbook.

To apply for annual leave, should you wish to take it, in accordance with the Absence from Work section in Part One of the Employee Handbook.

Disciplinary meeting


Having established the facts, if there is reasonable belief that you have committed a disciplinary offence, you will be invited to a disciplinary meeting. The meeting will be chaired by a Manager or the owner who was not involved directly in the incident or its investigation.

You have the right to be accompanied by a companion (as defined in section below). You will be sent a copy of the evidence to be considered at the meeting and will have the opportunity to state your case fully. You should also give copies of any papers or witness statements that you intend to rely on at the meeting at least 2 working days in advance of the meeting to the person dealing with the meeting.

You will be given at least 5 working days’ notice to attend the meeting which you (and your companion) must make every effort to attend. The meeting will only be re-arranged if you provide a good reason why you are unable to attend, or your companion cannot make the arranged date. If the meeting has to be rearranged, at least 2 working days notice of the rearranged date will be given. If you or your companion work on a rota / shift, these should be taken into account in re-arranging the meeting. You will be expected to attend the re-arranged meeting unless there are exceptional circumstances which mean that you are unable to be there in which case you must advise the store manager in advance of the meeting. If you unreasonably fail to attend the rearranged meeting it will take place in your absence. If the re-arranged meeting is more than 5 working days from the date of the original meeting and your companion cannot make the re-arranged date, you must find a replacement.

At a meeting, your companion is entitled to address the meeting, ask questions and confer privately with you. Your companion does not, however, have the right to answer questions on your behalf or address the meeting if you do not wish them to or prevent the employer from explaining their case.

The store owner may be present to provide advice on proceedings as appropriate, in cases of misconduct. In cases of gross misconduct, the store owner should be present. A note taker will normally be present to take written notes of the meeting and you will receive a copy of the notes of the meeting. The covert recording of such meetings is forbidden and if undertaken will be considered as an act of gross misconduct (as would be any act of covert recording).

Adjourning the disciplinary meeting


Prior to making a decision, the disciplinary meeting will be adjourned to consider all relevant information. The meeting may also be adjourned, if necessary, for the purpose of clarifying or gathering additional information.

If new information is gathered or clarified, you will be advised of the new information and given a reasonable time to consider it prior to the meeting being reconvened.

Stages of the Process

Stage 1: Written Warning

You will be given a Formal Written Warning. You will also be advised of the reason for the warning; how you need to improve your conduct or performance; the time-scale over which the improvement is to be achieved; that the warning is the first stage of the Disciplinary Procedure and the likely consequences if the terms of the warning are not complied with. The Written Warning will be recorded but nullified after 12 months, subject to satisfactory conduct and performance.

Stage 2: Final Written Warning

Failure to improve performance in response to the Procedure so far, a repeat of misconduct for which a warning has previously been issued, or a first instance of serious misconduct or serious poor performance, will result in a Final Written Warning being issued. This will set out the nature of the misconduct or poor performance; how you need to improve your conduct or performance; the timescale over which the improvement is to be achieved and a warning that dismissal will probably result if the terms of the warning are not complied with. This Final Written Warning will be recorded but nullified after 12 months, subject to satisfactory conduct and performance. However, we reserve the right to extend the validity of the Final Written Warning to a maximum of three years in cases of very serious misconduct or where you have a history of misconduct issues.

Stage 3: Dismissal

Failure to meet the requirements set out in the Final Written Warning will normally lead to Dismissal, with appropriate notice. A decision of this kind will only be made after the fullest possible investigation. Dismissal can be authorised only by a member of the Senior Management Team. You will be informed of the reasons for dismissal; the appropriate period of notice; the date on which your employment will terminate and how you can appeal against the dismissal decision.

We reserve the right to impose demotion (with a commensurate reduction in salary) as a disciplinary sanction as an alternative to dismissal with notice.

Gross Misconduct

Offences under this heading are so serious that an employee who commits them will normally be summarily dismissed. In such cases, we reserve the right to dismiss without notice of termination or payment in lieu of notice.

Examples of gross misconduct (see also above) include, but are not limited to:

Wilful misrepresentation of information to customers concerning the company’s products and services.

Theft, fraud, unauthorised possession of Company property, deliberate falsification of records, or any other form of dishonesty.

Loss of driving licence (if driving is an essential part of the job).

Wilfully causing harm or injury to another employee, client, visitor, supplier or customer, physical violence, bullying or grossly offensive behaviour.

Deliberately causing damage to the Company’s property.

Causing loss, damage or injury through serious carelessness or gross negligence.

Extremely serious insubordination.

Serious incapacity at work through an excess of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs.

Possession, supply or use of illicit drugs.

A serious breach of health and safety rules.

Serious abuse of the Company’s telephone, IT, email and Internet systems.

Grossly indecent or immoral behaviour, deliberate acts of unlawful discrimination or serious acts of harassing, bullying or victimising another employee because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

Deliberate falsification of any records (including time sheets, absence records, etc) in respect of you or any fellow employees.

Working in competition with the Company.

Breach of confidentiality (including a failure to maintain confidentiality in an investigation relating to a complaint of harassment, but subject to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998).

Use of social media which breaches the Company’s equal opportunities policy and/or disciplinary rules, or

any laws or ethical standards, or which could bring the Company’s name into disrepute.

Absence without leave or just cause.

Sleeping on the premises during working hours.

Gambling on the Company’s premises.

Being convicted of a serious criminal offence (whether committed during the course of your employment or not).

Undertaking private work on Company premises and/or during working hours without express permission of your Manager.

Price fixing or pricing agreements with competitors.

Taking part in activities which result in adverse publicity to the Company or which cause the Company to lose faith in your integrity.

Offering, promising or giving a bribe or requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting a bribe or bribing a foreign public official in connection with your employment.

The above examples are intended as a guide and this is not an exhaustive list.

We reserve the right to impose demotion (with a commensurate reduction in salary) as a disciplinary sanction as an alternative to dismissal for gross misconduct.

Appeals

You may appeal against any disciplinary decision, including dismissal, to a senior Manager or Director within five working days of the decision. Appeals should be made in writing and state the grounds for appeal.

You will be invited to attend an appeal hearing chaired by the senior Manager or Director. At the appeal hearing, you will again be given the chance to state your case and will have the right to be accompanied by a Trade Union Official, Trade Union Representative or a fellow employee of your choice. Following the appeal hearing you will be informed in writing of the results of the Hearing.

The Company’s decision on an appeal will be final.

Escalation Procedure for Incorrect Advice Provided by Salespeople to Customers

Providing any misleading or inaccurate advice in relation to the sales of furniture or optional products will typically be dealt with as follows:

1st Offence 1 As a minimum an Improvement Note will be issued which states that any repeat offence will lead to the disciplinary process being applied.

2nd Offence – A disciplinary hearing will take place and if the case is proven a written warning will be issued.

3rd Offence – A further disciplinary hearing will take place and if the case is proven a final written warning will be issued.

4th Offence – A further disciplinary hearing will take place and if the case is proven it will result in a dismissal.

The escalation of offences is subject to a rolling 12 month period in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure.

The specific action may vary depending on the circumstances. This may result in the Disciplinary Procedure being applied at the first stage or a more serious sanction including the possibility of gross misconduct, being applied at any stage.

Compliance

Failure to comply with procedures in relation to data protection, consumer credit directive and finance will result in the stopping of the incentive payable for the order and will typically be dealt with as follows:

1st Offence – As a minimum, an Improvement Note will be issued which states that any repeat offence will lead to the disciplinary process being applied.

2nd Offence – A disciplinary hearing will take place and if the case is proven a written warning will be issued.

3rd Offence – A further disciplinary hearing will take place and if the case is proven a final written warning will be issued.

4th Offence – A further disciplinary hearing will take place and if the case is proven it will result in a dismissal.

The escalation of offences is subject to a rolling 12 month period in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure.

The specific action may vary depending on the circumstances. This may result in the Disciplinary Procedure being applied at the first stage or a more serious sanction, including the possibility of gross misconduct, being applied at any stage.

Failure to manage procedures in relation to data protection, consumer credit directive and finance procedures may result in disciplinary action being taken, and could be deemed as gross misconduct.

Grievance Policy and Procedure

The objective of the Grievance Procedure is to provide an employee who considers that they have a grievance with an opportunity to have it examined quickly and effectively, and where a grievance is deemed to exist, to have it resolved, if possible, at the earliest practicable opportunity.

Most grievances can be settled informally with your Managers, and you should aim to settle your grievances in this way if possible.

This grievance procedure is entirely non-contractual and does not form part of your contract of employment.

Procedure

If a grievance cannot be settled informally with the relevant Manager, you should raise it formally. The Procedure has been drawn up to establish the appropriate steps to be followed when pursuing and dealing with a formal grievance.

Stage 1

In the event of you having a formal grievance relating to your employment you should, in the first instance, put your grievance in writing and address it to your Manager making it clear that you wish to raise a formal grievance under the terms of this procedure. Where the grievance is against your Manager, the complaint should be addressed to an alternative Manager or the store owner. This grievance procedure will not be invoked unless you raise your grievance in accordance with these requirements.

Your Manager (or whoever you addressed the grievance to) will then invite you to a grievance meeting to discuss the grievance and you have the right to be accompanied at this meeting by a Trade Union Official, Trade Union Representative or a fellow employee of your choice. You must make every effort to attend that meeting. At the meeting, you will be permitted to explain your grievance and how you think it should be resolved.

Following the meeting, we will endeavour to respond to the grievance as soon as possible and, in any case, within

five working days of the grievance meeting. If it is not possible to respond within this time period, you will be given an explanation for the delay and be told when a response can be expected. You will be informed in writing of our decision on the grievance and notified of your right to appeal against that decision if you are not satisfied with it.

Stage 2

In the event that you feel your grievance has not been satisfactorily resolved, you may then appeal in writing to a senior Manager or Director within five working days of the grievance decision. You should also set out the grounds for your appeal.

Upon receipt of such a request, the senior Manager or the store owner (who again may not be the person to whom the appeal was addressed) shall make arrangements to hear the grievance at an appeal meeting and at this meeting you may again, if you wish, be accompanied by a Trade Union Official, a Trade Union Representative or a fellow employee of your choice.

Following the meeting, the senior Manager or Director will endeavour to respond to the grievance as soon as possible and, in any case, within five working days of the appeal hearing. If it is not possible to respond within this time period, you will be given an explanation for the delay and be told when a response can be expected. You will be informed, in writing, of our decision on your grievance appeal.

This is the final stage of the Grievance Procedure and the Company’s decision shall be final.

Capability Policy and Procedure

Introduction

The primary aim of this Procedure is to provide a framework within which we can work with you to maintain satisfactory performance and behavioural standards and to encourage improvement where necessary. We recognise the difference between a deliberate or careless failure on your part to perform to the standards of which you are capable (in which case we will use the Disciplinary Procedure set out above) and a case of incapability, where you are lacking in knowledge, skill or ability and so cannot perform to the standard required (in which case we will use this Capability Procedure in an attempt to improve your performance).

We also recognise that during your employment your capability to carry out your duties may deteriorate. This can be for a number of reasons – the most common ones being that either the job changes over a period of time and you fail to keep pace with the changes, or you change and can no longer cope with the work.

This Capability Procedure is entirely non-contractual and does not form part of your contract of employment.

The Company does reserve the right not to apply the Capability Procedure for colleagues during their first two years of employment.

Procedure

Minor capability issues will be dealt with informally through counselling and training. Informal discussions may be held and Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) issued. Both actions will be taken with a view to clarifying the required work standards and the level of performance expected of you; identifying areas of concern; establishing the likely causes of poor performance; identifying any training or supervision needs; setting targets for improvement and agreeing a time-scale for review.

In cases where informal discussion with you does not lead to a satisfactory improvement in performance and/or you fail to successfully complete a PIP, or where the performance issues are more serious, the following Capability

Procedure will be used. At all stages of the Procedure an investigation will be conducted.

At all stages the Company will give consideration to whether the unsatisfactory performance is related to a disability and, if so, whether there are any reasonable adjustments that could be made to the requirements of your job or other aspects of the working arrangements.

We will notify you in writing of the concerns over your performance and the basis for those concerns. You will be invited to attend a Capability Hearing to discuss the matter. We will provide sufficient information about the poor performance and its possible consequences to enable you to prepare to answer the case. This will include the provision of written evidence where appropriate.

Having given you reasonable time to prepare your case, a formal Capability Hearing will then take place, conducted by a member of the Management Team, at which you will be given the chance to state your case. You have the right to be accompanied, if requested, by a Trade Union Official, a Trade Union Representative or a fellow employee of your choice. You must make every effort to attend that Hearing.

The purposes of the Capability Hearing include:

to set out the required standards that the Company considers you have not met;

to establish the likely causes of poor performance (including any reasons why any measures taken so far have not led to the required improvement);

to allow you the opportunity to explain the poor performance; and to ask any relevant questions.

Except in the case where dismissal is proposed, the purposes of the Capability Hearing also include:

to discuss measures, such as additional training or supervision, which may improve your performance;

to set targets for improvement; and

to set a reasonable time-scale for review (reflecting the circumstances of the case).

In a case where dismissal is proposed, the purposes of the Capability Hearing also include:

to establish whether there are any further steps that could reasonably be taken to rectify your poor performance;

to establish whether there is any reasonable likelihood of the required standards of performance being met within a reasonable time; and

to discuss whether there is any practical alternative to dismissal, such as redeployment to any suitable available job at the same or lower grade.

Following the Capability Hearing, we will decide whether or not formal performance action is justified and, if so, you will be informed in writing of the Company’s decision in accordance with the Stages set out below and notified of your right to appeal against that decision.

7.2.1 Stage 1: First Capability Warning

You will be given a First Capability Warning. This will set out the areas in which you have not met the required performance and or behavioural standards; targets for improvement; any measures, such as additional training or supervision, which will be taken with a view to improving your performance; a time-scale for review and the likely consequences of failing to improve to the required standards within the review period. The First Capability Warning will be recorded but nullified after 12 months, subject to satisfactory performance.

Your performance will be monitored and, at the end of the review period, we will write to you to advise you of the next step. If we are satisfied with your performance, no further action will be taken. If we are not satisfied with your performance, the matter may be progressed to Stage 2 or, if we feel that there has been a substantial

but insufficient improvement, the review period may be extended.

7.2.2 Stage 2: Final Capability Warning

Failure to improve performance and or behaviour in response to the Procedure so far or a first instance of serious poor performance will result in a Final Capability Warning being issued. This will set out the areas in which you have still not met the required performance standards; targets for improvement; any further measures, such as additional training or supervision, which will be taken with a view to improving your performance; a further timescale for review and the likely consequences of failing to improve to the required standards within the further review period, i.e. that dismissal will probably result. The Final Capability Warning will be recorded but nullified after 12 months, subject to satisfactory performance.

Your performance will again be monitored and, at the end of the further review period, we will write to you to advise you of the next step. If we are satisfied with your performance, no further action will be taken. If we are not satisfied with your performance, the matter may be progressed to Stage 3 or, if we feel that there has been a substantial but insufficient improvement, the review period may be extended.

7.2.3 Stage 3: Dismissal

Failure to improve performance and or behaviour in response to the Procedure so far will normally lead to Dismissal, with appropriate notice. We may first consider redeploying you with your agreement to another available job at the same or lower grade, which is more suited to your abilities.

A dismissal decision will only be made after the fullest possible investigation.

Dismissal can be authorised only by the store owner. You will be informed of the reasons for dismissal, the appropriate period of notice, the date on which your employment will terminate and how you can appeal against the dismissal decision.

7.3 Appeals

You may appeal against any decision under this Capability Procedure, including dismissal, to the store owner within five working days of the decision. Appeals should be made in writing and state the grounds for appeal.

You will be invited to attend an appeal hearing chaired by the store owner. At the appeal hearing, you will again be given the chance to state your case and will have the right to be accompanied by a Trade Union Official, Trade Union Representative or a fellow employee of your choice. Following the appeal hearing you will be informed in writing of the results of the Hearing.

The Company’s decision on an appeal will be final.

At any time during the first two years of employment notice of dismissal may be given without resort to this capability procedure.

Health & Safety Policy

Introduction

The Health and Safety at Work etc., Act 1974 imposes a statutory duty on employers to ensure in so far as is reasonably practicable the health and safety of their employees whilst at work. This duty also extends to others who may be affected by that work.

In addition, as an employer, we care about the well-being of our employees, customers and visitors. We are

committed to maintaining the quality of our health & safety at work responsibilities through continual communication and the raising of awareness.

Employees also have a statutory duty and an individual responsibility for maintaining the health & safety of themselves and all those affected by their actions at work.

To enable these duties to be carried out, it is our intent to ensure that responsibilities for health and safety matters are effectively assigned, accepted and fulfilled at all levels within our organisational structure.

As an Employee, the benefits to you are a safe, secure, pleasant working environment. It is your duty to take reasonable care for the health & safety of yourself and others whilst working.

If you have any concerns about your health & safety, you should speak to your Store Manager.

The full Health & Safety Policy Statement along with safety guidance documents for your location are available from your Manager.

8.2 Our Responsibilities as the Employer

We will, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure that:

adequate resources are provided to ensure that proper provision can be made for health and safety;

risk assessments are carried out and periodically reviewed;

systems of work are provided and maintained that are safe and without risks to health;

arrangements for use, handling, storage, and transport of articles and substances for use at work are safe and without risks to health;

all employees are provided with such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to secure their safety and health at work and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions;

where appropriate, health surveillance will be provided for employees;

the provision and maintenance of all plant, machinery and equipment is safe and without risk to health;

the working environment of all employees is safe and without risks to health and that adequate provision is made with regard to the facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work;

the place of work is safe and that there is safe access to and egress from the work place;

monitoring activities are undertaken to maintain agreed standards.

8.3 Duties of Employees

It is the duty of all employees at work:

to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and of other persons who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work and co-operate with us in fulfilling our statutory duties;

not to interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interest of health and safety.

8.4 Communication and Updates

This Health and Safety Policy will be reviewed at least annually, amended and updated as and when necessary. Communication of any such changes will be made to all employees.

There are established and maintained effective procedures for consultation and communication between all levels of management and employees on all matters relating to health, safety and welfare.

8.5 Workplace Accidents

If you sustain any injury at work, you must report this to your Manager immediately.

All accidents or serious incidents must be reported in the Accident Form and send back to the store manager.

Failure to report an accident will be a disciplinary offence.

8.6 What to do in the Event of a Fire

If you notice anything which may be a fire hazard, correct it yourself if this is easily done and safe to do so, and report it immediately to your Manager.

In the event of a fire, you must raise the alarm and evacuate the building.

All locations are legally required to have regular fire alarm tests, evacuation drills and fire extinguisher training so that you know what to do in the event of a fire.

For your own safety, you should familiarise yourself with:

The Company’s general fire and emergency procedures, which are displayed on all main notice boards. Your Manager will inform you of any specific procedures.

The evacuation procedure, location of emergency exits and assembly points.

The location of fire fighting equipment and the correct method of operation. Never interfere with or misuse the fire equipment.

Eye Test Policy

The Company recognises its duty to comply with regulations set by the Health & Safety Executive, which includes provision for eye tests and glasses required specifically for use with Visual Display Screen Equipment.

All employees whose work involves using Display Screen Equipment (DSE) / Visual Display Unit (VDU), on a regular basis over a sustained period of time are entitled to a free eye test annually at the Company’s expense.

The Company may also cover some costs towards prescription lenses/contacts and frames to those employees who’s Optician has confirmed they require lenses (glasses or contacts) specifically for DSE/VDU use.

Bomb Threat Policy

Introduction

Bomb threats are very rare and it is even rarer that they prove to be genuine.

Our policy is never to take anything for granted.

This policy applies to all staff.

Bomb Threats Received at a Workplace (by persons other than the police or security forces)

Managers will always judge each situation on its merits, establishing the appropriate level of action.

If you receive such a threat, do not attempt to pass the call to a Manager, as valuable time may be lost.

If you receive a call you should note the following and then inform your Manager:

Time received.

Gender of caller.

Message given, if possible in the exact words used.

Any code given.

Any background noises such as from a public house, station, etc.

Any information about the type of advice.

Your Manager must then institute a low key, but prompt and thorough search. This will be most successfully achieved by having pre-prepared search patterns drawn up.

You should not touch anything suspicious. Even an incendiary device, while low in explosive capability, can cause severe damage when ignited.

As the search is being carried out, your Manager must inform:

The Police / Emergency services via the 999 network.

Their immediate Manager

Any advice given must be followed.

Electrical communication equipment such as pagers and mobile phones must be switched off as a sudden impulse to these items, if in the vicinity of an electrical timing device, could activate it.

If advice is given to evacuate the workplace, then this must be done in line with the evacuation procedure. The Senior Manager present must ensure that tills/safes are closed and secured, but they must be left in position if evacuation is necessary. After the building has been declared safe, your Manager must ensure that checks are made on tills/safes immediately.

Bomb Threats Received by Police or Security Forces


When information of bomb threats is received from either of the above-mentioned sources, it must be acted on immediately and the buildings evacuated.

Implied Threat of Bomb


If there is an implied threat that a bomb / incendiary device has been placed at the Company premises, the procedures in section 1 above must be followed. This will also apply where neighbouring premises have received a bomb threat or an incendiary device has been found.

Bomb Threats Received Outside of Business Hours


In these circumstances, the person receiving threat must contact the following:

All Managers within that area of the business.

Their immediate Manager.

Managers should then arrange to meet at the premises, having first contacted the police to make them aware, if necessary via the 999 networks to ensure their attendance.

Where possible, Managers should not enter the building without the police being present, and under no circumstances, on their own.

The premises should be searched, giving particular attention to areas of a high fire risk identified in your premises fire risk assessment.

Only when the premises have been thoroughly searched should any alarm(s) be reset and the building secured.

Bomb Searches

Particular care must be taken when opening and closing premises. If anything suspicious is found, do not touch it and call the police immediately.

Prior to the premises being locked at close of business, a thorough search of the premises must be made. A search plan should be drawn up to give each member of the team a particular area to search.

The workforce should be fully utilised in the searches. Particular priority should be given to areas, which are the most vulnerable.

Do not assume that people acting suspiciously are trying to steal; they may be planting an incendiary device. Check the area where they were.

If you see something or someone suspicious, inform your Manager immediately. No one is going to think you are overreacting.

Your Manager must be informed of any suspicious incidents.

Areas which have CCTV systems should be fully operational at all times.

These instructions must be followed. Failure to do so could lead to damage being caused to our customers, yourself, your workmate or your working area.

11. Prevention of Violence in the Workplace and Personal Safety

11.1 Prevention of Violence at Work


Sofa Workshop recognises its’ legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment for all its’ employees, which as far as is reasonably possible, is free from the risk of violence.

The Company is committed to a constant review of the workplace to reduce risks of violence.

You are expected to report all incidents of aggression or violence to your Manager or their Manager if appropriate.

Sofa Workshop will monitor all reported incidents of violence in order to review its’ policies on an ongoing basis to minimise risks to its employees.

11.2 Personal Safety


As part of our day-to-day business, members of the Sofa Workshop team may be required to work at locations away from their normal workplace.

To minimise any risk to personal safety that may arise when working away, you should observe the following procedures.

If you are planning an off site visit, ensure that your Manager or other nominated person is aware of:

The customers name and contact details (landline as well as mobile telephone number).

The address of the location to be visited.

An approximate time of arrival at the location.

An approximate time of departure from the location.

Where agreed, you should telephone your Manager or other nominated person to let her/him know that you are leaving the site. You should also call if a visit is going to overrun and you will not be leaving the site at the agreed time.

If you do not telephone at the agreed time, then your Manager or other nominated person should make contact

to check your whereabouts.

If at any time before or during a visit you feel uncomfortable or that your personal safety is at risk, you should leave the location immediately and report the incident to your Manager.

Your personal safety is of paramount importance and acts of aggression or threat will not be tolerated. Any employee who is a victim of aggression or violence will be fully supported by the Company.

We all have a responsibility to look out for our own and each other’s personal safety.

B. Statutory Benefits/Work Life Balance

Maternity Leave and Pay Policy

Key to Abbreviations:

AWC (Actual Week of Childbirth) – the week in which the baby is born.

EWC (Expected Week of Childbirth) – the week, beginning on a Sunday, in which the baby is likely to be born.

MAT B1 – A certificate issued by your Doctor/Midwife illustrating the expected date of childbirth.

MLP (Maternity Leave Period) – the time absent from work.

QW (Qualifying Week for SMP) – this is the beginning of the 15th week before EWC.

SMP – Statutory Maternity Pay.

OML – Ordinary Maternity Leave.

AML – Additional Maternity Leave.

Introduction

This Section sets out our current Maternity Leave and Pay Policy which is intended to reflect the statutory maternity provisions and provides guidelines only. If there is any conflict between this Policy and the statutory provisions, the latter will prevail.

Current Government advice and guidance is available at:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/Moneyandworkentitlements/WorkAndFamilies/Pregnancyandmaternityrights/index.htm

You are entitled to maternity leave and pay in accordance with the current statutory provisions. If you become pregnant, you should notify your Manager at an early stage so that your entitlement and obligations can be explained to you.

Please note that references given below to a ‘week’ are references to a seven-day period beginning with a Sunday (unless the context otherwise requires).

These notes are for guidance purposes only. They include a summary of complex law which may change from time to time. The notes deal with issues which commonly affect employees but may not be applicable to all personal circumstances. Guidance notes are not a substitute for individual advice and we are available to assist with individual queries.

If you have any queries concerning your maternity benefits, please contact your Manager.

Maternity Leave

Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML)

Provided the conditions under Notification Requirements (see below) are satisfied all female employees are entitled to 26 weeks OML. You can take up to 11 weeks of your OML before your expected week of childbirth (EWC).

You should note that health and safety regulations prohibit us from allowing employees who have given birth to return to work in the two-week period beginning with the day of childbirth.

Refer to Start of Ordinary Maternity Leave below for further details regarding the commencement of OML.

Additional Maternity Leave (AML)

Provided the conditions under Notification Requirements below are satisfied, all female employees are also entitled to 26 weeks AML, beginning on the day immediately following the day on which your OML ends.

This means you are entitled to take up to 52 weeks maternity leave (OML and AML) in total.

Notification Requirements

In order to qualify for maternity leave, you should notify your Manager that you are pregnant, in or before the 15th week before your EWC. You should also discuss with your Manager the date of your EWC and when you intend to commence your OML. If you wish to vary the date of commencement of OML, you must give the Company written notice of at least 28 days, or, if that is not reasonably practicable, as soon as is reasonably practicable. We will write to you within 28 days of receipt of your notice to confirm your expected date of return from AML.

You will be asked to produce for inspection a certificate from a registered medical practitioner or registered midwife stating your EWC – this certificate is called a MAT B1.

Commencement of your OML will be triggered by your absence from work if it is wholly or partly because of pregnancy, after the beginning of the 4th week before your EWC (see Start of Ordinary Maternity Leave below). You must notify us in writing as soon as is reasonably practicable that you are absent from work wholly or partly because of pregnancy.

If your OML is triggered by the birth of your child (see Start of Ordinary Maternity Leave below), you must notify us, in writing, of the date of childbirth as soon as is reasonably practicable after the birth.

Your Manager will be able to help with any queries you may have about your maternity entitlement.

If you do not comply with the notification requirements listed above, you may lose your entitlement to maternity leave.

Maternity Pay

If you have been employed for at least 26 weeks at the 15th week before your EWC and your average earnings exceed the lower earnings limit, you will be entitled to be paid statutory maternity pay (SMP) at the following rates, provided you comply with the SMP notification requirements:

For the first six weeks of your maternity leave – 90% of your average weekly earnings (higher rate SMP).

For the following 33 weeks – SMP at the current statutory rate (lower rate SMP) or 90% of your average weekly earnings, if lower.

For further information about your entitlement, please contact your Manager.

SMP is subject to Income Tax and National Insurance deductions in the same way as your normal pay.

If you have been employed for less than 26 weeks at the 15th week before your EWC, you may be entitled to receive a maternity allowance. This is paid to you by the Department for Work and Pensions for 39 weeks at the current statutory rate. Any claim for a maternity allowance should be made directly to your local Jobcentre Plus: www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk.

If you are on maternity leave for more than 39 weeks, the right to receive any statutory maternity pay ends after 39 weeks. Subject to Keeping in Touch Days (see below), maternity pay will also cease once you return to work.

Annual Leave Entitlement

Annual leave entitlement will accrue during maternity leave.

For the avoidance of doubt, please note that you will not be able to take annual leave whilst on maternity leave.

Pension Scheme

Your pension contributions, if applicable, will be paid into the scheme during OML and during any part of AML for which you are paid (namely, 39 weeks maximum). Your contributions will be based on salary received/SMP received. Our contributions, if applicable, will be based on the basic salary you would have received had you not gone on maternity leave.

Alternatively, you can request that your contributions are maintained at the existing level of contribution paid prior to your period of OML commencing, subject to you complying with the relevant Pension Scheme and HMRC rules relating to maximum contributions allowed under such arrangements.

After the period of paid maternity leave has ended, your contributions will cease. Upon returning to work you will have the option of paying the pension contributions you would have paid had you been working; in this case, the period for which you pay contributions will count as pensionable service.

For further details relating to the Pension Scheme rules, please refer to the HR Department.

Other Benefits

All contractual benefits (except for salary) will continue to be provided during both OML and AML.

Ante-Natal Appointments

All female employees, regardless of their length of service, will be entitled to reasonable time off with full pay to attend ante-natal clinics or to receive ante-natal care. In order to exercise this entitlement, you must have an ante-natal care appointment on the advice of a Doctor, Midwife or Health Visitor. The relevant Doctor’s certificate or evidence of medical appointments must be produced on request.

You should arrange ante-natal care appointments for times that will cause minimum disruption to your work.

Start of Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML)

Your OML will normally start on the date that you have notified the Company that you intend to start your leave. Paid maternity leave cannot start earlier than the 11th week before the EWC.

If, however, you are absent from work wholly or partly because of pregnancy after the beginning of the 4th week before the EWC (and you have not already started your planned maternity leave), your OML will start on the day after the first day of absence. In such a case, sick pay will cease and maternity pay will start to be paid. If you are ill for a non-pregnancy related reason, you may remain on sick leave until the baby is born or, if you have already notified us of your start date of maternity leave that is the date when you will receive your maternity pay.

If your period of OML has not started by virtue of the above provisions when childbirth occurs, then it will start with the day after the day of childbirth.

Contact During Maternity Leave

Shortly before your maternity leave starts, your Manager will discuss the arrangements for you to keep in touch during your maternity leave, should you wish to do so.

We reserve the right in any event to maintain reasonable contact with you from time to time during your maternity leave. This may be to discuss your plans for return to work, to discuss any special arrangements to be made or training to be given to ease your return to work or simply to update you on developments at work during your absence.

Keeping in Touch Days

Except during the first two weeks beginning with the day of childbirth, you may agree to work for the Company for up to a maximum of 10 days during either your OML or AML without that work bringing the period of your maternity leave to an end and without loss of a week’s SMP. These are known as ‘Keeping in Touch’ days. Any work that you agree to carry out on a Keeping in Touch day constitutes a day’s work for these purposes.

We have no right to require you to carry out any work, and you have no right to undertake any work, during your maternity leave. Any work undertaken, including the amount of salary paid for any work done on Keeping in Touch days, is entirely a matter for agreement between the Company and you. Any Keeping in Touch days that you do work do not extend the total period of your maternity leave.

Once the 10 Keeping in Touch days have been used up, you would lose a week’s SMP for any week in which you agree to work for the Company during your maternity leave.

Date of Return to Work

You do not need to give confirmation of your intention to return to work at the end of your period of AML. This will be assumed. If, however, you wish to return before the end of the period of AML (which includes returning during or at the end of your period of OML), you must give us at least eight weeks’ written notice in advance.

You should note that health and safety regulations prohibit us from allowing you to return to work until two weeks after your baby is born.

Rights After Return to Work

If you resume work after OML you are entitled to return to the same job on the same Terms and Conditions as if you had not been absent, unless a redundancy situation has arisen.

If you return to work after AML you are also entitled to return to the same job on the same Terms and Conditions as if you had not been absent, unless a redundancy situation has arisen. If, however, there is some reason other than redundancy why it is not reasonably practicable for you to be taken back in your original job, you are entitled to be offered suitable alternative work.

Failure to Return to Work

Except where you are ill and have followed the normal Procedures in relation to sickness absence, should you fail to return to work at the end of your maternity leave, you will be treated in the same way as any other employee who has failed to return to work after a period of authorised absence and consequently may be subject to disciplinary proceedings, which could result in your summary dismissal.

Suspension on Grounds of Health and Safety

Where, on pregnancy grounds, it is not safe for you to continue in your normal job, you will either be offered suitable alternative work, if available, or suspended on maternity grounds on full pay. These situations are covered by health and safety regulations.

Working Comfortably

Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and other health and safety regulations, everyone is responsible for ensuring their environment is healthy and safe. This may need a little extra thought when you are pregnant.

A risk assessment of your work station will be carried out by your Manager, and your workplace will be re-arranged, as far as is reasonably practicable, so that you do not have to bend or stretch unduly, to ensure that there are no obstructions you could bump into, and to ensure that you are working in a comfortable and safe environment.

If you are concerned about the nature of the job you are doing, then speak to your Manager.

Request for Flexible Working

It may be possible to return to work from maternity leave to either a part-time position or a full-time position that is shared with someone else, or some other flexible working arrangement. Please refer to the Flexible Working Policy in Part Two of this Handbook for further details on how to apply for a flexible working arrangement.

Should we agree to you returning to a flexible working arrangement, then we will set out the Terms in a letter to you.

Termination of Employment

If you do not wish to return to work following the end of your maternity leave (or indeed wish your employment to terminate during your maternity leave), please note that you are still required to give us notice of your intention to resign from your position, in line with your contractual notice period.

2. Adoption Leave and Pay Policy

2.1 Introduction

This Section sets out our current Adoption Leave and Pay Policy, which is intended to reflect the statutory provisions and provides guidelines only. If there is any conflict between this Policy and the statutory provisions, the latter will prevail.

Current Government advice and guidance is available at:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/Moneyandworkentitlements/WorkAndFamilies/Adoptionrightsintheworkplace/index.htm#

These notes are for guidance purposes only. They include a summary of complex law which may change from time to time. The notes deal with issues which commonly affect employees but may not be applicable to all personal circumstances.

2.2 Ordinary Adoption Leave (OAL) and Additional Adoption Leave (AAL)

The period of OAL is 26 weeks, and the period of AAL is a further 26 weeks. To be eligible for OAL, you must have been employed by the Company for not less than 26 weeks ending with the week in which you have given notification that you have been matched by the Adoption Agency with a child (under 18 years) for the purpose of adoption. After leave has commenced, should the placement of the child end for some reason, then the OAL will end eight weeks after that date.

If you are eligible for OAL, then you are also eligible for AAL, which, if taken, must commence the day after the period of OAL has ended.

OAL and AAL are available to both male and female employees, provided you fulfil the service criteria and have not elected to take paternity leave, or your spouse/civil partner/partner has not elected to take OAL or AAL.

2.3 Notification Requirements

In order to qualify for adoption leave, you must notify your Manager within seven days of being advised by the Adoption Agency that there has been a match with a child.

You must also produce a signed and dated ‘Matching Certificate’ provided by the Adoption Agency.

2.4 Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP)

If you have been employed for at least 26 weeks up to and including the week the Adoption Agency told you that you had been matched with a child for adoption and your average earnings exceed the lower earnings limit, you will be entitled to be paid statutory adoption pay (SAP) for 39 weeks at the current statutory rate or 90% of your average weekly earnings, if lower, provided you comply with the SAP notification requirements.

SAP is available to both male and female employees, so long as you have not elected to receive ordinary statutory paternity pay or your spouse/civil partner/partner has not elected to receive SAP.

For further information about your entitlement, please contact your Manager.

SAP is subject to Income Tax and National Insurance deductions in the same way as your normal pay.

If you are on adoption leave for more than 39 weeks, the right to receive any SAP ends after 39 weeks. Subject to Keeping in Touch Days (see below), SAP will also cease once you return to work.

2.5 Contact During Adoption Leave

Shortly before your adoption leave starts, your Manager will discuss the arrangements for you to keep in touch during your adoption leave, should you wish to do so.

We reserve the right in any event to maintain reasonable contact with you from time to time during your adoption leave. This may be to discuss your plans for return to work, to discuss any special arrangements to be made or training to be given to ease your return to work or simply to update you on developments at work during your absence.

2.6 Keeping in Touch Days

You may agree to work for the Company for up to a maximum of 10 days during either your OAL or AAL without that work bringing the period of your adoption leave to an end and without loss of a week’s SAP. These are known as ‘Keeping in Touch’ days. Any work that you agree to carry out on a Keeping in Touch day constitutes a day’s work for these purposes.

We have no right to require you to carry out any work, and you have no right to undertake any work, during your adoption leave. Any work undertaken, including the amount of salary paid for any work done on Keeping in Touch days, is entirely a matter for agreement between us and you. Any Keeping in Touch Days that you do work do not extend the total period of your adoption leave. Once the 10 Keeping in Touch Days have been used up, you would lose a week’s SAP for any week in which you agree to work for the Company during your adoption leave.

3. Paternity Leave and Pay Policy

3.1 Introduction

This Section sets out our current Paternity Leave and Pay Policy where the expected week of childbirth or the notification of the match with the child for adoption is on or after 3 April 2011, which is intended to reflect the statutory provisions. If there is any conflict between this Policy and the statutory provisions, the latter will prevail.

You are entitled to ordinary and/or additional paternity leave and pay in accordance with the current statutory provisions. If you have any queries concerning your paternity benefits, please contact your Manager.

3.2 Eligibility for Ordinary Paternity Leave (OPL)

OPL is available in respect of a child born, or matched for adoption. You must be the child’s father or adopter, or spouse, civil or cohabiting partner of the child’s mother or adopter. You are not entitled to take both OPL and adoption leave.

To qualify, you must have been employed by the Company for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the EWC, or by the week in which you were notified of the match for adoption.

3.3 Duration of Ordinary Paternity Leave

The maximum OPL period is two weeks. Leave must be taken in a single block of one or two weeks. Leave cannot be taken before your child’s birth/placement and must end within 56 days of the birth/placement.

If your child is born early, OPL must end within 56 days of the expected date of childbirth.

3.4 Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay (OSPP)

If your average earnings exceed the lower earnings limit, OSPP is paid for the duration of OPL, at the current statutory rate per week, or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is the lower.

3.5 Notification of Ordinary Paternity Leave

You must give us notice of your intention to take OPL, the start date and duration, and provide a copy of self-certification – an SC3 form issued by HMRC.

In the case of a newly born child, notice must be given in or before the 15th week before the EWC. In the case of a newly adopted child, notice must be given no more than seven days after the date on which you were notified of the match with the child. You can subsequently change your OPL start date by giving 28 days notice.

3.6 Rights During and Following Ordinary Paternity Leave

During OPL, you are entitled to the benefits of all your Terms and Conditions of Employment except salary.

At the end of the OPL period, you have the right to return to your old job provided you have taken OPL only.

4. Parental Leave Policy

4.1 Introduction

This Section sets out our current Parental Leave Policy, which is intended to reflect the statutory provisions. If there is any conflict between this Policy and the statutory provisions, the latter will prevail.

Current Government advice and guidance is available at:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/Moneyandworkentitlements/WorkAndFamilies/Parentalleaveandflexibleworking/index.htm

If you are entitled to take parental leave in respect of the current statutory provisions, you should discuss your needs with your Manager, who will identify your entitlements and look at the proposed leave periods dependent upon your child’s/children’s particular circumstances and the operating aspects of the business.

Please note that you have no entitlement to be paid during periods of parental leave.

4.2 Entitlement to Parental Leave

Provided the conditions set out in Evidence of Entitlement and Notification Requirements below are satisfied, and if:

You have been continuously employed by us for at least one year; and

You are, or expect to be, responsible (as defined below) for a child;

then you are entitled to be absent from work on parental leave for the purpose of caring for that child.

The reasons for the leave do not need to be related to the health of the child.

You are responsible for a child if:

You are the parent (named on the birth certificate) of a child born on or after 15th December 1999 – your right to parental leave lasts until the child’s 5th birthday (or 18th birthday in the case of a child who is entitled to a disability living allowance); or

You have, on or after 15th December 1999, adopted a child or had a child placed with you for adoption by you – your right to parental leave lasts until the 5th anniversary of the date on which the placement began or until the child’s 18th birthday, whichever is the sooner (except in the case of a child who is entitled to a disability living allowance, it will last until their 18th birthday in any event); or

You have acquired formal parental responsibility for a child born on or after 15th December 1999 – the right to parental leave lasts until the child’s 5th birthday (or 18th birthday in the case of a child who is entitled to a disability living allowance).

4.3 Duration of Parental Leave

You are entitled to up to 18 weeks of parental leave in respect of any qualifying child (see above: Entitlement to Parental Leave). In the case of multiple births, therefore, 18 weeks’ parental leave is provided for each child.

4.4 When Parental Leave May Be Taken

You may not take more than four weeks’ leave in respect of any child during a particular year. Ordinarily, for these purposes, a ‘year’ means the period of 12 months beginning on the date on which you first became entitled to take parental leave in respect of the child in question (and each successive period of 12 months beginning on the anniversary of that date).

Parental leave must be taken in blocks of one week (unless the child in respect of whom the leave is taken is entitled to a disability living allowance). You may take more than one week at a time. Part of a week counts as a whole week, so that if a full-time employee takes three days parental leave and then returns to work, one week is deemed to have been taken from the 18 weeks.

The right to parental leave lasts until the child’s 5th birthday (or 18th birthday in the case of a child who is entitled to a disability living allowance). In adoption cases, it lasts for five years after the child is first placed for adoption (or until the Childs’ 18th birthday if that comes sooner).

4.5 Evidence of Entitlement and Notification Requirements

We will require you to produce for inspection evidence of:

Your responsibility or expected responsibility for the child in respect of whom you wish to take parental leave; and

The Childs’ date of birth or, in the case of a child who was placed with you for adoption, the date on which the placement began; and

If your entitlement to leave (or a particular period of leave) depends upon the Childs’ entitlement to a

disability living allowance, confirmation of the Childs’ entitlement to such allowance.

Except as set out below, you must give us notice of the period of parental leave you propose to take (including start and end dates) at least 21 days before the date on which that period is to begin.

Fathers who wish their period of parental leave to start on the date on which their baby is born must give at least 21 days’ notice before the beginning of the EWC. In this case, the notice must state the EWC and the proposed duration of the period of leave.

Similarly, prospective adoptive parents who wish their leave to start on the date on which the child is placed with them for adoption must give their notice at least 21 days before the beginning of the week in which the placement is expected to occur. In this case, the notice must state the week in which the placement is expected to occur and the proposed duration of the period of leave.

You may not exercise any entitlement to parental leave if you fail to comply with the above Condition.

4.6 Postponement of Parental Leave

We may postpone requested parental leave if we consider that the operation of our business would be unduly disrupted if you took leave during the period identified in your notice. Parental leave cannot be postponed for more than six months from the date on which you had wished to start parental leave. It cannot be postponed at all where it is to be taken by a father/prospective adoptive parent straight after the birth/date of placement (as appropriate).

If we wish to postpone your period of parental leave, we will notify you of the postponement in writing not more than seven days after receipt of your notice requesting leave. We will, at the same time, state the reason for the postponement and specify the dates on which we will permit the postponed period of leave to start and end.

4.7 Continuing Obligations During Parental Leave

While on parental leave you will remain in the employment of the Company and accordingly will continue to be bound by, amongst other things, the duties to the Company of good faith and confidentiality. We will continue to be bound by, amongst other things, our duty to you of trust and confidence.

During periods of parental leave you have no entitlement to be paid but we will continue to provide your benefits (including holiday entitlement).

4.8 Termination of Employment

If you do not wish to return to work following the end of your period of parental leave (or, indeed, wish your employment to termination during your period of parental leave), it should be understood that you are still required to give your contractual notice period.

4.9 Dishonest Claims to Parental Leave

Please note that if you claim, or try to claim, parental leave dishonestly you will be dealt with under the Disciplinary Procedure as set out in this Handbook.

5. Shared Parental Leave Policy

5.1 Introduction

This policy sets out the arrangements for shared parental leave and pay. The right to shared parental leave applies to employees who are expecting a child on or after 5 April 2015, or who are expecting to have a child placed for adoption with them on or after that date.

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) replaced the previous arrangements under Additional Paternity Leave and Pay from 5th April 2015. The existing statutory rights to maternity leave, adoption leave, ordinary paternity leave and unpaid parental leave remain unchanged

This policy applies to employees only. It does not form part of any employee’s contract of employment and it may be amended at any time.

5.2 Definition of Shared Parental Leave (SPL)

The SPL and Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) system enables eligible parents, if they so wish, to share a period of leave and pay in the 52 weeks immediately following the birth or adoption of their child. 

Eligible parents have the option to end their period of maternity or adoption leave, pay or allowance early and to convert any ‘unused’ part of that leave and pay into SPL and ShPP. A mother or primary adopter must take the first two weeks following the birth or placement of the child as maternity or adoption leave. After that, maternity or adoption leave and pay may be curtailed and eligible parents may split the remainder of the 52 week leave and 39 week pay entitlement, i.e. up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay, between them. The minimum amount of SPL and ShPP that can be taken is one week. SPL can only be taken in blocks of complete weeks.

Any time spent on maternity or adoption leave by the mother or the primary adopter will reduce the amount of SPL available. 

For example, where the mother curtails her maternity leave after the 20th week, the entitlement to SPL is reduced by that amount, leaving 32 weeks leave for the parents to share and take as SPL. 

Unlike maternity and adoption leave, time spent on paternity leave will not reduce the amount of SPL and ShPP available. However, any untaken ordinary paternity leave will be lost as soon as the father/mother’s partner starts a period of SPL.

Parents may be able to take SPL at the same time or at different times. The scheme is intended to provide flexibility to eligible parents and allows them the opportunity to start and stop their shared leave and to return to

work between the periods of leave. Parents are not obliged to take SPL.

5.3 Entitlement to SPL

An employee will be entitled to SPL if she is the mother of the child and will be responsible (or partly responsible) for the upbringing of the child.

An employee who is the father of the child will also be entitled to SPL. The father (or mother’s partner) should consider using up the entitlement to two weeks paternity leave before taking SPL as any untaken paternity leave will be lost once SPL begins.

An employee who is the mothers’ partner will be entitled to SPL if he or she is to share the responsibility for the care of the child with the child’s mother.

The conditions which must be satisfied in order to be entitled to SPL are that:

the employee has at least 26 weeks continuous employment by the end of the Qualifying Week and is still in employment by the week before the leave is to be taken;

the other parent must have worked (which includes self-employment) in at least 26 of the 66 weeks before the EWC and had average earnings of at least £30 per week during 13 of those weeks.

The total amount of SPL available is 50 weeks that is all of the maternity leave period of 52 weeks less the two weeks compulsory leave (four weeks for factory workers) following the birth which can only be taken by the mother.

For the purpose of this guidance:

‘mother’ refers to birth mothers;

‘primary adopter’ refers to the designated primary parent in an adopting couple;

‘partner’ refers to the child’s father or the mother’s/primary adopter’s partner, e.g. spouse, civil or long-term partner, but who is not her relative, i.e. sibling, child, parent etc;

‘parent(s)’ refers to one of two, or both people who will share the main responsibility for the Childs’ upbringing (and who may be either the mother, the father, or the mothers’ partner if not the father, or adoptive parents);

qualifying week’ is the 15th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC).

5.4 Notification requirements

Not less than eight weeks before the intended start date of SPL, the employee must give a written opt-in notice setting out the following points:

The names of the two parents;

Start and end dates of the mothers’ maternity leave;

How much SPL each of the two parents will be taking (this can be changed at a later date and the full allocation does not need to be used);

How much Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) is being claimed (which will be 39 weeks less the amount of statutory maternity pay claimed);

How much ShPP will be claimed by each parent (this can be changed at a later date and the full allocation does not need to be used);

What will be the start and end dates for each period of the SPL (this will be an indication only and will not be binding on the employee);

A declaration by both parents that they meet the statutory conditions for entitlement to SPL and pay.

Ending Maternity Leave

At least eight weeks notice must be given to end maternity leave – known as a curtailment notice before an employee can move from statutory maternity leave to SPL. This curtailment notice is usually binding and cannot be revoked except in certain circumstances. However, if the curtailment notice was given before the birth, it can be revoked up to eight weeks after it was given, or up to six weeks after the birth, whichever is later.

At the same time, an employee must state their intention to opt into the SPL scheme. The other parent may be eligible to take SPL before the mother returns to work, provided she has given the curtailment notice.

The Childs’ father or the mothers’ partner will only be able to take SPL once the mother has either returned to work or given her employer a curtailment notice to end her maternity leave.

Only if the employer requests it, the employee must provide a copy of the birth certificate and the name and address of the other parents’ employer.

5.6 Taking SPL In Separate Blocks

In general SPL should be taken in one continuous block. However, employers may be willing to consider separate periods of leave (of at least one week) with periods of work in between. It may be possible to take up to three separate blocks of SPL [or more by agreement]. It is best if the employee discusses this with his or her manager before submitting any formal leave notices.

The leave notice (or notices) must be submitted at least eight weeks before the requested start date (or dates). If it is not possible to agree to the request immediately there may be a discussion period of two weeks. After that time, any agreed arrangements will be confirmed in writing.

If no agreement is reached, the employee will be entitled to take the full amount of requested SPL in one block, starting on the start date given in the notice (for example, if the employee requested two separate periods of six weeks each, he or she will be entitled to one 12-week period of leave). Alternatively the employee may choose a new start date (which must be at least eight weeks after the original leave notice was given) or withdraw his or her leave notice and submit a new one.

5.7 Changing Or Cancelling SPL

An employee can cancel a period of leave by notifying his or her employer in writing at least eight weeks before the intended start date.

Dates for a period of leave can be changed by giving at least eight weeks notice before both the original start date and the new start date.

Eight weeks notice will not be necessary if the dates of the SPL are being changed because the child has been born earlier than the EWC and the start of the SPL was dependent on the date of the birth. In this case written notice must be given as soon as possible.

5.8 Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)

Up to 37 weeks ShPP may be available, less any weeks of statutory maternity pay, provided the employee has at least 26 weeks continuous employment by the end of the Qualifying Week. ShPP is paid at a set rate.

5.9 Shared Parental Leave In Touch (SPLIT) Days

Employers will be entitled to make reasonable contact with their employees who are on SPL, including discussing arrangements for return to work.

Employees will be entitled to carry out up to 20 KIT days without losing their entitlement to ShPP although it is not compulsory for employees to work any KIT days if they do not wish to. KIT days may include working or attending training sessions.

5.10 Terms And Conditions Of Employment

Terms and conditions of employment remain in force during SPL, except for the terms relating to pay. In particular annual leave entitlement will continue to accrue at the contractual rate and any holiday entitlement which cannot be taken before SPL begins can be carried over into the next holiday year.

Employer pension contributions will continue based on normal salary; employee pension contributions will be based on the amount of any shared parental pay the individual is receiving (unless agreed otherwise).

5.11 Return To Work

Employees are normally entitled to return to work in the same position as before SPL. However if this is not reasonably practicable, employees will be entitled to return to another suitable role on terms and conditions which are no less favourable. Employers will only be able to elect the second option if the SPL and any maternity or paternity leave taken adds up to more than 26 weeks in total (whether or not taken consecutively) or if SPL was taken consecutively with more than four weeks of ordinary parental leave.

If an employee wishes to end a period of SPL early, he or she must give eight weeks prior notice of the return date.

If the employee wishes to extend the SPL he or she must submit a new notice at least eight weeks before the date they were due to return to work.

If an employee wishes to change his or her hours or other working arrangements on return from SPL he or she should make a request under the flexible working rules.

If the employee decides that he or she does not wish to return to work they should give notice of resignation in accordance with their contract.

6. Time Off Work for Dependants Policy

6.1 Introduction

This Section sets out our current Policy on Time off Work for Dependants and is intended to reflect the statutory provisions. If there is any conflict between this Policy and the statutory provisions, the latter will prevail.

You may be entitled to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to care for dependants during working hours to take action that is necessary to provide help to your dependants. Should this be necessary, you should discuss your situation with your Manager, and, if appropriate, he/she will agree the necessary time off.

If you have any concerns or queries concerning time off work to care for dependants, please contact your Manager.

Please note that you have no entitlement to be paid in respect of time taken off work to care for dependants.

Current Government advice and guidance is available at:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/Employees/Timeoffandholidays/DG_10026555

6.2 Eligibility

Irrespective of length of service, you are entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours in order to take necessary action, e.g.

To provide assistance on an occasion when a dependant falls ill, gives birth or is injured or assaulted.

To make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured.

In consequence of the death of a dependant. Please also refer to Part One: Compassionate Leave.

Because of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependant.

To deal with an incident which involves your child and occurring unexpectedly in a period during which an educational establishment that the child attends is responsible for him/her.

6.3 What is a ‘Dependant’?

A ‘dependant’ is defined as an employees’ spouse, civil partner, child, parent or a person who lives in the same household as the employee (except as his/her employee, tenant, lodger or boarder). However, for the purposes of the first, second and fourth circumstances set out in Eligibility above, ‘dependant’ will also include any person who reasonably relies upon you to make such arrangements for the provision of such care.

6.4 Notification Requirements

You are not entitled to time off work unless you inform your Manager of the reason for your absence as soon as is reasonably practicable. You must (except where you cannot notify the Manager until after you have returned to work) give an indication of how long you expect to be absent.

This Policy is intended to cover unforeseen matters. If you know in advance that you are going to need to take time off work, you should take this time as part of your annual leave entitlement in the normal way. Alternatively, if the reason you need to take leave relates to your child, you may be entitled to take parental leave.

If we consider that you are abusing the right to time off work to care for dependants, disciplinary action will be taken against you.

6.5 Duration

There are no prescribed limits on the duration of Time off Work for Dependants, since this will vary with the differing circumstances of an emergency. For most cases, however, one or two days should be sufficient to deal with the problem. For example, if a child falls ill with chickenpox, the leave should be enough to help you cope with the crisis – to deal with the immediate care of a child, visiting the Doctor, if necessary, and to make longer term care arrangements.

7. Flexible Working Policy

7.1 Introduction

We recognise that you may wish to consider requesting flexible working arrangements.

The aim of the Flexible Working Policy is to enable individual employees whose circumstances require them to have different working patterns, consistent with the needs of the Company and their clients, and with fairness to their colleagues, to have an effective and equitable process for seeking and granting this flexibility in the way individuals work.

Current Government advice and guidance is available at:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/Moneyandworkentitlements/WorkAndFamilies/Parentalleaveandflexibleworking/index.htm

7.2 Eligibility

You may be eligible to apply for flexible working arrangements, provided that:

You have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks at the date of application.

You have not made another application to work flexibly during the past 12 months.

Your individual circumstances justify the proposed arrangement. This provision mainly relates to those with children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child has a disability) where you are the Childs’ mother, father, adopter, guardian or foster parent (including private adopters and foster parents), or you have a residence order relating to the child, or you are married to or the partner or civil partner of the Childs’ mother, father adopter, guardian, special guardian or foster parent, or a person who has a residence order relating to the child, you have or expect to have responsibility for the Childs’ upbringing and you are making the application in order to enable you to care for the child.

However, it also includes carers of specified adults, i.e. where you are or expect to be caring for an adult aged 18 or over who is either married to you or is your partner or civil partner, or is your relative, or who lives at the same address as you. A ‘relative’ for these purposes means a mother, father, adopter, guardian, special guardian, parent-in-law, step-parent, son, step-son, son-in-law, daughter, step-daughter, daughter-in-law, brother, step-brother, brother-in-law, sister, step-sister, sister-in-law, uncle, aunt or grandparent, and it includes adoptive relationships and relationships of the full blood or half blood or, in the case of an adopted person, such of those relationships as would exist but for the adoption.

7.3 Changes

You can apply for a flexible working arrangement relating to:

The hours/days you are required to work.

The times you are required to work.

Where you are required to work.

7.4 Application

If you wish to apply for flexible working, you must complete the Flexible Working Application form, a copy of which may be obtained from your Manager.

When you have completed the Application Form, you must submit it to your Manager for initial consideration.

7.5 Criteria for Assessment

Your application will be assessed on the following criteria:

Any burden of additional costs to the business.

Ability to meet client demands, whether internal or external.

Availability of staff at the right level to take on your work, if this is appropriate.

Ability to recruit additional staff if required.

Impact on the quality of your work.

Impact upon your performance. For example, can you work effectively unsupervised, if, as part of the arrangement, you plan to work from home?

Is there sufficient work for you during the periods when you propose to work?

Are there any planned structural changes which will have an impact upon your role?

7.6 Grounds for Refusal

Grounds for refusal of such an application are:

You are not eligible to apply for flexible working.

The burden of additional costs to the business.

The detrimental effect on the ability to meet client demands.

Inability to re-organise work amongst existing staff.

Inability to recruit additional staff.

Detrimental impact upon the quality of work.

Detrimental impact upon performance.

Insufficient work during the periods when you propose to work.

Health and safety issues if you plan to work at home and you do not have a dedicated space.

7.7 Procedure

A meeting will be held with you to discuss your application within 28 days of receiving your request.

You have the right to be accompanied by a fellow worker to this meeting.

You will be given written notification of our decision within 14 days of the meeting.

Written notification will specify the change agreed to your contract of employment and the date to take effect or it will set out the reasons for refusing your application.

If the application is accepted, unless the parties agree otherwise, your Terms and Conditions will change permanently.

7.8 Appeal

If your application is rejected, you will be entitled to appeal by giving written notice to us within 14 days of our decision.

The notice of appeal must set out the grounds of appeal and be signed and dated.

We will arrange an appeal meeting within 14 days of receipt of your notice of appeal and you have the right to be accompanied by a fellow worker to the appeal meeting.

We will send you written notification of the appeal decision within 14 days of the appeal meeting. If you have a complaint, you may wish to raise this under the Grievance Procedure set out in Part Two of this Handbook.

8. Working Time Regulations Policy

Regulation 4(1) of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (the “Regulations”) provides that a workers’ average working time, including overtime, shall not exceed 48 hours for each seven-day period (to be averaged over a period of 17 weeks).

If you agree that this provision of the Regulations shall not apply to your employment with the Company, you must complete a Working Time Waiver Form to opt out of this provision. A copy of the Form may be obtained from HR.

If you change your mind and decide, at any time, during your employment that you want to withdraw your Working Time Waiver Agreement, you must give us three months prior written notice.

C. Discretionary Benefits and Related Policies

1. Introduction

We may offer certain discretionary benefits to employees from time to time. There is no contractual entitlement to these benefits and your eligibility to join and benefit from any such schemes will always be subject to the rules and regulations of the providers and at the discretion of the Company.

We reserve the right to withdraw or amend the discretionary benefits we offer at any time.

We currently offer the following discretionary benefits to eligible employees. Please contact your Manager for further details and to discuss your eligibility.

2. Childcare Voucher Scheme

We offer employees the opportunity to join a scheme administered by Fideliti. Please speak to your Manager for further details.