1. Welcome to Viberts
2. Using the Staff Handbook
3. Responsibility for the Staff Handbook
4. Personal Details, Home Address and Next of Kin
5. Dress Code
6. Expenses Policy
7. Equality and Diversity Policy
8. Recruitment Policy
9. Outside Interests Policy
10. Induction Procedure
11. Performance Appraisal Process
12. Exit Procedure
13. Reference Requests for Ex Employees
14. Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy
15. Annual Leave Policy
16. Sickness Absence Policy
17. Capability Procedure
18. Disciplinary Rules
19. Disciplinary Procedure
20. Grievance Procedure
21. Parental Leave Policy
22. Flexible Working Policy
23. Emergency Time Off for Children or Dependents Policy
24. Compassionate Leave Policy
25. Relationships at Work Policy
26. Retirement Policy
27. Redundancy Policy
28. Training and Development Policy
29. Time Off for Jury Service
30. Adverse Weather and Travel Disruption Policy
31. Business Continuity and Remote Working Policy
32. Health and Safety Policy
33. No-Smoking Policy
34. Substance Misuse Policy
35. Data Protection Policy
36. Electronic Information and Communications Systems Policy
37. Social Media Policy
38. Mobile Device Usage Policy
39. Staff Legal Services
40. The “Keep Viberts House Tidy” Policy
41. Remote IT Access Policy
42. Client Care Policy
43. Menopause Policy
Viberts' Vision Statement
1.1. Viberts strives to provide high quality, good value legal services as accredited by the leading legal standards assessment body, Lexcel.
Viberts' Mission Statement
1.2. Viberts’ mission is to be the pre-eminent provider of specialist advice on all aspects of Jersey Law, achieving outstanding client service and satisfaction through the application of expert knowledge and professionalism. The firm supports its employees within a working environment where there is potential to develop fulfilling careers, achieve professional satisfaction, and gain financial rewards as the firm succeeds and grows.
Our Values reflect our behaviours of being:
People Focused - We pride ourselves on our personal, positive and professional approach.
Supportive - Your needs are at the heart of everything we do.
Dedicated - We are dedicated. We strive to do our best at all times.
Pragmatic - We are pragmatic, delivering clear and effective advice.
A history of Viberts
1.3. The origins of Viberts dates back to the 1930s when Advocate Ralph Vibert and Kenneth Valpy were sworn in as Advocates of the Royal Court. They were both sole practitioners.
1.4. Advocate Vibert’s father-in-law, C.S Le Gros (who was Viscount and later became the Lieutenant-Bailiff) had been in private practice from the early years of the 20th century until his appointment in public office in 1930. A number of clients eventually transferred from Advocate Le Gros to Advocate Vibert.
1.5. In the pre-war period, legal practice in Jersey consisted mainly of conveyancing, will-making and the administration of estates, with some litigation. In the post-war period Jersey’s economy began to diversify, and the finance industry began to develop. The emphasis of legal work began to shift more to litigation which accompanied the expansion of the economy, and the introduction of a law in 1949 which for the first time permitted divorce and led to the development of this branch of litigation. Advocate Vibert, who was joined by his brother Bob in 1947, and Advocate Valpy, began to specialise in matrimonial law and for many years they were the principal practitioners in the Island in matrimonial law related litigation. The traditional conveyancing and probate work also continued, and the post-war property boom resulted in the conveyancing section of the practice in particular becoming increasingly busy. Advocate Valpy was defence counsel in many of the most notable criminal trials of the 1950s and 1960s, while Ralph Vibert served as Solicitor General in the 1950s, and was involved in the same trials on behalf of the prosecution.
1.6. Ralph Vibert retired from practice in the 1970s to concentrate on his political career, and led the negotiations which established Jersey’s relationship with the European Community. His brother Bob was the architect of the procedure of the sale of flats by share transfer, which at the time was the only legal method available of sub-dividing the ownership of blocks of flats.
1.7. Bob Vibert died in 1983, and following this the Viberts practice was continued by Charles Thacker and David Le Quesne. Advocate Valpy retired in 1989, his successors being Christopher Scholefield and Ashley Hoy. In 1992 the two firms merged.
1.8. The firm has since then become the Island’s leading matrimonial practice. Family law is a department in its own right, and the largest on the island. Its development has been driven by Advocate Rose Colley, the pre-eminent Family lawyer in Jersey who has headed the department since its inception. The firm has also increased its Corporate Law Practice which has been led by Advocate Christopher Scholefield, and continues to expand. The traditional work of conveyancing and litigation has continued.
1.9. Led by Advocate Zoe Blomfield, the private client department is now part of a larger personal law department which also deals with wills, delegateships and power of attorney.
1.10. Having started in 2 rooms in 6 Hill Street in the 1930s, Viberts gradually acquired the tenancies of several floors of that building, and then when more space was required moved to premises in Pier Road, and a few years later to Duhamel Place. The firm’s most recent move was in 2013, to its present premises at Viberts House in Don Street.
2.1. This Staff Handbook sets out the main policies and procedures that employees will need to be aware of whilst working for Viberts. Employees should familiarise themselves with it and comply with it at all times. Any question employees may have with regard to its contents or how they should comply with it should be referred to the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture. The latest version of the Handbook can be found in the I:Drive/Share/Viberts Handbooks & Manuals/Staff Handbook.
2.2. Unless otherwise indicated, the policies and procedures set out in this handbook apply to all who work at Viberts. Where certain provisions in the handbook do not apply to some staff this will be indicated. However if you are in doubt please check with the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture. They therefore apply to partners, managers, directors, employees, consultants, contractors, trainees, part-time and fixed-term employees, agency staff, volunteers and students (collectively referred to as “employees” in this handbook). They do not form part of the employees’ contracts of employment with the firm, which are provided to each employee separately. An employee’s contract sets out, in addition to other information, an employee’s job title, hours and place of work, probationary period, salary, holiday entitlement, sickness absence reporting procedure and sick pay, where to find information about the firm’s disciplinary and grievance procedures, and employee’s entitlement to and obligation to give notice to terminate their contract and the duties of confidentiality and restrictions that apply after the termination of their contract.
2.3. This Staff Handbook is designed to ensure a consistent and fair approach to many of the day to day issues in which employees are likely to have an interest. It does not replace common sense and good communication.
3.1. The Managing Partner has overall responsibility for the operation of this Staff Handbook and for ensuring that its policies and procedures comply with the firm’s legal obligations. The partners and department managers have delegated day-to-day responsibility for the operation of the firm’s policies and procedures to employees.
3.2. The Staff Handbook will be reviewed regularly by the Managing Partner, Partnership Director and Head of People and Culture to ensure that its provisions continue to meet the firm’s legal obligations and reflect best practice.
3.3. All partners and department managers have a specific responsibility to operate in accordance with the provisions set out in this Staff Handbook, to ensure that all employees understand the standards of behaviour expected of them and to take action when behaviour falls below those requirements.
3.4. Those working at management level have a specific responsibility to set an appropriate standard of behaviour, to lead by example and to ensure that those they manage adhere to the policies and procedures and promote the firm’s vision, mission and values.
3.5. Employees should ensure that they take the time to read and understand the content of this handbook and act in accordance with its aims and objectives. All employees must ensure that they are familiar with, comply with and support its policies and procedures.
3.6. Employees are invited to submit any comments or proposals with regard to the Staff Handbook or any of its content to the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture.
3.7. The Handbook replaces any previous handbook, policies and procedures. Information in this Handbook may be altered or amended as appropriate. Employees will be notified of significant changes and should update themselves following notification of these changes.
4.1. The Practice Director is responsible for maintaining up-to-date details of the home address, next of kin and emergency contact telephones numbers of each employee.
4.2. This information will be requested by the Practice Director when an employee commences work at Viberts and the employee should advise of any changes as soon as they happen.
4.3. It is important that the Practice Director maintains accurate details in case an employee has an accident at work, or has entitlement to a dependant’s pension or other benefits. Information is held in confidence and is only used when needed.
5.1. The firm adopts a ‘Dress for the Day’ approach, understanding that dress and appearance is a personal matter, and everyone should make a positive, professional impression in their own style.
5.2. We trust all employees to understand that their appearance contributes to the professional reputation of Viberts, and the development of its business, and use their judgement and common sense to wear what is appropriate for their working day.
5.3. The expectation is that employees will have the flexibility to choose what to wear based on their own schedule; the nature of their work activities; their working arrangements and what they feel will help them perform best at work.
5.4. Instead of a formal dress code, employees (contractors, consultants, agency workers and other temporary workers) may wear:
- Appropriate business attire - Monday to Thursday
- “Dress-down” for Charity on a Friday
5.5. To assist employees, the firm has developed guidelines to support its expectations for ‘Dress for the Day’ and appropriate business attire which are:
- Considering the professional image of the firm and exercising their professional judgement and common sense;
- Ensuring that dress and appearance is appropriate for the circumstances and activities of the working day and the type of work being performed;
- Considering whether or not they will be representing the firm externally, be in contact with clients, other external business contacts or members of the public, and basing their appearance on the professional circumstances, for example, meeting with clients who may expect their Lawyer to be wearing business attire. This also includes using remote technology, for example, Teams;
- Assessing whether their dress or appearance could distract or interfere with others ability to work or cause offence in any way;
- Ensuring there are no compromises to health and safety requirements for themselves, their colleagues or any other individuals and never wearing clothing or jewellery that could potentially present a risk;
- Being prepared for the unexpected, by always having formal business clothes (for example, suit/jacket) available in the office for when a more formal appearance may be appropriate at short notice. Employees who attend Court should dress according to Court requirements.
5.6. Employees who have questions about the appropriateness of their dress or appearance, and their impact on the professional image of the firm, should speak with their Partner/Department Manager for guidance.
5.7. Whilst the list above is not an exhaustive list there are certain items that are considered inappropriate and these include:
Monday to Thursday
5.8. Any clothing which is unclean, ripped, frayed, washed-out, faded or creased, low-cut, revealing or see through; Any clothing carrying bold logo’s or printing, profanities, rude images or words, political slogans, or other offensive images or comments. This extends to visible tattoos/body art and body piercings which, if not covered by clothing, must be non-offensive. Shorts, regardless of length, cargo/combat style trousers, ‘traditional’ jeans (thick indigo denim twill), exercise wear or leggings; sleeveless or off the shoulder tops, sweatshirts or hooded tops; footwear including flip-flops (including leather), slippers, training and gym shoes. Shoes must be worn at all times and footwear must be smart and clean.
5.9. For staff who wish to participate, Friday is considered “dress-down”. The guidelines for Monday to Thursday will still apply, however ‘traditional’ (thick indigo denim twill) jeans, polo shirts, clothing with small logo’s and smart ‘trainer-style’ shoes may be worn, in return for a monthly charitable contribution of £4.00 per month. All monies raised is donated to local charities.
Accommodation of religious, cultural or disability requirements
5.10. Employees with individual needs associated with religious or cultural observance or disability should consult with their Partner/Department Manager to discuss possible accommodations.
Complying with the dress for the day guidelines
5.11. Managers are responsible for ensuring all employees in their team fully understand the guidelines and standards associated with ‘Dress for the Day’ and that these are applied.
5.12. A Partner/Department Manager may, when they consider it appropriate, request employees to wear formal business dress for certain meetings and events.
5.13. In extreme circumstances, if any Partner/Department Manager feels an employee’s clothing is inappropriate (and they do not have suitable alternative clothing in the office), they reserve the right to send the employee home from the workplace to change their attire. In these circumstances, the employee will have pay deducted for any working hours missed whilst changing to appropriate clothing.
5.14. Failure to comply with these guidelines may result in action under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure and the removal of this Policy.
Reimbursement of expenses
6.1. The firm will reimburse expenses properly incurred in accordance with this policy. Any attempt to claim expenses in breach of this policy may result in disciplinary action.
6.2. If there is any doubt about whether an item of expenditure will be reimbursed the employee should check with their partner/department manager or the Practice Director prior to incurring the expense.
6.3. Expenses will only be reimbursed if they are;
- Claimed using the official “Expenses Statement Claim Form” which is available in the public folders or from the Practice Director;
- Submitted within 1 calendar month of being incurred (where reasonably possible);
- Supported by relevant documents (for example receipts, tickets and credit/debit card slips); and
- Where required, authorised in accordance with the instructions in force at the time the expense was incurred.
6.4. Claims for authorised expenses submitted in accordance with this policy will normally be paid in the salary payment for the month in which they were submitted to the Practice Director, provided they were received prior to the payroll cut-off date of that month. Where authorised expenses are submitted after the payroll cut-off date, the employee will normally be reimbursed in the following month’s payroll.
6.5. In exceptional circumstances the firm may, at their discretion, agree to reimburse expenses that have not been incurred or submitted in accordance with this policy. In each case the employee should provide full details of why it was not possible to follow this policy.
6.6. When travelling off the island on office business, for example to attend a course or for training purposes, employees are advised to take out their own travel insurance. A travel insurance policy should provide cover for any additional accommodation and flight costs which may result from delayed public transport or missed flights.
6.7. Any questions about the reimbursement of expenses should be referred to the Practice Director before the employee incurs the relevant costs.
6.8. Whenever possible all travel expenses should be authorised by the Managing Partner or Practice Director and booked in advance. Where this is not possible the firm will reimburse the reasonable cost of necessary travel in connection with the firm’s business. The most economic means of travel should be chosen if practicable/possible. The following are not treated as travel in connection with the firm’s business;
- Travel between the employee’s home and usual place of work;
- Travel which is mainly for the employee’s own purposes; and
- Travel which, while undertaken on behalf of the firm, is similar or equivalent to travel between the employee’s home and their usual place of work.
6.9. Trains. The employee will only be reimbursed for the cost of standard class travel unless expressly authorised in accordance with the current authorisation procedure to travel first class. A receipt should be obtained for submission with an expenses claim form.
6.10. Taxis. Taxis must only be used when essential. In London, taxis should not be taken unless public transport is not practicable.
6.11. Car. Where it is cost effective for the employee to use their car for business travel, and they have been authorised to do so, the employee can claim a mileage allowance on proof of mileage in accordance with the current authorised mileage rate. Details of the current mileage rate can be obtained from the Practice Director.
6.12. Parking. This can be claimed when using a car and parking is cheaper or more convenient than using public transport. Where possible this should be agreed in advance with the Practice Director of Head of Department.
6.13. Air travel. Wherever possible these should be booked in advance by Viberts on behalf of the employee. Where this is not possible all flights should be booked at the lowest fare obtainable. If a flight needs to be changed and there is an associated cost, where possible approval should be given by the Practice Director or Managing Partner.
6.14. Other than in exceptional circumstances, when the firm may exercise discretion to do so, the firm will not reimburse any penalty fares or parking fines that the employee may incur while travelling on the firm’s business.
6.15. The firm reserves the right to place restrictions on business travel during and around national, international and public events where the cost of travel and/or accommodation may temporarily be increased.
Accommodation and overnight expenses
6.16. If an employee is required to stay away overnight in the course of their duties they should discuss accommodation arrangement with the Practice Director in advance. Wherever possible, arrangements will be made on their behalf by the firm, but where this is not possible the employee will be advised of the documentation they need to submit in order to reclaim expenses.
6.17. In any event, the maximum rates that can be claimed for accommodation (exclusive of taxes) are;
- £250 per night in London or other major or capital city;
- £180 per night everywhere else.
6.18. When an employee is required to stay away overnight in the course of their duties, to the extent that these are not included in the cost of the accommodation, the firm will reimburse their reasonable out-of-pocket expenses provided that they are supported by receipts for the following;
- Breakfast up to a maximum of £20 per day;
- Lunch will not normally be reimbursed unless the employee is entertaining external contacts/clients or conducting appropriate Business Development related activity;
- Evening meal including non-alcoholic beverages up to £25 per day.
6.19. When an employee is entertaining a client or potential client of the firm, a reasonable amount of alcohol at lunch or dinner will be permisable and submitted for reimbursment.
6.20. For the avoidance of any doubt, when the cost of attending an event (such as a conference) involving an overnight stay includes the cost of accommodation and/or meals, additional claims under this policy should not be made for those items.
6.21. All employees are advised to take out travel insurance for any travelling done for work-related reasons (including travel for training and development, or to attend client meetings) especially when travelling overseas. As a guide the travel insurance should cover the costs of any additional purchased or amended flights and accommodation as a result of delayed transport such as buses, coaches, underground services or trains.
Subscriptions, memberships and certificates
6.22. The firm will, at its discretion, pay for subscriptions and memberships which the firm considers essential for an employee to carry out their role within the firm.
6.23. An employee should discuss with the Practice Director whether a particular subscription or membership will be funded by the firm.
6.24. The firm will pay for the renewal of practicing certificates for its fee-earners. Renewal is normally done on a bulk basis and paid for directly by the firm. However an employee wishing to renew their certificate independently should inform the Managing Partner or the Practice Director and seek confirmation that they will be reimbursed for the cost as an expense outlined in this policy. Should the employee terminate their contract with Viberts, the firm will seek to recuperate the cost of the current practicing certificate as outlined in each employee’s contract of employment.
Scope and purpose of the policy
7.1. This policy applies to all aspects of the firm’s relationship with employees and to relations between employees at all levels. This includes job advertisements, recruitment and selection, conditions of service, pay and benefits, conduct at work, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and termination of employment.
7.2. The firm is committed to eliminating discrimination and supporting diversity endeavours not to discriminate against employees on the basis of age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
7.3. Through this policy the firm commits to;
- Eliminate and protect all individuals against discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the grounds of those characteristics above.
- Ensure equality and diversity issues are fully integrated into all the firm’s policies and procedures; and
- Create a positive and welcoming environment for all employees, clients and visitors to the firm.
7.4. The principles of non-discrimination and equality of opportunity apply to the way in which employees treat one another, visitors, clients, customers, suppliers and former and prospective employees.
7.5. All employees have a duty to act in accordance with this policy and treat colleagues with dignity at all times, and not to discriminate or harass other employees, regardless of their status. (Please also refer to the firm’s Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy).
7.6. If any employee has any questions about the content or application of this policy they should contact the Head of People and Culture.
7.7. The firm aims to ensure that no job applicant suffers discrimination because of any of the characteristics listed above. The firm’s recruitment procedures are reviewed regularly to ensure that individuals are treated on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities. Job selection criteria are reviewed regularly to ensure that they are relevant to the role and not disproportionate.
7.8. Job advertisements should avoid stereotyping or using wording that may discourage particular groups from applying.
7.9. Applicants should not be asked about a current pregnancy or future intentions related to pregnancy. Applicants should not be asked about matters concerning age, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or gender reassignment without the approval of the Head of People and Culture (who should first consider whether such matters are relevant and may lawfully be taken into account).
7.10. On an annual basis, the firm will consider whether applications received in response to vacancies and the profile of the staff of the firm reflect a reasonable cross section of the population.
Employee training and promotion and conditions of service
7.11. Training needs will be identified through regular appraisals. All employees will be given appropriate access to relevant training to enable them to achieve their job requirements and progress within the organisation and all promotion decisions will be made on the basis of merit.
7.12. The firm’s conditions of service, benefits and facilities are reviewed regularly to ensure that they are available to all employees where possible who should have access to them and that there are no unlawful obstacles to accessing them.
Termination of employment
1.13. The firm will ensure that redundancy criteria and procedures are fair and objective and are not discriminatory.
7.14. The firm will also ensure that disciplinary procedures and penalties are applied without discrimination, whether they result in disciplinary warnings, dismissal or other disciplinary action.
7.15. If an employee is disabled or becomes disabled they are encouraged to tell the firm about their condition so that they can be given reasonable support.
7.16. If an employee experiences difficulties at work because of their disability they may wish to contact the Head of People and Culture to discuss reasonable adjustments that would help overcome or minimise the difficulty. The Head of People and Culture may wish to consult with the employee and their medical advisor(s) about possible adjustments. The firm will consider carefully and try to accommodate the employee’s needs within reason. If it is considered that a particular adjustment would not be reasonable the firm will explain the reasons and try to find an alternative where possible.
7.17. The firm monitors the conditions of service of part-time employees and their progression to ensure that they are being offered appropriate access to benefits and training and promotion opportunities. The firm will ensure requests to alter working hours are dealt with appropriately. (Please refer to the firm’s Flexible Working Policy).
Breaches of the policy
7.18. If an employee believes that they may have been discriminated against they are encouraged to raise the matter by following the firm’s Grievance Procedure. If an employee believes that they may have been subject to harassment they are encouraged to raise the matter through the firm’s Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy. Employees are encouraged to speak to the Practice Director in the first instance for advice on the most appropriate course of action.
7.19. Allegations regarding potential breaches of this policy will be treated in confidence and investigated in accordance with the relevant procedure. Employees who make such allegations in good faith will not be victimised or treated less favourably as a result. False allegations that are found to have been made in bad faith will, however, be dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure.
7.20. Any employee who is found to have committed an act of discrimination, victimisation or harassment may be subject to disciplinary action. Such behaviour may constitute gross misconduct and, as such, may result in summary dismissal. The firm takes a strict approach to serious breaches of this policy.
8.1. The firm aims to outline the procedure to be followed for the effective recruitment and selection of all permanent and temporary staff (excluding agency staff) into the firm.
8.2. The purpose of the procedure is to ensure that the firm attracts, selects and retains the most suitable candidates by using the most appropriate, efficient, fair and open methods of recruitment and selection.
8.3. The firm is committed to ensuring equal opportunities to all potential employees. Everyone involved in recruitment and selection is responsible for ensuring that candidates are treated fairly.
Establishing a vacancy
8.4. The decision to begin the recruitment process should only be taken after consideration of all other options. Options to be given due consideration are;
- reorganising the distribution of workload amongst the existing team members;
- increasing an existing employee’s responsibilities;
- re-designing or automating certain tasks;
- restructuring the existing department;
- redeploying or temporarily seconding an existing employee from another department where there may be capacity; or
- using an agency employee to carry out short-term assignments.
8.5. Approval to begin the recruitment and selection procedure must be obtained from the Managing Partner and the Head of People and Culture in the first instance.
Role description and person specification
8.6. The partner or manager of the department must give consideration to exactly why the role exists and what it entails.
8.7. Once this has been established the partner or manager must develop a job description and person specification (or refer to an existing job description or personal specification) for the vacant role and, seeking support from the People and Culture team. This should include the following information;
- job title and department;
- brief job purpose statement, identifying in a short paragraph the overall and general purpose of the role;
- general responsibilities and duties of the role covering aspects such as common duties associated with the role, client service expectations, accountability, supervisory duties, reporting lines and which specific regulations, policies and procedures which should be adhered to;
- specific regular tasks that the post holder can expect to be doing (these will vary even between the same roles in different departments);
- qualifications and professional memberships required (can specify those which are essential to the role and those which are desirable);
- particular knowledge and experience required (can specify those which are essential to the role and those which are desirable);
- technical competence in specific areas (can specify those which are essential to the role and those which are desirable), for example extensive knowledge of MS Office applications;
- special requirements of the role, for example a requirement to work regularly outside of the contracted working hours.
8.8. All requirements in the person specification section must be appropriate and relevant to the vacant role.
8.9. It is important to avoid overstating the qualifications and experience demanded by the vacant role, for example making education to degree level an essential criterion when education to GCSE level or equivalent would be sufficient. This may reduce the potential pool of candidates unnecessarily.
8.10. Where possible subjective terms should be avoided to prevent misinterpretation, such as stating that “good educational background” is essential, where “good” can mean different things to different people.
8.11. The job description must be approved by the Managing Partner or Head of People and Culture before recruitment can begin.
8.12. Once the job description has been agreed, the manager should determine, upon consultation with the Head of People and Culture, the most appropriate method of advertising the role and should work with the Head of BD and Marketing to develop any advertisements in accordance with the agreed style and budget.
8.13. The advertisement should fit into the firm’s advertisement template in order to keep it attractive and eye-catching, whilst minimising the advertising cost.
8.14. The advertisement should contain the following information;
- job title;
- a brief statement about the overall purpose of the role;
- technical, knowledge or skill requirements of the candidate;
- details on how to apply and to whom;
- details of the closing date for application.
8.15. Anyone involved in the drafting of recruitment advertisements should be aware of the following;
- the advertisement should at all times project a positive image of the firm by emphasising the firm’s key selling points wherever relevant;
- the advertisement should avoid using role specific terminology or “jargon” which might not be easily understood by the target audience;
- the advertisement should not include any text, which appears to favour or disadvantage a particular gender, race, ability/disability, age group, sexuality or religion unless it can be justified to be a specific requirement of the role.
8.16. Advertisements are usually placed on the Viberts’ website, LinkedIn, Facebook and Bailiwick Express. Other social media channels may also be used.
8.17. Where appropriate, local employment agencies may be invited to submit applicants. This should be discussed with the Head of People and Culture.
8.18. Where it is felt that a role should be advertised in the Jersey Evening Post this should be discussed with the Head of People and Culture and Head of Business Development and Marketing.
8.19. Applicants will be invited to submit their application to the firm and a record of all applicants should be maintained by the People and Culture team.
8.20. Details of each applicant are recorded by the People and Culture team in order to track the number of enquiries that result in a direct application, and to assess the success of the chosen recruitment approach.
8.21. All applications received are acknowledged by either email or letter and applicants are advised of the expected recruitment process and timescale.
8.22. Once applications have been received, copies are made and given to the recruiting Partner and the manager of the vacant role for the purpose of short-listing.
8.23. Short-listing will identify those applicants who most closely match the requirements of the role as specified within the job description.
8.24. The People and Culture team will confirm via email or letter to all applicants, where possible, the outcome of their application.
8.25. Interviews are carried out for every vacant role within the firm, including temporary and short-term appointments. They can be formal or informal depending on the nature and level of the role.
8.26. In most circumstances interviews will involve an exchange of questions and answers based upon areas including the background and previous experience of the candidate, their technical knowledge and understanding of their key areas of work, their knowledge of the firm, the reason for their interest in the role for which they are being interviewed, and their desired salary and benefits package. The candidate will have the opportunity to ask questions of the panel members regarding the company, the vacancy role and any other relevant information.
8.27. In some circumstances the candidate may be asked to give a work-related presentation as part of the interview process.
8.28. For some key or senior roles, the firm may require a candidate to undertake a personality profile analysis administered by an external firm. This will assist the panel to understand how well a candidate may fit into the department, and interact with their potential manager and colleagues. A decision to appoint a candidate should never be based solely upon the results of a personal profile analysis, but the results should be considered alongside a candidate’s performance during the interview, and their skills and previous experience.
8.29. During each interview every panel member should make a record of the candidate’s responses. As much information as possible should be recorded in order to assist each panel member to make a fair and objective decision on the candidate’s appropriateness for the role. Panel members’ personal thoughts and opinions should not be recorded. Panel members should be advised that candidates may request to see notes made about them during an interview.
8.30. The decision to appoint a candidate should be reached;
- systematically and objectively on the basis of evidence obtained throughout the selection process;
- without making assumptions or stereotyping;
- keeping all the information in context and not focusing only on one or two issues;
- based upon the merits of each candidate so that it is an independent assessment, before each candidate is compared to one another.
8.31. Once a decision has been reached all documentation relating to the candidates must be returned to the Head of People and Culture for filing or confidential disposal.
Making an offer
8.32. An offer should ideally be made by the People and Culture team, but where this is not possible, by a partner or the Practice Director.
8.33. If there is more than one suitable candidate, it may be appropriate to “hold” rather than reject these candidates until the outcome of the offer to the most suitable candidate is known.
8.34. All unsuccessful candidates will be notified as early as possible, providing relevant feedback as to why they were unsuccessful where possible.
8.35. An offer should be made verbally in the first instance and can then be followed up with a formal letter, which should outline the following;
- the job title;
- the salary;
- the benefits package;
- the number of days of annual leave;
- the length of a probationary period;
- the conditions upon which the offer is made (e.g. police check, solicitor’s disciplinary record, satisfactory references, proof of qualifications and identity).
8.36. Employment references are required to check, verify and validate evidence given by the individual. At least 2 references will be taken up by the People and Culture team, one of which will ideally be from the current most recent employer. If references contain negative or worrying information, the candidate may be contacted in order that the information may be discussed. If the firm find a reference to be unsatisfactory the firm reserve the right to rescind an offer made to the selected candidate.
8.37. Should a police check reveal a criminal conviction that is unspent, and which the firm feel is relevant to the role for which the candidate has been selected, this will be considered very carefully by the partners. The firm reserve the right to rescind an offer made based upon the results of a police check.
8.38. The People and Culture team will carry out checks on the disciplinary record of all newly appointed and solicitors and legal assistants where appropriate. The firm reserves the right to rescind an offer made to the selected candidate should a disciplinary check reveal an unsatisfactory record.
8.39. The selected candidate will be required to provide evidence of qualifications, professional memberships and identification. If they are unable to provide evidence or the evidence is unsatisfactory the firm reserves the right to rescind an offer made to the selected candidate.
8.40. All application forms, CVs and other personal information submitted by candidates during the recruitment and selection procedure will be kept by the People and Culture team and stored confidentially for a period of up to 12 months, after which time it will be destroyed.
Scope and purpose of the policy
9.1. The firm expects all employees, unless prevented by ill health or accident, to devote their whole time and attention to the business of the firm during their working time. Employees may not, without prior written approval, devote any time to any business other than the business of the firm which may:
- conflict with the firm’s business interests;
- adversely affect the firm’s reputation or relations with others; or
- prejudicially affect employees’ ability to carry out their job duties and responsibilities efficiently.
10.1. The firm is committed to ensuring that employees are provided with the necessary knowledge and skills to enable them to perform their work effectively, and to develop their expertise and potential. The firm recognises that the induction procedure is an important tool in facilitating this commitment.
10.4. The firm will endeavour to provide a framework for supporting an appropriate induction.
10.5. The IT Manager is responsible for;
- Ensuring that a telephone and desk top computer or laptop are provided;
- Ensuring that additional hardware and software are supplied upon the approval of the Managing Partner or Practice Director (e.g. company mobile phone, laptop, specialist software);
- Ensuring that the new employee’s computer is equipped with all of the required software and programmes to enable them to carry out their role in full;
- Providing training in relevant software applications and equipment as required;
- Providing the new employee with login details so that the employee can access their account on any computer on the internal network;
- Ensuring that an email address is created to allow the new employee to liaise with all internal and external clients as required;
- Enabling a security access fob with all relevant security access to the firm’s premises during the working day and outside of working hours as required.
10.6. The Head of People and Culture is responsible for;
- Ensuring that the new employee is provided with a contract of employment, Staff Handbook and Operations Manual, and is given instructions for their arrival on their first day.
- Making arrangements for the new employee to be met on their first working day to run through a general induction, provide them with their security access fob and their induction pack;
- Ensuring the new employee is introduced to their colleagues in their immediate team, and setting up welcome meetings with key members of the firm where appropriate;
- Ensuring that the new employee provides all relevant personal information enabling them to be set up on the payroll system and HR database, including bank details, registration card and ITIS slip.
10.7. The Facilities Manager is responsible for completing a full health and safety induction with the new employee, involving giving them a tour of the premises, identifying clearly the fire escape and explaining the correct procedure to be followed in an evacuation, and identifying fire extinguishers. The Facilities Manager will also carry out a risk assessment on the new employee’s department and workstation to ensure they have a safe working environment and all potential risks are removed.
10.8. The employee’s partner/department manager is responsible for;
- Ensuring that the new employee receives a full and effective departmental induction, including information about the departmental structure and reporting lines, and a full explanation of relevant process, procedures and software packages.
- Agreeing with the new employee a probationary plan, including setting up regular meetings to review and assess progress and agreeing performance objectives to be achieved by specific dates;
- Identifying any training and support needed to ensure the new employee is assisted in achieving the agreed objectives during their probationary period.
The new employee
10.9. The firm believes that commitment from both the firm and the new employee is vital in order to ensure the success of the new employee in their role.
10.10. The new employee is therefore expected to make every effort to comply with the firm’s policies and procedures, to work and communicate effectively with their manager and colleagues, show professionalism and dedication in their work and with clients, and demonstrate loyalty and commitment to the firm.
10.11. The new employee is also required to provide all necessary contractual payroll information to the Practice Director at the start and during the course of their employment.
10.12. In return the firm will commit to providing any necessary and relevant support, training and guidance to ensure that the new employee is given every opportunity to succeed within their role and the firm.
10.13. The partner/department manager is strongly encouraged to hold regular meetings with the new employee during their probationary period in order to ensure adequate support and guidance is given.
10.14. The new employee should be given a copy of the firm’s Staff Handbook and Operations Manual as these not only form part of an employee’s terms and conditions, but also provide valuable information about the culture, values and expected standards of behaviour and performance.
11.1. The firm is committed to enabling a culture of open and honest communication between employees and their partner/department manager through which leadership can be demonstrated, feedback can be given, and support and guidance can be requested and provided.
11.2. A performance appraisal is an opportunity for an employee and their partner/department manager to engage in a confidential two-way discussion about events that have happened over the last review period and opportunity for reflection on past performance and achievements. As well as reviewing past performance, it is an opportunity to focus on the next review period, to set agreed performance objectives and make development plans.
11.3. The firm aims to encourage honesty and openness to support on-going improvement in work performance. At no time does the firm endorse a blame culture. If areas of development are identified, this should be seen as an opportunity for the employee and their partner/department manager to find out what training or development can be offered to help them meet their future objectives.
11.4. It is important for every employee to understand the mission, vision, values and aims of the firm, and to understand how they, as an individual, fit into the firm. With this understanding each employee can see how their own contribution in the workplace can directly affect the achievements and successes of the firm.
11.5. The firm has identified a number of key skills which it believes provide value to the business and the employee. The firm believes that each employee must fulfil each skill through their performance and behaviour in order for the firm to be a success. Through the appraisal process, each employee will be assessed on the extent to which they demonstrate each skill, and will be set objectives aimed at improving or maintaining particular behaviours and skills.
11.6. The guide which accompanies the appraisal form will help the partner/department manager establish whether an employee’s behaviour meets the standards required for each skill. Where the employee demonstrates behaviours which are negative, this may be an indication that training development is required, and an objective should be set which will aim to address this development need.
Aims and benefits
11.7. The aim of the appraisal meeting is that all employees will have a two way discussion with their partner/department manager to support performance at work in the following ways;
- To review current performance in order to help employees maximise their potential within the firm and ensure that they are playing a part in achieving the firm’s overall strategic plan;
- To align employee’s objectives with those of the team, department and firm;
- To identify, agree and provide development opportunities and resources which will be beneficial to both the employee and the firm.
11.8. An appraisal meeting can provide the following benefits to the employee;
- A valuable opportunity to focus on work objectives and goals;
- Formal one-to-one time with their partner/department manager;
- Constructive feedback on their work performance;
- An opportunity to communicate their views and feelings on appropriate and required training and development;
- An opportunity to raise issues or concerns;
- Motivation by receiving praise or positive recognition of work efforts and achievements from their partner/department manager;
- Understanding more clearly how and where they fit in with the overall firm strategy.
11.9. An appraisal meeting can provide the following benefits to the partner/department manager;
- Opportunity to hear and exchange views and opinions away from the normal pressures of work;
- Discussion and agreement on an employee’s performance;
- Opportunity to agree or change objectives and goals, both short-term and long-term;
- Opportunity to identify any potential difficulties or areas where more support is required;
- Discussion on how an employee’s goals fit in with the department and the firm;
11.10. Effective appraisal meetings can provide many benefits to the firm, including;
- Employees actively contributing to the overall performance of the firm;
- Improved morale in each individual employee;
- Employees motivated to proactively develop themselves;
- Enabling the mission, vision and values and aims of the firm to be cascaded down to each employee;
- Identification of employees for promotion or succession planning;
- Employees demonstrating the core values and competencies of the firm in their work and performance.
11.11. The participation in the appraisal process is mandatory for all employees, and applies to every employee regardless of their seniority or length of service.
11.12. Employees on fixed term contracts or temporary contracts should also be included in the appraisal process where appropriate.
11.13. Employees on parental leave at the time that appraisal meetings are being conducted should be invited into the office to participate in their appraisal meeting. A keep in touch day (please refer to the firm’s parental Leave policies respectively)) should be used for this occasion.
11.14. For employees on annual leave, or other types of leave or short-term sickness absence, it may be more appropriate for the partner/department manager to rearrange the appraisal meeting to a more convenient date as long as it is as close to the appraisal period as possible. For guidance they should refer to the Head of People and Culture.
11.15. For employees on long-term sickness absence the appraisal meeting may be deferred until such time as the employee is able to return to the workplace.
11.16. Employees who are currently in their probationary period when the appraisal meeting is due should still participate in an appraisal meeting and this should be in addition to regular probationary review meetings with the partner/department manager.
Appraisal life cycle
11.17. The appraisal process should be a continuous cycle running from 1 January to 31 December.
11.18. It is important to note that the actual task of carrying out an appraisal meeting and completing an appraisal form is the final part in a 12 month review period. This is the time when comments on past behaviour, contribution and achievements from that 12 month period will be collated and formally recorded.
11.19. It is essential that the appraisal process becomes continuous and on-going with feedback provided regularly throughout the review period. An individual should ideally never be given feedback in an appraisal that is a shock or surprise, as they should have been informed of their progress against their objectives throughout the review period through regular one-to-one meetings with their partner/department manager.
June/July: half year review
11.20. The partner/department manager is responsible for ensuring that appraisal meetings are booked for all of their staff. Reasonable notice of an appraisal meeting should be given to each employee so that they have adequate time to prepare. This should be a minimum of 1 week where possible. Timelines may be changed if necessary at the discretion of the Managing Partner.
11.21. Both the employee and the partner/department manager should take time leading up to the appraisal meeting to consider the employee’s performance in the review period, and their progress against any objectives set for the review period.
11.22. Both the employee and the partner/department manager should consider appropriate and relevant performance objectives for the employee and these should be taken to and discussed in the meeting.
11.23. Both parties should give consideration to their overall thought on the previous period. Both parties should regularly note down their thoughts and update their informal comments during the course of the review period, rather than leaving it to the last minute. Changes may be made to the comments on the form once both parties have met and the comments are discussed and formalised.
11.24. Where objectives for the previous review period involved the employee working closely with or reporting into another third party, the partner/department manager may feel it appropriate to seek feedback from that third party about the employee’s progress against the particular objective. This is to enable the partner/department manager to give a fair and justified assessment of the employee’s overall performance.
December: the appraisal meeting
11.25. The appraisal meeting should take place in December each year. This meeting will be the final stage of a 12-month review period, and will concentrate on performance demonstrated in that period only.
11.26. The appraisal meeting should be between the employee and their partner/department manager. In some cases, especially where the employee has a secondary reporting line to another manager, this other manager may also be present and will conduct the meeting in partnership with the direct partner/department manager.
11.27. The meeting should be held in a private and neutral location where all parties may be free from interruptions from other employees, emails or telephone calls. Where possible a private meeting room should be booked.
11.28. Where possible there should be no physical barrier between the parties, for example a desk. This will help facilitate an open and honest discussion.
11.29. The appraisal meeting should always be a 2-way process and should focus upon the employee’s performance, achievements and contribution during the last review period, as well as what the employee will be working towards in the next review period.
11.30. It is very important that the employee’s performance is appraised against their job description and the objectives set at the beginning of their review period. An employee must never be compared to employees within their team, department or others in the firm, but instead they should be appraised on their individual merits, achievements and performance.
11.31. The meeting should generally take 1 hour but a degree of flexibility should be allowed in order that the meeting can continue if required. In order to fit around diary commitments, employees may be required to attend their appraisal meeting outside their normal working hours.
11.32. The appraisal form is a formal record of the employee’s performance in the review period leading up to the meeting, for example, in the 12 months before the meeting. It should not focus on performance and behaviour before this period which would have been appraised in a previous appraisal meeting, however previous performance may be discussed if it is relevant to a current performance objective.
11.33. The partner/department manager will address each objective that was set at the last appraisal meeting, one by one with the employee. Both parties should discuss whether they feel the objective was met or achieved and to what level. Where the employee has not met or achieved the objective, both parties should discuss the reasons for it and whether additional support or training should have been provided.
11.34. Once each objective has been discussed, the employee and their partner/department manager will give their comments on the employee’s overall performance during the review period. Comments should be recorded in the comments section of the Objective Form.
11.35. The partner/department manager will give the employee an overall performance rating for their performance in the review period. When assessing the employee’s overall contribution the partner/department manager should consider the employee’s comments on the Appraisal Form. The partner/department manager should also ensure that the full review period is considered and not just recent activity of performance has been completed or achieved by the employee.
11.36. The partner/department manager should discuss the rating they have given with the employee. The rating should ideally not come as a shock to the employee as any issues with performance should have been addressed during the review period through one-to-one meetings, and prior to the appraisal meeting.
11.37. The partner/department manager should ensure that the rating is always a fair and accurate reflection of the employee’s overall performance.
11.38. The performance ratings given to overall performance are:
Developing (partially achieved expectations and/or results): Additional direction and support are needed to enable performance at the level required for the role; willing or able to improve but lacks results required for role; achieves some but not all goals; requires further development to enable performance at the level required for the role.
Good performer: Consistently meets expectations and has a level of good performance; achieves the majority of the core objectives for the role; sometimes exceeds expectations; proactively develops their performance.
Exceeding: Regularly exceeds expectations; requires little to no additional direction to achieve core objectives for the role; readily takes on additional responsibilities and accountability; makes a significant contribution to the firm over and above expectations.
Outstanding: Demonstrates outstanding achievement in performance standard expectations and goals throughout the entire appraisal cycle; an expert in their own field, applying an extremely high level of technical expertise at all times.
November/December - appraisal meeting - setting objectives
11.39. Once the partner/department manager has considered the employee’s performance over the review period they should set performance objectives for the employee to work towards over the following 12-month review period.
11.40. Objectives should be based upon areas of the employee’s performance or behaviour which require development. Examples of areas requiring development might be soft skills such as workload organisation or time management, technical knowledge or expertise, and formal qualifications.
11.41. Objectives should also be used to develop an employee if they were given a low performance rating for the last review period.
11.42. Objectives should address areas for development under any of the key skills which provide greatest opportunity for either the firm and/or the employee to gain greatest benefit.
11.43. Objectives must be SMART;
S: Specific: A precise outcome or behaviour is stated;
M: Measurable: A reliable and fair system of measuring progress is used;
A: Achievable: The objective can be challenging, but not impossible to achieve with adequate support/training;
R: Realistic: The employee has or will be provided with the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to succeed;
T: Time-bound: A start and finish date is clearly stated.
11.44. The partner/department manager and the employee must agree the objectives and a timescale within which they can be reasonably achieved.
11.45. The partner/department manager should monitor the employee’s progress against their objectives throughout the review period, and should provide regular feedback on whether they are making sufficient progress.
11.46. If an employee disagrees with their overall performance rating or comments made by their partner/department manager and would like to take action the employee should follow the firm’s Grievance Procedure.
12.1. The firm understands that from time to time employees will wish to resign from their role within the firm. This could be for a variety of reasons, including career progression or a lifestyle change such as to seek part-time working, or retirement.
12.2. The firm understands the importance of having an established process in place to facilitate an employee’s smooth and trouble free departure from the firm, beginning with clear requirements on how an employee should notify the firm of their intention to give notice to the employee’s final day in the office.
12.3. This policy applies to all employees leaving the employment of Viberts on a permanent basis unless they have been dismissed following disciplinary action, or are an agency worker.
12.4. This policy should be read in conjunction with any clause on giving notice within an employee’s individual contract of employment, where one exists.
Procedure of notification of intention to resign
12.5. If an employee wishes to notify the firm of their intention to resign from their job they must inform their partner in writing of their intention, giving the full notice required under their individual contract of employment. If it is not possible to give the letter to their direct partner the employee should give it to their department manager, or another partner or manager within their department, the Managing Partner or the Practice Director.
12.6. The resignation must be given in writing which may be in the form of a letter or email. The letter may follow up a meeting between the employee and their partner/department manager in which their intention to resign from their role was communicated.
12.7. The written notification of resignation must inform the firm of the employees intended final working day. The firm will then confirm the employees final working day, calculated on their contractual notice period and from the date on which the written notification was received.
12.8. Where possible the employee should also indicate in the letter of resignation whether they wish to use any outstanding leave they may have accrued by their leaving date.
12.9. Once the employee’s resignation notification has been received by the employee’s partner/department manager it will be passed to the People and Culture team and placed on the employee’s personnel file. A copy may also be made and given to the Managing Partner.
12.10. If they have not already done so, the employee’s partner/department manager may choose to have a meeting with the employee to discuss their intention to leave the firm.
12.11. The People and Culture team will confirm to the employee in writing receipt of their letter of resignation and an agreed leaving date. The letter will also confirm arrangements regarding the employee’s pension, annual leave and final salary payment.
12.12. The employee is required to make arrangements regarding the handover of their workload with their partner/department manager so that it can be managed following their departure. The employee’s partner/department manager should also agree within the department what will happen to incoming emails for the resigning employee, and this must be communicated to the Head of Operations.
12.13. The employee’s notice period can be waived with agreement from the Managing Partner. If it is agreed that the employee will work a shorter notice period than their contractual notice period, they will only be paid for the period of notice that they work.
12.14. If the employee decides that they wish to withdraw their resignation they must express their wish to and reason for doing so in writing to the Managing Partner. The Managing Partner will decide at their discretion whether to accept the employee’s withdrawal of resignation, and it should be noted that the Managing Partner is under no obligation to do so.
12.15. The employee’s annual leave entitlement will be pro-rated based upon their agreed leave date, so that the employee’s new entitlement is based upon the number of working days between the beginning of the annual leave year and their leaving date.
12.16. The Practice Director will calculate whether the employee has any outstanding annual leave to be taken, or whether they will owe the firm any annual leave which they have taken over and above their pro-rated entitlement.
12.17. If the employee has any outstanding annual leave to be taken, the firm will use its discretion, on a case by case basis, to decide whether accrued but untaken annual leave should be taken by the employee or whether a payment should be made to the employee in lieu of their untaken annual leave. The employee will receive any such payment in their final salary payment.
12.18. If the employee has used more than their pro-rated annual leave they will be required to repay all or part of the amount they have taken over and above their entitlement. This may be deducted from their final salary without authorisation from the employee.
12.19. The employee may wish to take any outstanding annual leave at the end of their notice period in order to bring forward their final working day, but this must be done with agreement from their partner/department manager and the Managing Partner, and must be done using the appropriate system in the usual manner.
12.20. Employees are not entitled to any discretionary days such as their Birthday, Battle of Flowers or battle of Britain (Air display) whilst in their notice.
12.21. The employee will not receive pay for any days taken as sickness absence during their notice period. They may still be eligible for Short Term Incapacity Benefit from the States of Jersey, and are advised to speak to Social Security for more information.
12.22. If the employee has been in receipt of any financial support for professional training during their employment with the firm, the employee may be liable to repay all or part of the amount paid by the firm, including but not limited to travel expenses, professional memberships and practising certificates. The employee must check the terms of their agreement with the firm regarding financial assistance. If in doubt, the employee should request confirmation of their agreement from the Practice Director. Further information on the repayment of financial support for training and development can be found in the firm’s Training and Development Policy.
12.23. The employee will be informed in their letter of receipt of resignation from the People and Culture team the date on which their final salary payment will be made. Where possible this will usually be on 28th of the month in which the employee works their final day.
12.24. The employee’s final salary will be based upon the number of working days they have worked in their final month.
12.25. The employee’s final salary may include;
- An addition or deduction for annual leave which has been paid, or which the employee owes back to the firm. The employee will be notified of this in advance;
- A deduction for the repayment of any financial support given by the firm for professional training. The employee will be notified of this in advance;
- Any normal deductions which may have been made in previous months, including but not exclusively ITIS, Social Security and any social and charitable contributions;
- Any authorised deductions.
12.26. If the employee no longer works for the firm on the 28th day of their final working month their payslip will be posted to the employee’s home address. It is therefore important that the employee gives the Practice Director an up-to-date forwarding address.
Pension and healthcare
12.27. If the employee is a member of the firm’s pension scheme and healthcare policy, the Practice Director will notify the relevant companies of the employee’s leave date. The insurers will then remove the employee from the pension scheme and/or the healthcare policy with effect from that date.
12.28. The employee will receive further paperwork from the insurers regarding arrangements for their pension.
12.29. The employee may be invited to attend a private exit interview with the People and Culture team in the weeks leading up to their departure from the firm. The interview is optional, and is intended to be an open and honest discussion about their experiences of, and opinions about the firm which may help improve internal processes and procedures.
12.30. The exit interview will be kept strictly confidential unless the information the employee gives can be used to help make internal changes and improvements.
Final working day
12.31. The employee must return their security access fob to the Practice Director or the Head of Operations. Under the firm’s insurance policy, employees are not permitted to be in any secure areas following the termination of their contract. The employee’s security access fob will be disabled from 5pm, or earlier if their contracted hours dictate, on their final working day. As such the employee must clear their desk and remove any personal belongings prior to leaving.
12.32. The employee must return any property in their possession belonging to the firm, including but not limited to mobile phones, a laptop and any paperwork or documentation owned by the firm.
12.33. If requested, the employee will be given their ITIS slips from the duration of their employment with the firm.
12.34. The employee’s company email address will be disabled from 5pm, or earlier if their contracted hours dictate, on their final working day. The Head of Operations will make arrangements to forward any future incoming emails to another member of the department.
12.35. The firm reserves the right to not provide a reference where circumstances make it inappropriate however where a reference request will be responded to the firm will endeavour to respond to such requests made on behalf of the employee by external bodies in a timely manner.
12.36. It is the firm’s policy to provide a basic reference confirming the employee’s dates of service, job title upon leaving, salary upon leaving.
13.1. The firm must ensure that all references given on behalf of Viberts (e.g for other employers, banks etc) are factually correct, so all business requests for employees or ex-employees, whether oral or written, must be referred to the People and Culture team to respond to. Only the Managing Partner, Practice Director or the People and Culture team are authorised to provide references.
13.2. Employees who are requested to provide a personal reference for a colleague or ex-employee should check with the People and Culture team for guidance.
14.1. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all employees are treated and treat others with dignity and respect, and to provide a working environment which is free from bullying and harassment. All employees should take time to ensure that they understand what types of behaviour are unacceptable under this policy.
14.2. This policy covers bullying or harassment which occurs both in and out of the workplace, such as on business trips or at events or work-related social functions. It covers bullying and harassment by employees and also by third parties such as suppliers, clients or visitors to the firm’s premises or functions.
14.3. Employees must treat colleagues and others with dignity and respect and should always consider whether their words or conduct could be offensive to others. Even unintentional bullying or harassment is unacceptable.
14.4. The firm will take allegations of bullying and harassment seriously and will address them promptly and confidentially where possible. Bullying or harassment by an employee may be treated as misconduct under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure. In some cases it may amount to gross misconduct leading to a summary dismissal.
What is harassment?
14.5. 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, Even a single incident can amount to harassment.
14.6. Harassment may involve conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment), or it may be related to any of the characteristics listed in 7.20. in the firm’s Equal Opportunities Policy. Harassment is, however, unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of these categories.
14.7. Harassment may include, for example;
- Unwanted physical contact 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 emails, text messages, video clips and images sent by mobile phone or on the internet) or social media;
- Offensive or intimidating comments or gestures, or insensitive pranks or jokes;
- 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.
14.8. A person may be harassed even if they were not the intended “target”. For example, a person may be harassed by racist jokes about a different ethnic group if they create an offensive environment for them.
What is bullying?
14.9. 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 a person in authority, but can include both personal strength and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation.
14.10. Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct. Bullying may include, by way of example;
- Shouting at, being sarcastic towards, ridiculing or demeaning others in public, or in private;
- Physical or psychological threats;
- Overbearing or intimidating levels of supervision;
- Inappropriate and/or derogatory remarks about someone’s performance;
- Abuse of authority or power by those in positions of seniority;
- Deliberately excluding someone from meetings or communications without good reason;
- Setting objectives with impossible deadlines.
14.11. Legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism of an employee’s performance or behaviour, or reasonable instructions given to employees in the course of their employment will not amount to bullying on their own.
14.12. Employees should disclose any instances of bullying or harassment of which they become aware to the Head of People and Culture.
14.13. No employee should be deterred from making a complaint about bullying and harassment because of fear or embarrassment, intimidation or publicity. The firm respects the need for the utmost confidentiality.
14.14. If an employee feels that they are being bullied or harassed they should initially consider raising the problem informally with the person responsible, if they feel able to do so. The employee should explain clearly that their behaviour is not welcome or makes them feel uncomfortable. If this is too difficult or embarrassing the employee should speak to the Head of People and Culture who can provide confidential advice and assistance in resolving the issue formally or informally.
14.15. If the employee is not certain whether an incident or series of incidents amount to bullying or harassment, the employee should initially contact the Head of People and Culture informally for confidential advice.
14.16. The employee should also keep a record or incidents (and the dates on which they occur) which they believe constitute bullying or harassment.
14.17. If informal steps have not been successful or are not possible or appropriate, the employee should follow the formal procedure set out below.
Raising a formal complaint
14.18. If an employee wishes to make a formal complaint about bullying or harassment they should submit their complaint in writing to the Managing Partner, Practice Director or Head of People and Culture. If the matter concerns that person, the employee should submit their complaint to their partner/department manager, or another partner or manager of the firm.
14.19. The written complaint should set out full details of the conduct in question, including the name of the bully or harasser, the nature of the bullying or harassment, the date(s) and time(s) at which it occurred, the names of any witnesses and any action that has already been taken to stop it from occurring again.
14.20. As a general principle, the decision whether to progress a complaint is up to the employee. However, the firm has a duty to protect all employees and may pursue the matter independently if, considering all the circumstances, the firm considers it appropriate to do so.
14.21. The firm will investigate complaints in a timely and confidential manner. The investigation will be conducted by an individual or a panel with no prior involvement in the complaint. The investigation should be thorough, impartial and objective, and carried out with sensitivity and due respect for the rights of all parties concerned.
14.22. The investigating person/panel will arrange a meeting with the employee, usually within 1 week of receiving the complaint, where reasonably practicable, so that the employee can give their account of events. The investigating person/panel will then arrange further meetings with the employee as appropriate throughout the investigation.
14.23. Where the complaint is about an existing employee the investigating person/panel may recommend to the firm that it considers suspending that person on full pay or making other temporary changes to working arrangements pending the outcome of the investigation, if circumstances require. The investigating person/panel will also meet with the alleged bully or harasser to hear their account of events. They have a right to be told the details of the allegation against them so that they can respond.
14.24. If the complaint is about somebody other than an employee of the firm, such as a client, contractor, visitor or supplier the investigating person/panel will consider what action may be appropriate to protect the employee and anyone else involved pending the outcome of the investigation, bearing in mind the reasonable needs of the business and the rights of the accused person. Where appropriate, the investigating person/panel may attempt to discuss the matter with the third party on behalf of the firm.
14.25. The investigating person/panel will also consider any request that the employee makes for changes to their own working arrangements during the investigation. For example the employee may ask for temporary changes to their duties or working hours so as to avoid or minimise contact with the alleged bully or harasser.
14.26. It may be necessary for the investigation person/panel to interview witnesses to any of the incidents mentioned in the complaint. If so, the importance of confidentiality will be emphasised to them.
14.27. At the end of the investigation, the investigating person/panel will consider the evidence they have gathered from their interviews. They will write a report of their investigations, detailing what accounts were given by each party, and what outcomes and actions they recommend as a result of the investigation. If the Managing Partner was not involved in the investigation, they will be given a copy of the report to consider whether they feel the suggested actions are appropriate and fair. The Managing Partner, Practice Director or Head of People and Culture or the investigating person/panel will then arrange a meeting with the employee in order to discuss the evidence and give their outcome and actions to be taken, if any are recommended. A copy of the report will be given to the employee and to the alleged harasser or bully.
Action following the investigation
14.28. If the investigating person/panel considers that bullying or harassment has occurred, prompt action will be taken to address it.
14.29. Where the bully or harasser is an employee, the matter will be dealt with as a case of possible misconduct or gross misconduct under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure.
14.30. Where the bully or harasser is a third party, appropriate action might include putting up signs within the premises setting out acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, speaking or writing to the person and/or their superior about their behaviour, or, in very serious cases, banning them from the premises or terminating a contract with them.
14.31. Whether or not the employee’s complaint of bullying or harassment is upheld, the firm will consider how best to manage the on-going working relationship between the employee and the alleged bully or harasser. It may be appropriate to arrange some form of mediation and/or counselling, or to change the duties, working location or reporting lines of one or both parties. Any outcome will be based upon the needs of the business, as well as the well-being and happiness of the parties involved.
14.32. If the employee is unsatisfied with the outcome of their complaint they may appeal in writing to the Senior Partner stating the full grounds of appeal. This should be submitted within 1 week of the date on which they were given the outcome of their original complaint, where possible.
14.33. The Senior Partner may investigate the appeal independently or with one or more partners or senior managers of the firm if they wish. They will arrange an appeal meeting with the employee within 1 week of receiving the written appeal, where reasonably practicable. The employee may bring representation to this meeting (see Appendix A for a full definition of “representation”). The appeal person/panel will arrange as many meetings as they feel necessary with the employee, the alleged bully or harasser and any witnesses, until they feel they are able to reach a decision.
14.34. Following the appeal investigation, the appeal person/panel will confirm the final decision in writing to the employee and the alleged bully or harasser. This decision is final and there is no further route of appeal.
Protection and support for those involved
14.35. Employees who make complaints or who participate in good faith in any investigation conducted under this policy must not suffer any form of retaliation or victimisation as a result.
14.36. If the employee believes they have suffered any such treatment they should inform the Head of People and Culture. If the matter is not remedied the employee should raise it formally using the firm’s Grievance Procedure or this procedure if appropriate.
14.37. Anyone who is found to have retaliated 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 the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure.
Confidentiality and data protection
14.38. Confidentiality is an important part of the procedures provided under this policy. Everyone involved in the operation of the policy, whether making a complaint or involved in any investigation is responsible for observing the high level of confidentiality that is required. Details of the investigation and the names of all parties involved must only be disclosed on a “need to know” basis.
14.39. Any individual who is found to have breached this confidentiality, whether involved in the case or not, may be dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Policy.
14.40. Information about a complaint by or about an employee may be placed on the employee’s personnel file, along with a record of the outcome and of any notes or other documents compiled during the process. These will be processed in accordance with the firm’s Data Protection Policy.
Leave application procedure
15.5. If for any unexpected reason, you become aware that you will be late returning form annual leave for circumstance out of your control, you must notify your manager of the late return and the circumstance surrounding the late return and discuss and agree a revised arrangement i.e., additional annual leave, unpaid leave or other arrangements, Failure to do so will render you liable to disciplinary action.
15.6. If you are working your notice, please refer to section 12 of the staff handbook for details of how annual leave will be accounted for.
16.1. This policy sets out the firm’s procedures for reporting sickness absence and for the firm’s management of sickness absence in a fair and consistent way.
16.2. Sickness absence can vary from short intermittent periods of ill health (referred to in this policy as short-term sickness absence) 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.)
16.3. The firm wishes 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.
16.4. The firm reserves the right to vary the procedures set out in this policy, including any time limits, as appropriate in any case.
16.5. The firm is aware that sickness absence may result from a disability. At each stage of the sickness absence meetings procedure where the employee has a disability, particular consideration will be given to whether there are reasonable adjustments that could be made to the requirements of a job or other aspects of working arrangements that will provide support to an employee at work and/or assist an employee in returning to work.
16.6. If an employee considers that they are affected by a disability or any medical condition that affects their ability to undertake their work, they should inform the Head of People and Culture immediately.
16.7. Reasonable time off with pay will be allowed for hospital, doctors and dentist appointments or for emergency medical or dental treatment. Employees are expected to ensure that appointments are taken before or after the working day. Where this is not possible it is expected that the employee will make an appointment which causes the least disruption to their normal working day, for example by taking an appointment at the beginning or the end of the working day (i.e. within the first or last hour) or during a lunch period.
16.8. Any appointment that occurs during the employee’s normal working hours must be authorised by their partner/department manager, and they may request that the employee works back any time taken.
16.9. It is accepted that there are occasions when the employee will have no control over the time of an appointment, for example those allocated by a hospital or clinic where the employee has been subject to a waiting list process.
Sickness absence reporting procedure
16.10. If an employee is taken ill or injured while at work they should report it to their partner/department manager and, if possible, the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture immediately. The employee may be given permission to leave work. The Health and Safety Officer should be informed in cases of an injury at work so that it can be recorded in the accident book, and so that any necessary action can be taken.
16.11. If the employee cannot attend work because they are ill or injured they should telephone their partner/department manager or the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture as soon as possible at the start of their working day, i.e. at 9am and before 9.30am. The employee must make the call themselves unless they are incapacitated and unable to do so, for example if they are hospitalised.
16.12.The employee should always attempt to speak directly to their partner/department manager to report their sickness. If they are not available, the employee can speak to the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture. Notification of non-attendance at work due to illness or injury by voicemail, text or email is not acceptable unless in an emergency where it is not possible for them to speak to someone in person.
16.13. When notifying of sickness absence, the employee should provide the following information;
- The nature of their illness;
- The expected length of their absence from work;
- Their contact details;
- Any outstanding or urgent work that requires attention.
16.14. Partners/department managers should ensure that;
- Any sickness absence that is notified to them is recorded and reported to the Practice Director and Head of People and Culture as soon as possible;
- Arrangements are made, where necessary, to cover work and to inform colleagues and clients of the employee’s absence (while maintaining confidentiality);
- The Head of Operations is informed immediately so that they can set up an out-of-office notification on the employee’s email account (while maintaining confidentiality); and
- The Practice Director and Head of People and Culture is informed when the employee returns to work following sickness absence, whether short or long-term.
16.15. The employee should expect to be contacted during their absence by their department, their partner/department manager or the Practice Director and Head of People and Culture who may wish to enquire after their health and be advised if possible of their expected return to work date.
16.16. If the employee is ill or injured during a period of pre-arranged annual leave they may elect to treat the days of incapacity as sickness absence instead of annual leave. In order to do this the employee must provide a valid doctor’s certificate to cover the entire period of their illness.
Evidence of incapacity
16.17. For sickness absence of up to and including 2 days the employee must enter an absense request on Indigo for approval by the manager.
16.18. For absence of 3 days or longer the employee must also obtain a valid doctor’s certificate from their general practitioner stating that they are unfit for work and the reason(s) why. The employee must complete the relevant sections of the form and provide copies to the Practice Director as soon as possible, posting the certificate if necessary. If the employee’s absence continues beyond the end date on the certificate, they must obtain further medical certificates to cover the entire period of their absence. The employee should submit the original certificate(s) to the Social Security Department to claim any benefits due.
16.19. Absence that has not been notified in accordance with the reporting procedure in this policy may be treated as unauthorised absence.
16.20. Cases of unauthorised absence will be dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure.
16.21. If the employee does not report to work and has not telephoned their partner/department manager or the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture to explain the reason for their absence, the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture will try to contact them by telephone and in writing if necessary. This should not be treated as a substitute for reporting sickness in the correct way.
16.22. Where the employee’s sickness absence is covered by a valid doctor’s certificate they are entitled to claim short-term sickness benefit from the Social Security Department at the current rate. The value of their benefit will depend on their own social security contributions, and this will be confirmed to them by the Social Security Department.
16.23. The sum of sickness benefit paid to the employee will be deducted from their salary. The employee is required to provide a copy of their medical certificate, to the Practice Director, based upon which the sum of sickness benefit they are entitled to will be calculated and deducted from their salary. If a copy is not provided, the firm will calculate the amount of benefit they would have received based on the period of absence and will deduct if from the employees’ salary.
16.24. At the discretion of the partners, an employee may receive full pay during periods of sickness absence, up to a maximum of 20 days in any rolling 12 months provided that they have surrendered their social security benefits to the firm. If the employee is not in receipt of social security benefit they will be paid their full wages less the amount of social security benefit they would have received had they been eligible.
16.25. Salary will not be paid to an employee who is absent from work due to illness or injury for more than 20 days in any rolling 12 months, save at the discretion of the managing partner.
16.26. Where the employee takes sickness leave during their notice period, they will not be paid for it. The employee may still be entitled to receive short-term incapacity benefit from Social Security, and they are advised to speak to the Social Security Department for more information about their entitlements.
Keeping in contact during sickness absence
16.27. If the employee is on sick leave they should expect to be contacted from time to time by their department manager, Practice Director or Head of People and Culture in order to discuss their well-being, expected length of continued absence from work and any of their work that requires attention in their absence. Such contact is intended to provide reassurance and will be kept to a reasonable minimum.
16.28. If the employee has any concerns while absent on sick leave, whether about the reason for their absence or their ability to return to work, they should feel free to contact the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture at any time.
16.29. The firm may, at any time in operating this policy, ask the employee to consent to a medical examination by an appointed medical practitioner, at the firm’s expense.
16.30. The employee should be informed that any report produced in connection with any such examination will be disclosed to the firm and that the firm may discuss the contents of the report with the relevant doctor.
16.31. The employee will be asked to authorise their medical adviser to give to the firm any information which they reasonably require relating to the employee’s health or fitness for work.
16.32. After any period of sickness the employee may be requested to attend a return-to-work interview with the Head of People and Culture or their partner/department manager.
16.33 A return-to-work interview enables the firm to confirm details of the employee’s absence and allows the firm to offer any support the employee may find helpful. It also gives the employee the opportunity to raise any concerns or questions they may have, and to bring any relevant matters to the firm’s attention.
16.34. The firm is committed to helping employees return to work from long-term sickness absence. As part of the firm’s sickness absence meetings procedure the firm will, where possible and appropriate, support returns to work by;
- Obtaining medical advice;
- Making reasonable adjustments to the workplace, working practices or working hours;
- Considering redeployment; and/or
- Agreeing a return to work programme with everyone affected.
16.35. If the employee is unable to return to work in the longer term, the firm will consider whether the employee is entitled to any benefits under their contract and/or any insurance schemes the firm operates.
Sickness absence meetings procedure
16.36. Disciplinary action to manage long-term genuine sickness absence is inappropriate as it may be very distressing to the employee. Therefore the use of disciplinary action for absence is limited to the following circumstances;
- Unauthorised absence;
- Falsely claiming sick leave and pay when sickness is not the reason for the absence.
16.37. The employee will not receive pay for any days taken as sickness during their notice period (see 12.21 exit procedure).
16.38. It is recognised that persistent or long-term sickness absence cannot be sustained by the firm indefinitely, no matter how genuine the sickness is. The process described in this policy, and specifically the cautions are not intended to be punitive, but instead are intended to advise the employee of the potential seriousness of their situation and the impact that their continued absence may have on their employment with the firm.
Procedure for managing persistent, short-term absence
16.39. The firm may apply this procedure whenever it is considered necessary, including, for example, if the employee;
- Has been absent due to illness on a number of separate occasions; or
- Has been absent for more than 20 days in any rolling 12 months.
Informal interview of concern
16.40. Where the employee’s sickness causes concern their partner/department manager, Practice Director or Head of People and Culture will discuss this with the employee in an informal meeting. The purpose of the meeting will be to investigate whether there is an underlying problem resulting in the period(s) of sickness absence. A monitoring period may be set in which the employee must demonstrate significant improvement in their attendance at work. The employee may also be informed that if improvement is not made the firm may address its concerns through the formal sickness absence management procedure.
16.41. If the firm feels that the employee has not made significant improvement in their attendance levels, and that the employee has continued to have frequent intermittent sickness absences from work, the employee will be invited to attend a formal sickness absence management meeting (see 16.42).
16.42. If, at any time during the employee’s employment, it is considered that the employee has taken or is taking sickness absence when they are not genuinely unwell, the firm may refer matters to be dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure.
Right to be accompanied at meetings
16.43. At any formal meeting under this procedure the employee is entitled to bring representation (see Appendix A for a definition of “representation”).
Stage 1 – first formal meeting
16.44. The firm will give the employee reasonable written notice of the date, time and place of the sickness absence meeting. The firm will also put in writing its concerns about the employee’s sickness absence and the basis for those concerns or otherwise advise why the meeting is being called.
16.45. The meeting will be held by a panel of the firm’s choice made up of one or more people. Where possible, the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture will also be present.
16.46. The employee must take all reasonable steps to attend a meeting. Failure to attend without good reason may be treated as misconduct. If the employee is unable to attend at the time specified, they should inform the organising manager immediately, who will seek to agree an alternative time. If the employee is repeatedly unable to attend a meeting the panel may choose to make a decision in the employee’s absence based upon the evidence available to them at that time.
16.47. A meeting may be adjourned if the panel is awaiting receipt of information, needs to gather further information or give consideration to matters discussed at a previous meeting. The employee will be given reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the meeting is reconvened.
16.48. At the meeting the panel will;
- Inform the employee of the impact their repeated sickness absence is having on their department and the wider firm;
- Investigate the reasons for their repeated sickness absence;
- Offer any reasonable support, where available;
- Set a review period in which the employee must demonstrate significant improvement in their attendance at work;
- Warn the employee that should no satisfactory improvement be made, the procedure will move to the next stage of the sickness absence management procedure.
16.49. At the end of the review period the panel will consider the employee’s attendance during that period.
16.50. If the panel feels that the employee’s attendance has improved to a satisfactory level, the absence management procedure will not be continued at that stage. However, the employee’s attendance at work will continue to be monitored and if at any time their sickness absence levels cause concern the formal sickness absence management procedure will be reinstated, and the employee will be invited to attend the next meeting in the procedure.
16.51. If at the end of the review period the panel feels that the employee’s attendance at work has not improved to a satisfactory level the employee will be invited to attend the next stage meeting of the sickness absence management procedure.
Stage 2 – final formal meeting
16.52. The final formal meeting will follow the same procedure under Stage 1 – first formal meeting.
16.53. At this meeting the employee will be informed that should they not demonstrate satisfactory improvement in their attendance at work, their role may be at risk of termination.
16.54. If the panel feels that the employee’s attendance has improved to a satisfactory level, the absence management procedure will not be continued at that stage. However, the employee’s attendance at work will continue to be monitored and if at any time their sickness absence levels cause concern the formal sickness absence management procedure will be reinstated, and the employee will be invited to attend the next meeting in the procedure.
16.55. If the panel feels that the employee’s sickness absence levels have not satisfactorily improved, all details of their sickness absence meetings, review periods and sickness absence levels will be reviewed by the panel.
16.56. The panel will then make a decision on whether the employee’s contract of employment should be terminated on the grounds that the employee is failing to adequately and consistently carry out their duties of their role. If the Managing Partner is not part of the investigation panel, the panel will make their final recommendation to the Managing Partner.
16.57. The employee will be informed in writing of the decision to terminate their contract, and they will be
advised of their entitlement to notice, or a payment in lieu of notice.
16.58. The employee has the right to appeal this decision.
Procedure for managing long-term sickness absence
16.59. For the purpose of this policy, long-term sickness absence is defined as any period of authorised absence lasting longer than 4 weeks, regardless of whether this period is a consecutive period of 4 weeks or not.
Planned long-term sickness absence
16.60. On occasions of long-term planned sickness absence, for example if the employee undergoes a planned operation with a period of rehabilitation or is recovering from broken bones or other injuries, the firm will discuss with the employee beforehand their anticipated period of absence from work. The firm will discuss whether the employee’s duties can be covered internally or by recruiting in temporary assistance.
16.61. The employee is required to keep the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture informed of their progress and intended return date during their absence, as well as their whereabouts and contact details during their absence. The employee must also forward all medical certificates to the Practice Director as soon as possible.
16.62. The firm will consider whether any adjustments need to be made to support their return to the workplace, this may include temporarily reducing their working hours, temporarily amending or reducing their work duties or changing their work location.
Unplanned long-term sickness absence
16.63. During periods of unplanned long-term sickness absence, for example if the employee is suffering from stress, depression or an on-going serious illness, the firm will use its discretion in providing the most appropriate support to aid the employee’s eventual return to work. The firm may require further information from the employee’s general practitioner, or may require the employee to undergo further medical examinations at the firm’s expense so that the firm is able to understand the full extent of the employee’s sickness and any possible recovery.
16.64. Once the firm feels it has all the information needed to make an informed decision, it may choose to do one of the following, at its discretion;
- Await the employee’s further recovery for a period of time, after which the firm make a decision on how to proceed;
- Make reasonable adjustments to working conditions, such as reducing working hours, amending or reducing work duties, or moving their workstation to a more accessible location within the firm’s premises;
- Redeployment to a more suitable and manageable role within the business, whether or not this may be at a lower level and pay; or
- Termination on the grounds of capability (for which the employee will be entitled to notice or payment in lieu of notice). More information on the capability procedure is detailed in the firm’s Capability Procedure.
16.65. The employee has the right to appeal any decision to terminate their contract.
16.66. The employee may appeal against the outcome of any stage of this procedure.
16.67. An appeal should be made in writing, stating the full grounds of appeal, to the Senior Partner within 1 week of the date on which the decision was communicated to the employee.
16.68. The appeal panel will consist of 1 or more senior employees of the firm.
16.69. Unless it is not practicable the employee will be given written notice of an appeal meeting within 1 week of their appeal letter being received. A delay may be required if any new information is raised in an appeal.
16.70. The employee will be provided with written details of any new information which comes to light before an appeal meeting. The employee will also be given a reasonable opportunity to consider this information before the meeting.
16.71. The employee is entitled to bring representation to any appeal hearing (see Appendix A for a definition of “representation”).
16.72. Depending on the grounds of appeal, the appeal meeting may be a complete rehearing of the matter, or a review of the original decision.
16.73. Following an appeal the original decision may be confirmed, revoked or replaced with a different decision. The final decision will be confirmed in writing, if possible, within 1 week of the final appeal meeting. There will be no further right of appeal.
16.74. The date that any dismissal takes effect will not be delayed pending the outcome of an appeal. However, if the appeal is successful, the decision to dismiss will be revoked with no loss of continuity of service or pay.
17.1. The primary aim of this procedure is to provide a framework within which managers can work with employees to maintain satisfactory performance standards and to encourage improvement where necessary.
17.2. It is the firm’s policy to ensure that concerns over performance are dealt with fairly and that steps are taken to establish the facts and give employees the opportunity to respond at a hearing before any formal action is taken.
What is covered by the policy?
17.3. This policy is used to deal with poor performance. It does not apply to cases involving proposed redundancies or misconduct. In those cases reference should be made to the appropriate policy or procedure in the Staff Handbook.
Identifying performance issues
17.4. In the first instance performance issues should normally be dealt with informally between the employee and their partner/department manager as part of day-to-day management. Where appropriate, a note of any such informal discussions may be placed on the employee’s personnel file. The formal procedure should be used for more serious cases, or in any case where an earlier informal discussion has not resulted in satisfactory improvement. Informal discussions may help;
- Clarify the required standards of performance;
- Identify areas of concern regarding performance;
- Establish the likely cause(s) of poor performance and identify any training needs; and/or
- Set targets for improvement and a time-scale for review.
17.5. Employees will not normally be dismissed for performance reasons without previous warnings. However, in serious cases of gross negligence, or in any case involving an employee who has not yet completed their probationary period, dismissal without previous warnings may be appropriate.
17.6. If the firm has concerns about an employee’s performance, it will undertake an assessment to decide if there are grounds for taking formal action under this procedure. The procedure involved will depend on the circumstances but may involve reviewing the employee’s personnel file including any appraisal records, gathering any relevant documents, monitoring their work and, if appropriate, interviewing the employee and/or other individuals confidentially regarding their work.
17.7. Consideration will be given to whether poor performance may be related to a disability and, if so, whether there are reasonable adjustments that could be made to the employee’s working arrangements, including changing their duties providing additional equipment and/or training. The firm may also consider making adjustments to this procedure in appropriate cases.
17.8. If the employee wants to discuss this or inform the firm of any medical condition they consider relevant, they should contact their partner/department manager, Practice Director or Head of People and Culture.
17.9. The firm’s aim is to deal with performance matters sensitively and with due respect for the privacy of any individuals involved. All employees must treat as confidential any information communicated to them in connection with a matter which is subject to this Capability Procedure.
17.10. The employee will normally be told the names of any witnesses whose evidence is relevant to their capability hearing, unless the firm believes that a witness’ identity should remain confidential.
Notification of a capability hearing
17.11. If the firm considers that there are grounds for taking formal action over alleged poor performance, the employee will be required to attend a capability hearing. The firm will notify the employee in writing of its concerns over the employee’s performance, the reasons for those concerns, and the likely outcome if the firm decides after the hearing that the employee’s performance has been unsatisfactory. The firm will also include the following where appropriate;
- A summary of relevant information gathered as part of any investigation;
- A copy of any relevant documents which will be used at the capability hearing; and
- A copy of any relevant witness statements, except where a witness’ identity is to be kept confidential, in which case the firm will give the employee as much information as possible while maintaining confidentiality.
17.12. The firm will give the employee written notice of the date, time and place of the capability hearing. The hearing will be held as soon as reasonably practicable, but the employee will be given a reasonable amount of time to prepare their case based on the information the firm has given them.
Right to be accompanied at hearings
17.13. The employee is entitled to bring representation to any formal meeting under this policy (see Appendix A for a definition of “representation”).
Procedure at capability hearings
17.14. If the employee or their representative cannot attend the hearing the employee should inform the firm immediately and the firm will usually arrange an alternative time. The employee must make every effort to attend the hearing, and failure to attend without good reason may be treated as misconduct in itself. If the employee fails to attend without good reason, or is persistently unable to attend (for example due to ill health reasons), the firm may have to take a decision in the employee’s absence based upon the evidence available to them at that time.
17.15. The hearing will be held by one or more senior manager(s) or Partner(s) of the firm, and will also normally be attended by the Practice Director, Head of People and Culture or some other person in the capacity as note taker.
17.16. The aims of the capability hearing will usually include;
- Setting out the required standards that the firm believes the employee may have failed to meet, and going through any relevant evidence that the firm has gathered;
- Allowing the employee to ask questions and respond to evidence;
- Establishing the likely cause(s) of poor performance including any reasons why any measures taken so far have not led to the required improvement;
- Identifying whether there are further measures, such as additional training or supervision, which may improve performance;
- Where appropriate, discussing targets for improvement and a time-scale for review; and
- If dismissal is a possibility, establishing whether there is any likelihood of a significant improvement being made within a reasonable time and whether there is any practical alternative to dismissal, such as redeployment.
17.17. A hearing may be adjourned if the firm needs to gather any information or give consideration to matters discussed at the hearing. The employee will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the hearing is reconvened.
17.18. The firm will inform the employee in writing of its decision and the reasons for it, usually within 1 week of the capability hearing where reasonably practicable.
Stage 1 hearing – first written warning
17.19. Following a stage 1 capability hearing, if the firm decides that the employee’s performance is unsatisfactory, the firm will give the employee a first written warning setting out;
- The areas in which the employee has not met the required performance standards;
- Targets for improvement;
- Any measures such as additional training or supervision which will be taken with a view to supporting the employee to improve their performance;
- A period for review; and
- The consequences of failing to improve within the review period, or of a further unsatisfactory performance.
17.20. A first written warning will be authorised by the Managing Partner.
17.21. The warning will normally remain active for 6 months from the end of the review period set in any issued warning, after which time it will be disregarded for the purposes of the capability procedure. It will remain on the employee’s personnel file permanently.
17.22. The employee’s performance will be monitored during the review period and the firm will write to inform the employee about the outcome;
- If the employee’s partner/department manager is satisfied with their performance, no further action will be taken;
- If the employee’s partner/department manager is not satisfied, the matter may be progressed to a stage 2 capability hearing; or
- If the partner/department manager feels that there has been a substantial but insufficient improvement, the review period may be extended.
Stage 2 – final written warning
17.23. If the employee’s performance does not improve within the review period set out in a first written warning or if there is further evidence of poor performance whilst their first written warning is still active, the firm may decide to hold a stage 2 capability hearing. The firm will send the employee written notification.
17.24. The procedure for a stage 2 capability hearing will follow the stage 1 procedure.
17.25. A final written warning will be authorised by the Managing Partner.
17.26. A final written warning will normally remain active for 12 months from the end of the review period set in the warning. After the active period the warning will remain permanently on the employee’s personnel file.
17.27. The employee’s performance will be monitored during the review period and the firm will write to inform the employee of the outcome;
- If the employee’s partner/department manager is satisfied with their performance no further action will be taken;
- If the employee’s partner/department manager is not satisfied the matter may be progressed to a stage 3 capability hearing; or
- If the partner/department manager feels that there has been a substantial but insufficient improvement, the review period may be extended.
Stage 3 – dismissal or redeployment
17.28. The firm may decide to hold a stage 3 capability hearing if it has reason to believe;
- The employee’s performance has not improved sufficiently within the review period set out in a final written warning;
- The employee’s performance is unsatisfactory while a final written warning is active; or
- The employee’s performance has been grossly negligent such as to warrant dismissal without the need for a final written warning.
17.29. The firm will send the employee written notification of the hearing.
17.30. Following the hearing, if the firm finds that the employee’s performance is unsatisfactory, it may consider a range of options including;
- Dismissing the employee;
- Redeploying the employee into another suitable role at the same or lower grade;
- Providing relevant training/development where it is felt that by receiving the training, the employee will be capable of carrying out their role;
- Extending an active final written warning and setting a further review period (in exceptional cases where the firm believes a substantial improvement is likely within the review period); or
- Giving a final written warning (where no final written warning is currently active).
17.31. The final decision will be authorised by the Managing Partner.
17.32. Dismissal will normally be with full contractual notice or payment in lieu of notice, unless the employee’s performance has been so negligent as to amount to gross misconduct, in which case the firm may dismiss the employee without notice or any pay in lieu.
Appeals against action for poor performance
17.33. If the employee feels that a decision about poor performance under this procedure is wrong or unjust the employee should appeal in writing to the Senior Partner, stating their full grounds of appeal. This should be submitted within 1 week of the date on which the employee was informed in writing of the decision of the hearing.
17.34. If the employee is appealing against dismissal, the date on which the dismissal takes place will not be delayed pending the outcome of the appeal. However, if the appeal is successful the employee may be reinstated with no loss of continuity or pay.
17.35. If the employee raises any new matters in their appeal, the firm may need to carry out further investigation. If any new information comes to light the firm will provide the employee with a summary including, where appropriate, copies of additional relevant documents and witness statements. The employee will be given reasonable opportunity to consider this information before the hearing.
17.36. The firm will give the employee written notice of the date, time and place of the appeal hearing. This will be at the firm’s discretion depending on the circumstances of the case.
17.37. The appeal hearing will normally be conducted by one or more senior manager(s) or Partner(s) who have not been previously involved with the case. The Practice Director or Head of People and Culture will also normally be present. The employee may bring a representative to the hearing (see Appendix A for a definition of “representation”).
17.38. A hearing may be adjourned if the panel needs to gather any further information or give consideration to matters discussed at the hearing. The employee will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the hearing is reconvened.
17.39. Following the appeal the panel may;
- Confirm the original decision;
- Revoke the original decision; or
- Substitute a different decision and/or penalty.
17.40. The panel will inform the employee in writing of its final decision as soon as possible, usually within 1 week of the final appeal hearing. There will be no further right of appeal.
18.1. These Disciplinary Rules should be read in conjunction with the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure. The aim of the Disciplinary Rules and Disciplinary Procedure is to set out the standards of conduct expected of all employees at all times, and to provide a framework within which partners/department managers can work with employees to maintain those standards and encourage improvement where necessary.
18.2. It is the firm’s policy to ensure that any disciplinary matter is dealt with fairly and in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure.
18.3. If an employee is in any doubt as to their responsibilities or the standards of conduct expected they should speak to their partner/department manager, the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture.
Rules of conduct
18.4. While working for the firm the employee should at all times maintain professional and responsible standards of conduct. In particular the employee should;
- Observe all of the terms and conditions of their contract;
- Observe all of the firm’s policies, procedures and regulations including those in the Staff Handbook, the Operations Manual and the firm’s AML Handbook, or which are notified to the employee from time to time by means of e-mail or otherwise;
- Take reasonable care in respect of the health and safety of colleagues and third parties and comply with the firm’s Health and Safety Policy;
- Comply with all reasonable instructions given by partners and managers; and
- Act at all times in good faith and in the best interests of the firm, its clients and employees.
18.5. Failure to maintain satisfactory standards of conduct may result in action being taken under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure.
18.6. The following are examples of matters that will normally be regarded as misconduct and will be dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure;
- Breaches of the firm’s policies and procedures;
- Breaches of the employee’s contract of employment;
- Damage to, or unauthorised use of, the firm’s property;
- Poor time-keeping;
- Time wasting;
- Unauthorised absence from work;
- Refusal to follow reasonable instructions;
- Excessive use of the firm’s telephones for personal calls;
- Excessive personal mobile phone, email or internet usage;
- Obscene language or other offensive behaviour;
- Negligence in the performance of their duties; or
- Smoking in non-smoking areas.
This list is intended as a guide and is not exhaustive.
18.7. Gross misconduct is a serious breach of contract, policies or procedures, and includes misconduct which, in the firm’s opinion, is likely to prejudice the firm’s business or reputation or irreparably damage the working relationship and trust between employer and employee. Gross misconduct will be dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure and will normally lead to dismissal without notice or pay in lieu of notice (summary dismissal).
18.8. The following are examples of matters that are normally regarded as gross misconduct;
- Theft, unauthorised removal of the firm’s property or the property of a colleague, contractor, client, customer or member of the public, fraud, forgery or other dishonesty, including fabrication of expense claims and overtime sheets;
- Physical violence or bullying, threatened violence, other bullying and/or harassment or behaviour which provokes violence;
- Deliberate damage to the firm’s buildings, fittings, property or equipment, or the property of a colleague, contractor, customer or member of the public;
- Serious misuse of the firm’s property or name;
- Deliberately accessing internet sites containing pornographic, offensive or obscene material;
- Serious insubordination or repeated or serious failure to obey instructions;
- Unlawful discrimination or harassment;
- Bringing the organisation into serious disrepute;
- Being under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or other substances during working hours;
- Causing loss, damage or injury through serious negligence;
- Serious breach of health and safety rules or serious misuse of safety equipment;
- Serious breach of confidence, unauthorised use or disclosure of confidential information or failure to ensure that confidential information in their possession is kept secure;
- Acceptance of bribes or other secret payments;
- Accepting a gift of more than a minimal value from a client, customer, supplier, contractor or other third party in connection with their employment without prior consent from their partner/department manager;
- Conviction for a criminal offence that in the firm’s opinion may affect the firm’s reputation or the firm’s relationships with its employees, clients or the public, or otherwise affects their suitability to continue to work for the firm;
- Possession, use, supply or attempted supply of illegal drugs;
- Serious neglect of duties, or a serious or deliberate breach of their contract or operating procedures;
- Unauthorised use, processing or disclosure of personal data contrary to the firm’s Data Protection Policy;
- Harassment of, or discrimination against, employees, contractors, clients or members of the public, related to gender, marital or civil partner status, gender reassignment, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, disability, religion or belief or age contrary to the firm’s Equal Opportunities Policy or the firm’s Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy.
- Refusal to disclose any of the information required by their employment or any other information that may have a bearing on the performance of their duties;
- Giving false information as to qualifications or entitlement to work (including residential status) in order to gain employment or other benefits.
- Knowingly taking parental leave when not eligible to do so or for a purpose other than supporting a child;
- Making untrue allegations in bad faith against a colleague;
- Making untrue statements regarding matters relating to a client instruction;
- Deliberately and/or knowingly misleading a client in the course of a matter;
- Victimising a colleague who has raised concerns, made a complaint or given evidence or information under any of the firm’s policies or procedures;
- Serious misuse of the firm’s information technology systems (including misuse of developed or licensed software, use of unauthorised software and misuse of e-mail and the internet);
- Undertaking unauthorised paid or unpaid employment during their working hours;
- Being declared bankrupt as defined in Article 13 of the Interpretation (Jersey) Law 1954 or making or attempt to make any voluntary arrangement with their creditors generally; and
- Losing any licence or qualification which the firm considers necessary or desirable for the performance of their duties.
This list is intended as a guide and is not exhaustive.
19.1. The aims of the this Disciplinary Procedure and its associated Disciplinary Rules are to set out the standards of conduct expected of all employees and to provide a framework within which managers can work with employees to maintain satisfactory standards of conduct and to encourage improvement where necessary.
19.2. It is the firm’s policy to ensure that any disciplinary matter is dealt with fairly and that steps are taken to establish the facts and to give employees the opportunity to respond before taking any formal action.
What is covered by the procedure?
19.3. This procedure is used to deal with misconduct. It does not apply to cases involving genuine sickness absence, proposed redundancies or poor performance. In those cases reference should be made to the appropriate policy or procedure elsewhere in the Staff Handbook.
19.4. Minor conduct issues can often be resolved informally between the employee and their partner/department manager. These discussions should be held in private and without undue delay whenever there is cause for concern. Where appropriate a note of any such informal discussions may be placed on their personnel file. In some cases an informal verbal warning may be given, which will not form part of their disciplinary records. Formal steps will be taken under this procedure if the matter is not resolved, or if informal discussion is not appropriate (for example, because of the seriousness of the allegation).
19.5. The employee will not normally be dismissed for a first act of misconduct, unless the firm decides it amounts to gross misconduct or the employee has not yet completed their probationary period.
19.6. If the employee has difficulty at any stage of the procedure because of a disability, they should discuss the situation with the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture as soon as possible.
19.7. The firm’s aim is to deal with disciplinary matters sensitively and with due respect for the privacy of any individuals involved. All employees must treat as confidential any information communicated to them in connection with an investigation or disciplinary matter.
19.8. The employee will normally be told the names of any witnesses whose evidence is relevant to disciplinary proceedings against the employee, unless the firm believes that a witness’ identity should remain confidential.
19.9. The purpose of an investigation is for the firm to establish a fair and balanced view of the facts relating to any disciplinary allegations against the employee before deciding whether to proceed with a disciplinary hearing. The amount of investigation required will depend on the nature of the allegations and will vary from case to case. It may involve interviewing and taking statements from the employee and any witnesses, and/or reviewing relevant documents. An investigating officer will be appointed to carry out the investigation.
19.10. Investigative interviews are solely for the purpose of fact-finding and no decision on disciplinary action will be taken until after a disciplinary hearing has been held.
19.11. The employee must cooperate fully and promptly in any investigation. This will include informing the firm of the names of any relevant witnesses, disclosing any relevant documents to the firm and attending investigative interviews if required.
19.12. Where the employee’s conduct is the subject of criminal investigation, charge or conviction the firm will investigate the facts before deciding whether to take formal disciplinary action.
19.13. The firm will not usually wait for the outcome of any prosecution before deciding what action if any, to take. Where the employee is unable or has been advised not to attend a disciplinary hearing or say anything about a pending criminal matter, the firm may have to take a decision based upon the evidence available to them at the time.
19.14. A criminal investigation, charge or conviction relating to conduct outside work may be treated as a disciplinary matter if the firm considers that it is relevant to the employee’s employment.
19.15. In some circumstances the firm may need to suspend the employee from work. The suspension will be for no longer than is necessary to investigate the allegations and the firm will confirm the arrangements to the employee in writing. While suspended, the employee should not visit the firm’s premises or contact any of the firm’s clients, customers, suppliers, contractors or employees unless they have been authorised to do so by the Practice Director. The employee must notify the Practice Director of their whereabouts and contact details during the suspension period.
19.16. Suspension of this kind is not a disciplinary penalty and does not imply that any decision has already been made about the allegations. The employee will continue to receive their full basic salary and benefits during the period of suspension.
Notification of a hearing
19.17. Following any investigation, if the firm considers that there are grounds for disciplinary action, the employee will be required to attend a disciplinary hearing. The firm will inform the employee in writing of the allegations made against them, the basis for those allegations and what the likely range of consequences will be if the firm decides after the hearing that the allegations are true. The firm will also include the following where appropriate:
- A summary of relevant information gathered during the investigation;
- A copy of relevant documents which will be used at the disciplinary hearing; and
- A copy of any relevant witness statements, except where a witness’ identity is to be kept confidential, in which case the firm will give the employee as much information as possible whilst maintaining confidentiality.
19.18. The firm will give the employee written notice of the date, time and place of the disciplinary hearing. The hearing will be held as soon as reasonably practicable, but the employee will be given a reasonable amount of time to prepare their case based on the information the firm has given the employee.
The right to be accompanied
19.19. The employee is entitled to bring representation to any formal meeting under this procedure (see Appendix A for a definition of “representation”).
Procedure at disciplinary hearings
19.20. The employee must make every effort to attend the hearing and failure to attend without a good reason may be treated as misconduct in itself. If the employee fails to attend without good reason, or is persistently unable to attend (for example, due to ill-health reasons), the firm may have to take a decision based on the evidence available to them at the time.
19.21. The hearing panel will be made up of one or more senior manager(s) or Partner(s) of the firm, and will also normally be attended by the Practice Director, Head of People and Culture or some other person in the capacity as note taker.
19.22. At the hearing the panel will go through the allegations made against the employee and the evidence that has been gathered. The employee will be able to respond and present any evidence of their own (any evidence used at a disciplinary hearing by both parties must be made available prior to the hearing so that further investigation may be carried out where necessary).
19.23. The panel may adjourn the hearing if they need to carry out any further investigations such as re-interviewing witnesses in the light of any new points the employee has raised at the hearing. The employee will be given a reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the hearing is reconvened.
19.24. The panel will inform the employee in writing of its decision and the reasons for it, usually within 1 week of the final disciplinary hearing, where reasonably practicable.
19.25. The usual penalties for misconduct are set out below. No penalty should be imposed without an investigation and a hearing. The firm aims to treat all employees fairly and consistently, and a penalty imposed on another employee for similar misconduct may be taken into account but should not be treated as precedent. Each case will be assessed on its own merits.
19.26. All penalties will be authorised by the Managing Partner.
Stage 1 – first written warning
19.27. This penalty will usually be appropriate for a first act of misconduct where there are no other active written warnings on the employee’s disciplinary record.
Stage 2 – final written warning
19.28. This will usually only be appropriate for;
- Misconduct where there is already an active written warning on the employee’s disciplinary record; or
- Misconduct that the firm considers sufficiently serious to warrant a final written warning even though there are no other active warnings on the employee’s disciplinary record.
Stage 3 – dismissal
19.29. This will usually only be appropriate for;
- Any misconduct during the employee’s probationary period;
- Further misconduct where there is an active written warning on the employee’s record; or
- Any gross misconduct regardless of whether there are active warnings on their record. Gross misconduct will usually result in immediate dismissal without notice or payment in lieu of notice (summary dismissal). Examples of gross misconduct are set out in the firm’s Disciplinary Rules, which are contained in this Staff Handbook.
The effect of a warning
19.30. Written warnings will set out the nature of the misconduct, the change in behaviour required, the period for which the warning will remain active, and the likely consequences of further misconduct in that active period.
19.31. After the active period the warning will remain permanently on the employee’s personnel file.
Appeals against disciplinary action
19.32. If the employee feels that disciplinary action taken against them is wrong or unjust the employee should appeal in writing to the Senior Partner, stating their full grounds of appeal, within 1 week of the date on which the employee was informed of the outcome of the disciplinary hearing.
19.33. If the employee is appealing against a dismissal, the date on which the dismissal takes effect will not be delayed pending the outcome of the appeal. However, if their appeal is successful the employee may be reinstated with no loss of continuity or pay.
19.34. If the employee raises any new matters in their appeal the firm may need to carry out further investigation. If any new information comes to light the firm will provide the employee with a summary including, where appropriate, copies of additional relevant documents and witness statements. The employee will have a reasonable opportunity to consider this information before the hearing.
19.35. The firm will give the employee reasonable notice of the date, time and place of the appeal hearing.
19.36. The appeal hearing may be a complete re-hearing of the matter or it may be a review of the fairness of the original decision in the light of the procedure that was followed and any new information that may have come to light. This will be at the firm’s discretion depending on the circumstances of the case. In any event the appeal will be dealt with as impartially as possible.
19.37. The appeal hearing panel will consist of one or more senior manager(s) or Partner(s) of the firm who have not previously been involved in the case, where possible. The Practice Director will normally also be present.
19.38. The employee is entitled to bring representation to any formal appeal meeting under this policy (see Appendix A for a definition of “representation”).
19.39. The panel may adjourn the appeal hearing if it needs to carry out any further investigation in the light of any new points the employee has raised at the hearing. The employee will be given reasonable opportunity to consider any new information obtained before the hearing is reconvened.
19.40. Following the appeal hearing, the panel may;
- Confirm the original decision of the disciplinary hearing;
- Revoke the original decision; or
- Substitute a different decision or penalty.
19.41. The panel will inform the employee in writing of their final decision as soon as possible, usually within 1 week of the final appeal hearing. There will be no further right of appeal.
Who is covered by this procedure?
20.1. This procedure applies to all employees regardless of their length of service. It does not apply to agency workers or self-employed contractors. The firm reserves the right to amend this policy at any time and may depart from the procedure depending on the circumstances of the case.
Using the Grievance Procedure
20.2. Most grievances can be resolved quickly and informally through discussion between the employee and their partner/department manager, Practice Director or Head of People and Culture. If this does not resolve the problem the employee should initiate the formal procedure below reasonably promptly.
Step 1 – written grievance
20.3. The employee should put their grievance in writing and submit it to their partner/department manager. If their grievance concerns either of these people, the employee may submit their grievance to the Head of People and Culture, Practice Director or Managing Partner.
- The mother of the child;
- The father/ partner – the father of the child, or the person who is married to, the civil partner of, or the partner of the child’s mother or adopter. That person must also expect to have responsibility for the upbringing of the child;
- The adoptive parent(s);
- The intended parent(s) in a surrogacy arrangement.
Parental leave upon birth or adoption or surrogacy
21.4. All employees, regardless of their length of service, who are new parents (including adoptive and intended surrogate parents) are entitled to a maximum 52 weeks of parental leave during the ‘entitlement period’.
21.5. The ‘entitlement period’ for Parental leave means the period which begins no earlier than 11 weeks before the week of childbirth, or placement for adoption, is expected to occur, and ends on the date which is 2 years from the date of childbirth or the placement for adoption (or the date in which the employment terminates).
21.6. In order to use the full period of leave appropriately, to suit the needs of their family, the employee may choose to take the 52 weeks of parental leave:
- In up to 3 blocks
- Each block of leave will be for no less than 2 weeks in the case of each such period.
Payment of parental leave
21.7. The firm will pay the six weeks of statutory Parental leave at the employees normal rate of pay (less any amount the employee receives from social security by way of short-term incapacity allowance or parental leave allowance).
21.8. For employees who have 12 or more months continuous service after passing their probationary period with the firm at the date their baby is due or, matched with them in the case of adoption, the firm will pay for an additional two weeks of paid Parental leave. This will be paid at the employees’ normal rate of pay, as long as the employee agrees to surrender the value of any financial support or allowances they receive from the Government of Jersey during this two week period.
21.9. If an employee resigns during their period of parental leave then the firm will reclaim any additional payment made to the employee (above statute).
Notification of parental leave
21.10. In relation to pregnancy: Employees must inform their partner/department manager and the Head of People and Culture as soon as possible that they are pregnant and when their baby is due, and must complete the Viberts parental leave request form (Appendix B) no later than the end of the 15th week before their due date (or as soon as is reasonably practical). This is important as there may be health and safety considerations. Details should be provided of:
- the fact of pregnancy;
- the expected week of childbirth, and
- the dates and duration of each period of parental leave.
21.11. In relation to adoption: Employees must inform their partner/department manager and the Head of People and Culture and complete the Viberts parental leave request form (Appendix B) no later than 7 days after being matched with a child for the purposes of adoption or, where relevant in the case of an overseas adoption, receiving notification of the date the child will arrive in Jersey. Details should be provided of:
- the intended date of adoption;
- the expected week of adoption; and
- the dates and duration of each period of parental leave.
21.12. The firm may require the employee to provide a copy of medical evidence of pregnancy and/or the child’s birth certificate or adoption notification documents.
21.13. Shortly before their Paternal leave starts the firm will discuss with the employee the arrangements for covering their work and the opportunities for the employee to remain in contact during their leave.
Amending dates of parental leave
21.14. Employees can amend the start date of Parental Leave by giving notice in writing:
- 42 days before the originally stated date; or
- 42 days before the new date.
21.15. Where requests to return to work earlier than the previously agreed return to work date, are made with less than 42 days’ notice the firm will take all reasonable steps to accommodate the request but will provide written notification of the reason for refusal when this cannot be accommodated.
21.16. If the birth is earlier than the date previously advised, then the period of leave begins on the day after the birth.
21.17. In relation to pregnancy: Employees may take reasonable paid time off during working hours for essential antenatal care as advised by their midwife or general practitioner.
21.18. In relation to adoption: Employees may take reasonable time off during working hours for adoption appointments, with the first 10 hours being paid by Viberts and the rest being unpaid.
21.19. In relation to the expectant father, partner or surrogate parents: These employees are entitled to attend ante-natal appointments, with the first 10 hours of appointments being paid by Viberts and the rest being unpaid.
21.20. The employee should seek authorisation from their partner/department manager, giving as much notice as possible of dates and times of appointments, where possible.
21.21. The firm may ask the employee to provide an appointment card or other document as proof of the appointment.
21.22. Time to attend non-essential appointments should be covered by the employee’s annual leave.
21.23. The firm may request evidence (for example, official notification of an appointment schedule from the adoption agency or the invitation to take part in an adoption assessment or confirmation that the employee is taking time off to attend an appointment with the expectant mother).
21.24. Periods of pregnancy-related sickness absence shall be treated as any other sickness absence and will be paid in accordance with the firm’s sickness absence policy in this staff handbook.
Miscarriage, stillborn or neo natal death
21.25. If an employee’s baby is stillborn before the end of the 24th week of pregnancy it is treated as a miscarriage. Unfortunately, the employee cannot qualify for paternal leave or pay if they have a miscarriage. However, if the employee needs time off work following the loss of their baby they can request compassionate leave or can request to take annual leave or agree a period of unpaid leave.
21.26. If the employees’ baby was delivered after the end of the 24th week of pregnancy they are entitled to parental leave and pay that they qualify for.
Health and safety
21.27. The firm has a general duty to take care of the health and safety of all employees. The firm is also required to carry out a risk assessment to assess the workplace (inc. off-site storage), risks to women who are pregnant, have given birth within the last 6 months or are still breastfeeding.
21.28. The firm will provide the employee with information as to any risks identified in the risk assessment, and any preventative and protective measures that have been or will be taken. If the firm considers that, as a new or expectant mother, the employee would be exposed to health hazards in carrying out their normal work, the firm will take such steps as are necessary (for as long as they are necessary) to avoid those risks. This may involve;
- Changing their working conditions or hours of work;
- Offering the employee suitable alternative work on terms and conditions that are the same or not substantially less favourable; or
- Suspending the employee from duties which will be on full pay unless the employee has unreasonably refused suitable alternative work.
21.29. If employees are eligible for the following contractual benefits or schemes these will continue during Parental leave:
- Private Medical Insurance
- Death in Service cover
- Pensions: During paid parental leave, if the employee is a member of the Pension scheme, the employee’s pension contributions will continue to be paid at 5% of their actual earnings during that period. During the period of unpaid leave, the employee may cease to make any personal contributions by advising the Practice Director.
21.30. During parental leave the employee’s annual leave will accrue at the rate provided under their contract.
21.31. The employee should consider if they wish to take any entitlement before or after their paternal leave when making their parental leave request. The employee is advised to speak to the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture about any queries on taking annual leave.
21.32. The firm’s annual leave year runs from 1st January to 31st December.
21.33. During parental leave public holidays will accrue and will be paid at the rate provided under their contract.
Keeping in touch
21.34. The firm may make reasonable contact with the employee from time to time during their leave.
21.35. The employee may choose to attend work (or work-related training) during parental leave. These days will normally be unpaid unless the employee is specifically required to attend at the firm’s request, and any work carried out shall not have the effect of extending the total duration of the ordinary maternity leave period. They are not obliged to undertake any such work during parental leave.
21.36. Any time that the employee chooses to attend work, to keep in touch, will not extend the duration of the parental leave.
The employee’s rights when they return from parental leave
21.37. The employee is normally entitled to return to work in the same position as they held before commencing Paternal leave unless a redundancy situation has occurred. Their terms of employment shall be the same as they would have been, had they not been absent on parental leave.
21.38. If it is not possible for the employee to return to the same position they held before commencing parental leave the firm may offer them another suitable and appropriate role on terms and conditions that are not substantially less favourable.
Return to work plans and support
21.39. Shortly before the employee is due to return to work, the firm may invite the employee to have a discussion (whether in person or by telephone) about the arrangements for their return. This may cover;
- Updating the employee on any changes that have occurred during their absence;
- Identifying any training needs the employee might have; and
- Any changes to working arrangements (for example if the employee has made a request under the Flexible working policy or a request for breaks for Breastfeeding / Expressing purposes).
21.40. Where a breastfeeding employee makes a request for reasonable facilities in the workplace, to breastfeed their baby, express or store milk, the firm will take steps to provide these.
21.41. The firm would appreciate as much notice as possible to accommodate any request for breastfeeding facilities.
Breaks for breastfeeding/expressing purposes
21.42. The employee may request reasonable breaks from work for the purpose of breastfeeding or expressing breastmilk as a temporary, short-term change to their terms and conditions of employment.
21.43. Examples might include a change to working hours; a change to work times (longer-lunch break or extra break) or a change of work location.
21.44. Where an employee returns to work within the 52 weeks of the child’s birth she will be paid for agreed breaks for breastfeeding or expressing milk at her normal rate of pay for any time during the 52-week period. After the 52-week period, any breastfeeding or expressing breaks will be unpaid.
Making a request for breastfeeding/expressing breaks
21.45. Employees are encouraged to carefully consider their desired break pattern before making a request. They should make their variation request in writing to their partner/manager and should set out the following information:
- The breastfeeding breaks the employee would like to take;
- When the employee would like the break pattern to take effect and
- The duration of the break pattern.
21.46. Once the request has been received, if required, the partner will aim to hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the request within 7 days. The outcome will be confirmed to the employee within 14 days of the request.
21.47. Where the request is declined the employee will notify the employee in writing and state the reason for the refusal.
21.48. Such a request for breastfeeding breaks, does not impact on the employees right to make one flexible working request in any 12-month period.
Right of appeal
21.49. If the employee feels that the decision is wrong or unjust they should appeal in writing to the Managing Partner, stating their grounds for appeal. This should be submitted in writing within 7 days of receiving the notification.
21.50. The Managing Partner, or their designate, will hold a meeting with the employee within 7 days of the appeal being made. The outcome of the appeal will be confirmed to the employee within 7 days of the meeting.
21.51. There will be no further right to appeal.
Right to be accompanied at meetings
21.52. The employee is entitled to bring representation to any meeting under this policy (see Appendix A for definition of “representation”).
Flexible working requests (returning to work part time)
21.53. The firm will deal with any requests from employees to change their working patterns (such as working part-time) after parental leave on a case by case basis. There is no absolute right to insist on working part-time but the firm will consider a request carefully, bearing in mind the needs of the firm. Employees should follow the process outlined in the firm’s flexible working policy. It is helpful if requests are made as early as possible and in writing.
Redundancies during parental leave
21.54. In the event that the employee’s post is affected by a redundancy situation occurring during their leave, the firm shall write to inform the employee of any proposals and shall invite them to a meeting before any final decision is reached as to their continued employment.
Returning late from parental leave – including annual leave and sickness
21.55. The firm will expect the employee back at work on their expected return date.
21.56. If the employee wishes to return later than their expected return date, they should notify their partner/department manager and the Head of People and Culture as early as possible. The decision is at the firm’s discretion and the firm will advise the employee in writing of whether their request is approved.
21.57. If the employee has used their entitlement of parental leave, they may;
- Request unpaid leave; or
- Request paid annual leave in accordance with their leave entitlement in their contract.
21.58. If the employee is unable to return to work due to sickness or injury, this will be treated as sickness absence and the firm’s sickness absence policy will apply.
21.59. In any other case, a late return from parental leave will be treated as unauthorised absence.
Deciding not to return from parental leave
21.60. If the employee does not intend to return to work, or is unsure, it is helpful if they discuss this with the firm as early as possible. If the employee decides not to return to work, they should give notice of resignation in accordance with their contract. The amount of parental leave left to run when the employee gives notice must be at least equal to their contractual notice period; otherwise the firm may require the employee to return to work for the remainder of their notice period.
21.61. Once the employee has given notice that they will not be returning to work, they cannot change their mind without the firm’s agreement.
21.62. If the employee has received payment for two weeks additional parental leave, they will be required to repay the additional payment made to them (above statute).
New employees requesting breastfeeding rights or parental leave
21.63. The ‘entitlement period’ for parental leave ends on the date in which the employment terminates.
21.64. If an employee joins the firm who has not taken their full entitlement to parental leave, for a baby born or adopted whilst working for their previous employer, they may seek to request breastfeeding rights or parental as per the policy. The firm will consider this on a case by case basis and will aim to accommodate reasonably practicable requests
21.65. In deciding what leave will be granted, the firm may require the employee to provide a copy of the child’s birth certificate or adoption notification documents and confirmation from their previous employer of any outstanding balance of paternal leave entitlement.
22.1. The firm is committed to providing and developing work practices and policies that help employees balance their commitments and interests outside of work with their contractual duties and responsibilities.
22.2. The firm recognises that flexibility in employment enables benefits for both employees and the business, most importantly that it;
- Assists in retaining skilled employees;
- Helps the firm compete effectively in attracting new employees;
- Raises employee morale and commitment;
- Helps to reduce absenteeism by promoting wellbeing;
- Assists in providing adequate departmental cover during the working day; and
- Supports working prior to retirement as the retiree can act as a mentor to their successor.
22.3. This flexible working policy gives all employees an opportunity to request a change to their working pattern. Partners and department managers are encouraged to consider how to facilitate requests unless they cannot be accommodated for business or operational reasons.
22.4. No employee who makes a request for flexible working will be subjected to any detriment or lose any career development opportunities as a result.
22.5. This policy applies to all employees. This policy does not apply to agency workers, consultants or self-employed contractors.
Forms of flexible working
22.6. Flexible working can incorporate a number of changes to working arrangement:
- Part-time working: a reduction or variation in working hours or days;
- Term-time only working: the employee may take unpaid leave during school holidays;
- Job-sharing: 2 part-time employees share the duties of 1 post normally fulfilled by 1 employee. Job-sharers would normally cover each other during periods of leave, and would receive salary and benefits on a pro-rata basis;
- Compressed hours: the employee works fulltime hours over a shorter period of time. For example, working a full working week over 4 days instead of 5 days, or working a 9 day fortnight instead of 10 days;
- Remote working: it is possible for certain employees to work from home on occasion, but be contactable via email and telephone. A proposal to work from home requires careful consideration by the partners in areas of health and safety, security, data-protection and other legal issues;
- Time off in lieu (TOIL): employees who work considerable additional hours to their contracted hours may request to take time off in lieu of hours worked. This must be approved in advance by the Managing Partner, and any TOIL granted must be taken at a time which is convenient to the business and the employee’s department;
- Phased reduction of hours prior to retirement: an employee planning to retire may wish to request to reduce their working hours/days over a set period of time in order to “wind down” to retirement.
22.7. At all times the arrangements that are agreed will attempt to balance the needs of the employee with the needs of the business, and the work that needs to be carried out as part of the employee’s role. Any agreement will always be in the interest of the department and the business.
- Unpaid leave: the employee must submit a request for unpaid leave in writing to the Managing Partner. Unpaid leave is designed to be used in situations where the employee has no annual leave or TOIL that they can use to cover the absence (exceptions may apply in certain circumstances);
- Annual leave: every employee is entitled to an annual leave allowance to be used within each calendar year. The annual leave year runs from 1st January to 31st December. Annual leave requests must be submitted via the appropriate system and approval will be granted based upon the need for adequate departmental cover and the business needs. (The employee should refer to their contract of employment for information about their annual leave entitlement);
- Breastfeeding/expressing breaks: Employees who wish to make a request for reasonable breaks from work for the purpose of breastfeeding or expressing milk should refer to the Parental Leave policy in this handbook.
- Permanent flexible working: Employees who want to make a permanent change to their working arrangements, may make a request using the process outlined below.
- Their hours of work
- Their times of work
- Their place of work
- Annual leave entitlement;
- Social security contributions;
- ITIS contributions; and
- Pension contributions.
- The change in working pattern will carry with it additional costs to the business;
- The change will have detrimental effect on the ability of the firm to meets its clients’ demands;
- The firm is unable to distribute or re-organise the work of that employee among existing employees;
- The firm is unable to recruit additional employees to perform the outstanding work;
- The change will lead to a detrimental effect on quality and/or the individual’s performance;
- There is insufficient work required to be done during the times requested by the employee; or
- A planned structural change within the firm will not allow the change to be accommodated.
22.23. Following an appeal, the original decision may be confirmed or replaced with confirmation of the flexible working request. The final decision will be confirmed in writing within 14 days of the appeal meeting. There will be no further right to appeal.
22.24. An employee may only make one flexible working request in a 12-month period.
23. EMERGENCY TIME OFF FOR CHILDREN OR DEPENDENTS POLICY
23.1. This emergency time off for children or dependents policy is designed to help employees cope with unexpected, emergency situations. This could involve a spouse, partner, child, grand-child, or someone who depends on them for care.
23.3. An example of where an employee may require this type of time off may be an emergency hospital or doctor’s appointment for a sick child or dependent. It would not be for a situation where the employee had details in advance and alternative arrangements could have been made.
Notification of time off for children or dependents
23.5. If an emergency situation arises the employee should always attempt to contact their partner/ manager as soon as possible and tell them the reason for the absence and the amount of time they expect to be absent. If they are not available, the employee should speak to the Practice Director or the Head of People and Culture.
23.6. This time off should be recorded on the indigo system by the employee as soon as practicable upon their return to work.
Duration of time off for emergency time off
23.7. If the employee wishes to take additional time off to look after a child or dependent for longer than the emergency situation then they should speak with their partner/manager or if they are unavailable the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture to discuss and agree taking annual leave or unpaid leave.
Limits to time off for emergency time off
23.8. Whilst there are no limits to the amount of reasonable time off for emergency situations for children or dependents, if this causes the employees partner/ manager to have concerns about the impact on the employees work they will discuss this with the employee in an informal meeting.
23.9. If the firm feels that the emergency time off continues to have an impact on the employees work performance this may refer matters to be dealt with under the firm’s capability procedure.
24. COMPASSIONATE LEAVE POLICY
24.1. This Compassionate leave policy is designed to help employees to cope during the difficult situation of the death of a close relative, deal with necessary arrangements and attend their funeral. It may also be granted where a close relative is seriously or critically ill.
24.2. This policy applies to all employees. It does not apply to agency workers, consultants or self-employed contractors or volunteers.
24.3. At the discretion of the managing partner an employee is entitled to take a reasonable amount of paid compassionate leave in respect of a spouse or partner, child or step-child, grandchild, parent, step-parent, parent in law, grandparent, brother or sister, step-brother or step-sister, or brother or sister-in-law. Each case will be considered on its own merit with a guidline of up to two days paid leave being granted for any type of compassionate leave request.
24.4. The partners may exercise their discretion to grant a period of paid compassionate leave in respect of any other relative or close friend, depending on the circumstances of each case.
24.5. If the employee wish’s to attend the funeral of other friends or associates, although they will not be granted paid leave, the firm will look to be flexible and options to take unpaid leave/make up time should be discussed and agreed with your partner/manager.
24.6. These days may not necessarily be consecutive and should be recorded on the indigo system by the employee as soon as practicable.
24.7. If the employee is still unable to return to work following an authorised period of compassionate leave they should contact their partner/manager or the Head of People and Culture. It may be appropriate for the employee to take a period of annual leave, subject to approval, or the partners may at their discretion grant further unpaid leave in those circumstances.
Requesting compassionate leave
24.8. The firm recognises that it may not be possible to request compassionate leave in advance. However, where it is possible, the employee should make the request to their partner/ manager. They should tell them the reasons for the request and the number of days they would like to take.
24.9. Where it is not possible to request leave in advance the employee should contact their partner/ manager as soon as possible and tell them the reason for the absence and the number of days they expect to be absent.
24.10 In exceptional circumstances the firm may have to refuse a request for compassionate leave and will provide the employee with a written explanation of the reasons. If the employee is dissatisfied with this decision, they may appeal to the Senior Partner within 7 days of receiving the written reasons.
25.2. The firm recognises that potential difficulties can arise when personal relationships overlap with professional ones. It is not the intention of the firm to infringe personal freedom or intrude on individual privacy, and it will not seek to influence whether or not personal relationships continue. However the firm has responsibilities as an employer to safeguard the interests of all parties.
25.3. This policy is intended to provide guidance in areas where personal relationships overlap with working relationships. Its aim is to ensure that individual Employees maintain a professional standard of conduct whilst respecting the rights of the individual, and that any ramifications relating to a personal relationship are dealt with in a fair and reasonable manner.
25.4. This policy applies to all Employees.
25.5. For the purposes of this policy, a personal relationship is defined as one which goes beyond the normal level of relationship which exists between individuals in similar circumstances. This includes any relationship where a reasonable person may believe that power and influence could be exerted for personal gain, or adversely affect normal processes for other people within the working environment. This could be a family relationship, a business/financial relationship, or a sexual or romantic relationship.
Professional relationships at work
25.6. The firm values and relies upon the professional integrity of relationships between Employees. In order that the firm’s business is conducted, and perceived to be conducted, in a professional and proper manner it is necessary to distinguish between, and take account of, personal relationships which overlap with professional ones.
25.7. Employees are entitled to equality of treatment, and it is important that a personal relationship between Employees is not perceived by others to prejudice that equality of treatment.
25.8. Employees are strongly advised not to enter into a sexual or romantic relationship with other Employees. Furthermore, Employees should not enter into a business, commercial or financial relationship with another Employee which could compromise, or could be perceived to compromise, the objectivity and professional standing of the professional relationship.
Personal relationships between employees
25.9. Where a personal relationship exists or develops between Employees they must not be involved in any Partner/Department management, recruitment, selection, appraisal or promotion activity or process involving the other party. Additionally, staff members in a personal relationship should not work together in any circumstance whereby a conflict of interest, breach of confidentiality or unfair advantage may be perceived to be gained from the overlap of a personal and professional relationship.
25.10. Where a personal relationship exists or develops, and there is the potential to be involved in any of the circumstances defined in the above paragraph, the relationship must be declared in confidence, to the relevant Partner/Department Manager, Practice Director or Managing Partner.
25.11. Any Employee who is in a personal relationship with another Employee and does not disclose it to the Managing Partner may be liable to disciplinary action.
25.12. Although it is not necessarily a bar to employment with the Firm, applicants for employment will be asked to declare any personal relationship with existing Employees. In the case of relatives, approval will need to be sought from the Managing Partner.
When a relationship is declared
25.13. The Partner/Department Manager, Practice Director or Managing Partner to whom the information is disclosed will then discuss any appropriate alternative work arrangements with the individuals concerned to ensure that possible reasonable perceptions of favouritism, patronage, conflict of interests are avoided. However, no action will be taken which could have a detrimental effect on an individual’s career or personal development.
25.14. The firm will confirm any revised work arrangements in writing to the individuals concerned, and a copy will be placed on the personnel file. If it is considered unavoidable to inform other Employees about the relationship in order to explain a change in management arrangements, this will be discussed with the individuals concerned, before it is disclosed.
25.15. Employees have a right of appeal against any revised working arrangements by providing written notification to the Managing Partner within 7 working days of having received written confirmation of the revised working arrangements. The grounds for the appeal should be clearly stated in the letter. The Managing Partner will consider the appeal, requesting further information if required, usually within 7 working days. The outcome of the appeal will be confirmed in writing. The outcome of the appeal is final.
25.16. The Practice Director will monitor this policy and its ramifications within the firm and make general recommendations as appropriate.
26. RETIREMENT POLICY
26.1. The firm is proud to employ people of all ages and consider that age diversity is beneficial to the organisation. We are committed to not discriminating against employees because of age and adhere to the principles of our equal opportunities policy.
26.2. We have no fixed retirement age. We acknowledge that retirement should be a matter of choice for individuals and employees should not be encouraged to retire because they have reached a certain age or are approaching a certain age.
26.3. The firm also recognises that employees may wish to consider changing their working patterns as they approach their retirement and are receptive to requests for flexible working from employees of all ages (please see the firm’s flexible working policy).
The purpose of the policy
26.4. This policy sets out what steps the firm will take to meet with the employee, enabling them to express their preferences and expectations and enabling the firm to plan for its business needs.
Discussing future plans
26.5. The employee or their partner/ line manager may want to discuss the short, medium and long-term plans, as the need arises, or, if the circumstances change or the employee wants a different working pattern or to stop working altogether. We need to plan for the business, and so may indicate from time to time that it would be helpful to know what their plans are. There is no obligation for the firm or the employee to hold workplace discussions about your future plans, but it may be beneficial to do so on an informal basis.
26.6. We will not make generalised assumptions that performance will decline with age, whether due to competence or health issues. If the firm considers that there are problems with your performance or ill-health, these will be dealt with in the usual way, through the Capability or Sickness Absence Policy.
26.7. The employee may wish to change their working arrangements under our Flexible Working Policy, The firm will consider new working arrangements based upon the needs of the business and individual departments.
Giving notice of retirement
26.8. If an employee decides to retire, the firm would appreciate as much notice as possible, although they should give at least as much notice as required under their contract of employment.
27.1. It is the firm’s intention to manage its business in a manner which results in secure employment for its employees. The firm will always try to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies but sometimes these may be necessary. The pattern or volume of the firm’s business or methods of working may change and requirements for employees may reduce.
The purpose of the policy
27.2. The purpose of this policy is to ensure the following, whenever a reduction in employee numbers may become necessary:
- The firm communicates clearly with all affected employees and ensures that they are treated fairly.
- The firm tries to find ways of avoiding compulsory redundancies.
- The firm consults with employees.
- Any selection for compulsory redundancy is undertaken fairly and reasonably.
Avoiding compulsory redundancies
27.3. Where the firm is proposing to make redundancies it will enter into consultation with all affected employees on an individual basis.
27.4. In the first instance the firm will consider steps that might, depending on the circumstances, be taken to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies. Examples of such steps include:
- Reviewing the use of agency employees, self-employed contractors and consultants.
- Restricting recruitment in those areas into which affected employees might be redeployed.
- Freezing salaries for a specified period of time.
- Considering the introduction of short-time working, job-sharing or other flexible working arrangements, where these are practicable.
- Identifying alternative work that might be offered to potentially redundant employees.
- Inviting applications for early retirement or voluntary redundancy. In all cases the acceptance of a volunteer for redundancy will be a matter of the firm’s discretion and the firm reserves the right not to offer voluntary redundancy terms or to refuse an application where it is not in firm’s business interests to do so.
27.5. Any measures adopted must not adversely affect the firm’s business and its ability to serve its customers.
Making compulsory redundancies
27.6. When it is not possible to avoid making compulsory redundancies, all affected employees will be advised that the compulsory redundancies cannot be avoided. The employee will be consulted on the procedure that will then be followed and the criteria that will be applied.
27.7. The criteria used to select those employees who will potentially be made redundant will be objective, transparent and fair and based on the skills required to meet the firm’s existing and anticipated business needs.
27.8. Those employees who have been provisionally selected for redundancy will be consulted with.
27.9. Where selection for redundancy is confirmed, employees selected will be given notice of termination of employment in accordance with their contracts and written confirmation of the payments that they will receive. Employees will be given the opportunity to appeal against this decision.
27.10. The firm will continue to look for alternative employment for redundant employees and inform them of any vacancies that the firm has until their termination date.
27.11. Employees who are given notice of dismissal by reason of redundancy and who have been continuously employed for 2 years or more (inclusive of notice period) are entitled to take paid time off at their normal basic pay during their notice period equivalent to 40% of one of their normal working weeks to look for alternative employment or to arrange training for future employment.
27.12. Where an employee’s contract is terminated by reason of redundancy the firm will comply with its statutory obligations in relation to redundancy pay as determined by the States of Jersey.
27.13. In addition, eligible employees will receive their contractual notice or pay in lieu of notice less statutory deductions for income tax at the employee’s individual income tax rate where required.
Fixed term contracts
27.14. Employees on fixed term contracts with 2 or more years’ continuous service with the firm (either on one fixed term contract or a series of fixed term contracts where the gap between contracts is less than 9 weeks) may be entitled to statutory redundancy pay.
- Improving an employee’s effectiveness at work.
- Improving the performance of the firm.
- Training to ensure an employee maintains their continuing professional development (CPD) in areas relevant to their role in the firm. This may include attendance at courses, seminars, conferences, and training or knowledge-sharing lunches.
- Training which leads to professional accredited qualifications, such as the LPC, Jersey Law Exams or Solicitors Training for those within the firm’s legal departments, or for example accounting or compliance qualifications for those in a support services role.
Requesting training for CPD
28.9. Where an employee wishes to attend training relating to their CPD they must first discuss the knowledge gap they wish to fill with their partner/department manager. The partner/department manager may then recommend, or may ask the employee to identify, an appropriate training course.
28.10. Where a specific training course is identified the employee should then seek agreement from their partner/department manager as to the potential suitability of the course for their individual needs.
28.11. All requests for CPD training must be approved by the employee’s partner/department manager in the first instance.
28.12. Employees should forward any relevant literature on the identified training course, date(s) on which they wish to attend (including any required travel arrangements such as flight or train times, and any accommodation requirements where relevant) to their partner/manager. Once approval has been granted any necessary bookings should be made by the employee, with support from their department administrator where required.
28.13. Employees should ensure any CPD hours are added to their CPD record as this will need to be submitted to the Practice Director upon request.
28.14. After an employee has attended training relating to their CPD they should discuss the course content with their partner/department manager in order to establish whether knowledge should be shared with colleagues within the firm and the most appropriate way in which this can be done.
Requesting professional training
28.15. An employee wishing to commence professional training should firstly discuss their wishes with the partner/department manager. The partner/department manager will be able to discuss the desired training with the employee, and advise them on whether the training is suitable, necessary and whether they feel the employee is ready to commence such training at the present time.
28.16. The employee should give consideration to why they feel the professional training is necessary and what benefits it will bring to the employee as an individual and to the business.
28.17. If the employee’s partner/department manager is in agreement that the employee should commence professional training, they should discuss the training needs with the Managing Partner and Practice Director or Head of People and Culture.
28.18. The firm will consider whether it is appropriate for the employee to commence training immediately (or at the beginning of the academic year) or whether the employee should wait for another employee who is currently undergoing training to complete their training.
28.19. If it is decided that professional training is appropriate, the firm will at its discretion decide whether it will provide full financial support to the employee to enable them to complete their professional training, or whether it will contribute a specific sum towards the training. Where travel and accommodation are required for the training (i.e. if the training is delivered in the UK) the firm may require the employee to fund their own expenses.
28.20. Any decision relating to the funding of professional training will be explained to the employee prior to any professional training being commenced so that they are aware from the outset of any costs involved.
28.21. When considering funding or making a contribution towards professional training the firm will consider each case independently. It will consider previous arrangements made with other employees and will endeavour to ensure fairness and equality, but will not use this decision as precedent.
Confirmation of professional training
28.22. The firm will confirm in writing to the employee the arrangements for the employee’s professional training. Written confirmation will contain the following information:
- The name and nature of the professional training.
- The date training will commence and, if known, the date it will conclude.
- Details of any additional study days.
- Details of the funding contribution from the firm.
- Details of funding contribution from the employee (where applicable).
- Repayment terms.
- Details of time off for examinations.
- Any other terms of the agreement.
28.23. In all cases the employee will be asked to sign a repayment agreement where the firm provides any kind of financial support or additional paid time off work for professional training or expenses relating to professional training.
28.24. Study Leave is time away from the workplace, agreed by the partner/ manager, for an employee to attend a course externally; to complete assignments or to attend examinations.
Study leave during professional training agreements
28.25. Where study leave is included within the confirmation of professional training agreement, this is typically expected to be taken near the end of the study period or prior to any examinations.
28.26. Employees should, as soon as they are notified by their training provider of course and exam dates, discuss their request for study leave (and or exam dates) with their partner/ manager and submit the request via Indigo.
28.27. The firm recognises that the needs and circumstances for study leave vary. Each request will be assessed on its own merits.
28.28. The firm would like the employee to give as much notice as possible for any requests for study/exam to enable the partner/manager to manage the workload of the team. As a minimum at least the request should be at least 4 weeks prior to the study leave date.
28.29. Before any request is approved, the manager/partner will attempt to balance the needs of the employee with the needs of the business, and the work that needs to be carried out as part of the employees role. Any agreement will always be in the interest of the department and the business.
28.30. The employee must inform their partner/ manager immediately if they become aware of any changes to agreed study or training, including changes to the timing or content of the course or exams.
28.31. If an employee would like to temporarily change their working pattern to study, they should talk to their partner/ manager. Employees should refer to the flexible working policy for further information.
28.32. The number of days study leave will be determined on an individual case by case basis, at the discretion of the partners, but may typically be, for example:
- Postgraduate Diploma Professional Legal Practice (LPC): at the first attempt at each examination (4 core and 3 electives), one days’ paid study leave for each exam plus the day of the exam itself (total 14 days).
- Jersey Advocate and Solicitors Examination training: at the first attempt at each examination (6 core modules and 1 elective) in each subject, 7.5 days paid study leave including the day of the examination (total 52.5 days)
28.33. If the partner/manager agrees to the request for study/ exam leave, employees should ensure all study/ exam leave is recorded on the indigo system.
28.34. Partners have the discretion to offer employees additional in-work study time according to need and subject to business requirements.
Study leave for re-sitting exams
28.35. If an employee needs to re-sit an examination in any subject and wishes to take further study leave and exam leave agreement for this will depend on the commitment the employee has shown to their studies, how likely they are to be successful in the re-sit and their overall performance in the course so far.
28.36. The employee should discuss and agree the potential to take time off using annual leave or unpaid leave with their partner/ manager.
Repayment of study leave
28.37. If the employee leaves the firm’s employment before completing the qualification or within two years of completing the qualification, they will be liable for the cost of their salary for any time taken as paid study leave. Such cost to be calculated as the total number of days of paid study and exam leave granted at the rate of the employees annual salary per day.
Personal study which does not qualify for support from the firm
28.38. Ideally if an employee is undertaking their own personal study, they should choose a method of study which impacts the firm and their work as little as possible.
28.39. In circumstances where an employee, who has passed their probationary period, is undertaking personal professional training and needs to take time off for study, they may discuss and agree the potential to take time off using annual leave or unpaid leave with their partner/ manager.
28.40. Each request will be assessed on its own merits and before any request is approved, the manager/ partner will attempt to balance the needs of the employee with the needs of the business, and the work that needs to be carried out as part of the employees role. Any agreement will always be in the interest of the department and the business.
28.41 If the partner/manager agrees to the request for time off for personal study this must also be recorded via indigo.
If a request for professional training is rejected
28.42. If the firm decides that there is no business need for, or no benefit to the firm, to be gained from the employee carrying out professional training, it may refuse an employee’s request.
28.43. If a request is refused the firm will explain to the employee either in person or in writing the reason for refusal. The firm may suggest an alternative method for the employee to gain the requested skills or experience, such as work shadowing with another employee of the firm, or attending seminars and presentations to develop the employee’s Continued Professional Development (CPD).
28.44. The firm may refuse a request for professional training for a number of reasons. Some examples are as follows:
- That the proposed study or training would not in the firm’s view improve the employee’s effectiveness at work and the performance of the business.
- The burden of additional costs would be too great for the firm to support.
- It could lead to a detrimental effect on the firm’s ability to meet client demand.
- There is an inability to reorganise work among existing employees.
- There is an inability to recruit additional employees to cover workload.
- The professional training may have a detrimental impact on quality.
- The professional training may have a detrimental impact on performance.
- There is an insufficiency of work during the periods that the employee proposes to work.
- There are planned structural changes within the department or firm.
- Any other reasons that the Government set out in future regulations.
Request to study for professional training outside of working hours
28.45. Where an employee wishes to commence professional training in their own time outside of working hours, they should discuss this with their partner/department manager. The partner/department manager will find out whether the professional training is likely to have an impact on the employee’s work with the firm, either on their working hours, or if the training creates a conflict of interest with any of the firm’s clients or business contacts.
28.46. The employee may appeal if the firm refuses all or part of their request for professional training or refusal, postponement or cancellation of study leave.
28.47. The appeal will be investigated by the Senior Partner or another partner not previously involved in the decision to refuse training. They may choose one or more other partners/managers also not previously involved to sit on the appeal panel. The appeal panel may wish to meet with the employee and the partner/department manager as part of their investigation.
28.48. The panel will notify the employee in writing of the outcome of their appeal normally within 14 days of the submission of their appeal where reasonably practicable.
28.49. There is no further right of appeal.
Subscriptions and memberships
28.50. The firm, at its discretion, pay for some subscriptions and membership fees associated with an employee’s role. Employees should refer to the Expenses Policy for more information.
29.1. The employee should tell their partner/department manager and the Practice Director as soon as they are summoned for jury service and provide a copy of their summons if requested.
29.2. Depending on the demands of the firm’s business it may request that the employee applies to be excused from or defer their jury service.
29.3. Employers are not required to pay employees while the employee is absent on jury service. The employee will be advised at court of the expenses and loss of earnings that the employee can claim. At the discretion of the Partners, the firm will pay basic pay to employees who are doing jury service less any amounts the employee can claim from the court for lost earnings for up to and including 5 working days. Payment for time off beyond 5 working days may be paid at the Partner’s discretion and only in exceptional circumstances.
30.1. This policy applies where it becomes impossible or dangerous for employees to travel in to work because of:
- Extreme adverse weather such as heavy snow.
- Industrial action affecting transport networks.
- Major incidents affecting travel or public safety.
30.2. On these occasions the firm recognises that a flexible approach to working arrangements may be necessary to accommodate the difficulties employees face and to protect health and safety, while still keeping the business running as effectively as possible.
Travelling to work
30.3. The employee should make a genuine effort to report for work at their normal time. This may include leaving extra time for the journey and/or taking an alternative route. Travel on foot or by bicycle should be considered where appropriate and safe.
30.4. If the employee is unable to attend work on time or at all, they should telephone their partner/department manager, Practice Director or Head of People and Culture before their normal start time on each affected day.
30.5. If the employee is unable to attend work, they should check the situation throughout the day in case it improves. Information may be available from local radio stations, the police, transport providers or the Internet. If conditions improve sufficiently, the employee should report this to their partner/department manager, Practice Director or Head of People and Culture and attend work unless told otherwise.
30.6. If the employee does not make reasonable efforts to attend work or fails to contact their partner/department manager, Practice Director or Head of People and Culture without good reason, they may be subject to disciplinary proceedings for misconduct. The firm will consider all the circumstances including the distance the employee has to travel, local conditions in their area, the status of roads and/or public transport, and the efforts made by other employees in similar circumstances.
Alternative working arrangements
30.7. The employee may be required to work from home, where possible, or from an alternative place of work, if available. Their partner/department manager or the Practice Director will advise the employee of any such requirement. The employee will receive their normal pay in these circumstances.
30.8. If the employee is able to work they may sometimes be expected to carry out additional or varied duties during such periods. However, the employee will not be required to do anything they cannot do competently or safely.
Late starts and early finishes
30.9. If the employee arrives at work late or asks to leave early, the employee will usually be expected to make up any lost time. The Managing Partner has the discretion to waive this requirement in minor cases or (in the case of lateness) where the employer is satisfied the employee has made a genuine attempt to arrive on time.
30.10. The Managing Partner has the discretion to allow the employee to leave early and should have regard to the needs of the business and their personal circumstances.
30.11. Where half the normal working day or more is lost this will be treated as absence and dealt with as set out below.
Absence and pay
30.12. If the employee is absent from work due to extreme weather or other disruptions to travel, the employee is not generally entitled to be paid for the time lost.
30.13. Absence may be treated in one of a variety of ways. The employee should discuss their preference with their partner/department manager in the first instance. The Managing Partner has overall discretion in the matter. A number of options are set out below;
- Treating the absence as annual leave if their entitlement allows this
- Making up the lost hours within a reasonable time.
- If eligible, treating the absence as special unpaid leave.
30.14. If, in exceptional circumstances, the firm decides to close the workplace, the employee will be paid as if the employee had worked their normal hours.
School closures and other childcare issues
30.15. Adverse weather sometimes leads to school or nursery closures or the unavailability of a nanny or child-minder.
30.16. In cases such as these where childcare arrangements have been disrupted, the employee should discuss the situation with their partner/department manager who will advise the employee on how to treat their absence.
31.1. This policy presents the Viberts policy on temporary remote working where, for the purpose of business continuity, the employee makes a request to work remotely or, is reasonably requested by their partner/line manager to work remotely.
31.2. For example, when, despite being fit for work, government guidelines/advice prevent attendance at the office (i.e., due to a pandemic situation) to protect health and safety.
31.3. Remote working is defined as when an employee regularly carries out all or part of their duties remotely rather than at the Viberts premises.
31.4. If an employee is permitted to work remotely they must comply with this policy.
Remote working requirements
31.5. It must be noted that not all roles and not all jobs are suitable for remote working.
31.6. To work remotely the employee must demonstrate they can:
- Work independently, motivate themselves and use their own initiative.
- Manage their workload effectively and meet deadlines, (time-recording and billing) targets and objectives
- Adapt their working practices, including maintaining regular contact with their partner/manager and colleagues.
- Identify and resolve any challenges/ issues created by working remotely.
31.7. The firm reserves the right to refuse a remote working request on any of the business grounds listed below (please note this list is not exhaustive);
- If the employee needs to be present in the office to perform their job (for example, work or equipment only available in the Viberts premises).
- If the employee needs supervision to deliver an acceptable quality and quantity of work.
- If the employees current standard of work, production of work or adherence to meeting personal targets is unsatisfactory.
- If the employee is currently being managed under the disciplinary policy.
- If the employee is currently being managed under the capability policy.
- If the employee is serving their notice.
31.8. When considering temporary remote working requests the firm will consider each case independently.
31.9. There is no right of appeal against a refusal by the firm to a request for remote working.
31.10. Any remote working arrangement will be reviewed regularly by the partner/department manager.
Termination of remote working arrangements
31.11. To ensure that the practices continue to meet the needs of the business, if it is decided that business or departmental needs are not being met adequately, the firm reserves the right to terminate any remote working arrangement with reasonable notice.
31.12 If the employee wants to change their remote working arrangement, they must notify their partner/manager in the first instance. The firm will only be able to accommodate the request if there is suitable office space for the employee.
31.13. The employee will be subject to the same performance measures, processes, targets and objectives that would apply if they were based at the firms premises.
31.14. Should the employee be subject to the Disciplinary or Capability procedure they may be expected to return to work at the firms premises.
Remote working: Equipment
31.15. Any equipment provided by the firm for the purpose of remote working will remain the firms property. Where equipment is provided the employee must;
- Use it only for the purposes for which it has been provided.
- Take reasonable care of it and use it only in accordance with any operating instructions and our policies and procedures.
- Make it available for collection by us or on our behalf when requested to do so.
31.16. The firm is not responsible for the provision, maintenance, replacement or repair in the event of loss or damage to any personal equipment used by the employee when working for us.
31.17. The firm is not responsible for associated costs of the employee working from home including the costs of heating, lighting, electricity.
31.18. If the employee is working remotely, they are advised to ensure that this does not contravene the conditions of their home and contents insurance policy, mortgage, lease or rental agreement.
Remote working: Health and safety
31.19. When working remotely the employee has the same health and safety obligations as other employees.
31.20. The employee must take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of anyone else who might be affected by their actions.
31.21. The employee must attend any health and safety courses required of them, read and comply with the Health and Safety Policy and undertake to use equipment safely.
31.22. The firm retains the right to check the employee’s remote working areas for health and safety purposes. The need for such assessments will depend on the circumstances including the nature of the work undertaken.
31.23. The employee must not have face to face meetings in their home with clients and must not give clients your home address or telephone number.
31.24. The employee must use their knowledge, experience and training and report any health, safety or wellbeing concerns to their partner/line manager.
Remote working: Data security and confidentiality
31.25. The employee must read and comply with all policies and procedures relating to computer use, electronic communications and data security and keep themselves informed of the most current versions of these policies, including (but not limited to):
- Section 36 Staff Handbook Electronic Information and Communications Systems Policy.
- Section 41 Staff Handbook Remote IT Access Policy.
- Data Protection Policy.
Complying with the remote working policy
31.26. The employees partner/ manager is responsible for ensuring they fully understand the policy and that terms of the policy are applied.
31.27. Failure to comply with the policy may result in action under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure.
32.1. The firm is committed to ensuring the health and safety of its employees, clients and anyone affected by its business activities, and to providing a safe environment for all those attending the firm’s premises through regular assessments of risks in the workplace.
32.2. In particular the firm is committed to maintaining safe and healthy working conditions through control of the health and safety risks arising from the firm’s work activities.
What is covered by this policy?
32.3. In accordance with the firm’s health and safety duties, the firm is responsible for;
- Assessing risks to health and safety and identifying ways to overcome them.
- Providing and maintaining a healthy and safe place to work and a safe means of entering and leaving the firm’s premises, including emergency procedures for use when needed.
- Providing information, instruction, training and supervision in safe working methods and procedures where appropriate as well as working areas and equipment that are safe and without risks to health.
- Ensuring that equipment has all necessary safety devices installed, and that equipment is properly maintained.
- Promoting co-operation between employees to ensure safe and healthy conditions and systems of work by discussion and effective joint consultation.
- Regularly monitoring and reviewing the management of health and safety at work, making
any necessary changes and bringing those to the attention of all employees.
32.4. The Managing Partner has overall responsibility for health and safety and the operation of this policy. The partners have nominated the Facilities Manager as the Principal Health and Safety Officer with day-to-day responsibility for health and safety matters.
32.5. All employees must also recognise that everyone shares responsibility for achieving healthy and safe working conditions. The employee must consider the health and safety implications of their acts and/or omissions and take reasonable care for their health and safety and that of others.
32.6. Any health and safety concerns should be reported to the Principal Health and Safety Officer.
Standards of workplace behaviour
32.7. The employee must co-operate with the Principal Health and Safety Officer, partners and department managers on health and safety matters and comply with any health and safety instructions.
32.8. The employee must take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others by observing safety rules applicable to the employee and following instructions for the use of equipment (including safety equipment and protective clothing).
32.9. Any health and safety concern, however trivial it might seem, including any potential risk, hazard or malfunction of equipment, must be reported to the Principal Health and Safety Officer immediately.
32.10. The employee must co-operate in the investigation of any accident or incident that has led, or which the firm considers might have led, to injury.
32.11. Failure to comply with health and safety rules and instructions or with the requirements of this policy may be treated as misconduct and dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure.
Information and consultation
30.12. The firm is committed to providing information, instruction and supervision on health and safety matters for all employees where appropriate.
32.13. All employees must use equipment in accordance with operating instructions, instructions given by managers and any relevant training. Any fault with, damage to or concern about any equipment or its use must immediately be reported to the Principal Health and Safety Officer.
32.14. Employees must ensure that health and safety equipment is not interfered with and that any damage is immediately reported.
32.15. No employee should attempt to repair equipment unless trained and designated to do so. Failure to report damage to or a fault with equipment or failure to use it as directed may result in action under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure.
Accidents and first aid
32.16. Any accident at work involving personal injury should be reported to the Principal Health and Safety Officer so that details can be recorded in the Accident Book. All employees must cooperate with any resulting investigation.
32.17. Details of first aid facilities and trained first aiders are displayed on each floor, and are available from the Principal Health and Safety Officer.
32.18. If the employee suffers an accident at work they (or someone on their behalf) must report the accident to the Principal Health and Safety Officer as soon as possible. All accidents should be reported, however trivial. The accident will be recorded in the firm’s Accident Book.
National health alerts
32.19. In the event of an epidemic or pandemic alert the firm will organise its business operations and provide advice on steps to be taken by employees, in accordance with official guidance, to reduce the risk of infection at work as far as possible. Any questions should be referred to the Head of Risk and Compliance.
32.20. It is important for the health and safety of all the firm’s employees that they comply with instructions issued in these circumstances. Failure to do so will be dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure.
Emergency evacuation and fire precautions
32.21. Employees should familiarise themselves with the instructions about what to do in the event of fire which are available from the Principal Health and Safety Officer and the Operations Manual. Employees should also know where the fire extinguishers are; ensure that the employees are aware of their nearest fire exit and alternative ways of leaving the building in an emergency.
32.22. Fire marshals on the 1st floor should be responsible for ensuring that all meeting rooms and client washrooms are clear before leaving the building.
32.23. Every employee should take care to ensure that visitors to the office, such as suppliers or trades people are out of the building, if safe to do so.
32.24. Regular fire drills will be held to ensure that the firm’s fire procedures are effective and to ensure that all employees are familiar with them. These drills are important and must be taken seriously.
32.25. The employee should notify the Principal Health and Safety Officer as soon as possible if there is anything (for example, impaired mobility) that might impede their evacuation in the event of a fire.
32.26. If the employee discovers a fire they should not attempt to tackle it unless they have been trained or feel competent to do so. The employee should operate the nearest fire alarm and, if they have sufficient time, call the Principal Health and Safety Officer and report the location of the fire.
32.27. On hearing the fire alarm the employee should remain calm and walking quickly, not running, evacuating the building immediately. Do not stop to collect personal possessions, do not use the lift, and do not re-enter the building until you are told that it is safe to do so.
Risk assessments and manual handling
32.28. General workplace risk assessments are carried out when required or as reasonably requested by employees or management. Partner/department managers are responsible for ensuring that any necessary risk assessments are undertaken and that recommended changes to the workplace and working practices are implemented.
32.29. If the employee uses a computer for prolonged periods of time they can request a workstation assessment by contacting the Health and Safety Officer. Information on the use of display screen equipment can also be obtained from the Health and Safety Officer.
Display screen equipment and eye care
32.30. Employees who are identified as Display Screen Equipment ‘users’ will be provided with an appropriate eye and eyesight test upon request.
32.31. Where employees are members of the firm’s Private Health Insurance scheme, they should claim optical care under that policy in the first instance if applicable.
Eye and eyesight testing
32.32. The purpose of the test if determine whether the employee has any sight defect which requires correction when working with Display Screen Equipment (DSE).
This includes a test of vision and an examination of the eye and must be carried out by a registered ophthalmic optician or a suitable qualified doctor.
32.33. Employees may use their own optician and claims can be submitted through the expense’s procedure.
32.34. However, Viberts will only pay for tests which are performed for the specific purpose of determining whether correction is required for DSE and this cost must be clearly identified on the supporting documentation with expenses.
32.35. Employees should check the cost of their eye and eyesight test in advance and for any tests exceeding £55.00 should seek authorisation from the Practice Director in advance.
Provision of glasses
32.36 Where it is identified that an employee requires glasses specifically for working with DSE, Viberts will pay the cost of a basic pair of frames and lenses.
32.37. Where an employee requires glasses for a number of purposes which includes the use of DSE, Viberts will only pay the costs attributable to the requirements of the DSE involved and this must be clearly identified on any supporting documentation with expenses.
32.38. Viberts will not pay for glasses if they are not required for DSE work.
32.39 Designer frames will not be paid for. However, if the employee wishes to upgrade their glasses they may do so at their own expense.
32.40. For any basic frames and lenses exceeding £150, employees should seek authorisation from the Partnership Director in advance of confirmation.
Requirements for re-testing
32.41. The firm would anticipate that eye and eyesight repeat testing would be required at least every two years although the frequency of repeat testing will vary for individual employees.
32.42. More regular re-testing will be determined by the qualified person carrying out the test and any examination or correction of vision defects required within this period, which are not related to display screen work, are the responsibility of the employee and not the firm.
33.1. The firm is committed to protecting the health, safety and welfare of all those who work for the firm by providing a safe place of work and protecting all employees, clients and visitors from exposure to smoke.
33.2. The firm’s workplace is smoke-free and all employees and visitors have a right to a smoke-free environment.
Scope and implementation of the policy
33.3. Smoking is banned in the firm’s workplace. This ban applies to anything that can be smoked and includes, but is not limited to, cigarettes, pipes (including water pipes such as shisha and hookah pipes), cigars, herbal cigarettes and electronic cigarettes.
33.4. Employees may only smoke outside during breaks. When smoking outside, employees should ensure that they dispose of cigarette butts appropriately. Employees are also requested not to smoke immediately outside the entrance to the firm’s premises as this affects clients and visitors as they enter the building.
33.5. The firm is committed to making this policy effective and to promoting a healthy working environment. Workers who experience particular difficulty complying with this policy should discuss their situation with their partner/department manager, the Practice Director or Head of People and Culture.
Breaches of the policy
33.6. Breaches of this policy will be dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure and, in serious cases, may be treated as gross misconduct leading to summary dismissal.
33.7. Smoking in smoke-free premises is also a criminal offence and may result in a fixed penalty fine and/or prosecution.
34.1. The firm is committed to providing a safe, healthy and productive working environment for all of its employees, customers and visitors. This includes ensuring that all employees are fit to carry out their roles safely and effectively in a working environment which is free from alcohol and drug misuse.
34.2. All employees are expected to arrive at work fit to carry out their roles and to be able to perform their duties safely without any limitations due to the use or after effects of alcohol or drugs (whether prescribed, over the counter or illegal).
34.3. Misuse of alcohol and drugs can lead to reduced levels of attendance, reduced efficiency and performance, impaired judgement and decision making and increased health and safety risks, not only for the individual but also for others. Irresponsible behaviour or the commission of offences resulting from the misuse of alcohol or drugs may damage the firm’s reputation and, as a result, its business.
34.4. The firm will not accept employees arriving at work under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and/or whose ability to work is impaired in any way by reason of the consumption of alcohol or drugs, or who consume
alcohol or take drugs (other than prescription or over the counter medication, as directed) on the firm’s premises or at work related events or when attending on the firm’s business such as training, conferences or social events.
Scope and purpose of the policy
34.5. This policy is principally intended to deal with alcohol and drug problems which, in the context of this policy are any drinking or taking of drugs, whether intermittent or continual, which interferes with work performance in relation to attendance, efficiency, productivity or safety. The employee will be deemed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs where that is the reasonable opinion of a partner/department manager or partner.
34.6. This policy is not intended to apply to “one-off” incidents or offences caused by alcohol or drug misuse at or outside work where there is no evidence of an ongoing problem, which may damage the firm’s reputation, and which are likely to be dealt with under the firm’s disciplinary policy.
34.7. The purpose of this policy is to increase awareness of the effects of alcohol and drug misuse and its likely symptoms and to ensure that;
- All employees are aware of their responsibilities regarding alcohol and drug misuse and related problems.
- Employees who have an alcohol or drug related problem are encouraged to seek help, in confidence, at an early stage.
- Employees who have an alcohol or drug related problem affecting their work are dealt with sympathetically, fairly and consistently.
Personnel responsible for implementation of the policy
34.8. Partners and partner/department managers have an important role to play in identifying problems at work that are being caused or contributed to by alcohol or drug misuse.
34.9. Where a partner or partner/department manager considers that a deterioration in work performance and/or changes in patterns of behaviour may be due to alcohol or drug misuse the employee should seek advice and assistance from the Head of People and Culture;
34.10. When an employee arrives at work and a partner or manager reasonably believes that they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they shall immediately contact the Head of People and Culture in order that the employee can be provided with assistance and an investigation can be undertaken.
34.11. If the employee notices a change in a colleague’s pattern of behaviour they should encourage them to seek assistance through their partner/department manager or the Head of People and Culture. If the employee will not seek help themselves they should draw the matter to the attention of their partner/department manager. The employee should not attempt to cover up for a colleague whose work or behaviour is suffering as a result of an alcohol or drug-related problem.
34.12. If the employee believes that they have an alcohol or drug-related problem they should seek specialist advice and support as soon as possible.
Alcohol and drugs at work
34.13. The firm expects the employee to demonstrate responsible behaviour at work, work-related functions and work-related social events and to act in a way that will not have a detrimental effect on the firm’s reputation. If the employee entertains clients or represents the firm at external events where alcohol is served, they are considered to be “at work” regardless of whether they do so outside normal working hours. Consequently, the firm will expect the employee to remain professional and fit for work at all times.
34.14. Partner/department managers should act to prevent excessive consumption of alcohol by any employee and should take steps to deal with any unacceptable conduct that occurs at such functions. Any such behaviour may lead to disciplinary action.
34.15. The firm expects all of its employees to comply with drink-driving legislation at all times. The firm’s reputation will be damaged if the employee is convicted of a drink-driving offence and, if their role requires the employee to drive and they lose their licence, they may be unable to continue to do their role. Committing a drink-driving offence outside or during working hours or while working for the firm may lead to disciplinary action and could result in dismissal in accordance with the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure.
34.16. If the employee is prescribed medication they must seek advice from their GP or pharmacist about the possible effect on their ability to carry out their role and whether their duties should be modified or they should be temporarily reassigned to a different role. If so the employee must tell their partner/department manager or the Head of People and Culture without delay.
34.17. The firm reserves the right to conduct searches for alcohol or drugs, including, but not limited to, searches of offices, filing cabinets and desks, or packages sent to the firm’s address which are on the firm’s premises
34.18. Any alcohol or drugs found as a result of a search will be confiscated and disciplinary action may result.
Management of suspected substance misuse
34.19. If the employee’s partner/department manager has reason to believe that the employee is suffering the effects of alcohol or drugs misuse, for example, due to deterioration in their work or behaviour, they will invite the employee to an investigatory interview. The purpose of the interview is to:
- Discuss the reason for the investigation and seek their views on, for example, the deterioration of their work performance and/or behaviour.
- Where appropriate, to offer any support or guidance to the individual whilst the employee seeks professional treatment.
34.20. If, as a result of the interview, the employee’s manager continues to believe that they are suffering the effects of alcohol or drugs misuse and the employee refuses to seek professional treatment the matter may be dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure.
34.21. Alcohol and drug related problems may develop for a variety of reasons and over a considerable period of time. The firm is committed, in so far as possible, to treating these problems in a similar way to other health issues. Support will be provided where possible with a view to supporting a full recovery, allowing a return to work and the full range of the employee’s duties. This may include:
- Time off work to attend treatment as recommended by their GP or specialist and recognition of any periods of absence for treatment as periods of sickness absence.
- Adjusting their duties or other support as recommended by their GP or specialist during treatment and for an agreed period thereafter, subject to operational requirements and feasibility.
34.22. The firm may request that the employee undergoes further medical examinations at the firm’s expense so that it may determine the extent of the employee’s alcohol or drug related problems, and what support, guidance and adjustments the firm can reasonably provide.
34.23. If the employee does not finish a programme of treatment (either because the treatment provider ceases to support the employee or because the employee stops attending) or their recovery and return to work does not happen as anticipated at the outset of a course of treatment, the firm will meet with the employee to decide what further action should be taken.
34.24. The firm aims to ensure that the confidentiality of any employee experiencing alcohol or drug-related problems is maintained appropriately by the Head of People and Culture, partners and partner/department managers, and, where it is necessary to inform them, colleagues. However, it needs to be recognised that, in supporting employees, some degree of information sharing is likely to be necessary.
34.25. If the employee seeks help with an alcohol or drug-related problem directly from the Managing Partner or Head of People and Culture or another partner without the knowledge of their partner/department manager the matter will be treated confidentially unless, in their opinion maintaining confidentiality could put the employee, their colleagues or anyone else at risk. In those circumstances the employee will be encouraged to inform their partner/department manager and will be given sufficient time to do so before their partner/department manager is informed by the Managing Partner, Head of People and Culture or partner.
Performance and disciplinary issues
34.26. If, having acknowledged an alcohol or drug related problem, the employee undertakes treatment and/or rehabilitation, any related performance or disciplinary action may be suspended pending the outcome of the treatment.
34.27. The firm’s intention is to support all employees with alcohol or drug related problems to regain good health. Depending on the progress made on the course of treatment, any disciplinary action may be suspended for a specified period, discontinued or continued.
35.1. Viberts is committed to protecting the rights & freedoms of data subjects and safely & securely processing their data in accordance with our legal obligations. We hold personal data about our employees, clients, suppliers and other individuals for a variety of business purposes.
Please see the Viberts Data Protection and Privacy policies for further information.
36.1. The firm’s electronic communications systems and equipment are intended to promote effective communication and working practices within the firm’s organisation, and are critical to the success of the firm’s business. This part of the handbook deals mainly with the use (and misuse) of computer equipment, e-mail, the internet, telephones, Smart phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and voicemail, but it applies equally to the use of fax machines, copiers, scanners, and electronic key fobs. It outlines the standards the firm requires users of these systems to observe, the circumstances in which the firm will monitor use of these systems and the action the firm will take in respect of breaches of these standards.
36.2. All employees are expected to protect the firm’s electronic communications systems and equipment from unauthorised access and harm at all times. Failure to do so may be dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure and, in serious cases, may be treated as gross misconduct leading to summary dismissal.
Equipment security and passwords
36.3. Employees are responsible for the security of the equipment allocated to or used by them, and must not allow it to be used by anyone other than as permitted by this handbook.
36.4. If given access to the e-mail system or to the Internet, employees are responsible for the security of their PCs/laptops. If leaving a PC/laptop unattended or on leaving the office the employee should ensure that their PC/laptop is locked or logged off to prevent unauthorised users accessing the system in their absence. Employees without authorisation should only be allowed to use PCs/laptops under supervision.
36.5. Desktop PCs and cabling for telephones or computer equipment should not be moved or tampered with without first consulting the IT Manager.
36.6. Passwords are unique to each user and must be changed regularly to ensure confidentiality. Passwords must be kept confidential and must not be made available to anyone else unless authorised by the IT Manager. For the avoidance of doubt, on the termination of employment (for any reason) employees passwords will be changed by the IT Manager and employees must return any equipment and key fobs.
36.7. Employees who have been issued with a laptop, PDA or Smartphone must ensure that it is kept secure at all times, especially when travelling. Passwords must be used to secure access to data kept on such equipment to ensure that confidential data is protected in the event of loss or theft. Employees should also be aware that when using equipment away from the workplace, documents may be read by third parties, for example, passengers on public transport.
Systems and data security
36.8. Employees should not delete, destroy or modify existing systems, programmes, information or data which could have the effect of harming the firm’s business or exposing it to risk.
36.9. Employees should not download or install software from external sources without authorisation from the IT Manager. This includes software programmes, instant messaging programmes, screensavers, photos, video clips and music files. Incoming files and data should always be virus-checked by the IT Manager before they are downloaded. If in doubt, employees should seek advice from the IT Manager. The following must never be accessed from the network: online radio, audio and video streaming, instant messaging and webmail (such as Hotmail or Yahoo) and social networking sites (such as Facebook, Bebo, Second Life, YouTube, Twitter). Some social networking sites may be made available for use by employees during the lunch period. This list may be modified from time to time.
36.10. No device or equipment should be attached to the firm’s systems without the prior approval of the IT Manager. This includes any USB flash drive, MP3 or similar device, PDA or telephone. It also includes use of the USB port, infrared connection port or any other port.
36.11. Should it be necessary to transfer data to or from removable media prior consent from the IT Manager must be obtained. This includes USB flash drives and CDs/DVDs. In general data will only be transferred by the IT Manager once the media has been scanned for any virus.
36.12. The firm monitors all e-mails passing through the firm’s system for viruses. Employees should exercise caution when opening e-mails from unknown external sources or where, for any reason, an e-mail appears suspicious (for example, if its name ends in .ex). The IT Manager should be informed immediately if a suspected virus is received. The firm reserves the right to block access to attachments to e-mails for the purpose of effective use of the system and for compliance with this part of the firm’s handbook. The firm also reserves the right not to transmit any e-mail message.
36.13. Employees should not attempt to gain access to restricted areas of the network, or to any password-protected information, unless specifically authorised.
36.14. Employees using laptops or Wi-Fi enabled equipment must be particularly vigilant about its use outside the office and take any precautions required by the IT Manager from time to time against importing viruses or compromising the security of the system. The system contains information which is confidential to the firm’s business and/or which is subject to data protection legislation. Such information must be treated with extreme care and in accordance with the firm’s Data Protection Policy.
E-mail etiquette and content
36.15. E-mail is a vital business tool, but an informal means of communication, and should be used with great care and discipline. Employees should always consider if e-mail is the appropriate means for a particular communication and correspondence sent by e-mail should be written as professionally as a letter or fax. Messages should be concise and directed only to relevant individuals. Emails being sent to external recipients should include their individual signature.
36.16. Employees should not send abusive, obscene, discriminatory, racist, harassing, derogatory or defamatory e-mails. Anyone who feels that they have been harassed or bullied, or are offended by material received from a colleague via e-mail should inform their partner/department manager or the Practice Director.
36.17. Employees should take care with the content of e-mail messages, as incorrect or improper statements can give rise to claims for discrimination, harassment, defamation, breach of confidentiality or breach of contract. Employees should assume that e-mail messages may be read by others and not include anything which would offend or embarrass any reader, or themselves, if it found its way into the public domain.
36.18. E-mail messages may be disclosed in legal proceedings in the same way as paper documents. Deletion from a user’s inbox or archives does not mean that an e-mail cannot be recovered for the purposes of disclosure. All e-mail messages should be treated as potentially retrievable, either from the main server or using specialist software. All inbound and outbound external e-mails are automatically archived by the firms e-mail archiving software and are retained for a period of 10 years before deletion.
36.19. In general, employees should not;
- Send or forward private e-mails at work which the employee would not want a third party to read.
- Send excessive personal emails at work, either to internal colleagues or friends or to external contacts.
- Send or forward chain mail, junk mail, cartoons, jokes or gossip.
- Contribute to system congestion by sending trivial messages or unnecessarily copying or forwarding e-mails to those who do not have a real need to receive them.
- Sell or advertise using the firm’s communication systems or broadcast messages about lost property, sponsorship or charitable appeals unless with authorisation from the Managing Partner.
- Agree to terms, enter into contractual commitments or make representations by e-mail unless appropriate authority has been obtained. A name typed at the end of an e-mail is a signature in the same way as a name written at the end of a letter.
- Download or e-mail text, music and other content on the internet subject to copyright protection, unless it is clear that the owner of such works allows this.
- Send messages from another worker’s computer or under an assumed name unless specifically authorised.
- Send confidential messages via e-mail or the Internet, or by other means of external communication which are known not to be secure.
36.20. Employees who receive a wrongly delivered e-mail should return it to the sender. If the e-mail contains confidential information or inappropriate material (as described above) it should not be disclosed or used in any way.
36.21. All inbound and outbound emails are regularly monitored by the Managing Partner and Practice Director. Certain key words used within e-mails are flagged in the monitoring system for further analysis.
Use of the Internet
36.22. When a website is visited, devices such as cookies, tags or web beacons may be employed to enable the site owner to identify and monitor visitors. If the website is of a kind described in paragraph 30.30, such a marker could be a source of embarrassment to the visitor and the firm, especially if inappropriate material has been accessed, downloaded, stored or forwarded from the website. Such actions may also, in certain circumstances, amount to a criminal offence if, for example, the material is pornographic in nature.
36.23. Employees should therefore not access any web page or any files (whether documents, images or other) downloaded from the Internet which could, in any way, be regarded as illegal, offensive, in bad taste or immoral. While content may be legal in Jersey, it may be in sufficient bad taste to fall within this prohibition. As a general rule, if any person (whether intended to view the page or not) might be offended by the contents of a page, or if the fact that the firm’s software has accessed the page or file might be a source of embarrassment if made public, then viewing it will be a breach of the firm’s Electronic Information and Communications Systems Policy.
Personal use of systems
36.24. The firm permits the incidental use of Internet, e-mail and telephone systems to send personal e-mail, browse the Internet and make personal telephone calls subject to certain conditions set out below. Personal use is a privilege and not a right. It must be neither abused nor overused and the firm reserves the right to withdraw its permission at any time.
36.25. The following conditions must be met for personal usage to continue:
- Use must be minimal and take place substantially out of normal working hours (that is, during lunch hours, before 9 am or after 5 pm).
- Use must not interfere with business or office commitments.
- Use must not commit the firm to any marginal costs.
- Use must comply with the policies set out in this handbook including the Equal Opportunities Policy, Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy, Data Protection Policy and Disciplinary Procedure.
36.26. Employees should be aware that personal use of the firm’s systems will be monitored and, where breaches are found, action may be taken under the disciplinary procedure. The firm reserves the right to restrict or prevent access to certain telephone numbers or Internet sites if the firm considers personal use to be excessive.
Monitoring of use of systems
36.27. The firm’s systems enable it to monitor telephone, e-mail, voicemail, Internet and other communications. For business reasons, and in order to carry out legal obligations in the firm’s role as an employer, use of the firm’s systems including the telephone and computer systems, and any personal use of them, is continually monitored by the IT Manager and the Managing Partner. Monitoring is only carried out to the extent permitted or as required by law and as necessary and justifiable for business purposes.
36.28. The firm reserves the right to retrieve the contents of messages or check searches which have been made on the internet for the following purposes (this list is not exhaustive):
- To monitor whether the use of the e-mail system or the internet is legitimate and in accordance with this policy.
- To find lost messages or to retrieve messages lost due to computer failure.
- To assist in the investigation of wrongful acts under one of the firm’s policies or procedures.
- To comply with any legal obligations.
Inappropriate use of equipment and systems
36.29. Access is granted to the Internet, telephones and other electronic systems for legitimate business purposes only. Incidental personal use is permissible provided it is in full compliance with the firm’s rules, policies and procedures (including this policy, the Equal Opportunities Policy, Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy, Data Protection Policy and Disciplinary Procedure).
36.30. Misuse, excessive or inappropriate use or abuse of the firm’s telephone, e-mail system, or the Internet in breach of this policy will be dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure. Misuses of the Internet can, in certain circumstances, constitute a criminal offence. In particular, misuse of the e-mail system or inappropriate use of the internet by participating in online gambling or chain letters or by creating, viewing, accessing, transmitting or downloading any of the following material will amount to gross misconduct (this list is not exhaustive):
- Pornographic material (that is, writing, pictures, films and video clips of a sexually explicit or arousing nature).
- Offensive, obscene, or criminal material or material which is liable to cause embarrassment to the firm or to the firm’s clients.
- A false and defamatory statement about any person or organisation.
- Material which is discriminatory, offensive, derogatory or may cause embarrassment to others.
- Confidential information about the firm or any of the firm’s employees or clients (which the employee does not have authority to access).
- Any other statement which is likely to create any liability (whether criminal or civil, and whether for the employee or the firm).
- Material in breach of copyright.
36.31. Any such action will be treated very seriously and is likely to result in summary dismissal.
36.32. Where evidence of misuse is found the firm may undertake a more detailed investigation in accordance with the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure, involving the examination and disclosure of monitoring records to those nominated to undertake the investigation and any witnesses or managers involved in the firm’s Disciplinary Procedure. If necessary such information may be handed to the police in connection with a criminal investigation.
37.1. The firm recognises that the Internet provides unique opportunities to participate in interactive discussions and share information on particular topics using a wide variety of social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs and wikis. However, employees’ use of social media can pose risks to the firm’s confidential and proprietary information, and reputation, and can jeopardise the firm’s compliance with legal obligations.
37.2. To minimise these risks, to avoid loss of productivity and to ensure that the firm’s IT resources and communications systems are used only for appropriate business purposes, the firm expect employees to adhere to this policy.
Scope and purpose of the policy
37.3. This policy deals with the use of all forms of social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Wikipedia, all other social networking sites, and all other Internet postings, including blogs.
37.4. It applies to the use of social media for both business and personal purposes, whether during office hours or otherwise. The policy applies regardless of whether the social media is accessed using the firm’s IT facilities and equipment or equipment belonging to employees.
37.5. 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 the firm’s equipment or facilities are used for the purpose of committing the breach. Any employee suspected of committing a breach of this policy will be required to co-operate with the firm’s investigation, which may involve handing over relevant passwords and login details.
37.6. Employees 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.
Personnel responsible for implementing the policy
37.7. The Managing Partner has overall responsibility for the effective operation of this policy, but has delegated day-to-day responsibility for its operation to the Practice Director. Responsibility for monitoring and reviewing the operation of this policy and making recommendations for change to minimise risks also lies with the IT Manager
37.8. All partner/department managers have a specific responsibility for operating within the boundaries of this policy, ensuring that all employees understand the standards of behaviour expected of them and taking action when behaviour falls below its requirements.
37.9. All employees are responsible for the success of this policy and should ensure that the employee take the time to read and understand it. Any misuse of social media should be reported to the Practice Director or the Managing Partner. Questions regarding the content or application of this policy should be directed to the Practice Director.
Compliance with related policies and agreements
37.10. Social media should never be used in a way that breaches any of the firm’s other policies. If an Internet post would breach any of the firm’s policies in another forum, it will also breach them in an online forum. For example, employees are prohibited from using social media to:
- Breach the firm’s Electronic Information and Communications Systems Policy.
- Breach the firm’s obligations with respect to the rules of relevant regulatory bodies.
- Breach any obligations the employee may have relating to confidentiality.
- Breach the firm’s Disciplinary Rules.
- Defame or disparage the firm or its affiliates, customers, clients, business partners, suppliers, vendors or other stakeholders.
- Breach the firm’s Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy.
- Breach the firm’s Equality and Diversity Policy.
Breach the firm’s 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 themselves or by making misleading statements).
37.11. Employees should never provide references for other individuals on social or professional networking sites, as such references, positive and negative, can be attributed to the organisation and create legal liability for both the author of the reference and the organisation.
37.12. Employees who breach any of the above policies will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
Personal use of social media
37.13. The firm recognises that employees may work long hours and occasionally may desire to use social media for personal activities at the office or by means of the firm’s computers, networks and other IT resources and communications systems. The firm authorises such occasional use so long as it does not involve unprofessional or inappropriate content and does not interfere with their employment responsibilities or productivity. While using social media at work, circulating chain letters or other spam is never permitted. Circulating or posting commercial, personal, religious or political solicitations or promotion of outside organisations unrelated to the firm’s business are also prohibited.
37.14 Employees must not, whether within the workplace or within their personal time:
- Post to news groups or forums in such a way as to bring Viberts into disrepute or risk bringing it into disrepute.
- Express opinions which purport to be Viberts’ views unless they are authorised to express views on behalf of Viberts.
- Otherwise act in any way which could risk damaging the reputation of Viberts’.
37.15. The contents of the firm’s IT resources and communications systems are the firm’s property. Therefore, employees should have no expectation of privacy in any message, files, data, document, facsimile, telephone conversation, social media post conversation or message, or any other kind of information or communications transmitted to, received or printed from, or stored or recorded on the firm’s electronic information and communications systems.
37.15. The firm reserves the right to monitor, intercept and review, without further notice, employees activities using the firm’s IT resources and communications systems, including but not limited to social media postings and activities, to ensure that the firm’s rules are being complied with and for legitimate business purposes and the employee consent to such monitoring by their use of such resources and systems. This might include, without limitation, the monitoring, interception, accessing, recording, disclosing, inspecting, reviewing, retrieving and printing of transactions, messages, communications, postings, log-ins, recordings and other uses of the systems as well as keystroke capturing and other network monitoring technologies.
37.16. The firm 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.
37.17. The employee must not use the firm’s IT resources and communications systems for any matter that they wish to be kept private or confidential from the organisation.
37.18. For further information, please refer to the firm’s Electronic Information and Communications Systems Policy.
Business use of social media
37.19. The firm actively use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Google+ as an integral part of its marketing strategy. All communications through these channels on behalf of the firm are controlled by the Marketing team. Should staff wish to suggest a topic or item for promotion vis these channels, these must be directed to the Marketing team for approval and release. If the employee’s duties require them to speak on behalf of the firm in a social media environment, the employee must still seek approval for such communication from the Managing Partner and the Head of Business Development and Marketing.
37.20. Likewise, if an employee is contacted for comments about the firm for publication anywhere, including in any social media outlet, they should direct the inquiry to the Managing Partner and the Head of Business Development and Marketing and should not respond without written approval.
37.21. The use of social media for business purposes is subject to the remainder of this policy.
37.22. The firm may use Internet searches to perform due diligence on candidates in the course of recruitment. Where the firm does this, the firm will act in accordance with the firm’s data protection and equal opportunities obligations.
Responsible use of social media
37.23. The following sections of the policy provide employees with common-sense guidelines and recommendations for using social media responsibly and safely;
Protecting the firm’s business reputation:
37.24. Employees must not post disparaging or defamatory statements about:
- the firm’s organisation.
- the firm’s clients.
- suppliers and vendors.
- other affiliates and stakeholders.
37.25. Employees should also avoid social media communications that might be misconstrued in a way that could damage the firm’s business reputation, even indirectly.
37.26. Employees should make it clear in social media postings that they are speaking on their own behalf. They should write in the first person and use a personal e-mail address when communicating via social media.
37.27. Employees are personally responsible for what they communicate in social media. The employee should remember that what they publish might be available to be read by the public (including the firm itself, future employers and social acquaintances) for a long time. The employee should keep this in mind before they post content.
37.28. If the employee discloses their affiliation as an employee of the firm, the employee must also state that their views do not represent those of their employer. For example, the employee could state, “the views in this posting do not represent the views of my employer”. The employee should also ensure that their profile and any content they post are consistent with the professional image they present to clients and colleagues.
37.29. The employee should avoid posting comments about sensitive business-related topics, such as the firm’s performance. Even if the employee makes it clear that their views on such topics do not represent those of the firm, their comments could still damage the firm’s reputation.
37.30. If the employee is uncertain or concerned about the appropriateness of any statement or posting, refrain from making the communication until the employee discuss it with the Managing Partner.
37.31. If the employee sees content in social media that disparages or reflects poorly on the firm or its stakeholders, the employee should contact the Managing Partner. All employees are responsible for protecting the firm’s business reputation.
Respecting intellectual property and confidential information
37.32. Employees should not do anything to jeopardise the firm’s valuable trade secrets and other confidential information and intellectual property through the use of social media.
37.33. In addition, employees should avoid misappropriating or infringing the intellectual property of other companies and individuals, which can create liability for the firm, as well as the individual author.
37.34. The employee should not use the firm’s logos, brand names, slogans or other trademarks, or post any of the firm’s confidential or proprietary information without prior written permission.
37.35. The contact details of business contacts made during the course of their employment are regarded as the firm’s confidential information, and as such the employee will be required to delete all such details from their personal social networking accounts, such as Facebook accounts or LinkedIn accounts, on termination of employment.
Respecting colleagues, clients, partners and suppliers
37.36. The employee should not post anything that their colleagues or the firm’s clients, suppliers or other stakeholders would find offensive, including discriminatory comments, insults or obscenity.
37.37. The employee should not post anything related to their colleagues or the firm’s customers, clients, business partners, suppliers, vendors or other stakeholders without their written permission.
38.1. The firm recognises that mobile phones are an effective form of communication between clients and employees and accepts they are now a part of everyday life. As such some employees may be provided with a mobile device by the firm to use in their daily activities. In some cases the employees existing mobile phone contract may be taken over by the firm enabling the employee to keep their original number and handset.
38.2. Mobile devices represent a significant risk to information and data security as, if the appropriate security applications and procedures are not applied, they can be a conduit for unauthorised access to the firm’s data and IT infrastructure. This can subsequently lead to data leakage and system infection.
38.3. The firm has a requirement to protect its information assets in order to safeguard its clients, intellectual property and reputation. This document outlines a set of practices and requirements for the safe use of mobile devices.
38.4. This policy applies to all employees who have a mobile device, whether owned by the firm or owned by employees, which has access to company networks, data and systems. This includes, mobile phones, Smart phone and tablet devices.
38.5. Exemptions: Where there is a business need to be exempted from this policy (too costly, too complex, adversely impacting other business requirements) a risk assessment must be conducted and be authorised by the IT Manager, the Head of Risk and Compliance and the Managing Partner.
38.6. The provision of a mobile phone to an employee by the firm is dependent upon the employee’s role within the firm and is at the discretion of the Managing Partner.
38.7. Employees are required to take good care of the mobile device which has been provided to them and take reasonable precautions to ensure that the device is not damaged, lost or stolen. In the event that the device is lost or stolen the IT Manager should be informed as soon as possible for de-activation.
38.8. Devices must store all user-saved passwords in an encrypted password store. With the exception of those devices managed by IT, devices are not allowed to be connected directly to the internal company network.
38.9. All devices must be secured with a screen lock which automatically activates after a period of inactivity. A PIN must be used to unlock the device.
38.10. An employee’s PIN and any other passwords should never be disclosed. Should an employee believe someone else knows their PIN or password they should change them immediately. If an employee suspects that unauthorised access to the firm’s data has taken place via a mobile device they must report the incident to the IT Manager and the Head of Risk and Comliance immediately.
38.11. Devices must not be “jailbroken” or have any software/firmware installed which is designed to gain access to functionality not intended to be exposed to the user.
38.12. Illegal content or pirated software must not be loaded on to the device.
38.13. Applications must only be installed from official sources. No applications from un-trusted sources should be installed. If an employee is unsure about an application contact the IT Manager for assistance.
38.14. Devices must be kept up to date with manufacturer or network operator patches. The mobile device must be set to automatically install these. If an employee has been authorised to use the firm’s email on their device the configuration settings for the device will be provided by the IT Manager.
38.15. It should be noted that when replying to or creating emails from a mobile device the employee’s signature is not automatically added as it is from Outlook. The firm’s disclaimer is automatically added to all outbound external emails.
38.16. Employees must be cautious about the merging of personal and work email accounts on their devices. They must take particular care to ensure that the firm’s data is only sent through the corporate email system. If an employee suspects that the firm’s data has been sent from a personal email account, either in body text or as an attachment, they must notify the IT Manager and Head of Risk and Compliance immediately.
38.17. The firm may install security and management software to enforce security policies on mobile devices connected to its networks.
38.18. Employees leaving the firm must return their mobile phones to the IT Manager or make arrangements with the firm to take over the mobile contract. The Practice Director will be responsible for making sure that this is completed as part of the normal exit procedure.
38.19. Employees are permitted to use their company mobile device for fair and reasonable personal use. Should the amount of personal usage be deemed excessive the firm may ask for a contribution towards the costs.
38.20. There is a significant additional cost of using a mobile device when roaming outside of Jersey. If the employee is planning a trip away they should contact the IT Manager beforehand and roaming add-ons can be applied to the device to reduce the cost.
38.21. Unless necessary, mobile data services should be switched off and the employee should primarily use Wi-Fi for all data requirements. The employee should contact the IT Manager if they are unsure how to configure their phone.
38.22. Employees should be aware of these additional costs when making calls. Employees should try to avoid unnecessary calls and if possible ask the other person to call them back.
39.1. The firm, at its discretion, allows its employees to have personal legal work provided to them internally, under certain conditions as follows. (Every employee should note that every request for personal legal services must be put to the Managing Partner, who will have the ultimate discretion in whether legal services will be provided.)
- If the matter involves litigation or matrimonial work and the employee qualifies for a legal aid certificate, the certificate should be applied for at the legal aid clinic; the firm will not be allocated to deal with the certificate.
- If an employee wishes the firm to deal with a litigation or matrimonial matter on a privately paying basis this will be considered by the Managing Partner and the Partner heading the relevant department. The firm reserves the right to charge the full private client hourly rate for the matter. The firm can decline to act if it is felt that it is more appropriate that the matter is dealt with by another law firm.
- The firm will, at its discretion, provide a free will for all permanent employees who have successfully completed their probationary period with the firm. Only simple wills will be covered by this free service. Wills can be drawn up for both immovable and movable property for the employee. The free service is only available to the employee and not to any member of their family or friends.
- The firm will, at its discretion, act for an employee in a conveyancing transaction free of charge. However, this will only apply to one conveyance every five years (e.g. a sale and purchase done at the same time) and will only be offered once the employee has at least 18 months continuous service with the firm and once they have successfully passed their probationary period. This service extends to a spouse/partner who is buying/selling jointly with the employee.
Scope and purpose of policy
40.1. This policy applies to every employee of the firm
40.2. The purpose of this policy is to keep a clean, tidy and safe office environment which encourages effective and efficient methods of working for the whole firm.
40.3. A tidy office has the following benefits:
- It minimises risks to confidentiality and security and ensures data protection requirements are met.
- It reduces the risk of workplace accidents.
- It reduces stress levels.
- It helps establish a culture of security and trust for all employees.
- It gives a positive image of the firm to clients, visitors, suppliers and contractors.
Waste and Confidential Waste
40.4. All unwanted documentation containing personal details of any individual, including the data of clients, employees, members of the public, contractors or suppliers must be disposed of in the confidential waste bins provided on each floor.
40.5. If an employee is unsure about whether a piece of documentation should be treated as confidential waste they should maintain caution and dispose of the document in the confidential waste bin.
40.6. All other waste which is not deemed confidential should be disposed of in the bins provided by each individual desk.
40.7. Food waste should be disposed of in the bins provided by each tea-point. This will prevent any unwanted smells from affecting colleagues at surrounding desks
40.8. At the end of every working day, employees should put all documentation, paperwork, folders and files away in personal drawers, or in the rolling storage provided for each department.
40.9. Employees should refrain from leaving post-it style notes around their computer and desk, as these often contain personal information such as names, telephone numbers and email addresses, and they are liable to come loose and become lost. All contact details should instead be recorded in your Contacts section of Outlook.
40.10. All client files should be put away in the rolling storage provided for each department. Employees are permitted to keep 2-3 files that are in use, in the lockable cupboards provided at their desks. Putting files away ensures that they will be easily accessible by other employees when needed.
40.11. Reasonable personal belongings are permitted as long as they are kept to a minimum. Desks, computers and the space underneath and immediately surrounding desks should be kept clear for health and safety reasons as well as for the purpose of allowing the cleaners to do their job.
General office tidiness
40.12. Every employee is requested to contribute towards general tidiness in the workplace. This encourages a more efficient and safe working environment.
40.13. Over coats, scarves and other clothing should not be kept on the back of office chairs. Instead they should be placed on the coat hooks provided in the ladies’ and gentlemen’s toilets on each floor. A smart office jacket may be kept on the back of chairs.
40.14. Once an employee has finished using a box from archiving they should notify Facilities so that it can be returned to storage. This helps to keep floor space and walk ways clear for others.
40.15. If employees need to dispose of large waste or cardboard, they are requested to inform Facilities so that it can be removed safely.
40.16. The offices are climate controlled at a central point. The temperature for the office is chosen so that it provides a comfortable working temperature for all employees. The temperature will be maintained throughout the day. It is important that all employees respect the comfort of their colleagues, and do not attempt to alter the temperature of the office. If an employee finds that they are feeling constantly too hot or too cold, they are firstly advised to try dressing more appropriately for the temperature. If this is not effective they should speak to the Practice Director or Managing Partner.
40.17. The office windows should not be opened. Opening windows counteracts the effect of the air-conditioning, and causes it to use a substantial amount of power when trying to maintain a consistent internal air temperature.
40.18. Shower facilities are provided. They are provided for the use of all employees.
40.19. Employees using the shower facilities are reminded that they are shared by all employees, and that they should leave the facilities clean and tidy so that they can be enjoyed fully by all.
40.20. Employees should be advised that shower facilities are provided for use outside of the normal working hours only.
40.21. Employees are reminded that they should provide their own towels and toiletries.
40.22. The changing facility has limited space, and therefore employees are requested to keep all belongings in the lockers provided, or the space on top of the locker units.
40.23. Security in the shower and changing rooms cannot be guaranteed, and therefore Employees are reminded to lock away all personal belongings.
40.24. Employees are provided with tea-points on each floor so that they may make themselves refreshments throughout the working day. Milk, tea and coffee, and sugar are provided for employees’ use.
40.25. Employees are reminded that the tea-points on each floor are for the use of everyone, and are requested therefore to help keep them tidy and clean for the enjoyment of others. Their open plan design also means mess and dirty crockery and cutlery are more visible.
40.26. A limited amount of crockery and cutlery is provided at each tea-point for the use of employees. By way of courtesy to colleagues, employees are requested to return all crockery and cutlery to the tea-point after use, and to clean them and put them away so that they are ready for use by others. Employees are requested not to leave dirty crockery and cutlery on their desks once they have finished using them.
40.27. Ladies’ and gentlemen’s toilets are provided on each floor.
40.28. Employees are requested to leave the toilet facilities as they would expect to find them. This includes placing all hand towels in the bins provided, and generally leaving the area clean and tidy.
40.29. Anti-bacterial soap is provided in each set of toilets. Employees are encouraged to use this when washing their hands in order to reduce the risk of spreading germs and bacteria.
40.30. Viberts has meeting rooms available for meetings. It cannot be guaranteed that a suitable meeting room will be available at all times, and therefore employees are requested to check the availability of meeting rooms and make a booking before confirming meeting arrangements with a client, supplier, contact, member of staff or other visitor to the firm.
40.31. Meeting room bookings should ideally be made by phone to reception where possible. Bookings made by email are acceptable but the employee should ensure these are made allowing ample time before the meeting so as to avoid disappointment.
40.32. When making a room booking employees should notify reception of the following information:
- The names and number of those in the meeting.
- The duration of the meeting.
- Whether any refreshments/lunch are required.
- Whether any external people will be attending the meeting.
40.33. Reception is often very busy taking phone calls and dealing with visitors to the firm. Employees are therefore asked to provide a collaborative approach to keeping the reception area and meeting rooms tidy. When a meeting has ended employees are asked to replace any used glasses and bottles of water, and to leave the room as they found it, with chairs tidily put away and nothing left on the table.
40.34. All bikes should be kept in the bike racks provided at the rear of the building.
40.35. The bike racks are located close to an emergency evacuation exit, and therefore great care should be taken to ensure that the exit is not blocked at any time.
40.36. If any employee has a question about the content of this policy, they should speak to their partner/department manager or Practice Director.
41.1. With people leading busy work and personal lives, employees increasingly want the flexibility of being able to juggle their work and personal lives, often outside the workplace.
41.2. The purpose of this policy is to define the correct use of connecting to the firm’s network from any external host. This policy is designed to help minimise the potential exposure of the firm from damages which may result from unauthorised use of its resources. Examples of damages include the loss of confidential and sensitive information, intellectual property, damage to the firm’s public image, and damage to the firm’s critical internal systems.
41.3. This policy applies to all employees of the firm, including temporary or fixed-term employees, consultants, suppliers and third-parties, who connect to the firm’s network through a company owned or personal computer, laptop, mobile phone or tablet, or through any other external device (all referred to as “users” for the purpose of this policy). This policy applies to remote access connections to the firm’s network for any purpose, either work-related or personal, including reading and sending emails from your work account, viewing, creating or amending files and folders saved on the firm’s network, or using other applications saved on the firm’s network.
Changes to the policy
41.4. The IT Manager is responsible for this policy, and it may be changed or amended at their discretion as required at any time. Users are advised to contact the IT Manager with any questions regarding the use of this policy.
41.5. Remote access is permitted at the absolute discretion of the Managing Partner and the Practice Director. Anyone wishing to request remote access must speak to the Managing Partner or Practice Director to explain their reasons for the request, and to seek permission. Upon authorisation from the Managing Partner or Practice Director, the IT Manager will enable the user with remote access, and will explain the process for gaining remote access when outside the workplace.
41.6. By requesting and using remote access, the user is agreeing to be bound by the relevant policies and procedures contained within the Staff Handbook and the Operations Manual (copies can be obtained from the Practice Director upon request), namely:
- Data protection Policy.
- Electronic Information & Communication Systems.
- Disciplinary Rules and Disciplinary Procedure.
Access and password
41.7. Secure remote access will be strictly controlled by the IT Manager. Remote access to the network will be by using the user’s normal username and password to login. Users using remote access should pay special consideration to the strength of their password in order to ensure the highest level of security.
41.8. In order to create a “strong” password, users are advised to use passwords that do not contain their account name or parts of their full name, or any personal information which could be easily guessed, such as a child’s name, house name or pet’s name. Passwords should be at least six characters in length, and should contain one character from at least 3 of the following 4 categories:
- English uppercase characters (A through Z).
- English lowercase characters (a through z).
- Base 10 digits (0 through 9).
- Non-alphabetic characters (for example, !, $, #, %).
41.9. Password issuing and expiration dates will be controlled by the IT Manager.
41.10. Under no circumstances should a user provide their login details to another party, including work colleagues or family members.
Remote access guidance
41.11. All users should comply with the following general guidelines when they have been granted with remote access to the firm’s network:
- Remote access must only be used by the specified user.
- Computer equipment, mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices supplied by the firm should only be used by the specified user.
- Users must ensure that when using remote access to connect to the firm’s network, their electronic devices are locked or logged off when unattended. The system will automatically log-off after being idle for 15 minutes to aid security.
- Users must not print confidential information to a network printer when not in the workplace as this may leave the information vulnerable to other employees, contractors, suppliers or visitors to the firm.
- Users with remote access to the firm’s network must not use non-Viberts email accounts (i.e. Hotmail, Gmail or yahoo) to conduct firm business.
- All users using remote access must ensure they are using the most up-to-date anti-virus software on all personal devices, as this will reduce the risk of the firm’s network becoming infected with a virus.
- Users must not save any information containing firm business on their own personal electronic device, including documents, files and emails.
- Users must report acts of non-compliance with this policy to the Managing Partner immediately.
41.12. When a user gives notice of their resignation, or is given notice by the firm, their remote access will be disabled with immediate effect unless exceptional permission to retain remote access is granted by the Managing Partner.
41.13. It is the responsibility of the partner/department manager or Practice Director to inform the IT Manager immediately when an employee tenders their resignation, in order that remote access can be disabled.
Third parties and contractors
41.14. Third parties and contractors will only be given remote access to the firm’s network in exceptional circumstances, and when given express permission by the Managing Partner or Practice Director.
41.15. In situations where a third party or contractor requires access to the firm’s network in order to provide support via a remote access solution, there must be an express agreement within their contract with the firm detailing the security requirements in place when doing so.
Accessing emails from mobile phones and tablets
41.16. The firm understands that some users may wish to have access to their emails whilst away from the office. With authorisation from the Managing Partner or the Practice Director, users may access their work emails from mobile devices such as personal mobiles and tablets, and mobile phones provided by the firm.
41.17. Users must comply with the following security guidelines when accessing work emails through their portable device, either through the device’s email function, or through the web interface;
- All portable devices should be enabled with a secure pass key to ensure there is no unauthorised access to potentially confidential information.
- Users should not allow others to use their portable device when access to business email is available, this includes family members and work colleagues.
- Users must never forward emails from their business account to a personal email account, including their own personal email account.
- Users must always take care not to leave their portable device unattended when access to business email is available.
- If a user’s portable device is stolen or lost, they must inform the IT Manager immediately so that remote access can be disabled.
41.18. Any breaches of this policy, or any other related policy within the Staff Handbook or Operations Manual will be dealt with under the firm’s Disciplinary Policy.
41.19. This policy will be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it meets both legislative and business requirements.
42.1. Viberts’ mission is to provide outstanding service and satisfaction to its clients. The firm understands that in order to achieve this it must deliver on its commitments to its clients at all times.
42.2. The purpose of this policy is to outline the firm’s commitments to its clients and to ensure that every employee understands them and acts upon them.
42.3. The firm’s commitments to its clients are;
- The firm will take into account the needs of the client.
- The firm will provide clients with all of the necessary information so that they can make informed decisions about what services they require.
- The firm will explain to the client how the service provided to them will be delivered, and a timeframe in which it will be delivered.
- The firm will provide the client with clear expectations of the cost of the services they require from the outset.
- At all times the firm will treat the client with dignity, respect, and will not unlawfully discriminate against any existing or potential client on any grounds.
- The firm will respect and ensure the confidentiality of all client information.
- The firm will treat any client complaint seriously and will deal with a complaint in a timely and sensitive manner so that a satisfactory outcome is achieved for both the client and the firm.
42.4. The firm will:
- Ensure that all employees in client facing roles have been trained and developed in their roles and that they have the knowledge and expertise to provide accurate advice to their client.
- Ensure it has the necessary resources to meet all client expectations.
42.5. Every employee understands the importance of treating clients with respect and dignity, and fairly and equally so that no client is treated less favourably than another.
42.6. All employees will ensure that they comply with all legal obligations with regard to their client.
42.7. A new client will be provided with the firm’s Terms of Business which will outline the following;
- Who is responsible for carrying out the agreed work on their matter and how the client relationship will be maintained.
- The firm’s duty of care to their client.
- Information on the cost of the services which are required and any disbursements and out of pocket expenses.
- How the payment for services will be requested from the client, and how their money will be treated.
- How client information will be treated and stored.
- The firm’s legal obligations with regard to anti-money laundering and due diligence.
- The process by which the client can raise a complaint if they are unhappy with the service they have received.
Client satisfaction feedback forms
42.8. It is very important to the firm to provide the client with outstanding service and satisfaction. The firm constantly monitors the service it provides to its clients through client satisfaction feedback forms in order to ensure that it meets client expectations at all times.
42.9. By assessing feedback from clients the firm can address areas in which improvement is needed in order to improve their service to existing and future clients.
42.10. The firm strives to provide an excellent service to its clients. It understands the importance of providing its clients with a formal procedure through which they can formally give negative feedback on the service they have received.
42.11. For more detailed information on the Client Care Policy please see the Viberts Operations Manual.
Scope and purpose of the policy
43.1. This policy applies to all members of staff. Here at Viberts we want to support the wellbeing of all our colleagues and the aims of this policy are to:
- Foster an environment in which women can openly and comfortably instigate conversations or engage in discussions about menopause.
- Ensure everyone understands what menopause is and encourage good conversation across the firm at all levels to support women at work.
- Assure people that we are a responsible employer, committed to supporting the needs of women during menopause.
43.2. Menopause is defined as a biological stage in a woman’s life that occurs when she stops menstruating, and reaches the end of her natural reproductive life. Usually, it is defined as having occurred when a woman has not had a period for twelve consecutive months (for women reaching menopause naturally). The average age for a woman to reach menopause is 51, however, it can be earlier or later than this due to surgery, illness or other reasons.
Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause when a woman may experience changes such as irregular periods or other menopause symptoms. This can be years before menopause.
Post menopause is the time after menopause has occurred, starting when a woman has not had a period for twelve consecutive months.
Symptoms of menopause
43.3. We recognise that everyone woman is different and that symptoms can manifest both physically and psychologically, including, but not limited to hot flushes, poor concentration, headaches, panic attacks, heavy/light periods, anxiety, loss of confidence, difficulty sleeping and night sweats, feeling tired and lacking energy, mood swings, taking longer to recover from illness, aches and pains including muscle and joint stiffness, urinary problems, noticeable heartbeats, skin irritation, dry eyes and putting on weight.
In accordance with medical guidance, women should seek medical advice from their GP in the first instance where symptoms are prolonged, severe or causing particular distress.
Roles and responsibilities
43.4 Employee responsibilities
All employees are responsible for:
- Taking a personal responsibility to look after their health.
- Being open and honest in conversations with Partners and Managers.
- Being willing to help and support their colleagues.
- Contribute to a respectful and productive work environment.
- Understanding of any necessary adjustments their colleagues are receiving as a result of their menopausal symptoms.
- Speak to People and Culture or someone else in a leadership role if they feel unable to speak to their line manage
43.5 Line Managers and people and culture responsibilities
- Professionally and sensitively discuss and agree any necessary adjustments.
- Record any agreed adjustments and actions to be implemented.
- Ensure ongoing dialogue and review dates are set and met.
- Ensure that all agreed adjustments are adhered to.
Employee assistance programme (EAP)
43.6. The Aviva employee assistance programme is available24/7 to offer support, advice and counselling on any workplace or personal related issue for any employee who requires support.
Tel: 0800 0155630 or visit eap-carefirst.com