Our client was a European-based company with operations across Europe, each subject to different employment laws, including several sites in the Midlands. The Midlands operations had grown organically over a number of years and as a result, the employees across the various sites had different terms and conditions in place and none of the employment documentation had been reviewed or updated for many years. 
The differences in the terms and conditions across the sites caused practical and financial difficulties. For example, some employees had different holiday entitlements, shift patterns and entitlements to overtime or bonuses. Many of the contracts were out of date and where individuals’ roles had changed, for example they had been promoted, their contracts did not reflect the changes. Some contracts did not contain all the information that employers are required to give employees in writing, which meant there was potential for legal claims. The company also experienced difficulties when looking to recruit new staff, because they did not have up to date template contracts for new starters. 
The company had no Employee Handbook, so there were no effective procedures in place to deal with HR issues such as disciplinaries and grievances. This increased the risk of disputes, and created potential for tribunal claims where such policies should have been followed. 
Our client wanted to be sure they were legally compliant and consistent across their branches. They were keen to ensure that their employees fully understood the business rationale behind the changes to avoid alarm. However, their HR department was based abroad and was responsible for branches around Europe, so could not have detailed knowledge of the law in each of these countries. This meant they needed a specialist who could help them to understand the relevant employment rights in England and Wales. 
First, Felicity reviewed what was already in place. She noted where contracts were out of date, what needed to be updated, which policies should be put in place, where terms were misaligned across the sites and how each problem could be rectified. 
Felicity advised the client that new, up to date, contracts should be prepared and rolled out to new and existing employees and that an Employee Handbook should be drafted and implemented. She gave detailed advice about the legal process to follow, including how the employees’ agreement to new contracts should be obtained. She also advised on risks in the procedure and how to deal with any difficult issues that might arise. 
As part of her advice, Felicity took time to understand how the employees might respond to the changes and thought about the tone of communications, as well as the content. She made sure that all changes were explained in clear and simple terms to avoid any worry or confusion. She worked with the client to respond quickly and thoroughly to any queries raised by their employees, to avoid any prolonged uncertainty. 
This helped the client’s employees to feel comfortable with the changes, and so all the new contracts for existing employees were implemented successfully, along with a new Employee Handbook. 
Our client appreciated our responsive advice, particularly during the process when the new contracts were being discussed with employees, as this needed to be dealt with promptly. They also appreciated that we worked closely with their HR department in Europe to supplement their knowledge of UK employment law. They were pleased that we took time to clearly explain legal principles along the way, so that they could make the best decisions for their company without being overloaded with information. 
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