Commonly-used HR phrases, words and terms explained.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

Absence Time taken off work by an employee, categorised by authorised absence and unauthorised absence. Authorised absence refers to absence approved by someone with permission to do so and commonly includes annual leave, time off in lieu (TOIL), maternity, paternity and reasonable sick leave. Unauthorised absence is when the employee is not given permission for absence, or is not given permission after it has occurred, and can include long-term sick leave without reasonable supporting evidence and persistent lateness.

ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) A statutory body with a remit to improve employment relations. It provides conciliation services in industrial disputes and has power to act as a binding arbitrator in individual unfair dismissal disputes. It also has a duty to provide individual conciliation services in most individual employment disputes.

Additional adoption leave A further period of 26 weeks’ unpaid leave taken immediately following ordinary adoption leave.

Additional award An award of between 26 and 52 weeks’ pay, made in cases where an employer refuses or fails to comply with an order for reinstatement or re-engagement.

Additional maternity leave AML A further period of 26 weeks’ unpaid leave taken immediately following ordinary maternity leave. Additional maternity leave is available to a pregnant employee with an expected week of childbirth beginning before 1 April 2007 only if she has been continuously employed for 26 weeks or more by the end of the 15th week before her expected week of childbirth. Additional maternity leave is available to all pregnant employees with an expected week of childbirth beginning on or after 1 April 2007, irrespective of length of service.

Adoption leave (statutory) A period of leave available to an employee who is notified on or after 6 April 2003 that he or she has been newly matched with a child for adoption, or who is one of a couple who are jointly notified on or after that same date that they have been matched with a child for adoption.

Adoption leave (contractual) A period of leave given to an employee under his or her contract of employment as a result of the adoption of a child.

Adult worker A worker who has attained the age of 18, as per the Working Time Regulations 1998.

Affidavit A written statement made under oath.

Agency worker A worker supplied to a client by an agency business.

Aggravated damages An increased level of compensation awarded in particularly serious cases of discrimination. Aggravated damages are compensatory and will be appropriate only where the employer has behaved in a high-handed, malicious, insulting or oppressive manner.

Annual hours The total hours worked by an employee or worker in a calendar year.

Annual leave Most workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid time off a year, known as statutory leave entitlement or annual leave. Employers may offer enhanced annual leave which is stipulated in the employment contract. Most organisations require staff to give advance notice of their intention to take holiday; generally the longer the period of time the employee wants to take off, the longer the notice period required.

Annualised hours Working hours that reflect seasonal or other peaks and troughs in production. Employees are contracted to work a set number of hours during the year, but weekly hours are varied depending on how much work there is to do.

Applicant A person bringing a claim in an employment tribunal. This was replaced by the term claimant from 1 October 2004.

Applicant pool Total number of people who have applied for an open position. The employer then carries out a selection process to reduce the applicant pool to a short or long list.

Apprentice A person learning a trade by working for a skilled employer.

Approved Code of Practice A document giving guidance on compliance with legislation. A number of Approved Codes of Practice have been made under employment legislation by ACAS, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, amongst others. They give guidance as to how laws are to be applied in practice. Whilst these Codes of Practice do not, of themselves, have binding legal force, they may be referred to in proceedings before an employment tribunal and failure to comply with them may be taken into account in reaching a decision.

Arbitration The use of an arbitrator, whose decision is legally binding, to settle a dispute between parties, in order to avoid a tribunal or court case.

Attrition Gradual, employee-instigated reduction of workforce numbers who are not replaced resulting in an overall decrease in the number of employees.

Automatically unfair dismissal A dismissal that is unfair on the basis of the reason for the dismissal alone. Examples include dismissal for a reason related to an employee’s pregnancy and dismissal where a transfer of an undertaking has taken place, if the transfer, or a reason connected with it, is the reason or principal reason for the dismissal.

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B

Bank holiday A day on which banks are closed under statutory provisions and which are customarily treated as public holidays.

Banked hours Extra hours that are worked at peak periods and are then paid back in a shorter working week or time off later in the year.

Basic award An element of compensation for unfair dismissal designed to compensate employees for loss of job security. The amount payable depends on the employee’s age and length of service and the amount of a week’s pay. The other element is the compensatory award.

Basic disclosure A type of criminal record check designed to reveal convictions at national level that are unspent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Also known as a criminal conviction certificate.

Basic salary Amount paid to an employee before any extras are added or taken off, such as reductions because of salary sacrifice schemes or an increase due to overtime or a bonus. Allowances, such as internet for home-based workers or contributions to phone usage, would also be added to the basic salary.

Behavioural competency Framework used to define an individual’s behavioural strengths that could predict future successes in the workplace. Behavioural competencies often fall into different categories based on different tenets of workplace success such as people-based behaviours, success-based behaviours and managerial-based behaviours: encourages staff to achieve their best, motivates rather than drains, tries to achieve a diverse workforce

Benchmark To compare an organisation’s performance in areas such as pay awards, retention, productivity or absence against that of other organisations.

Benefits package  Anything other than basic pay provided to an employee as part of their remuneration, such as pension schemes, gym membership and private medical insurance. Some benefits are taxable, most commonly private medical insurance.

Bereavement leave Time taken off work by employees, paid or unpaid, following the death of a relative or friend. Organisations differ in their bereavement leave offering, although parents may be able to take statutory bereavement leave if their child dies before they turn 18, or if they have a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Bill Proposed legislation for debate by Parliament. When passed by both the House of Commons and House of Lords, a Bill will receive Royal Assent and will then become known as an Act of Parliament.

Blended workforce Combines a variety of employees on different contracts such as permanent full-time staff, part-time, temporary workers, contractors and freelancers.

Blind job advert  Job adverts that do not include information that identifies which employer posted the advert.

Bradford factor A method to standardise and measure absenteeism by judging the relative cost of absenteeism on the basis that short, unplanned absences are more disruptive than longer-term, planned absences.

Branding Employer branding refers to how an organisation appeals to existing and potential workers through organisational values and differentiators.

Breach of contract A failure by a party to a contract to comply with any of the terms of the contract, whether express or implied. For example, a dismissal without notice or with inadequate notice (or inadequate payment in lieu), other than when an employer is acting in response to a serious breach by the employee, will be a breach of contract, referred to as a wrongful dismissal.

Break clause A clause inserted into a fixed-term contract allowing one or both of the parties to terminate the agreement before the expiry of the fixed term.

Bullying Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or an abuse or misuse of power which is meant to undermine, humiliate or injure the person on the receiving end.

Bumped redundancy A situation where one employee becomes redundant but the employer wishes to retain his or her services, and therefore dismisses another employee and gives the redundant employee the dismissed employee’s job.

Burnout When workers suffer chronic exhaustion, stress and lack of interest in professional activities. Burnout can encourage negative health outcomes or exacerbate existing conditions such as heart issues, mental health problems, and reductions in memory efficiency.

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C

Career break An agreed period of time off from employment, either for familial reasons or for personal or professional development.

Capability One of the five potentially fair reasons for dismissal permitted under the Employment Rights Act 1996. Capability may relate to the employee’s physical or mental capability, or to his or her performance.

Case law The system of law where courts are bound to follow the decisions of previous cases. In the English legal system, legal rules may derive either from legislation or from decisions of courts and tribunals, known as case law. Within the court system a hierarchy operates with decisions of superior courts binding inferior courts. For example, employment tribunals are bound to follow decisions of the Employment Appeal Tribunal on the interpretation of legislation.

Case management discussion An interim hearing that addresses matters of procedure and case management in tribunal cases. The discussions are concerned with establishing the issues and giving directions on how the case should be prepared for the hearing and progressed.

Casual worker Individuals who supply labour or services to another under an irregular or informal arrangement. The term can cover agency workers, temps, homeworkers and short-term employees.

Change management Process to transition individuals, teams or organisations from one state to another with optimal positive benefits and efficiencies and a minimum of negative effects on all stakeholders.

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development The professional body for people involved in the management and development of people, including human resources.

Childbirth The birth of a living child or the birth of a child whether living or dead after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Claim form The form through which a claimant can bring a claim in an employment tribunal. It is also known as an ET1. The form replaced the old originating application (also known as an IT1) from 1 October 2004, with its use mandatory from 1 October 2005.

Claimant A person bringing a claim in an employment tribunal. This replaces the term applicant, which was used before 1 October 2004.

Coaching Process designed to help improve a person, team or organisation’s behaviour, cognition, actions, decision-making and overall efficiency.

Collective agreement Agreements between trade unions (acting on behalf of workers) and employers or groups of employers covering matters such as pay and terms and conditions. The terms of collective agreements can be incorporated into individual employment contracts.

Collective bargaining The process of negotiation between representatives of trade unions and employers in respect of employees’ terms and conditions such as pay, hours of work and working conditions.

Commission for Equality and Human Rights A body designed to promote equality and tackle discrimination in relation to sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and age. Its remit also includes promoting human rights. It has replaced the Commission for Racial Equality, Equal Opportunities Commission and Disability Rights Commission.

Commission for Racial Equality A publicly funded body set up under the Race Relations Act 1976 to tackle racial discrimination and promote racial equality. It has been replaced by the Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

Common law A system of law whereby rules of law derive from decisions of the courts or precedents rather than purely from statute or any codified written laws.

Compensatory award An element of compensation for unfair dismissal designed to compensate the employee for loss of earnings between the dismissal and the hearing, and loss of future earnings, benefits in kind, pension rights and unfair dismissal protection. The other element is the basic element.

Competency-based pay Pay structures reward employees based on the skills, knowledge and experience they apply in the workplace rather than their job title or position.

Compressed hours Hours worked over a shorter number of days, such as a four-day week or a nine-day fortnight.

Compromise agreement An agreement between an employer and an employee (or ex-employee) to prevent a claim proceeding to an employment tribunal hearing.

Compulsory maternity leave A two-week period of leave immediately following the birth of a child (or a four-week period where the woman works in a factory). It is a criminal offence to require or allow a woman to work during compulsory maternity leave.

Conciliation The use of a conciliator to seek concessions from the parties to a dispute, so as to avoid a tribunal or court case.

Condition of employment Rules, procedures and stipulations that employees must abide by as part of their contract. Breaching conditions of employment can result in disciplinary procedures or dismissal.

Conduct The way a person acts. Conduct is one of the five potentially fair reasons for dismissal permitted under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Confidentiality agreement A legal contract signed by an employee that prevents them disclosing sensitive information revealed to them during the course of their employment.

Constructive dismissal A situation where an employer commits a breach of the employment contract so serious that the employee is entitled to regard him- or herself as released from any obligation under the contract and resign without notice. Examples of conduct by the employer that have been considered sufficiently serious to constitute such a repudiation include failure to pay wages and humiliating employees in front of others.

Contingent workers Those that work in casual employment with working arrangements that are less formal than for permanent staff e.g. without contracts and consistent working hours.

Continuous employment An unbroken period of employment with the same employer or an associated employer. A number of employment rights, most notably the right not to be unfairly dismissed, depend on the employee having completed a qualifying period of service with a single employer.

Contract for services A contract under which a self-employed person or persons provide a service to another party.

Contract of employment A contract under which an individual agrees that, in consideration of a wage or other remuneration, they will provide his or her own work and skill in the performance of some service to another party and they agree, expressly or impliedly, that in the performance of that service they will be subject to the other’s control in a sufficient degree to make that other master. Also known as a contract of service.

Contract of service A contract under which an individual agrees that, in consideration of a wage or other remuneration, they will provide his or her own work and skill in the performance of some service to another party and they agree, expressly or impliedly, that in the performance of that service they will be subject to the other’s control in a sufficient degree to make that other master. Also known as a contract of employment.

Contributory fault Where the employee has contributed to his or her own dismissal, for example by actions or omissions. If an employment tribunal considers that an employee has contributed to the dismissal, it has power to reduce both the basic and contributory awards to the degree it considers just and equitable.

Core competencies Characteristics seen internally as key to the way the company operates and, without these, the company would lose significant strength.

Core hours Hours under a flexitime system during which all employees must be present, for example between 10 am and 4 pm.

Corporate governance The set of processes, customs, policies, laws and institutions affecting the way in which a corporation is directed, administered or controlled. Corporate governance also includes the relationships among the stakeholders and the goals for which the corporation is governed.

Corporate social responsibility The responsibility of businesses to take account of the economic, social and environmental impact of the manner in which they operate, over and above their minimum legal requirements.

Costs The expenses incurred in taking or defending legal proceedings.

COT3 The form on which a settlement reached through ACAS conciliation is recorded.

Court of Appeal A court with power to hear appeals from a number of inferior courts, including the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Normally three Lord Justices of Appeal hear cases in the Court of Appeal. Appeals from the Court of Appeal go to the House of Lords.

Criminal conviction certificate A type of criminal record check designed to reveal convictions at national level that are unspent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Also known as a basic disclosure.

Criminal records certificate A type of criminal record check designed to reveal both spent and unspent convictions, as well as details of reprimands, cautions and final warnings. It is available in relation to recruitment into posts that are exempt from the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, including those involving working with the elderly, sick and disabled people, and children. The disclosure also contains information on whether the individual is on lists of those banned from working with children and of those considered unsuitable for working with vulnerable adults. Also known as a standard disclosure.

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D

Defendant The person or entity against whom proceedings are brought in civil or criminal proceedings.

Dependant An employee’s spouse, child or parent, or a person who lives in the same household as the employee (but not by reason of being his or her employee, tenant, lodger or boarder), who reasonably relies on the employee for assistance on an occasion when the person falls ill or is injured or assaulted, or to make arrangements for the provision of care in the event of illness or injury.

Direct discrimination The less favourable treatment of a person because of his or her race, sex, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. Unlike the other forms of discrimination, direct discrimination on the grounds of age can be justified.

Disability A physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on an individual’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Disabled Having a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on an individual’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Disclosure The arrangements made by the parties of a case to allow mutual exchange and copying of documents.

Discretionary term A term that allows a degree of discretion to change it. The extent of the employee’s entitlement and the employer’s discretionary power to change a term depends on the drafting.

Discrimination questionnaire A questionnaire used in discrimination proceedings. Under discrimination legislation, a person who considers that they may have suffered discrimination may serve a questionnaire on his or her employer to seek information to establish whether or not there has been unlawful discrimination. If the employer fails to respond to the questionnaire, or answers evasively, an employment tribunal may draw adverse inferences.

Dismissal The termination of an individual’s employment.

Due diligence exercise A background check carried out on a company by a prospective buyer before it is acquired. Human resources issues investigated include employees’ skills, experience and salaries, and payroll procedures.

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E

Effective date of termination The date on which a contract of employment is regarded as having terminated for the purposes of unfair dismissal claims.

Emolument Payment for work under a contract of employment.

Employee An individual who works under a contract of employment.

Employer An individual or entity that employs an employee.

Employers’ liability insurance Insurance to enable employers to meet the cost of compensation from claims brought by employees who have been injured or become ill as a result of their work.

Employment agency A business (whether or not carried on with a view to profit and whether or not carried on in conjunction with any other business) that provides services (whether by the provision of information or otherwise) for the purpose of finding persons employment with employers or of supplying employers with persons for employment by them.

Employment Appeal Tribunal The tribunal that has jurisdiction to hear appeals on points of law from the employment tribunal.

Employment business A business (whether or not carried on with a view to profit and whether or not carried on in conjunction with any other business) that supplies persons in the employment of the person carrying on the business, to act for, and under the control of, other persons in any capacity.

Employment tribunal A judicial body established to resolve disputes over employment rights. An employment tribunal normally consists of a panel of three, chaired by a legally qualified person. Employment tribunals were known as industrial tribunals until 1998.

Enhanced criminal records certificate A type of criminal record check that is available jointly to the individual and a registered employer and includes a check of local police records. This type of certificate would be appropriate where the work involved a greater degree of contact with children or vulnerable adults, for example, regularly caring for, supervising or training them, or being in sole charge of them. Also known as an enhanced disclosure.

Enhanced disclosure A type of criminal record check that is available jointly to the individual and a registered employer and includes a check of local police records. This type of certificate would be appropriate where the work involved a greater degree of contact with children or vulnerable adults, for example, regularly caring for, supervising or training them, or being in sole charge of them. Also known as an enhanced criminal records certificate.

Equal Opportunities Commission A publicly funded body with duties under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and Equal Pay Act 1970 to promote equal opportunities between men and women. It has powers to make investigations and fund individual claims. It has been replaced by the Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

ET1 The form through which a claimant can bring a claim in an employment tribunal. It is also known as a claim form. The form replaced the old IT1 (also known as an originating application) from 1 October 2004, with its use mandatory from 1 October 2005.

ET3 The form through which a respondent can set out his or her response or defence to an employment tribunal claim. It is also known as a response form. The form replaced the old IT3 (also known as a notice of appearance) from 1 October 2004, with its use mandatory from 1 October 2005.

Exemplary damages Damages over and above those required to compensate the applicant or claimant for losses suffered in order to punish the wrongdoer. They may be awarded in only a limited number of cases, for example some cases involving public sector employees and in certain defamation cases. There are no powers to award exemplary damages for sex or race discrimination. In such cases, however, aggravated damages may be awarded.

Exit interview An interview carried out on the termination of an individual’s employment. Reasons for conducting an exit interview include identifying reasons for labour turnover and improvements the organisation can make for the future.

Expected week of childbirth The week in which a pregnant employee’s child is expected to be born. Also known as expected week of confinement.

Expected week of confinement The week in which a pregnant employee’s child is expected to be born. Also known as the expected week of childbirth.

Express contract term A term of the contract which the parties have considered and agreed between themselves. An express term may be recorded in writing or oral.

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F

Fiduciary Relating to or involving a confidence or trust.

Final-salary pension scheme A type of occupational pension scheme that promises to pay a specific level of pension at retirement. The amount can depend on: how many years an individual has been a member of the scheme; earnings in the years leading up to retirement; and the specific rules of the scheme.

Fixed-term employee An employee employed on a contract for a defined period. The period may be defined by time (for example, a period of months or years), by reference to the completion of a task, or by reference to a specific event.

Flexible working A permanent change to an employee’s terms and conditions relating to: the hours that they are required to work; the times that they are required to work; and where, as between his or her home and the employer’s place of business, they are required to work. Examples include the working of shorter hours, flexitime, part-time working and permission to work from home.

Flexitime An arrangement whereby employees can choose, within set limits, when to begin and end work.

Force majeure An unexpected or uncontrollable event.

Frustration of contract Termination of a contract in circumstances where, for unexpected reasons, it is no longer possible for the parties to perform their obligations under the contract, without fault on either side. Examples include long-term injury or illness and imprisonment of one of the parties.

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G

Garden leave The practice of requiring an employee not to attend the employer’s premises for work during his or her contractual notice period (or until the expiry of a fixed-term contract). Instead, the employee is paid his or her full contractual salary to stay at home. The practice is often used where a senior or key employee resigns in order to join a competitor.

Gender reassignment A process which is undertaken under medical supervision for the purposes of reassigning a person’s sex by changing physiological or other characteristics of sex, and includes any part of such a process.

Genuine material factor defence An explanation for a difference in pay that is significant, is the real reason for the difference, and is not connected with the sex of the people doing the jobs. This will be acceptable as a defence against an equal pay claim.

Genuine occupational qualification A specific exception to the general principle that discrimination on the grounds of sex or race discrimination cannot be justified. The list of genuine occupational qualifications is exhaustive, covering for example a situation where a dramatic performance, for reasons of authenticity, calls for a person of a specific sex or racial group.

Genuine occupational requirement A general exception to the principle that discrimination on the grounds of race, sexual orientation, religion or belief or age is not allowed. This applies where, having regard to the nature of the employment or the context in which it is carried out, being of a particular race, etc is a genuine and determining occupational requirement; it is proportionate to apply that requirement in the particular case; and either the person to whom that requirement is applied does not meet it, or the employer is not satisfied, and in all the circumstances it is reasonable for it not to be satisfied, that the person meets it.

Golden handcuffs A contractual term that makes it unattractive for an employee to leave a jo b, typically a major bonus for which they will qualify only if they remain in employment.

Golden handshake A lump sum payment to an employee on retirement, or a large lump sum paid to a senior executive on termination of employment.

Golden hello A bonus paid on taking up employment.

Golden parachute A contractual clause entitling a company executive to certain benefits or a lump-sum payment in the event that they are dismissed as a result of a business merger or takeover.

Gross misconduct A serious act of misconduct by an employee justifying dismissal. The types of misconduct that will constitute gross misconduct will vary according to the context, but typically it will include dishonesty, fighting, and sexual or other forms of harassment.

Gross salary Amount paid to an employee before taxes and deductions are discounted.

Guarantee payment An amount to which an employee is entitled if they are not provided with work throughout a day or shift on which they are normally required to work. This could be caused by a decrease in the requirements of the employer’s business for work of the kind which the employee is employed to do or any other occurrence affecting the normal working of the employer’s business in relation to work of the kind which the employee is employed to do.

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H

Harassment Unwanted conduct that violates a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading humiliating or offensive environment.

Health and Safety Commission A body that has a remit to protect everyone in Great Britain against risks to health or safety arising out of work activities; conduct and sponsor research; promote training; provide an information and advisory service; and submit proposals for new or revised regulations and Approved Codes of Practice.

Health and Safety Executive The operational arm of the Health and Safety Commission set up to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees and to safeguard others, principally the public, who may be exposed to risk from industry. The Health and Safety Executive’s remit is to ensure that risks to people’s health and safety from work activities are properly controlled.

Hearsay evidence Evidence based on the reports of others rather than the personal knowledge of a witness. For example, if a witness reports that they were told of a remark made by a third party, this constitutes hearsay evidence.

High Court A civil court that has the authority to hear civil cases in England and Wales, including actions for tort and claims for breach of contract.

Home Office The government department responsible for areas such as immigration and crime. It therefore manages the law relating to employing foreign nationals and job applicants with criminal convictions.

Homeworker A person who carries out his or her duties at home, under either a contract of employment or a contract for services.

Homeworking Work carried out at a worker’s home, under either a contract of employment or a contract for services.

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I

Illegal contract A contract that is either expressly or impliedly prohibited by statute or one with objects that are deemed to be contrary to public policy at common law. For example, a contract is illegal if the parties agree that the employee will be paid ‘cash in hand’ to avoid tax.

Implied term A term that may be read into a contract of employment even though it has not been expressly dealt with. A term may be implied into a contract where: it is necessary to give business efficacy to the contract; it gives effect to an obvious combined intention of the parties; or it is a necessary addition to the expression of the particular relationship between the parties and an implication which completes their contractual arrangements. A term may also be implied into a contract on the basis of custom and practice in a particular trade or industry or in a particular area, if the term is reasonable or fair, notorious or well known, and certain or precise.

Incorporated term Terms that are set out somewhere other than the contract of employment, but are incorporated into the contract. Terms of a pension scheme, a policy, a collective agreement or a staff handbook are often incorporated.

Indirect discrimination The application of a provision, criterion or practice that is disadvantageous to a particular group because a considerably smaller proportion of that group is able to comply with it. The concept of indirect discrimination is used in the context of discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age.

Industrial action Action by workers such as a strike or work to rule as part of a trade dispute.

Industrial tribunal The former name for employment tribunals. Industrial tribunals were renamed employment tribunals in 1998.

Information Commissioner The head of the Information Commissioner’s Office, which is a government-funded supervisory body with responsibility for enforcement of the Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Injunction A court order which requires the subject of the order to refrain from a course of action.

Inspection of documents The arrangements made by the parties in a case to allow mutual exchange and copying of documents.

Interim relief A temporary remedy that can be given by a court or tribunal, until such time as a full hearing takes place. For example, an employer could be ordered to reinstate or re-engage an employee or make an order for the continuation of an employee’s contract of employment until the issue is finally resolved at a full tribunal hearing.

Investors in People The Government’s national standard for investing in the development of people for organisational and individual success. Introduced in 1993, it is a continuous improvement activity, designed to help organisations of any size or type to achieve their objectives through sound investment in people.

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J

Job description A description of the duties associated with a particular post.

Job evaluation A study carried out to evaluate the content of a job by reference to factors such as skill, effort and responsibility.

Job share An arrangement whereby two or more part-time workers share the duties of a single job. The job sharers work at different times, although there may be periods of overlap to pass on work-related information.

Job split An arrangement whereby one full-time post is split into two part-time positions. Unlike a job share, the job is split into two distinct posts, with no shared responsibilities and no onus on the individuals to cover for each other.

Joint and several liability An obligation for which multiple parties are liable for payment. For example, an employer along with the individual employee who has discriminated against another employee can be found to be jointly and severally liable for that discrimination.

Jurisdiction The extent of the power of a court or tribunal to determine a case.

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K

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L

Law Commission A government-funded, independent body set up to review the law and recommend reforms where needed.

Lay-off The suspension of a contract of employment when work is unavailable. The contract subsists but the employer neither provides the employee with work nor pays him or her under the contract.

Like work The same or broadly similar work, judged by the nature of the work actually being done rather than a job description or title.

London weighting An increase in levels of pay for individuals working in London, to reflect the higher cost of living.

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M

Malfeasance Misconduct or wrongdoing, especially by a public official.

Mat B1 A form supplied to a pregnant woman by her GP or midwife as evidence of the expected week of childbirth.

Maternity allowance A state maternity benefit for which an employee who does not qualify for statutory maternity pay may qualify.

Maternity leave (statutory) A period of leave available to a pregnant employee. Ordinary maternity leave (a period of up to 26 weeks) is available to every pregnant employee, regardless of length of service. Additional maternity leave (a further period of up to 26 weeks) is available to a pregnant employee with an expected week of childbirth beginning before 1 April 2007 only if she has been continuously employed for 26 weeks or more by the end of the 15th week before her expected week of childbirth. Additional maternity leave is available to all pregnant employees with an expected week of childbirth beginning on or after 1 April 2007, irrespective of length of service.

Maternity leave (contractual) A period of leave given to a mother under her contract of employment as a result of the birth of her child.

Maternity pay period The period for which statutory maternity pay is payable, which may be up to 26 weeks for employees with an expected week of childbirth beginning before 1 April 2007. The period for which statutory maternity pay is payable increases to 39 weeks for employees with an expected week of childbirth beginning on or after 1 April 2007.

Mediation The use of a mediator to intervene in a dispute between parties, in order to avoid a tribunal or court case.

Milk round A series of visits to universities and colleges by large companies seeking to recruit undergraduates.

Misfeasance Improper and unlawful execution of an act that in itself is lawful and proper.

Mitigation The act of minimising loss. For example, if an employee claiming unfair dismissal has not made reasonable efforts to find alternative employment, the amount of his or her compensation can be reduced.

Mobility clause A contractual term allowing an employer to require an employee to change his or her place of work (on either a permanent or a temporary basis), including changes which would require the employee to relocate.

Money purchase pension scheme A type of occupational pension scheme into which the employer and employee pay contributions. The contributions are invested into investment funds. The value of the pension depends on: the amount the employer and employee have paid in; the performance of the funds over the time invested; and the rate at which the fund is converted into a pension.

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N

National insurance A compulsory scheme of social security insurance, to which employers, employees and the self-employed must all contribute.

National minimum wage The minimum hourly amount that every employee is entitled to be paid under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.

Negligence A breach of a legal duty to take care that results in an unintended injury to another party.

Net salary Amount of pay remaining after all taxes and deductions have been removed from a person’s salary.

New or expectant mother A woman who is pregnant, one who has given birth within the previous six months, or one who is breastfeeding. ‘Given birth’ is defined in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 as ‘delivered a living child or, after 24 weeks of pregnancy, a stillborn child’.

Night work Work undertaken during night time. ‘Night time’, in relation to a worker, means a period the duration of which is not less than seven hours, and which includes the period between midnight and 5 am.

Night worker A worker who regularly works at least three hours of his or her daily working time during night time (for example on a rotating shift pattern), or who is likely, during night time, to work at least such proportion of his or her annual working time as is specified in a collective or workforce agreement. ‘Night time’, in relation to a worker, means a period the duration of which is not less than seven hours, and which includes the period between midnight and 5 am.

Non-discrimination notice A notice issued by the Commission for Equality and Human Rights following a formal investigation that requires a person or organisation to cease a discriminatory practice or practices.

Normal retirement age The age at which an employee may be required to retire from employment, which is established either by an express contractual term or as a matter of practice in a workplace, when the expectations of a group of employees as to retirement age will be taken into account.

Notice of appearance The form through which a respondent used to set out his or her response or defence to an employment tribunal claim. It was also known as an IT3. The notice of appearance was replaced by the response form (also known as the ET3) from 1 October 2004.

Notice The period of warning to be given by a party to terminate an employment contract.

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O

Order for re-engagement An order made by a tribunal that the complainant be engaged by the employer or by a successor of the employer or by an associated employer in employment comparable to that from which they were dismissed or other suitable employment.

Order for reinstatement An order made by a tribunal that the employer shall treat the complainant in all respects as if they had not been dismissed. If a reinstatement order is made the complainant will be entitled to the arrears of pay and benefits that they would have received but for the dismissal, together with any rights and privileges, including seniority and pension rights. The complainant must be restored to his or her original job and receive back-pay and benefits from the date of dismissal.

Ordinary adoption leave A period of 26 weeks’ leave to which an employee is entitled on the adoption of a child.

Ordinary maternity leave A period of 26 weeks’ leave that may begin at any time on or after the beginning of the 11th week before a pregnant woman’s expected week of childbirth.

Outplacement The practice of helping a redundant employee to find a new job through the use of professional services, including counselling, coaching and use of facilities.

Outsourcing The process of transferring an existing business function to an external provider in order to use outside resources to perform activities previously handled within the organisation.

Outworker A worker who carries out work away from the employer’s premises, either at home or in various locations.

Outworking Work carried out away from the employer’s premises, either at home or in various locations.

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P

Parental leave (statutory) A period of 13 weeks’ unpaid leave that may be taken by a parent during the first five years of the child’s life (or, in the case of an adopted child, up until the child’s 18th birthday or the fifth anniversary of his or her adoption, whichever occurs sooner). Parental leave may be taken in blocks of one week only, unless the child is disabled, subject to a maximum of four weeks’ parental leave in any one year. The parents of a disabled child may take up to 18 weeks’ parental leave up until the child’s 18th birthday.

Parental leave (contractual) A period of leave given to a parent under his or her contract of employment as a result of the birth of a child.

Part-time worker A worker who is contracted to work for fewer hours than the normal basic full-time hours in the business.

Paternity leave (statutory) A period of one week’s leave or two consecutive weeks’ leave available to an employee who is the biological father of a child born or expected to be born on or after 6 April 2003, or the spouse or partner of either sex of the child’s mother. The same right extends to an employee of either sex who is the spouse or partner of an individual who has adopted a child, or one of a couple who have jointly adopted a child, where the child is matched or placed for adoption on or after 6 April 2003 or, in the case of a child adopted from overseas, enters Great Britain on or after this date.

Paternity leave (contractual) A period of leave given to a father under his contract of employment as a result of the birth of his child.

Pay in lieu of notice (PILON) A payment made to an employee for the period of his or her notice that requires the employee to cease work immediately and not work out his or her notice period.

Payroll giving The giving of money to charity straight from an employee’s gross salary, providing immediate tax relief.

Period of incapacity for work A period of sickness absence during which an employee is entitled to statutory sick pay. This period arises when an employee has had four or more consecutive calendar days of sickness.

Permanent health insurance Insurance to cover permanent incapacity for work provided by an employer as a benefit for employees. If an employee becomes unable to work, the policy will maintain payments equivalent to a proportion of his or her salary. Entitlement to the benefit will depend on the terms of the policy.

Personal data Data relating to a ‘living individual’ (an employee) who can be identified from that data or from that and any other information held by the employer (the ‘data controller’), or that is likely to come into the employer’s possession. It also includes any expression of opinion and any indication of the employer’s intentions (or that of any other person within the employing organisation) in respect of that employee.

Personal protective equipment Equipment that is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and that protects that person against one or more risks to his or her safety, and any addition or accessory designed to meet that objective.

Positive action Action taken to encourage women or men only, or people from a particular racial group only to take advantage of opportunities for employment if the purpose of such action is to tackle the issue of underrepresentation of women, men or ethnic minority applicants in a particular field.

Positive discrimination Preferential treatment when considering the selection or promotion of a candidate from a particular minority group, in order to redress an imbalance in the workforce, for example in relation to the gender balance of employees or representation of ethnic minorities.

Posted worker A worker who, for a limited period, carries out his or her work in the territory of a European Union member state other than the state in which they normally work.

Pre-hearing review A hearing held before a tribunal case begins to determine matters of a preliminary nature, or to issue directions, order payment of a deposit, strike out a claim or response, or consider any oral or written evidence.

Pro rata In proportion, according to a factor that can be calculated exactly.

Protected disclosure A disclosure made by an employee concerning an alleged criminal offence or other wrongdoing that gives that employee the legal right not to be dismissed, selected for redundancy or subjected to any other detriment for having done so.

Protective award An award of up to 90 days’ pay which may be made in the event that an employer fails to comply with statutory information and consultation obligations before making 20 or more employees redundant within a 90 day period. It is also awarded for a failure to inform or consult with employees upon the transfer of a business.

Psychological contract The unwritten employment contract that exists between an employer and an employee, based on a set of mutual expectations of behaviour from both parties.

Public holiday A day that the majority of people have off work and that is generally observed as a holiday. Public holidays can be religious, political or historical in origin. For example, bank holidays have historically become widely observed as public holidays in England and Wales. Public holidays can also be set by royal announcement. There is no statutory entitlement to leave or paid leave on public holidays.

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Q

Qualifying week The week during which an employee must be employed to qualify for statutory maternity pay. This is the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.

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R

Reasonable adjustment Any step or steps an employer can reasonably take to prevent any provision, criterion or practice, or any physical feature of its premises, from putting a disabled person at a disadvantage in comparison with a non-disabled person.

Red circle To protect the wages of employees whose pay rates under a new job evaluation scheme are lower than the rate they are currently receiving.

Redundancy Dismissal on the grounds that an employer has ceased or intends to cease to carry on the business for the purposes for which the employee was employed or to carry on that business in the place where the employee was so employed; or the requirements of the business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind or for employees to carry out work of a particular kind in the place where the employee was employed by the employer have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish.

Redundant Dismissed on the grounds that an employer has ceased or intends to cease to carry on the business for the purposes for which the employee was employed or to carry on that business in the place where the employee was so employed; or the requirements of the business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind or for employees to carry out work of a particular kind in the place where the employee was employed by the employer have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish.

Relevant transfer The transfer of a business to which the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 apply. The transfer may be done through a sale, gift, outsourcing, lease or any other method.

Religion or belief Any religion, religious belief or similar philosophical belief. ‘Religion’ and ‘belief’ are not defined in the Regulations, but the Government’s explanatory memorandum on the Regulations suggests that courts and tribunals may consider factors such as collective worship, clear belief system and profound belief affecting way of life or view of the world.

Remote working Work undertaken away from the normal place of work.

Repudiate To refuse to perform a contract according to its terms. Repudiation may be by conduct, verbal or in writing.

Respondent The person against whom a claim is made in an employment tribunal.

Response form The form through which a respondent can set out their response or defence to an employment tribunal claim. It is also known as an ET3. The form replaced the old notice of appearance (also known as an IT3) from 1 October 2004, with its use mandatory from 1 October 2005.

Restrictive covenant A term in an agreement which seeks to restrict one or both of the parties from a course of action. In the context of employment contracts, a restrictive covenant seeks to restrain competition after the termination of employment.

Review hearing A public hearing in which a tribunal chair and/or a full tribunal panel reviews a default judgment, or a decision not to accept a claim or response, or any other judgment (including a wasted costs order).

Risk assessment An examination of the working environment to assess it for potential hazards. A number of pieces of health and safety legislation impose a duty on employers to carry out a risk assessment.

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S

Sabbatical A voluntary arrangement whereby an employee takes paid or unpaid time off over and above his or her usual leave entitlement. Sabbaticals are often intended to allow individuals to travel or carry out full-time study.

Settlement agreement Formerly known as a compromise agreement, a legally binding agreement between a worker and their employer, usually providing for a severance payment by the employer in return for an agreement not to pursue any claims in a Tribunal or a Court.

Severance payment A payment made to an employee on the termination of his or her employment.

Sexual orientation A sexual orientation towards persons of the same sex; persons of the opposite sex; or persons of the same sex and of the opposite sex. The Government’s explanatory memorandum to the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 states that, for the purposes of the Regulations, the definition does not extend to sexual practices and preferences, for example sadomasochism and paedophilia.

Shift swapping An arrangement whereby employees can negotiate working times to suit their needs and rearrange shifts among themselves or within teams within a structure.

Short-time working A reduction in normal hours of work over a week or month to accommodate a fall in demand for, or over-production of, a product or service.

Some other substantial reason One of the five potentially fair reasons for dismissal. Examples include personality clashes or a breakdown in the working relationship between employees and a necessary business reorganisation.

Staggered hours Different employees working within different start and finish times to cover a longer working day.

Standard disclosure A type of criminal record check designed to reveal both spent and unspent convictions, as well as details of reprimands, cautions and final warnings. It is available in relation to recruitment into posts that are exempt from the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, including those involving working with the elderly, sick and disabled people, and children. The disclosure also contains information on whether the individual is on lists of those banned from working with children and of those considered unsuitable for working with vulnerable adults. Also known as a criminal records certificate.

Statute A part of the law passed by Parliament. Once a proposed piece of primary legislation, known as a Bill, has completed its passage through Parliament and receives Royal Assent, it becomes known as a statute. It may not immediately take effect, in which case further statutory instruments such as regulations will be required to set the date on which it, or a part of it, comes into force.

Statutory adoption pay The statutory minimum payment available to an employee on adoption leave.

Statutory instrument Regulations, orders or rules that are used to implement a statute, or to take account of particular circumstances or factors emerging during the gradual implementation of a statute.

Statutory maternity pay The statutory minimum payment available to a woman on maternity leave who satisfies the qualifying requirements.

Statutory paternity pay The statutory minimum payment available to an employee on paternity leave who satisfies the qualifying requirements.

Statutory redundancy payment The statutory minimum payment available to an employee who is made redundant and is entitled to receive a redundancy payment.

Statutory sick pay The statutory minimum payment available to an employee who is unable to work by reason of sickness.

Strike out The dismissal of a claim or a defence to a claim by an employment tribunal or court. Claims and defences may be struck out on a number of grounds, including that they do not show any valid claim or defence.

Subject access request A request made under the Data Protection Act 1998 to see data relating to an individual.

Succession planning The practice of ensuring that an employer has enough people with the right skills and leadership potential to step into business-critical positions at the right time.

Suitable alternative employment A new job offered to a redundant employee after the employee has been given notice of termination but before his or her original job comes to an end. The new job must begin either immediately after the old job comes to an end or within four weeks of the date of termination of the old job.

Summary dismissal Dismissal without notice. An employer is entitled to dismiss without notice if an employee is in serious breach of contract. This will usually mean that they have committed an act of serious misconduct.

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T

Term-time work An arrangement whereby an employee works only during school terms in order to accommodate his or her childcare responsibilities.

Term-time worker A person working under an arrangement whereby an employee works only during school terms in order to accommodate his or her childcare responsibilities.

Time off in lieu (TOIL) Time off that is taken instead of overtime pay by employees working beyond their contractual hours.

Trade union recognition The process of recognising a trade union for the purposes of collective bargaining, or the state of a trade union being so recognised.

Transferee An employer that undertakes new business or services from another employer (the transferor).

Transferor An employer that transfers its business or services to another employer (the transferee).

Transfer of undertakings The sale or transfer of the whole or part of an employer’s business or undertaking as a going concern to another employer.

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U

Unfair dismissal The dismissal of an employee for an unfair reason or in an unfair manner. Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, qualifying employees have a right not to be unfairly dismissed from employment.

Unmeasured working time Working time that is not measured or which can be determined by the employee him- or herself.

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V

Vexatious Lacking a sufficient ground and serving only to annoy or harass when viewed objectively.

Vicarious liability Liability of an employer for the acts of employees. An employer can be liable for acts of employees carried out in the course of their employment which cause injuries to third parties or are discriminatory.

Victimisation Detrimental treatment of a person because they have made or proposes to make a complaint of discrimination; bring a discrimination claim; or give evidence in a discrimination claim.

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W

Week’s pay A figure which is used for the purpose of making various calculations, including the basic and additional awards for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payments.

Whistleblower A person who brings wrongdoing by an employer or other employees to the attention of the public or a government or law enforcement agency.

White collar worker A worker in an office or other professional environment.

Whole job analysis The process of comparing jobs in their entirety and placing them in a rank order according to their value.

Without prejudice The application of legal privilege to settlement negotiations, so that their content can not be disclosed in evidence in subsequent proceedings. Written documents, such as a letter from a lawyer to a client, can also be headed ‘without prejudice’.

Work of equal value Work that can be regarded as being of equal value or worth to the organisation or sector even if the two jobs involve different work. This is judged in terms of the demands on the job holders in terms of effort, skill, decision-making and responsibility.

Work rated as equivalent Work judged to be of equal value under a job evaluation study carried out by an employer independent of any proceedings for equal pay.

Worker An employee (who works under a contract of employment) or one who has any other type of contract (written or unwritten) under which they are personally obliged to work or perform services. Those who provide professional services under a professional/client relationship are excluded.

Workforce agreement An agreement between an employer and its workers or an identifiable group of workers (or between the employer and workers elected to represent the interests of the entire workforce or an identifiable group of workers), relating to matters such as the timing of annual holiday, working hours, rest breaks and rest periods.

Working time Any period of time when a worker is at his or her employer’s disposal and carrying out designated duties and activities. Working time includes: working lunches; time spent travelling to and from a client or customer’s premises; attendance at employer-sponsored conferences, seminars and job-related training courses; time spent abroad by export managers, sales representatives, engineers and others working for a UK employer; and ‘on-call’ time during which a worker is required to be at his or her place of work.

Working under protest Where an employee states they are continuing working for their employer under proposed new contractual terms, while stating that in doing so they are not accepting the new terms.

Work-life balance The achievement of equality between time spent working and one’s personal life.

Work-to-rule The practice of working to the strictest interpretation of the rules as a form of industrial action.

Wrongful dismissal Dismissal of an employee in breach of his or her contract of employment.

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X

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Y

Young worker A person aged 16 or 17.

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Z

Zero-hours contract An agreement to employ a person, as and when required, to fill a role, but where there is no commitment to any minimum number of working hours.

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