Our annual leave resets in January, and, because we had an extremely busy 2017, a lot of the team were unable to take their allotted holiday. Our employers have told us that we’re unable to carry even one day over to this year. I personally ‘lost’ six days of my annual leave, and I know of at least one other person who couldn't use as many as 10. I realise that the amount of annual leave an employee gets is dictated by their contract, but is there anything that the company could or should be doing to recompense us?

Firstly, you should have a look at your contract of employment and staff handbook. Both documents may contain provisions that outline any circumstances in which holidays can be carried over into additional leave years. Unfortunately your employer is under no legal obligation to pay you for any unused holiday entitlement. Generally, employees/workers are only entitled to a payment in lieu of unused holiday on termination of employment.

You mentioned that ‘a lot of your team were unable to take their allocated holiday’. It sounds like it would be worth you speaking to your
line manager and/or HR about this situation to prevent it happening again this year. Whilst it is not your employer’s responsibility to manage how and when you book annual leave – if, for example, your employer prevented you from taking your statutory leave then potentially you have a valid employment tribunal complaint.

From your question it sounds that employees were mindful of the business needs and opted to not take holidays. Ideally, before the end of the holiday year, you and other colleagues should have approached your line manager and/or HR about this with a view to agreeing to carry over some annual leave, while also understanding the potential consequences of not taking all of your leave before the end of the holiday year. I definitely think you have nothing to lose by approaching your line manager and/or HR. If you do genuinely feel that your employer prevented you from taking annual leave then you should seek advice from ACAS or an employment solicitor before issuing a formal tribunal complaint.

As is often the way, our Christmas party was a boozy affair. Most of our staff behaved themselves and had a good time, but two of our maintenance engineers got involved in a fight towards the end of the night. Only a couple of punches were thrown, nobody was injured, and both parties have since said it's water under the bridge and don’t want to take it any further. However, are we obliged to discipline the individuals anyway?

Put simply, employees can be disciplined for misconduct after a Christmas party if the incident is sufficiently closely connected to work to have had an impact on the working situation.

Brawls after a Christmas party do occur and, sometimes (depending on the particular facts and a fair process having been followed), employees will find themselves dismissed. The fact that the incident occurred at a Christmas party as opposed to in the working day does not automatically mean that a dismissal is unfair.

Whilst the two employees in your scenario are keen to put the incident behind them, you need to be mindful of the message this sends to other employees. Also, if this situation occurs again, then you should be conscious that any other employee may make reference to the fact previous employees have not been subject to disciplinary action as a result of a Christmas party brawl.

You should potentially consider issuing both employees with a written warning – once you have followed a fair process. It is important that employers have a policy in place setting out the standards of acceptable behaviour for their staff at out-of-work events, such as Christmas parties. Employers have a responsibility for their staff’s actions and behaviour, even outside normal working hours or the normal working environment. Any social event organised by the employer counts as an ‘extension’ of the workplace – regardless of the place or time of the event.

We have recently announced that we are due to move out of our 80-year-old, town centre site into a brand new, state-of-the-art factory on an industrial park further out of town. For the majority of our 250 staff, this will add a good half an hour to their commute, and as a result has caused a fair bit of unrest. They’re saying, fairly, that their travel costs will go up, and the amount of time they get to spend with their family at home will go down. As senior management, we feel bad about it and understand their concerns, but we’re not sure how the problem can be fixed, since we’ve already started the building work on the new site.

First of all, be sure to check your employment contract for a mobility clause. In a nutshell, if the contract contains a contractual mobility clause, which makes clear that employees could be required to work at other locations, you could choose to rely on this clause and insist that your employees relocate. Given the number of employees that this will affect, I would strongly recommend you adopt a formal process to include consulting with the staff ahead of any relocation actually taking place.

It is very important that you give consideration to what is reasonable and unreasonable. If the location is not too far from the current location and employees can still drive to the new location or take public transport, then arguably 30 minutes’ additional commute is not unreasonable. However, some employees may find the additional 30 minutes will greatly affect personal matters, so it is therefore very important to engage with your employees and understand their reasons.

Employees without a mobility clause in their contract can technically choose whether or not to move and there is an option for you to consider making employees redundant if they decide not to move. However, the right to an employee receiving redundancy pay will very much depend on whether they meet a redundancy criteria, they are not being compensated because they have simply chosen to not move and they haven’t unreasonably refused an offer of suitable work.

There is much to consider with this particular question, which is outside of the scope of this article; therefore, I would strongly recommend that you seek expert advice from an Employment Solicitor.