V is for...

V is for...Vicarious liability. Sounds a bit fancy doesn’t it, but it’s really not. This is when an employer can be held liable for something an employee does if it’s linked to their work. It doesn’t have to happen while someone’s at work, it could also be outside of work (at a work party for example), or through social media that’s linked to work. 

The issue at hand here is discrimination. As an example, if an employee makes a negative comment about a colleague’s sexuality, you could also be held liable for that discrimination. It is possible to defend yourself from such claims, however, by regularly training your team on things like equality, diversity and discrimination. 

Varying terms of employment. Often in small businesses, employment terms are negotiated to suit the individual situation - different working hours, different pay arrangements, different holiday entitlements. This is all well and good until you get nearer to the 100 employees mark and you’ve got 100 different versions of employment terms to try and deal with. 

It is possible to change terms of employment, but you generally need to have a good reason for it and consult with the people involved. Some contracts allow for changes to be made with notice, but it’s worth getting advice if you’re not sure. 

In any event, change is generally better received if it’s done in collaboration with people than it is when it’s forced on them, so our advice would always be to have some element of consultation. 


Voluntary redundancy (VR). VR is often used as an alternative to compulsory redundancy (see blog ‘R’). If you know that your head count needs to reduce you can approach your teams to see if anyone would voluntarily accept redundancy, to potentially save the need to go through a formal redundancy process. 

Generally VR will offer someone slightly enhanced terms to make the offer enticing. It is good practice to still consult with someone who has indicated they’d be interested in VR, to make sure they’re making an informed decision. 

Clearly approaching your teams to ask for volunteers could be unsettling, so do get in touch for tips and advice on how to handle it.  

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