Model clause

Net Zero Employment Handbook

Elliot's Handbook

Net Zero and sustainability clauses into employment handbooks so that these issues permeate all levels of the employment relationship and encourage development of a Net Zero Culture in the company.

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Why use this?

The proposed clauses will ensure environmental, sustainability and net zero initiatives are interwoven into employment policies.

Consequently, the importance of these provisions will be cascaded to employees.

The Green Employment Handbook clauses should be modified and adapted by each company to create a handbook which aligns with their strategic plan and net zero or environmental targets.

How it promotes a net zero future

This should:

Increase awareness and opportunities for carbon and cost saving.

Incentivise employees to opt for and advocate “greener choices” helping the transition to Net Zero.

Reverse/erase high energy consuming habits.

Reduce the carbon footprint of the company.

Disclaimer - please read

The clauses on this website (and published in our Climate Contract Playbook) have been prepared in good faith on a pro bono basis and are free to download and use. The clauses have been drafted and edited by a variety of lawyers and, as such, the approaches to drafting may not conform to any particular drafting norms. We acknowledge this as a consequence of the collaborative drafting process.

The clauses on this website (and published in our Climate Contract Playbook) are provided on an ‘as is’ basis and without any representation or warranty as to accuracy or that the clauses will achieve the relevant climate goal or any other outcome.

This website (and the Climate Contract Playbook) does not comprise, constitute or provide personal, specific or individual recommendations or advice of any kind, and does not contain legal or financial advice. The clauses are precedents for legal professionals to use, amend and negotiate using their professional skill and judgement and at their own risk.

While care has been taken in the drafting of these clauses, neither The Chancery Lane Project nor any of its contributors owe a duty of care to any party in relation to their preparation and do not accept any liability for any errors or omissions, nor for any loss incurred by any person relying on or using these clauses or any other person. Users should use their own professional judgement in the application of these clauses to any particular circumstance or jurisdiction or seek independent legal advice.

At present, all the clauses are based on the laws of England and Wales. We encourage the conversion of these precedent clauses for use in other jurisdictions.

The clause

Additional Clauses

  1. General: alignment with Net Zero Target

4.1 [INSERT GENERAL DETAILS ABOUT THE EMPLOYER AND ITS BUSINESS.]

4.2 Our aim is to [INSERT KEY CORPORATE OBJECTIVES] whilst achieving our Net Zero Target. Our Net Zero Target is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero (or net negative) [INSERT COMPANY’s DEFINITION OF NET ZERO] on or before our Net Zero Target Date.

4.3 Achieving our Net Zero Target requires each of us accepting a personal responsibility to consider their own carbon footprint identify and create opportunities to make carbon and other environmental improvements and savings. Environmental sustainability is an important part of our business culture and DNA. Everyone has a part to play.

4.4 You will be given a sustainability induction as part of our process for new joiners. This will explain our approach and your role. We aim to build a diverse, inclusive and open environment that empowers employees to speak up, ask questions and make sustainable choices, every single day.

4.5 You can also reach out to the Sustainability Team at any time to discuss how you can contribute towards achieving our Net Zero Target or let us know if you have any ideas for new initiatives or to improve existing ones. No idea is bad or too small and your conversations will be kept confidential where required.

  1. Commuting Policy: sustainable commuting

5.1 Reducing business travel wherever possible is an important part of our plan to achieve our Net Zero Target. We recognise that emissions from commuting to and from our offices could also be reduced.

5.2 We encourage you to consider both the cost and the carbon footprint of your journey to work and your chosen method of transport and offer the following incentives to help you make a sustainable commuting choice:

(a) Any employees who walk, run or cycle to their primary office can apply to the Sustainability Team for a monthly green travel allowance (which may, for example, be utilised to pay for trainers or bike repairs and maintenance). The amount of the allowance that you will be eligible for will be determined by the Sustainability Team at their discretion. The maximum amount of the allowance is be capped at £[AMOUNT] per month;

(b) Any employees using public transport or a park and ride scheme to commute to their primary office can apply to the Sustainability Team for a monthly contribution towards their commuting costs. The amount of contribution that you will be eligible for will be determined by the Sustainability Team based on distance of your commute. The maximum amount of the contribution will be [PERCENTAGE]% of your commuting costs and is capped at £[AMOUNT] per month; and

(c) [OTHERS].

5.3 To discourage those employees living within a [NUMBER] mile radius of their primary office from travelling to work by car (excluding electric cars), we may impose a parking charge of £[AMOUNT] per day. The proceeds of the parking charge will be donated to our charity of the year [provided to our Sustainability Team’s budget].

5.4 [To play our part in improving air quality in the communities we live and work you will not be permitted to park a Diesel car in any of our car parks.]

  1. Dress Code Policy: sustainable clothing allowance and uniform care

6.1 It is important that your clothing and appearance promote a positive and professional image.  This contributes to our reputation and the development of our business.

6.2 As part of this, we encourage everyone to consider the environmental footprint of the clothes they wear to work and discourage the wearing of low cost “Fast Fashion” items; inexpensive, low quality clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers.

6.3 In support of this, we offer each employee a clothing allowance [at the start of your employment OR annually] up to the value of £[AMOUNT]. This can be used to purchase sustainable clothing for work (for example, garments made from organic or recycled materials and/or sourced from Net Zero suppliers).

6.4 Please contact the Sustainability Team to claim your clothing allowance. Purchases can be made from our approved suppliers only. You will be expected to provide copies of your receipts and will be reimbursed in the next payroll run following your purchase.

6.5 Our uniforms are [made from organic OR recycled materials OR sourced from Net Zero suppliers]. This is more expensive for us and we therefore ask you to bear this in mind when using and cleaning your uniform. You are expected to follow any washing or other care recommendations that we may issue from time to time.

  1. Disciplinary Policy: environmental misconduct

7.1 The following are examples of matters that will normally be regarded as misconduct and will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Policy:

(a) breaches of our policies, including our Dress Code, Expenses Policy [INSERT OTHER GREEN EMPLOYMENT HANDBOOK CLAUSES];

(b) failure to comply with any legal or professional obligation or regulatory requirements (including environmental law);

(c) acting in a manner which we consider has a detrimental impact on our ability to achieve of our Net Zero Target;

(d) acting in a manner which we consider to be damaging to the climate or the environment during time and activities that are not part of your ordinary, reasonable working life (for example, being caught littering would constitute misconduct, however driving a petrol or diesel car – whilst not encouraged if more sustainable options are viable – would not);

(e) acting in a manner which we consider is likely to damage or has damaged our reputation as an environmentally conscious business; or

(f) the deliberate concealment of any of the above matters. 

This list is intended as a guide and is not exhaustive.

  1. Expenses Policy: sustainable business travel, overnight accommodation and client entertainment

8.1 Reducing business travel wherever possible is an important part of our plan to achieve our Net Zero Target. The world today is the most connected it has ever been and the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated that it is possible to achieve our financial targets without the need for face-to-face meetings. Whilst we understand that it can be important to meet clients in person to build rapport, especially at the outset of a business relationship, we encourage you consider whether you can meet your clients – new or existing – ‘virtually’ as default.

8.2 Where is it necessary to travel for business purposes, you must consider both the cost and the carbon footprint of your journey and chosen method of transport (which may not be the easiest or most convenient form of travel available). For example, we do not expect you to take a taxi when there is public transport available [Consider COVID related policies] , unless it is cost effective due to a significant saving of journey time or the number of staff travelling together. When a taxi is the only viable option, electric or hybrid providers should be chosen over petrol and diesel vehicles where possible.

8.3 We will reimburse the reasonable cost of necessary business travel provided you have obtained approval of your journey, its cost and method from the Sustainability Team in advance. This will require you providing a justification for the business travel which is acceptable to the Sustainability Team.

8.4 The Sustainability Team may refuse to approve your journey at its discretion or may impose conditions such as requiring you to travel by an alternative means (for example by train rather than domestic flight).

8.5 If it is not possible to obtain advance approval from the Sustainability Team, for example in the case of an urgent meeting convened on short notice, you will subsequently be required to provide a justification for the business travel which is acceptable to the Sustainability Team and show that it was undertaken at a reasonable cost and method in order to claim back your expenses.

8.6 If your journey requires an overnight stay, we will reimburse your reasonable out-of-pocket expenses for overnight stays provided you have chosen an accommodation provider approved by the Sustainability Team.

8.7 As part of a business journey, you may entertain actual or prospective clients only where your proposal and an appropriate budget has been agreed in advance with your line manager. Wherever possible, you should opt to entertain at restaurants and bars which have been approved by the Sustainability Team (for example, those who use organic or local suppliers). Our employees are expected to choose vegetarian or vegan options from menus and you will not be able to claim for your own meal should you wish to eat a meat dish.

8.8 Every business journey you undertake will be recorded on our internal system. Your annual performance review may include consideration of the journeys that were undertaken during the previous year to ensure you are not unnecessarily travelling for business purposes and otherwise following the letter and spirit of our business travel policy.

  1. Flexible Working Policy: homeworking to support achievement of Net Zero Target

9.1 We are committed to providing equality of opportunity in employment and to developing working practices and policies that support work-life balance. Our Flexible Working Policy gives you an opportunity to formally request a change to your working pattern.

9.2 Line managers are encouraged to facilitate requests unless they cannot be accommodated for business or operational reasons. Advice will be sought from the Sustainability Team in each instance to ensure the environmental benefits of each flexible working are given due consideration and an appropriate weighting.

9.3 In particular, we recognise that flexible working offers an opportunity for our business to reduce our carbon footprint which will contribute to the achievement of our Net Zero Target. Accordingly, we support homeworking in appropriate circumstances either occasionally (to respond to specific circumstances or to complete particular tasks) and in some cases on a regular (full or part-time) basis.

9.4 Homeworking can be authorised by your line manager (having sought advice from the Sustainability Team) where, in their opinion:

(a) you have work that can be undertaken at home;

(b) working at home is cost-effective and any increase in work that may be passed to your colleagues as a result is kept to a minimum; and

(c) working from home (either occasionally or regularly, as applicable) will significantly reduce your carbon emissions and/or have another positive environmental impact.

9.5 If you wish to apply to work from home, you will need to be able to show that you can:

(a) work independently, motivate yourself and use your own initiative;

(b) manage your workload effectively and complete work to set deadlines;

(c) identify and resolve any new pressures created by working at home;

(d) adapt to new working practices including maintaining contact with your line manager and colleagues at work; and

(e) significantly reduce your carbon emissions and/or or have another positive environmental impact.

9.6 When working at home, you are responsible for operating your virtual office in a sustainable manner (for example, buying 100% renewable energy and avoiding single use office supplies).

  1. Holiday Policy: additional holiday to encourage sustainable travel

10.1 To allow you to make a more sustainable choice when considering how to utilise your holiday entitlement:

(a) you may claim one additional days holiday (to be bolted on to the start or end of your trip) where you decide to travel to a foreign holiday destination for a holiday of more than 5 working days duration without flying to that destination (for example, by choosing to travel by car, rail or ferry); and

(b) you may claim two additional days holiday (to be bolted on to the start or end of your trip) where you decide to travel to a domestic holiday destination for a holiday of more than 5 working days duration without flying to that destination (for example, by choosing to travel by rail or ferry).

10.2 Claims for additional holiday must be approved by the Sustainability Team at least one month in advance of your holiday and you can only claim for additional holiday once in each holiday year.

  1. Procurement Policy: elimination of single use plastics

11.1 Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today. In response to this, we expect you to seek to eliminate the use of single use plastics in our working environment and supply chain. Single use plastics are disposable plastics, which are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.

11.2 This policy seeks to identify areas where single-use plastics are prevalent and where more sustainable replacements can be chosen. Monitoring usage of single use plastics will help us to implement a measurable reduction plan.

11.3 Together, we make a commitment to:

(a) work with each other ensure that the use of single use plastics is eliminated from our working environment;

(b) work with our partners to ensure that single use plastics are not used at any events that we hold or have a role in organising;

(c) work with each other, our partners and the local business community to develop innovative projects to eliminate the use of single use plastics across the local business community; and

(d) share best practice and information about our single use plastic elimination initiatives with each other, our partners and the local business community.

11.4 Where the use of plastics is unavoidable, we will encourage the use of recycled plastics, where practicable and wish to support manufacturers that make products from locally sourced waste plastics.

  1. Training Policy: environmental and sustainability training programmes

12.1 We are committed to developing the skills of our employees and recognise that training can benefit us, our staff and the environment. Staff will receive training appropriate to their role, subject to need, operational and budgetary considerations.

12.2 Training needs will be identified through regular performance reviews. You will be given appropriate access to training to enable you to progress within our business.

12.3 We encourage employees to enrol onto our internal environmental and sustainability training programmes. These may cover, without limitation, education regarding sustainable eating habits, promotion of the protection and enhancement of biodiversity and ecosystems, the importance of achieving a zero-carbon working environment and other topical sustainability issues.

12.4 You may also seek approval from the Sustainability Team to enrol onto external environmental and sustainability training programmes where you have a justifiable business need for additional knowledge. Please discuss any ideas you may have with the Sustainability Team.

12.5 External environmental and sustainability training programmes do not need to lead to a formal qualification. The only limitation is that their purpose must be to enable you to improve the environmental performance of our business and/or better contribute towards the achievement of our Net Zero Target.

  1. Whistleblowing Policy: environmental whistleblowing

13.1 Whistleblowing is the disclosure of information which relates to suspected wrongdoing or dangers at work. This may include:

(a) failure to comply with any legal or professional obligation or regulatory requirements (including environmental law);

(b) conduct which detrimentally impacts our on our ability to achieve of our Net Zero Target;

(c) conduct which causes damage to the climate or the environment (which is not part of ordinary, reasonable working life);

(d) conduct likely to damage our reputation as an environmentally conscious business; or

(e) the deliberate concealment of any of the above matters.

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