12 days of Christmas from HR!

12 days of Christmas from HR!

On the first day of Christmas
My Managers brought to me;
1 complicated redundancy

On the second day of Christmas
My Managers brought to me;
2 disputes over gloves
1 complicated redundancy

On the third day of Christmas
My Managers brought to me;
3 arguments over pens
2 disputes over gloves
1 complicated redundancy

On the fourth day of Christmas
My Managers brought to me;
4 new starters
3 arguments over pens
2 disputes over gloves
1 complicated redundancy

On the fifth day of Christmas
My Managers brought to me;
5 Grievances
4 new starters
3 arguments over pens
2 disputes over gloves
1 complicated redundancy

On the sixth day of Christmas
My Managers brought to me;
6 staff resigning
5 Grievances
4 new starters
3 arguments over pens
2 disputes over gloves
1 complicated redundancy

On the seventh day of Christmas
My Managers brought to me;
7 Settlement Agreements
6 staff resigning
5 Grievances
4 new starters
3 arguments over pens
2 disputes over gloves
1 complicated redundancy

On the eighth day of Christmas
My Managers brought to me;
8 Maternity leave notifications
7 Settlement Agreements
6 staff resigning
5 Grievances
4 new starters
3 arguments over pens
2 disputes over gloves
1 complicated redundancy

On the ninth day of Christmas
My Managers brought to me;
9 return to work meetings
8 Maternity leave notifications
7 Settlement Agreements
6 staff resigning
5 Grievances
4 new starters
3 arguments over pens
2 disputes over gloves
1 complicated redundancy

On the tenth day of Christmas
My Managers brought to me;
10 long appeals
9 return to work meetings
8 Maternity leave notifications
7 Settlement Agreements
6 staff resigning
5 Grievances
4 new starters
3 arguments over pens
2 disputes over gloves
1 complicated redundancy

On the eleventh day of Christmas
My Managers brought to me;
11 TUPE transfers
10 long appeals
9 return to work meetings
8 Maternity leave notifications
7 Settlement Agreements
6 staff resigning
5 Grievances
4 new starters
3 arguments over pens
2 disputes over gloves
1 complicated redundancy

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My Managers brought to me:
12 dreaded disciplinaries
11 TUPE transfers
10 long appeals
9 return to work meetings
8 Maternity leave notifications
7 Settlement Agreements
6 staff resigning
5 Grievances
4 new starters
3 arguments over pens
2 disputes over gloves
1 complicated redundancy

*just fun and not based on any actual situations or people!

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The busy HR Consultant

HR’s take on the hungry caterpillar:

Tucked up in bed lay a tired HR Consultant

On Monday morning the warm sun came up and yawn the HR Consultant jumped out of bed!

She started to look for some work

On Monday she sacked someone but still wanted more work

On Tuesday she made two people redundant but still wanted more work

On Wednesday she dealt with 3 grievances but still wanted more work

On Thursday she held 4 disciplinaries but still wanted more work

On Friday she recruited 5 employees but still wanted more work

On Saturday (because she was a workaholic) she:
Sacked one person
Issued a final warning
Handled a TUPE consultation
Wrote a contract
Responded to a grievance
Wrote an employee handbook
Negotiated a settlement agreement
Wrote an appraisal system
Requested a medical assessment
And responded to a flexible working request

That night she had a headache

The next day was Sunday, she had a glass of wine and felt much better!

She didn’t want any more work, she had a great business

She booked a holiday and went away for more than 2 weeks!

She returned from holiday and decided HR wasn’t for her and became a lady of leisure!!

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We often see people doing unpaid internships, work experience or “volunteering”, is this allowed?

Interns

News about unpaid interns hit the headlines in 2013, unpaid interns is a US trend, which has crossed over to the UK.  An internship is a great opportunity for an individual to learn about a business or industry but should it be unpaid?  Interns unless for a very short period are “workers” and therefore covered under National Minimum Wage.  In addition, if they have set duties they are a “worker”.  When considering interns the other question to ask is do you want to be perceived as a business or organisation-exploiting individuals.  Why not get a reputation for offering an excellent paid internship?

Work experience

Individuals undertaking work experience through an academic organisation are exempt from National Minimum Wage, but outside of this, they should be paid at least minimum wage.

Volunteering

Another way some businesses try to avoid paying individuals.  True volunteers are exempt from National Minimum Wage if they are working for a; charity; voluntary organisation or associated fund-raising body; statutory body.  Volunteering anywhere else, the individual is a “worker” and therefore entitled to National Minimum Wage.

And finally…..

The Government has announced a clamp down on employers breaking National Minimum Wage Regulations, with fines proposed to go up to a maximum £20,000 per worker that has been under paid (currently 50% of the total under payment and a maximum of £5,000). 

Anyone can report a business they think is not paying National Minimum Wage and this can result in an inspection, a requirement to pay the worker what is owed and a penalty per worker!

So our advice, ensure your workers are paid what they are due! 

For more guidance see: https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage/who-gets-the-minimum-wage

 

Please note businesses have other legal obligations to “workers” other than paying minimum wage.

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Impact of the recession – is it socially acceptable to not have a job?

To many of us who started work in a booming economy where you had to work hard to attract candidates to a role starting recruiting in a recession seemed too good to be true!  Was it?!

We have been amazed by the number of people applying for roles, 800 for a part-time admin role in one week!  790 of who didn’t meet the recruitment criteria!  The majority of who didn’t even bother with a covering letter!   We were shocked at the change in approach, it seemed those seeking (or not seeking in some cases) had a splatter gun approach to applying for jobs and didn’t seem to care if they met the requirements, could do the job or even who didn’t want a job.

At the same time we were noticing a change with employees, disgruntled employees no longer stuck out a job until they found another one they just upped and left! 

We noticed that employees who’d entered the job market during a recession did not have the same approach to having a job, in fact it seemed socially acceptable to not have a job.  A concept that those of us who were fortunate to enter a booming job market find alien!

Why is it now socially acceptable to not have a job?  We believe this is down to several things:

  1. It’s hard to get a job
  2. A lot of those new into the job market are unemployed, if your friends don’t work does it matter if you don’t or is it easier not to work and see your friends?
  3. Those who do have a job have to work hard and know it can be easily filled if they leave

 So what do you need to do as an employer to entice these individuals to work for you?

  1. Be flexible – flexibility at work is becoming more and more important
  2. Treat individuals fairly, reward them well and make them feel valued
  3. Screen job applicants, gone are they days where you’ll get a targeted CV and covering letter (in most cases anyway!)
  4. Advertise and recruit via social media
  5. Be clear in what you are looking for, don’t flower up a role, if it is tough, with long demanding hours be honest, then you won’t get someone who leaves because they didn’t understand the requirements

As the economy picks up no doubt things will change.  But who though the recession would have such an impact on the culture among employees / job applicants!

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Why should your business have a social media policy?

The simple answer is to protect your business.

Yesterday evening I was reading Twitter and saw a post from Duncan Ballantyne outing a Twitter “troll”, as a result of him doing this the name of the business where this “troll” worked came out and then the businesses Twitter ID was tagged into some of the posts.  What would you do if you were this person’s employer?  Do you have adequate policies to cover such events?

The impact of individual’s outcomes on private social media is becoming a more common occurrence. 

So when does a person’s private actions impact the business?  The line is becoming more and more blurred, of course, if it is someone’s private page and it does not refer to your business then it is private and you can’t do anything.  But if your business name is mentioned, and a negative image is portrayed then you probably can take some action, as long as you have relevant policies and procedures.

We recommend all business have a social media policy, which covers action about inappropriate posts, personal use of social media in working hours, etc. and that this also is reflected in the disciplinary procedure so you can take action to protect your business brand.

Since writing this it has come to light that the Company named did not employ the individual; however that doesn’t change the need to make sure your policies are up to date, as this can happen to anyone at any time.

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How to survive the Christmas party season when you work in HR!

To many people the Christmas party season is the highlight of the year, not so if you work in HR!

Firstly you have to negotiate the obstacles to arrange the party – where, when, what, ensuring you accommodate as many people as possible and don’t arrange anything with can be deemed discriminatory!

Then you have the party!

Do you attend? If not are you going to be perceived as the no fun HR person? Or if you attend are you going to have your ear bent by people talking work and raising all kinds of issues?

One thing is for sure you have to remain fairly sober, just in case anything happens that you need to intervene in.

Do you go for a bit to show your face and leave early before it gets mess or do you stay and make sure everyone gets home ok?

And then you have the consequences to deal with, if it is a work night employees may be late in or off sick(!) and no doubt time will be wasted talking about what happened. Not to mention the possible fallings out, grievances or disciplinaries that may arise! Because, although many employees forget this, it is still work and whatever happens the employer is liable for.

Many offices parties I am sure go without a hitch, but awareness of all of the above means the Christmas party often gives us HR folk a headache!

So how do you survive Christmas party season when you work in HR?
With a smile on your face and a deep breath!

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Why have appraisal system?

Why have an appraisal system?

 

Many businesses will tell you they don’t have an appraisal system? 

Reasons we frequently see are:

We’re not big enough

We don’t have time

It’s too expensive

I know who is good and bad

Appraisal systems are often seen as the prerogative of large corporate businesses and smaller business tend to avoid them as they don’t see how they can benefit their business.

The benefits of an appraisal system apply to all businesses and in fact can be more important in a smaller business where you do not have the capacity to carry under-performing employees.

We have implemented appraisals in numerous businesses and although employees are sceptical at first they are soon asking “when is my appraisal”.  Business owners then find that employees are more motivated and more focused in their work as they know the key areas to focus on.

Below is a summary of the benefits from the business’ point of view and from the employees’ point of view

 

Business

Employee

Everyone is more focused

I know what is expected of me

Under-performing employees have improved

I get praise and recognition

I get to give praise rather than just telling employees off

I know where my career is going

We have addressed little niggly issues in a constructive way

I am more focused as I know what to work towards

I get to talk to my employees open and honestly

I know my Manager appreciates me

I have learnt more about my employees

I am more committed to the Company as a result of my discussions with my Manager

An effective appraisal system will save you time, will improve the performance of your employees and more importantly the performance of your business, what’s not to like!

We believe appraisals are important for all size businesses and offer a range of solutions to fit the needs of each individual business.  To discuss how an appraisal system can benefit your business contact Nicky on 01903 783584 or email nicky@thehrpoint.co.uk

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What are “compensated no fault dismissals” and why has the government called for evidence on them?

The current Government is focused on reducing work place disputes and ensuring the economy is successful through the availability of flexible labour markets. 

 This month the Government issued a call for evidence over:

1)   Existing dismissal processes

2)   “compensated no fault dismissals” for micro employers (i.e. employers with fewer than 10 employees)

The dismissal procedures in this country seem to always be under review, with the introduction of the statutory dismissal procedures in 2004 and their subsequent removal in 2009.  Whilst ensuring these procedures are not too onerous is important, perhaps leaving them alone so employers can actually understand what is required would be more helpful.  Recently I have seen contracts still referring to the statutory procedures, which shows me, while employment law and HR professionals knew they were removed, smaller employers did not!  The current ACAS guidelines on dismissal are not complex and do not require employers to jump through hoops.

 

What are “compensated no fault dismissals” and why are they being looked at? 

The proposed “compensated no fault dismissal” would allow employers (micro employers only) to dismiss an employee, when there is no fault on the employee’s part, provided they pay the employee a set amount of compensation.  There would be no dismissal procedure required (although it would be good practice to confirm the dismissal and compensation in writing) and employees would not be able to claim unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.  However, the employee may still make a claim if they believed the dismissal was linked to discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief or was for an automatically unfair reason (i.e. exercising their statutory rights).  Employers would still be permitted to dismiss without paying compensation through the normal disciplinary and dismissal procedures. 

How will this benefit micro employers? 

It will give them confidence to dismissal employees where there is no fault, but does still leave them open to the risk of a discrimination or automatically unfair dismissal claim.  In my opinion employers will still need access to HR professionals to understand the requirements and ensure that they are protecting themselves.  The introduction of “compensated no fault dismissals” is also going to reduce employees security when working for a micro employer, which may in the long term deter high quality employees from doing so, which would then reduce the quality of employees in micro businesses and have an adverse effect on the economy.

The Government’s call for evidence states on page 3 that business are put off employing their first employee due to the burden associated with doing this and the perception that it can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive to end the employment relationship when things go wrong.  One page 30 of the same document are results from a recent BIS survey, which shows, the top 10 regulations deterring businesses from taking on staff, these were:

1. Health and Safety

2. Maternity / Paternity leave

3. Tax

4. National Minimum Wage

5. National Insurance

6. Employer’s liability insurance

7. Working Time Regulations

8. Sickness absence

9. Time off to Train

10. Discrimination

There is no mention of dismissal / disciplinary procedures in the top 10, in-fact, it states only 1% of those who said employment regulation put them off employing staff said dismissal / disciplinary action is the reason.  And according to the OECD the UK has the least strict employment protection, second only to the US and Canada 

This leaves me to question why disciplinary / dismissal procedures and “compensated no fault dismissals” are being looked at, if these are not one of the top reasons that stop businesses employing.  It will be interesting to see what the response to the call for evidence is and what legislation will eventually transpire.

To read the full call for evidence document follow this link:http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/employment-matters/docs/d/12-626-dismissal-for-micro-businesses-call

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Why it is important to keep accurate HR records

We are always telling our clients that they need to keep records of all conversations with employees over conduct or performance issues, even when these are not formal meetings, why is the question we often get asked.

One of our clients was unlucky enough to receive a tribunal claim from a disgruntled ex-employee and what helped them defend and win the case were the accurate records we had kept for them.

The bundle of documents relied on in the tribunal hearing contained notes of several meetings advising that the employee’s action was potential gross misconduct and there were several letters to the employee advising of their poor performance and warning that some of their actions were potential gross misconduct and may result in their dismissal.  Our client’s barrister took great pleasure in being able to point all of these out to the tribunal.

Clearly the accurate records were not the only reason our client won but they were a significant contributing factor.

What would have happened if the records did not exist?  Well firstly the barrister would have had a far more difficult job demonstrating that the employee had been warned of the consequences of their actions.  Secondly our client would not have been perceived so well by the judge, as the accurate records helped demonstrate that our client took these matters seriously and handled these matters professionally and legally. 

We hope you don’t end up in a tribunal situation but as society is becoming more litigious it is even more important to ensure you keep accurate records and document “informal” conversations as you never know what will come back to bit you!

For advice on record keeping and all other HR matters, contact us on hrpoint@thetrainingpoint.co.uk

The HR Point provides HR Consultancy for small to medium sized employers who want to comply with their obligations and comply with best practice.

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