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Should You Send Your Staff Home If It’s Too Hot?

We appear to be right in the middle of a heat wave here in the UK, and there’s no telling how long it’s likely to last. In fact, you often can’t even rely on the weathermen to give you an accurate outlook, so it’s just a case of enjoying it while you can, or if you’re very typically British, hoping and praying that it ends soon.

 

But there are a couple of things that you CAN guarantee when the temperatures start to soar….

 

Beer gardens will be packed full of punters.

You won’t be able to find any sausages in the supermarkets for love nor money.

You’ll be bombarded with leaflets from your local barbecue equipment supplier.

And up and down the country, clammy office workers will be throwing open the windows and counting down the minutes until 5pm.

 

No one wants to be at work when the weather’s glorious outside, but as an employer, what are your responsibilities when it comes to maintaining a comfortable working environment?

 

You might be surprised to discover that no concrete legislation exists on this matter. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that the temperature in the workplace must be “reasonable”. There is, however, no maximum temperature.

 

What constitutes as reasonable is open to interpretation, but you should consider the nature of your workplace, and the kind of work that is being carried out. It goes without saying that if the temperatures hit the 30s, then workers carrying out manual jobs outside are going to experience discomfort, and you need to consider their general health and wellbeing, as well as reconsidering any performance targets that they might have.

 

Worrying about warmer weather and the impact that it might have on your workforce is something that we rarely experience in the UK. We’re more likely to have to think about how our staff will get into work if a snowstorm brings the roads to a standstill, or what will happen if the heating packs in during the darkest depths of winter.

 

The bottom line? Exercise some common sense. Keep the best interests of your staff at the front of your mind. And try to not fret about it too much. After all, it’s almost definitely not going to last long…

 

Contact us for support and guidance on any HR related issue

How To Manage Politics In The Workplace

With the government having recently announced an election for 8th June, politics is something that is being discussed up and down the country. As a leader of a workforce, there are many potential problems that this could create. It can be a sensitive subject, fraught with emotion and strong opinions, so it makes sense to know exactly how you can and should deal with any issues that might arise.

 

First of all, you should be aware that you do have the right to ban political campaigning in the workplace. So if someone is using work time to drum up interest for their party, or print off marketing collateral for the election, then you would have the right to deal with this using your disciplinary procedures. Realistically though, it’s not possible to ban any talk of politics, and it wouldn’t be a wise move anyway. Having staff who are interested and engaged with current affairs can have many benefits.

 

When it comes to what your workers get up to outside of the office, it’s largely none of your business. Unless, of course, their behaviour brings your company into disrepute.

 

It’s also worth noting here that you should be aware of the risk of politically motivated harassment. Take a no-nonsense approach on this if you’re serious about fulfilling your obligations as an employer, and making sure that you’re creating a positive and inclusive workplace. If you’re worried about issues that might arise as we approach the election, then it may be worthwhile considering the creation of a policy that tackles political activity at work. The policy could potentially ban the expression of political views to clients, customers, and suppliers, as well as displaying political symbols.

To discuss your next steps, give us a call today. We can help you to understand your responsibilities as an employer, and how you should move forward.

 

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What To Do When An Employee Unexpectedly Resigns

So things are ticking along nicely in your business… Your staff are engaged, productive, and they’re smashing their goals. Sales are on the rise, and you’re feeling pretty pleased with the fact that you’ve managed to grow and nurture such as awesome team of employees.

 

But suddenly, there’s a spanner in the works.

 

Completely out of the blue, a key member of staff tells you that they’re moving on to pastures new. In a small business, this can be a serious blow, and it can have a real impact on your bottom line if it’s not managed effectively.

 

So let’s take a look at what you need to do, in practical terms…

 

Establish exactly when they’ll leave

 

You might already have a policy in place surrounding the necessary notice period. Of course though, things don’t always go according to plan, so don’t make any assumptions. Make sure that you know the precise date that your employee will leave. This way, you can sort out any outstanding admin arrangements, including payroll, and you can also start to work out your next steps so there’s minimum impact on your business.

 

Carry out an exit interview

 

An exit interview will allow you to get some valuable feedback about why your member of staff decided to leave. You can’t retain everyone you recruit, but it makes sense to keep an eye on the reasons why people move on to different things.

 

Do remember that because you’re the boss, you’re not always going to get the full and complete truth. It might be worth outsourcing this part of the process, so you can be sure that you’re getting more reliable and meaningful information to work with.

 

Craft your continuity plan

 

Right now, it’s no help whatsoever for us to mention that you should have already planned for these kinds of circumstances. You already know this, and you’re probably kicking yourself. Still though, there’s work to be done. You need to establish how you’ll make sure that productivity remains high, and that your business doesn’t suffer.

 

Part of this is likely to involve looking for a new member of staff. For now, consider how you can bridge any gaps by utilising your existing workforce, without making unreasonable demands. It may not be ideal, but there’s often a silver lining. You could be giving an ambitious employee an opportunity to step up and broaden their experience.

 

Don’t forget to thank your employee for their contribution

 

We know that you don’t need us to tell you that this is a good idea, but when you’re stressed out about the future, it’s easy to overlook the most obvious things. Your member of staff could go on to refer business your way, or they may even become a customer or a client in the future.

 

And of course, you definitely don’t want to face the fallout that could come with your employee ending their time with you on a sour note. A little bit of consideration can go a long way.

 

If you’re currently dealing with the potential nightmare of having a member of staff hand in their notice, or you’re worried that you might be in the not too distant future, then get in touch. We can have a chat about your options, and how you can navigate your way through the potential pitfalls.

 

Contact Us Now if you need any support or guidance on what to do next

A Quick Drink After Work, Or A Serious Problem For Your Business?

Many of us are no strangers to a little tipple after work. A glass of wine with colleagues to put the world to rights. An informal brainstorming session over a few beers. Some all-important bonding and team building away from the constraints and routine of being tied to a desk.

But as a leader, you no doubt fully recognise that alcohol can turn into a serious problem in your workplace if it’s not carefully managed.

What would you do if an employee turned up for their shift looking worse for wear? What if rowdy behaviour in the pub brought your business into disrepute?

And what exactly is the difference between your staff enjoying a couple of drinks, and your business being faced with a deeper and more serious problem?

What you really need to understand here is this…

You have legal obligations under The Health and Safety at work Act 1974, The Transport and Works Act 1992 and The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

You must have policies that ensure that issues are handled fairly and consistently.

And your managers should have sufficient training and capability to deal with workers who need help.

It should be noted here that taking a hardline approach rarely serves anyone well. You probably don’t need us to tell you that dragging an employee with a serious problem into your office and giving them a telling off isn’t going to fix anything.

As a responsible employer, you’ve got a duty of care to make sure that you support your staff through difficult times… Which is a solid reason why many employers now view alcohol and drug problems as illnesses that need to be treated through rehabilitation practices.

Of course, drugs can be a different kettle of fish entirely. They’re less socially acceptable, and can have a much more damaging impact on a person’s life than enjoying a few drinks with workmates now and again.

Remember too that if you have a team of managers, their role is important in all of this.

Can they spot potential problems?

Do they have the confidence and ability to tackle them?

Do they know where to turn to for expert help if things start to escalate?

If you’re just reading this guide out of interest, and you don’t have an issue like this in your workplace at the moment? Then that’s great, but you must recognise that you need to be prepared. Firefighting problems like this is always going to be seriously difficult, for everyone involved.

But if you’re dipping into this advice because you’re worried about a current situation regarding alcohol or drugs in your business? Then getting some tailored advice from a professional is highly advisable.

This is complex stuff, and you don’t have to manage it on your own.

Get in touch today to arrange a no-obligation and confidential discussion around how we might be able to work together to deal with alcohol and drug problems at work.

Call us now on 0330 223 2865 or email clare.stewart@hr-assist.com

Key Employment Law Changes for April 2017

April is a fairly busy time for HR professionals and business owners alike. Not only are you required to tie up any loose ends from the previous financial year… You also need to make sure that you’re fully prepared for legislative changes that could impact your business. This is a time when new rules come into force, so there’s no space right now for burying your head in the sand. You need to be prepared, and you need to take action.

Here’s what you need to know:

National Minimum Wage Is Set To Increase

On 1st April, the national minimum wage will increase. For workers aged 25 and over, the rate will increase from £7.20 to £7.50. As the rate varies according to age group, now is a great time to make sure that you’re compliant, and that payroll processes are in order.

Statutory Redundancy Pay Will Rise

New rules around redundancy pay will be rolled out from 6th April. If you have to make employees redundant, then you must pay those with two years’ service a sum based on their length of service, weekly pay, and age. The weekly pay is subject to a maximum amount, and this will rise from £479 to £489. No business owner wants to think that they may have to face this situation, but it pays to be prepared and know your responsibilities.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting Comes Into Force

If you employ 250 or more employees, then this applies to you. You will be required to report on your gender pay gap, including any bonuses that you might use to reward your staff. You’ll have a period of 12 months to publish this information on your own website, and upload the details to a government website. As such, you need to make sure that you have mechanisms in place to collect the necessary facts and figures.

The Immigration Skills Charge Will Be Introduced

Do you sponsor skilled workers under tier 2 of the immigration points-based system? If so, you will be required to pay a sponsorship levy of £1,000 per year for each certificate of sponsorship – or £364 if you’re a smaller business or charity. There are certain exemptions that apply, so if you business hires skilled immigrants, it pays to seek out tailored advice.   Depending on the size of your business and other factors that may be at play, there are further changes that you need to be aware of. April is a fantastic time to carry out an audit of your policies and procedures, to make sure that you’re fulfilling your legal responsibilities. With that in mind, pick up the phone and get in touch. We can arrange to have a discussion around the changes that you may need to implement in coming weeks, so you can move into the new financial year with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that everything is under control.

Is there anything here that you need us to provide a helping hand with?

Contact us 0330 223 2865 or clare.stewart@hr-assist.com

www.hr-assist.com

 

The Gig Economy… An Opportunity For Your Business, Or Something To Avoid?

These past few weeks, you might have noticed that the ‘gig economy’ is something that’s being discussed more and more in the media. Essentially, it’s all about a labour market that’s characterised by lots of freelance work and short-term contracts, rather than permanent roles.

Some might say that it’s a win-win for employers and workers alike… People get to enjoy the flexibility of having less constraints placed on their time, they’re free to decide the finer details of how the work is carried out, and they also have an element of ‘pick and choose’ when it comes to finding projects that they want to work on.

And of course, the benefits for employers are obvious, too. But are some businesses taking the market conditions a bit too far, and using them to exploit their workers?

It’s an issue that’s still something of a grey area in legal terms, though there’s been an attempt very recently to shed more light on the subject, in a case brought to the Court of Appeals.

In February, Pimlico Plumbers, a London-based company, lost its appeal against a previous ruling that decided that a long-term worker was in fact an employee rather than a contractor, and should therefore enjoy rights such as basic holiday pay.

Uber and Deliveroo have also come under scrutiny, and it’s safe to assume that the discussions won’t end here. As we move into an economy with more flexibility and the traditional role of employment changes, business all across the UK will no doubt be planning their next moves.

Of course, most employers simply want to do their best by their workforce, and they aren’t actively looking for loopholes to exploit. Rulings in recent tribunals though have suggested that legislation will be stamping down on unscrupulous employers who aren’t stepping up to their responsibilities.

Perhaps you regularly rely on contractors to run your business, and you enjoy the flexibility that it gives you. If this is the case, then just hoping for the best and acting with good intentions probably isn’t going to cut it. Right now, you need to get some tailored advice on your rights and responsibilities moving forward.

To have an informal discussion with a seasoned HR professional about where you and your workers stand, get in touch. Some good advice now could help you to avoid costly tribunal procedures further down the line.

Top Tips For Employing Your First Member Of Staff

When your business gets to the stage where you need to start bringing in extra help, it can be a really exciting time. You’re growing, you’re increasing your bottom line, and it’s time to recruit your first employee so you can continue to make big things happen and make progress against your overall vision.

The excitement can quickly turn into worry and doubt though. There’s no denying that there’s a ton of things that you need to think about, and you wouldn’t be the first business owner to wonder if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

You can stop stressing right now though, because we’re here to help. Let’s take a look at what you need to do.

Carry out the appropriate pre-employment checks

It’s your responsibility to ensure that your employee has a legal right to work here in the UK. You might also have to apply for a DBS check (previously known as a CRB check) in certain circumstances, such as if your member of staff will be working with children or vulnerable people. You might think that things like this are merely box ticking exercises, but you could face serious penalties if you don’t fulfil your obligations in these areas.

Take out suitable insurance cover

When you become an employer, you need to have employers’ liability insurance. Your policy must cover you for at least £5million, and be issued by an authorised insurer. This is a very serious matter, and you could be fined £2,500 for every single day that you are not adequately insured.

Notify HMRC that you’re now an employer

You need to let HMRC know that you’re now employing staff, and this needs to be done before the first scheduled payday. The process can take up to two weeks, and can usually be all done and dusted online.

Ensure that you’re paying minimum wage

If you fail to pay your staff minimum wage, then you’re breaking the law. This is a fairly straightforward consideration, though you need to be mindful that there are different requirements in place for different groups of people. The figures can change on a fairly regular basis, so make sure that you’re keeping up to date with the latest news and legislation. When you sign up for our email updates, you’ll get everything you need delivered directly to your inbox.

Don’t do it alone

Following the advice that we’ve outlined here will help you to get off to the best possible start when it comes to recruiting your first employee. The reality here though is that there are many, many things that you need to consider as part of the process, and it would be impossible to cover absolutely everything.

Have you considered, for example, how much holiday your new recruit will be entitled to? Or what will happen if they’re sick? Or how you’ll encourage them to make the best possible contribution to your business? Or whether you should pay pension contributions on their behalf? When you really start to think about everything that you need to address, you can see that it can be a real can of worms.

Rather than struggling on your own, it makes good business sense to get some help. And that’s where we come in. We can make sure that you’re fully prepared for the future. Get in touch today, and we can arrange to have a no-obligation chat about working together.  Call us now on 0330 223 2865.

Visit us at http://www.hr-assist.com

 

How Can You Better Support Mums In Your Workplace?

With Mother’s Day on the horizon, a ton of people will be showing their appreciation for the women in their lives with flowers, chocolates, and cards. As an employer though, the gift that you can give working mums goes a little bit deeper… Really, it’s your duty to make sure that they’re treated equally in the workplace, and that a woman’s decision to start a family doesn’t have to mean game over for their career.

 

It’s 2017, so you might think that we’re past the stage where these kinds of things are still burning issues. The statistics speak for themselves though. According to the World Economic Forum, it could take another 170 years to eliminate the gender pay gap. And of course, the fact that women are more likely to take on childcare responsibilities can play a big role in how they’re able to pursue opportunities.

 

Ensure you’re embracing legislation

Legislation exists to ensure that employers are fulfilling their legal responsibilities, and there have been several developments in recent years designed to support working mums. For example, shared parental leave is something that all workplaces should be carefully considering. Employment law can seem complicated and overwhelming, but remember that it exists to ensure that you’re a fair and equal employer. Use it to your advantage, and in a way that supports your staff.

Look for solutions and opportunities instead of problems

If you run a small business and an employee announces that they’ll be taking maternity leave soon, you might feel slightly panicked. Regardless of how much you want to support your staff, the reality of having to navigate through the changes can be overwhelming. Instead of just looking at the potential problems though, examine the opportunities that exist. Is there another member of staff who can step up and cover the role? Could this be an indicator that it’s time for you to start to look towards more flexible working practices? How can this situation be turned on its head to make your workplace

Speak to your staff

You already speak to your staff all the time, so this might seem a little bit obvious. But are you actually having meaningful, honest, and open conversations about your role as an employer, and how you can support your workforce as they navigate their way through key life stages? Rather than just assuming that you know what your working mothers want and need, ask them. It may be the case that small changes to your policies and practices could make a big difference to your workforce. If you know that you need to make changes to give various segments of your employees a better chance to thrive and succeed, then there’s no time like the present. If issues are bubbling away under the surface, or you suspect that problems could arise if you don’t take action, get in touch today. We can arrange to have a no-obligation discussion about your options, and how we might be able to work together.

Ten Ridiculous (But Completely Real) Excuses For Not Paying Minimum Wage

Sometimes, you read something online, and you can’t possibly believe that it’s true.

Sure, it might make for a funny or thought-provoking story, but you don’t actually think for one minute that it really happened.

It’s there to prove a point, or start a conversation, or even just provide a little bit of light-hearted entertainment.

If you’ve already seen the list of the worst excuses that employers have made for not paying minimum wage, then you’d be forgiven for thinking that SURELY, these aren’t things that real employers have said.

No one could possibly be that shortsighted, or irresponsible. But the fact of the matter is that these are real excuses, collected by government-funded research, that bosses gave for breaking the law by paying their staff below the legislated amount.

If you haven’t heard about them yet?

Here they are:

1. “She doesn’t deserve the national minimum wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.”

 

  1. “The national minimum wage doesn’t apply to my business.”

 

  1. “My employee is still learning so they aren’t entitled to the national minimum wage.”

 

  1. “My accountant and I speak a different language – he doesn’t understand me and that’s why he doesn’t pay my workers the correct wages.”

 

  1. “I thought it was okay to pay foreign workers below the national minimum wage as they aren’t British and therefore don’t have the right to be paid it.”

 

  1. “It’s part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months as they have to prove their ‘worth’ first.”

 

  1. “The employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the national minimum wage.”

 

  1. “I’ve got an agreement with my workers that I won’t pay them the national minimum wage; they understand and they even signed a contract to this effect.”

 

  1. “My workers like to think of themselves as being self employed and the national minimum wage doesn’t apply to people who work for themselves.”

 

  1. “My workers are often just on standby when there are no customers in the shop; I only pay them for when they’re actually serving someone.”

 

We could provide commentary on WHY all of these excuses are completely and utterly unacceptable… But some things just speak for themselves.

It doesn’t matter who you are, what your accounting arrangements are, whether or not your workers are performing at the desired level, or anything else that you think might be relevant to this conversation.

The fact remains that if you aren’t paying minimum wage, you’re breaking the law. And the consequences for your business could be dire.

From 1 April 2017, the national living wage rate for employees aged 25 years and over increases to £7.50 per hour. For the national minimum wage, the rate for 21- to 24-year-olds will increase to £7.05 per hour. If you’re not compliant? Then something needs to change, and it needs to change fast! We understand that dealing with complex employment law can be complicated, and that’s why we’re here to help.

If you’re unsure about where you stand and what you need to do to keep your business on the straight and narrow, give us a call today.

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