INSIGHTS

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Is Labour’s £10 NLW realistic?

What will happen to the national living wage post-election? Right now, nothing is set in stone, but it’s a bargaining chip that the key parties are using to sway more support over to their side.

Party Pledges
Theresa May has pledged to increase the rate to around £8.75 per hour by 2020, and the Labour Party have taken things a step further by saying that under their control, it’ll be increased to ‘at least’ £10 an hour. Their manifesto states that this will cover all workers aged 18 and over, and not just those aged 25 and over, as is currently the case.

The Green Party are getting involved too, saying ‘the introduction of a minimum wage of £10 by 2020 is a necessary step towards tackling inequality and poverty’. So where does this leave your business?

You Want To Pay A Fair Wage But At What Cost?
For your average Joe in the street, an increase to the national living wage is music to their ears. Who doesn’t want to take home a slightly bigger pay cheque at the end of each month? But as a business owner, the prospect of having to pay out more in wages can be daunting. You want to reward your staff for their contribution. You don’t believe in cutting corners or overlooking the satisfaction of your team. Your financial resources aren’t never-ending though, and you may already be starting to worry about how you’ll manage any increases that come into force.

Paying Too Much Could Increase Unemployment
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has commented that accelerating the pace of rises to the national living wage could price workers out of a job, and that young people are likely to be the worst affected. It said that if employers are forced to pay at least £10 an hour, then 60% of young workers could be facing losing their jobs.

It’s safe to say that there will be far reaching consequences if the proposals become a reality, and not all of them will be positive…

Best Be Prepared For All Eventualities
Right now, it’s a case of ‘wait and see what happens’. No one knows what the outcome of the general election will be, and even then, it’ll take time to see how party pledges are rolled out.

For the time being though, it’s advisable to stay up to date with any developments, and give some consideration to how your business would cope with the changes if they were to come into fruition. Of course, it’s a little more complex than just changing the amount that you pay people each month. You’ll have to consider wider budgetary planning, updates to your policies and procedures, and a whole load of other things. Changes like this can be daunting, but they’re all part of running a business.

If you know that you need to get a tighter grip on your staffing spend, then get in touch today to arrange a no-obligation consultation. We can help you to get the most of out of your budget, and your people. Drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call us on 0203 627 7048

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HR Surgery: What HR Policies Do SMEs Really Need?

In this increasingly litigious world you’d be forgiven for thinking that writing HR policies and procedures is a mine-field in this day and age. Writing and tweaking policies for your business – whatever its size, can take up a huge amount of time and stress. So it may seem like the easy option to download your policy templates from the internet, but a one size fits all solution is always dangerous and you are likely to end up putting into place way more policies than you actually need….

Legal Requirements

Surprisingly there are only 3 policies that are required by law.

These are:

Best Practice

There are also a number of policies that you should provide because they have legal minimum requirements.

These are:

Pay Legally you must pay your employees at least the National Minimum wage and ensure Equal Pay; you must also provide an itemised pay statement and not make any unauthorised deductions from employees pay
Equal Opportunities Legally you must not discriminate against staff or allow harassment and bullying and you must make reasonable adjustments for staff in the work-place if they are disabled
Working Hours and Overtime including rest-breaks and holidays Legally  you must comply with Working Time Regulations provisions for employees and workers
Sickness policy and unauthorised/authorised absence  Legally you must make statutory sick pay payments to employees and allow them time off for dependant emergencies, Jury Service etc.
Maternity, Adoption, Paternity Leave, Parental Leave and Shared Parental leave You must make statutory maternity / adoption / paternity payments to employees and give the appropriate leave
Flexible Working You must consider all employees flexible working requests

There are few other policies that you could  consider to ensure consistency within your business.

For example:

  • Personal e-mail / Internet Usage
  • Alcohol/Drugs In The Workplace
  • Dress Codes
  • Data Protection
  • Expenses
  • Smoking

There are no legal guidelines for these policies and they can be designed around the needs of your business. For example, no smoking (including e-cigarettes) other than during lunch hour.

Where Do I Start?

When it comes to writing policies copious content is not king.  There are millions of pages of policies & procedures rotting away completely unused in filing cabinets and shared network folders that will attest to this fact. Don’t get fooled into thinking that you need a policy for every eventuality – you don’t. And in fact, too many draconian policies can be restrictive to a small business that is growing.   

The types of policies that you need depend on your business type: If your employees operate heavy machinery then you should consider putting in a Drugs & Alcohol Usage Policy but if you are an accountancy firm then this policy is unlikely to be a priority for you.

It is essential to create realistic employment policies – and enforce them. Using a policy to pay lip service to health and safety or treating employees fairly is not enough. If the worst happens and a problem ends up in court or at an employment tribunal, you’ll need to be able to show that you put your company policies into practice.

Communication Is Key

Policies can be part of your employee/company handbook or you can set them out in a separate document. However, for your discipline and grievance policies, you must either set them out in a written statement of main terms and conditions of employment or refer in a written statement to a place where the employee can read them, such as the company intranet.

You should ensure that you make staff aware that your policies exist. The best time to do this is during the induction process (which doesn’t have to be a 3 day off site event but can be something as simple as a checklist to ensure that a new employee to your company has all the relevant information that they need). You should also make sure that employees can easily access policies if necessary, by having them pinned up on a noticeboard for example or, again, on the company intranet.

Contractual Or Not?

Policies generally aren’t contractually binding unless they expressly state otherwise.  However, the terms of some policies could be seen as contractually binding through custom and practice e.g. where employees follow certain working practices or receive certain benefits over a significant period of time. You need to  be conscious of this as ultimately it will be up to an Employment Tribunal to decide on the contractual nature of policies if a claim were ever to be brought against your company.

Never-Ending Updates

Policies are never finished and you must ensure that you regularly review your policies and procedures to ensure that they are up to date, reflect the needs of the business and reflect any legislative changes.

Effective Company Policies

Whatever your policies cover, you should follow 2 essential principles to make a company policy effective.

1 – Make sure any policy is clear

2 – Make sure that any policy is communicated to employees. Unless employees understand a policy it will not work.

You do not want to tie yourself or your managers up with too many rules as this will only prove to be restrictive to day to day operations. Equally policies and procedures must be realistic, meaningful and be something that you and your management team are prepared to stand by. There is no point in stating that persistent lateness is a disciplinary offence and then not disciplining the one employee who is late every Monday morning. This type of approach will only lead employees to the conclusion that policies are meaningless, making them almost impossible for you to enforce.  

For further advice and support on policy implementation, or any other HR issues contact theHRhub today on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

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HR Surgery: How Much Compassionate Leave Should I Give My Employee?

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced in the last few months that the company would double its standard bereavement leave allowance, giving employees a total of 20 days off work to grieve for immediate family members. Sandberg herself has spoken publicly about the death of her husband back in 2015, and in a statement issued via the social media network, she said: ‘We need public policies that make it easier for people to care for their children and ageing parents and for families to mourn and heal after loss’.

Though many issues in the workplace are sensitive and difficult to handle, this is one which particularly can be one of the very hardest to navigate.

As a manager or leader working with someone who is affected by such an event, this kind of situation can leave you wondering what to do for the best. Of course you’re conscious of the needs of your staff, and you want to make sure that they’re supported during what is one of the most stressful and upsetting times in their lives…but you also have a business to think about.

Best Practice would say that you needed to have robust policies in place for this sort of thing which you can implement in such situations. However I would counsel that it is an area where, although guidelines are a good idea, fixed and rigid processes do not work as you need to look at individual circumstances.

But what does the law say? As that’s normally the starting point. Legislation wise, there is no statutory right to receive paid leave after the death of a loved one or a family member in the UK, so there’s no ‘statutory’ amount you can fall back on as a default. Workers are however entitled to take a ‘reasonable amount’ of unpaid time off when they have experienced the death of a dependent, but as with all employment law defined by what is ‘reasonable’, this can vary from case to case.

Ultimately, this means that it’s down to you to decide what’s fair, and how you want to make sure that you strike an effective balance between being a sympathetic and reasonable employer, and ensuring that day-to-day operational requirements are being met. The majority of companies do offer some form of compassionate leave and even if only for a few days, can be a relief to your employees.

The issue of bereavement leave is something that you might not even think about until you find yourself trying to navigate your way through a particularly sensitive set of circumstances. But it’s in the kind of situation when you need to ensure that you know exactly what your approach is going to be.

The bottom line here? No one likes to think about the practicalities of creating a bereavement policy but our experience has taught us that anyone managing such situation often needs some guidance. So taking action now though is likely to save you – and more pertinently – your staff a great deal of heartache in the longer term.

For help and advice on any HR issue get in touch today on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

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Is It Ever A Good Idea To Be Facebook Friends With Your Employees?

There are a ton of challenges that come hand-in-hand with employing a team of staff…

  • Ensuring that productivity is high and that you’re getting a good return on your staffing investment
  • Keeping up to date with performance reviews
  • Staying on the right side of employment legislation
  • And the tricky question of whether you should accept that friend request that you just received on Facebook from your team member…….

Granted, in the grand scheme of things, this is hardly the kind of challenge that should keep you awake at night. But as we move into a heavily digital era that relies more and more on technology to connect and communicate, it’s a day-to-day issue that a lot of leaders are likely to face at some point or another.

There’s Currently No Legal Precedent
First of all, it’s worth noting that there are no hard and fast rules here. There are no laws that exist that tell you that you can’t have your staff on your friends list, and there are none that say that you should welcome them into your digital world with open arms.

It’s A Leadership Decision Only You Can Make
For every leader that tells you that it’s a bad idea that you should definitely avoid at all costs, for a whole host of legitimate reasons, there’s another that has done the opposite very successfully, and will tell you why that it’s an approach that you should take too. Ultimately, the decision comes down to you. Your business. Your friend list. Your rules.

But there are a few important considerations to think through…

Seeing Their Personal Information On Facebook Could Complicate Disciplinary Proceedings

When you’re connected with an employee on social media, you’re likely to find out more about them. How they like to spend their weekends. What they eat for dinner. And possibly even more contentious factors such as their religious beliefs and political affiliations. If problems occur further down the line at work, and they’re dealt with in accordance with disciplinary proceedings, then there’s a chance that it could be claimed that it was because of the information shared on Facebook.

You Could Be Accused of Favouring Some Employees Over Others

If you’re friends with certain employees and not others, this could lead to accusations of favouritism. Equally, you can’t force your staff to be connected with you outside of work, and there are probably people on your team who can think of nothing worse than receiving a friend request from you. If they prefer to keep their personal lives private, then you’ve put them in a very awkward situation.

Never Use A Social Platform To Communicate About Work-Related Matters

Respect your employees’ spare time, don’t blur the lines between work and play, and keep the confidentiality of office issues in mind.


For help on leadership, employee relations or any other HR issue, get in touch today for a no-obligation chat about your HR needs. Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

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Could Your Business Be Making Better Use Of Freelancers?

As well as General Election Day, Thursday 8th June marks National Freelancers Day where independent professionals up and down the country will celebrate the fact that they boldly work for themselves. It’s estimated that there are around 2 million freelancers operating in the UK, and they’ve had their fair share of press recently.

With the gig economy being a key topic of conversation, and firms like Uber and Deliveroo coming under scrutiny for how they treat the people working for them, it’s clear that the world of work is changing fast, and the face of employment is looking very different to what it did just a couple of years ago.

But what does this mean for your business? Is it possible to harness talent on a more flexible basis and keep your reputation as a fair and just employer? And could you be missing out on some attractive business benefits if you’re  sticking with what’s becoming a fairly outdated approach to talent, employment, and getting a good job done?

Let’s consider a few things that you should be aware of…

1. Your relationship with freelancers should be very carefully managed

You might have fewer obligations from a legal perspective, but the reputation of your business could be on the line if you don’t get this right. There are unscrupulous business owners out there who have ruthlessly used the gig economy to drive forward questionable agendas, and it’s vital that you take steps to manage your employer brand and ensure that you’re considered to be amongst the cream of the crop when it comes to really getting this right.

2. You should also think about the potential pitfalls

The benefits can be fairly obvious, but the downsides also need to be considered. Have you thought about how you’ll find the people who you really need? Can you be certain that they’d be as committed to the cause as permanent employees would be? And how are your staff likely to deal with the transition towards working as part of a different kind of team? They’ll have their fears and concerns, and this needs to be managed.

3. But there’s a wealth of talent available quite literally at your fingertips

Need a new website and some regular maintenance carried out, but don’t have the resources to hire a permanent developer? A freelancer could help. Looking for an extra pair of hands on deck during a busier period? Maybe a freelancer could fit the bill. Or struggling to find the skills you need in your local workforce? Yep, it’s very possible that a freelancer on the other side of the world could step in and deliver what you’re looking for.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of creating a more flexible and agile workforce, then let’s talk. We can help you to create your plan of action, and put it into practice in the right way. Get in touch today to arrange an initial free consultation. Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@therhhub.co.uk

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