INSIGHTS

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Brexit Update: Repeal Bill Confirms No Immediate Changes To Workers’ Rights

The Repeal Bill, otherwise known as the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was published earlier this month, and the 66-page document confirmed that EU-derived legislation including the Working Time Directive, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and TUPE will continue to apply once the UK leaves the EU.

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, said:

‘It is one of the most significant pieces of legislation that has ever passed through Parliament and is a major milestone in the process of our withdrawal from the European Union.

By working together, in the national interest, we can ensure we have a fully functioning legal system on the day we leave the European Union’.

Until now, there has been confusion particularly around the GDPR. Though it was already expected that existing pieces of legislation would continue to apply, the GDPR is a work in progress and won’t commence until 25th May 2018. So the new developments mean that companies need to consider how they’ll manage employee data in compliance with the new rules and provisions.

Moving forward though, things are expected to be slightly different. UK courts won’t be bound by any decisions made by the European Court of Justice post-Brexit, which means that they could potentially choose to ignore key employment rights decisions made in EU countries in the future.

Of course, this is a move that has come under scrutiny, with many speculating about what this could potentially mean for workers’ rights here in the UK. Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said the move was a ‘Downing Street power grab that puts workers’ rights at risk’. She went on to comment, ‘There is nothing in this Bill to stop politicians shredding or watering down our rights in the future. Nobody voted for Brexit to make life harder for working people. That’s why any deal with the EU must ensure that workers’ rights in Britain don’t fall behind the rest of Europe’.

There are still more questions than answers when it comes to how the world of employment will look once the Brexit process is finalised, but the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together. We’ll bring you more details as soon as they become available.

In the meantime, if you have queries or concerns about how to ensure that you’re compliant with GDPR, or you’re worried about how to handle the changes that result from Brexit, get in touch today to arrange your initial no-obligation consultation. Having an HR consultant on your side can take away the stress of getting ready for the future.

We are theHRhub – the ultimate HR service for SMEs and startups. Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

What To Do When You Know Someone Is Pulling A Sickie

Whilst pleasant weather normally brings a smile to most folks, it can also bring a touch of The ‘Sicknote’ in some… According to a YouGov poll, 19% of British workers has lied about being sick to get off work in the last year. If these figures are right, that means that potentially, 1 in 5 of your team has pulled a sickie over the last 12 months. So it’s definitely something to watch out for, particularly when the mercury starts to rise.

But what do you do when you suspect one of your team might be pulling a fast one and you don’t know how to call them on it?

Keep A Cool Head – This Is What Policies Are For

You might be tempted to leap into a stern word on the phone or get on their case when they return. But tread carefully. If you suspect that an employee of yours is guilty of lying about their sickness, it falls under misconduct and therefore should be dealt with under your written disciplinary policy in a formal way. Hopefully this has been already communicated to your team members when they joined the business, but if not, you need to clearly outline it to them.

Gather Evidence

The first part of a disciplinary process will normally be to undertake an investigation to see what evidence you can find to corroborate your suspicions and therefore even whether a disciplinary is actually necessary. Having a ‘feeling’ therefore is not exactly firm evidence. Nor is someone just being active on social media (if you’re connected on any medium you may be able to see their activity) necessarily evidence of lying – as we all know that updates can be made within seconds. Updates which include selfies of them lounging about by a pool or sitting in a beer garden may prove more interesting (!), but still need to be investigated (take screenshots) and the employee given a chance to explain before any action is taken.

Hold A Return To Work Interview

Even if you have none of these,I would recommend speaking to your team members on their return, and hold what we in HR call a ‘return to work interview’. Explain your concerns about their sickness and the impact it had on the rest of the team. You might not be able to prove that they were off for the reason they gave, but this sends a strong message that they can’t pull the wool over your eyes – without getting too heavy. In most cases this is enough to nip this type of behaviour in the bud.

TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing software, templates, expert advice, whitepapers and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket but without the price tag!

Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.

HR Housekeeping For The Summer Break

For many businesses, the pressure eases off slightly over the summer months when customers and clients are away on holiday. This downtime can be an important opportunity to address those admin tasks you’ve been putting off to help clear the decks and ensure you deliver the rest of the year with aplomb.

Here’s a checklist of the important HR tasks to address during the summer slowdown:

Consider your cold, hard figures

When some leaders think about HR, they think about fluff without any real substance. But we’re now long gone from the days of it being known as the department of “tea and tampax” (genuinely how the function was described to me when I first joined….) and HR has evolved into something the smart money knows isn’t just a ‘nice to have’. In fact, it’s completely non-negotiable if you’re serious about sustainable growth. So with this in mind, and considering the fact that we’ve just come to the end of another financial year, it’s time to look at your numbers. How much are you spending on staffing? And more importantly what activities are bringing the greatest return on investment? Only once you know where you are, can you create a map to where you want to be.

Look At Your Leadership Funnel

Who are the managers of tomorrow, who is their back-fill and how are your developing them all to prepare for their next move? L&D doesn’t need to cost the earth – a lot can be done in-house through on the job training and mentorship. Individuals should also take responsibility for their own learning too – keeping themselves up to date with the latest trends in their business function.

Review Your Hiring Strategy

If gaps are appearing in your staff and you’re looking to recruit in September think now about how you can attract the best talent possible and how will they be on boarded to set them and the team up for success? Is there anyone internally who, with the right support and training, could take on the role instead?

Give Your Company Culture An MOT

Is it what you’d hope it to be when you set out or is it veering off course? As leader, it’s for you to set the tone of the business and reign things in if they go astray. Of course it’s only right that your culture is shaped and adjusted when you bring in new talent, but your core values (and, more importantly how these are demonstrated in practise) should remain constant. Step back and ask yourself if this is really the case and think about how to implement any changes you need to make.

Refresh Your HR Policies

Yes I know there’s always something more pressing to do than update your HR policies. Truth is, you never experience their true value until you need to use them. And if you don’t have the necessary policies in place when you need them, it’s too late.

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

These are:

But 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
  • Dress Codes
  • Data Protection
  • Expenses
  • Smoking
  • Holiday

Ensure Everyone Knows Where They Are Headed For The Rest Of The Year

Energise the team on their return to work by recapping on the objectives for the end of the year and where their individual contributions fit into the bigger picture. After the summer holidays is a good time to galvanise some team spirit with an away day, so you could start planning now – and don’t worry they don’t need to cost the earth… Check out our article here

Book Yourself In For An HR Health-Check

The vast majority of business owners do everything they can to comply with relevant employment legislation and create practices and policies that make their workplace a happy environment. Let’s be honest though – we all have constraints on our time, and it’s not always possible to go the extra mile. If you know that you’ve been putting HR on the backburner, then there’s no time like the present to review how you’re really performing, and what you could do to improve your business.

If you’d like a little ad-hoc assistance without committing to a tying contract, then you’re in luck. Our HR health-check service is just the ticket if you feel like it could be time to step back and take stock, before creating your plans for the future.

Drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or give us a call today on 0203 627 7048 to book yourself in or find out more.

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10 Top Tips For Managing A Virtual Team

With the rise of the gig economy and the increasing use of freelancers, SME leaders are increasingly finding themselves in the position of managing employees across different locations and time zones. This type of leadership requires a differently nuanced skill set to leading a team that you can see in front of you and, if not done effectively, can be real headache not only for you but for other members of your team and your customers.

Here are our top 10 tips to managing remote employees:

1. Hire The Right Team

You need ‘doers’ – people you can trust to just get on with the job, without you holding their hand. To a certain extent the onus is on you to, after a full briefing, take a step back and leave them to it. You also need to hire good communicators who recognise the importance of constantly keeping their colleagues in the loop.

2. Hire The Right Managers

If you decide to delegate the day to day management of your virtual team members then of course you need to ensure you’ve got the right line managers in place. They need to be comfortable with a more results-based style of performance management and giving their direct reports the space to approach tasks in their own way (without dictating to them how to do it). They will however be required to offer a lot of support and encouragement. So a positive outlook and approachable demeanour are hugely important. A flexible mindset is also key – managing effectively across different locations and time zones is not a 9-5 job and may involve some travel.

3. Onboard Carefully

Onboarding is even more important with remote workers as it can be even harder to make them feel like part of the team. As well as a lot of 1:1 support, make sure you have a raft of suitable introductory videos for them to digest. And these shouldn’t just be on training, but also on the vision and culture of the business as well. Dedicated buddies and mentors are a crucial part of the onboarding process too.

4. Have Clearly Defined Ways Of Working

Well thought-out processes provide structure and direction for getting things done – wherever you are and whatever time it is. Project management software can be especially helpful here.

5. Make Document Sharing A Priority

One of the most important virtual team disciplines is how the team shares and edits information. If you have a team project management tool then this may also have a facility to share files. If not good old Google Docs is a great alternative.

6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

You won’t be bumping into each other in the corridor so the emphasis is on the leader in particular to make an effort to stay in touch and keep channels of communication open. Constantly ensure your virtual team members know what they are supposed to be doing and how this fits into the bigger picture of the business as a whole. Reiterate your business objectives and vision throughout the year and remind them of the business’ culture and values on an annual basis at the least. It’s important to chose the right method of communication too. Instant messaging is great for quick team interactions, whilst video chat is the best option for team meetings to ensure non-verbal cues are communicated also. If members of your team work in different time zones, make sure that you have an overlapping period where everyone is working and organise your virtual meetings during these times. Remember that anything potentially sensitive requires a 1:1 phone call.

7. Create A Team Culture

Keep them up to date on what’s going on in other parts of the business – so they always feel in the loop. Try and involve everyone somehow in important events and projects and find ways to celebrate success together – even its just adding a little bonus to their pay packet or sending a voucher. Always mark birthdays and other special occasions with a card or gift.

8. Promote Individual Accountability

Whilst how virtual employees complete their tasks should be largely down to them, they must still be accountable for their contribution – and have it recognised. A message board where everyone posts what they’ve done that week is a good idea as are monthly one to ones.

9. Provide A Means For Virtual Team Members To Give Feedback Easily

Understandably, it may take some virtual team members longer to feel comfortable enough to give constructive feedback. Set up a feedback portal to ensure that any issues or frustrations are addressed and that no fresh ideas are missed.

10. Get Everyone Together Once In A While

Working on one’e own suits many people down to the ground. But to develop and reinforce a true team dynamic, individuals need to see each other face to face and get to know each other informally. Team away days needn’t cost the earth and are often the number one way to help improve team efficiency.

 

TheHRhub is the ultimate HR support service for startups and SMEs. For advice and help on any HR issue contact us today on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk

 

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Holiday Cover: An SME’s Guide To Drafting In Reinforcements

With holiday requests coming in thick and fast it can be very difficult for SMEs to accommodate everyone and keep the business going at the same time.

The way we see it, you have 5 options. Here they are, in order of preference:

1. Promote & Train Existing Team Members

Holiday cover can be a wonderful opportunity for current team members to shine and take on more responsibility. It’s also a chance for you to assess the leadership talent of the future. Set them up for success though: Brief them properly, define exactly what you need to them do, explain how they will be measured and what success looks like. Make sure you leave enough time for any required training.

2. Take On A Contractor

Contractors tend to be experienced individuals, who are taken on for a specific project. Whilst, this might seem like an expensive option it’s clearly less expensive than hiring another full time employee. It’s also a great opportunity to hire specialist expertise and ‘test drive’ someone you could potentially take on permanently. The great thing about contractors is that they should hit the ground running quickly and start delivering for your business from the word go. Brief them in the same way you would a permanent team member – you get out what you put in here… Recruitment agencies can help you find contractors, but if you’d rather do it yourself, use online job sites, social media and referrals.

3. Hire Temporary Staff

Unlikely to be as qualified as contractors but they can be a good option for few weeks and are easy to get hold of if you go through an agency. If you go down the agency route, ask the agency for references from previous clients who required the same type of workers you need. It’s also important for you to fully understand how the agency recruit their candidates and for the agency to fully get to know the needs of your business. Temp agencies commit to ‘filling the gap’ so if one temp doesn’t work out they should quickly provide you with a replacement.

4. Pass On Menial Tasks To Interns

This will help free up more experienced staff to cover others. Obviously you can’t rely on interns too much, but they can be a godsend when it comes to looking after time consuming, unimportant tasks that just need to get done. They too will want to feel like they are making a real contribution to the business with their time with you – so brief them properly and get the most of them. But remember they are with you to learn. So in return for a bit of donkey work, you should also offer them some really interesting work to do, in line with their studies or career aspirations. Speak to local colleges/schools and/or advertise internally, on social media and in the local press.

5. Say No

Yes, this is always an option. You are not legally bound to give holiday when someone asks for it and sometimes it just isn’t possible. Here are some tips on how to turn down a holiday request without damaging employee relations:

  • Do it quickly: Give them as much notice as you can to make alternative arrangements, as a sign of respect and goodwill. As always, face to face is best.
  • Explain you reasons:  Ensure the individual knows it’s not personal. Talk them through the need to cover off certain business areas over that period. Reiterate the business decision behind the refusal and ensure them that it is nothing to do with their performance (unless it is).
  • Offer an alternative: Such as other dates when a request would be manageable. For accommodating others, some business offer one or two extra holiday days as a way of saying thank you.
  • Tell the how much you value them: When  a holiday request is denied it can make individuals feel undervalued, particularly if they have been performing well. Make sure they leave the conversation feeling positive about themselves and their contribution to the business.

TheHRhub are the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing software, templates, expert advice, whitepapers and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket but without the price tag!

Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.

image: Canva