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HR Survival Through COVID-19

HR Survival Through COVID-19

Thrive and Survive is a community created by a collective of business people who are coming together to help you overcome the current financial crisis and come out of this with a stronger business.

I recently shared my thoughts on the HR implications of COVID-19 in a webinar that covered:

  • How to deal with 3 scenarios of people ‘out of the business’ with COVID-19 related reasons
  • Furloughing workers – who’re eligible, what are the rules and how to do it
  • Common questions on partial furloughing
  • Advice on keeping in touch with staff, engagement, and productivity
  • Lots of chat on the positives arising for business and the opportunity when this is all over

Please excuse the noise in the background – we can thank the joys of remote working in a busy city for that!

Hopefully, it’s not too distracting and you find it useful.

 

Kind people live longer

Kind people live longer

According to Lauren Turner in her BBC article  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-50266957 shared by the wonderful Alex Stephany CEO at Beam https://beam.org (a crowd funding platform to help homeless people into work) kindness helps us all to live longer.

Mr Daniel Kessler who heads up the  UCLA’s Bedari Kindness Institute (funded (to the tune of $20 million) by very kind people Jennifer and Matthew C Harris) says

‘Kindness, is “the thoughts, feelings and beliefs associated with actions intending to benefit others, where benefiting others is an end in itself, not a means to an end”.

And unkindness, on the other hand, is “intolerant beliefs, the lack of valuation of others’ welfare”.

It got me thinking, if I am to live a long life I must consciously try to be kinder, then companies could last longer if they were kinder too, after all a company is made up of its people right!

So, how better to be kind folks, than to look after your people and genuinely care about them. That’s why I am providing you with a Wellbeing policy for free (how kind is that) to show your people that you genuinely care.

Kindness should never be seen as a weakness.

New Timekeeping Requirements – What Does This Mean For Your Business?

New Timekeeping Requirements – What Does This Mean For Your Business?

UK employees work some of the longest hours in Europe. Yet the UK’s productivity is lagging behind other G7 countries causing businesses and the economy reduced growth. Long hours also contribute to stress, depression and anxiety which, in 2018/19, accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases. In short, a long hours culture isn’t any good for anyone. 

Now a ruling from the European Court of Justice has mandated that businesses record all the hours employees work using timekeeping systems. We take a look at what this means for your business. And how you can get the best return from your timekeeping system investment. 

Why Is This Happening?  

The EU has previously attempted to limit a long hours’ culture in the shape of the Working Time Directive. This law, established in 2003, stated that, unless employees choose to opt out, they should not work longer than 48 hours a week and they are entitled to an 11-hour break every 24 hours. 

However, some trade unions have questioned the law’s efficacy, particularly when it comes to the accurate recording of employees’ hours. 

According to a Spanish trade union, 53.7% of overtime hours worked in Spain are not recorded. 

This results in an action being brought before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) seeking to force Deutsche Bank to set up a timekeeping system.  

In making its judgement the court noted: 

  • the importance of workers’ fundamental rights to a limit on the maximum number of working hours and to daily and weekly rest periods in line with the Working Time Directive 
  • that Member States are required to ensure workers benefit from the rights conferred on them 
  • without a system to record the duration of time worked each day by each worker it’s not possible to determine, objectively and reliably, the number of hours worked and when, or the number of hours of overtime worked.

This has resulted in the ECJ mandating that businesses must introduce new timekeeping systems to ensure workers’ rights are complied with. 

What Kind of System Do You Need? 

The ECJ did not define the type of system you need to use leaving it to Member States to define their own arrangements. However, the system must determine the number of normal and overtime hours worked and when in a way that’s objective and reliable. 

TImekeeping systems typically consist of a combination of hardware and software. The physical system can take the form of a biometric scanner, swipe card system or a clocking in machine. Supported by software that captures the data, these systems can be customised to provide the exact reporting your business needs.  

There are lots of different solutions available with price points starting at several hundred pounds and running into thousands or tens of thousands of pounds. The exact cost will depend on the number of employees and sites you operate and your business requirements. 

The Business Benefits 

Let’s be honest – the law says you need to have a timekeeping system so you’ll have to set aside some budget. However, introducing a new timekeeping system can do much more than help you meet your legal obligations.  

More information, more insight 

With more reliable data, you’ll have a better understanding of your workforce’s habits which will empower you to make decisions based on facts rather than guesswork.   

Timekeeping system reports can flag issues like:  

 recurrent absences which might indicate a disengaged colleague, a potential leaver or someone struggling with ill health 

  • dips in performance from one of your best people that directly correlate to long hours 
  • recurrent lateness and no evidence that the hours are being made up at the end of the day 

With this kind of information you can assess workforce challenges and take action to correct them. Which could mean keeping hold of top performers, retaining someone with illness or ensuring every team member is fulfilling their contractual hours.  

Help with holiday pay calculations 

The information gathered in a timekeeping system can also help you calculate holiday pay which must now include regular overtime and commission payments. Depending on the system you already use for this process, you may be able to adapt it to meet the new timekeeping requirements. Or you could kill two birds with one stone with your new software. 

Fair treatment and employee engagement 

This new requirement isn’t just good for you as a business owner but for your employees too. They’ll feel that they’re being fairly compensated for the time they work leading to engaged employees and an even more harmonious workplace.  

Using a timekeeping system to visualise your business’ time and attendance, you’ll have the insight to help your people and your business achieve peak performance. And you’ll be one step ahead of legislation too. 

Find out more about Crosse HR’s services or get in touch for support with any people problems on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk. 

Avoiding Alcohol-Related Headaches at Work

Avoiding Alcohol-Related Headaches at Work

A few beers at the match the night before, mid-week drinks or a catch-up with friends over a few glasses of wine. In moderation this kind of drinking is fine. But research from the Drink Aware campaign shows that as many as 89,000 people could be hungover or under the influence at work. Which could pose difficulties in the workplace.  

As the festive season draws near, the likelihood of your staff turning up to work a little worse for wear is increasingly likely. So how can you, as an employer, solve this alcohol-induced headache?  

Alcohol and Work – A Modern Concern? 

In the past, it was considered completely normal to visit the pub at lunchtime with colleagues and have several alcoholic drinks before returning to work. However, consuming alcohol at lunchtime has become something of a social taboo that’s frowned upon by both organisations and their workers.   

In modern Britain, even traditionalists like Lloyd’s of London, have banned lunchtime drinking due to alcohol-related harassment cases. 

The reasons for this change are clear as alcohol is associated with lower productivity levels, reduced inhibitions and the potential for mistakes to be made. Plus the chance that staff could place themselves and others at risk. 

For employers, there are two alcohol-related situations that need to be considered, planned for and dealt with.  

24-Hour Party People 

It’s easy to forget that alcohol can stay in your bloodstream for up to 24 hours after you finish drinking. As anyone who’s used an online alcohol calculator will know, it can be surprising how long it takes to be safe to drive after a few drinks. A bottle of 13% wine that’s consumed by 11pm means you probably can’t drive legally until 10am. 

What does this mean for you as the boss? Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 you have a duty, as far as is reasonably practical, to protect the health, safety and welfare of all your staff.  

This means, if someone is still under the influence of alcohol or is a risk due to a hangover, you have a responsibility to stop them from working. Knowingly allowing an employee to work under the influence of alcohol and putting colleagues, customers or the individual at risk could result in prosecution.  

Sending the individual home is probably the safest bet. But don’t forget, you’ll need to ensure they get home safely, which could mean getting them a taxi or a lift home.  

Make Your Position Clear with Policy 

To protect your business and yourself, it’s a good idea to have a policy around alcohol and the workplace. Depending on the nature of your business, you might decide to completely ban the consumption of alcohol during or immediately before working hours.  

Or it may be appropriate to allow moderate drinking at lunch or with clients at meals for example. You’ll need to decide which approach is safe and suitable for your business. 

Your policy needs to be clear that if an employee shows up to work under the influence of alcohol, then this will be classed as a gross misconduct offence usually resulting in a disciplinary process. 

From Hangovers to Alcohol Dependency 

Dealing with people who are under the influence is one aspect of dealing with alcohol in the workplace. But what about situations where staff have had a few drinks the night before and arrive in work hungover? Where do you stand then? 

This probably depends on the severity of the hangover. A slight headache and raging thirst could pose a low enough risk to be tolerated in the workplace – particularly in low-risk roles and environments. However, it’s not pleasant for other workers to put up with a colleague who’s not pulling their weight with a waft of alcohol on their breath. 

As long as this only happens occasionally and performance is not regularly impacted, there’s probably no need to address these kinds of situations. 

However, repeated offences could be an indication that someone is alcohol dependent, which is another issue entirely. 

Providing Support for Your Staff

Its likely that colleagues and supervisors will be the first to notice a change in behaviour, alcohol on the breath or someone struggling to complete their work effectively or safely. 

In this situation, it’s important that everyone feels able to speak up so help can be provided. With the right support in place, it’s more likely that individuals will come forward enabling you to take action. 

Employee assistance programmes are an excellent way to provide help to your staff. Not only do they provide phone helplines but face-to-face counselling sessions that will help staff address any underlying issues causing alcohol misuse.  

Company Events 

With Christmas fast approaching it’s likely company events will feature alcohol. So refresh your policy, or get on in place ahead of time, then communicate your expectations to line managers and staff. There’s no need to be heavy handed – a light touch communication about everyone enjoying themselves responsibly should set the tone.  

If your event is at a venue with bar staff, ask them to refuse service to anyone who looks like they’ve had enough. Don’t forget – if it appears you have encouraged staff to over-consume, it can be difficult to dismiss anyone for gross misconduct offences relating to alcohol.  

If you don’t have an alcohol policy in place, we’re more than happy to draft one for you. Ensuring everyone at your company has a very merry Christmas without the hangover.  

Contact Olga at Crosse HR today on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk. 

 

‘Tis the season to be jolly…and tell us all about it

‘Tis the season to be jolly…and tell us all about it

Christmas is coming, and with it comes parties, Instagram opportunities, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, extended time off and plenty of time on people’s hands. In other words, Social media and HR.

So what you may well ask has this got to do with me as an employer?

Plenty is the short answer, plenty.

You cannot control what an employee does or says in their free time, but what if it’s being done in your company name, company time or is associated in any way with your company. Do you even know who or what you or your brand is being associated with?

It might be the time to find out or at least set the boundaries around what is acceptable or not.

Quite bluntly, employees should not be associating their employers in any way on any form of private social media, this includes, not stating where they work, no company logos, not discussing company business, clients or other colleagues (even if they are friends) on any of their private accounts.

Many an employee and employer has at the very least been angry the very worst severely embarrassed or reputationally scarred by a rogue employee who decides to post or rant about ‘work’, post pictures of themselves in fancy dress (think that Justin Trudeau post), drunk, on holiday (when they’ve rang in sick), high, taking drugs, espousing views that would make the most ardent left or right winger choke over their cornflakes, engaging in splats on Twitter with a major client, swinging, posing provocative, boasting about all sorts – you get the picture, all the while sitting proudly next to that is your Company name.

So what to do about it, like anything you set the boundaries, and the easiest way to do that is draft a policy into your HR Handbook or Policies & Procedures and make all employees aware of it.

To help you out, I have drafted one here for you for free. Download our Social Media Policy template to enable your business to develop clear policy guidelines around social media usage.

If you need any help with any of the topics mentioned in this blog then please contact us.

 

Download your free Social Media Policy

Social Media

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What are the changes that IR35 will make?

What are the changes that IR35 will make?

We are very honoured to have Emma Spandrzyk of Keelys Solicitors share this guest blog with us. Her piece addresses some of the key insights many of you will have been thinking about when it comes to IR35.

I have recently joined Keelys in the employment department.  I have been working as an employment solicitor for 9 years and, most recently, I have worked in-house for the police.

Some of our clients have been asking us about changes to the law on IR35 next year so we’ve taken some time to explain some of what is happening.

What is the current position?

If someone works on a self-employed basis but, in reality, they are an employee, HMRC can recover the underpaid tax and national insurance from the organisation that they work for.

Sometimes, the individual will set up their own personal service company to provide their services.  If HMRC decides that the arrangement is a sham and that, if the individual was engaged directly by the client, they would be an employee, HMRC can recover the underpaid tax and national insurance under IR35.  Currently, that is recoverable from the individual and/or their company rather than from the end-user.  The exception to that is in the public sector, where the end-user will be liable for the tax and national insurance.

What is changing?

From April 2020 businesses with more than 50 employees or a turnover of more than £10.2m will be affected by the new rules.  They will, therefore, be liable for tax and national insurance if they are found to be engaging people through personal service companies who, in reality, ‘are’ employees.  If your business is smaller than that, you do not need to worry although we would not be surprised if, in future, these rules apply to smaller companies as well.

How to tell if someone falls within IR35?

If you are a larger business who will be covered by the new rules, the first step is to identify the contractors that provide their services through personal service companies.

To assess whether contractors fall within IR35, businesses will need to look at a range of criteria including the following:

  • Control – how much autonomy does the contractor have in terms of how they deliver their work? If the business retains full control over how, when and where tasks are completed, this is indicative of employee status and the contractor is likely to be caught by IR35. If the contractor has full autonomy over the completion of tasks, they are more likely to fall outside the scope of IR35.
  • Personal Service – does the contractor have to undertake the work themselves? The ability to send a substitute helps point towards a contractor being genuinely self-employed and outside the IR35 rules.
  • Mutual Obligation – is there a requirement for both parties to continue to offer and accept work? If the business has an obligation to provide work and there is an expectation that the contractor accepts it, then this will indicate that the contractor is caught by IR35.

As part of the assessment, businesses should also consider factors such as the degree of integration that the contractor has with the business, the level of financial risk they assume and who provides the contractor’s work equipment.

What does this mean for your business?

Businesses will need to show HMRC that they have taken reasonable care in undertaking their contractor assessments. When reviewing assessments, HMRC will look at the size of the business. The bigger the business and the greater the resources available to it, the more effort HMRC will expect in relation to the process.

There is a useful tool on the HMRC website that you can use to assess whether someone is genuinely self-employed or should be treated as an employee: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-employment-status-for-tax

Written statements of particulars

Employers will be used to providing employees with a written statement of terms within two months of starting work. However, from the 6 April onwards, this will become a day one right.

This right will also extend to all categories of “workers” and will not be limited to individuals engaged under a contract of employment.  It will, therefore, apply to zero-hours workers.

You may also have heard that some additional information should be included in the statement.  However, we do not suggest that you make any changes to your contracts because the additional items are very minor. The key thing to ensure is that any new hires post 6 April are given a written statement on day one.

There is no obligation to issue your existing staff with a new statement. You only need to take this step if an individual specifically requests new particulars.

Holiday Pay

The reference period for determining an average week’s pay for the purposes of calculating holiday pay is increasing from 12 to 52 weeks. This is intended to limit the impact of seasonal fluctuations in work on holiday pay.

If you are currently using the 12-week model, you will need to amend any calculations to cover 52 weeks from 6 April 2020.

Agency Workers

Under the “Swedish Derogation”, temporary work agencies can avoid the obligation to pay agency workers the same as the client’s direct employees after a 12 week qualifying period if certain conditions are satisfied.

From 6 April 2020, this derogation will be abolished. This means that all agency workers will have the right to pay parity with permanent employees after 12 weeks.

Tax on Termination Payments

At current, termination payments up to £30,000 can be paid free of income tax or employer’s National Insurance Contributions. Any amount over the £30,000 limit is subject to income tax deductions only.

From 6 April 2020, all termination payments above £30,000 will be subject to both income tax and employer National Insurance Contributions. This is in addition to the changes last year whereby all payments in lieu of notice are subject to tax and National Insurance.

Parental Bereavement Leave

Another right coming in to force on 6 April is the right to Parental Bereavement Leave known as “Jack’s Law”. Working parents who lose a child under the age of 18 will get two weeks’ statutory leave. We suggest you update your Dependent Care Leave Policy with the following wording to reflect this.

“Parental Bereavement Leave:

Staff who lose a child under the age of 18 are entitled to two weeks’ parental bereavement leave which can be taken in a single block of two weeks or as two separate blocks of a week each. The leave can be taken at any time in the period of 12 months after the child’s death. Staff with 26 weeks’ continuous service and weekly average earnings over the lower earnings limit will receive Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay during any period of Parental Bereavement Leave.”

Current Rates and Limits

April 2020 will also see the usual annual increase to the following rates and limits:

  • The National Living Wage (for workers ages 25 or over) from £8.21 to £8.72 per hour.
  • The National Minimum Wage rates:

Workers aged 21-24 – from £7.70 to £8.20 per hour

Workers aged 18-20 – from £6.15 to £6.45 per hour

Workers aged 16-17 – from £4.35 to £4.55 per hour

Apprentice rate – from £3.90 to £4.15 per hour

  • Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay will increase from £148.68 to £151.20.
  • Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £94.25 to £95.85.

Please let me know if you would like further advice on this.  You may also want to speak to your accountant for advice on whether you are taxing staff appropriately.

 

Continual Performance Management

Continual Performance Management

Performance management used to be a once a year event or twice at a push. Managers set objectives at the start of the year, gave feedback six months later and at the year-end provided an overall rating. If employees were really lucky, they were asked about their career aspirations and development needs.

Following years of feedback, it emerged that this style of performance management wasn’t as effective as employees or employers would have liked. In fact, only two in ten employees believed that annual performance appraisals motivated them to do outstanding work.

Now organisations around the world are trading in their annual process for continual performance management. An approach that’s better suited to modern businesses seeking improved employee performance and enhanced results. We explore what continual performance management is, why it’s favoured over annual appraisals and how to implement it in your organisation.

What Is Continual Performance Management?

Continual performance management is a human resource (HR) process that takes place throughout the year. It’s an ongoing, holistic approach to appraisal that replaces infrequent with regular feedback leading to a more natural employee-manager conversation and healthier, more authentic workplace relationships. 

What Issues Does It Seek to Address?

Can you remember exactly how you delivered a piece of work two weeks ago? How about three months ago? What about half a year? 

The whole premise of continual performance management is that it’s difficult to remember exactly what we’ve delivered and how we’ve delivered it a long time after the event. This makes it tough on employees to give an accurate account and difficult for managers to make an accurate assessment of performance.

In addition, modern agile businesses move much faster which often results in objectives set at the start of the year no longer being relevant six or twelve months later. 

Why Is Continual Performance Management Proving so Popular?

Continual performance management enables organisations to be far more flexible in how they set and evaluate performance. By creating objectives for the next quarter, they’re far more likely to be relevant and aligned to changing strategic objectives. And, by regularly reviewing performance, it’s easy for managers and employees to recall what’s been done and how it’s been achieved. Which should lead to more accurate performance assessments. 

Regular reviews also mean that managers are encouraged to provide on-the-spot feedback. This is much more powerful than waiting several months to deliver insight and it enables staff to quickly correct their performance ensuring problematic actions or behaviours are nipped in the bud and minimising the potential for poor performance to spread to other team members. 

Feedback about good performance also means that staff are more likely to keep doing more of the right activities in the right way. Which can only be good for business.

How Can You Implement Ongoing Appraisals?

Continual appraisals often include check-ins between the line manager and each employee every month or at least quarterly. These sessions cover:

  • Progress against objectives
  • Personal development
  • Priorities
  • Issues or concerns
  • Any new or amended objectives
  • Agreed actions

Between each check-in, employees work on their objectives and get feedback from their line manager to keep them on course. One of the major benefits is that managers and staff aren’t bogged down completing lengthy forms in one sitting, an approach that many people dread.

If continual performance management sounds like a lot of additional work, it isn’t. Implemented correctly, ongoing performance appraisals offer a more frequent but lighter touch that provides more benefit to the organisation.

What Will Your Managers Need to Implement It?

One of the major concerns among leaders around introducing this style of appraisal is the ability of line managers to have meaningful conversations. That’s why it’s important to train and educate supervisors and managers at all levels before implementing this new approach. 

Remember: performance management needs to be followed by every manager at every level of the organisation. If you’re the most senior leader in your organisation, how you performance manage your direct reports will cascade down the organisation. To ensure you get a great return from introducing this change, the new process needs to start with you.

If you need a little more persuading that continual performance management is for you, research shows that high performing companies are more likely to provide more frequent performance feedback and align their objectives closely with strategy. Making continuous performance appraisal a step closer to even greater business success. 

For pragmatic support revising your performance management process, contact Olga on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk.

What is Onboarding and How Does it Benefit Your Business?

What is Onboarding and How Does it Benefit Your Business?

If your onboarding programme focuses on getting your new team member up and running as quickly as possible, you’re missing a trick. Staff are at their most motivated when starting a new job. An effective onboarding process not only helps to keep this motivation high but maintains and reinforces it. 

The impressions made during the early days with your organisation also have a lasting impact on your new hire’s perception of your employer brand. So setting up a welcoming and effective induction is key to making the most of this time for your new team member and your business. 

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding new employees shouldn’t be treated as a tick box exercise. It’s a valuable opportunity to show new hires that you value and respect them and to help them understand your organisational culture and how your business works. For many people, starting a new job can be a nerve-wracking time, and a simple onboarding plan can make all the difference to easing them into your organisation. 

It’s also a good opportunity to set expectations on both sides: employees need to be clear on what’s expected of them and your managers need to understand what motivates their new employee so they can get the best from them.

Onboarding is also sometimes called ‘induction’ and it refers to orienting an employee with their organisation and socialising them with their new colleagues. Done well, onboarding programmes prevent employees from leaving their role early and helps them to put their best foot forward delivering return on investment more quickly.

Inductions should also extend beyond the first few days or weeks – your onboarding plan should introduce someone new to what they need to do and how they need to do it. And it also provides an opportunity to assess performance and provide feedback using a structured approach. 

Who Needs an Induction Programme?

Every employee, no matter their seniority or hours, needs an induction programme. Certain groups will need different support, for example graduates will need different information than those returning from career breaks or more senior staff. One size won’t fit all so it’s worth creating a range of onboarding programmes that will meet different populations’ needs. 

What Your Onboarding Programme Should Include

Before you create an onboarding plan, it’s a good idea to consider any areas other new hires have found difficult to navigate, like jargon and acronyms. Then change your programme so these issues no longer exist. Here are some ideas about what the core of an onboarding programme could look like:

  • Pre-hire:
    • Share communications and information about events
    • Provide clear instructions for their first day like the person to ask for at reception and start time
  • First day:
    • Warm welcome including a welcome pack
    • Introduction to the team and ways of working
    • Facilities and IT should be ready for the individual to use and payroll already set up
    • Tour round the offices
    • Clear job outline/requirements and how the role supports organisational goals
    • Organisational culture and values
    • Health and safety and compliance training
  • First week:
    • Meeting with senior key employees
    • Product and services overview
    • Current projects, processes and supporting technology and documents
    • Review of total reward and associated policies
    • Review of processes like booking holidays and claiming expenses
    • Detailed expectations for the first month, quarter and (potentially) year
  • First month:
    • Development opportunities and career management
    • Ongoing performance feedback
  • First quarter:
    • Probation discussion to advise on performance and confirm if probation has been passed

To carry out an effective onboarding process, managers should expect to set aside plenty of time to spend with their new team member. You can also buddy your new employee up with another experienced team member to show them the ropes and share the onboarding load.

Why Businesses Should Bother With an Induction 

A well-designed onboarding programme helps employees integrate into their team and, with clarity about their role and how it links to the organisation’s objective, ensures they quickly become productive, working to their highest potential. 

Employee turnover is often best avoided, but this is particularly true within the first 90 days. That’s because your organisation has invested money recruiting and training you new hire and it’s unlikely that they’ll have been able to cover these costs as they won’t have had long enough to deliver meaningful results.

A good onboarding programme helps retain staff which means organisations will:

  • Support employees during this difficult period
  • Save time and money on recruiting a replacement
  • Reduce wasted time for the person giving the induction
  • Boost morale for other staff
  • Mean the unproductive early learning curve of the new hire won’t need to be repeated
  • Boost their employer brand
  • Reduce turnover and absenteeism
  • Increase employee motivation, commitment and job satisfaction

Although it might sound like a lot of effort to create a range of effective induction programmes, retaining new hires will easily offset any cost. According to research from Oxford Economics, hiring a new employee to replace someone who’s left costs on average £30,000. Which makes an investment in your onboarding process money well spent.

For support developing your organisation’s onboarding programme, contact Crosse HR today on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk