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EU Settle Status

EU Settle Status

Settle Status: EU Workforce

 

Do you have employees from the EU working within your business? Changes to the law may mean that they have to reapply to secure their residency status with the new EU Settle Status.

To make this transition period easier, we’ll be stepping you through what you need to know as an employer to support the welfare of these employees in such indefinite times.

What is the EU Settle Status?

 

On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union. Although no official deal has been agreed upon yet, changes have started to slowly filter through – one of the largest being ‘Settled Status’.

But what is settled status and why does it matter?

Settled status is the term for being a resident in the UK without any immigration restrictions on the length of your stay. There are two types of status in the EU Settlement Scheme:

  • Settled status
  • Pre-settled status

Settled Status:

 

EU citizens who are granted settled status are permitted to stay in the UK as long as they choose; they can also apply for a British citizenship if they are eligible.

 

Pre-settled Status:

 

Pre-settled status – which is usually granted to those who have not lived in the UK for five continuous years – allows inhabitants to stay in the UK for a further five years from the date they are granted pre-settled status. After this period, individuals can reapply for full settled status.

 

Important Notes:

 

The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.

It is free to apply to the scheme through the government website.

Before beginning the application process for settlement status, applicants should have ready proof of identity and residency. It may also be worth double-checking that applicants have not already received pre-agreed settle status here.

 

What does this mean for employees?

 

Citizens of the EU, EEA or Switzerland can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. Without confirmed settlement status, these citizens will not have the assumed right to:

  • Work in the UK
  • Use the NHS for free
  • Enrol in education (or continue studying)
  • Access public funds, such as benefits (if eligible)
  • Enter the UK without a visa

Employees that do not have settled status face the potential risk of having paperwork refused, being unable to work legally in the UK and even deportation – uprooting their family, career and life.

Therefore, it is important to support your EU workforce through their application to ensure there is no disruption to their legal right to work or live in the UK after this deadline.

 

How can employers help?

Importance of application:

 

As employers, there is no legal requirement to inform your workforce of the impending deadline but it’s a good idea to ensure there are no legal hiccups (and it also feels like the right thing to do).

Employers do not require proof that employees have applied but getting status through the scheme will protect their future rights, so it is very important that they apply if you want them to continue working for you.

 

Encouraging application:

 

There are a few practical steps you can take to encourage your employees to apply.

Why not start by sending a letter to all your EU employees? It doesn’t have to take much time with letter templates already drafted up and ready to go. You can also ensure visual cues help prompt their minds by displaying informative posters.

Remember: although you can encourage people to apply, as an employer, you cannot ask them whether they have or about the outcome.

 

Supporting the process itself:

 

The process itself was designed to be as seamless as possible. However, with the added complication of coronavirus, a few spanners have been thrown in the works.

Due to many businesses being shut for a number of months and international travel complications, employees may have struggled to renew expiring passports. Therefore, workers may require flexible hours or additional holiday days to address this before their application.

Further, it may be useful to make your facilities available for support. For example, at this time, many printing shops and internet cafes are shut due to the pandemic. Therefore, pre-granting access for your employees to use your scanner, printer or work phone for their application may aid their progress.

Finally, although it is not standard procedure, if the employee requires any documentation to support their application then provide this in a timely manner; holding this process up will cause additional stress for the employee, distracting them from their work and prolonging indecision.

 

Managing stress:

 

The uncertainty formed in the last few months has had an impact on everyone. However, we must consider those who experience further doubt about their rights within the country compassionately.

Managing stress and keeping a close eye on employees is essential at all times. Look out for key indicators of deteriorating wellbeing, such as:

  • Reduced engagement
  • Missed deadlines
  • Lower morale
  • Increased tiredness

If you notice a significant shift in their wellbeing, it may be time to check in; look out for tell-tale signs of poor employee mental health and be ready to act.

Where possible, refer employees for additional support and be compassionate towards their situation. It may be worth considering ways you can support employees with stress outside of work with flexible working, duvet days or even a shift in the workplace culture.

The charity MIND has some great, free resources to help individuals manage stress – at work and home. Could sharing some of their best resources equip your taskforce with more resilience?

 

What next?

 

Considering your current employees is a great first step, but what about future employees?

Recruitment Process:

 

If you are planning on recruiting before the settlement deadline, it’s important that you don’t sit on your hands.

Speeding up your recruitment process will allow your business to:

  • Beat the deadline;
  • Widen your search for talent;
  • Allow the successful candidate (if from the EU) to apply for settlement status in time.

Discrimination

 

As an employer, you have a duty “not to discriminate against EU citizens in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU as both a prospective and current employer”.

That means that you cannot make an offer of employment, or continued employment, dependent on an individual having made an application. However, consideration should not stop here; ensure you address workplace discrimination at all levels for a safe working environment for all.

Consider:

  • Checking your processes and procedures for bias
  • Educating employees on how to report discrimination
  • Including EU citizens in your diversity reports
  • Reminding employees of the fine line between ‘banter’ and discriminatory harassment
  • Ensuring you have the processes in place to address hostility appropriately

Right to work checks:

 

It has been confirmed that there will be no change to right to work checks until 1 January 2021. That means that job applicants can continue to prove their right to work using any of the following:

  • their valid passport or national identity card if they’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
  • their valid biometric residence card if they’re a non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizen family member
  • their status under the EU Settlement Scheme using the Home Office’s online right to work checking service.

You will not be required to undertake retrospective checks on existing EU employees. Therefore, changes will only apply to applications in the new year.

For more information, read the official right to work checklist here.

 

More help

 

For official support on how employers should support the EU Settle Status scheme, GOV have created an ‘employer toolkit’ here.

However, if you require expert HR support and consultancy, please get in touch.

 

 

Connection That Transcends Distance

Connection That Transcends Distance

More than a band-aid

Six months ago, businesses were forced to migrate to a new way of working almost overnight as we were urged to stay home to contain the virus. Although many businesses adapted well and remote working became commonplace, the process was rushed – driven by panic and spurred by the need to survive.

These fixes were never built to last.

As we look forward, it seems that remote working is here to stay – with many businesses challenging more traditional setups and looking to ditch or reduce their office overheads. But to be successful long-term, more structure and investment is required – particularly in the effort required to maintain a positive employee connection that transcends distance.

So, how can you keep your team engagement and morale high when working conditions are somewhat different to what you’ve been used to? We discuss this and more, with example to the drawbacks and how to address these going forward.

 

Leading from the front

Winckworth Sherwood found that 78% of employers are planning on “long-term operational changes” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 9% considering closing their offices completely
  • 26% considering reducing their office space
  • 47% increasing flexibility around working from home
  • 38% increasing flexibility around set working hours

With huge businesses such as BT and Twitter making the offer to employees to permanently choose how they work it feels like we’re on the precipice of a huge cultural shift.

But, with change comes new challenges. What are the issues associated with managing people from afar and how can you look after your staff when you can’t see them? Let’s take a look.

 

Overcoming barriers to remote working

On the surface, remote working sounds great. It can help employers lure in exceptional talent, reduce office costs, chat and distractions and your employees will relish in their newfound sense of freedom – working how and when they work best.

So, what’s with all the reluctancy and why are some so keen to get back to the office?

Whilst working from home is popular right now, there must be some consideration into the long-term consequences that will begin to appear in the not so distant future.

At this time of great upheaval, we’re going to steer you through some of the HR issues that arise when working from home – with some thought-provoking insight and direction on how to mitigate any hurdles. So, let’s dive in.

 

Negative impacts on employee wellbeing

It is reported that 62% of employees would be “happy” if their offices closed and working from home became a permanent setup. But that leaves a good proportion of the workforce unhappy with this situation.

There are many reasons this may be, as the office can provide benefits for employees including:

  • Social interaction
  • Support – personally and professionally
  • Routine and a change of scenery
  • A place to focus without distractions, such as childcare
  • Relief from home pressures, such as strained relationships

So, without the face-to-face interaction you’re used to, how can you look after employees? Be sure to look a little closer for the signs of someone struggling, including reduced engagement or participation, missed deadlines or overdoing their hours. These may be an indication that an employee’s mental health is declining.

To combat this, consider:

  • Regular team meetings at a coffee shop or co-working space (when safe to do so)
  • Making support digital, such as posting self-help and advice on the intranet
  • Setting up support groups, buddy systems and social nights
  • Encouraging employees to log their hours
  • Reminding employees of their line manager

 

Playing fair

There is some stipulation that the increase in remote working will lead to a more unjust workplace. So how can you play fair in an increasingly competitive environment?

Say there’s a big promotion coming up. Who will be seen more favourably for the leg up: an employee who is frequently present and visible within the office or a team member that may be less well-known working from home?

There’s a great possibility that a two-tier workforce will soon be established – dividing those that come into work and those that don’t. And, with childcare being a key draw for remote working, women are likely to be most affected by this, causing the gender pay gap to be even further widened.

Other concerns include wages being driven down – due to reduced travel expenses, outsourcing and increased competition. Although it’s understandable for businesses to try and reduce costs, this will further suppress our economy and lead your customers to also look for the cheapest option.

Therefore, is leaning towards this remote workforce just a way of shooting ourselves in the foot? Honestly, we can’t tell you how to run your business. However, to stay mindful, take five to contemplate the following…

Consider:

  • Creating a fair criterion for the recruitment process
  • Annually publishing your gender pay report
  • Actively planning to reduce any variance found [see above]
  • Mapping your pay against GDP and inflation

 

Effective work

A huge 46% of HR decision makers are concerned that employees won’t be able to carry out their jobs effectively at home. However, almost half this number of employees have the same concern. So why is this?

A great way to measure whether employees can work effectively at home is to determine what ‘effective’ means to you; take some time to document what a ‘good’ job done looks like.

Consider:

  • Outcome-based measurement
  • Clear communication
  • Realistic deadlines
  • Regular reviews

By measuring outcomes, rather than hours spent in the office, you can then begin to measure whether an employee is effectively working at home or not. Be sure to provide clarity on objectives, detail what is expected from employees and what they need to achieve and by when.

If you have not done the role yourself, you may find it useful to have a discussion with employees to discuss what is reasonable within their time constraints. After all, overly ambitious targets often turn employees off and lead to a decline in motivation, job satisfaction and mental health.

 

Lack of control (trust)

By having employees under their roof, many employers feel as if they can control their employees better. At the end of the day, the issue is: do you trust your employees?

Failure to trust your employees can lead to wasted time on micromanagement, a reluctancy to take ownership of responsibilities and a reduction in engagement and job satisfaction – with employees viewing ‘spying’ negatively. Trust them too much and you risk them feeling lost or taking advantage.

Therefore, it may reassure you to learn that only 12% of employees struggle to motivate themselves. In fact, employees that work from home tend to work harder due to concerns that it will be perceived negatively or that their privileges will be revoked.

To combat this, consider:

  • Learning what makes employees tick and ensuring they feel supported
  • Checking in regularly to monitor and ensure progress
  • Clearly communicating expectations
  • Set meetings and PDRs to review progress and rectify any issues.

 

Monitoring

We anticipate that AI and monitoring will be stepped up in the months to come. In fact, it’s already happening before our very eyes!

Employees can no longer log in early, collect the kids from school and pretend they were working all along. Technology can now determine when you touch your keypad and will alert your manager if you haven’t been active.

Your emails may be monitored too – determining your intentions and engagement by unpicking what and how you word your emails.

So, with monitoring expected to greatly increase, how can we avoid upsetting employees?

To avoid upset, consider:

  • Being transparent about how technologies works
  • Explaining why it has been put in place
  • Outlining how technology will be used (eg, in PDRs)
  • Addressing any concerns that employees may have.

Remember: any worker that has been with you for at least 26 weeks automatically gains the right to apply for flexible working. If you deem it appropriate to grant requests and feel this will not impact the individual’s ability to perform, this may provide a more open solution that will stop employees feeling the need to deceive their employer.

 

Need more help?

If you are considering whether a return to the office is essential, safe and mutually agreed, check out the CIPD’s useful resource here. It helps point you towards some useful resources and raises some poignant questions.

If you need some support adjusting to remote working and require some assistance motivating and engaging your employees, get in touch with Crosse HR.

Our experts offer shrewd HR solutions that won’t break the bank. Discover more today.

 

 

It’s All Change

It’s All Change

It can be hard to keep on top of the latest advice and regulations at the best of times when you’re spread thin and busy with deadlines – let alone in the middle of a global pandemic. 

Understandably, many of our clients feel overwhelmed by all the information out there. Especially with so many opinion pieces and inaccurate assumptions, it can be hard to know what to trust. 

To help you cut through all of this noise, we’ve collated some useful resources to help address your most pressing concerns. 

This article outlines some of the key changes that you should be aware of and points you in the right direction for more information and support should you need it. 

We hope it helps in this stressful time. 

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 

It is well reported that HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers’ wage costs up to a cap of £2,500pm. This is part of their plan to support businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Who counts as a furloughed worker? 

A furloughed worker is someone who is still employed but not working, perhaps due to a lack of work. The purpose of this scheme is to help businesses to continue paying employees that would have otherwise been laid off by putting them on temporary leave. 

Furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract, including: 

  • Full-time employees 
  • Part-time employees 
  • Employees on agency contracts 
  • Employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts 

 If you have made employees redundant since 28 February 2020, you can rehire and cover these employees under the scheme too. 

What will it cost the employer? 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020. In addition to the 80% grant covered by the government, businesses must also pay:  

  • Employer National Insurance contribution 
  • Minimum enrolment employer pension contribution 

Where a company is being taken under the management of an administrator, the administrator will be able to access the Job Retention Scheme. 

Useful Resources 

A breakdown of the government support available for businesses 

How to access the scheme 

 

Claiming Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) 

If you’re self-isolating because of COVID-19, you are entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) of £94.25 per week. 

When can I claim SSP? 

New legislation has been brought forward to give you access to SSP from the first day you’re self-isolating and cannot work. This new legislation came into action on 13.03.20 and overrides the previous 4-day caveat. 

Useful Resources 

How to report and manage sickness in 10 easy steps 

When should I self-isolate? 

How to claim SSP 

 

Changes to IR35 

In light of the coronavirus creating business uncertainty and high levels of stress, the Treasury confirmed that they would postpone IR35 for another year. 

This means that businesses now have until April 2021 to address the reforms necessary. These changes will drive major change in the contracting industry. 

What is IR35? 

IR35 is designed to combat tax avoidance by “disguised employees”. Under new rules, every medium and large private sector business in the UK will become liable for setting the tax status of any employee that they hire – including contract and temporary workers. 

The new rules will apply to businesses with either: 

  • 50+ employees 
  • An annual turnover of over £10.2 million 

With many companies already reviewing their policies and contracts in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, now is a great time to address IR35 so that you’re prepared when the changes come in next April. 

Useful Resources 

What are the changes that IR35 will make? 

Understanding off-payroll working (IR35) 

 

The Good Work Plan 

As of April 2020, The Good Work Plan comes into place. This is a plan that sets out the government’s vision for the future of the UK labour market. It seeks to “reward people for hard work” in a bid to boost productivity and earnings in the UK. 

The new plan details how to address issues in our labour market, such as: 

  • The implications of new forms of work 
  • The rise of digital platforms
  • Impacts of new working models 


The Good Work Plan also draws on recommendations about:

  • Employment status 
  • Agency workers 
  • Increasing transparency in the labour market 
  • The enforcement of employment rights 

Useful Resources 

What changes you should expect to see from The Good Work Plan 

Policy Paper – Good Work Plan 

 

Deferring VAT and Income Tax Payments 

The government have announced that they will support businesses by deferring tax payments, as outlined below. 

Deferred Deadlines: 

  • If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. 
  • For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. 

All UK businesses and self-employed individuals are eligible. There is no application required. 

Useful Resources 

Relieve temporary financial distress with HMRC Time to Pay Offer 

A breakdown of the government support available for businesses 

 

Supporting your employees’ financial wellbeing 

Typically, your employee’s largest financial outgoing will be their monthly mortgage payment.  

Taking a break from their mortgage – with a mortgage holiday of up to three months – can act as welcome financial relief. In this unsettling time, if you are having to cut or reduce hours, it may be worth providing some resources for your employees to access this aid. 

Am I Eligible? 

Whether you are eligible to take a payment holiday, for how long, and the conditions you must meet dependon: 

  • Your lender 
  • Your mortgage contract 
  • Your financial circumstance 

It is best to advice that your employee contacts their bank directly to discuss a mortgage payment holiday. However, please do make them aware that this will make their payments go up afterwards. 

What About Those Who Rent? 

The government has announced a package of measures to protect renters that may be affected by Coronavirus and a subsequent loss of earnings. The emergency legislation means: 

  • You cannot be evicted from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place 
  • Landlords can take out a mortgage holiday on their Buy to Let mortgage 

Useful Resources 

Pros and Cons of a Mortgage Holiday 

Mortgages and Coronavirus: Information for Consumers by FCA 

Government Press Release – Protection for Renters 

 

General Advice: 

 

Government Advice 

If you are still unsure about how you should be responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, please refer to GOV.UK platform here. It is frequently updated with the latest information and advice. 

For further guidance for employees, employers and businesses, please visit the government website here. 

 

Mental Health 

It is well recognised that isolation and the stress of the outbreak may be triggering for many, leading to a decline in mental health. 

In order to help you address this, we’ve attached some useful resources that help you become aware of your own mental state and some handy tips that may help you look after yourself during this difficult time. 

Discover how you should be looking after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak here. 

The mental health charity, MIND, have also released some support and resources to help you during this time. You can access this here. 

 

Working from Home 

If you’ve recently transitioned from office to homethe resources below may help you settle into your new work environment more seamlessly! 

Tips for creating a positive environment to work from are available here.  

Top tips for working from home are also available here. 

We also appreciate that it is especially hard for those who are working from home whilst simultaneously juggling homeschooling. If you’re looking for some advice about working from home with children, you can find some tips here.

 

What Next? 

If you have any concerns or questions about the latest changes in legislation or how they may affect you, please do not hesitate to contact us online or email hello@crossehr.co.uk and we will try our best to point you in the right direction. 

 

 

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.

[PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR LATEST UPDATE]

Since recording this webinar, a lot has changed. It seems that every day new data comes to light, so we just wanted to drop in a little more information to support you with the HR implications of COVID-19.

Since the government briefing on 10.05.20, lockdown restrictions are beginning to lift for certain businesses – but this doesn’t mean you should be too hasty in heading back to work. Let’s take a little look at why…

Health and Safety:

It is important at this point to remind you that it is your moral responsibility to protect the health and safety of your colleagues. Before rushing back to work, ensure you address some primary concerns, including:

  • Social Distancing
  • Commuting
  • Staggering Shifts
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Cleaning, including providing ample hand-washing facilities
  • Mental Health

Before inviting your employees back into the workplace, ensure you follow the guidance of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). As well as directing you towards some useful resources, including industry-specific support for certain work settings, they are regularly updating their website with guidance to help your safe transition back to work.

Talking to Your Employees:

In this stressful time, we must not neglect our duty to check in on our employees.

This high-stress environment is unsettling for everyone, especially those with vulnerable or shielded loved ones. Ensure you communicate with empathy as you seek to return to normal and make reasonable adjustments where possible.

Return to Work Interviews

If you have had members of staff on furlough for a number of months, it may also be worth considering whether a return to work interview would be of use. This short, informal meeting may help you address your workforce’s concerns and facilitate a successful transition back to the office. If you need a little guidance, why not lean on our slick and consistent process here?

Involving Employees in the Process:

By consulting and involving your employees in the steps you are taking to manage the risk of coronavirus in your workplace you can:

  • Explain the changes
  • Illustrate the safety practices in place
  • Make sure changes will work – their operational input may be vital
  • Hear their ideas and address their concerns
  • Continue to operate your business safely during the outbreak

It is also recommended that you share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. Where possible, publish the results on your website (note: the government expects all employers with over 50 workers to do so).

If you are unsure where to start with this, HSENI has released an example COVID-19 risk assessment to help you on your way. You can download via their website.

Need some advice?

If you have any questions about the HR implications of COVID-19 or you’d like to discuss how to run return to work interviews, please do get in contact. We hope this has been of use during this stressful time.

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. 

 

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.

Flexible Benefits – What They Are and How to Use Them 

Flexible Benefits – What They Are and How to Use Them 

Over the past few decades, lifestyles have become more flexible and people are able to differentiate in their choices about practically everything. This isn’t just a consumer trend: businesses have also become wise to the fact that their employees all have different needs that need to be catered for through flexible benefits.

This has resulted in organisations taking a more individualistic approach to benefit provision.  

In this blog, we explore what flexible benefits are, why they’re a popular choice and how your business can implement and get the most from them. 

What Are Flexible Benefits? 

All organisations provide employee benefits which are usually determined by grade. In most instances, the more senior the role, the more valuable the benefits package. Depending on seniority, core employee benefit packages, where the benefits are paid for by the employer, typically include items like: 

  • company car 
  • holidays 
  • private medical insurance 
  • critical illness cover 
  • long-term health cover 
  • health checks 

In addition, employers also often voluntary benefits like think discounted gym memberships, dental insurance and household or holiday insurance. Employees can choose to take up these products voluntarily, paying for the benefits themselves, usually out of their pay. 

This approach is fine if the core benefits on offer meet every employee’s needs. But what if your employer provides a company car but you don’t drive? Or you’re already covered on your partner’s private medical insurance so you don’t gain any advantage from this benefit? Or you don’t have any dependents but your employer insists on providing life cover any way? 

When benefits aren’t suitable for employees, companies are paying for benefits that aren’t used or they’re providing an unappetising benefit offering to their staff that fails to engage.   

Flexible benefit programmes provide a solution to this problem. Instead of offering standard benefit packages in the usual way, flexible benefit packages enable employees to vary their pay and benefits to meet their personal requirements.  

In most schemes, staff can retain their existing salary while selecting the right mix of benefits for them. Or they can adjust their salary up or down by taking fewer or more benefits.  

Let’s look at some examples to explore how this works: 

  • A single employee rejects the family private medical insurance cover they’re entitled to due to their grade and opts for single cover only – they receive the cost difference in cash 
  • Someone who doesn’t take all their holidays each year chooses to sell five days holiday and uses the saving to take up family private medical cover with the rest taken as cash 
  • An individual who doesn’t drive forgoes the company car benefit and takes the cash instead – they use it to buy more holiday and take up dental insurance and gym membership  

These are just a few examples of the sorts of flexibility flexible benefit schemes can offer. However, not all programmes will be this flexible; some employers decide that their staff must take a certain level of benefits (usually items like life cover or other insurances) as a minimum. And there are other considerations, like minimum pension auto-enrolment contributions, that need to be worked into the scheme. 

How Many Companies Use Flexible Schemes? 

According to Aon, just 12% of employers operate flexible benefit schemes. Which is surprising given research from Willis Towers Watson which shows that: 

  • 66% of employees who are offered choice in their benefits report their benefits meet their needs 
  • 30% of employees who are not offered choice in their benefits report their benefits meet their needs

However, the answer could lie in the perceived challenges associated with setting up and running a flexible benefit scheme.  

What to Consider When Setting Up a Flexible Benefits Programme 

There’s a lot to think about if you want to set up a flexible benefits scheme in your organisation: 

  • Online or paper – this might work for smaller businesses or those where staff don’t have access to computers. Otherwise online options, although more expensive, tend to offer ease of use and greater flexibility. 
  • Choosing benefit options – it’s easiest to transition your existing benefits to a flex scheme before expanding the options available. You’ll need to decide which benefits must be selected or whether you want to allow a more flexible approach. 
  • Keeping schemes up to date – every change in your benefits, tax and legislation must be reflected in your scheme which involves additional work in terms of configuring scheme rules, calculations and systems (if online). 

Although each of these sounds fairly straight forward, flexible benefit schemes can quickly become complex and require technical decision making which requires HR specialist knowledge.  

However, the pay off could well be worth the effort as flexible benefits help organisations stand out in the recruitment marketplace. And they can also be a powerful tool for retention as your benefit package will meet the needs of every segment of your workforce, regardless of life stage.  

There’s a lot to think about if you want to set up a successful flexible benefits scheme, so consider working with a seasoned HR consultant to ensure you deliver legally and secure a great return on your investment. 

For flexible support with all your HR projects, get in touch with Crosse HR on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk.