We are living in very strange times and it is not the first time I have said that…
Who would ever have thought 3 months ago that we would all be cooped up in our own homes for days at a time, let out for an hour, having to queue for our shopping, fretting about toilet roll and tinned tomatoes, baking banana bread and relying on a thing called Zoom we had barely even heard of? Some days, I feel like we’re trapped in some weird apocalyptic Netflix drama – but maybe that’s just because I’ve spent a while watching that too – Tiger King and White Lines anyone?
Moving Forward – HR in a Post-Lockdown World
However, lockdown didn’t keep us down for long. We adapted surprisingly quickly, kept going and it’s starting to feel like we’re finally coming out on the other side.
That’s the reason for this blog to be honest…
My raison d’etre is to help small businesses navigate the intricacies and plain madness that comes from employing staff, so I decided to make things easier for you all and put together a pack with all the common questions I am being asked by you about the ‘BIG RETURN’ – along with some guidance, information and resources that should help ease your concerns.
The amazing Helen Fleet will also be contributing from a financial standpoint (we are all in this together).
So, you want to open up and start the BIG RETURN, what should you do?
Firstly, you need to think about what your organisation needs to look like; i.e. will it be the same or will you need to pivot and change?
- Do you need to bring people back into the office or keep them working from home for a while or for the foreseeable future?
- Have you furloughed staff you need to bring back or are you keeping them on furlough or a bit of both?
- Will some staff be returning at all?
Bringing People Back
What should you be considering before you bring people back? Making these considerations is a great place to start…
1. The big first tranche of returnees will occur in July where the furlough rules are changing to allow employees to be furloughed on a part-time basis. If you need to take employees off furlough, it is advisable to write to them to have it confirmed. In our COVID support kit, we’ve crafted a brief returning from furlough letter template to make this an easy task.
2. You need to do a Risk Assessment for each returning employee. Unfortunately, the only COVID specific risk assessment I could find is from the Northern Ireland HSE but its great and I highly recommend you use this as a basis for your risk assessments. You can view it within the risk assessment pack of our toolkit here.
3. You need to get your offices ready so that the appropriate level of social distancing can occur. It’s also a good idea to deep clean the office if you can and provide plenty of hand sanitiser, soap and notices from the HSE around hygiene and safe practice. Encouraging good hygiene practice will help to keep to kill the virus.
4. You also need to think about your employees’ journeys to work. Does this put them at risk?
5. It may be worth considering staggering and extending hours, and whether working more flexibly could help your business get back quicker. Check out our Flexible Working Policy within our pack for more information on this.
6. Do you even want your employees in the office at all – or would you prefer they worked from home? If so, we’ve also created a Working from Home Policy to help you formalise and control this agreement.
7. You may want to restructure.
8. You may need to consider redundancies.
These are just some of the considerations you may want to make before rushing back to work.
When They Return
Mental health, divorce, feelings of anxiety and displacement, pure joy and relief – these are just some of the things you must prepare to face on your return.
But don’t worry, CrosseHR are here to help and we have you covered. Our comprehensive Return to Work Toolkit has been drawn up by experts and our team. It’s designed to help provide you with everything you need to get started, including:
- Information on Ending Furlough
- Return to Work Letter Template
- Information for Directors
- Health and Wellbeing Policy
- Sickness and Isolation Support
- Health and Safety Guidance
- Changing Terms and Conditions
- Childcare and Returning to Work
- Maternity Issues
- Conducting Return to Work Interviews
- Flexible Working Policy
- Flexible Working Request Form
- Flexible Working Methods
- Homeworking Policy
- Stress Awareness Template
- Supporting Employees – Debt
- Energise – Tackle Business Finances with Helen Fleet
- Supporting Employees – Divorce
So feel free to download it, it’s on us! And, if you want to chat further, we are always delighted to help.
Olga Crosse, on behalf of the team at Crosse HR.
April marks that time of year when you can expect a whole new raft of employment changes. And 2020 is no exception with the government’s Good Work Plan. This article explains what the Good Work Plan is, why it’s happening now, the employment law changes it’s introducing and what you need to know and do as an employer.
What Is the Good Work Plan?
Remember the Taylor review? That was the 2018 government-issued independent review of modern working practices carried out by Matthew Taylor. The Good Work Plan report has been written in response building on some of the recommendations made to tackle new and emerging issues in the modern workplace. And it’s also the vehicle intended to capture the prime minister’s commitment not to maintain and enhance workers’ rights following the UK’s departure from the EU.
The Good Work Plan sets out how the government intends to do this with a clear vision for the future of the UK labour market as one that: “rewards people for hard work, that celebrates good employers and that is ambitious about boosting productivity and earnings potential in the UK.”
What Does the Good Work Plan Aim to Deliver?
The plan commits to a range of policy and legislative changes to ensure the following key deliverables:
- workers can access fair and decent work
- both employers and workers are clear about their employment relationships
- companies and individuals continue to benefit from the rise in more flexible and varied ways of working without the erosion of key worker protections
- the enforcement system is fair and fit for purpose
Based on the idea that all workers deserve quality work, the Good Work Plan aims to build on five foundational qualities that constitute good work. These are: satisfaction, fair pay, participation and progression, well-being, safety and security and voice and autonomy. You’ll find these themes reflected in the changes that come into effect in April 2020.
The Changes You’ll Need to Make
There’s quite a lot to do before 6th April 2020. From adapting when you issue contracts to how employees request more stable working hours and a whole lot more. It’s all outlined below.
Issuing Contracts of Employment
From the 6th April 2020 you’ll have to issue a contract of employment on the employee’s first day of work at the latest. Both employees and workers will also need to be provided with a written statement outlining their terms of engagement.
Working Hour Requests
The government recognises that flexibility works for many businesses and their employees and does not want to stifle this. However, some employers have used the rise of flexible working arrangements to offload business risk onto their employees through zero hours’ contracts. And other organisations have expected significant flexibility from workers while offering little in return.
To counteract these issues it will be a legal requirement for businesses to empower all workers to be able to request a more predictable and stable working contract after 26 weeks of service. This could mean requesting greater certainty around the days the individual works or the number of hours. Employers have three months to respond to any request.
Continuous Service Shortens
In the current system, employment rights are accrued over time. People who work intermittently for the same employer can find it difficult to gain or access some of these rights due to difficulty building up continuous service.
A one-week break in service allows employers to start an employee’s continuous service record from zero so employees end up back at square one without any employment rights, even if they’ve worked for the same employer on and off for years.
You’ll only be able to declare a break in service after an employee has not worked for you for four weeks or more. This is intended to make it easier for employees to accrue rights.
Holiday Pay Calculations Are Changing – Again
All employees are entitled to paid time off as a basic protection. However, some individuals and employers are unaware of holiday pay entitlements, highlighting a need for more and better information. There’s also evidence that some individuals have been prevented from taking their leave and that seasonal workers have been impacted by the 12 week reference period used to calculate holiday pay.
To counteract these issues the government is providing:
- an awareness campaign for workers and employers
- new guidance to help businesses comply with the law
- an updated and improved holiday pay calculator
When calculating holiday pay, you’ll need to expand the timeframe used from 12 to 52 weeks.
Hospitality Staff Must be Allowed to Keep Their Tips
Although most businesses act in good faith and pass tips on to workers a small number of employers do not. Legislation will ban businesses from retaining tips resulting in a fairer deal for workers and a level playing field for employers.
Recruitment Agencies Cannot Use Pay Between Assignments
Agency workers used to be able to give up their right to equal pay (in comparison to permanent staff doing the same or like work) in return for a contract guaranteeing pay between assignments.
Investigations revealed this was not happening for some agency workers who were on long assignments. This effectively removed their right to equal pay without the benefit of between-contract pay as there was no between-contract period.
You can no longer use this type of contract to guarantee equal wages with comparable permanent workers for all long-term agency workers.
More Consultation Rights For Employees
Employees are already entitled to be consulted on major workforce reforms like restructuring. However, to set up information and consultation arrangements in a business, 10% of employees must support the idea. This is dropping to just 2% with a minimum threshold of 15 employees in agreement.
To enforce all these legislative changes, the government is bolstering the penalties businesses will receive if they flout the law. Instead of a maximum of £5,000 for an aggravated breach, this figure will rise to a maximum of £20,000. And where employment rights are repeatedly ignored by the same employer, tougher penalties will ensue.
This makes it vitally important that you make the relevant changes to your HR policies, processes and paperwork before 6th April 2020.
Get an experienced helping hand with all this change. Contact Crosse HR on 0330 555 1139 or at email@example.com to ensure you’re compliant.
Employee contract: One of the most popular questions I get asked (about 3 times a week) is do I have to issue a contract of employment?
Well that’s an easy one to answer, that answer is you do have to issue a ‘Statement of Particulars’ within 2 months of someone starting employment with you. That usually takes the form of an employee contract to us lay-folk. It doesn’t have to be in writing but everything is better written down and signed by both parties – trust me. But all that is changing in April 2020 when the Government’s ‘Good Work Plan’ comes into effect and from then on you will have to give all employees a contract on their first day of work.
Surely it’s better for me if I don’t issue one?
The answer is NO it is not better at all. It’s breaking the law for a start and that’s never good is it? At the moment you have 2 months to do it but from next year you don’t so get into good habits now and start issuing them as soon as.
What then should be in an employee contract I hear you ask?
Here is the minimum list, as set out by those wise folks at ACAS
The employee contract can be made up of more than one document (if the employer gives employees different sections of their statement at different times). If this does happen, one of the documents (called the ‘principal statement’) must include at least:
- the business’s name
- the employee’s name, job title or a description of work and start date
- if a previous job counts towards a period of continuous employment, the date the period started
- how much and how often an employee will get paid
- hours of work (and if employees will have to work Sundays, nights or overtime
- holiday entitlement (and if that includes public holidays)
- where an employee will be working and whether they might have to relocate
- if an employee works in different places, where these will be and what the employer’s address is
As well as the principal statement, a written statement must also contain information about:
- how long a temporary job is expected to last
- the end date of a fixed-term contract
- notice periods
- collective agreements
- who to go to with a grievance
- how to complain about how a grievance is handled
- how to complain about a disciplinary or dismissal decision
The written statement doesn’t need to cover the following (but it must say where the information can be found) – I usually put these in an appendix at the back:
- sick pay and procedures
- disciplinary and dismissal procedures
- grievance procedures
Fear not, we here at CrosseHR can draft contract for you that is easy, suits your business, legally compliant and keeps everyone happy.
Next month it’s time to think about holidays, which coincidentally is the theme of my next blog.
Yippee, you are doing well, it’s time to stop using family and friends and calling in favours and take that very grown up step of hiring your very first staff member.
Firstly, well done, that’s quite an achievement, feel very very proud.
Secondly, you are petrified right, well this blog post will hopefully calm things down. Now down to business.
The job description & person specification
- Think about what you want them to do, and write that down, forget job titles at this stage, just think job content.
- Think about what kind of person in terms of attributes, experience and qualifications (and be reasonable, I’ve come across 2 man bands operating from their front rooms wanting Oxbridge graduates, to do admin)
- Research similar roles and no harm in having a nosey at what your competitors are doing (if it ain’t broke etc), this gives you some pointers to setting a salary
- Once you have an idea of the salaries the competition are paying, you need to figure out if you can afford it, always remember you need to add another 30% plus in on costs to cover Employers NI (12% of total salary), pension (more of which later), their work environment, other benefits etc
- You are now ready to draw up a job description (which describes the role) and a person specification (which describes the attributes at a minimum a person must have to be suitable).
- Decide where you are going to find them, i.e. LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, websites, agencies, print media
- Draft an ad for the job
- Its always worth thinking about at this stage where you are actually going to put them, do you need to buy a desk, hire office space even, computers cost how much?
They’ve started to apply. Wow another milestone passed, people are interested and want to work for you, nervous yet?
- Work out in advance of the interview what you want to learn from them
- Do you just want to have a one on one interview and deal with it all in one go
- Do you want a demonstration of their work presentation style
- Do you want someone else’s opinion
- Prepare well in advance, draft questions, give enough time per person (there is nothing worse that candidates bumping into one another in the corridor or reception.
- You’ve decided you’ve found the one!
- You need out of politeness to let the others down gently, you never know when you’ll bump into them again, so be nice.
You found your first staff member
(now the real fun starts)
- You need to offer them the job (provisionally usually), apply for references, make sure you have employers liability insurance (up to 5 million at least). Look at the partnership tab on this website which will help you.
- Give them written particulars which at a minimum should contain salary, pension arrangements, start and finish (where applicable), place of work, date of pay, where they are based, disciplinary and grievance processes, termination and leaving, probation, any benefits, confidentiality etc. If you don’t do this within 28 days of them starting well you have been told!
- Why not think about including a staff handbook (give us a call) and HR policies & procedures (again you know where we are) and you are covered.
- So references, qualifications all check out, terms are agreed and a start date sorted
Before they start
You need to think about a probation period, how you are going to pay them (we can point you to some brilliant payroll providers and accountants), what sort of induction (please have one) process you are going to have.
You are pretty much now ready to welcome your first employee. Good luck and well done, the second time is always easier.
You are on your way. Contact us if you need help with HR support or your first staff member in the future.
Tis the season where some of you will be thinking about hiring additional staff to cope with the Christmas demand with the key word being flexibility. These are the types of contracts you may wish to consider: –
Its exactly that, its exactly the same as a permanent contract along all the benefits and entitlements that come with it, including holiday and benefits, except this contract has a specific end date. This might not be the best fit for an organisation who needs staff for just the Christmas period, but its certainly worth considering.
You have the work, you offer the work to a person and they have the option to either take it or leave it. They get paid for the work they do for you. The obligations stop when they finish work that day/evening. Its usually used to cope with spikes in business such as Christmas. The downside here is the person is under no obligation to accept the work, and with the demand for staff over Christmas, it might leave you in a difficult position, as others will also be offering work.
Much maligned and talked about usually not in a good way, but they have their benefits. Similar is a way to casual contracts with one key difference, the contract is ongoing and does not stop when the person leaves their work or shifts despite them only getting paid for the work they do. Since the brouhaha during the summer concerning zero hours contracts, changes are afoot particularly in relation to exclusivity clauses. As an employer you need to determine how you deal with someone on such a contract who turns work down. Zero hours are really useful in my opinion for the Christmas period, as the employer has the security of knowing they have a ready bank of staff to call on.
These are employed usually through an agency, sometimes directly and are paid hourly. If they come through an agency, they are the responsibility of the agency legally. The agency then charges the employer a fixed hourly fee which includes the temps wages, holiday pay and entitlements together with the agency mark up fee. Temps are only paid by the agency for the hours worked and upon receipt of a signed timesheet. Very common and very useful for peaks in demand with all of the administrative burden placed on the agency.
Self employed – for services
These types of arrangements are very common in the courier industry (think Yodel), where to cope with peaks in demand self employed couriers and van drivers are hired on a self employed basis. The employer has no legal obligation towards them in terms of employment law as they have no employee status. They are usually paid upon receipt of an invoice.
Other options to think about
- Offering overtime to existing permanent members of staff whether full time or part time
- Offer flexitime which allows employees to ‘bank’ extra hours and take the accrued days at a later date.
- Offer time off in lieu over an above hours worked at a later date
You will need to ensure you comply with employment legislation when taking on any staff for any length of time regardless of the status of their employment. Thats why its essential to get a written agreement in place which Crosse HR can help you with.