Employee attendance over the Winter season

Winter time is upon us once again, harsh winds, ice, cold weather and the possibility of snow. Last year we saw heavy snowfall and the country come to a halt, the chances of that happening again this winter are increasing daily. So make sure your employee handbooks have the correct policies in place to cope with employees not attending work because of these harsh conditions and notifying you accordingly

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How social media can have a negative effect on business

Social Media, a rapid new tool which can be used in many different ways. Social networking has become another mean of how people choose to communicate and share information about their personal lives. Using social media in the correct way, such as for marketing purposes can have huge advantages for business owners and has proved to be a very effective tool.

Social networking when used incorrectly can have a detrimental effect on a business including matters such as brand reputation and work ethic. There are a number of cases in which employees using social networking sites on a personal basis whilst at work, getting caught, and the employer taking disciplinary action against them.

A well documented case was an employee working for Apple who wrote a statement on his personal Facebook profile, his comments were very negative and placed Apple in a bad light. Due to the employees privacy settings the employer had access to the comment, due to the negative nature of these, the employer viewed the comments as damaging to the companies reputation. Subsequently the employee was dismissed, a tribunal was brought against Apple however because they had a Social Media policy in place the tribunal found against the employee.

There has never been a better time, and with our pay-as-you-go retainer for HR and Health & Safety services with us could become a key factor within your business. Call 01453 431050 for more information.

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Employment law updates- are you keeping up?

Provisional changes to third party harrassment in the Equality Act

According to ACAS the circumstances where an employer knows that an indivisual has been subjected to such harrassment on at least two occasions will be repealed. Although, it continues, employers may still be liable where the employee is harrassed by an individual outside of the workforce.

Changes to the National Minimum Wage

Employers should keep their eyes out for the October updates to the National Minimum Wage. These are as follows:

  • £6.31 for persons at the age of 21 and over
  • £5.03 for those between the ages (and including) 18-20
  • £3.72 for young persons below the age of 18
  • £2.68 for apprentices.

Transfer of undertaking protection of employment (TUPE)

Changes that affect the status or the service provision include whether or not an employee’s liability information should be provided at an earlier date to the transferee, and whether an amendment to TUPE could ensure that a change to the location of the place of work would not necessarily lead to unfair dismissal. This change is expected to take place either in October or November of this year.

Tribunal changes

As of April 2014 claimants must notfiy ACAS before they formally lodge their case in circumstances where concillation would be offered. If concilliation is unsuccessful within the prescribed period the claimant can continue to lodge a tribunal claim.

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Are zero hours contracts right for you?

Zero contracts means zero obligations for employers to provide work or for workers to accept it. Zero hour workers have the same rights as standard employees; however, due to breaks in their contracts their rights to accrue over time may be affected. Workers are also entitled to the National Minimum Wage and annual leave and any work-related travel expenses.

According to ACAS, when using zero hour contracts, employers should actively monitor their need as in many cases it is more beneficial to sign up for agency workers or recruit staff on the basis of fixed term contracts.

Benefits for the employer:

  • Staff levels can fluctuate easily according to demand
  • There is no on-going requirement to provide guaranteed levels of work for staff
  • Zero hour contracts can be cheaper than using agencies as it cuts out the middle-man and the fees that come along with him.

Benefits for the worker:

  • Provides flexible hours of employment with the same basic employment rights
  • No on-going requirement to accept offers and no consequences
  • Gives the opportunity to gather experience and skills.

The main benefits for employers is the break it can provide in the contract of employment. So long as there is a minimum break of a full calendar week (i.e. from Sunday to Saturday), the employer can claim that there has been a break in the contract. This prevents the worker from accruing certain rights such as annual leave. Equally, the employer must make sure that the worker is paid for any accrued holiday pay. Remember, if the worker develops their position to that of employment status, they are also subject to the same disciplinary or notice procedures. This relationship can also be interpreted in different ways, so each case is different. This also becomes important when a worker request maternity leave or the rights to flexible working.

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Tribunal reform confirmation

The Government has now confirmed the date for its reforms to the Employment Tribunal as mentioned in April’s bulletin. As of 29th July 2013 fees will be implemented for any claims and appeals made to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). This will not be applicable for claims that are already in the system.

Two main charging points will be introduced: the first will be made when the claim is issued; the second will be made before the final hearing, yet will only apply for claims reaching this stage.

The different levels of charges have now been confirmed to stand at:-

Level 1/Type A- Issue fee of £160 and a hearing fee of £230 Simpler claims e.g wages claims/failure to consult under TUPE

Level 2/Type B- Issue fee of £250 and a hearing fee of £950

More complex claims e.g unfair dismissal, discrimination etc..

Fees payable for levels 1 and 2 will be subject to change in the case of multiple claims.

There will be one simple fee for lodging an appeal to the EAT. This will be as follows:-

A £400 issue fee and a hearing fee of £1,200.

Claims will not be able to commence or continue until the applicable fees have been paid, time limits will not be extended to give the claimant time to pay the fee/s.

Financial penalties on employers for tribunals carried out on or after 25th October 2013 will also be enforced. These are only provisional at the moment but they are currently thought to be:-

A penalty between £100 and £5,000 to the Secretary of State if the tribunal concludes that the employer has breached any worker’s rights (specific to the ‘worker’, not the ‘employee’) and further considers there has been a ‘aggravating factor’.

It is important to note that this fine will be halved if it is paid within 21 days of the tribunal’s decision being sent to the employer.

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The Right To Wear a Cross and other Employment Law cases

Interesting Employment Law Cases

Discrimination – religion. The right to wear a cross.

The Euopean Court of Human Rights found that Ms Eweida, a Christian, was discriminated against when British Airways refused to allow her
to visibly wear a crucifix at work, in contravention of its uniform policy.  The ECHR ruled that Ms Eweida’s rights of religious expression had been unfairly restricted by British Airways as refusing her right to wear a cross was not proportionate to BA’s aim of maintaining a particular image. BA has since amended its uniform code to allow employees to wear religious jewellery. The ECHR awarded the claimant 2,000 euros in damages and 30,000 in costs.

Dismissal – unreasonable instruction?

This case emphasises the importance of clear management instructions and of considering all the surrounding circumstances before making a decision.

Mr Sanots was a factory manager and regularly worked 12 hour days. He became ill with work related stress and took two weeks off work. When he returned her was offered voluntary redundancy which he turned down but agreed to accept demotion to warehouse manager with a reduction of £8000 in salary and a working week of 40 hours plus.

He already had a disciplinary warning on file for failure to follow instructions. Late one evening he was told to load an urgent order of four pies. The pies were in a spate locked unit which would have taken some time to access, and he was unsure which vehicle to put them in so, as he had already worked 14 hours that day he decided to load the pies the next morning.

They were delivered on time with no damage to the business.

However he was dismissed on the basis that, if he had been taken ill overnight there may have been a problem.

The tribunal found that the decision to dismiss was outside the band of reasonable responses. Despite the demotions and the reduction in pay, Mr Santos had continued to work 11 hours a day and that day he had worked 14 hours. All of the good had been loaded expect for the four pies and Mr Santos has loaded them the following morning anyway. There was no reason to suggest that if Mr Santos had been ill he would not have reported the outstanding task.

The cost to the Company for making the wrong decision and terminating his employment unfairly was £59,315 in compensation!

Compulsory work experience scheme legally flawed!

A case covered by the media relating to a graduate who was forced to work in Poundland.

The Government’s mandatory work experience scheme were found to be unlawful by the Court of Appeal. Judges ruled on the case of a geology graduate Cait Reilly who was told that she had to undertake unpaid work experience in poundland for two week or lose her unemployment benefits.

This meant that Rielly had to leave her volunteer role at a museum to clean floors and stack shelves at the budget retailed, and argued that the stint had done little to improve her job prospects and the compulsory aspect had breached her human rights.

The high court decided last August that the Work Acadamy Sheme was legal, but part of that judgement was overruled by the court of Appeal.

The court found in favour of HGV drive Jamieson Wilson who was given similar work experience placement as part of the Community Action
programme.

Responding to the lasts ruling the DWP pointed out that the judges had backed the principle behind its welfare to work scheme and insisted
that it would be pushing through new regulations.

 

 

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Starting the relationship off on the right foot

Terms and conditions of employment may be straightforward enough but are often limited in regard to the transactional and economic element of the relationship.

Job roles and duties may give an indication of what is expected of an employee but not necessarily to the level at which they are to be performed or how those tasks or duties are to be carried out within your organisation. It is important to make this clear at the beginning or else it is easy for misconceptions to arise, especially at the start of the relationship, about what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Do your new employees undergo an induction period when they start work?  If you have the resources an effective induction into your company’s practices, especially your ethos and values can be very useful. It is important for all employees to understand the way your business operates and the culture so that they can familiarise themselves with it.

Whilst new employees may have done things differently in the past their way may not fit into your organisation. They might be resistant to change or on a positive note, bring energy, commitment and new ideas that will benefit your business.

The probationary period, if used well, is an effective mechanism for monitoring and discussing observations of the performance and suitability of new starters. Good and bad.

If an employee knows they are doing a good job chances are they’ll keep delivering. Let’s be honest, we all like to be praised and feel like we are making a difference.

If they’ve been told they need to improve and how they can do this, well, it’s up to them, and if they don’t then you’ll have to decide if you want to continue to employ an under-performer or use the probationary period for what it was originally designed for.

The human resources support offered by Honest Employment Practice Limited focuses on the employer-employee relationship. We are there to sort out employment issues which make your life easier and allow you to get on with the important job of running your business.

Give us a call if you need help with getting a new relationship off on the right foot. We are here to HELP.

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What is the best way to deal with unhappy employees?

Are your employees’ moans and groans like the common cold?  Hard to shake off and preventing you from concentrating on the day to day business?

It’s not difficult to understand why employees’ morale may be on the low side given the tough economic times we face but this can have an adverse effect on a manager’s ability to get the job done. Unfortunately, this has a negative impact on the bottom line and profitability of your business (CIPD Research…..)

When resources are tight they have to be prioritised but in my opinion, employers often under-estimate the hidden costs of underlying workplace conflicts and subsequent low morale. If these are not tackled straightaway and nipped in the bud such issues can linger which, once they grab hold, become like the common cold.

The symptoms can be numerous, present in differing ways and hard to shake. Colds, rather like employee complaints, can easily spread and if you do nothing to remedy these symptoms and the causes, others will inevitably be affected. Notwithstanding these efforts made to treat a cold, the symptoms will keep coming back in some form or other much to your annoyance, until the underlying causes and not just the symptoms are resolved.

Have you noticed a pattern to these complaints? If there is an identifiable trend to the complaints you may be ideally positioned to deal with these issues although I would advise you to raise them with your employees at a suitable time. Set out the Company’s position and dispel any rumours and/or misconceptions rather than waiting until a grievance is raised. This is where it is best to strike whilst the iron is hot!

If you delay until you are compelled to act the issue is likely to have escalated, spilling over to other areas of your workforce resulting in a more extensive grievance investigation which places a far greater strain on time and resources. You may also lose the opportunity to deal with the issue on an informal level.

The human resources support offered by Honest Employment Practice Limited focuses on the employee relationship and we are there to make your life easier so you can get on with running your business. So if your employees are having a moan then pick up the phone. We’re here to HELP.

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How to deal with employee pregnancy

Pregnancy is not an illness, however there are hazards in the workplace that if not managed effectively, may put pregnant employees, breast feeding mother or the unborn child at risk.

In all cases where a pregnant worker advises management of her pregnancy, a Pregnant Worker Questionnaire and a Pregnant Worker Assessment should be completed.  This is NOT a single event – it will need to be updated and modified at each trimester of the pregnancy.

Pregnancy needs to be dealt with in a serious manner, not only is the employee going to need time off work for maternity leave, but you have to assess the risks during the employees time at work, some of these risks are;

  • Manual handling
  • Physical fatigue
  • Computer work
  • Drugs
  • Chemical agents

All of these factors need to be considered whilst assessing the pregnant employee, if the employee has an accident at work because the employer hasn’t followed procedure then there could be fatal consequences.

Morning sickness and constantly going to the toilet will decrease the employees work rate, dexterity, agility, co-ordination, speed of movement, reach, may all be impaired due to increasing size.

To find out how you can deal with an pregnant employee in the best manner whilst covering your business, contact us today to discuss our pay-as-you-go service, no contracts, just fair and HONEST advice – On your terms

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Maternity, paternity, adoption and sick pay increase

In April 2012 further adjustments will be made to maternity, paternity, adoption and sick pay amounts. Further changes to the standard statutory, maternity, adoption and maternity are set to increase from £128.73 to £135.45 per week, these changes will be put in to place from the 1st of April 2012.

Statutory sick pay (SSP) Is also set to change in April 2012, these rates will increase from £81.60 to £85.85 per week from April 6th 2012.

As an employer you need to keep these in mind during the near future, also any staff members who will be legible for these payments need to be checked, to make sure you are paying them the right amount.

During 2012 there are set to be many changes to Employment Law and Health & safety legislations, if you need to be updated on legislation changes  please get in contact today, we promise to keep you up to date in legislation changes and help you prepare any necessary changes tailored to your business.

Remember, we’re experts in the fields of HR and Health & Safety, so you don’t have to be, to find out more about our pay-as-you-go services please contact us to discuss your options today! Just HONEST advice – On YOUR terms!

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