To pay or not to pay …… that is the question

29 Jun
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in HR Policy, Interns, National Minimum Wage   |  No Comments

Do you use interns in your business?

Do you pay them a salary or just expenses?

How long do you allow interns to work for you, earning only expenses?

Would you still use interns if you had to pay them?

Would you be more likely to pay interns if they had to pay you?

Today, the CIPD has called for interns to be paid a salary of £2.50 per hour.

In another conversation I have had this week, we debated the merits of asking interns to pay for the on the job training they were receiving as a result of their internship. This is an education that University and colleges can not provide. As employers complain about the lack of relevant skills in graduates, is internships the answer? Many courses are now developed as Sandwich courses and I believe these students find it easier to get jobs and settle into those jobs more quickly than those who have no relevant work experience.

In some professions, i.e. legal and medical, internships are part of the process, but for other industries they are still an unknown.

So, if two identical candidates are sat in front of you at interview and one has completed an internship and the other has not, which would you choose?

Would you take on an intern and give them an opportunity to gain essential work experience?

Thoughts please.

Whatever you decide to do, it is important that you have a policy, a framework and a way of setting and measuring individual performance and overall effectiveness of the scheme.

Your body at work – Eyes

17 Jun
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Eyecare, Health and Safety, HR Policy   |  No Comments

I am updating an employee handbook for a client at the moment and have written a section called ‘your body at work’. This is a health and safety policy and covers items such as RSI, eyecare, the importance of breaks and manual handling.

As an employer of any size, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that your employees are working in a physically and mentally safe and healthy environment.

Many employees use a computer and monitor (VDU / DSE). If you employ people who spend a significant amount of time using a monitor each day, you are obliged to ensure that they receive regular eyesight tests and if a prescription is required specifically for VDU use, you are obliged to pay for this.

The provision of eyecare to employees should be a documented HR policy and an efficient business process should exist to either reimburse employees through expenses or provide eyecare vouchers.

For assistance in understanding your legal obligations and ensuring your are operating within the law, contact us on 01923 504100 or visit us at

Protect your business from the effects of a Tube strike

14 Jun
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Uncategorized   |  No Comments

With the announcement of two one day Tube strikes affecting the London Underground, businesses need to start preparing now. The first day’s walk out from 7pm on 23rd June will have it’s major impact on businesses on Thursday 24th June. So, how can businesses prepare themselves?

One approach used many times in the last is to put key employees into London Hotels overnight. Major cost, significant disruption, but perhaps one way of keeping the business open.

Encouraging people to drive into work and make maximum use of car sharing is another approach, but could involve employees spending hours in traffic jams, only to find they have nowhere to park on arrival.

Encouraging people to take buses is a good option, as long as they run in the home area and are reliable.

Does your company have a flexible working policy? Can employees work from home, saving time and stress on fighting their way to work. While I recognise it is not practical for retail store assistants to work from home, there are jobs which can effectively be carried out remotely with use of a laptop, a mobile phone or a diverted phone. Perhaps if everyone who could work from home does so, the roads, buses and parking spaces will be clearer for those who need to travel into or around London.

How is your business going to cope? Have you got a plan? What is your
policy on flexible working?

For help and support on this and other HR Policies, please call us on 01923 504100 or visit us at

Long Service Awards

10 Jun
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in HR, Human Resources, Long Service Awards, Reward   |  No Comments

Rewarding long service is tricky. You need to consider what you are rewarding, attendance or contribution? In the era of age discrimination, is rewarding long service, rewarding older members of staff and discriminating against younger members who are less likely to be receiving the awards.

What is the purpose of the award? Is it because you have always done it? Is it the right kind of motivation / thank you / incentive for a modern workplace?

I would suggest that gifts are not appreciated. The vase may be lovely, but the company logo and employee’s names and dates of service would probably put off the receiver from displaying it with a bunch of flowers in.

My recommendation is ditch the long service awards. Look at initiatives which recognise all staff for the positive contribution they make to the business: a big contract won; a major project completed on time and within budget; employee of the month as voted by colleagues or customers; outstanding customer satisfaction scores etc.

Align rewards and awards to your business goals and use them to improve employee contribution to the business.

For advice and support with your reward packages, call us on 01923 504100 or visit our website.

World Cup

26 May
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Business, employee rights, HR, Human Resources, policy, world cup   |  No Comments

Love it or hate it, the world cup is coming and as employers, you need to ensure you know what you can and can’t do to protect your business from absent employees.

Get it right now and managing employees during the tournament becomes easy.

You need a clear policy. Decide how you are going to encourage staff to be at work during games, communicate it and stick to it consistently, for all employees, no exceptions.

Don’t just make allowances for England games – not everyone supports England!!

Can your business support flexi-time? If employees take a break to watch a match, can they make up the time at the start or end of the day? This may not work if your employees are customer facing i.e. working in shops or call centres.

If employees book holiday time to watch a match, is this on a first come first served basis? How do you ensure you treat everyone equally.

If you have a TV onsite to enable people to watch the game, what will you do for employees who have no interest in football whatsoever?

The keys to getting this right are:
– Have a plan which protects your business
– Communicate it in advance
– Deal with any issues in advance
– Do not treat people differently
– Ensure consistent decision making
– Deal with any complaints through your company grievance procedures

For further help and advice specific to your business needs, contact us on 01923 504100 or via our website.

HR ……. How will the election affect employers?

06 May
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Election, Employers, HR   |  No Comments

I wish I had a crystal ball. I want the truth. I want to know what each of the political parties will really do to help employers.

“We will protect jobs
We will reduce youth unemployment
We will increase NI by 0.5%
We will not increase VAT (yet)
We will relocate 15,000 civil servants from London
National Minimum Wage increases are needed”

DO employers consider the impact on their business when choosing who to vote for?

Have any of the political parties won the hearts and minds of employers?

Share your views as an employer or an employee.

No matter who wins the election today, DOHR will be here to help you remain legally compliant with the ever changing employment legislation and ensure your business is stronger as a result of your employees.

Salary Sacrifice: May no longer be attractive for employers

28 Apr
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Benefits, HR Consultancy, Reward, Salary Sacrifice, Tax   |  No Comments

Personnel Today has reported that a European court ruling means employers may be forced to pay millions in unpaid VAT for salary sacrifice voucher schemes.

For a number of years now the Government have offered a number of schemes to encourage employers to provide employees with tax advantageous benefits. Some of the most common include: Child care vouchers, bikes for work, pension contributions and retail vouchers.

Employers use salary sacrifice as part of their total reward package for employees and it helps with attraction and retention of staff.

Today, it appears that employers may now be liable for up to four years worth of VAT on the value of retail vouchers.

Does your company offer vouchers under a salary sacrifice scheme?
What would it cost your business if you do become liable for four years worth of VAT on this value?
What would the impact be on your business?

At DOHR we work with employers to introduce cost effective benefits schemes which incentivise employees and save the company some money. We’ll be watching this space with interest.

To bonus or not to bonus?….. that is the question.

27 Apr
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in bonuses, HR, HR Consultancy, Incentives, pay, Reward   |  No Comments

With news that RBS are set to overhaul their bonus scheme, and the Lib Dems denouncing NHS managers pay, bonus payments for all staff are once again in the spotlight.

Companies who choose to use a bonus to incentivise performance should develop a robust and transparent scheme which encourages the particular behaviours the company values and achieves the results it needs to achieve before any payments are made.

Elements which employers should consider when developing a bonus scheme include:
~ Who to include in the scheme
~ Any differences in award levels
~ Behaviours to be encouraged
~ Bonus levels achievable
~ How to measure performance in an objective way
~ How the bonus scheme fits the corporate strategy and culture
~ How the bonus scheme fits with the company’s reward strategy
~ The views of various stakeholders

How many employers have got it wrong, hard to tell. I have seen situations where badly written bonus plans have wiped out the initial profits of the company! Not a good situation to be in!

Getting a bonus scheme right so that it incentivises and rewards the employee, while benefiting the business can be a combination of art and science. At DOHR we work closely with clients to implement, cost effective, engaging bonus schemes which add real value to the business.

Are all your employees legal? ….. are you sure?

23 Apr
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Compliance, Employer Sponsorship, HR, HR Audit, Human Resources, Immigration, Work Permits   |  No Comments

In 2008, the UK Boarders & Imigration Agency (UKBIA) introduced fixed penalty fines of £10,000 per employee for illegal immigrants.

In 2007, there were 38 prosecutions. However, following the introduction of the fixed penalty, there were 1164 penalties imposed costing employers £11.2 million in fines. In 2009 these figures rose to 2210 penalties costing £22.1 million.

Every employer must check and keep evidence to demonstrate that they have done everything they can to ensure all their employees are legally entitled to work in the UK.

If applying for work permits for employees, UKBIA will want to see operational / legal compliance, documented HR & recruitment procedures and evidence that the employer has tried to recruit a suitable employee from the UK and the EU before looking for non EU citezens.

At DOHR we work with employers before their applications are submitted to ensure that they have the necessary policies and processes in place to enable them to successfully apply to be a sponsor.

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