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.

Time for a Spring Clean

21 Apr
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Audit, Business, HR, Human Resources, RIsk, SME   |  No Comments

You take your car for an MOT, you take yourself to the doctor for a check up, you even get an accountant to look at your books, but when was the last time you gave your employee practices an audit?

Do you know if you are legally compliant?
Are you sure you are getting the best value for money from your employees?
Are your employees motivated and engaged with your business?
Would your employees recommend you as a good employer to work for?
Do you know the risks your business is exposed to as a result of its current employment practices?

For many SMEs across London and Hertfordshire, the answer is “no”, or sometimes a little more naively “I don’t care, we are too smalll, it doesn’t affect us”.

At DOHR we carry out a full HR audit. We interview the business owners, we use questionnaires with staff, we look at documents, we review data and we ask lots of questions.

What business owners end up with is a thorough understanding of the risks their business is exposed to as a result of employing people. Sounds scary, we know, but the best way to protect a business from anything is to understand the risk, put in place actions to mitigate the risk and continue to monitor the situation on a regular basis.

Employment tribunals for discrimination, bullying and failure to follow procedures can cost thousands to defend and tens of thousands (if not more) in damages. For an SME these costs can be the difference between having a business and shutting it down. Even with one employee, it is important to get HR advice, understand what you should be doing and then decide how to do it in a way which works for your business.

HR for small businesses

20 Apr
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Hertfordshire, HR Consultant, HR Support, Human Resources, SME   |  No Comments

An employer is never too small to need HR support. From the time you employ a single person, you are subject to employment law requirements. A written contract of employment, employers liability insurance and health and safety are the bear minimum.

Once you reach five employees, you need to offer a pension scheme (although you do not need to contribute) and you need to have certain policies documented.

Even with one employee, a business is at risk of an employment tribunal if it fails to get things right. The risk of discrimination and the legal requirement to provide time off to care for dependents are just a couple of examples of risks which are relevant to businesses of all sizes and can actually be more of a risk to smaller companies as the company is less able to take up the slack.

It is never too early to get HR advice for your business.

DOHR provides a complete HR support and consultancy service for businesses of all sizes across Northern London and Hertfordshire. Give us a call on 01923 504100 for a free chat to find out how we can minimise the risk your employees can bring to your business.

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