This is a trial period at the start of someone’s employment.
A 6 month probation period is ideal as it gives the employee time to learn the role and the employer time to assess performance and to provide feedback, making corrections to performance or attitude if required.
If the new member of staff does not have the right attitude, skills or ability they can be removed more easily during their probation period.
A full set of policies around maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay need to be developed so that employees feel valued and their skills are not lost from the business, but so that they business is able to function effectively with short and long term absences as a result of the prospective and actual birth of a baby.
The law provides for statutory time off and pay, but companies can provide more or structure things differently.
Employers are obliged to protect staff from bullying and harassment. Generally, this is in terms of discrimination, but may include anything from their favourite football team, what a person wears, their hobbies or their mannerisms.
Employers are obliged to ensure that the work environment is mentally safe for everyone and therefore free from bullying and harassment.
Prevention is better than cure and employers can be held vicariously liable if they don’t take adequate steps to prevent bullying and/or harassment taking place.
Well written policies and procedures which are communicated and applied consistently are the key to ensuring that the risk of discrimination is reduced as much as possible.
Employees (as well as workers and job applicants) could bring claims for discrimination on the basis of Age, Gender, Race, Beliefs, Marital Status, Disability and Sexual Orientation.
Care must be taken not to over generalise i.e. “everyone must wear trousers” or “everyone must work on a specific day of the week” as this could have a disproportionate negative impact on a sub sect of your workforce. Therefore you end up discriminating against some, as a result of trying to treat everyone the same.
How to manage staff when the English weather turns is always a topic for discussion among employers. In this video (one from our #AskDOHR series) we give employers different elements which they need to consider when making decisions about their business and whether or not to pay staff who fail to come to work due to bad weather, school closures or transport shut down.
The way in which you treat snow days will very much depend on your business. Certainly if you’re providing a service such as fire brigade, police, hospitals, district nurse, GP, or anything that’s critical, you will have to have a business continuity plan for ‘snow days’.
However, there are lots of work environments such as offices, gardens, building sites, leisure centres, delivery drivers and factories and as such, circumstances are going to be different for each one and for each type of business.
There are lots of elements you need to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to stay open:
Health & Safety – is the work environment safe – do you have heating and running water?
Health & Safety – can people reach work safely? If not, can you do anything to improve access such as gritting or sweeping paths?
Transport and Infrastructure – are buses and trains running? Not just to get people to work, but to get them home again as well.
Duration – How long is the bad weather due to last and can you put different plans in for different days? Perhaps the business could shut down for a day, but perhaps not for 2?
School Closures – It’s also very difficult to force people to come to work if they’ve got no childcare. While some children are old enough to be left at home, others will not be. Friends and family may all have their own snow issues and not be able to help out on a ‘snow day’ as they might otherwise be able to do.
There is no right and wrong way about how you deal with this. However, the first thing to do is to look at your contracts of employment. What options are available to you?
pay them regardless of whether they make it into work
unpaid leave for anyone unable to come to work
allow them to use holiday (if they have any left) to be paid for their time off
allow people to work from home (where business appropriate for them to do so)
put people up in a hotel to enable them to reach work easily – again this will depend on their personal circumstances
Be sensible. Think about the value of your relationship with your staff. Think about the expectations of your clients. It’s a business decision and it doesn’t just come down to money. It also comes down to good will and relationships not only with your staff, but with your clients, suppliers and perhaps the community at large.
People are going to understand when everything else around you comes to a grinding halt. We’re on red and amber alerts across the country. Everybody is going to be aware of that. It’s about making an effort, it’s about doing the right thing. It’s about staff showing willing, offering to work at home, offering to come in. Would you allow them to bring a child into the workplace? Would that be appropriate if the school is closed but they can still get to work? It’s about getting a balance, it’s about give and take and it’s about relationships.
Look after your staff, they’ll be more motivated to support you. But there are times where you need your staff to turn up to work and failure to do so could cause massive implications for your clients or the community.
The decision ultimately is yours, you are the business owner, the buck does stop with you, but do what feels right and don’t put yourself in breach of your own contracts, policies and procedures.
As a result of some big legal cases last year, the status of workers is coming under the spotlight like never before. This will be a big area for change in 2017 as the Governement are focussing on understand and protecting Gig Workers.