Employees

Christmas Party – Remember It For The Right Reasons

30 Nov
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Christmas, Employees, Health and Safety   |  No Comments

It is the last day of November. For many, this is payday, for others it is invoicing day and for some…. It is the official start of the festive season.

Over the years we have seen some pretty fantastic Christmas parties. We have also seen some lovely intimate low key affairs where the team come together and celebrate the past year and its successes.

While you are not operating a school, all employers have a legal responsibility and duty of care towards their staff and that is not just Monday – Friday 9 – 5, but includes work functions such as the Christmas party. While you may not want to organise the ‘personal’ life of your employees and may believe that they are all grown up enough to look after themselves, if an accident or incident happens and the employer has not taken due care, the employer can become liable. Ensure that you have considered and talked about all of the relevant issues with your staff before the party and they know what they are responsible for and what failure to comply might mean.

Here are some top tips for making sure your work Christmas party is one to remember rather than one you wish to forget:

  1. Make sure everyone is invited and made to feel welcome
    • remember not everyone celebrates Christmas, so how can you make it more inclusive?
  2. Think carefully about whether partners are invited and if so, who pays for them?
  3. Be mindful about your venue
    • Is it easy to get to / return from on public transport?
    • Can people stay over if they chose to?
    • Is there ample parking for those who prefer to drive?
    • If your team is widely spread, is it accessible to everyone and will expenses be paid to those who don’t live locally who wish to attend?
  4. Menu planning – LONG gone are the days where everyone will sit down to eat a traditional Christmas Dinner
    • Make sure you understand what your staff can and can not eat, from both a dietary and religious perspective.
    • Is there a vegetarian/vegan option?
    • Is there a free from option?
    • Are the Canapes clearly marked
    • Are the caterers and their staff carefully briefed – nut allergies are life-threatening and the impact of a careless caterer is not to be underestimated.
  5. Alcohol planning – I am not going to try to tell you that your event needs to be alcohol-free as that would just be Humbug at this time of year! However, there are some considerations
    • What is a reasonable amount of alcohol per person?
    • Who is paying for it?
    • Are people allowed to buy more for themselves once the ‘paid for’ bar has been used
    • Is anyone going to stop people drinking if and when they think they have had too much
  6. How are people getting home?
    • Are cabs booked in advance to take people home or is a local cab company on standby with sufficient cars?
    • Is a coach being arranged to drop people at a central point and if so, what happens from there?
    • Will someone be responsible for ensuring that no one is driving either their own or a company vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
  7. Are staff (and management) expected at work the next day – not every party can be on a Friday night and not every business is shut at the weekend
    • This is a case of one rule for all. No discrimination based on length of service or seniority in the business. If your business is open the next day, your staff need to be there in a fit state to work just like on any other day
      • If staff do not turn up – what is the impact?
      • If staff turn up too tired or unwell – what is the impact?
    • Will you allow people to book the ‘day after the night before’ off as a holiday and what is the impact on your business?
      • Will normal holiday booking procedures apply?
    • Managing the fallout – while we sincerely hope there is no fall out from your work Christmas party, many years of experience tells us otherwise. So what do you need to consider in managing the fallout?
      • Treating everyone equally and fairly
      • Following and complying with your own policies and procedures
      • Health and safety implications for employees, clients and other third parties
      • Financial damage
      • Reputational damage

I don’t mean to scare you, and many employers believe it will never happen to them, but it

can and it does. With over 25 years in HR and Management and as head of an HR practice for over 11 years, I never cease to be amazed by what I see and hear, especially around Christmas. I think I have seen it all and then something else happens and as HR, we often end up trying to pick up the pieces and keep our clients (the Businesses) out of trouble, helping them to make their workplace a better place to be.

As with all aspects of business life, Proper Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance. Plan your Christmas party, get advice if you need it but have an amazing festive celebration that ALL your staff remember for the RIGHT reasons which keeps them engaged in 2019.

Probation Reviews

09 Apr
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Employees, Probation, training, Video, Vlog   |  No Comments

The Employee should recieve regular feedback during their probation period. This can be done informally, but if there are any concerns, these should be documented with an action plan.

At a minimum, the employee should recieve a formal written review after 3 months and again at about 5 1/2 months.

Failing someone in their final probation review should not be a surprise. As a result of feedback provided, they should know if their employment is going to be confirmed.

Discrimination

05 Mar
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Discrimination, employee rights, Employees, employent law, Employment, gender, HR, Maternity, Part-time Workers Act, Policies and Procedures, Race Discrimination, Recruitment, RIsk, Sexual Orientation, Video, Vlog   |  No Comments

 

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.

Why Corporate Jargon And Nonsense Stops Businesses Taking HR Seriously

10 Jan
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Compensation, Contract of employment, Employees, Employment, Human Resources, people manaagment, Policies and Procedures, Recruitment, training   |  No Comments

(And The Four Processes That Most Business Owners  Need To Go Through When Dealing With Staff)

I’ve been studying and practicing HR for over 25 years. 

Which means that I ‘get it’.  I ‘understand’ it.  However ludicrously worded something is, or however jargonny a contract sounds, I can usually root out the genuine meaning, and what it means in the real world.

However, use the term HR or Human Resources in front of your common or garden business owner and you’ll often get a blank look, especially if they have never worked in large organisations or corporations that have had a whole HR department dedicated to looking after the staff, employees, and contractors.

But here’s the thing, whether you’re Mickey the Butcher or Microsoft, you still need to be able to practice HR correctly – failure to do so puts your business under significant risk from an employment tribunal.

With that in mind, this article is designed to help you to do exactly that, by cutting through the jargon and breaking down the four processes that you’ll need to go through, whether you’ve got two employees or 20,000.

So the first area is recruitment: the hiring of the right staff. 

Make sure that you know the skills that you need and that the people that you are hiring have the ability to do the job, but don’t forget that attitude and aptitude are also really, really important. 

Making sure that somebody has the right attitude, is going to fit in with your business and your culture will engage with your goals and has the ability to learn the rest of the skills that you need to give them is absolutely vital. 

Why?  Nobody is going to come fully formed, so you need employees who can be moulded, and moulding is all about attitude. 

And, as a plus point, when employees are not fully formed, they are generally easier to work with – they don’t have the same fixed ideas about things that someone who has ‘been there and done it’ has.

In addition, it is also really good idea to hire people who are better than you at key elements of the business. You shouldn’t be sweating over the books when someone else will be able to do them quicker, easier and more effectively than you.

Similarly, you may be good and able to type your letters up yourself, but actually having a VA or an in-house PA is going to drive your business forward much quicker for you as they are freeing up your time. 

 

The second element is Employee Relations

Now, this is a big area for HR!

At the most basic level, it means giving all of the staff that you hire a contract of employment. 

It means making sure that you have made decisions about:

  • How much holiday they are going to have
  • What you are going to do in the event of sick pay
  • What dress code you want within your business
  • What time you want people at work
  • What time they work till
  • How long their breaks are

Sound extreme?  Perhaps.  But by documenting all of these from day one, there is absolute clarity for you and for your staff, and no one can pretend that they didn’t know what was expected of them.

 

The third element is training, development and learning. 

Now, all three of these take time and happen in multiple phases, but all business owners need to be mindful of them; otherwise, they generally don’t happen.

Generally, the first phase is known as “induction” and when you first bring somebody into the business, the best way to get them to hit the ground running is to induct them properly. 

Once they know what they should be doing, it is all about monitoring and managing their performance so they are performing at the best possible level that they can.

And again it takes practice and they will improve over time, which is why regular documented progress meetings are a really, really useful tool.  No matter what size your business, whether you have one employee, five employees, or 25 employees, sitting down with your staff on a regular basis, sharing your vision, sharing the goals and asking them to deliver key elements of those goals is essential to moving the business forward. 

 

And then there is reward. 

Reward can come in multiple formats. 

Pay is the most obvious but there is also commission, bonus and other incentives which you give to your staff to encourage them to reach the targets that you set or to reward them for achieving certain outcomes. 

However, reward is also about the environment in which people work. 

It’s about the way in which you treat them, the pizza in the office on a Friday or giving people a day off to go and deal with an emergency because you know that they have been in the office late working on projects for the last three or four weeks.  

Reward is also about the culture and the corporate social responsibility that the business shows. 

Many youngsters nowadays are choosing to work or not work for companies based on the ethos of those companies. 

People are becoming more picky and people want to work for great bosses and brands that they believe in. 

Consequently, positioning your business (no matter how big or small) as an employer of choice will really help you to recruit and to retain the right staff for your business. 

So, as a business owner, the next time you think about your role within the business, you are not only the finance person, the marketing person and the salesperson – you are also the HR person. 

You are responsible for the recruitment and retention, the training and development, the reward and the frameworks within which your staff work and operate. You are also responsible for the way in which your staff are going to help you to achieve business success, by making sure that you are an effective manager.  That takes practice, but as they say, practice makes perfect.

Employee vs Worker

24 Jan
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Agency workers, Blog, Contract of employment, employee rights, Employees, employent law, Employment Legislation, Video, Vlog   |  No Comments

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.

 

Contracts of Employment

22 Jan
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Annual Leave, Benefits, Blog, Bribery, Contract of employment, employee rights, Employees, employent law, Employment Legislation, Flexible working, Health and Safety, Holidays, Home-workers, Video   |  No Comments

This is a massive one for me and one that I spend most of my professional career talking about!!!

 

Can you turn back time?

26 Jul
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Employees, HR Policy   |  No Comments

MP rescinds her resignation

Scouring the BBC website looking for interesting HR stories and blog inspiration, I came Two Businessmen Running in Officeacross the news that Sarah Champion MP had rescinded her resignation from the front bench and asked Jeremy Corbyn for her job back. It appears that he has agreed and that she may be the first of several who, not having forced Jeremy to resign, will now be holding out a white flag of peace and resuming their previous roles on the front benches.

It is rare that we find employees asking to return to their former employers, but not unheard of. The biggest question is should you take them back? And if you do, will the relationship be better or worse than before?

When requesting references, one of the questions frequently asked is “Would you re-employ this employee?” Responses indicate that many employers have a policy not to re-employ, but a few say they would.

Not all leavers are equal

When determining your policy on re-employment, you may want to think about the provisions and safety nets which would be needed rather than taking a blanket decision. However, with all things HR, you need to ensure you don’t discriminate or set a precedent which will be hard to manage in the future. Would you treat the following scenarios the same?

  • A Saturday worker who left to go to University and now wants a full time job
  • An underperforming employee who resigned but can’t find a better job to go to, so tries to rescind their resignation before their notice period is up i.e. while they are still employed with you
  • A top performer who is head hunted by the competition, leaves for a month and then wants to come back as they didn’t like what they found on the other side of the fence
  • A good performer who left to travel the world for 12 months and wants to come back
  • A good performer who felt they were under paid, underappreciated and could contribute a lot more to the business if you just let them, who wants to come back to the business having worked for another (non-related business) for 3 years.

In truth, we have dealt with all of these scenarios over the past 12 months and there are no hard and fast rules on how to deal with them – it comes down to relationships, personalities and setting (or not wanting to set) a precedent.

Whose business is it anyway?

RecruitmentOn the one hand, you do not want to cut off your nose to spite your face, but on the other hand you don’t necessarily want to take someone back just because it suits them to come back. Your business may have moved on. You may not have a vacancy. You may not have a need for their skills. However, feeling guilty because they were a nice person is not a good enough reason to take someone back.

When developing your policy, consider the following:
• The reasons for leaving may have a massive influence on whether you take someone back
• Their previous attendance record
• The amount of time they have been away
• The size of your business and whether you can easily absorb extra headcount
• Whether the person has a unique or scarce skillset
• Where they have been since leaving you
• The role and money you bring people back into

If you decide not to re-employ previous employees, ensure you apply your policy strictly and that all employees are aware of the policy before they leave the business.

As always, if you require any help writing a re-employment policy, do not hesitate to contact the team on support@dohr.co.uk or by calling 01923 866040

Three-quarters of computer users still not sitting pretty

01 Jan
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Employees, Employers, Health, Health and Safety   |  No Comments

Around 75 per cent of regular computer users still aren’t aware of the principles of good workstation posture, according to research carried out by Clearworld Health & Safety. The consequences of poor posture include neck, back and shoulder pain, as well as joint problems and even increased stress.

Having prepared risk assessments for over 10,000 regular computer users, I consistently find that a tiny minority of computer users experience no problems at all.

Computers are as integral to our lives as phones and TVs, yet the majority of people still don’t seem to be aware of how to use them safely. A few simple changes in the way you sit at your desk can easily prevent the onset of long-term health problems.

Following these five simple tips will help you remain safely seated at work:

  • Make sure the height of your chair is adjusted so your elbows are level with the desk and the backrest is at a comfortable angle.
  • There’s an art to sitting properly! Perching on the edge of the chair or leaning forward provides no support for your back. Sit as far back in the chair as possible, so you can feel the backrest support where your back curves inwards.
  • Prevent twisting and stretching by ensuring the PC screen is directly in front of you, with the keyboard and mouse close enough to have your arms in a comfortable L-shape.
  • Accessorise if necessary. If your feet aren’t resting flat on the floor, get a footrest. If your wrists are titled upwards when using the keyboard or mouse, get a wrist rest.
  • Screen breaks should be taken for about five minutes an hour – this can simply mean letting your eyes focus on a different part of the room.

Many owners of small companies aren’t aware that they are legally obliged to have up-to-date health and safety documentation (including workstation risk assessments) if they employ five people or more. For a competent risk assessor to carry out these risk assessments, please visit clearworld.co.uk. For a 10% discount, please mention DOHR at the time of booking.

Haydn Glick (Tech IOSH), Clearworld Health & Safety Ltd.

Recharge the Batteries

07 Dec
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Annual Leave, Blog, Employees, Employers   |  No Comments

The festive season is nearly upon us, the new year is looming, staff are flagging and lookingHoliday forward to a few days off. If you work in retail – not a chance, prepare for the onslaught – Christmas and the January sales. If you work in an office or a manufacturing environment, you might be in luck. Many offices and factories close for at least the three bank holidays, some even close for the three working days between Christmas and New Year. Us, well we are closing for a few extra days as well.

We all need a break and recharging the batteries is absolutely essential to achieving an engaged workforce who are healthy, motivated and highly focused on delivering a fantastic service to clients. In many companies the annual leave (holiday) year runs in line with the annual calendar and therefore for many, this is the last opportunity to take unused holiday time. Many companies operate a ‘use it or lose it’ policy and as long as they have given employees  the opportunity to use the time, the onus is on the employee to ensure they ‘claim’ everything they are entitled to.

It is really important that an annual leave policy is clearly documented: that staff know when they can take their holiday, what their entitlement is, how bank holidays are treated and are aware of any ‘black out periods’ when the business is at it’s busiest and holiday can not be taken.

Rules such as the number of staff allowed to be off at any one time and any priority given to parents required to take leave during the school holidays should be communicated so that expectations are managed appropriately.

Good practice dictates that managers ensure leave is spread throughout the year and that staff know what holiday time they have left. They should be encouraged to have used at least half of their leave before the end of Q3 with the rest of their leave planned, authorised and booked appropriately.

Holiday pay can be confusing for some employees and the complexity may occur with part time or term time only staff. It is essential that the contract of employment provides the formula for calculating holiday pay and / or holiday entitlement. All entitlements for part time staff must be pro rated based on the full time entitlements i.e. if the normal working week is 40 hours and an employee works 20 hours, they are a 0.5 full time equivalent (FTE). Therefore the annual leave entitlement is pro rated and if the full time employee has 30 days holiday including bank holidays, the part time employee has 15 days including the public and bank holidays which fall on their normal working days.

Ensure your employees have the opportunity to recharge their batteries – it will be better for your business.Christmas holidays

Show you care

26 Nov
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Benefits, Blog, Employees, Fit notes, Health, sickness   |  No Comments

Getting the benefits package right for your staff is important for their motivation and engagement, but it can be even more important for your business.

When a member of staff goes off sick, there is an impact on productivity and in some cases other members of the team will need to step in to ensure things get done. But when a member of staff has a longer term condition the disruption to the business could be significant. The aim would be to get the employee fit and back to work as quickly as possible.

Waiting for appointments on the NHS could take up to 18 weeks and this is before you are even seen by a specialist, never mind being treated. The impact on business can be huge – so what can an employer do?

With the increasing pressure on and cut backs within the NHS, more and more people are turning to the private medical sector. Employers who are able are providing their employees with private medical insurance. This benefit makes staff feel valued, but also gets employees treated and back into the workplace as soon as reasonably practical. It is important that employees are supported while they are off, but equally, it is important to ensure the business is able to function efficiently with all staff performing at their optimum level.

There is a range of providers and group schemes work in several different ways. In some cases each employee will have their own policy, in some cases usually for larger companies,  it is a group scheme and often with an individual employee’s medical history disregarded. In larger companies partners or families are often also insured for senior members of management, while in other companies some or all of the staff are able to pay for family members to be covered at the corporate discount rate.

Providing private medical insurance is a cost to your business, but it can also provide long term cost savings and be a way of protecting your business, keeping staff healthy and in work longer.

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