Employees

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HR stories and blog inspiration, I came Two Businessmen Running in Officeacross the news that Sarah Champion MP had rescinded her resignation from the front bench and asked Jeremy Corbyn for her job back.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 Clearworld, 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.

Flexible Working

08 Aug
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Carers, Employees, Employers, Flexi-time, Flexible working, people manaagment   |  1 Comments

 Within your business, you are obliged to take eligible employees’ requests for flexible working arrangements seriously.

It is your right as an employer to determine whether a flexible working request will be detrimental to delivering your business services / products to your clients and you are able to reject requests for flexible working as long as you comply with the regulations.  You could also consider a trial period, but once agreed any variation to working conditions are permanent and become contractual.

You may ask who is eligible for flexible working.  By law, there are three groups of eligible employees as follows:

  • Employees who care for a child aged 16 or under
  • Employees who care for, a disabled child under 18
  • Employees with elder care responsibilities

However, employees must also qualify for flexible working by:

  • Having been employed  by the business for  at least 26 weeks (continuous service)
  • Be the parent or guardian of a child as defined above or be married/a partner of the parent as defined above.
  • If the request is linked care for an adult, the employee has to be a relative of the adult in question.
  • Not having made a request for flexible working within the last year.

If all of the above is in order then your employee making the request should submit a formal ‘request  form’ in line with the Company’s policy. The onus is on the employee making the request to detail the nature of the flexible working request i.e. to work from home, to change hours, to job share etc. together with mitigating actions required to ensure minimal disruption to the business.

The employer must consider and respond to applications within 28 of receipt and either hold a meeting to discuss any modifications to the application / alternative options or accept the request in writing.  If a meeting is required to discuss the application, a mutually convenient appointment should be made and a decision given within a fortnight of the meeting.  Time periods are flexible subject to agreement by both yourself and your employee.  It is also possible to agree a flexible working arrangement on a trial basis (normally up to three months), and if the arrangement is not working within that time, the trial can be terminated, again complying with the regulations.

Any changes to employment patterns agreed must be documented and no further requests for varying work arrangements can be made for at least a year after the initial application, regardless of whether you, the employer, accepted or rejected their first request.

As an employer, if the flexible working request is proven to not work for your business (for example it may have an unacceptable burden of additional cost or require a structural change) then you are at liberty to refuse the request, but you must document the business reasons for this.

Employees are able to appeal against a decision of refusal but must do this within 14 days of the date of decision.

Flexible working can work in many circumstances, but sometimes it just doesn’t do the business justice to accept an application.

While the law allows requests from three specific groups, many businesses, both large and small have allowed all employees the right to request flexible working. By adopting a flexible approach for all workers, many businesses benefit from longer operational hours of business, multi-skilled employees covering different shifts and greater holiday cover.

For further information on understanding flexible working, developing policies and procedures and protecting your business when receiving a formal request, contact enquiries@dohr.co.uk or call 01923 504100.

Do You Have Anyone In Reserve?

05 Jul
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Employees, policy, Reservists, Twitter   |  5 Comments

With the announcement today of the scaling back of the British Armed Forces and the increasing reliance on the reservists, commonly known as the Territorial Army (TA), do you know what your exposure and responsibilities are?

If you have a member of the TA working for you, then you are legally obliged to allow them time off for both training and manoeuvres. This time does not have to be paid, but will inevitably cause disruption to your business.

So what are your rights as an employer and how can you mitigate the impact?

Firstly, you only have an obligation to full and part time employees, not to contractors or freelancers.

If there is a mobilisation, i.e. the employee is called into action as a member of the TA, the employer has no choice, they have to let them go. The employer is also required to give them a job back on their return.

An employer is not legally obliged to release TA members for camps and training, although given enough notice, employers are encouraged to release staff as a better trained employee is arguably of greater value to both the TA and their employer. Any time off for these purposes could be taken from annual leave, could be unpaid, or in addition to normal annual leave entitlement. The Company’s documented and communicated policy is essential for clarity.

While on mobilisations, there is no salary cost to the employer, the employee’s ‘salary’ is met by the MOD. Benefits should remain in place such as company contributions to a pension scheme (unless they join the armed forces pension scheme) and healthcare insurance etc.

There are three elements to the mobilisation: Training, Active Service and Post Service Leave. An employee could be absent from work for 3 – 12 months.

On return from mobilisation, the employer is obliged to reinstate the employee into a role which is the same or as close as reasonably practicable to their original job.

So, now you know what your obligations are, what can you do while your employee is away?

Well, you shouldn’t fill their position permanently. Ideally aim to have someone acting up into their role or split their responsibilities among other employees. You could take on a temporary member of staff on a fixed term contract as if you are covering maternity leave. Think about what the business needs, you may bring someone in to do part of the role, you may use it as a training experience for an existing member of staff.

Communicate to others what is happening and ensure the employee and their team understand how the work will be covered in the short term.

What is your experience of reservists in the workplace? How have you dealt with absence during manoeuvres? Have you ever taken the decision not to hire someone because they are a reservist?

Annual Leave

24 Jun
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Annual Leave, Blog, Contract of employment, Employees, Employers, Holidays, people management   |  1 Comments

Many of us look forward to a summer holiday and a well-earned break. We’re just about to come into that time of year when employers will start to see the ebb and flow of their workforce as staff start to take their main holiday.  It’s important to remember that annual leave is much more than just a benefit; it’s essential for the long term health and well-being of your staff.  As an employer, you probably recognise that many of your employees are working long and hard, perhaps a reflection of the current recession and harder times.  Therefore it’s important and in fact essential that you ensure your team take their annual leave.  A holiday gives a much needed boost to often tired workers.  When working long hours over extended periods of time, mistakes are made and accidents can occur.  It is often the case that motivation and morale can also be low.  By encouraging staff to take time off for perhaps a week’s holiday, preferably two means that those run down batteries can be re-charged!  It is generally a common theme that people return with new-found inspiration, refreshed and motivated which in turn really can energise and benefit a business.

The entitlement to paid annual leave is governed by the Working Time Directive Legislation. This provides all full time employees with a minimum of 28 days leave per year, including public and bank holidays. This is then pro-rated for part time employees – and this is where the complication for many starts.

We find that one of the biggest on-going issues for our clients is calculating part time annual leave entitlements.  It can be complicated so here we provide you with some easy to understand golden rules to enable you to choose the method most appropriate for your business needs.

Rule 1: You cannot treat part time employees any less favourably than your full time staff. Entitlements can be pro-rated, but the base benefit must be the same.

Rule 2: Work out your full time weekly hours as this is the anchor point. If you have two very different categories of staff such as those at head office and those in retail outlets, you may choose to have different full time hours for each category.

Rule 3: Calculate the FTE (full time equivalent) of each member of staff based on your full time hours for that category.  Here’s an example: If your full time hours are 40 and someone works 30 hours, they are a 0.75 FTE if your full time hours are 35 and someone works 30 hours, they are a 0.86 FTE.

Rule 4: Following Rule 3 work out leave entitlement. As both annual leave and public & bank holidays are pro-rated, assuming a full time employee has 28 days, in the first example the employee would have 21 days leave. In the second example the employee would have 24 days. The main thing to note with this first calculation is that the day is a normal length working day for that category i.e. 8 or 7 hours if it is a 5 day working week, Monday to Friday.

Rule 5: Perhaps you are managing annual leave in hours? In some organisations, where staff work a different number of hours on each day, it may be easier to manage annual leave in hours, so that in this example both employees have 168 hours leave (first employee 21 days x 8 hours) and (second employee 24 days x 7 hours). In this case if they take a day off and they would only normally work 6 hours on that day, then it is 6 which is deducted not 7 or 8 for a whole day.

Rule 6: Be clear on the Bank Holidays! Bank holidays notoriously cause a problem. The key is to record every absence whether it is a personal holiday or a public holiday. So if the employee usually works 8 hours on a Monday and Monday is a bank holiday, you deduct 8 hours (or 1 day) from their leave entitlement. If the employee does not usually work on a Monday, there is no change to their leave record.

Rule 7: Sunday working; where an employee works short days on a Sunday, it is important to ensure that they don’t use all their annual leave entitlement to take every Sunday off! Therefore it is essential that your policy is well written restricting this practice so that may mean no more than 6 Sundays per year and that your managers are trained to manage holiday absence efficiently and ensure adequate cover for the business.

Rule 8: Where an organisation has staff who do not work regular weekly hours, managing holiday accurately is much harder. We recommend accruing holiday based on actual hours worked on a weekly basis. The accrual rate is determined by your full time hours and normal leave entitlement. Then for every hour worked, holiday is accrued. If the person works every week (or most weeks) then they need to be able to take their leave. If they are a temporary member of staff or only work periodically, then it may be better to pay them each month for the holiday they have accrued. This should show as a separate line on their pay slip.

Getting holiday right is important, legally, morally and for the sake of the business. We recommend you ensure you have a clear policy which supports your business needs and culture.  Understand what you have to do and clarify what you want to do. Communicate it to staff and if in doubt, seek advice. Ensuring staff use their annual leave entitlement is for the long term health of your business as well as for good morale. Oh, and don’t forget to lead by example. You are no good to your business if you are exhausted.  On that note, have a good holiday; we’re off to book ours!

For more information, or for help with drafting your annual leave policy, contact us on 01923 504100 or at enquiries@dohr.co.uk

Father’s Day –Pay Some Attention to Dads!

07 Jun
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Employees, Mediation, Paternity   |  2 Comments

Father’s Day is just around the corner, for those of you who haven’t marked it in your diary in a giant red circle – it’s Sunday 17th June.  Make sure you spoil Dads and Carers – because I think they often get left out of any celebrations!  Notoriously, did you know that Father’s Day is actually the least important event in retailers’ calendars? No, it’s not the retailers’ fault, it’s as simple as this; consumers don’t spend as much on Dads as they do Mums, Valentines and even Halloween.

While I was thinking about my own preparations for Father’s Day it got me contemplating Dads in the workplace. Becoming a parent is no doubt one of the most exciting things that can happen to someone, if not THE most exciting thing.  There’s so much to think about, all that baby shopping, decorating a nursery, obviously names and also the well-being of Mum, so Dad’s needs sometimes may be again, left a bit further down the list!  As Dad’s are often a little neglected I thought it would be useful to re-cap on paternity leave and pay policy.

Legislation didn’t come in just to make life easier for new Mums,  it came about to allow Dads to have special time to bond with the new addition.  Whilst it will take a few years (probably around 15), the new addition will one day thank Dad for all his love and care – with a Father’s Day gift of course!

So what rights do Fathers have?

Fathers and Partners who have at least 26 weeks of service 15 weeks prior to the Expected Date of Confinement (EDC) are entitled to two weeks of paternity leave.  This period of time is called Ordinary Paternity Leave and must be taken within 56 days of the birth or adoption of a child. Officially this is paid at the statutory rate (currently £135.45 – subject to qualification), however many companies will pay this at full pay. In addition, new fathers can add annual leave (full pay) or up to 4 weeks parental leave (unpaid) to their ordinary paternity leave period.  

In addition, for fathers of babies born after 3rd April 2011, there is an entitlement of up to 26 weeks Additional Paternity Leave (APL). This must be taken between 20 and 52 weeks after the birth and the mother must have returned to work. Any of the mother’s SMP remaining can be transferred to the father. Legislation currently provides for APL to be paid at the statutory rate, but a word of caution here …. Regardless of the policy at the mother’s company, If you provide enhanced Maternity Pay to your female workforce, not providing this to your male workforce could lead to discrimination claims. This is as yet unproven in court, but a case in Spain indicates that this would hold up.

There are several other considerations for employers when developing Paternity Policies:

– Consideration needs to be given to the way in which time off for ante natal appointments such as scans are managed. There is currently no obligation on employers to allow leave for this purpose. The same is the case for consultants’ appointments and ante natal classes. However, allowing time off for women and not for men may increasingly be seen as discriminatory and may impact on motivation and productivity.

– A same sex partner is just as entitled to paternity leave and pay as any other partner. In the case of adoption, the same rules also apply.

– Every year, the Government reviews the weekly amounts of SMP/SAP and SPP so the amounts in this blog are subject to change!

However companies decide to manage paternity and parental issues in their workplace, there is a need for compliance. Companies must document their policy, communicate it and apply it consistently. The policy should respect the law, but also reflect the type of company you are (or want to be). If you are a family orientated organisation, then you may choose to have your policy reflect that. If you want to encourage great employee relations, trust, respect and appreciation for you as an employer, then getting your policies aligned to your culture and ethos is a great way to do it.

For more information on what we do and how we can help, please call us on 01923 504100 for a free, no obligations chat. Alternatively, email us or fill in the form on the ‘contact us’ page of our website and someone will give you a call.

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