HR Support

Family Friendly Policies

28 Mar
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Employment, Employment Legislation, Flexi-time, Flexible working, gender, Home-workers, HR Policy, HR Support, Human Resources, Job Sharing, Maternity, Part-time Workers Act, Paternity, people management, Policies and Procedures, reduced hours, Video, Vlog   |  No Comments

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.



We Do HR – Making the Workplace a Better Place to be

08 Jan
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Health and Safety, HR, HR Policy, HR Support, Human Resources, Recruitment   |  No Comments

I am on a mission…..

Our strapline is “Making the workplace a better place to be” – but what does that mean?

Over the years, the management of people within a business has had many different names; the most familiar used today are “personnel” and “Human Resources (HR)”.  Whatever you choose to call it, staff have always been managed to a greater or lesser extent and whoever you talk to will always have stories about good and bad managers.

So, why our strapline?

Whether you are the employer or the employee, working in a ‘good’ place makes life far more bearable. We all spend too much of our time at work not to be happy. Doing a job which satisfies and challenges us, working alongside people who’s company we enjoy are both essential elements of a good workplace, but so is the working environment, including business culture and management ethos.

When we work with business owners, we ensure that we fully understand not only the business issues within the company, but the working environment as well:

  • If a company wants to remain informal, then we help them to develop and/or reinforce an approach which is a ‘soft-touch’, but compliant with employment legislation. This is often the request of small or family owned businesses.
  • If a company wants to build a base for rapid expansion, then we will ensure all of the HR policies and procedures form a foundation which is solid and easily scalable.
  • If a company doesn’t know what they want, but has an increasing number of employee relations issues, then we will review what is currently happening, understand the cause of the issues and work with the business owners and / or managers to put into place robust, transparent and well-communicated HR policies, procedures, processes and practices.

This approach to HR Management provides line managers with a mandate to manage, making the workplace better for them. At the same time, employees understand what is expected of them for example: hours of work, dress code, health and safety and sickness notification; and what commitments the company has made with respect to terms and conditions of employment and HR policies such as disciplinaries, grievances, sick pay and leave, annual leave, health and safety, discrimination etc.

‘Making the workplace a better place to be’ may take on many different guises and change over time. At DOHR we ensure we know what the workplace looks like now and how it needs to look in the future. Implementing good HR practices, we work very closely with business owners and managers to realise the vision, to reduce risk to the business and make their workplace a better place to be.

The Dreaded Appraisal

22 Oct
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, HR Consultancy, HR Policy, HR Support, Performance Management, Policies and Procedures   |  No Comments

Results sign postThis time of year, we find many of our clients want to take the opportunity to appraise staff. Of course there is no hard and fast rule as to when to do this and some companies will link appraisals to the financial year end, the end of the calendar year or the employee’s anniversary with the company.

It’s important for every business to have an appraisal process in place as part of its general performance management framework. Staff must have objectives set that are aligned to the business goals and these are often cascaded down through any management structures which exist within the organisation.  Appraisals are  also an excellent tool for keeping  staff fully engaged with the business as they help them to understand the business and to set their personal goals to that they contribute to future success.

An appraisal is an opportunity to step off the rat wheel, to step back from the daily grind and to review successes and failures with the benefit of hindsight. Activities and progress from the last year should be discussed and lessons learnt turned into positives. Nothing should be raised in an annual appraisal which has not already been discussed in a timely fashion throughout the year. This is a review and summarise activity which plays a significant role for future goal setting. Any areas for concern or opportunities for development should be discussed in an open and honest way during the appraisal.

There are four stages to an effective appraisal:

  1. Preparation
  2. Meeting
  3. Write up
  4. Follow through


Preparation for both the appraiser (manager) and appraisee (employee) is essential. The appraiser should ensure that the appraisee has all the paperwork at least a week before their meeting. The manager should ask the employee to work through the paperwork, filling it all in with their opinions, thoughts and views. Having a copy of last years appraisal or any interim reviews, targets etc. would be a useful starting point for reviewing the year.

The manager also needs to prepare and they should go through the same process for each of their direct reports.

The Meeting

The meeting is a two way process. It is an open and honest discussion, during which the appraisal form is jointly completed. While the employee has a significant input, if the appraiser and appraisee can not agree, it is the appraisers view which is documented and the appraisee has the opportunity to make their views known in a comments box. Examples and feedback from others are particularly powerful in an appraisal meeting.

Write it up

Following the meeting, the paperwork is finalised. Despite any differences of opinion in the meeting, the appraisers view is what is documented, hopefully with consensus. The employee should get the opportunity to add their comments and should be given a final copy of their appraisal form.

Follow up

Once complete, businesses do one of two things with the appraisal documentation. Many will just put it in the personnel file and forget about it until next year. Successful organisations however, will bring the document to life, making it a working, evolving and directive tool for guiding progress and development throughout the next 12 months. The documentation should be used in monthly or quarterly 121 meetings and updated where appropriate as roles change, the business evolves and set objectives are met.

Does your business carry out appraisals? Do you see a benefit in them or are they a waste of time? Do you even look at your appraisal notes during the year? We would love to know your views.

For help and assistance with any of your appraisal needs from policy to forms or training, we are happy to help.

Recruiting Blind

18 Jan
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Blog, Discrimination, HR Policy, HR Support, Human Resources, Policies and Procedures, Race Discrimination, Recruitment, war for talent   |  3 Comments

Would you? Could you?
Over 100 UK businesses have pledged to recruit blind as a way of increasing social mobility and reducing the risk of discrimination candidates with submit their applications on standard company from without a name or school.

As an HR professional, I’m not sure how I feel about this.

15 years ago I developed application forms with tear off flaps for equal opportunity monitoring. The forms were all numbered sequentially and the applicant tracked through the system by number so we monitored age, gender and ethnicity. It actually made no difference to our employee demographics. It did however take time and resources to manage and continually monitor the applicants through recruitment, selection and promotion within the company. Even at the time, removing date of birth from the application form seemed odd – you just needed to look at when someone was at school or entered the workplace to be able to estimate their age.

So now we are removing name and school as well. Will it really make a difference? Will this prevent ‘the old boys network’ from blocking social mobility?

Companies signing up to the Compact have also agreed to use schools and other public forums to advertise work experience / intern opportunities rather than offering the places to informal contacts.

Thinking about your business, would you prefer to advertise for a junior in your local schools or take the son / daughter of an existing employee or a friend?

Is this the end of the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”?

Can I fire a poor performer?

01 Mar
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Disciplinary, HR Consultancy, HR Policy, HR Support, Performance Management   |  No Comments

I have had several calls recently from potential clients looking for help managing poor performers. One of my first questions is always “Do you have a documented policy”? “Have you ever told the person they are not performing to the standards you expect”?

In most cases, managers deal with poor performance in one of two ways:

  1.  They scream and shout, they throw the work back at the individual and tell them they have done a rubbish job (usually in stronger language) and they threaten to fire them if they do not improve their performance.
  2. They don’t want to cause a conflict, they don’t say anything to the employee, they redo the work themselves and they wonder why the employee does not learn.

Neither of these approaches is good for your business. They do not resolve the problem and they can have costly consequences. So what should employers do? Here are five top tips:

  1. Have a Performance Management Policy which provides for both positive and negative behaviours
  2. Have regular reviews with all staff and provide objective and constructive feedback
  3. Praise good performance – it is so easy to forget to say “Well Done” when someone has done a good job
  4. Set objectives and measure progress towards these
  5. Have a robust disciplinary policy and process to rely on, should all else fail

Managing employees well is an art and takes knowledge and practice. Many employers know what they want, but enabling employees to achieve it can be harder.

How do you manage poor performance?

Do you reward good performance?
What top tops would you share?

Do you employ men?

14 Jan
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in HR, HR Consultancy, HR Support, Maternity, Paternity, pay   |  No Comments

Although we like to think it is a thing of the past, clients still tell me that they are scared to employ young females in case they get pregnant. They don’t want the upheaval or the costs associated with maternity leave such as finding and training temporary staff or loosing key skills and knowledge.

However, from April, the law changes and employers could face these issues when employing either female or male staff.

From April parents will be able to share the maternity leave with fathers allowed up to six months off (providing mum has gone back to work). This time off is paid at Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) rates, currently £124.88 per week.

Although legislation provides SPP, it is expected that in business and organisations where enhanced maternity pay is available, by not offering the enhancement to fathers, employers may be in breach of discrimination laws around gender. In these cases, employers may have to amend their policies to provide for enhanced paternity pay.

So, unlike parental leave which is unpaid and therefore not particularly attractive, it is anticipated that there will be greater take up of extended paternity leave. This may particularly be the case if the mother earns more money than the father, or the father works for an organisation which pays enhance paternity pay and the mother does not.

So, is this a change for the better or the worse? Well, I guess that depends on your point of view!!

BNI – 60 Seconds – 21st December

21 Dec
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Bad weather, Business Continuity, HR Consultancy, HR Support   |  No Comments

After last weeks 60 seconds, I thought I would spare you the agony of another song, but I did want to pick up on the message from last week which was about planning for bad weather, being flexible with your workforce and ensuring you have documented HR policies so that there is consistency and clarity around business continuity in bad weather.

Life must go on. House sales will still complete, people still need to move, weddings will continue and the UK workforce must be prepared to enable businesses to continue throughout the winter months. Modern technology enables many employees to work from home.

Make business continuity and employee management a key part of your HR strategy, fail to plan and you plan to fail.

This week I am again looking for a referral to Accountants Jigsol in Trafalgar House in Mill Hill.

I am Donna Obstfeld, The Company is DOHR and we do HR, making the workplace a better place to be.

BNI – 60 Seconds – 23rd November

24 Nov
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in HR Consultancy, HR Support   |  No Comments

I thought I would give you an example of some of the issues I am working on this week:

• A policy for working and paying for overtime and on call in a 24 hour a day maintenance and installation company

• Writing up the notes for a disciplinary meeting I assisted with last week, including the outcome letter

• Finalising contracts for two clients

• Preparing all the HR documentation for a Boarders and Immigration inspection visit

• I am also in the process of hiring myself some help – I don’t know if you are aware of it, but thank you Jeremy!

This week I am looking for a referral to Accountants, Elliot, Woolfe and Rose in Edgware. I believe I can add value to their business by helping their payroll clients to become fully HR compliant.

I am Donna Obstfeld, the Company is DOHR and we do HR, making the workplace a better place to be.

BNI – 60 Seconds – 16th November

16 Nov
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Accountants in North West London, HR, HR Consultancy, HR Consultant, HR Policy, HR Support, Policies and Procedures   |  No Comments

As some of you may know I used to be a Scout Leader. Our motto is “Be Prepared”. I am anxious that employers live by this motto.

By having good HR Policies and Procedures in place, employers are able to attract, recruit, develop and retain the right staff with the right skills and motivation to drive their business forward.

So often, employers are not prepared, they don’t know what is required or expected of them as employers and they expose their precious businesses to unnecessary risks.

By engaging us as their HR Consultants  we are able to help employers be prepared, protect their business and get the most from a highly motivated and engaged workforce.

This week, I am looking for a referral to Accountants, Elliot, Woolfe and Rose in Edgware.

I am Donna Obstfeld, the company is DOHR and we do HR, making the workplace a better place to be.

BNI – 60 Seconds – 9th November

09 Nov
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Disability Discrimination, Discrimination, Hertfordshire, HR Consultancy, HR Policy, HR Support, Race Discrimination, Sexual Orientation   |  No Comments

Can your clients afford to settle an employment tribunal claim?

Now, I don’t like scarring you, but in 2009 – 10, there were 392,800 claims of which 24% were working time directive related, 19% were unauthorised deductions from wages and 32% were unfair dismissal, breach of contract or redundancy related.

– In 2008 – 09 the highest award for unfair dismissal was just over £84k while the average was just under £8k. This excludes time and the cost of advice and representation.
– For Race Discrimination the maximum award was just over £1.3m and the average award was £32,115.
– Disability Discrimination cases settled by the tribunals included a case awarded £388,612, averaging £27,235.
– For cases with Sexual Orientation Discrimination jurisdiction, the maximum award handed down was for £63,222, and these cases averaged awards of £23,668.

The biggest gift you can give your clients this year, is to make sure they are fully compliant with employment legislation.

Today, I want to help you to protect your best client. I am looking for a referral to your best client (as long as they are an employer).

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