PeopleTalk – April 2013

Welcome to April’s edition of PeopleTalk, the (almost) monthly newsletter for DOHR, the HR practice which works with employers to make their workplace a better place to be.

I should be talking about Spring being in the air and a great time to spring clean your HR policies etc., but instead as I write this, I find myself sat in Scotland gazing out at snow covered mountains as a new shower of snow falls.  Getting some rest and relaxation is as essential for business owners as it is for employees. Having a team back at base has made a huge difference to me, as I am now able to take a break and not worry about who will answer the phones and deal with client issues. Having the team has also meant that clients get queries and problems dealt with quickly and effectively when I am out of the office in meetings or with other clients. In short, getting the right team supporting the business has meant that my clients get a better service. Taking on staff can be scary, but it also enables a business to grow. Getting your HR culture, policies and procedures in place protects your business as it grows.<br>

HR today

With the death of Baroness Thatcher, I have been thinking about what the world of HR would be like if the Trade Union movement had not changed so much under her governance. My memories of strong unions include television bulletins of Arthur Scargill during the miners’ strikes; and being thrown out of school at lunchtimes when the dinner ladies were on strike.

For many in the world of HR today, there is a significant gap in experience as the whole industrial relations remit is missing. Many HR professionals will now go through their entire career never having to deal with a union official. However, under current legislation, even if an employer does not recognise a trade union, an employee being disciplined is entitled to bring a union rep with them to formal meetings. This is something employers and managers dread, but it can have a positive effect if the meeting is managed well. Having a calm, neutral third party who understand the process and is able to remove the emotion from the meeting allowing it to focus on objective facts, can result in a much better meeting and outcome for all parties.

HR has come along way since Mrs Thatcher’s days, the nature of HR has changed significantly, but it has and will always be about people making a difference to business.

Legal Update

It feels like the two employment legislation updates per year has gone out of the window. This year sees one of the heaviest update calendars I have seen in a long time!  Keeping up to date with changing legislation is what we do to ensure we are supporting all our clients. There are regular legal updates on our website in the resources section and for our retained clients when there are significant changes, we may need to update contracts of employment or employee handbooks. The highlights for this year’s changes include:

  •  Extension to parental leave
  • Changes to collective redundancies
  • Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill
  • Introduction of Employee Shareholders
  • Changes to TUPE legislation
  • Vetting and Barring
  • Pension Auto Enrolment

For help with any of these issues and how they will affect your business, just get in touch on 01923 504 100.

National Minimum Wage

October 1st each year sees the increase in the National Minimum Wage. This is determined based on a recommendation from the low pay commission and covers all employees from young workers and apprentices to those over the age of 20. This year, the increases range from 1% (an extra 3p per hour) for the younger workers to 1.9% (an extra 12p per hour) for those over 20. For older employees working a 35 hour week, this provides an annual salary of £11,484.20 and at 45 hours per week, an annual salary of £14,765.40.

In making their recommendations this year, there has been concern that some employers are still not paying at the National Minimum Wage levels and therefore along with the increase there will be closer monitoring and enforcement, especially for interns and apprentices.

Even these increases do not bring the National Minimum Wage in line with the Living Wage which currently stands at £8.55 per hour for London based employees and £7.45 for employees elsewhere in the country. It is estimated that 20% of the National workforce are paid below this level.

Getting pay right is a balancing act. Employees must be paid enough to enable them to live in the manner to which they ‘want’ / ‘need’. Employers must be able to pay enough to compete for talent – appropriately skilled staff capable of doing what needs to be done. The business also needs to be able to afford it’s salary bill and this is where many employers feel they can not afford to pay the Living Wage. Market and sector norms are key indicators when setting pay within a business. Many employers will pay the National Minimum Wage for unskilled, manual workers including waiters, cleaners and porters.


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