PeopleTalk – January 2013

Welcome to 2013!

Happy New Year and welcome to the January edition of PeopleTalk.  After all the festivities it’s back to work and like you, we’re planning for an even more successful 2013.

The beginning of the year is always an opportunity to think about getting our businesses in order for the coming year, reviewing policies and procedures, planning for recruitment, team development and completing appraisals.

Over the past year we have built even closer alliances with a number of strategic partners and are able to offer you an even more comprehensive service with recruitment, training and health & safety, all more accessible to you, our client.

Ethical Standards in the Workplace

Did you know that half of employees who witness misconduct still fail to report it? A worrying statement yet most British employees feel they work for an honest organisation.  A recent IBE (Institute of Business Ethics) study focusing on ethical standards and behaviour, shows that 84 per cent of UK workers believe honesty is always or frequently practised by their organisation. However, when they looked into reporting misconduct they found that although 20 per cent of British employees were aware of misconduct, only half actually reported it. Reasons given ranged from ‘indifference and it’s none of my business’ to ‘nothing will happen if I do report it’.

Businesses need to work harder at communicating the importance of speaking up, and supporting employees who do. Stealing is the most frequently mentioned type of misconduct. There has also been a significant increase in the proportion of employees who have been aware of discrimination, but again have not reported it. Would you know how to deal with this type of issue if it arose? If issues such as these are not nipped in the bud they can lead to situations escalating, causing much bigger problems for a business and its employees.

Businesses must have a formal policy and process which is widely communicated, so employees feel empowered to report any issues, anonymously if they wish. Many larger companies have ethical standards and procedures written into their handbook which is freely available to staff. There should also be an anonymous mechanism for reporting misconduct, training on ethical standards and an information helpline on ethical issues. SME’s while requiring the same standards of ethical behaviour can achieve the same outcomes through open door practices, non-blame cultures, anti-bribery and whistle-blowing policies.

The Road to Recovery with Flexible Workers

With the New Year upon us we all reflect on how our businesses are faring particularly in times of recession.  If affected by the recession, do you feel you are on the road to recovery?

In response to the Chancellors Autumn Statement, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said “the road to recovery hinges on the continued ability of the UK’s flexible labour market to support employment growth. It also depends on efforts of employers to improve employee engagement. What the last year has shown is that employers are learning the lessons of the past and are investing in the skills of their people in order to retain the capability to innovate and compete”.

Unfortunately, many see flexible workers as more of a hindrance than a help, but employers can use them to gain an advantage. Maybe there is a need for more people over the lunch-time period, as this is your busiest time and everyone else takes a lunch-break?  A working mum would welcome these hours as mornings and afternoons are often taken up by the school run. The same goes for the summer, when businesses often quieten down and you don’t need so many staff – some people would welcome this time off to be with their families.

People who are now in the position to work part-time, for whatever reason, often have a wealth of skills and knowledge built up over many years in the work place; they just don’t want to or need to work full-time anymore. Businesses are missing a trick if they do not take advantage of these potentially valuable resources. So when employing staff, be flexible with your thinking, identify the skills and experience you need to grow your business and don’t just think of a traditional, permanent full-time member of staff, think about all the options including part-time, term-time, job shares, condensed days / weeks and seasonal staffing options.

Do you test for Drink and Drugs?

Did you have a Christmas party for your employees? Did you stop to think about the ‘morning after’ and how that would affect productivity the following day? It may sound a bit drastic and put a dampener on Christmas spirit, but it does raise a very important point – what are your policies concerning drink and drugs? Perhaps you don’t have a policy at all.

It’s not only a seasonal issue, more than 14 million working days are estimated to be lost to hangovers or alcohol related illnesses each year, costing businesses an estimated whopping £2 billion! The United Nations’ World Drugs Report 2012 suggests that up to 8% of the UK’s adult population are users of illegal drugs. This growing trend has prompted some organisations to bring independent companies in to test their staff.

You may not wish to go this far, but simply by having a statement in your contract of employment emphasising that employees are not permitted to attend work under the influence of drugs or alcohol and that you reserve the right to require employees to undergo drug and / or alcohol testing at any point, you are setting ground rules and ultimately protecting your business.

If a member of staff does come to work under the influence of drink or drugs this will affect their performance and could destroy the reputation of your company. Not dealing with this could also be damaging to your employees’ welfare and as an employer you have a responsibility to do the right thing by your employees.

So if nothing else include this in your Contract of Employment, Handbook and Policies & Procedures. 

Key Dates:

March 2013     Portable DBS Checks to be introduced.

Disclosure and Barring Service (previously Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)) checks will be available online to enable employers to confirm that no information has changed since the check was originally done. This means that an employee will not have to obtain a DBS each time they start a new job.

March 2013    Parental leave will increase to four months.

The permitted period of parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child increases from three to four months, and at least one of the four months will not be transferable between parents.

April 2013     Employee-owner contract introduced.

A new type of employment contract, is introduced. Employee-owners will be given between £2,000 and £50,000 of shares in the business, which will be exempt from capital gains tax, in exchange for foregoing certain employment rights.

May 2013      Directive on protection of healthcare workers must be implemented.

The increased protection includes provision to prevent injuries caused by sharp objects.

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