Category Archives: HR Tips

Company Handbook

The perfect handbook brings protection and peace of mind.

Policies set out in a Handbook provide a framework and sets out standards of behaviour expected by the business of it’s employees and workers.

It assists in the running of the business

It reduces legal risks

It enables the business to comply with good HR practice.

Einon HR highly recommends that all businesses have a Company Handbook in place,  here at Einon HR we are able to provide a bespoke Company Handbook which covers all policies covering areas such as Whistleblowing, Bribery, Equal Opportunities, Data Protection, Bullying & Harassment, Social Media, Disciplinary & Grievance etc….

Working practices which are Company specific are also included.

Contact Einon HR today to discuss your requirements and to find out how Einon HR can help support you and your business.

How to avoid Christmas Party problems

A Christmas party can often boost morale, increase employee satisfaction and promote team building.
Preparation is key to a successful Christmas party!

Decoration

Think twice about mistletoe at your Christmas party, whilst it may appear to be innocent fun, mistletoe may increase the risk of sexual harassment claims. This applies even if your Christmas party is held outside working hours and not in the office. The party is still a work event meaning employers are likely to be vicariously liable for acts of their employees (particularly if you organised and funded the event) unless you take reasonable steps to prevent those acts occurring. If a complaint is made during or after the Christmas party, you should follow your usual disciplinary policy and investigate the complaint thoroughly.

Employers owe their employees a duty to take reasonable of care towards their health and safety, therefore if you ask employees to decorate the office you need to provide them with the appropriate equipment to do so, for example providing step ladders in order to ensure employees do not use swivel chairs to stand on. On a similar note if you hold the Christmas party in the office, dancing on desks or the like could cause damage not only to the employee but to the employer’s property. Make it clear that such behaviour will not be tolerated or that certain parts of the office are out of bounds during the party.

Harassment

Employees need to be aware that the Company policies on harassment and discrimination continue to apply when socialising with work colleagues. Ensure employees know the consequences of breaching such policies. The employer continues to be liable for the acts of their employees when socialising with each other. Employers are also responsible for harassment by third parties. Third parties at a Christmas party could includ entertainers and bar staff.

Alcohol

Remember their will be employees who do not drink alcohol, perhaps for religious reasons or otherwise. Therefore ensure you supply plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. Also if there will be any employees attending the Christmas party who will be under the age of 18, ensure you keep an eye out to make sure they do not drink alcohol.
If employees are expected to be in work the next day, remind them that disciplinary action could be taken of they fail to attend due to over indulging at the Christmas party. Equally if you are having a Christmas lunch let employees know whether they will be expected to return to work in the afternoon. If you have employees operating machinery then you should emphasise that alcohol will not be permitted.

Food 

If you are providing food for your employes, remember that different religions and beliefs cannot eat certain foods. The best way to avoid offending any employees is to ensure you always offer appropriate options for vegetarians, vegans and those who cannot eat specific foods, i.e beef or pork.  It is also advisable, where possible, to offer an alternative to employees with allergies such as wheat, and lactose.

Loose lips

Discussions had at a Christmas party could come back to haunt you.  In 2005 a claim was filed by an employee after a Manager had made a promise at the Christmas party that his salary would be increased to match another colleague within two years.  After two years the employee was not on the same salary and so the employee resigned and claimed constructive dismissal. The employment appeal tribunal eventually decided that the Manager did not intend to enter into a legally binding commitment at the Christmas party.  However, this was an expensive lesson for the employer to learn which could easily have been avoided if the Manager had not discussed remuneration at the Christmas party.

After the party 

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees therefore if an employee appears to have drunk too much, the employer should take responsibility.  Practically it would be sensible to arrange for the party to end before public transport stops running or to provide the numbers of local taxi companies and encourage employees to use them.  Another option (depending on cost) would be to provide a mini bus to take employees back to a place where they will be able to get home easily (i.e a railway station, or the office).

Finally have fun knowing that by following these simple steps you have organised a hassle free Christmas party for all to enjoy!

Managing long-term absence

A common cause of concern for Managers and business owners is the absence of employees due to long-term sickness. In my experience Managers are often nervous in relation to how they should manage long-term sickness absence given the potentially sensitive nature of this area.

Here at Einon HR we often are asked “When is an employee classed as long-term sick”? “How do we get them back to work”? “Can we or should we contact the employee whilst they are sick”? “What happens if they are too unwell to return to work”?

An employee is normally considered as long-term once they have been absent for 4 weeks or more.

Throughout any absence Managers should discuss options with the employee which may facilitate their return to work, including adjustments to their work or a phased return. If the employer decides they wish to obtain medical advice they need to write to the employee and seek the employees consent before approaching the employee’s Doctor or Consultant.

Employers should regular keep in touch with their employees if they are absent, it is also advisable to hold a “welfare” meeting with the employee in order to discuss their absence and to get an up date on their state of health.

When medical advice is obtained it may state that the employee is unlikely to be able to return to work in the foreseeable future due to ill-health, and provided there are no alternative roles or reasonable adjustments that could be made to help the employee return, the employer would need to arrange a capability hearing and dismiss the employee on the grounds of ill-health capability, although this would be the final step an employer would take and only after full consideration of all the circumstances of the employees situation.

Employees who are deemed to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 are entitled to have reasonable adjustments considered by the employer, to help them at work or return to work. Failure to make reasonable adjustments could result in a disability discrimination claim. Employees with over two years’ service who are either dismissed, or with whom the employer fails to keep in touch with during any long-term sickness absence, may decide to bring a claim for unfair or constructive unfair dismissal against the employer.

Long-term absence therefore, is something that can benefit from a proactive response and having clear policies and procedures which create consistency and add clarity for Managers.

If you need an absence policy or a review of your existing policy please give us a call.

Employee References

Recent work undertaken by Einon HR for a client in Rushden, Northants highlights the need for employers to take care when providing references for prospective employers. Any reference provided should be fair, accurate, true and not misleading, otherwise they risk claims for negligent misstatement or deceit.
It is also important that employers are consistent in their approach to avoid employee allegations of discrimination or victimisation. Having a policy in place on providing references helps.
There is generally no obligation on prospective employers to ask for a reference, but where an employer asks for one and receives a reference that it considers unsatisfactory, it should avoid knee jerk reactions such as withdrawing the job offer or dismissing the employee.

Getting communications right during and after maternity leave.

Under the 1999 maternity and parental leave regulations, an employer is allowed to maintain “reasonable contact from time to time” with an employee on maternity leave.
Employees on maternity leave can take up to 10 KIT (keeping in touch) days during their maternity leave, the dates must be agreed by the employer, and taking such days will not terminate the employee’s maternity leave. It is important to note that either parent may also have 20 SPLIT (shared parental leave in touch days) in addition to KIT days if they take shared parental leave.
There is no obligation for an employer to offer KIT days, and similarly, there is no right for an employee to insist on having a KIT day, or any obligation to accept any KIT days offered.
Good communications with the employee may include providing them with company updates, job vacancies or information about business changes. It is not advisable to provide the employee which could be construed as work, or which could cause the employee to worry about their work duties.

The right of appeal

In any disciplinary process the right of appeal is a fundamental step. Not only is this right a matter of good HR practice, the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures confirms that an employee should be allowed to appeal any formal decision.  This covers each stage from a warning or a dismissal where the employee consider it is wrong or unjust.

 

Although it is not common, employees may have a contractual right to an appeal and, if so, the contract of employment will dictate the process that must be followed.  Employers are advised to check the contractual status of the process.

A failure to offer a right of appeal may provide an employee with a basis for a claim.

Although there is no statutory obligation to follow the ACAS Code, breaches of the Code can result in an uplift of up to 25% of any compensatory award made by a tribunal.

A fair appeal process should therefore be followed.

For further help and guidance on the appeal process please contact Einon HR on 07764 948898 or send us an email.

Dismissing staff with short service

Einon HR often get asked …. It’s risk free to dismiss an employee who has under 2 years service…. isn’t it ?
Employers often believe it is relatively safe and easy to dismiss unsatisfactory employees with under 2 years service without risk, and quite often it is. However, there are some exceptions to the rule that employers need to be aware of.

Prior to any dismissal employers should satisfy they have assessed all the risks, as certain claims can be made irrespective of length of service.

Certain dismissals are automatically unfair and there is no length of service qualification for these types of claims. These situations include, when an employee is dismissed for raising a health and safety concern, taking leave for family reasons, asserting statutory rights, which include working Time Regulations, TUPE laws, and national minimum wage etc…….

Consideration should also be given as to whether the employee could claim the dismissal was discriminatory on the grounds of sex, pregnancy, maternity, gender assignment, marital or civil partnership, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or age.

While the employer may have a genuine reason for dismissing on the grounds of poor performance the employer needs to follow a full and fair procedure meaning if an employee bought a case of unfair dismissal then the employer would be able to show evidence that a full and fair process was followed.

Company procedures should be reviewed in order to ensure that they are not contractually binding. If the disciplinary/capability/redundancy procedure is contractual and not adhered to, there is a breach of contract risk and the ex-employee may sue for damages.

If you are faced with this type of issue Einon HR can help and support you through this, we can also review your procedures to ensure they are legally compliant and are not contractually binding. Leaving you to run your business.

Einon HR can be reached on 0776 4948898 or why not send us an email.

An employee has over two years service and is under notice of redundancy do we have to allow them time off to look for alternative work?

Where an employee with over two years’ service is under notice of redundancy, they have the right to a reasonable amount of paid time off to look for alternative work or to arrange training. However, despite the amount of actual time taken off, the employer is only obliged to pay the employee 40% of a week’s wage. For example, the employee works five days per week and takes three days off during the whole of the notice period to look for alternative work, the employer is only legally obliged to pay for two days because that is 40% of the employee’s normal working week. As to whether the amount of time off requested is reasonable, that will depend on the facts of each case.

Workplace Absence

Staff absences have a significant impact on businesses, in terms of cost, the negative impact on productivity, quality of customer service and staff morale. To tackle this the government have introduced a new Health and Work Service, which started to be phased in when an online and telephone advice line was launched in December 2014 (http://fitforwork.org). This service can be used by employees, employers and GPs. The service aims to help those employees who are or are expected to be on sick leave for four weeks or more to return to work by providing them with an occupational health assessment. Employees will be referred by their GPs and a return to work plan will be shared with the employer and the GP. Einon HR encourages its clients to be proactive in their approach to absence and other difficult issues. Very often by taking positive action and dealing with the issue the employee will often improve their attendance record or conduct. If the problem is not resolved then, by following a structured and fair process there may be the option to bring the employment to an end fairly.
For help and support in handling workplace absence please contact Einon HR

Recruitment -The importance of a good process

Whether you are replacing an employee who is leaving or increasing your headcount. The basic principles for recruitment are the same. Before you start your search you need to identify the tasks which will make up the job role. You need to have a clear idea of the skills, experience and personal attributes that will be required to carry out the job role effectively. From this information a job description and person specification can be drawn up.
You may have staff working within the company who could do the job and may welcome the opportunity, depending on the role you may therefore wish to advertise the role internally before going external.
If you decide on advertising externally you have a choice of sources, social media, on your own web site, the web on job boards, employment agencies, local/national newspapers, specialists publications, and word of mouth.
Once you start to receive applications and once screened for suitability interviews will need to be planned and booked in advance giving applicants as much notice as possible.
Prepare interview questions in advance and ensure that questioning is not discriminatory in any way.
Shortlist the applicants using the person specification to ensure choices have been made objectively.
Hold interviews – ensure you take notes during the interview which will enable questions to be answered and decisions justified if required.
Hold second interviews if required.
Once you have identified your ideal person check rights to work in the UK, take copies of documentation and retain, follow up on references.
Einon HR have undertaken various recruitment assignments for their clients and are happy to help you. If you wish to discuss any or part the recruitment process please contact us either via our contact page or on 0776 494 8898