But i don't want a break
Regulations can be infringed even when there is no express request for a break.
The Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR) provide that workers working more than six hours per day are entitled to a rest break of at least 20 minutes. If workers are refused this right they can bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) recently considered what amounts to a ‘refusal’ of a break for the purposes of bringing a claim.
Mr Grange was employed by Abellio London (Abellio) as a relief roadside controller. Mr Grange was contracted to work an 8.5 hour day with a half hour unpaid lunch break. The nature of Mr Grange’s role made it difficult for him to fit his lunch break into his working day. In recognition of the practical difficulties of fitting in a break, Abellio emailed Mr Grange stating that he would now work 8 hours straight and leave half an hour early. Mr Grange subsequently issued a claim in the Employment Tribunal (ET) alleging an infringement of his WTR rights.
The ET held, following past case law, that Abellio’s email did not amount to a ‘refusal’, as Mr Grange had not expressly asserted his right to a break and refused permission to take it. Mr Grange appealed the decision.
The EAT upheld Mr Grange’s appeal, finding that a claim for refusal to permit rest breaks can be brought where the employer fails to make provision for such breaks, even if the worker does not expressly request them.
Employers should ensure that their working arrangements allow for their workers to take sufficient rest breaks and that, whilst they cannot force workers to take breaks, their policies and procedures proactively encourage the process.
Handling difficult conversations
Small business owners will inevitably need to have awkward and tough conversations with employees occasionally. How you approach these meetings can have a big impact on the outcome. Whilst being uncomfortable and tricky, these conversations are a part of workplace life. From dealing with a subordinate to talking through issues with a partner or client. Some cases – such as redundancies or disciplinary issues may require the presence of an HR professional, but often this formal approach isn’t necessary. Here are some practical ways of approaching these difficult conversations:
Do it in private – Finding somewhere to talk privately is vital, you don’t want to have difficult conversations in the open. If you are instigating the conversation you need to be able to control it, especially if you work in an open-plan environment where people might be able to walk past and overhear some of the conversation. So plan ahead, book an appropriate meeting room if applicable. To ensure privacy it may be wise to book a room away from the immediate team or on another floor.
Get to the point – With any scenario, get straight to the point don’t indulge in small talk. Otherwise, the person may think this a ‘normal’ conversation. It’s essential to take the most direct approach. So start the conversation with, for example, “the reason I’ve called you in here today is to talk about your timekeeping” or “the reason I’ve called you in here today is because there is a problem with…”.
Give the person space – Outline the issue and give the person space to respond. For example, if someone is regularly coming into work late, find out what the individual issues are and take it from there. Don’t just launch in with what you’ve seen at face value without finding out the reasons. The individual may be in need of some help due to personal issues, as an employer you have a duty of care to offer support if warranted. If there aren’t any underlying reasons, go straight back to the issue and the consequences to the employee if it is not resolved.
Keep to the facts – Difficult conversations normally focus on behaviour. What you say may be taken personally, so relate it to the effect it is having on the business or other people. Don’t make wild accusations or get personal.
Be prepared for any eventuality – People react very differently if they are being critisiced. Some will apologise and promise to change, or suggest ways to improve the situation. Others might get angry and start making counter-criticisms or accusations. Still others will get upset. Whatever happens, stay calm. If they stand, remain seated unless you are under physical threat. If a person is shouting, keep your voice level normal. A box of tissues handed to a person who is upset shows support, helps to get over awkwardness and gives them time to compose themselves.
Tips for writing a good job advertisement
There is so much that goes into building a great company culture. Step one in this journey is hiring the right people who will be passionate about their role and fit with the company culture. Writing a great job advertisement will make this search a lot easier. Take a look below to see five tips for writing a great job advertisement.
1. Don’t forget the basics
When people are looking for a new position they have logistical requirements and need to know the position available can work with their life and future plans. Make sure you create an effective job advertisement by including location, responsibilities, type of role, and what type of experience level you’re looking for. You don’t want to end up finding the perfect candidate and realize they can’t take the position because you forgot to include your location. Remember to cross your t’s and dot your i’s.
2. Describe your company culture
Be honest about what the company culture is like and what type of person would thrive there. How can you be sure if a candidate will enjoy and be engaged in their new role if they have no idea what the environment is like?
3. Think like a marketer
If you post your job openings on a job board and you’ve used all the tips here it won’t mean all that much if you haven’t made the posting easily searchable. When writing a good job advertisement keep in mind what terms people will search for and what terms won’t work. Allow the body of your advertisement to be more exciting, different and show some of your company culture.
4. Make sharing easy
If your staff are engaged and you’ve built a great company culture it stands to reason they would be happy to share the job advertisement with their network. An effective job advertisement will make sharing as easy as possible. Make sure that your posting has share buttons for different social media platforms. The next step in this would be to incentivise employees with a referral bonus. If your employees recommend a colleague or friend then they’ve already done part of the recruitment process for you. It’s a great way to save time and money, so make it easy for them to get involved.
How to help maintain positive outlooks
With mental health issues causing more work days missed than ever before what can employers do to help prevent this and promote a positive mental health environment. The term being passed around more and more is future proofing, but what can actually be done.
Asses the mental health risk
It is a legal responsibility under the health and safety at work act to ensure the health, safety, and welfare at work of their employees. Minimising the risk of stress-related illness or injury to employees should be included in this. Carrying out a risk assessment would be the first step as this would help identify departments that are potentially high-risk. Risk assessments should be reviewed regularly especially with management change or other key times during the year. If there is one or more employees at high-risk then individual personal risk assessments may be required.
Develop a mental health policy
Within the policy it should outline the organisations commitment to promoting and monitoring mental health and acknowledge the importance of creating a safe environment for employees. For a mental health policy to be effective it must be implemented from the top led by the senior leadership team and managers.
Train your managers
Line managers play a key part in supporting employees with mental health conditions as often they as the first point of contact. If they are trained they can often spot the signs early, helping to ensure something minor doesn’t escalate into a longer-term problem. In a similar way to line managers noticing symptoms of a physical health problem, they should be trained to recognise mental health conditions and mention them to relevant support services.
Introduce mental health first aid
In a similar way organisations commonly have people trained to provide physical first aid, mental first aid will help to identify those crucial warning signs, provide help and reassurance, and hopefully help guide them towards the correct support service.
If you discipline me I’ll quit.
What should you do if an employee resigns after disciplinary action has already begun, should you carry on or stop.
If the employee resigns with immediate effect their employment will terminate there and then. As such it would not make sense to carry on with the disciplinary procedure as the person concerned is no longer employed. However all disciplinary information collected should still be retained for maybe a year. It may be needed if the employee subsequently tries to claim constructive dismissal or unlawful dismissal in relation to the conduct of the disciplinary proceedings.
If however the employee resigns with notice then the disciplinary procedure should be progressed to its conclusion during the notice period. As the employee is still employed during this period there is no reason why they should avoid possible disciplinary sanctions just because they have resigned. If the events are serious enough with the disciplinary procedure recommending dismissal due to gross misconduct this will supersede the resignation and the employee will be deemed to have been dismissed for conduct reasons.
Something to keep all you Managers awake at night now. Did you know there are at least 20 types of claim for wrongful dismissal UK employee can bring even with less than 2 years’ service. This is due to developments in legislation since the mid-1990s. Here are a few tips in key areas.
Disciplinaries and Performance Management – firstly ensure there is a policy in place that complies to ACAS code of practice. If your procedure follows this code it will act as your first line of defence to prevent unfair dismissal claims, or in a worst case scenario prevent higher compensation being awarded in a successful claim. If you use that as your starting point most businesses should be able to handle any process or a formal disciplinary process. Be careful though as things which start off as simple as performance monitoring can escalate into something more serious such as a discrimination claim.
Family issues – The creation of shared parental leave has created a more complex situation for businesses dealing with family related requests. With more options for parents in such areas as maternity, paternity and flexible working it may be worth seeking further advice to ensure that your policies and proposals are compliant, for more complex issues such as requests for a staged return to work, the option of keeping in touch days or shared parental leave always check with your HR contact, just to be on the safe side. Another area you will need to tread carefully around is when you are considering restructuring your department or business and and you are considering redundancy, it is important to remember that those employees on leave of this type are protected and need to be treated differently to your other staff who are in work.
Sickness and absence – this can be a very sensitive issue especially with long-term or repeated absence. There are potential problems around each corner within the legislation. Tribunals may sympathise with employees with health or disability issues and would expect employers to have medical evidence, meet with employees and only dismiss when reasonable. The fine line is between ensuring you help those who need it without giving in to those who are playing the system. Most cases of repeated or long-term absence can be dealt in house but is definitely a 2 way street with the employer being expected to communicate openly and honestly as well as providing medical evidence if requested.
I am ringing in sick, sorry.
From time to time people will get sick. Flu, coughs, colds and viruses have probably been causing chaos over the winter months. Unfortunately, this can’t be avoided as you grow your workforce and business. As an employer it is necessary that you manage your sickness policies and procedures correctly. You may soon realise sickness absence is damaging productivity and potentially your profits. Here are 4 top tips to make sure you are covered.
1). Create a clear policy – it should cover how and when staff should notify the business that they need time off, details of expected communication and return to work interviews. Policy isn’t worth anything if it isn’t clearly communicated. Ensure line managers/team leaders are onside and trained.
2). Understand the role of GPs – the sicknote is gone, replaced by the statement of fitness to work aka. fit note. Instead of being about what the member of staff can’t do its about what they can which will be very helpful when planning a return to work.
3). How will you support staff when they return - if off for a lengthy amount of time or returning at less than 100% fitness, you need to ensure staff have the right support when they return. If not it could be daunting and cause further problems. Treat each case individually and always have good communication with employee. One way to ensure reintegration may be to offer phased return or reduced hours.
4). Be proactive not reactive – there are positive steps you can make in your business to promote physical and emotional wellbeing, this can be a better solution than waiting for a problem to appear then reacting to it. Few things such as health care or gym memberships, potentially change working hours so workers get more sleep or simply train management so they can spot problems like stress and react to fix them before it causes problems.
Tell me what you think, no honestly!!
Like it or not your employees are the ones who are on a daily basis more in touch with customer needs than your managers, this also goes for staff as well, problems, concerns, issues and opportunities within the company will usually be raised with colleagues before being elevated to a line manager. With that in mind it is important that businesses create an environment that will encourage open and candid feedback. Here are 4 key tips to help with this.
1). Be proactive – Creating a transparent culture has to come from the top. It is very tricky to speak up against those in a position of authority. As a manager it has to be you to open up the channels and encourage healthy communication. This can be done through weekly meetings, emails or one-to-one meetings.
2). Keep asking – Things can change and develop constantly. To keep track of your employees you should routinely ask for open and honest feedback. Develop a consistent routine where employees have a forum for feedback. The more consistently you can encourage this, the more a culture can develop of giving and receiving.
3). Foster ownership – you need to let your employees know their opinion matters to you and the company. Why would someone speak up if nobody would listen. Create a culture of accountability so they feel they are linked by the success and direction of the business. This can easily be done by publicly addressing feedback and taking action where appropriate.
4). Get out after hours – it may be as simple as grabbing lunch or a beer after work to gain an honest perspective. Getting out of the office environment helps shake things up, create trust and a team mentality. Taking time out of work shows you are fully focused on an employee and their opinions.
Employees who aren’t afraid to speak up and take risks with management are generally viewed with respect from management and the team. They are seen as being willing to put their name on the line to get things done so be encouraging to these employees by creating a positive open environment.
Right I need some staff now
So you’ve gone and done it, set up your new business; stationery is ordered, email address and website set up, you just need some employees. However before you begin to hand out those contracts it’s worth remembering that taking on a member of staff can be a complicated process.
Here are 4 key aspects to ensure it all goes well.
1). You’ll need to register as an employer – if you’re going to pay your new employee more than £112 per week (national insurance lower earnings level) then you will need to register as an employer with HRMC. You will be given reference numbers to use and you’ll need to ensure you deduct the correct amount of tax and NI (National Insurance) from those wages before you pay them not to mention you’ll need to pay more NI as an employer. Ensure you register as an employer before your new staff’s first payday. Only apply if you are sure you will hire staff as otherwise you’ll have plenty of paperwork to do for no reason, and also may face fines or penalties.
2). Remember the P45 – when your new staff member arrives they will give you a form called a P45. This will show you several key pieces of information. If you're new member of staff has come from another role and will show how much they have already been paid in the tax year and how much tax their previous employer took from their wages. This will indicate how much tax you will take from their wages. It will also have their tax code which again affects how much tax you take from them. The tax code can change to accommodate specific circumstances such as paying off previous year’s unpaid tax or had non-cash benefits, such as a company car. If your new employee was self-employed, or cannot provide a P45you will need to ask them to complete the starter checklist provided by HRMC.
3). Remember NI not just PAYE – employers deduct income tax from their staff’s wages under PAYE (Pay as you earn) system. PAYE isn’t tax it’s a system to collect income tax. As well as this you will also need to deduct NI from your staff’s wage. After you have deducted these 2 amounts your employee is paid the remaining amount. You will also be expected to pay employer’s NI. This is extra on top of your staff’s wage; you cannot take it from their wage. There are few allowances for example you do not have to pay employers NI for staff under 21 unless you pay them over £815 per week.
4). Be prepared – you will need to send an electronic report to HRMC, on or before each payday. This will include how much their salary is, and how much PAYE and NI you will pay HRMC. Plan this into your schedule as you could face fines if you’re late.
I want to start late on Monday and leave early on Friday
There was a recent change in eligibility requirements for flexible working meaning all staff regardless of circumstance can now make a flexible working request. All they need is 26 weeks continuous service and not to have made more than one statutory request in the last 12 months. This could mean that someone who requests to leave early on a Friday to go to the pub should be considered as much as someone who requests it for childcare. All requests received should be taken seriously as the right to request flexible working is a statutory right and failing to do so could lead to a number of claims against employers including constructive dismissal due to the employee resigning if they feel their request was not dealt with in a reasonable manner.
The legislation only gives employees the right to apply for flexible working; it does not automatically mean that it will be approved. Assess each request on its individual merits and reasons and communicate with your employee to determine if it can be approved or if something else can be agreed. Flexible working requests can be rejected for specific business reasons such as additional costs; a negative impact on quality or performance and a number of other reasons. If rejected there is no longer a specific right to appeal although whether an appeal was offered will be considered while deciding if the refusal was reasonable. Failure to comply with an accepted business reason for rejecting a claim may result in tribunal action where they may request the application to be reconsidered and potentially monetary action being ordered.
But what is the job?
There is a concern that employers and recruiters creating job adverts are failing to effectively communicate key information about vacant roles. It was claimed that 90% of job adverts online failed to meet criteria outlined by the ASA (advertising standards agency) by faileing to provide key information such as pay and hours. As a result businesses need to start creating clear job adverts that include as much information as possible. This will not only make it better for those searching but also you as employers as the right advert with the correct level of detail could save man hours and money sifting through unsuitable applicants.
A couple of key points to consider could be first of all making sure you really understand what the job is all about, don’t try to hide the more negative aspects of the role and don’t cut corners with online adverts. Always take time with recruitment as getting it wrong can be costly, take the time and do things the right way as this will benefit the business in the long-term.
Why did we hire them?
Recruitment can be a minefield, people try to impress and will sometimes say anything to ensure they get the job. How can you take precautions to ensure you get the right person. Here are a few top tips to make sure you hire the correct person.
Try to use an application form rather than just relying on people's CV. This will make comparing candidates easier and makes it harder to hide gaps in employment history.Where possible ask technical questions during the interview instead of give an example. This may help show people who are technically knowledgeable over those who are practiced in interviews.
Consider implementing interview forms, this ensures each candidate is asked the same questions it helps create consistency. Take thorough notes so you have evidence to back up decisions but ensure they remain professional. If using equality monitoring forms ensure these are not available to those carrying out the interviews this will prevent bias if a certain client isn’t taken forward.
You should make sure that you request to see the applicant's original examination certificates this is done very rarely now and is especially important with senior professionals. It may be worth carrying out independent background checks on key things like employment history and solvency.
Take written references. Try to consider contacting the writer to verify the validity. Former employers are sometimes willing to speak off the record over the phone; it is also not unheard of for potential candidates to get friends to write references rather than the HR department or manager. Not to mention people have written their own using company headed paper.