The Good Work Plan

The Good Work Plan

No this is not something I have thought up or am promoting, it’s something the government have thought up and it’s coming on the 6th April 2020.

So what’s it about then?

Well from April 2020 instead of putting issuing contracts on the long finger for two months which a lot of employers do, you will have to issue them on the first day of work at the very latest. As well as your employees, workers will also have to have a written statement too – outlining their terms of engagement. The Good Work Plan is going to affect agency workers, casual workers and zero hours contracts the most, in my opinion.

If that’s not enough, there is more:

Some staff will be able to request more stable working hours

The length of time you can claim continuous service is shortening

Calculating holiday pay is changing

New rules around hospitality staff keeping their tips

Recruitment agencies cannot use ‘pay between assignments’ like before

Further information can be found here on this link, but CrosseHR will keep you posted and prepared in any case.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/good-work-plan

Breaking up is hard to do- leaving do’s and don’t

Breaking up is hard to do- leaving do’s and don’t

Everyone of us has left a job, many of us many times, it’s a fact of life if you run or own a business, people will come and people will go. Some will leave with your blessing and leave well, some will be ‘encouraged’ by you to go and others will bawl you out/or you them in a blaze of glory, recriminations and occasionally vandalism.

The good leavers

They are a good sort, usually good employees, who just want to move on for whatever reason, they feel bad but its the right thing to do. They come in anxious and nervous, some cry and tell you they are leaving, thank you for your help, they want to work their notice and want to leave as friends.

What should you do?

Shake their hand, wish them well and start organising the leaving party. On a practical note, agree a last working day, agree whether or not they wish to work right up to their last day or take any leave due to them. Also agree a handover to their successor and/or whether you will involve them in recruiting a successor. Agree with them how they should tell the team and any clients and then start organising the leaving drinks. All’s well.

Then there’s the bad leavers

These come in many forms, here are a few regular ways to exit badly:

The disappeared

One day they don’t show up and you never see or hear from them again. It’s all a bit strange and a bit puzzling and no one is really sure why – they seemed alright at the time.

What do you do?

Try to determine a) if they are alright b) if they ever intend coming back c) if all else just for curiosity’s sake try to establish the reason why. Write, call or email asking them to get in touch. Give them a deadline date to do so, advise them that you will assume they no longer with to work with you if they do not get in touch. There is no point worrying about notice periods etc, it wastes time just pay them up to the last day they worked and any annual leave accrued, issue the P45 and move on.

Out with an immediate bang

They’ve handed in their notice, its all going ok sort of and all of a sudden they tell you, I’m not working to the end of my notice and that’s it.

What should you do?

Well if you were happy for them to work their notice and they don’t want to, they have waived their right to work their contracted notice and for this they do not get paid. Put it in writing and move on.

I want you gone and NOW!

They’ve handed in their notice and things have gone from bad to worse, you can’t bear the sight of them and they have no intention of doing a stroke of work until that last day. You want them gone and now.

What should you do?

If you do then you have to pay for it. You put them on ‘gardening leave’ tell them not to come in anymore and pay them up to the end of their notice.

And finally ……the references

The very least you should do, is give a factual reference confirming job title and dates of employment and always include a disclaimer. Avoid all personal opinions and keep it as benign or as neutral as possible.

Holidays – the silly season is nearly upon us

Holidays – the silly season is nearly upon us

This is the time of year the rows start – the annual leave booking season. Wall calendars and online calendars are pored over and leave is booked, most of it around the same time, there will be rows between parents and non parents about who should take priority and why and on we go.

So it makes sense to have a few set of rules to try and take the tension out of the whole thing.

Firstly be clear about how much leave can be blocked in one go i.e. one, two week blocks (financial services now insist on this), if there is a cap i.e. two weeks maximum etc

Secondly, be clear how much advance notice must be given, a month’s notice is usually acceptable if you want to book a week, 2 days is not acceptable if you want to book anything at all and if leave needs to be approved by a manager or some such.

Thirdly, be clear leave can be refused, obviously as a last resort and with good reason but it’s good to get the story straight.

Fourthly, be very clear about how many employees can be out at the same time. It never ceases to amaze me, no matter how often you say it and set the limits, they will give it a go anyway and all book the same time off and fight about it for weeks afterwards.

Fifthly, be very clear what precedents you want to set i.e. if you had the first two weeks off in July last year, you might not get it this year, same goes for half terms, school holidays and Christmas.

Sixthly, what the rules are if you are sick on holidays (holiday can be claimed back if proven), if your flight is delayed (usually unpaid, get proof) and you don’t get back when you are supposed to, the rules around social media and mixing the professional with personal, working on holiday, using the work mobile on holiday etc.

And as an aside, it’s amazing how many of my clients who are schools that have set holidays agreed years in advance, encounter the same problems with leave! So if you are a school struggling with leave requests outside of school holidays, call me 0330 555 1139.

Finally, be fair, consistent and apply the rules to all staff, no exceptions.

If in doubt contact CrosseHR, we’ll draft a policy for you to be proud of.

New Government Pay Rates

The government has announced the new rates that will apply from April:

Cap on a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating statutory redundancy payments and the basic award for unfair dismissal: £525
Guarantee pay: £29 per day
Statutory sick pay: £94.25 per week
Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay: £148.68

National Minimum Wage:

Over 25                            £8.21
Adult rate (over 21)                       £7.70
Development rate (18 – 20)         £6.15     
School leavers (16 – 17)                £4.35
Apprentices                                    £3.90

More details can be found here.

Contracts: to issue or not-to-issue

Contracts: to issue or not-to-issue

One of the most popular questions I get asked (about 3 times a week) is do I have to issue a contract of employment?

Well that’s an easy one to answer, that answer is you do have to issue a ‘Statement of Particulars’ within 2 months of someone starting employment with you. That usually takes the form of an employment contract to us lay-folk. It doesn’t have to be in writing but everything is better written down and signed by both parties – trust me. But all that is changing in April 2020 when the Government’s ‘Good Work Plan’ comes into effect and from then on you will have to give all employees a contract on their first day of work.

Surely it’s better for me if I don’t issue one?

The answer is NO it is not better at all. It’s breaking the law for a start and thats never good is it? At the moment you have 2 months to do it but from next year you don’t so get into good habits now and start issuing them as soon as.

What then should be in a contract I hear you ask?

Here is the minimum list, as set out by those wise folks at ACAS

A written statement can be made up of more than one document (if the employer gives employees different sections of their statement at different times). If this does happen, one of the documents (called the ‘principal statement’) must include at least:

  • the business’s name
  • the employee’s name, job title or a description of work and start date
  • if a previous job counts towards a period of continuous employment, the date the period started
  • how much and how often an employee will get paid
  • hours of work (and if employees will have to work Sundays, nights or overtime
  • holiday entitlement (and if that includes public holidays)
  • where an employee will be working and whether they might have to relocate
  • if an employee works in different places, where these will be and what the employer’s address is

As well as the principal statement, a written statement must also contain information about:

  • how long a temporary job is expected to last
  • the end date of a fixed-term contract
  • notice periods
  • collective agreements
  • pensions
  • who to go to with a grievance
  • how to complain about how a grievance is handled
  • how to complain about a disciplinary or dismissal decision

The written statement doesn’t need to cover the following (but it must say where the information can be found) – I usually put these in an appendix at the back:

  • sick pay and procedures
  • disciplinary and dismissal procedures
  • grievance procedures

Fear not, we here at CrosseHR can draft contract for you that is easy, suits your business, legally compliant and keeps everyone happy.

Next month it’s time to think about holidays, which coincidentally is the theme of my next blog.

Olga

Scale Your HR Practices to Enable Better Business Growth

Scale Your HR Practices to Enable Better Business Growth

Growing your business inevitably means a bigger workforce. And with more people comes more lines of communication and added complexity. To operate effectively as you scale, it’s necessary to introduce technology, culture and advanced management processes underpinned by solid HR support.

But how do you scale HR? We outline the key HR changes you need to grow your business effectively and efficiently while reducing complexity

Don’t Cross Your Lines of Communication

Running a business with up to twelve employees is fairly straight forward. With a manageable number of personalities, demands and people to communicate with, your HR practices will tend to ensure you’re meeting your legal obligations.

When you reach 13 to 50 people, the situation changes. You’re in what Dan Priestley terms “the desert”: you’re too big to be small and too small to be big. Communication lines increase significantly with each additional person you bring in making it more difficult to convey messages, make decisions and complete work.

The solution? You need to start adapting your culture and communications to set your business up for even more successful and painless growth. Doing this requires a more strategic approach to HR.

Managing Culture From a Distance

As your business reaches the magic tipping point of 13 employees, it’s time to accept you can’t control everything in the same way that you used to. To counteract this, you need to start setting overarching guidelines not just about what you do but about how you do business.

Being clear on the values and behaviours that are important to your business will help you:

  • Help you recruit an authentic, strong team who are a good fit for the business
  • Identify which employees, both leaders and less senior staff, will further your business growth and those who won’t

Making difficult decisions are just one of the growing pains associated with business expansion. And having a HR resource available to help you deal with them legally and fairly is critical to maintaining employee engagement.

Recruiting and Retaining the Right People

When business growth is one of your main objectives, recruitment and retention are a key part of the plan. Making an occasional job offer for a particular role is one thing; hiring larger numbers of the best talent to accomplish your growth goals is quite different.

In a fierce labour market, your competitors are vying for your ideal candidate’s attention. To stand out you need to ensure you have a:

  • clear employer brand and value proposition – one that clarifies who you are as a business and makes you stand out to employees for the right reasons
  • competitive compensation and benefits to attract and retain staff
  • slick hiring and onboarding practices that create a great first impression and reduce turnover in the first three months
  • a clear organisational structure with job roles, reporting lines and career paths so candidates and employees can see a future with your organisation

By getting people through the door effectively and keeping them happy, you’ll retain valuable knowledge and experience, enable the business growth and save time and money by only having to hire once for a role.

Easing the Administrative Burden With HR Technology

With every new hire comes a pile of additional paperwork. Doing everything manually will soon become unmanageable. Which is why it’s so important to get sound administrative practices and the right tools in place.

Replace Excel spreadsheet with HR technology to help you manage everything from holidays and pay to emergency contacts and expenses more easily. A HR database that captures and manages all your people information and is compliant with the GDPR is a critical step.

Look for technology that enables you to keep on top of your people costs with speedy analysis and reporting. Want to know whether your employees’ productivity is keeping pace with your growth plans? Or understand how many people are leaving and at what rate? Or the cost of your benefits? HR technology can deliver this for you.

Build Your Team

Any growing business that doesn’t have sufficient HR support in place will invariably reach a point where it becomes overloaded and fails to grow. Or stumbles over employment law and finds itself in a sticky situation.

Working with an external HR consultant will enable your business to scale while minimising risk and controlling costs. With solid HR processes in place and a developing culture, your business can grow from strength to strength. All supported by a happy, engaged workforce who build your reputation as a great firm to do business with.

For scalable HR support, get in touch at hello@crossehr.co.uk or on 0330 555 1139.


Upwards for 2019

Upwards for 2019

As MD of CrosseHR I work with a lot of micro businesses, start-ups and SME’s who are starting out or moving on in their journey. I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way and some issues and problems that every one of them go through on their journey which I will share with you over the next few months.

Almost of all the start-ups and small businesses tell me very early on that they do not want systems and processes, that rules and regulations (especially the HR kind) won’t work for their company, their staff are committed, loyal and do not need the stifling formalities they have all gotten away from, so thanks but no thanks I don’t need you and your rules. That is until they do! And that my friends usually happens when the magic number of 10 employees hits 11. Sometimes that shift happens when they move from 5 employees to 6. Strange but true and its very consistent. Something in the dynamics shift when businesses start moving away from hiring friends and family and dip their toes into the general work pool. Either the new employee doesn’t fit in or a nose or two from the existing workforce gets put out of joint, but whatever it is, it’s real and it happens and I get the call. The general issues that crop up which I will blog about over the next few months tend to be around contracts – yes you have to start issuing them even if you relied on a handshake before. You have got to get your holidays right and formalised and lolling around on cushions drinking beer could get you into all sorts of trouble if it gets out of hand.

Jocular, jokey cultures are great until someone gets offended that you never meant to and how the hell do you get someone to work who is determined they will get paid but do nothing for it. Your trusty loyal friend, brother, sister, cousin who you trust with your life might not have the right skill set to move onto the next stage with you and your investors think so too. And things go missing and the accounts are not quite right – they can’t be stealing surely. The staff are asking for appraisals, a system to record holidays, complaining that so and so works from home and is never in, and Jane happily tells you she is having a baby and won’t be in for a year- you are pleased for her you really are and panicking at the same time. Ben showed up for a day and hasn’t been seen since and Mo has been signed off sick and that contract you didn’t issue on time or at all, doesn’t mention a thing about sick pay. Oh and Emily has told Peter to eff off in front of a client and has put in a grievance. The lawyers have quoted you £250 to £500 an hour – that’s right an hour to sort it all out, who can afford that when you are barely affording your lunch to keep this show on the road.

All real issues that affect all real companies and the demon you never thought would enter your realm to your perfect nirvana, has blasted down your door. That HR nonsense you never thought you needed, that company you never wanted to become has suddenly happened, you just want this all to go away and get back to normal.  “Now, where did I leave that number of that HR company or did I delete that pesky newsletter I never read but they still send me…”

Olga

 

Dealing with Inclement Weather

Dealing with Inclement Weather

“Earlier on today a woman rang the BBC and said she had heard there was a hurricane on the way. Well, if you are watching, don’t worry, there isn’t.” Michael Fish, BBC weather presenter.

That infamous quote preceded one of the worst storms to ever hit the British Isles, highlighting just how unpredictable extreme weather can be. As a business owner, you need to be ready to react, to snow, ice, torrential rain, floods or high temperatures.

Whatever the weather throws at you, there are lots of ways you can prepare. As we outline in this article.

Create a Bad Weather Plan

Bad weather is more than a storm in a teacup: it comes with a range of safety hazards, logistical problems and resource challenges. To avoid entering a complete disaster zone, it’s well worth having a bad weather plan.

Start by writing a policy so managers and staff know what to do when bad weather strikes. Whatever your policy (and it will depend on your location and sector), be clear about:

  • What will happen if bad weather occurs while staff are at work:
    • Set out who is responsible for monitoring weather and its impact on your operations
    • The process for communicating any change in working practices to staff
    • An evacuation process if weather is so terrible you need to abandon your premises
    • Where employees should store any equipment so it stays safe in the event of a shutdown or poor weather
    • What to do about important work that cannot be delayed, for example identify whether staff can work from home
  • What staff should do if poor weather rolls in over night:
    • Set out situations when employees should check whether to come into work, for example, when there’s heavy snow
    • Who employees should contact, by what time and by what means
    • How staff should keep abreast of any updates on the situation
    • Whether you expect all or certain staff to work from home (if possible) or to work flexibly, for example by coming in later if snow melts
  • What to do if the weather is not so bad as to halt operations:
    • Restrict travel to important business trips only
    • Advise staff to take public transport which tends to be safer than driving in poor weather
    • Relax your dress code to enable staff to wear warmer or cooler clothing
    • Allow extra breaks to make hot or cold drinks

You should also have a section in your policy that explains what employees should do if bad weather means they can’t come in to work due to a school shutdown. Anyone who’s responsible for a dependent is entitled to a reasonable amount of time off to deal with an emergency involving the individual.

There’s no legal obligation to pay your employee but, if you choose to do so, ensure you apply this approach consistently.

Take Sensible Steps to Keep Your Business Running

There are a number of practical measures you can take to keep your business functioning. Consider investing in extra heating or cooling equipment like portable heaters or fans so you’re ready to keep staff comfortable and maintain productivity in extreme temperatures.

If home working is possible for your employees, you’ll need to ensure you have the right technology and a flexible working policy in place to keep your business open. But if work cannot be completed from another location, you might want to investigate insurance to mitigate any losses arising from an inability to fulfil your contractual obligations.

Be Clear on Employee Pay During Shutdowns

If it isn’t possible for your employees to work from another location, you need to be clear on your pay policy. Delayed or absent employees who can’t make it into work because of bad weather or travel disruption are not automatically entitled to be paid for any missed hours of work.

Asking employees to make up the time, resulting in no reduction in pay, is probably the best option to ensure engagement. This approach will also enable staff to catch up with their workload ensuring better service provision for your customers.

There are instances where your staff will be entitled to their normal pay, specifically if:

  • you decide to close your offices fully or partly or reduce the hours of work for your employees
  • essential staff, like managers, are unable to get to work or the person who provides access to your offices cannot make it in

Don’t Forget Your Health and Safety Obligations

Extreme heat and cold has been more common in recent years. So it’s worth noting that, in certain temperatures, you have a legal duty to prevent staff from working.

Contrary to popular opinion, there’s no legal minimum or maximum temperature that dictates when employees must put down the tools of their job. Instead, you need to provide a level of reasonable comfort. Guidance places this at around 16°C for people doing less labour-intensive work indoors and 13°C for those undertaking physical activity.

What’s classed as reasonable will depend on the environment. For example, bakers would expect a very different temperature from office workers.

Fail to prepare for bad weather and you’re preparing to fail. But by putting a bad weather policy in place, you’ll be in the best position to keep your employees safe and salvage something from the situation by keeping your business running.

Not sure exactly which health and safety laws you need to comply with in your business? Get in touch with Crosse HR on 0330 555 1139 or at hello@crossehr.co.uk and we’ll ensure your plans keep you in the clear.