Managing grievances in your business

This month we’ve had to manage a grievance on behalf of a client.

It is of the utmost importance that grievances, whether they be verbal or in writing, are dealt with as soon as possible. An early resolution is the objective, avoiding a lengthy situation that could end in a costly tribunal. Addressing the grievance swiftly and in accordance with the correct procedure will reduce the stress for all parties concerned.

A Grievance Procedure is a legal requirement

It is a legal requirement that all businesses have a grievance procedure, this ensures that all employees are treated fairly. Should the dispute go to tribunal the employer will able to demonstrate that the correct procedure has been followed.

If an employee states they are resigning because of something negative, then this should also be followed up formally following the grievance procedure.

Handling grievances

The company hand book, that all employees should have access to, will inform your employees of the formal route they can follow should they have a grievance. The grievance procedure will include:

1. All stages of the ACAS Code as well as other company procedures
2. Who to raise the complaint to and who can support them
3. The timescales for dealing with the complaint
4. The stages of the grievance procedure, for example how a complaint may be raised with the next level of management     if a satisfactory resolution isn’t reached
5. Your employee has the right to be accompanied to grievance hearings by a colleague.

We’ve already mentioned the importance of nipping the grievance in the bud, but which is the most appropriate approach; informal or formal? It this short ACAS video their advisor explains the options.

If it is the employer that has the grievance this is most likely to form part of a disciplinary process. Check out our article Disciplinary Procedure: What you should and shouldn’t do.

As in the case that we’ve been dealing with it’s often easier and swifter that an intermediary is involved in getting to the root of the issue. We can ensure the emotions do not get in the way of finding a swift solution as well as draw up a plan that is acceptable to both parties to monitor the situation over the coming months.

If a grievance procedure does not feature in your company handbook, please give us a call on 01737 336 336 or email charlie@lloydhrconsultancy.co.uk so that we can provide you with the required documentation.

Summer HR Policies

When the May Bank Holiday is over it feels as though Summer is just around the corner.

It’s a time of year that many of us look forward to; planning holidays, a change in wardrobe and the therapeutic feeling of sunshine on our skin.

However, for a business owner, these summertime joys can feel more like a nightmare; juggling tasks whilst members of staff are off, a little bit too much flesh being displayed and soaring temperatures making working conditions uncomfortable.

Whilst it’s not possible for these stresses to disappear, it is possible to assuage them by having clear policies set out in the employee handbook.

Summer HR Policies

Summer HR Policies

Annual Leave, Dress Code, Severe Weather

Annual Leave Policy

Your Annual Leave Policy needs to deal with a number of key areas, including:

  1. Statutory rights to employee leave – what is their entitlement?
  2. Holiday notice periods – what is the minimum period to give?
  3. How is that notice given? – written, verbally or through online applications
  4. How the business plans for annual leave
  5. Effective tracking and approval of annual leave
  6. Maximum amount of leave that can be taken at one time
  7. Fixed periods where the employer can stipulate when leave is taken
  8. The right of the employer to refuse annual leave
  9. How leave can be accrued and how much of the entitlement can be accrued
  10. What happens when sickness coincides with annual leave
  11. Parental leave entitlement and annual leave
  12. Unused annual leave when employment is severed
  13. How annual leave and bank holidays are pro-rated for part time staff

Dress Code Policy

The dress code might depend on your industry. The official dress code may need to be relaxed during hot weather, in which case your employees need to be completely clear about what is and isn’t acceptable. For example T-shirts and flip flops may not be acceptable, but polo shirts and deck shoes are acceptable. These guidelines need to be clear and understood.

Other considerations for your Dress Code policy are:

  1. Do ensure that it applies to both men and women, although they may have differing requirements
  2. That there is no unlawful discrimination of any kind
  3. That your workers are properly protected in their environment
  4. Suitable allowances are made for people with disabilities
  5. Allowances are made for certain occasions

More information on Dress Code Policy.

Severe (hot) Weather Policy

Your severe weather policy will apply to both extremes; hot and cold. The following applies to severe hot weather (should we experience it!):

1. Whilst there is a guideline for minimum temperature of 16˚C or 13˚C if the work is physical, when it come to maximum temperature, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that:

‘During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’

2. Well what is reasonable? Especially as people are affected differently by temperature. At what point should you conduct an assessment of the situation?

The Health & Safety Executive suggest that:

  • For air conditioned offices – if more than 10% of employees are complaining about the temperature.
  • For naturally ventilated offices – if more than 15% of employees are complaining about the temperature.
  • For retail businesses, warehouses, factories and all other indoor environments that may not have air conditioning– if more than 20% of employees are complaining about the temperature.
  • In short, you should take adequate steps to achieve a reasonably comfortable temperature. This could be as simple as making sure there are enough fans to go around the office.
  • Purchase your fans before the hot weather comes! When you need them they’ll be either out of stock or too large (or too small) for the job.

3. Encourage your employees to drink plenty of water. Do you have a water machine? Perhaps it would be a good time to invest in one before the hot weather arrives. Keeping hydrated will help to keep productivity levels up.

4. The beautiful sunny weather can be the cause of increased absenteeism. For some the temptation is to turn the weekend into a sunny long weekend. How do you tackle this problem?

If you do not have a company handbook or feel that your handbook should be reviewed and updated, please contact us on 01737 336 336 or email charlie@lloydhrconsultancy.co.uk.

Handling awkward conversations

This is not a conversation I want to have

How many times have you put off having an awkward conversation with an employee, hoping things will improve and the problem will go away?

The reality is, this doesn’t often happen. The situation gets worse and you regret not nipping it in the bud when you had the chance.

The boss’s problem

Awkward conversations with employees are particularly difficult within small businesses.

Chances are you, the boss, work closely with your small team. Over time you get to know each other quite well; sharing a drink after work, learning about families and what’s happening at the weekend. Friendships are made.

But there will be times when awkward conversations must be had. There are several reasons why these situations arise; poor performance, bad time keeping, a resignation even personal hygiene.

That awkward conversation can’t be put off any longer.

Nobody’s baby is ugly!

One reason why business owners struggle with these conversations is that it’s hard to keep their own emotions in check. After all the business is their baby and they are extremely protective of it.

Such conversations in larger organisations don’t usually take place by an employee’s direct manager. In a small business, where all employees report into the owner, that ‘once removed’ line of communication is nonexistent.

Still, the conversation should not be put off until later.

There is a solution

Handling awkward conversations

To create the best practice seen in a larger organisation the solution is to involve an HR consultant.

Many owners of small businesses will have an outsourced HR Consultant who creates their company handbook and employee contracts. The HR Consultant is likely to be the best person to conduct these awkward conversations.

This is something that Lloyd HR Consultancy does regularly so we have extensive experience. We’ve probably met with the employee on previous occasions, such as when they first joined the company or during appraisals, so have already started to build a relationship. We find that we can get to the root of the problem quickly. An employee may find it easier to be open and honest with us, sharing information they might find difficult to say to their boss. We can then work out the solution that is best for everyone.

Exit interviews

When someone resigns it’s not a legal requirement to conduct an exit interview, but we do recommend that these meetings are carried out.

Useful information can be gained from exit interviews. There may be reasons why someone is leaving that are out of your control, such as a change in personal circumstance. But there may be reasons that you can and should address. Changes to ensure you retain existing employees as well as making your business more attractive to future employees.

Understanding the attraction of your competitors can lead to insights that will improve your own business.

We’re happy to conduct awkward conversations on your behalf. It’s likely to be the best scenario all round.

Changes to HR legislation from April 2017

There are a number of HR legislation changes that occur in April 2017. You have probably heard about the imminent increase to the National Living Wage as this has been widely reported on the news.

National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage

Changes to National Minimum Wage

The National Living Wage (NLW), currently set at £7.20 for workers aged 25 and over, will increase to £7.50 from 1st April 2017.

At the same time the National Minimum Wage (NMW) rate for 21 to 24-year-old workers will rise to £7.05 an hour.

The rate for 18 to 20-year-old workers will increase to £5.60 an hour

The rate for 16 and 17-year-old workers will go up to £4.05 an hour.

The minimum hourly rate for apprentices will be £3.50 an hour.

Maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay

The current weekly rate of statutory maternity pay (SMP), statutory paternity pay (SPP), statutory adoption pay (SAP) and statutory shared parental pay (ShPP) is £139.58, or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate.

On 2nd April, this increases to £140.98.

When to ask for HR help

How big does my business need to be before I think about HR matters?

We recently visited a rapidly growing company just taking on their sixth member of staff. The Managing Director had not experienced any problems to date, but he wanted peace of mind going forward.

This is a typical scenario. It’s possibly not until you’ve employed 3 or 4 people that you start to think that you should have some formal HR procedures in place.

If I’m asked ‘When do I need HR help?’ my answer would be “As soon as you employ one person”.

The reason for this is that every single employee should have a contract and terms and conditions of employment. In addition, there should be three or four basic HR policies in place. These would include disciplinary, absence, holiday and severe weather. There may be additional policies that are relevant to your industry or if for example you employ shift workers.

This may all sound overkill for one employee, but there are significant benefits for having your HR covered right from the beginning:

  • When employee two and three come along, everything is already in place
  • If for some reason there is an HR issue you are covered
  • You prevent any misunderstandings arising right from the start

In addition, if there are any awkward conversations you’d rather avoid, you have someone available to have them on your behalf.

Please do get in touch if you have been thinking that you ought to put your HR matters in order.

Appraisals

How do you know you are getting the best out of your staff?

Well there is one way to find out and that is to talk to them! And the best way to do this is through the form of an annual appraisal.

What is an appraisal?

The annual appraisal is essentially a dialogue between your employee and you as the employer or manager. It is not intended as a stick to beat anyone with, but a two-way conversation that allows you to review how your employee has performed over the last period and gives the employee the opportunity to express their views on what they have done and what they would like to be doing going forward.

Once the appraisal has been conducted and agreed it will form the basis of what the employer and employee can expect to be delivered over the next year. It is a plan by which you can both be held to account.

Spending time conducting appraisals correctly, takes you away from your general business tasks, so it is vitally important that you have the right preparation in place and do it right first time.

Top 10 tips to getting the most from the appraisal and the best from your staff:

  1. Make sure you have drafted the appraisal document and both have time to review
  2. Set a date and time well in advance and conduct the meeting in a private environment
  3. Do not rush the process and allow plenty of time for the discussion
  4. Establish the purpose of the review and outline what you are going to discuss
  5. Review past performance against the agreed set of parameters
  6. Listen to the employee’s views and needs and agree on areas of development
  7. Consider areas of development that you believe are required
  8. Never leave an area of contention and adjust views if necessary
  9. Always summarise the appraisal and agree performance for the next review period
  10. Ensure that the appraisal is documented and copies are held by both parties

If appraisals do not currently feature in your HR activities or could do with stream lining, then please contact Charlie Lloyd who has a wealth of experience in this aspect.

You can email Charlie or call 01737 336336.

Impact of Brexit on UK employment laws

Some time has now passed following the historic decision by Great Britain to leave the EU, having been a member for over 40 years. During that period, the landscape of this country has changed dramatically and many of the laws by which we are governed have been taken in Brussels.

One thing is clear, and that is, there is great deal of work to be done before Britain finally exits the EU, once it formally evokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty of 2007. This will undoubtedly lead to confusion, concern and uncertainty as to where many employers and employees stand in relation to the UK’s employment laws.

So I thought I would share with you, a pretty comprehensive article I read on the matter titled The impact of Brexit on UK employment law – Summer 2016 by CMS Cameron McKenna. This gives an excellent insight as to where many of us stand and where we may find ourselves in the future of Britain.

The message is “Keep calm and carry on”.

Keep calm and carry on post Brexit decisionWe do hope you find the article useful.  If you have any questions please contact Charlie Lloyd who has a wealth of experience in this area.

You can email Charlie or call 01737 336336.

 

 

 

 

 

Recruiting is a PR opportunity

It has been said so many times before, that the people that work in your company, are your most important asset, so ensuring you have the best people possible, can be key to the success of your business.

Recruiting the right individuals in the first place, is therefore of paramount importance and…

“the manner by which you recruit can say much about the ethos of your business.”

Are you making the most of the PR opportunity when you are hiring?

When following the correct recruitment process, it can deliver a number of positive messages to your customers, employees, stake holders and competitors.

On the other hand, when the process is not professionally managed, the opposite is true and the costs to your business can be significant.

Recruitment best practice

Getting it right doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does rely on doing the right thing. So what does good recruitment practice actually look like? What are some of the things you must consider when you go out to the market place to hire someone for your business?

  • Consider your hiring options. Do you need to hire externally or can you hire from within?
  • Will you handle the recruitment process in-house or use a 3rd party recruitment consultancy?
  • Do you have all the documentation necessary? For example:
    • A clear and accurate job description
    • Person specification
    • Application forms
    • Information about your company
    • Policy documents such as diversity and equality
    • Job offer letter
    • Contract of employment
  • How and where are you going to advertise the position and what methods are you going to use? Remember, social media now plays its part in the recruitment arena.
  • What is your selection criteria and how will the interview process be conducted and by whom?
  • What 3rd party checking and assessments will you undertake of all the candidates?
  • How do you handle those that you reject? Remember, you may interact with these people in the future, so treat them with respect. Thank them for their time.

Your business in the spotlight

Recruiting is an expensive and time consuming process. Getting it right the first time has an immediate and positive impact on your business. It also creates the right environment in which new employees can thrive and feel positive about the choice they have made to work within your business. As they say “it’s a two-way street”!

Don’t miss the opportunity to position your business in the best light possible throughout the recruitment process. If this is an area of your HR activity that we can help you with, then do contact Charlie Lloyd who has a wealth of experience in this area.

You can reach Charlie via email or call 01737 336336.

Dress code policy

How your employees dress and look in the workplace, can be a difficult issue to manage. There is a myriad of reasons as to why you may decide that you need a dress code policy

In many situations, it is decided for you, as there are standards imposed through regulatory bodies, such as the Health & Safety Executive, Food Standards Agency or the Health Service. For some employers it may be to promote a brand image and ensure that staff are easily recognized by their customers. In all cases you need to be cognisant of a number of considerations when implementing a Dress Code policy in the workplace.

Some key considerations with Dress Code policies are

• Do ensure that it applies to both men and women, although they may have differing requirements
• That there is no unlawful discrimination of any kind
• That your workers are properly protected in their environment
• Suitable allowances are made for people with disabilities
• Allowances are made for certain occasions

LOVE them HATE them (tattoos and piercings)

One area that always divides is that of tattoos and body piercings, which have become increasingly more popular over the past years. Again it is vitally important that you set out clearly what you deem acceptable and not acceptable in this area.

Protecting a brand image when dealing with clients is vitally important, here you may ask your employees to cover up tattoos or remove visible body piercings at work, in other circumstances it is from a Health & Safety perspective to protect your employees or those that they may interface with.

Additionally, we live and work in a multinational, multicultural society in the UK and consideration must be given to those with different ethnic and religious beliefs. This is an area where you need to tread very carefully, as you can open yourself to conflict and discrimination if you get the policy wrong.

If this is an area of your HR activity that requires either implementing, or stream lining, then do contact Charlie Lloyd who has a wealth of experience in this aspect.

You can reach Charlie via email  or call 01737 336336.

Annual Leave Policies

Summer is here, but before you pack… things to remember about Annual Leave Policies.

As we wait in excited anticipation for our great British summer to arrive many of us are counting down the days to our long awaited mid-year break.

Of course the topic of annual leave applies all year round, but as an employer it is often the summer time that can be tricky to manage, balancing the resources required to keep your business operating smoothly as well as being fair to your staff.

Annual leave is a legal entitlement for all full time and part time employees and effective management of all leave is a key component to employee satisfaction and the successful running of your business.

It is therefore vitally important that both the employer and the employee have a clear understanding of the annual leave policy and that there is no ambiguity, which can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction in the workplace.

Your Annual Leave Policy needs to deal with a number of key areas:

  • Statutory rights to employee leave – what is their entitlement?
  • Holiday notice periods – what is the minimum period to give?
  • How is that notice given? – written, verbally or through online applications
  • How the business plans for annual leave
  • Effective tracking and approval of annual leave
  • Maximum amount of leave that can be taken at one time
  • Fixed periods where the employer can stipulate when leave is taken
  • The right of the employer to refuse annual leave
  • How leave can be accrued and how much of the entitlement can be accrued
  • What happens when sickness coincides with annual leave
  • Parental leave entitlement and annual leave
  • Unused annual leave when employment is severed
  • How annual leave and bank holidays are pro-rated for part time staff

It’s clear by this list, which by the way is not exhaustive, that the annual leave policy is complex and therefore needs to be accessible in such a way that it can be clearly understood by all within the business.

Here are a few examples of how we are helping our clients with their Annual Leave Policies:

  • Manage the holiday leave process including pro-rated calculations for part-time staff
  • Create and write relevant annual leave policies for clients, either for handbooks or one off policies
  • Deal with issues (good and bad) and questions relating to annual leave

If you feel that your Annual Leave Policy requires either implementing or stream lining Lloyd HR Consultancy can help you.  Please call Charlie Lloyd or 01737 336336 or email us

P.S. Don’t forget that your Severe Weather policy should also include issues related to hot weather as well as in cold weather!