Equality and discrimination

Under the title ‘Leading employment judges call for law banning ‘fattism’ in workplace’, the Independent reported this week: ‘A leading judge has said overweight workers should have the power to tackle “fattist” discrimination in the workplace by suing colleagues who make inappropriate comments about body size.’

Whilst the Equality Act 2010 aims to improve equal job opportunities and fairness for employees and job applicants, as yet there is no law to protect those overweight, or indeed underweight, against abuse and discrimination. Philip Rostant, a judge specialising in employment law said in the same article that such laws would prevent prejudice against those of “non-ideal weight”, who he claims also find it more difficult to get jobs and are at higher risk of being sacked.

The Equality Act of 2010 states that it is unlawful to discriminate against people in the workplace within the following 9 protected characteristics:

  1. Age
  2. Disability
  3. Gender reassignment
  4. Marriage and civil partnership
  5. Pregnancy and maternity
  6. Race
  7. Religion or belief
  8. Sex
  9. Sexual orientation

There are several types of discrimination such as direct, indirect, harassment and victimisation. The way in which a member of staff has been allegedly discriminated against will determine which type or types of discrimination apply within their protected characteristic.

To nurture a culture of fairness within the workplace makes good business sense. Employees must feel confident that if they are a victim of, or a witness to, some form of discrimination, they feel able to report the situation and know that it will be dealt with appropriately.

All employers should have a policy in place so employees know what is acceptable and expected of them as individuals and as part of the organisation. This process will ensure companies stay within the law, promote equality and prevent discrimination.

If you would like help to implement policies to ensure that both employers and employees are protected against discrimination call Charlie Lloyd on 01737 336336 or email us.

Employer of Choice

Recruitment is so much more effective when you’re considered to be an ‘Employer of Choice’.

The benefits of being perceived as an employer of choice means you will:

  • Attract quality candidates with talent
  • Save on advertising and recruitment fees

How do you become an employer of choice?

There are certain traits that a company will have, which give them a reputation as a place where people want to work.

You may recognise some of these employer of choice characteristics:

  • A clear career path; regular meetings with staff to set and review goals
  • Training; develop skills with free or sponsored training
  • Security; share the vision of the company so that they understand and can be a part of the journey
  • Empower and engagement; involve your staff in decisions
  • Code of conduct; employees and employers are respected alike
  • Say thank you; a reward scheme that shows their efforts are appreciated
  • Conducive environment; pleasant working environment with life-style perks that enhances happiness at work
  • Commitment; employment contracts are in place and employee handbook clearly sets out the commitment between employer and employee.

One style doesn’t fit all

Companies are extremely different and diverse, as are individuals (your prospective employees). What makes one business more attractive than another will vary from one individual for another. The culture of one company may not suit everyone.

However, the characteristics listed above are good HR practices. Ones that can be tailored to reflect your business.

For example, we’ve recently taken on a number of new clients, ranging from accountants to printers and electricians to a charity, all varying sizes. When talking to them about rewards and benefits that each of these organisations could offer, they will have to differ to fit with the type of business they are.

You can’t implement a policy of working 15 minutes extra Monday – Thursday and then have early closing on a Friday if your customers are expecting you to be there for them right up to 5:30 on the last day of the week. You have to be practical and we bespoke the advice we offer with our clients and their businesses in mind.

Putting in place strategies to become an employer of choice will not only help you recruit the very best talent but it will also help you to retain the very best talent.

If you would like help recruiting and retaining the best talent call Charlie Lloyd on 01737 336336 or email us.

Employee Engagement

Do you have a list of things you’d like to achieve during the year? Activities to plan and look forward to with excitement.

You probably have your business goals too. Ones that keep you on track so that at the end of the year you can look back with satisfaction.

What about your employees? How are you keeping them motivated and inspired?

What is Employee Engagement?

You may have heard of the term Employee Engagement. Kingston Business School defines employee engagement as “being positively present during the performance of work by willingly contributing intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions and meaningful connections to others”.

Put simply, if your employees are:

  • Thinking about how they can do their jobs better
  • Feeling positive about doing a good job
  • Actively seeking out opportunities to discuss work-related improvements with others at work

….you have a highly engaged workforce.

Benefits of Employee Engagement

It’s not hard to see that if employees are engaged and loving their jobs they will be more productive and a strong asset to your business.

Such positivity and strong relationships between management and staff are known to impact favourably on profits, revenue growth, customer satisfaction, productivity, innovation, staff retention, efficiency and health and safety performance.

Building an Engaged Workforce

To build a culture within your business that creates an engaged workforce there needs to be:

  • Strong leadership that can demonstrate how the business has been built and the vision for the future
  • Managers who can motivate their teams, empowering individuals and providing support
  • Involvement of employees in decision making and the ability for them to challenge when necessary and their suggestions and ideas to be heard and considered

It’s clear that an engaged workforce has multi-faceted benefits. If you would like to discuss how you could implement Employee Engagement strategies, please contact Charlie Lloyd on 01737 336336 or email enquiries@lloydhrconsultancy.co.uk.

Planning a trouble free Christmas party

There are many ways that you can recognise and reward outstanding individual commitment and team success throughout the year.  But the end of the year is the perfect opportunity to include everyone in celebrating the year’s successes and create the vision for the coming year.

A Christmas party, whether it is a lunch, dinner, a day out, or whatever you choose, is the perfect occasion to bring the company together.

Don’t get caught with your trousers down!

When planning a trouble free Christmas party, preparation is the key to avoiding any HR issues. You want everyone to let their hair down, enjoy themselves and have a great time, without creating an aftermath that you might regret.

Here are our top tips for an office Christmas party that can be remembered – for all the right reasons.

  1. Choosing the date
    • Avoid a Friday if you are holding your event in the evening. A Friday evening moves into personal time. They may also have another party to go to and miss out on yours
    • Your budget will go further if you choose a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday but be prepared for lower productivity the next day!
  2. Choosing the venueOffice Christmas Party
    • Consider the age range of your staff? Pick somewhere that will accommodate all age groups, including the music
    • If you are not putting on transport choose a venue that is close to public transport or not too far away so that a taxi is a realistic option
    • Better still, choose a location so that taxis for everyone falls within your budget
  3. Extend the invitation
    • If your budget runs to it invite the partner, husband, wife or a friend
    • If you use out-sourced consultants that have helped your business throughout the year, invite them too
  4. Make a speech – but keep it short and sweet!
    • Use the event to reflect upon the year and your appreciation of their hard work
    • Set the scene for the coming year and ask for their continued support
  5. Any dietary requirements?
    • You may remember to ask if someone would like the vegetarian option but don’t forget to ask if anyone has allergies. If there’s someone with a nut allergy everyone should be aware of this.
  6. Drink responsibly
    • Encourage everyone to drink responsibly. Have lots of soft drinks and water jugs available
    • Make sure that non-alcoholic drinks are not confused with alcoholic drinks e.g. punch
    • A free bar might not be such a good idea!
  7. The morning after the night before
    • Don’t expect everyone to be on top of their game the next day
    • Suggest a later start if you can
    • You could serve bacon butties for breakfast
    • If a member of staff has reported a grievance about an incident deal with it immediately

I hope your Christmas party goes with a bang for all the right reasons. If you are unfortunate enough to have an HR issues that arises , be sure to contact us on 01737 336336 or email enquiries@lloydhrconsultancy.co.uk

Nightmare on HR Street!

Have you ever experienced that heart stopping moment when you realise a key member of staff is about to hand you their notice? That feeling of an impending nightmare can be overwhelming.

I hasten to add that the story I’m about to share is not one from a client, but one that I was told recently by the daughter of a friend. Nightmare

Let’s call her Melissa. Melissa had a grin from ear to ear. She was beaming with delight and excitement, because she’d just received a job offer from a company that she’d fallen in love with!

As her story unfolded I couldn’t help but put on my HR hat and think about how some of the events that led to her leaving her current company could have been avoided or at least managed.

Firstly, as a graduate fresh out of uni Melissa’s initiation into the world of a busy London Agency wasn’t entirely welcoming. For the first nine months she was bullied by her boss. There were nasty remarks and unsociable behaviour as well as heavy workloads dumped on her often at the last minute.

To be fair the relationship did improve as Melissa’s knowledge grew and her ability to do a great job started to shine through. However, this just meant that her boss could rely on her more; claiming Melissa’s successes as her own!

Fast forward 18 months to the present day. Melissa’s experience at her first interview with the new company blew her away! She couldn’t believe how friendly they were; wanting to explain not only the successes of their business, but the team spirit and the caring nature for their employees. You even get your birthday off!

Keeping Key Employees

There were tears when Melissa handed her notice in. They were losing a bright young person, but to my mind there were some basic HR practices they could have done differently:

  • Demonstrate a zero tolerance of bullying
  • Regular appraisals to understand their employees ambitions and develop their skills
  • Create a culture of employee engagement. When they feel included in the business and love their place of work they are motivated and productive

Now clearly, if you get these HR principles right you will still say goodbye to key members of staff, but this will be done in the knowledge that you have played your part in their career development and progression. When you have a succession plan in place you won’t end up with a nightmare on HR Street!

If this story strikes a chord with you and you would like advice on the HR matter raised please give us a call on 01737 336336 or email charlie@lloydhrconsultancy.co.uk

Severe Weather Policy

Be prepared for unsettled weather

Who knows what type of weather we shall experience this winter but it pays to be prepared. And in our world of HR that means having a Severe Weather Policy in place.

Whether we experience chaos caused by high winds or disruption brought by a blanket of snow, you’d be wise to be prepared for the disturbance that bad weather can bring to your business. In this event your employees need to be aware of what to do.

Communication is key. Do your employees know what to do if they can’t get into work because of extreme weather conditions?

But there’s more to consider as an employer than clear lines of communication. What about pay? What about flexible working? What about the temperature in the office?

Our tips and advice are designed to help you prepare ahead for the severe weather when it inevitably arrives.

  • Having a Severe Weather policy in place is a great start. It will explain to employees what to do on days of severe weather.
  • Pay – this subject always comes with different opinions:
    • If you decide to close the office then the employee has a right to be paid. Failure to pay can result in a claim for breach of contract, unless the employment contract has a clause which entitles the employee to be laid off without pay.
    • Employees cannot be forced to take unpaid holiday, unless this is written into the employment contract. If you would like employees to take time off as holiday then this needs to be agreed beforehand.
    • Employees are not automatically entitled to get paid if they cannot make it into work.
  • Employees should not be put at risk when commuting to work. They should not feel pressurised to risk their own safety and should not be forced to attempt the journey if it is disrupted.
  • Keep an eye on the weather report and recommend employees to allow extra time for their commute.
  • Consider working hours and place of work. Can this be adapted i.e. different hours or working from home?
  • Consider how the cold weather can impact the workplace. The office should be kept at 16 degrees Celsius.
  • Talk to your employees. Come to an arrangement before the severe weather arrives.
  • Employees have the right to emergency unpaid leave to look after their children or other dependents in a crisis situation e.g. a child’s school being closed at short notice due to severe weather. (Extreme weather conditions can be seen as an emergency situation.)
  • Make sure you have current contact details for your employees and your employees have contact details to contact their work.
  • One option could be for the employee to make time up at a different date and still get paid their salary.

If you would like us to help you create a severe weather policy to include in your employee handbook contact us on 01737 336336 or email me.

Disciplinary procedure

Disciplinary procedure – what you should and shouldn’t do!

Do you have a disciplinary policy? It’s very important to have a disciplinary policy in place. This policy explains to the employee what the disciplinary process is so it doesn’t come as a surprise and the policy ensures everyone is treated fairly and consistently.

The disciplinary process is a subject we are frequently asked to help with and we cannot emphasise enough how important it is to get every stage correct.

Firstly you need to determine whether the situation that has occurred is due to the employee’s conduct or whether it is due to their capability.

There is a subtle but very important distinction between the two. If the situation has occurred due to lack of capability it is likely to be out of the control of the employee and perhaps some guidance or training is required to avoid the situation again in the future.

If the situation has occurred because of misconduct, this is within the employee’s direct control. The situation therefore may need to be resolved in a different manner than had it been a skills issue.

Holding a disciplinary meeting explains to the employee what they have done wrong and handles the problem using a process.

The tips below provide guidance on what you should and shouldn’t do at a disciplinary meeting.

10 Tips on holding a disciplinary meeting:

  1. Select an appropriate time and place to meet privately with the employee. Ideally you need a quiet room where it is easy to listen to the employee and focus on the conversation.
  2. Allow the employee to explain his/her understanding of the incident and put their case forward before any decisions are made.
  3. Don’t shout at the employee…it won’t get you anywhere and may cost you a lot of money! If necessary speak to HR for their recommendations on how to proceed. Lloyd HR Consultancy is happy to help and give advice.
  4. For a poor performance dismissal to be reasonable, you will need to have issued warnings previously, particularly as incapability is usually assessed over a period. Consider a personal development plan for them.
  5. You will often hear me go on about documentation. This is KEY! Think of the 5 W’s – What, when, where, who, why – keep it recorded and documented!
  6. Allow employees to appeal against any formal decision made.
  7. Employees have the right to be accompanied. They should be informed of this when invited to a disciplinary meeting.
  8. A lack of capability exists where no matter how hard an employee tries, he or she is simply unable to perform the job to the standard required by the employer. If the employee is too careless or negligent to reach the required standard, this will not constitute incapability, but could be regarded as misconduct.
  9. In the event of an act of gross misconduct you have the right to dismiss the employee, following an investigation and meeting, without notice or pay in lieu of notice. It is up to each employer to define what types of conduct will be regarded as gross misconduct.
  10. Gross misconduct is a single act of misconduct that is serious enough on its own to justify the employee’s immediate dismissal. It is important for the employer to clarify to the employee what constitutes gross misconduct. This should be in the disciplinary policy.

If you would like help with the disciplinary process or need to implement a disciplinary policy please call Charlie Lloyd on 01737 336336 or email charlie@lloydhrconsultancy.co.uk.

Shared Parental Leave

Have you heard about the new Shared Parental Leave?

How might Shared Parental Leave impact your business?

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) was introduce in April this year and applies to parents whose babies were due on or after 5th April or adopted a child on or after 5th April.  This does not replace Maternity and Paternity leave, but is an alternative to consider.

The main difference between Maternity / Paternity leave and Shared Parental Leave is that your employees can elect to take leave in blocks with periods between when they come back to work, instead of taking all leave in one go.

To take advantage of SPL your employee will have to advise you that they are ending their maternity leave.

If they are eligible they can take:

  • The remaining leave as SPL (52 weeks minus any weeks of maternity or adoption leave)

Up to 3 separate blocks of SPL can be booked even if your employee isn’t sharing the leave with their partner.

If their partner (which could be your employee) is also eligible for SPL, they can take up to 3 blocks of leave each.

They can take leave at different times or both at the same time.

Here’s an example:

Your female employee finishes her maternity leave at the end of March and takes the rest of her leave as SPL. She shares it with her partner, who’s also eligible. They each take the whole of April as their first blocks of SPL. The partner then returns to work.

Your employee also returns to work in May. She gives you notice that she’ll go on leave again in July, which will be her second block of SPL. Finally, you agree with her a work pattern of 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off during the remaining block.

Statutory Shared Parental Pay

Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) is £139.58 per week or 90% of your employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

This is the same as Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), however during the first 6 weeks SMP is paid at 90% of earnings, with no maximum.

If you would like HR support regarding an employee that would like to take Shared Parental Leave contact, please give us a call on 01737 336336 or email charlie@lloydhrconsultancy.co.uk.

Maternity and Paternity leave

Here are the basic rules for Maternity and Paternity Leave that you need to be aware of:

Maternity Leave

Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks. It’s made up of:

  • Ordinary Maternity Leave, which covers the first 26 weeks and,
  • Additional Maternity Leave, which covers the last 26 weeks

52 weeks don’t have to taken but 2 weeks’ leave must be taken after the baby is born (or 4 weeks if your employee is working in a factory).

  • The earliest that maternity leave can start is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth

Maternity Leave can also start the day after the birth if the baby is early or automatically if your employee is off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that the baby is due.

Returning to work

Your employee must give you at least 8 weeks’ notice if they want to change their return to work date.
There is a really useful maternity leave and pay calculator on the Gov.UK website
www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents

Paternity Leave

Partners of the mother having a baby, adopting a child or having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement may also be eligible for:

  • 1 or 2 weeks paid Paternity Leave
  • Up to 26 weeks’ paid Additional Paternity Leave, if the baby was due or placed for adoption before 5 April 2015
  • Shared Parental Leave, if the baby was due or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015
  • Additional Paternity Leave only if the mother/partner returns to work
  • Paternity leave must be taken in one go
  • Leave can’t start before the birth. It must end within 56 days of the birth
  • Your employee must give you 28 days’ notice if they want to change the start date of the paternity leave.

Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave was only introduced on 5th April this year (2015). We’ll cover this in more detail in our next article. However, as it is still very new there are only a few instances where it has been taken up and we may well see a few teething problems (no pun intended!).

If you need guidance on Maternity, Paternity or Shared Parental Leave please give us a call on 01737 336336 or email charlie@lloydhrconsultancy.co.uk.

Have You Considered Hiring An Apprentice?

This month I’ve been helping a client recruit an apprentice. There are lots advantages to be had from going down this route, but there are a few points to consider first to make sure that it’s a success for you, the business and the apprentice.

  1. Don’t stereotype – It’s natural to think of an apprentice as a young person not long out of education and looking for their first step on the career ladder, but have you considered an apprenticeship for an existing employee or perhaps someone that’s returning back to work?
  2. 100% funding – You may not feel that you can afford to bring in a new member of staff, but actually with the funding that is available (and the talent that is out there) an apprentice could be a perfect way to expand your business.
  3. Plug the skills gap – Industry specific knowledge is not always easy to find. When you employ an apprentice they will be learning about your industry and with in-house training they’ll be learning exactly how you like it; your way!
  4. An extra pair of hands – We could all do with a little extra help and an apprentice who is made to feel part of the team will be eager to participate and appreciate the valuable business skills you can teach them.
  5. Flexible – Apprenticeships can be tailored to specific job roles to suit the need within your business.
  6. Plan for the future – If you are planning to introduce a new service within the coming year one of the steps to prepare for the event may be to acquire extra man power and the skills to deliver the new service. An apprenticeship is one way you can gear up to achieve this future goal.
  7. Learning on the job – Apprentices often learn within the work place, this means less disruption with time spent out of the office and more impact whilst they are learning within the business.

Please don’t dismiss the idea of employing an apprentice. They could be that little gem you are looking to recruit; eager to achieve, quick to learn, full of ideas and most likely already highly tech savvy!

If you would like to discuss how an apprentice could benefit you and your business please give me a call on 01737 336336 or email me.