Cyber security – What are the responsibilities?

It is a company’s responsibility to identify information that could be at risk and needs to be protected and also understand the ethical, legal and regulatory requirements relevant to holding and protecting such information.

The company also needs to establish policies and procedures to manage the risks and reduce the impact to the business should a breach occur. Companies can do this through training employees, contractors and suppliers etc. on the policies and procedures in place; this will ensure they are aware of what is required of them.

The company will need a mechanism for managing and reporting cyber security incidents ensuring they do not transfer ownership of risk through outsourcing.

Companies are legally bound by certain acts within the law, the most important being the Data Protection Act 1998. There are eight principles to follow however the following two principle’s are worth  highlighting:

Principle 7 – Information security; Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data.

Principle 8 – International; Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the EEA unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data.

All other legal requirements to be followed can be found in the Companies Act 2006 and Computer misuse Act 1990.

What are the employee responsibilities?

It is important for employees to be aware of the potential risks in their day to day tasks. They need to be aware of and adhere to companies security policies and procedures and understand their personal, legal and ethical responsibilities for protecting the business.

There is always a real and present danger and both companies and employees need to be aware of the damage that can be caused by a cyber incident. Here are some statistics from 2016:

46% of small businesses experienced at least one cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months (2016 – 2017).  The average business faced costs of £1,570 as a result of these breaches.

(April 2017, Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017)

Cyber breaches are caused by system failure, human error or maicious acts.  Not only resulting in the loss of revenue and damage to the companies reputation, but a potential for personal and professional embarrassment, potential legal action and possible career consequences.

HR can put systems in places to monitor:

  • Employees working unusual hours
  • Employees requesting access to information that they are not allowed
  • Employees who are leaving with a thorough exit interview
  • Sharing of passwords
  • Sharing of computers
  • Using company computers for personal emails and social accounts
  • Emailing confidential information without adequate protection
  • Emailing confidential information to organisations external to the company without adequate checks.

We hope you enjoyed our article, check in tomorrow for the next blog in this series: “Cyber security – Managing the risks”

Why not get in touch and let HR Revolution run through a GDPR audit to see where and how quickly changes can be implemented.

Call +44 203 538 5311, email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

HR Revolution; supporting you, your employees AND your business.

 

HR Revolution’s guide for a successful 2018 – PART 1

So the end of the year is getting closer, and as a business owner I’m sure you’re no doubt taking a little time to reflect on your successes during the past 12 months, and assess your growth plans for next year.

So we thought we’d would take the opportunity to put together this three part guide, giving you the perfect opportunity to take stock, get your head well and truly in the game, and work out precisely what needs to be done to allow you achieve your big goals during 2018.

If you haven’t already started the planning process, then you might be feeling the pressure. It’s true that a head start can give you a great advantage, but help is at hand to make sure that you have the key points covered.

HR Revolution specialise in giving SMEs the tools, frameworks, and knowledge to get the most out of their employees ensuring that people practices help them to achieve big things.

In this three part guide, we are going to walk you through the key action points that you need to consider:

Have you translated your business goals into tangible policies and practices?

Your HR policies and practices aren’t just there so you can demonstrate that you’ve ticked a few boxes. They should guide your business, help you to navigate your big challenges, and bring you closer to your goals.

So with this in mind, grab a pen and brainstorm the following points:

  • Do your employees fully understand their personal and team objectives, and how these fit into the bigger picture?
  • Have you considered how you can use reward practices to motivate employees and drive productivity?
  • Do you encourage ongoing learning and development? How can you engrain this into your workplace culture?
  • Are your line managers confident in their roles, and playing a part in your growth plans?
  • Can you clearly articulate how everyday working practices are translating into key results?
  • How confident are you that your plans are robust enough to guide you forward?

Sometimes, taking the time to really assess where you are can make it clear where you need to make changes, or perhaps adapt your approach.

Will you need to bring in new employees?

Recruiting new employees may be essential if you want to expand, so it’s possible that you’re starting to think about how your team will grow during 2018.

Consider:

  • Do you need temporary employees? Could using the services of contractors give you more flexibility?
  • Are your recruitment processes in line with relevant legislation? Do you know your responsibilities in terms of ensuring that you don’t discriminate during the selection process, for example?
  • Do you have a strategy around how you’ll tackle the war for talent? Do you know where to find the very best candidates, and how to get them excited about the opportunity to work with your business?
  • Do you have an induction and onboarding process to help new recruits to really hit the ground running and get off to the best possible start?

Look out for Part 2 of HR Revolution’s guide on Wednesday!

We’ll be attaching the guide in full for you to download and keep in our final installment, so keep an eye out for Part 3…

If you would like to contact us to discuss anything in the meantime, please call us on +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk or click here to visit our website.

Don’t lose track of who’s in and out of the office this summer…

HR Revolution are a gold partner of breatheHR and we couldn’t be happier to recommend them, we love their HRIS software and our clients love it too.  However, this isn’t a sales pitch we want to show you how easy it can be for you to manage who’s in and out of the office over the summer period when the workforce tends to be at minimum strength.

Running a busy office is timely enough without having to check spreadsheets for who’s in and who’s due to go off, can you approve holiday? is your system up to date? well why not let technology to do the leg work for you!

Just for the holiday season alone, here’s how breatheHR can help:

Holiday Booking

Most HR Managers agree that holiday booking is the most time consuming aspect of people management unless it is fully automated. Employees can request holidays online at any time through the website or an app.

Holiday Approval

The approval process needs to be quick and easy too. With breatheHR the line Manager (or approver) receives an email with the holiday request, they can easily compare the request with the calendar of all their teams holidays as well as synchronising holidays through to Outlook or Google calendars.

Holiday Allowance

Not sure how much leave an employee has left to take? Well how about a reliable holiday allowance calculator for dummies. You just choose the holiday rules that apply for each employee (you can have as many as you like) for example full or part time in days or hours and it does it for you, you’ll even find the bank holidays are already in the system. At any time the employee, manager, or HR user can check how much holiday has been taken and how much is available to take.

This cloud based HR System can do so much more than just organise holidays for you, there’s sickness, appraisals, expenses, employee data review and much more.

The best part, if you don’t have time to input all the data to get you started, HR Revolution can do it for you call +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

 

 

5 mistakes employers are making with Employee Handbooks..

A recent survey has stated that over 90% of companies have created an employee handbook to share with their employees; that is positive, but in reality are these handbooks HR compliant?  Just listing policies and sharing some mission statements, will not cut it!!!

So based on the statistics, you’ve probably made a token attempt at creating an employee handbook for your business – but are you missing the mark? Here, we uncover the mistakes that too many businesses are making, and explain how you can turn things around.

Taking a cookie-cutter approach

Of course there are certain things that all employee handbooks should include, but this certainly doesn’t mean that you should just download a free template from Google, fill in the blanks, and hope for the best. Your business is unique. Its culture and practices make it individual, and your handbook needs to reflect this. After all, first impressions count, so you need to make sure that you’re giving your employees a quality document that reflects what you’re really all about.

Don’t be scared to showcase your business’s personality and create something that demonstrates what it’s like to work for your company. Your new employees should feel inspired, motivated, and ready to face their new challenges.

Neglecting to seek out a professional opinion

You wouldn’t finalise your end-of-year accounts without speaking to an accountant, so why should your employment documentation be any different? HR Revolution can advise you on anything that you might have missed, unearth any points that could potentially get you into hot water, and give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that everything’s in order.

Speaking in legal lingo

Your HR practices need to be created in accordance with relevant legislation. Staying on the right side of the law will save you a whole load of time and hassle. Before stuffing your handbook with jargon though, take a step back and think about how you can make the important information as easy as possible to digest. A better understanding of what’s expected will ultimately lead to higher rates of compliance.

Consider your audience, and keep things as straightforward as possible. At the end of the day, your handbook should be there to help people – not overwhelm them.

 

Letting the document gather dust

The world of business changes and adapts every single day. New legislation is rolled out, light is cast on exciting and innovative ways to get the most out of a workforce, and advances in technology present new challenges. What works right now isn’t necessarily going to be fit for purpose in the near future.

Before signing off your document as completed, set a date for review. Keeping on top of changes can be a manageable job only if you make sure that you don’t let the grass grow under your feet. Shockingly, 2.8% of employers don’t know when they last carried out any reviews or changes – don’t fall into this camp!

Forgetting to make sure that every employee has their copy

Creating a document to be proud of is only the first part of the story. It isn’t going to make any difference unless you ensure that all employees get their copy, and that they’re given time to digest the information. These days, this is easier than ever before. Many companies decide to distribute their handbooks via email or an intranet system.

And finally, be sure to lead by example. When’s the last time that you familiarised yourself with the content? Do you have a copy on your desk? Are you confident that you could answer questions about the points that are covered? If not, consider this your wake-up call!

Ready to seek out some advice that you know you can trust? Whether you’re starting from scratch with your handbook and you’re not sure where to begin, or you’ve done the work yourself and just want a second opinion, HR Revolution can help. Contact us for a no-obligation chat about working together.

HR Revolution’s employee handbooks will help you to set core business policies and expectations and help portray your business culture, values, branding and vision, setting the tone for your business and employees, whilst maintaining HR compliance and best practice for all.

If you would like to discuss any HR issues, please give HR Revolution a call we’d love to help, call us on +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

6 office tasks UK workers waste over 400m days a year on

Research commissioned by Red Letter Days for Business found that workers are wasting time on mundane office tasks, including replying to emails, attending pointless meetings or completing admin.

The research identified six key areas where UK employees are wasting their time:

  1. Too many meetings that go on for too long (46%)
  2. Too much admin (38%)
  3. Too many emails (29%)
  4. People management i.e. misbehaving colleagues (25%)
  5. Technology being slow (24%)
  6. A micromanaging boss (21%)

Employees spend an average of 1.2 hours every single working day in meetings, totalling six hours every week, whilst 22% say their time is eaten up by admin tasks, such as filling out timesheets.

Overflowing inboxes also prevent employees from getting things done, with 45% of workers saying they have to respond to emails out of their contracted working hours to keep up. 26% said that they have trouble finding documents due to their email volume.

It seems our modern office environment has created bad habits. Technology, such as emails, should be speeding up processes not slowing them down. Something is going very wrong here. Businesses’ need to work together to retrain on areas like email etiquette in the workplace and to encourage better collaboration and efficiencies.

The research also found 42% of employees have seen no response from their employer to the Government’s ‘Fixing the Foundations’ plan, launched in 2015 to improve productivity levels in the workplace.

Employees were also asked about what could be put in place to help improve their output. The top five responses included:

  1. Flexible working (22%)
  2. Better technology (19%)
  3. A happy workplace (17%)
  4. Increased job satisfaction (15%)
  5. Better recognition from senior management (14%)

The fact that flexible working is at number one is very interesting, most jobs now require us to be flexible with our time; in fact 44% of employees polled confirmed they did overtime because they have a flexible role and work to complete a job, rather than work specific hours. Yet, with 57% of employees confirming they only work from the office, it seems businesses need to catch up with the flexible working idea.

If you would like to discuss any HR issues, please give HR Revolution a call we’d love to help, call us on +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

A version of this article first appeared in HR Grapevine.

How SME owners can prevent an always on culture

Small businesses are the powerhouse of the UK economy, employing 15.7 million people and accounting for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the end of 2016. So what can small business owners do, if anything, to prevent this always on culture from manifesting and resulting in an absence epidemic as research findings predict?

We’re all trying to keep up

Wendy Read, Founder and Managing Director of HR revolution, an HR consultancy with the mission to revolutionise the way in which businesses work with HR, says that in her experience many business owners have an open attitude to absence. “A lot of business owners expect to be able to see if there is a problem and hope that their employees will let them know when they are feeling stressed or in need of down-time, but in reality many working environments are so fast-paced, highly-energised and driven to succeed that anyone not on the treadmill gets left out of the loop quickly.”

She goes on to say that, “a standard working week is no longer Monday to Friday it can be 24/7, we all have mobile devices that keep us in the loop whenever we request and a culture that means we want to be included and up to speed constantly updating our apps and email to see what’s going on. Downtime is often still ‘online’ so there is still no real separation angle. This does then tend to lead to a mentality where we are always on. If this is not managed properly it can lead to many more stress related absences and longer-term workforce management issues.”

Business owners want action

Wendy believes that it’s tough for business owners to change this mentality. ”They want action,” she says. “If someone is thriving on working long hours to deliver and over achieving, why should that be a bad thing? The employee wants to develop and build their skills; the business gets the input and ultimately the success rates rise. As a business owner myself I get it, I can really see why many of my peers will always ask, ‘What’s the issue?’”

However, the issue is that, according to breatheHR’s sick report, not only do one in three business owners think it’s fair game to contact staff whilst they are on holiday, over half (51%) of business owners contacted staff whilst they were on sick leave. The source of their persistence is clear with 85% of business owners admitting that staff absences have an economic impact on their business. This is leading to more than half of employees (54%) not taking their full annual leave entitlement and feeling pressured to continue working despite being on paid leave, with 52% responding to work emails whilst on annual or sick leave.

Setting a good example

Spin the situation round and we see it really is truly a short-sighted vision for your workforce and not a positive example to set. Business owners don’t take holiday themselves (on average business owners have taken 18 days annual leave in the last 12 months) and they contact employees whilst they are on holiday which in turn leads to employees calling in sick to have rest, but not succeeding. It’s a vicious circle that businesses are increasingly becoming caught up in.

“Short-term it leads to stress, anxiety and lack of sleep, which then potentially leads to workforces that don’t take their full holiday, fearful they may miss out or lose work. This is likely to result in more time out with stress and ultimately burn out. This is not a sustainable solution and makes for a stressed-out unhappy workforce that means ultimately your business will lose them through absence, resignation or burn-out” warns Wendy.

She goes on to advise that helping to change this mentality has to come from the top and that business owners, managers and mentors have to embed a sense of achievement and success, alongside the ability to be able to take some time out. “We almost have to start retraining our workforces to encourage downtime to allow true focus when employees are working and switch off when they are not. Always working; actively monitoring emails, apps and web traffic is not a healthy way of working. There are many ‘switch off and slow down’ policies that are starting to work their way into the workplace, but many of these still aren’t taken seriously.”

How you can prevent an ‘always on’ culture

It’s clear that this always on culture isn’t manifesting itself in a positive way for employees. What can begin as a refreshing thirst for drive could soon lead to burnout. But how can you redefine your workplace culture? Here is what Wendy thinks you should do to prevent this from happening because it’s not as simple as rolling out a policy.

“Rolling out a policy and hoping that resolves things won’t work. I believe it’s about setting an example, providing support, and training staff to explain why switching off and taking your holidays is important; for wellbeing, for longevity and for business success. This isn’t just the case for employees. As a business owner or manager you need to lead by example. It’s so important that you have down-time and are fresh and energised, as you are responsible for the development and support of not only yourself, but also your business and your workforce.”

Making sure your workforce has a way of raising any issues that enables them to seek support when they really need it is as important and is how you can ensure you get to the root of the problem. Here are some of the ways you can make this happen in your workplace:

  1. Set up great management, mentoring and support functions. Employees need someone they can turn to.
  2. Utilise an Employee Assistance Programme
  3. Research more holistic solutions such as massage or relaxation programmes like yoga. Chill out areas are built as standard to many office environments as its important to have somewhere that employees can get away from work.
  4. HR support for allocation and usage of holiday time to ensure employees are fully supported in scheduling time out of the office.
  5. Return to work support for those that are absent due to stress or illness.
  6. Wellness training in-house to help support your team’s development
  7. For the more serious levels of support many workplaces offer counselling support through their medical or EA programmes that can help directly with specific issues.

Join Wendy for this webinar to see how you can implement these ideas in your small business to prevent your staff from taking sickies.

Conclusions

Fostering an always on culture is causing an absence epidemic. Whilst business owners reap the rewards from an engaged and driven workforce they are subsequently not considering the long-term effects this has on their employees. Small businesses are thinking about their people too late, and are being hit in the bottom line because of it. Through setting a good example, encouraging communication early on and supporting their staff this can all be prevented.

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

What exactly is a Zero Hours Contract?

With the rise of the “gig” economy, many peoples’ working circumstances considerable strays from the traditional 9-5 job thinking. In March 2017 research recorded that there are nearly 1 million UK workers on zero hour contracts. This is a four fold increase in this type of contract from 2000 and there is still much controversy around it with the Sports Direct and Uber cases and also the Labour party wanting to make the contract illegal in their 2017 manifesto.

So what is a zero hours contract?

A zero hours contract is an employment contract between employer and worker. It effectively means that as an employer, you are not obliged to guarantee any working hours to an individual. Equally, your worker is not obliged to accept any work you offer them and they are free to work for other employers.

Zero hours contract – when would you use it?

You may engage workers on a zero hours contract basis if you want a flexible workforce that can temporarily cover any shortfalls in staffing that you have. Examples can include:

  • Unexpected or last minute events (e.g a restaurant needing extra staff to cater for wedding party that had their original venue cancel a the last minute).
  • Temporary staff cover (e.g an office loses an essential specialist work for a few weeks due to a bereavement).
  • On-call/bank workers (e.g. a client of a care-worker company requires extra care staff for a short period of time).

Zero hours contract employment status

In most cases zero hours contracts mean that an employer recruits a ‘worker.’ However the way the relationship with that worker develops may enhance the employment status to that of an ’employee’, who has additional employment rights. For example, employee status provides statutory notice rights. Developments that contribute to such a change could include subjecting the worker to disciplinary procedures or punishing them in some way if they don’t accept all the hours they are offered.

Zero hours status also has to stand up on paper (in the contract) as well as in practice. Where there is a dispute over this, an employment tribunal may decide for themselves what contractual relationship exists between employer and worker and any associated employment rights, including enhancements such as accruing the right to take maternity leave or pay and the right to ask to request flexible working.

Breaks between employment

Depending on what agreements are outlined, a zero hours contract might mean that the contract only exists when work is provided to the employee. If this is the case a break in employment is considered as when no work is provided for a full calendar week (from Sunday to Saturday).

If employment is continuous then the worker has rights that accumulate over time. Equally, workers are also entitled to the minimum living wage, paid holiday, rest breaks and protection against discrimination, overwork and unlawful wage deductions.

When an employment is broken, the employer has responsibilities too, including the need to pay the worker for any accrued and untaken holiday pay. In event of the employment being broken, the worker is not required to notify the employer or provide a period of notice.

If you need any further help or clarification on the above, get in touch with HR Revolution +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk, we look forward to hearing from you.

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

 

Probation Reviews – make them work for you…

The first day, the first week, perhaps even the first month! These are generally key milestones for you as a new employee. Hopefully, by the first month you’ve mastered the tea/coffee round, you’ve found your place within the team and you’ve fallen into the pattern of the day-to-day routine; you may even have even forgotten that you’re still a newbie… until you’re reminded of the, often, dreaded probation review.

‘Is it a test?’, ‘Have I been doing my job as well as they’d like?’, ‘This is a waste of time!’, ‘What is the point of this?’  the questions are endless and I presume the feelings are mixed.

An employers approach to the probation review varies from company to company. Some have a very structured approach and almost treat it as a ‘test’, whereas others have a 5 minute chat over coffee to ‘check in’. However, either approach can bring about negative feelings for the employee if not managed properly, so employers beware!

The probation review is often viewed as a tool only for the employer.

  1. To check the employees true skills and understanding of the role and job.
  2. A check to ensure the company have hired correctly and effectively an employer’s safety net, as you will.

However it can also be a powerful tool for you the employee, here’s how:

Review…

The review provides you with a chance to check the work you have done so far against what you were employed to do. You can do this by looking at your job description. This will highlight areas that you may not have covered yet, which is something you can discuss with your employer to ensure you are covering the full responsibilities of your role.

Assess…

Use the review as an opportunity to assess whether the job has met YOUR expectations. Think about what you have liked so far and what you have disliked. Reflect on your initial perception of the job before starting and how the reality matches up. Do you have any concerns?

This is very useful for your well being, if you feel any negativity towards the role this is a great time to put this to bed. It could be resolved with a change in your working environment, a change or clarification of a complicated process or simply some reassurance that ‘’you are doing a great job, keep it up!’’

Discuss…

Employers use reviews as a way to assess your performance. You can use this as a way to show off and reaffirm what you have learnt to date. Don’t be scared to ask questions about things you aren’t sure of or may need extra training on. To experience the full benefits of a review it is important to be completely open with areas you are struggling with. This allows your employer to support you and ultimately strengthens your relationship.

Also use this as an opportunity to show your employer your aspirations! A helpful tip: go in there with a project, perhaps there is something you have noticed that could be developed or implemented or something you would like to learn, big or small, that will not only aid in your development but add value to the business.

Ask…

Ask for feedback for your own progression and improvement. This will give you a good understanding of how you’re doing. It also gives you an idea on what you need to work on in the coming months leading up to your first quarterly or annual appraisal and the willingness to improve will always be noted by an employer.

Take ownership of your probation review, don’t treat it as an examination or a quick conversation by the photocopier. Treat it as an adult discussion where both parties can benefit and support each other; a discussion that will pave the way to a healthy and strong employment relationship.

HR Revolution are here to help, if  you have any HR issues that need addressing then drop us an email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk or call +44 203 538 5311

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

 

Make sure you download your HR policies from a reputable source…

As an employer you need people policies and procedures, employee handbooks etc, to make sure that you are compliant with the law.   Maybe you carried out a quick Google search to get some guidance as to what you need, I’m sure it seems an obvious place to start, as search engines often become your trusted advisor when it comes to the things that you just don’t know.

In reality though it pays to exercise more than just a little bit of caution. You wouldn’t search for medical advice online… or I hope not… So should you really trust Google to give you the policies and templates that have the power to make or destroy your business?

Here are 3 reasons why you might want to have a rethink…

  1. You have no real idea where your advice is coming from

You don’t have to be an expert legal advisor, or HR consultant, to create a website and share your views and opinions online.  These days pretty much anyone with a laptop and access to YouTube videos can do it.  You might argue that it would be pretty pointless for a someone to intentionally give you the wrong advice, but it is not worth leaving anything to chance is it?

Working with HR Revolution, we will make sure that your documentation is informed by legal requirements and forward looking best practice, after all it’s our speciality!

2. The law changes regularly

What applies right now in terms of good HR advice isn’t necessarily going to be good advice in 6 months from now. New legislation is released on a regular basis, so you need to make sure that you are compliant.

You need a reliable source of information when you access information and templates online, you can never be certain when they were last updated. Of course, at HR Revolution we will always keep you up to date with what you really need to know, go to our HR online shop with up-to-date people polices, templates and free guides.

3. One size doesn’t necessarily fit all

It’s true that the law applies across the board, regardless of what kind of business you run. You’re not exempt from following the rules just because you have just a few employees, for example. Still though, there are certain things that only apply to businesses of a certain size, and what works for a large multinational corporation isn’t necessarily going to work for a small family business.

When you work with a professional to get what you need, you can ensure that your practices are fit for purpose. HR Revolution can get to know your individual needs, and craft a strategy accordingly.

There are times in your business when doing a few online searches is going to give you exactly what you need. But when it comes to managing your most valuable asset – your people – it’s never worth cutting corners.

If you’re concerned about whether your practices are hitting the mark, get in touch with HR Revolution and we can have a no-obligation chat about where you stand, and what your options are, or visit our online shop and download all the up-to date HR policies you will ever need.

 

Employers’ bizarre excuses for failing to pay minimum wage

I find this unbelievable in 2017!  Please make sure you are not an employer to be accused of this and keep on top of Employment law in your workplace.

One boss failed to pay the minimum wage to a worker because “she only makes the teas” and that is just one of a string of bizarre excuses by employers.

Another argued their case for not paying the legal minimum, saying that a member of staff “wasn’t a good worker”, while one said employees should “prove their worth”.

These excuses, heard by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), were published as part of a government awareness campaign.

It is encouraging people to check their wages and warning employers of fines.

Business Minister Margot James said: “There are no excuses for underpaying staff what they are legally entitled to”.

“This campaign will raise awareness among the lowest paid in society about what they must legally receive and I would encourage anyone who thinks they may be paid less to contact Acas as soon as possible.”

All workers must be paid at least £7.20 an hour if they are aged 25 and over, in order to comply with the National Living Wage.

The National Minimum Wage means that:

  • Workers aged 21 to 24 should receive a legal minimum of £6.95 an hour
  • Staff aged 18 to 20 should get at least £5.55 an hour
  • Pay should be at least £4 an hour for the under-18s
  • Apprentices should receive a minimum of £3.40 an hour

Among the cases investigated by HMRC was a boss who thought it was acceptable to pay foreign staff below the statutory rate.

I also heard from one employer who said: “She doesn’t deserve the national minimum wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.”

Another said: “My accountant and I speak a different language – he doesn’t understand me and that’s why he doesn’t pay my workers the correct wages.”

Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, said: “Too often, companies are skimming their profits out of the pockets of their workforce. It is a continuing reminder that, for too many working people, work in this country just does not pay.

“While it is good to see the rogues being held to account in some way, the fines can only ever be a rap on the knuckles.”

Stewart Gee, of the conciliation service Acas, said: “We welcome this new government awareness campaign, as there are no good excuses for not paying staff what they are legally entitled to.

“Employers are breaking the law if they do not pay the national minimum wage and businesses face a maximum fine of £20,000 per worker for not paying the national living wage. Failure to pay the national living wage could also result in a company director being banned for up to 15 years.”

If this article has highlighted any issues, please do get in touch HR Revolution would love to help, call us now +44 203 538 5311 or email@ info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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A version of this article first appeared on http://www.bbc.co.uk