Office parties – a word of ‘festive’ warning!

For HR departments and employment lawyers alike, it is as much a Christmas tradition as turkey and mince pies. Every December we bring out articles on the perils of holding an office Christmas party, so as not to disappoint here are this year’s top tips.
Venue
It’s worth thinking carefully about the venue for your Christmas party. Is it accessible to all? including those with a disability? Can people get home easily? Choosing a venue that might encourage people to ‘drink and drive’ is clearly not advisable. So consider whether you have good public transport links or ready access to taxis.
Invitation list
When compiling the invitations be as inclusive as possible, no one should feel left out. Remember to make an effort to invite those who are currently away from work, whether because of maternity leave, sickness or any other reason. If employees are encouraged to invite their partners along, allow for the reality of unmarried couples and same-sex relationships.
Party planning
Think how you can make the party appealing to all. Organising an event based solely around the consumption of large quantities of alcohol will no doubt please some of your employees, but it could well be a turn-off for others. In particular, be sensitive to the religious and other beliefs of your employees; make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic drink options and any food on the menu contains a vegetarian option.

Also be mindful of any guest speakers or entertainers you choose to use. There is a very well-known Employment Tribunal case circa 1996 that arose out of the booking of the ‘stand-up comedian’ Bernard Manning. You can probably guess what went wrong there!

Discussion topics
When a lot of alcohol has been consumed, people become less inhibited and more likely to say (or do) precisely what is on their mind. As a result, the risk of discrimination and harassment claims rears its ugly head. So make sure people understand that this is a work event and a level of professionalism is still required. Oh, and if you’re the boss, remember that alcohol and conversions about pay rises don’t mix!
The morning after
Make sure people understand whether they are required to be in work the day after the Christmas party. If they phone in sick, carefully consider whether it is genuine sickness or the result of over-indulgence. Then consider whether disciplinary action is required.
Policy revision?
You don’t need a policy specifically to cover your Christmas party, but it is worth considering whether your existing policies on conduct, harassment etc. are clear about what is expected of employees in this context. Take a look at HR Revolution’s Employee Handbook, it helps set out core Company expectations in terms of general conduct and includes all of your integral UK policies and employment legislation.
Lastly; enjoy, let your hair down and have fun!
Finally, and before we begin to sound too much like the equivalent of ‘Scrooge’, the Christmas party is a chance to come together, celebrate a successful year and thank your colleagues/employees for their efforts. It is also an opportunity to have fun. So having taken some sensible precautions, relax, unwind and enjoy yourself. You deserve it!
If you need any help or advice with any issues discussed above or updating any office policies all found in our comprehensive Employee handbook, why not get in touch HR Revolution and make sure your office Christmas passes without incident.

Give us a call +44 203 538 5311 or 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.

 

Your December survival guide…

Well I don’t know about you, but this year just seems to have flown by! There is no denying it – December is here… A slight panic rose in my stomach this morning thinking of all the things I have to do in just a few weeks!! I hope I’m not the only one that is experiencing feelings that seem to put in me in a very odd and slightly snappy mood when really I should be full of festive spirit, skipping around singing falalalala’s in my head!

So how about the rest of the world? Are you stressed, working every hour, trying to do a million and one things at work and at home? So what is the best way to deal with December’s impending chaos… I have a few tips to share with you all to ensure you get the balance and enjoy the best of the festive season!

First thing, stay calm…

Control – If a difficult situation arises don’t lash out, be calm and controlled and take lots of deep breaths take a moment and think about your response, think it through, you will be less likely to say or act in manor you will regret! Be it with a work colleague or a queue of stressful shoppers waiting to purchase the last of their Christmas gifts!

Communicate – We are all guilty of communicating via email, with colleagues or Managers even if they only sit across the desk! Remember emails can be misinterpreted; arrange a meeting, or pick up the phone, talk to each other and you will not be misunderstood! This carries through with home life too, remember it’s good to talk!

Calm – If someone upsets you at work, try and separate the person from their actions. You cannot stop stressful situations happening, but you can change your attitude towards them.  Think of your success and strengths and this will boost your self-esteem!

Stay healthy – Take time to look after you, you cannot function through illness or tiredness so make sure you eat well and get lots of sleep. We all over look our well being at this time of year, especially as we have such busy lives.  However to function at our best  we need to do all of the above.

Remember to take time and enjoy the festivities, find your Christmas ritual or maybe just believe a little bit!!!

Give HR Revolution a call +44 203 538 5311 or 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.

 

New National Minimum Rates announced

Effective from April 2018, the Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed in his Autumn budget, national minimum wage increases and a new scheme affecting care sector employers who may have underpaid their employees.

New National Minimum Wage Rates

In line with the intention for the national minimum wage to increase to £9 per hour from 2020, it will increase from £7.50 to £7.83, representing a 4.4 percent uplift.  In practical terms, this will mean a pay rise of around £600 per year for a full time worker.

The other rates will increase as follows:

  • Workers aged 21-24 from £7.05 to £7.38 per hour
  • Workers aged 18-20 from £5.60 to £5.90 per hour
  • Workers aged 16-17 from £4.05 to £4.20 per hour
  • Apprentice rate from £3.50 to £3.70 per hour

The Budget was also used to announce a review of the flexibility in the way organisations may use their apprenticeship levy (large companies have been required to pay this levy since April 2017 which they can then use to fund apprenticeships) and a National Retraining Scheme to support worker’s career development.

Care employers advised to correct minimum wage wage under payments

A new scheme to encourage companies in the care sector to make good any minimum wage underpayments was launched on 1st November 2017.

Recent employment tribunal judgements have shifted a focus onto a companies minimum wage obligations in the specific area of sleep-in shifts.  HMRC’s interpretation of the legislation, in common circumstances, requires that all hours of a sleep-in shift attract the minimum wage, regardless of whether the worker is asleep.

In order to soften the impact of these decisions on social care companies, the Social Care Compliance Scheme (SCCS) will see any underpayments corrected but remove the enforcement measures applied to companies that are found to have underpaid their workers. Employers have until the end of 2018 to join up to the scheme.

Committees publish draft bill on gig economy workers

A joint draft bill containing enhanced proctections for gig economy workers has been published by two government committees.

The propsal focuses on giving individuals more certainty about their status by providing an automatic assumption of “worker” status, meaning that it would be for the company to prove otherwise at employment tribunal.  This would also mean that these workers would be entitled to certain employment rights from day one.

Some recommendations from the Taylor Report are also included in the Bill, such as considerations of a higher national minimum wage rate for those on zero hour contracts. The government is yet to provide its full response to the review and this Bill will add more pressure on the government to take action.

If you need any help or guidance on the above, get in touch with HR Revolution.

Give us a call +44 203 538 5311 or 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.

A version of this article first appeared on CIPD HR-inform.

Plan ahead for the January productivity slump

So December is only a couple of weeks away and around this time of year spirits are generally high with everyone looking forward to the opportunity to take a little time out with friends and loved ones.

However, by the New Year the general mood and feel has often shifted slightly. With nothing but rainy dark days and credit card bills to look forward to, productivity in the workplace can come to a grinding halt. Here are our best tips for overcoming the January slump!

Give thanks…

It’s likely that your employees may have worked longer shifts over the Christmas period. They’ll have dealt with stressful situations and difficult discussions, and it’s understandable if they’re feeling a bit burnt out. Some might even be asking themselves what the point in all of it even was.

Saying thank you is so simple and it’s something that you should be doing regularly, but it’s all too easy to overlook the basics in favour of developing complex strategies. Make sure your employees know that their contribution didn’t go unnoticed.

Set new goals…

January can be a time when everyone settles back into their usual routines. The pressure might be lifted slightly, and whilst this can be a positive thing, it can also sometimes encourage complacency. Instead of letting this happen, make sure that you have a plan of action to guide you through the first quarter.

Call a team meeting, invite feedback and opinions, and ensure that everyone is fully up to speed and engaged with new priorities. This will act as a timely reminder that it’s time to get back to business!

Get ahead in 2018…

You might be the boss, but that that doesn’t mean that you’re immune to the January blues! You should ensure that you celebrate your successes and take time to reflect on your achievements over the past 12 months, but it’s important that you also look at ways in which you can improve your skills and start the New Year with a bang.

Ask your employees to give you an open and honest assessment of how you’ve performed as a leader, and what you can do to support them better in the future. The best business owners are always considering how they can step up and lead by example.

If you need any help, why not let HR Revolution give you the HR solutions you need to get 2018 off to a flying start…

Give us a call +44 203 538 5311 or 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.

 

Landmark employment law cases: Uber/Deliveroo – The decision on drivers and riders rights; what could this mean for your business?

This has been a very hot topic recently and we have been overloaded with articles about what the “workers” versus “self-employed” issues/rights means, so now the ruling has been made HR Revolution discuss what this means for businesses going forward.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal ruled on Friday that Uber’s drivers qualify as workers, giving drivers rights such as the minimum wage and holiday pay, resulting in potentially damaging the way the company operates.  Currently the average hourly rate minus fees, petrol and expenses may mean an Uber driver is not earning the minimum wage.

Although Uber argued that their drivers have the freedom to choose when and where they work, the EAT ruled that drivers were effectively working for Uber while the app was switched on, and were not able to make themselves available to other operators as Uber had claimed.  In addition, the way Uber limits driver contact with customers, the language it uses when recruiting drivers and the way it treats those drivers who refuse a fare, resulted in the EAT concluding that Uber exerts control over the drivers, meaning they are to be deemed as workers as opposed to being self-employed and are therefore entitled to worker rights.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/11/10/uber-loses-key-appeal-drivers-rights/

Conversely in the case brought by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, Deliveroo riders have been ruled “self-employed” by the labour law body the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).  This further highlights the complexity of determining the employment status and why it is imperative care is taken when considering whether the individual has worker rights including holiday pay and minimum wage.

The key to this case was that in the contract between Deliveroo and the riders; riders had the freedom to substitute the services to a “mate” both before and after they had accepted a particular job if they wished – allowing other riders to take their place on a job. The CAC found that the right to substitution was genuine in day to day practice and therefore found the riders be self-employed. To further support Deliveroo’s case, the new terms also stated that riders did not have to wear branded clothing.

Both of these decisions have been based on whether there is “control” from the employer to the employee and in the case of Deliveroo the lack of control meant the balance was tipped as the riders having self-employed status.

Riders enjoy being their own boss – having the freedom to choose when and where they work, and riding with other delivery companies at the same time.  In practical terms, this implies they are genuinely self-employed.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41983343

What could these rulings mean for your business?

Both of these rulings although contradictory, have significant implications for the gig economy in particular.  It also clearly demonstrates that there is still a lot of ambiguity and confusion around employment status, which is expected to be given clarity by the government by the end of the year.

The outcomes of both these cases emphasises the importance of ensuring you are giving those entitled to employment rights, just that and also ensuring any contractors are complying with any IR35 rules.  It means care and consideration should be exercised by both the employer and employee when entering into an independent contractor agreement on a self-employed basis.

Any business should take guidance from both of these cases as they demonstrate how important it is that your employee status is. Make sure the use of self-employed contractors are being used correctly within your business and not just as a label to get around the rules.  With the number of self-employed contractors increasing significantly, both of these rulings are likely to be significant for employment law in the UK.

The lesson from both of these cases lies around the control identified in the terms and conditions of an independent contractor agreement.  Although this doesn’t set a new precedent as all cases will be judged on their own merits, the control you exert over anyone self-employed within your business should be carefully considered to avoid any similar claims.

Deciding on the appropriate employment status can be difficult for many companies. If you have concerns regarding this, HR Revolution are here to help, get in touch with one of our consultants who can offer you a free consultation to ensure that you are compliant.

Give HR Revolution a call +44 203 538 5311 or 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.

 

 

How to manage gender reassignment in the workplace – Part 3

In yesterday’s blog we discussed disclosing gender identities, so in this blog we cover how to support your employees and what changes you can make in the workplace.

Managing changeover of an employee’s personal details:

Terminology – You should ask the employee how they wish to be addressed. If the employee is in agreement inform their colleagues and ensure they use the correct terminology.

Documentation – Employer and employee should agree what details need to be changed i.e personal records, access passes etc. A discussion of what will happen to previous records relating to gender should take place to ensure confidentiality is maintained.

Appearance and dress code – A gender neutral dress code could be applied or if not appropriate the employee should be able to follow the dress code in a way which best fits their gender identity.

Toilet, changing and shower facilities –  An employee should never be segregated and told to use particular facilities but be allowed to use those they feel best match their identity following gender reassignment.

Dealing with a sensitive gender identity matter – Issues such as names and/or gender not matching their passport/ID need to be handled sensitively whilst still ensuring the company is compliant in its checks.  Having a third party a business can turn to, to handle these issues can be reassuring for both employer and employee.

Company health insurance scheme – To ensure trans employees are treated fairly, it is recommended for an employer to include treatments and procedures for gender reassignment in its scheme.

Absence from work because of gender reassignment – It is discriminatory to treat an employee, who is absent from work to undergo gender reassignment, less favourably. Depending on an employer’s policy for managing absence, they may wish to record absences due to gender reassignment, but shouldn’t include them in ‘absence triggers’. It may be worth considering if you offer limited special leave (at your discretion) which maybe paid or unpaid

Performance – It is recommended to make allowances for the trans employee’s job performance during transition and a short period afterwards, as surgery is likely to have temporary side effects.  An employee may ask to move to another role or change some duties which may cause difficulties whilst they transition or they may request a phased return to work, wherever possible this should be considered and catered for.

Trans and mental health – A person questioning their gender may experience mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. An employer can support the employee, by providing a welcoming and safe environment at work.

Support an employee with a family member transitioning – It is a type of direct discrimination to treat an employee less favourably than another because of the gender reassignment of someone they are associated with. The impact on an employee with a family member who is transitioning can be considerable; therefore you should treat them with sensitivity and provide them with support such as time off.

Develop trans inclusive policies  – Trans inclusive policies will need to be rolled out. Matters covered should include:

  • Transitioning at work including leave and pay
  • Dress code
  • Toilet, changing and shower facilities
  • Employee’s personal records and how these will be dealt with
  • If possible how an employee can transition to another role/department
  • How an employee should report any gender reassignment discrimination
  • Unacceptable behaviour towards employees inclusive of those of non-binary identities
  • Maternity/paternity/adoption/shared parental leave

These processes are always best supported by HR and it may be advisable to outsource your projects where possible. HR Revolution can carry out any project to ensure the process is performed unbiasedly.

If you need further information or guidance, give HR Revolution a call +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@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.

 

How to manage gender reassignment in the workplace – Part 1

The Equality Act 2010 says that you must not be discriminated against because you are transsexual – that is, your gender identity differs from the gender assigned to you at birth.  In the Equality Act it is known as gender reassignment. All transsexual people share the common characteristic of gender reassignment.

Employers, managers and colleagues should be aware that no two gender reassignment situations or two ‘trans’ identities are likely to be exactly the same.  If an employee feels they have been discriminated against, they will be able to bring a claim to an Employment tribunal.

We have put together a three part blog that highlight where you need to be more vigilant when it comes to gender reassignment discrimination in the workplace.

Recruitment

Job advert/job description – These documents can be difficult to write at the best of times; try to ensure they are clear on exactly what is needed for the post.

Advertising – You should consider more than one type of media or advertising platform to avoid ending up with too narrow an audience.

Personal information – Make sure any information you request is relevant to the recruitment process.

Interview – When you meet an applicant, do not assume someone’s gender by their appearance.

References – When contacting a previous employer for a reference always ensure you have the employees consent and be careful to use the correct name and title.

Equality monitoring form – You do not have to track how many job applications you receive from different groups of people, or the characteristics of the people working for you. However, if you do collect personal information (e.g. ethnicity, gender, faith, sexuality) about job applicants or an employee, you must protect their data. You must not discriminate against a candidate based on their personal information.

Pay, terms and conditions of employment

It is important to ensure there are no terms and conditions or contractual benefits that disadvantage or exclude someone based on their gender or gender reassignment.

Promotion

In promotion opportunities, discrimination can be:

  • Turning down applications from anyone because they are proposing to reassign their gender
  • Discourage an employee from applying because they have or are reassigning their gender
  • Not promoting an employee who is the best person for the job based on gender reassignment.

As an employer you have a duty to assess someone’s promotion based on their ability and performance. It is advisable to have a well-structured process for promotions and link these to performance reviews where possible to eliminate the risk of discrimination.

Training

An employer should ensure training opportunities are equally accessible for employees who propose to go through, are going through or have gone through gender reassignment. You should also ensure that you do not withhold training due to those reasons as it could be discriminatory.

Dismissal

It is unlawful for an employer to dismiss an employee because of their gender reassignment, perceived gender reassignment or association with someone else’s gender reassignment.

Redundancy

An employee must not be at a disadvantage or discriminated against in a redundancy process because of their gender reassignment, perceived gender reassignment or association with someone else’s gender reassignment.

When going through redundancy consultations any employees absent because of gender reassignment should still be consulted with.

These processes are always best supported by HR and it may be advisable to outsource your projects including redundancy where possible. HR Revolution can carry out any project to ensure the process is performed unbiasedly.

Look out for Part 2 of the blog tomorrow.

If you need further information or guidance, give HR Revolution a call +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@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.

 

 

Cyber security – Managing the risk

For cyber risk to be adequately addressed, cyber security strategies should be secure, vigilant and resilient and identifying the risks is a good place to begin.

Workplace Risks

  • Sensitive information on the walls and left uncovered on desks
  • Sharing passwords/passwords kept in easy to find places
  • Unlocked computers

Home Risks

  • Document disposal is not secure
  • Unsecure networks
  • People overhearing discussions or viewing sensitive information
  • Documents left lying around
  • Burglary
  • Use of personal social media accounts may create a risk

On The Move Risks

  • Discussing sensitive information in public areas
  • Your security pass is easily accessible/visible to the public
  • Equipment is left unattended even for a brief moment
  • Sensitive documents are in clear view of onlookers

Get Technical – protect company equipment:

Malware protection: install anti-virus solutions on all systems. Consider restricting access to inappropriate websites to lessen the risk of being exposed, maybe create a policy governing when and how security updates should be installed.

Network security: increase protection of your networks, including wireless networks.

Secure configuration: maintain an inventory of all IT equipment and software.

Managing user privileges: restrict employees and third-party access to IT equipment, IT systems and information to the minimum required.

Home and mobile working, including use of personal devices for work: ensure that sensitive data is encrypted when stored or transmitted online so it can only be accessed by authorised users.

Removable media: restrict the use of removable media such as USB drives and protect any data stored on such media to prevent data being lost and malware from being installed.

Monitoring: monitor use of all equipment and IT systems, collect activity logs, and ensure that you have the capability to identify any unauthorised or malicious activity.

Ensure the correct policies are rolled out to the employees based on home working and remote working. These policies will detail the specifics on how the employee is responsible for mitigating the risks when working from home or on the move.

Training can also be rolled out to educate employees on the risks, the signs of potential breaches and how to mitigate these. For example how to conduct their business when working in exposed public places.

Make sure HR work closely with IT to incorporate appropriate IT training and schedule regular IT ‘check ups’ for employees workplace devices.

We hope you enjoyed our article, look out for tomorrow’s blog; “Cyber security – How HR can help”

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.

 

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.