5 Employment law developments your business needs to be aware of this year

2018 is well and truly underway and we will see a number of significant domestic employment law developments this year, below we outline what as an employer you need to be aware of:

1. GDPR comes into effect

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which updates and harmonises data protection law across the EU, will come into effect on 25 May 2018 for all EU member states, including the UK.

Employers are encouraged to risk assess their compliance gaps and address the issues that pose the most significant risks first.

2. First gender pay gap reporting deadline

Private and voluntary sector employers with 250 or more employees have until 4 April 2018 to publish their first gender pay gap report.

The reports will cover pay data from 2016 to 2017, including the differences in mean pay, median pay, mean bonus pay and median bonus pay between male and female employees.

gender pay gap

Reports also have to set out the proportion of male and female employees in the pay quartiles of an organisation and the proportion of male and female employees who received bonus pay.

Employers must post their reports on their own website and on a Government website.

3. Minimum wage rates increase

The national living wage for workers aged 25 and over will increase to £7.83 per hour on 1 April 2018.

Statutory rates

Other national minimum wage rates will also increase, with rates rising to £7.38 per hour for workers aged 21 to 24, to £5.90 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20 and to £4.20 for workers aged 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age.

The apprentice minimum wage rate will rise to £3.70 per hour and the accommodation offset will increase to £7.00 per day.

4. Statutory family pay amounts uprated

The weekly amount for statutory family pay rates will increase to £145.18 on 1 April 2018. This rate will apply to maternity pay, adoption pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay and maternity allowance.

brexit negotiations

5. Brexit preparations underway

Employers and workers were relieved to hear last week of the Government’s initial agreement with the European Commission. The terms protect the rights of EU citizens who currently reside in the UK to live, work and study in the UK following Brexit.

The announcement provides employers with more certainty as they continue to develop their contingency plans around Brexit. The agreement does not relate to the ability of new EU workers to migrate to the UK to work after Brexit.

As such, employers in sectors that rely on considerable inflows of European workers are still waiting for confirmation of immigration arrangements following withdrawal from the EU.

If you need any further advice or guidance on any of the above issues 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.

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A version of this article first appeared on Personnel Today

National Sickie Day 2018

I hope you are not tempted to call in sick today… but if you do, you’re not alone! The first Monday in February is when more people call in sick than any other day in the year.

Today’s figure is predicted to be higher than in previous years thanks to a combination of factors including Super Bowl Sunday yesterday, the first weekend after Dry January and the first post-Christmas pay day.

According to some Employment Law experts, it was estimated that the amount of employees who called in sick on 2017 National Sickie Day was 350,000 and they predicted this cost the UK economy around £45million due to lost hours, wages and overtime, but overall 39 million working days a year are lost due too sickies, costing UK businesses a staggering £4billion.

So here are a list of some of the worst excuses for missing work in 2017:

  • My only pair of work trousers is in the wash
  • I contracted food poisoning from a chocolate bar I ate last night
  • It’s my dog’s birthday and I need to arrange a party for him
  • The dog ate my shoes
  • I got arrested
  • I woke up in a good mood and didn’t want to ruin it
  • I stayed out partying last night and haven’t had any sleep
  • My friend is on annual leave so I can’t get a lift
  • I have no way to get to work
  • My wife earns more than me so I have to look after the kids

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As an employer there are a few things you can do to try and limit this trend by making sure you get employees to call you when they are sick – it’s harder to stick to a made up excuse talking to someone than texting in. Also you are perfectly entitled to challenge the authenticity of an absence; if an excuse seems too far-fetched then ask for evidence if appropriate.

Don’t allow an ‘absence culture’ to flourish in your workplace, get in touch if you need any further advice on how to improve sickness and absence, 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.

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Time to talk day… #timetotalk

Today is Time to talk day, a charity run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health.

What many people don’t realise is that Mental Health falls under the category of disability and if people who have mental health problems are treated unfavourably because of their condition this is discrimination and, if you experience it, you may have a legal right to challenge it.

So mental health is an issue your business can no longer afford to ignore:

  • Almost one in three people have experienced mental health issues whilst in employment
  • Mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing an average of £1,035 per employee per year
  • 95% of employees calling in sick with stress gave a different reason

Tackling stigma (where an employee is perceived as being different because of their mental health problem) and discrimination and developing a culture where your employees feel able to talk openly about their mental health problems should be the number one priority within your business.

It is important as an employer you are aware of your obligations to your employees to protect them from discrimination.time to talk1 - hr revolution - outsourced hr

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 is the law that gives employees the right to challenge discrimination. It protects people from being discriminated against because of certain protected characteristics, such as gender, age or disability and mental health.

Since the Equality Act 2010 came into force, it is unlawful for employers to ask questions about health during recruitment.

It is up to the candidate whether they wish to disclose their mental health problem or not. An employer has a duty to ensure that if the candidate does disclose, they are not discriminated against and are treated fairly.

CIPD make some recommendations for employers:

  • Distinguish carefully between essential and desirable requirements for the job to allow for flexibility in making adjustments.
  • Communicate your commitment to equal opportunities and how your organisation values staff mental health.
  • State that reasonable adjustments are available
  • Any information on health or disabilities should be kept separate from the job application form

Reasonable Adjustments

The Equality Act 2010 also puts employers under a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments (in other words changes).

A few examples of changes that might help

  • Extending flexible working policies to allow commuting outside of rush hours
  • Allowing staff to take time off work for appointments
  • Making changes to their working area
  • Allowing staff to work at home on occasion if this is helpful
  • Temporarily re-allocating tasks they find stressful and difficult

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As an employer you have a key role to play in supporting employees to maintain their mental wellbeing. Regular supervision or catch-up meetings can help managers recognise symptoms such as stress, anxiety, paranoia or depression. It is also worth incorporating time in your meetings to discuss your employees’ wellbeing. Managers play a crucial role in setting reasonable adjustments, flexible working allowances and return to work plans if employees need additional support.

Ideally, speaking about mental health problems should be an intrinsic part of the culture of your workplace.

It’s critical that all of your line managers feel confident having a conversation about mental health with their line reports. Increasing their capability to spot signs and symptoms in their team, and feel confident in discussing this with those who are struggling will help stop problems before they become more challenging.

If you need any further advice or guidance or would like to discuss how you can tackle any Mental Health issues within your business from an HR perspective 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.

It’s time to talk and HR Revolution are here to support you, your employees AND your business.

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Why bother with Employment contracts?

Despite it being a legal obligation, many business owners think that it’s in their interests to delay giving an employee a contract, or not bothering at all, but this blog will explain the importance of having employment contracts in place.

Firstly…It’s the Law!!

It is a legal requirement to have an employment contract in place within two months of hiring an employee but if you didn’t know act now – don’t ignore it!

Contracts actually benefit both employers and employees; it helps the employer by setting out clearly what is expected of the employee the hours they should work, how much and how often they are paid, holiday and sick pay arrangements and other day to day issues. It is important for the employee because they then know in addition to items above, how to lodge a grievance, what notice to give and their rights under family friendly policies such as maternity or paternity leave and the company expectations in larger company for more senior employees this is a vital tool for the employer often overlooked. Contracts should be regularly reviewed and updated and if an employee is promoted they should always be issued with an updated contract reflecting their new rights and responsibilities.

Also, given this is a contractual agreement you are putting in place between you and the employee, I would advise that you take professional advise so that you can clearly articulate what you want the contract to say and that you fully understand what you as the employer are committing to.

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It avoids disputes

Even without anything written down, when an employee turns up  for work and gets paid, there is a basic employment contract agreement between the two parties.

Without any written terms then it’s either statutory rights that are in place (which often benefit the employee), or oral agreements which can be open to interpretation and misinterpretation.  Dealing with disputed oral terms is at best time-consuming and at worst can also be financially costly.

Decide the terms that work for your business, by offering a job with terms and conditions that you have set, you are not only presenting a professional image and setting the tone for the employment relationship, but giving clear guidelines to what the employee can expect when working with you.

You can specify working hours, any overtime payments (or not), the notice period you require from them, how much sick pay they can expect, how much holiday they are due, and when they can or cannot take holiday, amongst many other things.

It protects your business

If an employee leaves your employment, you can put restrictions in place (within reason) so that your business is not adversely affected if their next role is in competition with your business. You also need to put in place protection for your business regarding critical, confidential information.

If it’s not specified in the contract, you may be taking a risk if you decide to put someone on gardening leave, or pay them in lieu of notice, if your rights to do this are not detailed in the employment contract.

employment contracts - hr revolution - outsourced hr

Finally, to reiterate we would always advise that you take professional guidance so that you can clearly articulate what you want the contract to say and that you fully understand what you as the employer are committing to.  HR Revolution have fully comprehensive contract templates available to download on our website www.hrrevolution.co.uk  and we can also tailor them for you, please do get in touch for further details.

Businesses often wonder if there are contracts in place, do they also need a Company handbook… the answer is yes! A contract is a legally binding document mutually agreed and any variation to it again needs to be mutually agreed and to undergo a period of consultation before any change is implemented. A handbook is a document setting out company policies from expenses to confidentiality, to dealing with harassment and bullying, email, social media and internet policies and many others. It is not legally binding and therefore does not have to be mutually agreed. It gives the employer the ability to change and amend policies to deal with the changes in legislation and social trends eg. Maternity/Paternity etc.

HR Revolution would advise that employers and employees need both.

If you need any further advice on employment contracts or handbooks get in touch, 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.

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Can stress ever help an employee perform better?

As we all know stress, in all its forms, can be life changing. In the workplace, multiple measures are taken by HR professionals to attempt to eradicate, or least cut down, on factors which encourage employee stress. And for good reason.

A recent report from workforce consulting firm, Life Meets Work found that stress from leaders causes ripples throughout their company – negatively impacting on everything from employee engagement to the bottom line.

“Companies often focus on fixing individual employees to help them be less stressed and therefore more engaged. Yet, our study found that employee engagement was better predicted by the leader’s ability to manage stress than the employee’s current stress level,” explained Kenneth Matos, psychologist and Vice President of Research for Life Meets Work. “A leader’s inability to manage stress ripples through the entire company in a negative way.”

stress at work 2 - hr revolution - outsourced hr

Does this then suggest that all stress is negative stress?

A report from the University of California found that short periods of stress can actually help stimulate cell growth, which in turn results in new brain cells.  After monitoring rats, which were placed in stressful situations, researchers found that a few weeks later their alertness, learning and memory had improved.

However, this doesn’t mean HR will be promoting stress in the office – rather monitoring how stress affects different employees in different ways. A study from Leadership IQ, titled ‘Does Your Job Require High or Low Emotional Intelligence?’, found that just over half (51%) of employees admit that they always or frequently have to ‘act’ or ‘put on a show’ with their emotions at work. This in turn can lead to anxiety, or at the very least dismay.

As for dealing with workplace stress, Dr Christian Jessen, Doctor and TV Presenter of ‘Embarrassing Bodies’, revealed how the pressure of presenteeism is affecting our mental health as well as our work-life balance.

stress at work 1 - hr revolution - outsourced hr

“The fact that we don’t really know how to do nothing is something I find rather sad,” he says. “We always feel like we should be doing something – we feel guilty about sitting and watching television; we feel guilty about reading a book for an hour; we think that we need to be emptying the dishwasher or putting another wash on.

“But, we need to get over that guilt if we want to fully encompass all arms of our health. Eastern medicine has been doing this for a long time, whilst in the West, we’ve been ignoring it – and look who is suffering more.”

What do you think? is all stress is negative? or does it have a part to play in a productive work environment, let HR Revolution know your thoughts and comment below.

If you need any further advice on managing stress in the workplace please get in touch, 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.

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A version of this article first appeared in HR Grapevine

Blue Monday may not be real, but Mental Health issues in your business will be

Ok so if you’re reading this, then you made it through the most depressing day of the year. ‘Blue Monday’ the time when the festivities are well and truly over, we’re back into our daily routine and there feels like there’s not a great deal to look forward to.

It’s also right in the middle of a period when employee absences are likely to be high and this is a challenge that a lot of businesses HR Revolution work with face every year. January is a long month and employees may not be able to face coming into work especially when you add financial woes into the mix. 

Mental health issues often create a pattern of short-term sickness absence, and sufferers often find it easier to face disciplinary action for faking a sickie than to admit they have a mental health issue because of the stigma attached.  Not only does being in trouble make them feel even worse, it also prevents them from getting the support they could get if their managers were aware of the problem.

mental health issues - hr revolution - outsourced hr

Whatever your views, mental health isn’t something that can be solely tackled from the top down. Business owners and line managers need to take responsibility and recognise that they play a role in the well-being of their employees.

So whilst you breathe a sigh of relief that the most depressing day of the year is now behind us, it might not be time to look forward to the summer months just yet. Take the time to think about how you can ensure that your employees are happy, productive, and enjoying good mental health.

It has business benefits sure… But it’s also simply the right thing to do.

If you need any further advice or want to chat confidentially about an employee that might need assistance get in touch, 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.

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How to have a better “Blue Monday”…

How is your Monday going?  It is the start of a new week, probably lots to do, reading and actioning emails and maybe planning ahead for yourself and your team members.

But did you know that today is “Blue Monday”, why is it you may ask; Blue Monday is calculated using a series of factors in a (not particularly scientific) mathematical formula. The factors are: the weather, debt level (specifically, the difference between debt and our ability to pay), the amount of time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take charge of the situation.

blue-monday - hr revolution

However, not all psychologists agree with this description:

“The reality is there’s no such thing as the most depressing day of the year and it trivialises serious mental health issues” says Dr. Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services at AXA PPP healthcare.  “Mental Health and Mental illness is an ongoing matter and achieving a good work-life balance is important to being a healthier you”.

The emphasis shouldn’t focus on a “once a year” effort to cheer employees up, but should be something that is addressed all year round, encouraging better worklife balance as Dr Winwood explains.

work life balance - blue monday - hr revolution

“When you are mentally well, you are better at making the most of your life and work.  That doesn’t mean you’ll never experience any type of emotional problem, but it can mean that you’re able to deal with difficult or stressful situations more easily.  Research also shows that positive people tend to live healthier lifestyles”.

However, Dr. Winwood agrees that the “Monday Blues” can lead to less motivation, so employers should be looking at ways to improve on employee morale.

“If you think you workforce are lacking Monday motivation, identifying the reasons behind the low morale is key.  For example, improving the working environment is just one step to changing this.  Some minor improvements, such as better lighting, more comfortable chairs, or a supply of hot drinks, water and caffeine free alternatives may improve things for everyone and thus alter the mood”.

blue monday - hr revolution

AXA PPP have designed the above infographic with tips on how to power on through and stay positive whenever those feelings hit.  However, it is important to stress that depression and mental illness shouldn’t be blamed on any single day – as there are 52 Mondays/weeks in a year and if you are struggling with feelings of depression over a long period you should speak to your doctor, a trusted family member or friend.

So lets not have a Blue Monday today, lets rename it happy Monday instead!

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

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New Year – New You – improve your mental wellbeing at work in five easy steps

Happy New Year, another year is over and we start 2018 afresh.  However, according to a YouGov survey last year, three in five employees have experienced mental health issues in the past year because of work; below we outline five steps that can be taken to improve wellbeing in the workplace.

1. How to identify your triggers

Mental health charity Mind says, working out what triggers stress or poor mental health can help you foresee problems and think of ways to solve them.

Take some time to reflect on events and feelings that could be contributing to your poor mental health. You might be surprised to find out just how much you’re coping with at once.

Triggers may well be problems with certain tasks at work, one-off events like doing presentations, as well as regular issues such as attending interviews and appointments.

Also be aware that not having enough work, activities or change in your life can be just as stressful a situation as having too much to deal with.

2. Manage your time

Managing when and where you work can be helpful, since 2014, all employees (not just parents and carers) have had the right to request flexible working for any reason, and this can include switching shifts, working different hours and sometimes working from home.

Working from home, for example, can mean you skip the commute and instead spend that travelling time with your family, exercising or even getting up slightly later (while still getting to work on time).

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3. Switch off that mobile phone

Unlike in France where employees have the right to disconnect, in the UK many people feel they can’t switch off, which can be detrimental to mental health.

There’s no such thing as work/life balance, most people think about home life when at work and work life when at home so they become integrated.  But that doesn’t mean that you need to be “constantly on”; scrolling through work emails or your work social media accounts 24/7 doesn’t give your brain a break and can lead to problems.

When you leave work, actually leave work, this means turning off your work phone. Like a laptop, we need to switch ourselves off and recharge and it’s vital not to have your work phone near your bed at night, as it interrupts your sleep.

4. Eat, sleep, exercise – repeat

When you’re not at work, pack in plenty of healthy, nutritious food, sleep and exercise. We all know that these things can boost our mental and physical health.

Being outside can help, going for a 15-minute walk during the day helps clear the mind according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, even if it might be difficult to take breaks at work when you’re stressed, it can make you more productive.

new year new you - outsourced hr - hr revolution

5. Don’t be hard on yourself

Of course many people have demanding jobs and when you’re caught up in a cycle of relentless hours, it’s easy to be hard on yourself.

Often we don’t need our boss or colleagues to give us a hard time as we’re good at doing that ourselves.  If you’re struggling at work, give yourself some space. This could mean taking a few days off, requesting flexible working or getting some support outside of work but once you’ve had some space, you can make good choices.

If you need any further help or guidance on wellbeing in the workplace, 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.

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A version of this article first appeared on theguardian.com

 

 

Twas the office night before Christmas…

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the office
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,
which is not really surprising as the very night before
was the office Christmas party and everyone’s heads were quite sore!

Off in Lapland they had partied as well.
And poor old Rudolph wasn’t feeling too well.
Did he not get the memo on the office policy
that you must turn up for work the next day filled with glee!

Night before Christmas2

Nope his red nose was shining, from too much champagne.
And poor Vixon was blushing; she’d been on the copier again!
The head elf had bought the worst Secret Santa of all
So the PA was cross, shocked and appalled!

Then the big man appeared and said “this just will not do”.
Go grab some coffee we have much work to do!
So they all pulled together through the morning from hell.
Saying Don’t tell HR and all will be well!

And so a happy Christmas to all and all a good night

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very merry Christmas and happy New Year.

We’ll be back on 2nd January 2018…

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