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.

 

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.

 

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 2

In yesterday’s blog we talked about discrimination in the workplace, today we discuss disclosing gender identities.

The job applicant: A ‘transsexual’ person is not required to tell a prospective employer they have changed gender when they apply for a job, it should always be up to them to decide whether to disclose or talk about their gender identity – for fear being misunderstood and/or treated unfairly.

The employee: A person who is starting (or intending) to go through gender reassignment will in practice have no choice but to tell their employer.  The employee will then agree with the employer what information can be shared with whom and when.

Other general rules: Employers and colleagues must not ‘out’ an employee or applicant as trans as they could breach laws. Also, apart from in certain circumstances, it is a criminal offence to reveal, without the person’s permission, that they hold a gender recognition certificate or have applied for one.

If an employee or applicant who is trans decides that some information can be shared, the employer should, without pressuring the employee, talk to them about:

  • What they do and don’t want their colleagues to know
  • Who will be told, who will do the telling, where, when and how, and
  • Whether the employee will be there.

It is advisable that communication of any information to be shared is noted and recorded, and happens before the employee changes their appearance.

Employees disclosing their trans identity to a supportive employer can feel more comfortable at work, with a likely improvement in their morale and productivity, too.

Depending on the employee’s role, it may be beneficial to discuss and agree whether some limited information about their trans identity or gender reassignment should be communicated to clients and customers the employee regularly deals with.

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.

Look out for Part 3 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.

 

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.

 

 

How to identify stress in the workplace…

What is stress?… the definition provided by the Healthy and Safety Executive (HSE) is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed on them”.

As most people are aware stress is not a new problem, but it is something that employers now need to treat very seriously.

For employers the impact of stress is a very real problem.  Not only does it effect an employee’s health, morale, productivity, performance and attendance it can affect business productivity, employee turnover and reputation.

There is also a marked difference between stress and pressure.  In most jobs there is an element of pressure, but this can make employees feel challenged and motivated which can have a positive effect on performance.  Stress however, can cause a detrimental effect to employee’s mental and physical health and well-being.

According the the HSE there are six main causes of stress in the workplace:

  1. Demands – Employees may be unable to cope with the demands of their job, feel overwhelmed with work pattern, workload or environment.
  2. Control – Employees may feel stressed if they feel they are not in control about how they carry out their work, this can lead to them under-performing and feelings of isolation.
  3. Support – Employees can feel stressed if they are not being supported in the workplace by managers or colleagues.
  4. Relationships – If relationships within the workplace are causing stress, this can lead to allegations of bullying, harassment and bad team dynamics, and can lead to employee grievances being raised.
  5. Role – Employees can experience stress if they don’t understand what is expected of them in their role and responsibilities.
  6. Change – Managing change can be very stressful for employees, causing them to worry about how change will effect them.

As an employer it is always good to be vigilant as it is not just the workplace that causes stress.  In many instances personal issues such as relationships, family bereavement, illness and money can have an impact on a employees health.

Spotting signs of stress is key.  You may notice a change in an employee’s behaviour, habit or routine, for example smoking or drinking more, taking more time off or making uncharacteristic mistakes.

If you feel that you have an employee that is suffering with any of the indicators above and don’t know how to handle it, please get int touch with us at HR Revolution +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk, we can help you navigate any issues and make sure that your employee feels fully supported.

 

Best practice guidelines for employers with employees who give birth to sick or premature babies

“Working parents deserve support at work, and those who have premature babies should expect nothing less than total backing from their employers at what can be an exceptionally difficult and worrying time.”                          (Business Minister Margot James)

As an employer, are you aware of the statutory entitlements and the best ways in which to support your employees with premature or sick babies? Here are some of the best practice guidelines to help employers manage employees through this difficult period.

MAT B1

MAT B1 forms must be provided in order to receive Statutory Maternity Pay. In such circumstances as a premature baby, mothers are unable to obtain a MAT B1 form before the baby is born. In the chaos of it all the parents may forget or not be aware of the statutory requirements for SMP so, when/if appropriate, the employer could give the employee a supportive reminder.  HRREV recommends providing expectant employees with a Maternity Pack which highlights points such as this. This will prepare the employee should something like this happen and be a central point of reference during any stage of their pregnancy/birth.

Whilst the employee is waiting for their SMP to kick in it may worth considering providing the employee with financial aid such as a loan or advance in salary. Whilst handling offers like this sensitively you should always formalise such agreements in writing.

Communication

Communication is always a grey area when an employee goes on maternity leave. Employers should always ask the parents if they are happy to be contacted and what the best way of doing so is.

Take care when first communicating with the employee after the birth of their child. Usually congratulations are in order, however it may not be appropriate in some circumstances but it is still important to acknowledge the birth perhaps a “thinking of you and baby card” or a personalised video message from the team.

Fathers/ Partners

It’s important that an employer is compassionate towards the father/partner of the mother. They will also be stressed and their main priority will be supporting mother and baby. As an employer you may need to be flexible with time off or working hours. It is important to remind fathers and partners that they are eligible for Paternity leave and pay, which they can take within 8 weeks of the actual date of birth or within 8 weeks of the expected date of birth.

Family Friendly Entitlements

To further support the parents, remind the employee about their entitlement to parental leave, special leave and/or (if you are happy to accept shorter notification) shared parental leave. Perhaps refer them to the policies within your employee handbook so they can digest the information in their own time.

Communication to their colleagues

Employers should sensitively ask the parents what they would like to tell their colleagues. The extra support of their work colleagues could really help the parent feel supported by their company, making the transition back to work easier when they are ready.  Some parents will prefer privacy and it is then up to the employer to ensure that this is communicated to their colleagues to ensure no upset it caused.

 Death of a baby

Sadly some parents experience the death of their premature or sick baby. It is important to remember that the mother is still entitled to take up to 52 weeks of Maternity leave and 39 weeks of Statutory Maternity pay (if eligible). Similarly the father/partner of the mother is also able to receive Paternity leave and pay (if eligible).  Ensure that this is communicated this to the employee compassionately and at an appropriate time.

Returning to work

Returning to work can be a difficult time for most parents, however if the baby is born early or sick and still in hospital this can leave the parents feeling more anxious and worried than normal.

Employers should recognise the need to support the employee by providing them with a flexible return to work plan, balancing the needs of the business and their parental pressures. It is also important to provide a return to work plan that is well structured and eases the employee into their role at a pace they are comfortable at.

Employers should always seriously consider formal/informal flexible working requests. Refer to a flexible working policy and discuss the options with the employee upon their return. This may help make them feel more supported and alleviate their work worries.

If you need further clarification or would like to discuss any of the guidelines above, please do get in touch with HR Revolution, friendly, expert HR experts who are here to help.  Call us today +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

Have you taken your annual leave?

Annual leave is a benefit all employees receive. In the UK, the typical allocation is around 28 days, during which we’re encouraged to leave our work and focus on relaxing and rejuvenating.

However, we seem to be forgetting to take annual leave!! Reports suggest that only 1 in 3 of us actually takes our full annual leave allocation each year. Here, we’ll explore the benefits of annual leave and why it’s important to take yours.

The benefits of annual leave

There are many benefits to taking annual leave. These include:

  • Health
  • Stress relief
  • Productivity
  • Trust

Health benefits

Taking time away from the business gives our bodies and minds the chance to realign. It’s our opportunity to relax, away from the pressures of our day job, and to focus on other areas of our lives that also make us happy, such as friends and family.

Much like sleep helps our bodies rejuvenate, annual leave is an important part of our year and one of very few chances we get to truly forget about work.

This in turn relieves stress. We delegate tasks to our colleagues while we’re away, which means the period prior to annual leave is usually one in which we complete tasks and re-prioritise. This helps us to focus and clear our minds, bringing our levels of stress down.

Productivity

When we work constantly, our bodies are prone to burn out. This is where we’ve worked hard for so long, we simply can’t do it anymore.

Time out of the office gives you chance to relieve that stress and think about things in a more positive manner, with clarity to help you work more productively and effectively.

Encouraging your employees to use their annual leave can also reduce the number of sick days taken each year, which has a tangible impact on your bottom line.

Building trust

It’s important we show our colleagues that we trust them with our work, and that we can rely on them to do a great job in our absence. Taking annual leave, especially if you’re more senior in a business, tells your colleagues that you do trust them and gives them the chance to develop professionally too.

Top tips for annual leave

Follow these tips to make the most of your annual leave time:

  1. Set an out of office response that gives people an alternative contact during your absence
  2. Turn off your email notifications and work phone so you can relax and forget about your day job
  3. Delegate work in advance so your colleagues have chance to ask questions of you before you leave

Time for a break?

Many companies are implementing initiatives to make working life more flexible. But despite that, we’re still failing to even take our full annual leave allocation.

It’s important that we lead the way in ensuring we take the holiday we deserve and that we make the most of that time. It is good to remember that the business won’t fall apart just because you’ve been away for a few days!  Happy holidays…

HR Revolution is a gold partner of breatheHR, a cloud-based HR employee software that is a straightforward and intuitive system that you and your team will love. You will be able to see your employees holiday allocations easily, so you can see who needs a little nudge to take a day off!

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

 

When do a few drinks after work turn into a potential HR nightmare?

In a culture where regular heavy drinking and partying hard has become the norm, many of us are no strangers to tipple after work, a glass of wine or two with colleagues to put the working week and the world to rights or an informal brainstorming session over a few beers to bond away from the constraints and routine of being tied to a desk.

But as a business owner, you no doubt fully recognise that alcohol can turn into a serious problem in your workplace if it’s not carefully managed.

What would you do if an employee turned up for their shift looking worse for wear and constantly late?  What if rowdy behaviour in the pub brought your business into disrepute? and what exactly is the difference between your employee enjoying a couple of drinks, and your business being faced with a more serious problem?

What you really need to understand is…

You have legal obligations under The Health and Safety at work Act 1974, The Transport and Works Act 1992 and The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

You must have policies that ensure that issues are handled fairly and consistently and your managers should have sufficient training and capability to deal with workers who need help.

It would be well to note here that taking a hardline approach rarely serves anyone well. You probably don’t need us to tell you that dragging an employee with a serious problem into your office and giving them a telling off isn’t going to fix anything.

As a responsible employer, you’ve got a duty of care to make sure that you support your employees through difficult times… Which is a solid reason why many employers now view alcohol and drug problems as illnesses that need to be treated through rehabilitation practices.

Of course, drugs can be a different kettle of fish entirely, as they’re less socially acceptable, and can have a much more damaging impact on a person’s life than enjoying a few drinks with workmates now and again.

Remember too that if you have a team of managers, their role is important in all of this. Can they spot potential problems? Do they have the confidence and ability to tackle them? Do they know where to turn to for expert help if things start to escalate?

If you’re just reading this blog out of interest, and you don’t have an issue like this in your workplace at the moment, then that’s great.  However, you must recognise that you do need to be prepared, firefighting issues like this is always going to be difficult for everyone involved.

This is complex stuff, and you don’t have to manage it on your own.

Get in touch with HR Revolution +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk to arrange a no-obligation and confidential discussion around how we might be able to help you deal with alcohol and drug problems at work.

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk