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!

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…

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

Holidays over – our back to work survival guide!

Why is it that when children go back to school in September they get about a week’s worth of half days to ‘ease them back in’?  Ok I’m probably exaggerating and I might be a bit bitter (definitely!), but my point is; they get a nice steady transition period to help them adjust to the harsh reality of going back to school. However, workers are faced with the reality of returning to work with no settling in phase!!!.  So if your going back to work with an error 404: ‘brain not found’ message, fear not, I have put together this back to work survival guide to help you get through it.

Be an early bird

If your first day back after a holiday falls on a Monday, then I feel for you, I really do. As if Mondays aren’t bad enough, this is a workers’ worst nightmare. However, I always find that getting up early, eating a proper breakfast then heading off to work early is a good way to set you up for having a productive day.

Also, being in work early before your co-workers descend on you with queries that they’ve been building up whilst you’re away, gives you the chance to acclimatise into work mode. It also means you get the peace and quiet you need to remember your computer password that has completely slipped your mind!

Tackle your emails head on

Inevitably, when you return from annual leave, even if its just one day, you’ll return to email Armageddon (why is it that everyone has questions for you when you’re not there?). First you should scan through and delete anything that is not critical, is that latest 20% off Gap clothing offer really something you need to look at right now. Then, when you’re down to a manageable number read and respond in chronological order. You’ll need some method to the madness or it just will never end! Top tip: when someone responds to your reply, DON’T immediately respond to them. Get through the rest of your remaining unread emails before you start engaging in conversation and get pulled away from your email-ocalypse.

Catch up on the goss

Returning to a busy office with lots to do and lots to catch up on after spending your days relaxing on the beach without a care in the world, can leave you feeling discombobulated. You’ve been ‘out of the loop’ and when it comes to the world of office goings on you’ll have missed a ton of gossip and activity.

Schedule a tea break with your colleagues to catch up on all the news you’ve missed whilst you’ve been away.

Regroup

It’s only natural to return to work after a holiday and feel a bit like workplace deadwood. You’ll be reminiscing about what you were doing this time last week and you’ll be easily distracted and when you’ve got a mountain of things to tackle at work, it’s sometimes really hard to get back into the swing of things and you’ll be struggling to get motivated!

When this happens, regroup and remind yourself of what you’re trying to achieve at work. Giving your work some meaning will give you the boost to get stuck back in. You might be working towards a bonus, promotion or working hard to save for something special. Reassess your goals and see where you’re at with them, plan your next steps in achieving them and crack on and succeed.

Don’t let your holiday spirit be put out

We all get a boost from taking time off of work to relax and recharge, so don’t let returning to the office instantly crush your joie de vivre. Everyone in the office will want to hear you gush over what you got up to, it’s their duty, so revel in it. Show off your holiday pictures, pass round the holiday sweets and keep your holiday spirit alive just a little bit longer.

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

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

 

Do you really communicate with your colleagues?…

It’s easy to stop and moan about work or discuss a work related project but how often to you ever stop and just have a little chit chat with your work colleagues on a more personal level?

At HR Revolution we like having a bit of office banter, finding out what our colleagues did during their holidays or at the weekend, we think it’s important to remember that we all have interesting lives outside the workplace.  Establishing a conversational comfort level with your colleagues will allow you to talk to them about anything and make it easier to share your ideas.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Be the first to speak. It doesn’t pay to be shy, so just go ahead and ask a question to get the conversation started. They might be pleased that someone has stopped to talk to them.

It’s ok to be nosy, sorry I mean inquisitive! People generally like being asked about themselves, just don’t get too personal or sound like you’re trying to get the dirt, you’re supposed to be having a light hearted conversation.

Be positive,  again it’s meant to be light hearted so don’t drone on about a miserable experience, focus on something good, like a new fantastic restaurant you’ve tried, maybe a new box set that has you hooked (if you’re like me, I love a box set, Game of Thrones, Line of Duty, Walking Dead to name but a few!), this will definitely get them interacting.

Remember to listen in return. If you plan too hard what you are going to say they won’t get a word in edgeways, and next time they won’t bother engaging with you at all. Besides they might have some great ideas you can use too.

Be discreet. They may also be “inquisitive” about you but they don’t really want to know the in’s and out’s of your life’s back story and remember you do have to work with these people so keep some things to yourself!

Know when to draw the conversation to an end. Remember this was a quick chit chat, and shouldn’t detract from your working day, but make sure you end it on a high, maybe with a “we’ll talk about that next time”! which also then lends itself to be an inner for the next one.

I hope this helps and encourages you to talk to each other, communication is a key factor in good relationships and the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Click this link now to download your FREE guide to Communicating Effectively:

HR Revolutions Guide – Are you communicating effectively

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

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The French win “The right to disconnect” for employees

On the 1st January, France’s new law “right to disconnect” came into effect.  This law is for any company with over 50 employees to initiate “switching off” from email, smartphones and any other electronic medium once their working day has ended.

Employers have a duty to regulate the use of emails to ensure employees get a break from the office.  However, if employers and employees can’t come to an agreement on the new rule, companies must publish a charter that explicitly defines their rights in regards to out of hours communications.

France’s Ministry of Labour was quoted “These measures are designed to ensure respect for rest periods and balance between work and family and personal life”.

Concern has been building for a while in France as recent studies found that approximately 3.2 million French workers are at risk of “burning out,” defined as a combination of physical exhaustion and emotional anxiety.  Also a study published by French research group Eleas showed that more than a third of French workers used their devices to do work out-of-hours every day. About 60 percent of workers were in favor of regulation to clarify their rights.

Although France is known for its “official” 35-hour workweek, for many companies it’s in name only. Many French employees continue working remotely long after they leave for the day. In fact, now that France has a record-high unemployment rate of nearly 11 percent, the 35-hour work week law has been called into question.

The “right to disconnect” law was part of a larger set of labour laws introduced in France last spring. The set was designed to combat some of the unintended negative consequences of the 35-hour workweek. One proposal, would give companies the right to renegotiate longer hours and to pay less in overtime to employees who stay longer. Another proposal would make it easier for firms to hire and fire employees. The “right to disconnect” legislation was the only one of the proposed laws that did not generate widespread protests and strikes in France.

France is actually not the first nation to enact such a law. In 2014, Germany’s labour ministry passed legislation banning managers from calling or emailing their staff outside of work hours except in an emergency. Nevertheless the law prompted several German companies to reduce the burden of overwork. Car manufacturer Volkswagen blocked all emails to employees’ Blackberries after-hours, while competitor Daimler said it would delete emails received by employees while they are on holiday.

Laws such as the one in France will certainly encourage better dialogue about effective work/life balance.  If companies can no longer dump as much work as possible on their employees regardless of working hours, they will hopefully make a concerted effort to define their expectations, what’s truly important, and how employees can contribute in the manner that’s in the best interest of their own health and the health of the company.  However, will this cause France to lose ground in the competitive global marketplace because its employees are working less than those in nations without such a law?  Many multinational companies already take a dim view of French business regulations.

Although, the “right to disconnect” law is unlikely to be introduced for UK workers, employers should not ignore the issues that can arise from excessive use of digital devices and establish boundaries that protect employees, encouraging all employees to adopt a healthy lifestyle and promote work/life balance.

If you need advice on any HR issues, give us a call at HR Revolution  +44 203 538 5311 or email info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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How long should you stay in a job?

Ok so we know that a job is not for life anymore, gone are the days where you joined a company from leaving school or university and stayed there until you collected you golden carriage clock!!

So what is the norm now? research shows that in fact, a UK worker will change employer on average every five years but is there a magic number that will make sure that you don’t stop progressing or doesn’t make you look flighty?

Ok so moving jobs every 3 months without extenuating circumstances wouldn’t look good, but most employers would probably look favourably on a prospective employee who had changed roles every three to five years.  What’s important to see, is that candidate has an open attitude and continuous learning approach, driving him/her to embrace new challenges.

Also the size of a company can often be a factor in determining how long a person stays, with a smaller company often offering less opportunity for people to progress than a larger rival.

However, the most influential element driving how often you change jobs is age.   Millennials, those born between 1980 – 1999 have a drastically different outlooks from previous generations who were used to working in large corporate firms and work a set number of years in a particular role before progressing.  Millennials aren’t motivated by the same factors, such as a job for life, but instead good work-life balance and a sense of purpose beyond financial success.

With this in mind, it poses a challenge to companies, as losing employees and their knowledge and having to recruit and retain replacements is costly.  Companies need to be more creative in their ways to retain employees and holding regular chats on career progression is a good place to start.

It’s also important for companies to stay on good terms with departing staff, who may decided to return at a later stage in a different role adding wider experience to their already existing knowledge.

Do you have any issues surrounding recruiting and retaining good employees, HR Revolution can help, give us a call on+44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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Should you let your employees work from home?

Did you know according to recent research, more than half of employees feel trapped by the rigid structure of their workplace. A whopping 74% said that they wanted more freedom and flexibility, so it’s no real surprise that homeworking is a trend that’s here to stay and that many forward thinking employers are taking it into consideration.

Homeworking provisions vary between businesses, but the main principle is that you let your employees carry out their tasks from the comfort of their own space. Being anything from once or twice a week, to maybe a more permanent solution.

It’s an approach that’s likely to be welcomed by those with caring responsibilities, and let’s be honest here… Probably everyone else, too. After all, no one enjoys doing the daily commute, or being stuck in the confines an office all day long.

As a business owner though, you’re likely to have a few concerns. Could it really work? Will it provide your employees with the temptation to find something else to do? Or is actually a wonderful way to give your employees what they really desire, utilise the benefits of modern technology, and strengthen your reputation as a desirable employer who people want to work for?

There’s no denying there is a lot to consider, if you’re to get it right.

You need to think about how you’ll make sure that team members are in communication, and they all understand their responsibilities and how they fit into the bigger picture. In some cases, you’ll also have to look at how you can ensure that everyone has the equipment they need.

Also homeworking won’t be right for everyone. Some of your employees will crave face-to-face contact, and will be able to imagine nothing worse than just staring at the same four walls all day, with only their dog for conversation.

But it’s 2017 now, and you need to move with the times. Fail to give your employees what they really crave, and they WILL start to look elsewhere… regardless of how much they might enjoy their work.

The concept of a job for life is over, and you have to work hard to win loyalty.

If you’re not looking at ways to bring more flexibility into your business, then you’re seriously missing a trick and we know it can be a difficult shift to manage, but get it right, and it could work some real magic with your employees.

If you need any advice with planning your approach, get in touch with HR Revolution today and see how we can help +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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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.

Did you know that today is “Blue Monday”, why you may ask,  it is because apparently the third Monday in January is labelled as the most depressing day of the year.

Its origin was once a year, due to a combination of factors: being a Monday, Christmas well and truly over, the weather being pretty dismal, holidays a long way off, all lead to feelings of negativity and impact on work productivity.

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.

“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”.

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.

Lets have a happy Monday instead.

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A version of this article originally appeared on breatheHR