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.

 

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.

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.

 

 

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 Gig economy, a tribunal waiting to happen?

Over the past few weeks, you might have noticed that the ‘gig economy’ is something that’s being discussed more and more in the media. Essentially, it’s an employment market that’s categorised by lots of short-term contracts and freelance work, rather than permanent roles.

Some might say that it’s a win-win for employers and workers alike… People get to enjoy the flexibility of having less constraints placed on their time, they are free to decide the finer details of how the work is carried out, and they also have an element of ‘pick and choose’ when it comes to finding projects that they want to work on.

Of course, the benefits for employers are obvious, too, but are some businesses taking the market conditions a bit too far, and using them to exploit their workers?   It’s an issue that’s still something of a grey area in legal terms, though there’s been an very recent attempt to shed more light on the subject, in a case brought to the Court of Appeal.

Back in February, Pimlico Plumbers, a London-based company, lost its appeal against a previous ruling that decided that a long-term worker was in fact an employee rather than a contractor, and should therefore enjoy rights such as basic holiday pay.

Other companies such as Uber and Deliveroo have also come under scrutiny, and it’s a safe assumption that discussions won’t end here. As we move into an economy with more flexibility and the traditional role of employment changes, business all across the UK will no doubt be planning their next moves.

Of course, most employers simply want to do their best by their workforce, and they aren’t actively looking for loopholes to exploit. However rulings in recent tribunals have suggested that current legislation will stamp down on unscrupulous employers who aren’t stepping up to their responsibilities.

If you regularly rely on contractors to run your business and you enjoy the flexibility that it gives you, then just hoping for the best and acting with good intentions probably isn’t going to cut it.

Don’t risk costly tribunal procedures down the line, let HR Revolution help, get in touch to have an informal discussion about your rights and responsibilities, we look forward to taking your call +203 5311 5388 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

Do your colleagues like you as much as you think?

In all probability the answer to this is no! Very blunt I know, but I am just being honest with you.

In truth we all have bits about us that are completely unlikeable, but we just don’t want to believe it!

Take a look at the top reasons for being disliked in the workplace and ask yourself…  Is that me?

You gossip: and I mean the negative kind. What you don’t realise is that you are venting about someone to the very person they are best friends with. In short, neither of them like you now and they have told everyone else not to trust you!!

You lengthen meetings: with the most ridiculous questions, which in all probability have been answered already if you hadn’t been too busy doodling to notice, or just wanted to make your presence known. Now it’s past going home time you are very unpopular indeed!

You depend on everyone: for every single answer. You have google on your computer, it pretty much knows everything so use it and stop asking me!

You moan: OMG is your cup ever half full? Apparently not, it’s too cold, there are no teabags, you broke a nail, you hate Mondays, the stationery cupboard is too far away, don’t depress the office…

You tell white lies: It wasn’t your idea stop saying it was aaarrggghhh!

You know it all: about everything and you can do my job better than me!!! (even though you don’t know what you are talking about). Get over yourself your insecurity is boring!

You are lazy: and you know it. It’s never your responsibility, so why should you step up to take on extra duties? Well people might like you a bit more if you pulled your weight for one!

You are Little Miss Sunshine: really?! No-one can be that happy all of the time. The lift breaking down when you work on the 15th floor is NOT a good excuse for light exercise! I don’t want a group hug, high fives or to turn my frown upside down… so please go away.

You talk too much: and when I say too much I mean all the time! Now I don’t mind a quick catch up on last night’s TV, but seriously I have work to do and I really am not that interested in Aunt Maud’s bad back. Rein it in a bit hey!

You are always sick: I mean taking every Monday off is a bit suspect, do you really always have something dodgy to eat on a Sunday!?? I’m suspicious and I don’t really like you for it.

You smell: ok sensitive subject but it’s true no-one like to sit with someone who’s got BO or bad breath.

You suck up to your colleagues: all the time. Did you do your hair differently? I like your dress, is it new? Did you lose weight? It’s all rubbish, the boss looks the same as always and you are not getting a promotion.

So if you want to win favour in the office, take an interest in other people, listen to a story they want to share, give the odd compliment and maybe offer to buy the coffee or make one at least!

Even as I wrote this blog I couldn’t help thinking ‘actually I do a bit of all of those’, so I will sign off and go and spray myself with some perfume, make my team a coffee or tea and not moan when there is no milk! and tell my colleague that I did notice her hair cut and I like it!

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

10 bizarre notes left in office fridges…

Have you ever been really looking forward to your lunch, carefully packed the night before, only to go to your office fridge and discover someone else had already helped themselves to it?

Who on earth would do such a thing?  Well, apparently it turns out quite a lot of us would! and don’t get me started on the office kitchen sink being full of crockery or the bin, full to the brim.

A recent survey, conducted by Security experts ADT, found that significant numbers of office workers have had their lunches and office cutlery stolen.

31% of workers have been left with boiling blood – as opposed to boiling tea – after reporting their favourite work mug had been stolen.

Whilst 29% have been left heartbroken and hungry, on discovering that their lunch had been snatched from the office fridge and the survey concluded that these lunch-hour Artful Dodgers are usually men.

As collated by The Telegraph, here are ten of the funniest passive-aggressive lunch-notes that are sure to put a smile on your face.

1. Dear Fridge Thief, please chop your hands off to save me the trouble. #leavemyfruitalone

2. Good Morning! To whomever has been enjoying my coffee creamer all week… Surprise! You’ve been drinking my breast milk. Hope you’ve enjoyed. Cheers! P.S. It’s organic, so no worries.

3. Whoever stole my sandwich – you are lowlife scum and deserve a swift kick in the pants.

4. (The SAW themed note) To whomever is stealing food from the fridge, Let’s play a game. I have placed a few meals in the fridge for you. They are loaded with laxatives. I am not telling you what they are. If you eat your own food, you will be fine. If you eat what is not yours, you may be in for an unpleasant day. Have fun.

5. Harry Potter and the Refrigerator of Fear

Enter, stranger, but take heed

Of what awaits the sin of greed

For those who take, but do not earn

Must pay most dearly in their turn

So, if you seek beneath our floors

A treasure that was never yours

Thief, you have been warned, beware

Of finding more than treasure there.

6. To whoever steals drinks when they’re on top of the fridge. Not cool, dude. Not cool. (Must be a hipster – he stole drinks before they were cool.)

7. STOP eating my soup! I’m watching you. I mixed a little OxyPowder in my soup today. Care to find out what that is. Try a bit…. (note: Oxy Powder is a form of laxative).

8. Nothing in this box is worth dying for…..

9. A Poem: Sugar is sweet, Sugar is great. I hope your teeth fall out. Much Love. P.S. Seriously, I hope your teeth fall out or you get a mouth full of bad karma or cavities. This betrayal is as bitter as the unsugared coffee I had to drink this morning.

10. To the ignorant person who stole my lunch between yesterday and today: I just wanted to let you know that I have strep throat and you’ll notice that I had partially eaten the food.

Don’t be surprised if you get sick. I’m sure the visit to the doctor will cost more than you would have paid if you bought your lunch as opposed to stealing someone else’s. Also, since you’re such a genius, I just wanted to remind you that what you did is stealing and it would be a shame that you’d lose your job for being a thief. On second thought, it wouldn’t be a shame it would be great.

Have you any office fridge horror stories?, we’d love to hear them, let us know by commenting below.

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

 

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