FRIDAY HR FAQS – Can an employee take annual leave whilst on long term sick leave?

Understandably an employee who is on long term sick leave and taking their annual holiday might make some employers raise their eyebrows, after all if they are well enough to take annual leave, why can’t they return to work?

Not quite, employees on long term sick leave are entitled to take annual leave and there are a multitude of reasons why an employee might be on long term sick leave from work and this does not impact their ability to use their accrued annual leave.

Some key points to consider:

  • Employees on sick leave continue to accrue holiday in line with the Working Time Directive.
  • If company policy is that holiday cannot be carried over into the following year, it is not lawful to enforce this onto employees on long term absence, they must be entitled to carry it over.
  • Even though employees are entitled to take annual leave, as an employer you are not able to force employees to take it whilst on sick leave nor are you able to tell them that if they don’t use it they will lose it on their return.

As an employer you have a duty of care to your employees so it is important to consider their rights in this situation.  Think about the reasons why they may be taking their annual leave, rather than presuming this is indicative of them being well enough to return to work.

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One key reason that employees might want to use some of their accrued leave during their absence is financial necessity. Whilst some employers are able to offer benefits to their employees such as Income Protection or Critical Illness, a large majority, particularly small to medium sized business, are not able to. For this reason and depending on the employer and the length of the absence, they may no longer be on company discretionary sick pay, but on statutory sick pay and beyond the 28 weeks of statutory sick pay, be living on no pay at all. Taking annual leave, which is paid at their usual salary rate, can be a financial necessity at a difficult time.

Other reasons for employees taking leave might be to reduce the amount they have in preparation of a return to work, or they may need to take annual leave for their own well being. Taking annual leave doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going abroad or taking a wild holiday!

As an employer, it can be beneficial for the employee to take some of their accruing annual leave whilst on long term sickness:

  • It can help improve the well being of the employee – financially and psychologically.
  • Allowing leave to be taken during extended periods of absence, will reduce the amount that they will be entitled to when they return to work, which would then therefore reduce them needing to take more time out of the business for holiday.
  • If the employee decided to leave the company, any accrued leave not taken would need to be paid out and depending on the length of the absence, this could be a substantial sum of monies to be paid at one time.
  • Remember, there is no real reason for refusing annual leave and doing so could potentially put an employer under breach of contract (for lack of trust and confidence), as they have no valid reason for declining leave, as they can not claim operational reasons.

Whilst we acknowledge that employers generally want to encourage employees to return to work, they should also support them to improve their well being.

One way to ensure clarity for all parties, is to have comprehensive annual leave and sickness policies, which need to be reviewed regularly to ensure legal compliance.

If you would like further HR advice on handling long term absence get in touch with HR Revolution:+44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

HR Revolution; supporting you, your employees AND your business.

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Keeping your business compliant

In our opinion when you are an HR consultant, you can often find yourself having in-depth conversations about how business owners can avoid legal action or help with an issue. However, we offer services that go way beyond that add real value to your business, we can help boost your profits, create a happier and more productive workforce and achieve big strategic goals.

Although steering clear of expensive and potentially reputation-damaging legal action is something that many business owners are very keen to do, for obvious reasons, if you’re worried about ending up on the wrong side of employment law, then it’s important that you take some positive steps towards minimising the risk.

Let’s take a look at how HR Revolution could help you keep your business practices compliant, up to date, and above board.

Know the law

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to keep up to date with the law. New pieces of legislation are passed on a regular basis, so it’s vital that you stay on the ball. The last thing that you want is to find out that new provisions came into force, rendering your existing policies and procedures unlawful.

This might seem like a huge burden, but it doesn’t have to be. HR Revolution will ensure that you get the information that you need well in advance, and are given useful, practical advice so you can implement the necessary changes.

Implement consistent people policies

People policies are there for good reason; they outline acceptable standards of behaviour, make your expectations clear, and map out what will happen if a problem occurs. If you decide though that they should only be applied to some employees some of the time, then you could be accused of discrimination.

The bottom line here is that your whole workforce should be held to the same standards. You’ve no doubt spent a great deal of time creating and implementing your policies. They’re there to help you, so use them properly!

Always keep records

If problems arise, having a comprehensive paper trail can be extremely useful. Your documentation should clearly outline the details of each stage of everyday employment situations, such as absences, performance discussions, grievances and so on.

You can find solutions that will allow you to safely store information of this nature online, or on secure systems. This isn’t always necessary, but it will absolutely save you time in the long run and make sure that your records are up to date, accurate, and confidential.

Give your managers the capability they need

As your business grows, it’s unlikely that you’ll be personally handling all people management practices and if you ensure your managers have the HR training they need, you could avoid finding yourself in a situation whereby your operations aren’t compliant with the law.

It’s down to you to make sure that your managers are consistently compliant. When you invest in your leadership team, you’ll find that many potentially volatile incidents can be quickly defused before they spiral out of control.

Not many business owners would intentionally break the law when it comes to how they treat their greatest asset – their employees, but if you aren’t vigilant, you could find yourself in a tricky situation.

If you’ve decided that it’s time to take control when it comes to complying with employment legislation, then get in touch on +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

HR Revolution; supporting you, your employees AND your business.

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Three signs that your business isn’t ready for the festive rush…

The decorations, tinsel and chocolate tubs are filling up the shops.  There is no way to avoid it, Christmas is most definitely on its way.. and it offers some wonderful opportunities for businesses, but if you are not prepared, you could find yourself hugely disappointed come January when you’re taking a look at your figures and assessing how your operations shaped up.

So how do you know if you are ready?  Below, we’ll take a look at three important indicators that you’ve still got some serious work to do.

You haven’t started recruiting your Christmas staff

Maybe you’re planning on getting started with your festive recruiting as soon as possible.  You already know that it’s a really important task, but you just can’t seem to find any spare time to give it the attention that you know it deserves.  Before we get into anything, it’s vital that you don’t panic, that isn’t going to help you and it’s not going to help your business.

You don’t have a back-up plan

Even the most inexperienced business owners realise that Christmas presents its own unique challenges and opportunities, so they get to work creating a plan that will help with them to get the best results possible.  The problem is that this is often where the preparation ends, you need to ask yourself whether you’ve got a Plan B and whether you know what to do if things don’t work out the way you first imagined.

What will you do if your new recruits decide that the role isn’t for them, and leave you in the lurch? What if your management team comes down with a nasty bug and can’t get to work? What if your Christmas party turns into a disaster that could do some serious damage to your business’s reputation?  Hopefully, these things won’t happen, but you don’t want to find yourself in a situation in which you have no idea how to pick up the pieces.  Having compliant Employee Handbook will help you manage your staff effectively, take a look at HR Revolution’s ready to use handbooks.

You haven’t made customer service training a priority

High levels of customer service are essential at any point in the year, but now is the time to make sure that it is firmly at the top of your agenda.  There are numerous reasons for this, you’ll hopefully have more customers coming through your doors and you need to ensure that standards aren’t gong to slip, as well, you’ll probably have the opportunity to impress prospects for the very first time.

Refresher training should be rolled out so carry out an audit of where you are right now, and where improvements can be made.  You don’t necessarily have to invest huge amounts of time and money.  It’s about establishing your current position and working out where you want to go next.  HR Revolution will be happy to carry out a full HR Audit of your business, click here to read more. (Free when you mention “Festive rush” normal audit price £750).

Of course, you now have an option, do you want to do all of this on your own or do you want to call upon some expert help? HR Revolution have a wealth of  HR experience and can work to tackle the issues you may face by providing you the HR solutions you need to overcome them. Have a look at our Outsourced solution below…

If you’ve recognised that you need to make improvements, you are already in a great position for making sure that you really raise the bar this Christmas, acknowledging that there’s work to do is the very first step and HR Revolution can help.

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

HR Revolution; supporting you, your employees AND your business.

 

 

4 reasons why an Employee handbook is a must in any business

Compiling an Employee Handbook might seem like an unneeded task for a small business, and perhaps time consuming, but in reality it is a very useful tool that truly supports your business and its people.

Here at HR Revolution, we want to highlight 4 of the main reasons why we think Employee Handbooks are essential.

  1. An Employee Handbook can help prevent very costly employee disputes

In certain cases employee claims can run into the thousands of pounds and the vast majority of employment law disputes can stem from confusion over what is or not accepted practice within a business.  An Employee Handbook is your opportunity to clearly state your polices and procedures in relation to issues, such as:

  • Holiday and Sickness absence
  • Disciplinary and Grievance
  • Maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave
  • Anti-harassment and bullying
  • Anti-bribery
  • Health and safety
  • Equality and diversity

Having the above policies in place can help with preventing disputes happening in the first place.

2. An Employee Handbook promotes clear communication and manages expectations in your business

A handbook ensures that every employee knows where to find specific information on policies and procedures that need to be followed, even if they have not been discussed with them.  This gives the employee the knowledge on where they stand and is a major element of ensuring their satisfaction.

It also ensures you have covered all bases when you induct new staff, which is a vital part of your onboarding process, and will promote consistency across your business.

3. An Employee Handbook will set the tone for company culture and outlines acceptable conduct

Your employees need clear and concise information on what is deemed to be acceptable behaviour and conduct and setting the tone for the culture of your company. Leave no room for misinterpretation and set out your best practice on topics such as:

  • Dress code
  • Telecommunications, email, social media and internet
  • Company vehicle and Driving
  • Internal communications
  • Data protection
  • Severe weather and travel disruption
  • Flexible working procedure
  • Time off in Lieu

4. An Employee Handbook underpins your Contracts of Employment

A handbook can be an effective way to complement contracts of employment with company policies and procedures.

You need to be very clear however, which parts of the handbook are contractually binding and which are not.  Also, if you are changing any contractual parts of the handbook you might need to obtain employee consent and make certain that any changes are compliant with Employment Law.

Other considerations to think about when creating your Employee Handbook, is to ensure it can be adapted.  A handbook should be flexible and have the scope to be adapted as the company grows or any new issues or situations arise.  To make sure this flexibility is clear, it is always a good idea to include a note, which reserves the right to make these amendments.  It is also very important that you make sure your employees are fully aware of any changes as and when they happen.

If you are struggling to know where to start, HR Revolution are here to help! call us on +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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