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.

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FRIDAY HR FAQS – Why is speed important in the recruitment process?

Stand-out talent with forward-thinking mindsets are in high demand, which means businesses need to be reactive to the market and move quickly to secure the best people for their teams.

The recruitment process works at its best when it is quick and there are no delays from the employer’s side, which could risk a good candidate being snapped up by a competitor.  This is particularly true for the junior and middle management market, where strong candidates can take their pick of jobs.

On top of this technological advancement means the hiring process has sped up and candidates are being matched to potential employers by AI powered tools.

To remain competitive and in with a chance of welcoming engaging minds to your team, here are some considerations you need to think about before beginning a recruitment project:

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Be quick to respond

If you want to have great talent in your team, then you need to prioritise hiring.

Recruiters might seem like they are nagging you to respond, but the reason for this is because they know what a great candidate looks like and that they will be on the radar of your competitors – so they are acting quickly to secure them.

If you’re too busy too manage the admin of a hiring project, then consider using an HR consultancy who can manage the process for you.

Know who you’re after

It pays to have a plan in place before you start looking for someone new to bring on board – even if they’re a replacement – taking the time to evaluate what you need from the role that might have been lacking before is a sensible process to go through.

You should plan the specifics of the job role, how it fits into your business vision, what skills you need, how you culture will work for you to attract talent and so forth.

Once you have a plan in place and have got cracking then the process needs to be smooth, with regular communication between you and the candidates and time set aside to dedicate to the process.

This will mean that when you find your perfect candidate, you are able to keep them engaged and get them in front of the team within days of submitting their application and show you are a proactive and organised business.

If you know they’re good, then remember that it’s likely they will be a star candidate for other job vacancies too. So, act quickly and if you don’t have anyone else to compare them to, it may be that you won’t have time to run a longer, robust process in order to have other candidates to square them up against. Be confident that they are right for the role and get them in the bag.

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Be flexible with your offer

It would be a great shame to have planned and executed your hiring process and found your star candidate only then discover that what you’re offering them isn’t enough to convince them to accept your job.

Candidates expect fair remuneration, generous benefits, interesting perks and flexible working to name a few!

If you are going to risk losing a great candidate because you don’t match up to what others in your sector are offering, then it may be time to revise your offer package.

Even if you are on a tight budget, there are still things you can do to swing the balance – such as offering a few extra days holiday, contributions towards travel costs or investing in softer benefits that add to your overall offering.

After all, if a candidate has the potential to boost your business productivity and increase your bottom line, then finding ways to bring them over the line will be well worth the effort.

If you need any recruitment advice or guidance, get in touch:+44 203 538 5311 or email: talent@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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Our new website has launched…

We are excited to announce our new and improved website has been launched…

We’ve listened to our clients and customers and made some key changes.

We our proud that we take an innovative approach to HR, cutting through the industry jargon to help make a real difference to any business, by providing excellent HR consultancy and HR support.

We know HR can be a scary prospect for businesses both big and small and there is a lot to take in.  However we ask questions that other HR consultancies don’t, because we want to make a positive impact on your business and understand your people, by providing excellent HR and Talent services in the form of employee documentation, support, management and advice regarding employment queries and processes.

Come and take a look:

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might be interested in then please give us a call 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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FRIDAY FAQS – Can an employer ask about my mental health when applying for a new job?

Thanks to awareness days like Wednesday’s World Mental Health Day, the conversation surrounding mental health is getting louder. The stigma attached to talking about our mental health in the same way that we do for our physical health is being lifted and with that there is a growing acceptance that it’s okay not to be okay and to seek support.

The workplace is undeniably an environment that for many people can cause stress and anxiety. If you have a mental health issue then being in a pressured working environment, that may not be supportive of your mental health, can cause further damage to your health and overall well-being.

It’s therefore the role of employers to ensure they have fair practices in place with regards to their approach for identifying and supporting their teams with mental health issues, just as they do for physical health.

As an employee you should expect to be supported by your employer and provided with the necessary support for a mental health issue.

However, is it a concern for those seeking new employment that if they have an existing mental health issue, it may impact upon their likelihood of getting a job?

We want to help debunk some of these crucial questions and shed light on an area of HR that is vital for a happy and productive workplace.

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1. Can I be asked about my mental health issue when I apply for a job? 

In short, no. It’s unlawful for an employer to ask a candidate if they have a history mental health issues during the application process.

If you are asked about your mental health, you are not obliged to answer this, however, if you do choose to disclose this information it is recommended that you do so honestly.

Asking candidates health questions before a job offer is made is unlawful and can be reported to the Equality Advice and Support Service.

If you are asked about your mental health during the application process and then don’t receive an offer, you may want to challenge this as it can be classed as discrimination on the grounds of disability.

2. Are there situations when an employer can ask about my mental health before making a job offer?

There are a few situations when an employer may need to ask about your health before a job offer is made, these can include:

  • To find out if you can take an assessment for a job.
  • To find out if you need reasonable adjustments to the application process.
  • To find out whether you will be able to do the requirements of the job, whilst they also consider any reasonable adjustments that may need to be made.
  • To find out if applications are coming from a diverse group of people.
  • To establish if you have the particular disability required for the job.
  • To assess you for national security purposes.

For example, a lawful question about your health and whether this affects your ability to do the job would be; if you were applying for a job erecting scaffolding and the employer asked questions at the application stage regarding disability, health and whether the applicant has a fear of heights.

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3. What questions can I be asked about my mental health once I’ve been offered a job?

Once you receive a job offer then your new employer is lawfully able to ask you questions about your health.

If your new employer asks questions about your mental health and subsequently becomes concerned due to a mental health issue you may not be able to carry out your job, then it is the employer’s responsibility to seek further advice from your doctor or occupational health.

Should your new employer ask a question about your mental health and then withdraw the job offer without first consulting advice or conducting a further assessment or investigation, then this may be seen direct discrimination and therefore unlawful.

Mental Health is a really important HR issue in the workplace and If you need any help or advice on how to approach it, get in touch:+44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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Probation reviews – how to make them work for you…

The first day, the first week, perhaps even the first month! These are generally key milestones for you as a new employee. Hopefully, by the first month you’ve mastered the tea/coffee round, you’ve found your place within the team and you’ve fallen into the pattern of the day-to-day routine; you may even have even forgotten that you’re still a newbie… until you’re reminded of the, often, dreaded probation review.

‘Is it a test?’, ‘Have I been doing my job as well as they’d like?’, ‘This is a waste of time!’, ‘What is the point of this?’  the questions are endless and I presume the feelings are mixed.

An employers approach to the probation review varies from company to company. Some have a very structured approach and almost treat it as a ‘test’, whereas others have a 5 minute chat over coffee to ‘check in’. However, either approach can bring about negative feelings for the employee if not managed properly, so employers beware!

The probation review is often viewed as a tool only for the employer.

  1. To check the employees true skills and understanding of the role and job.
  2. A check to ensure the company have hired correctly and effectively an employer’s safety net, as you will.

However it can also be a powerful tool for you the employee, here’s how:

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Review

The review provides you with a chance to check the work you have done so far against what you were employed to do. You can do this by looking at your job description. This will highlight areas that you may not have covered yet, which is something you can discuss with your employer to ensure you are covering the full responsibilities of your role.

Assess

Use the review as an opportunity to assess whether the job has met YOUR expectations. Think about what you have liked so far and what you have disliked. Reflect on your initial perception of the job before starting and how the reality matches up. Do you have any concerns?

This is very useful for your well being, if you feel any negativity towards the role this is a great time to put this to bed. It could be resolved with a change in your working environment, a change or clarification of a complicated process or simply some reassurance that ‘’you are doing a great job, keep it up!’’

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Discuss

Employers use reviews as a way to assess your performance. You can use this as a way to show off and reaffirm what you have learnt to date. Don’t be scared to ask questions about things you aren’t sure of or may need extra training on. To experience the full benefits of a review it is important to be completely open with areas you are struggling with. This allows your employer to support you and ultimately strengthens your relationship.

Also use this as an opportunity to show your employer your aspirations! A helpful tip: go in there with a project, perhaps there is something you have noticed that could be developed or implemented or something you would like to learn, big or small, that will not only aid in your development but add value to the business.

Ask

Ask for feedback for your own progression and improvement. This will give you a good understanding of how you’re doing. It also gives you an idea on what you need to work on in the coming months leading up to your first quarterly or annual appraisal and the willingness to improve will always be noted by an employer.

Take ownership of your probation review, don’t treat it as an examination or a quick conversation by the photocopier. Treat it as an adult discussion, where both parties can benefit and support each other; a discussion that will pave the way to a healthy and strong employment relationship.

If you need any advice or guidance, please get in touch with us to find out more:+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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FRIDAY HR FAQS – Can an employee be dismissed during their notice period for gross misconduct?

If an employee is dismissed or resigns they’ll most likely stay at work for their notice period, as agreed or outlined in their contract of employment. For some employees this can be a difficult time, as they can loose motivation or feel awkward working in an environment after they have been dismissed.

If an employee were to do anything which is classed as gross misconduct, contrary to some beliefs an employer CAN terminate an employee, even during their notice period as long as the proper process is followed. Giving notice that you are ending the employment relationship does not change the employer’s right to independently end the relationship first if it is appropriate.

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Is it worth it?

In practice, dismissing an employee on their notice period is very rare and is usually not worth the expense and possibility of legal action. Employers cannot make any deductions to pay in respect of time already worked due to an employee leaving before their notice period is up, unless this is specifically allowed by the employment contract.

If you dismiss someone without following the proper disciplinary process you could be subject to an unfair dismissal claim. If this was they case, a tribunal could drag on for months.

With this in mind if you are considering dismissing an employee for gross misconduct whilst they are on their notice period, it would be important to consider the individual situation and the cost and time implications to the business of each case and therefore in these instances we would always recommend seeking professional HR advice.

If you would like HR guidance on any issues you may have in your business get in touch: +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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Don’t forget about HR

When many of us think about companies that have made big HR mistakes, we’re quick to jump to the assumption that it’s all the fault of greedy bosses who are more interested in lining their own pockets than doing the right thing by their loyal employees.

Mistakes with administrative processes that result in employees receiving their wages far later than expected.

Employees forced to give up their holiday entitlement because of a last-minute crisis.

Disgruntled employees who are vocal about their negative experiences at work.

The list goes on and there’s no smoke without fire right?

Not always.

Employment legislation exists for a reason, and for the greater good. As an employer, you have a responsibility to make sure that you’re compliant and you’re implementing the best working practices to create an environment that’s fair and nurturing for your employees.

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However, mistakes can happen, and even the most dedicated and ethical employers can find themselves facing extremely difficult circumstances.

When your business is growing fast, and you have a million and one things to balance, you can take your eye off the ball. You can overlook important details. And you can find yourself facing circumstances that you never imagined, but which can put your entire business in jeopardy.

So at this stage, it is imperative what you do next and how you decide to put things right.

If you’re worried that there could be an HR nightmare on the horizon, then we can help. We can assess your current circumstances, and help you to create an action plan that gets things back on the right track as quickly as possible, with the least amount of fuss.

We’re not here to judge – we’re passionate about getting things right, and we understand the challenges that you’re facing. Get in touch: +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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FRIDAY HR FAQS – What are the pro’s and con’s of remote working?

Remote working is here to stay and with statistics indicating that over 4 million people in the UK work from home, the way we work is changing. Employees and employers alike are pushing for options to work remotely, but do they know what they are signing up for?

Below we list some of the pro’s and con’s you need to consider before thinking about implementing a remote working policy.

Pro’s

1. Flexibility – having the flexibility to work where you want means you can create the ideal workspace for yourself, while also having the option of attending events or traveling to various meetings on your schedule. Similarly if you work better at a certain time of the day, you can adapt (within reason) your work day around this.

2. Save money – working from home benefits employees, as they can take home more of their hard-earned money each month. Working from home can also help them save on food no need for lunch or morning coffee.

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3. Family commitments – these are much easier to manage when employees don’t need to worry about travelling to work. They can pick up and drop children off at school without needing to arrange childcare and might even opt to look after young children at home whilst working, saving on childcare costs.

4. Not working in an office environment, means work place dramas or disagreements between employees could be avoided.

5. Allowing employees to work from home may mean that you are able to encourage a more diverse workforce. You could have a team who live at opposite ends of the country or even across the globe, bringing diversity, variation and new ideas to the company.

Con’s

1. Working remotely could mean that you’ll have less face to face contact with your, peers, manager and possibly clients. It can make it hard to stay in the loop with your team which could lead to complications and mistakes further down the line. In an office you can be surrounded by your team and are able to bounce ideas from each another. Home working could lead to a team that are less motivated which could cause delays.

2. Some situations at work call for fast effective action. If you’re faced with a problem at work which requires an urgent solution at 8:30am and your manager decides to start work an hour later, this could cause big delays in solving the problem, putting the company at risk.

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3. Working in an office has many social benefits and can promote positive wellbeing for employees. However working from home can be isolating for some. Many employees could spend their working week at home without having to leave their surroundings. Remote working means you could say goodbye to happy hour and social events with colleagues and this could lead to a strain on employee’s mental health and affect productivity.

4. If employees have a space in their home where they can work effectively that’s great, but for those who don’t or are easily distracted by household chores or young children, it can be less effective.

Whether or not you think remote working is for you or your business, there is a lot to consider. A good work life balance is important for everyone, so it’s vital that you plan all factors regarding employees’ working environment.

If you would like some friendly, helpful HR advice, get in touch: +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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How to plan for the Summer holidays

The school summer holiday’s are nearly upon us, when all across the country, teachers are breathing a sigh of relief and getting ready to wind down.  However the opposite is true for working parents who will be worrying how they’ll balance childcare responsibilities for the next 6 weeks.

The bottom line here is clear. When the kids are off school, either due to organised breaks throughout the academic year, or because of other factors, it can have a big impact on business. As an employer, it definitely pays to take a proactive approach. Here, we share our advice and guidance for managing the associated challenges effectively.

Have a more flexible approach

Giving your employees more flexibility can help to ensure that an appropriate balance is struck. Consider whether you could offer your team members the opportunity to work from home, or slightly alter their hours during the summer holidays.

When most people think of flexible working, they think of arrangements like the above, and it’s true that these can really help. Don’t be scared to get a little more creative though and think outside of the box. Many businesses have successfully offered term-time only contracts for employees who are balancing their careers with caring responsibilities.

Be prepared for an influx of holiday requests

At this time of year, many of us are tempted by the prospect of booking a last-minute getaway. We all like a bit of sun and sand, but when your employees are planning a mass exodus, the situation can turn into a major headache. Remember that giving priority to employees with children could be discriminatory.HR passion - outsourced hr - hr revolutionIf you feel like you’re struggling to manage holiday requests, it might be time to implement a more robust system, take a look at breatheHR which can help you organise stress free employee holiday management. It can ensure that your processes are fair and equal, and that you’re fully prepared for the challenges that the summer period can bring.

Take the time to plan

Many workplaces experience a bit of a lull during the summer months. Employees are away on holiday, they’re thinking about spending time with the kids, and you might find yourself slipping into the trap of letting the time just pass you by. Instead of going down this route, take the opportunity to get your leadership team together and focus on where you’re going.

What are your priorities for the second half of the year? What challenges do you need to overcome? Are there any opportunities that exist that you aren’t tapping into? A little planning can go a long way.

If the summer season is beginning to cause HR headaches in your business, get in touch with HR Revolution and let us help you get things back on the right track and stop any minor issues escalating into something more serious.

Why not get in touch: +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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Putting a few HR myths to bed…

At HR Revolution, we’ve heard our fair share of HR myths and misinformation, so we thought we would list below the most common ones and why they are just that…

Employees don’t have a contract unless there is something in writing

A contract of employment is an agreement between an employer and employee whether it is verbal or in writing. Once work has commenced the employment relationship has been forged. A full contract of employment does not need to be given writing to make the agreement legally binding, however it is worth bearing in mind that it is a legal requirement for an employer to provide at least a statement of written particulars to an employee within one month of starting.

You can’t make a pregnant employee redundant

Yes you can. However it must be a fair procedure, you have to be very careful that there is no risk of discrimination in the selection process. Also be mindful that once a pregnant employee goes on maternity leave, they have extra legal protection by having first option on any available positions that they are qualified to do if placed at risk of redundancy. Make sure you take HR advice!!!

 No one can take you to tribunal without two years’ service

It is a common misconception among employers that dismissing an employee who does not have two years of service will mean that they are “safe” from an employment tribunal claim.  But an employee can and for a range of reasons such as discrimination related to any of the nine protected characteristics, like underpayment of wages of the National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage, breach of working-time regulations in terms of holiday pay or a breach of contract.

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I can decide if I want someone to be self-employed

No, there are strict rules for deciding the status of people in a business. It is unhelpful that HMRC and employment law rules are different in deciding if someone is an employee, a worker or self-employed as the recent cases of Uber and Pimlico Plumbers can attest!

You don’t have to give part-time employees the same benefits as full-time employees

Part-time employees must suffer no disadvantage, so must have the same benefits as full-time employees. Many benefits can be pro-rated for part-time employees, such as holiday allowance.

Casual and zero-hour employees do not get holiday

All employees and workers accrue statutory holiday from day one. This is 5.6 weeks prorated to hours worked.

I am not able to contact sick employees

Not at all, as an employer you have a ‘duty of care’ to keep in touch with a sick employee when they are signed-off to see how they are. However, this doesn’t entail daily calls and emails as this could lead to a harassment case. Also, regular contact should not just focus on their return to work, but their well-being and if any realistic adjustments could be implemented to help their return.

So there you have it a few HR myths debunked…

If you need and HR advice or guidance give HR Revolution a call and see how we could help: +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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HR Blogger