HR is probably the one department globally that faces the brunt of rumours, biases and misunderstandings in the workplace.  We don’t always have a positive reputation. In fact, many employees hate them or avoid them at all costs and only view them as an occasional intermediary.

Of course, we have to take time to understand the business, its strategy and its objectives. For example, if they wanted to increase profit by ten per cent over the next five years, we would need to know how they will resource that; what kinds of skills do they need; have they already got the talent in-house; are their employees engaged?

The HR remit is huge. For every plan or project in the business strategy, there will be an element that HR has to support, whether it’s recruitment, talent management, appraisals, training … we touch so many different areas.

If you’re in leadership, you’re in HR.

HR Myth #1 – HR Is Out to Get You!

The scary stories around this teach us not to trust the HR boogeymen.  It has been told that any information shared with HR folks can (and will) be used against you.  Usually, this myth is formed when a few employees have had bad experiences with those dreadful HR people.  People think we are spies for the leaders. Not true. We provide feedback at all levelsmeaning we talk about talent and how people are performing to leaders. We often point out things that the leader might not see. We take the temperature of the organization and help leaders understand if there are issues in the culture that they may not see. Our job is to understand what is going on with peopleWe ask questions and make observations... That can look like the CIA to some, I guess! 

MYTH #2 —  HR Will Become Obsolete Soon

Some professionals think that HR departments will become obsolete because newer artificial intelligence platforms and self-service tools will be able to screen and interview job applicants, keep employees informed, keep track of employee information, and much more.

However, newer investments in HR technology will make these departments and professionals even more necessary, as they will still be needed to keep the “human intelligence” in HR while using newer and more advanced tech.

HR Myth #3 –  You can’t give a “bad” reference

Aside from exceptional limited sectors there is actually no obligation for an employer to provide a reference.  However, if a reference is provided then it should be fair, accurate and not misleading. When providing a reference, employers should stick to evidenced based facts, otherwise they could find themselves open to legal challenge from either the ex- employee or new employer for misleading them. For this reason, many employers choose only to provide what are known as “tomb-stone” references, which literally only sets out the basic confirmation of employment details.

HR Myth #4 – HR Merely Listens to Employee Complaints

This myth seems to be perpetuated by poor HR practitioners and those who have had a bad experience with them. Some employees can feel that HR merely pays them lip service when listening to complaints, but that’s not how the process should be functioning.

Even small complaints should be investigated where possible as they can compound into much larger issues. It’s important to note complaints too in case documentation is required at a later date.

HR Myth #5 – They Exist Solely to Protect the Company

While it’s true that HR practitioners work to document and provide policies that protect the employer, they can also benefit the employee too. Where an employee highlights workplace issues like discrimination, bullying or unfair treatment, they can work to solve this.

HR Myth #6 – They Can’t be Strategic

When companies bring HR into the boardroom and use their insights, it can harness the full power of understanding their people. They have the potential to act strategically and weigh in on important decisions using real evidence.

HR Myth #6 –  HR is ‘Fluffy – Why HR is no longer the pink and fluffy discipline but central to business strategy

How things have changed! When I first started in HR two decades ago, it was generally seen as rather pink and fluffy – a nice-to-have but a nonessential part of the business. Back then many in HR had been secretaries and it was seen largely as an administrative role.

But, then, progressive companies started to recognise the importance of having an HR strategy and putting their staff at the centre of the business. Now, the heads of HR departments work alongside the operational board to make sure that all initiatives are implemented – HR planning and strategy really drives the business.

HR Myth #7 – You can’t dismiss an employee for poor performance

You can dismiss any employee for poor performance (under the Employment Rights Act the term is “capability”). Ultimately use your capability or performance management process and work that through to the end.

When dismissing for poor performance, it is essential to consider the employee’s wider situation to ensure that discrimination is not an issue. This will involve making sure that the employee’s poor performance is not in some way linked to a protected characteristic.

HR Myth #8 – You can’t contact employees when they are off sick

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees and that duty doesn’t end when they leave the workplace at the end of the day. In fact, this duty extends to employers making sure that they “keep in touch” and maintain regular contact with their employees when they are signed off to see how they are doing.

Regular contact with a sick employee should be compassionate and focus on their wellbeing not just enquiring when they will return to work.

HR Myth #9 – Employees with under two years’ service have no rights

Employees with under two years’ service can’t bring ordinary unfair dismissal claims.  They can, however, bring claims for breach of contract, for holiday pay, discrimination, maternity rights, whistle-blowing, protective awards, and most other employment claims.  Some of these rights (such as discrimination) begin even before the employment relationship has started.

HR Myth #10 – Employers have to give time off for bank holidays

Employees have no right to bank holidays off, or to be paid more for working them. This entirely depends on the contract between the employee and employer. Full-time employees are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks holiday a year and bank holidays can be counted as part of those 5.6 weeks, but they don’t have to be.

The Home Office updated its Coronavirus (COVID-19): right to work check guidance on 22 February 2022 – extending the end date for the temporary adjusted right to work checks from 5 April 2022 to 30 September 2022 (inclusive).

What are the adjusted measures?

The adjusted measures that were originally published on 30 March 2020 and will now be in place until 30 September 2022 (inclusive) include:

Job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals

Checks can be carried out over video calls with the employee holding up the original document to the camera, which is then checked against the digital copy. The digital copy should then be annotated ‘adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19’

Employers should use the Home Office employer checking service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted right to work documents

Employers should be aware it remains an offence to knowingly employ someone who does not have the right to work in the UK.

Discrimination

You should not discriminate when conducting right to work checks. You should conduct  right to work checks on all potential employees, including British citizens.

Do not simply check the status of those who appear to be migrants, otherwise you could be breaking the law

Why have the adjusted measures been extended?

At the end of 2021, the government announced its intention to enable employers and landlords to use certified Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) service providers to carry out checks on their behalf, including for British and Irish citizens, from 6 April 2022.

Positive feedback has been received since this announcement and it is hoped deferring the adjusted measures end date will ensure employers have sufficient time to develop commercial relationships with identity providers.

What will be the benefit of the IDVT scheme?

Employers are encouraged to embrace the future digitalisation of right to work checks and plan the necessary changes to their current pre-employment on-boarding processes to ensure a smooth transition from existing practices.

IDVT service providers will need to be certified against robust rules and it is expected further information on the IDVT scheme and the list of certified providers will be published very soon.

What steps should I take now?

The Home Office believes the introduction of the IDVT scheme will mean employers can guarantee prospective employee’s identities, using consistent and more secure methods, which will, in turn, reduce the risk of them employing illegal workers and allowing recruitment to continue in a safer way.

Businesses and other organisations

Businesses and other organisations – Covid Update

Employers and businesses have taken significant steps over the pandemic to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 within their settings. The Government has lifted the majority of legal requirements on businesses, and continues to provide ‘Working Safely’ guidance setting out the steps that employers can take to reduce risk in their workplaces.

From 24 February, workers will not be legally obliged to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate. Employers and workers should follow Government guidance for those with COVID-19 which will be to still stay at home if you are unwell and to take a test

From 1 April, the Government will remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments. The intention is to empower businesses to take responsibility for implementing mitigations that are appropriate for their circumstances. Employers that specifically work with COVID-19, such as laboratories, must continue to undertake a risk assessment that considers COVID-19.

From 1 April, the Government will replace the existing set of ‘Working Safely’ guidance with new public health guidance. Employers should continue to consider the needs of employees at greater risk from COVID-19, including those whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. The Government will consult with employers and businesses to ensure guidance continues to support them to manage the risk of COVID-19 in workplaces.

Employers should ensure that areas of the workplace that are poorly ventilated have airflow improved – research done shows good ventilation can reduce transmission of viruses by up to 70%.

FROM 1ST APRIL 2022

  • The Government will announce guidance that sets out the ongoing steps anyone with Covid-19 should take to minimise contact with others
  • The Government will no longer provide free LFT for the public in England
  • Tests will still be available to anyone who wishes to buy them privately through local chemists
  • Some free testing will still be applicable to social care employees and certain at-risk people, more details will follow closer to the time
  • The current requirement for some venues to require the Covid NHS pass will end
  • The H&S requirement for employers to have Covid-19 in their risk assessment will be removed
  • The existing ‘Working Safely Guidance’ will be replaced with new public health guidance

More guidance will be published in April for employers, on how to deal with employees who are at high risk of serious illness from Covid-19, even if they are vaccinated

Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Why Bother ?

Contract of Employment 

As well as being common sense, it is a legal requirement to record the main terms of an employment contract in writing. You need to provide employees and workers with a written statement of employment particulars by their first day of work. This should set out key terms of employment, such as pay, hours, holiday, place of work and notice. Any changes made to the information provided in the written statement, such as an agreed reduction in hours, must be confirmed to the individual in writing within one month of the change.

The employer will be ordered to pay the employee two weeks’ pay (subject to the statutory cap on a week’s pay) or, if it is just and equitable in the circumstances, a higher amount of four weeks’ pay (subject to the statutory cap). If there are exceptional circumstances where it would be unjust and inequitable to make an award against the employer, none will be made.

If you don’t do this, the employee can make a claim at an employment tribunal where compensation of 2 or 4 week’s pay may be awarded;

Company up to date Policies, Procedures & Staff Handbook

Why is it important to implement these documents and keep them up to date?

Policies provide a positive framework and structure for a business. Policies are important in a workplace as it helps reinforce and clarify the standards expected of employees and help employers manage staff more effectively as it defines what is acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace.

  • They set Expectations – Policies and procedures allow an employer to commit to writing the company’s values and mission.  They also set standards of behaviour, conduct and performance for employees;
  • Keep management accountable – This provides guidance to managers for how they are to conduct themselves and the standards they will be held to, but also provides transparency to the rest of the workforce as they can see the standards expected of their leaders and what they can in turn expect from their managers;
  • Ensure compliance with the law – Policies and procedures that are regularly reviewed and updated will assist a company in meeting its obligations at law;
  • Let employees know where to turn for help – Finally, policies and procedures let employees know where they can turn to for help.  All policies should have a point of contact for queries relating to that policy so employees know who they can contact with questions.

Did you know you can also attach your Company Documents to Our Craven HR Software to streamline your processes and make it easier for Your people 

Craven HR Software – Online HR System

Another Great Blog here 

Why do you need HR as an SME or Start Up?