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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.

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)

 

I am so super proud today to announce that I am now a qualified MHFA (Mental Health First Aider), 1 of 100 that The Jordan Legacy CIC and Steve Phillip will achieve as part of their 2021 / 22 Campaign

 

A Huge Thank you to Tara Powell Our Fabulous Facilitator; and the Super Supportive Great Team of like minded, genuine and caring humans, thank you to those who also bravely shared their own ‘lived’ stories, there were some truly emotional moments
It is difficult to ‘sum’ up the MHFA Training, as those that know me well, know ‘i am not really a girl with few words’…….
Therefore here are some words instead; early intervention, suicide, recovery, listen, communication, warning signs, support, signpost, seeds of hope, positive change, structure, zero suicide, advocate, language, remove assumptions, non-judgemental, safeguard, triggers, self-care, WRAP, wellbeing strategies, duty of care, social responsibility, positive mental health, emotional intelligence (EI), ALGEE, myths and facts, statistics… the list could go on and on…..
Let us all remember Our own social responsibility; to help break down the negative stigma surrounding mental ill health and encourage more and more people to open up, let’s push and drive this positive change forward, whether in the workplace, in your personal life or with a stranger.

Remember it could be ‘You’ who makes that positive difference and plants those ‘seeds of hope’

Dee Newton – HR Business Partner – Craven HR Services 

 

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a training course which teaches people how to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue.

MHFA won’t teach you to be a therapist, but it will teach you to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis – and even potentially stop a crisis from happening.
You’ll learn to recognise warning signs of mental ill health, and develop the skills and confidence to approach and support someone while keeping yourself safe.
You’ll also learn how to empower someone to access the support they might need for recovery or successful management of symptoms. This could include self-help books or websites, accessing therapy services through their GP, their school or place of work, online self-referral, support groups, and more.
What’s more, you’ll gain an understanding of how to support positive wellbeing and tackle stigma in the world around you. This online course qualifies you as a Mental Health First Aider, giving you:
  • An in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing 
  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
  • Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
  • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
  • Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix
  • Certification to say you are a Mental Health First Aider
  • A manual to refer to whenever you need it
  • A quick reference card for the Mental Health First Aid action plan
  • A workbook including a helpful toolkit to support your own mental health

Interested in becoming or sponsoring a MHFA?  https://thejordanlegacy.com/how-you-can-sponsor-or…/

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?

Why do you need HR as an SME or Start Up – what’s the point?

Are you clear on what steps to take as a business if facing a tribunal, unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal or whistleblowing claim?  If your answers are no, please do read on.

I spoke to an owner of a small business the other day who told me that he never gets around to doing the HR/people tasks for his staff, it always gets pushed down the priority list. His thinking was that, although he knew he had certain legal responsibilities, ‘nothing bad had happened yet’. Does that sound familiar?

There comes a point in every start-up, fledgling or growing SME where you start to consider adding positive and value added HR to your structure.

Recent Survey

A recent survey conducted by Croner among those working in SME organisations, including CEOs, MDs, finance directors, operations directors, line managers, PAs and secretaries, shows that one in 10 are spending up to 15 hours or two days a week managing HR issues.

The Top 7 common HR risks that small businesses take and what the potential penalties are for ignoring them or getting them wrong.

  1. Failure to provide written Employee Terms

Employees and workers must receive most of the information about their terms in a single “principal” document no later than when they start employment.

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.

  1. Failing to check an employee’s right to work evidence

All employers in the UK have a responsibility to prevent illegal working. You do this by conducting simple right to work checks before you employ someone, to make sure the individual is not disqualified from carrying out the work in question by reason of their immigration status.

If you are found to be employing someone illegally and you have not carried out the prescribed checks, you may face sanctions including:

  • a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker;
  • in serious cases, a criminal conviction carrying a prison sentence of up to 5 years and an unlimited fine;
  • closure of the business and a compliance order issued by the court;
  • disqualification as a director;
  • not being able to sponsor migrants;
  • seizure of earnings made as a result of illegal working; and
  • review and possible revocation of a licence in the alcohol and late-night refreshment sector and the private hire vehicle and taxi sector.
  1. Unfair Dismissal

Employers are expected to comply with the principles set out in the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures when handling disciplinary situations.

If a tribunal finds that an employee has been unfairly dismissed, you might be ordered to:

  • reinstate them (give them their job back);
  • re-engage them (re-employ them in a different job).

You might also have to pay compensation, which depends on the employee’s:

  • age;
  • gross weekly pay;
  • length of service.

You might have to pay extra compensation if you do not follow a tribunal’s order to reinstate someone.

There’s a limit on the amount a tribunal can award for unfair dismissal, apart from in cases relating to:

  • health and safety (for example where you unfairly dismiss someone for taking action on health and safety grounds);
  • whistleblowing.

Procedural failings will normally render a dismissal unfair, but compensation can be reduced in proportion to the likelihood that the dismissal would have occurred had a fair procedure been followed.

There are also some circumstances in which the minimum service requirement does not apply.

Where there has been an unreasonable failure by either party to comply with the code the tribunal may increase or decrease compensation by up to 25%, depending on which party is at fault. A failure to follow the code will not, by itself, render an employer liable to legal proceedings.

  1. Unfair Discrimination

You’re legally protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010.

You’re also protected from discrimination if:

  • you’re associated with someone who has a protected characteristic, for example a family member or friend
  • you’ve complained about discrimination or supported someone else’s claim
  • An employee who thinks they’ve been discriminated against may raise a grievance or take their case to an employment tribunal.
  • You’re responsible for discrimination carried out by your employees unless you can show you’ve done everything you reasonably could to prevent or stop it.

There is no maximum cap on the amount of compensation that you can receive for discrimination.

  1. Lack of Company Policies & Procedures

The only express legal requirements for employers to have employment policies and procedures are as follows:

  • under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers with 5 or more employees must have a written general Health and Safety Policy; and
  • under the Employment Rights Act 1996, employers are required to give employees a written statement of the main terms and conditions of their employment, which includes the employer’s rules and procedures for dealing with both disciplinary and grievance issues

However, there are also a number of other areas where non-statutory codes of practice, designed to set out guidance as to how employers can comply with their statutory employment obligations, recommend that employers implement appropriate policies and/or procedures.

A prime example of this is the employment related code of practice issued under the Equality Act 2010, which outlaws discrimination and harassment on various grounds, including sex, race, age and religion. This code recommends that an employer should have an Equal Opportunities Policy and gives guidance as to what it should contain.

Although the code concerned does not itself have legal status, breaches of it can be taken into account by an Employment Tribunal in determining an employer’s liability for discrimination and harassment claims, and as a result employers would be wise to ensure that they have such a policy in place.

Even if stated to be non-contractual, it is very important for employers to note that an employer’s failure to follow their own policy, although not a breach of contract, will still generally be taken into account by an employment tribunal so far as it is relevant to determining the claim concerned. Tribunals will therefore expect an employer to be able to give a very good reason as to why any relevant non-contractual policy was not followed. Furthermore, it can be the case that, even if an employer states in a handbook that certain or all policies are not contractual in nature, policies can be deemed to be contractual, if other circumstances, such as custom and practice, supports that fact.

  1. Wasted Time

If you don’t handle your HR/people management responsibilities properly, you will inevitably encounter issues or complaints from your employees at some point. The management time required to sort these out is always significantly more than the time that would have been needed to do things right in the first place.

And if you are taken to an employment tribunal, the preparation required amounts to weeks of lost management time.

  1. Demotivated staff

Information about employee rights is widely available on the internet, so employees tend to be fairly clued up about their rights at work and the processes that their employers should follow. So if you don’t do things properly, your employees will more than likely know and that can lead to demotivation and lower productivity. Whereas if you treat your staff fairly and lawfully, they are more likely to be happy and productive at work.

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