Is the Gender Pay Gap going to be a priority anytime soon?

Gender pay might seem further away today than it ever has. Are you aware that the deadline for Gender Pay Gap reporting is 31st March 2020 for public sector, and 4th April 2020 for private sector businesses.  The Government has postponed this action until 2021 due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Some companies will be breathing a huge sigh of relief – lets face it, Gender Pay Gap reporting takes a lot of work and right now, with everything else we have to think about, many will be glad to cross this off the list.  But the decision was made so close to the deadline that is it worth putting to one side?

According to Personnel Today, more than 3,000 companies (a quarter of those expected) have already published their data and many more will have done the leg work and were probably very close to uploading.

So, for those who were nearing the end of the analysis, will you park it for this year?  Or will you proceed?  Here are some things to consider:

  • What have you spent the year doing to improve your gender pay gap? If you’ve done anything at all this should be something that you want to shout about – let people know because we suspect there will be a lot of movement in the recruitment market once this is over and you want to stand out.
  • If you have seen a gradual reduction in your pay gap, be aware that your numbers are likely to look very different next year. Use this opportunity to show the progress you were making and how you can jump back.
  • Think of all the work that has already gone in to preparing the numbers and narrative. If it is ready to go, don’t let that work go to waste.
  • It is likely that the impact of Covid-19 on earnings will show a disproportionate impact on women with many working in retail, hospitality and education. If companies don’t publish, we will be unable to see the full impact of Covid-19 on the UK workforce but also at a company level.
  • At some point in the (hopefully) near future, companies will need to review their pay and check that decisions that are being made now will not open them up to equal pay claims. They will also want to get back on track with reducing the pay gap.  Having this data will help show a before and after position and where they need to focus their attention.
  • Having year on year data to refer back to and compare will help paint a picture of progress, or highlight a lack of progress with the narrative, especially for next year, being paramount in explaining the numbers.

Finally, we don’t yet know how the Governments intervention on supporting employees and businesses with the Employee Retention Scheme will impact on reporting methods for next year.  So this will be something to look out for ahead of the 2020 reporting window.

But the issue remains that we have a gender pay gap and we need to close it as soon as possible. Reporting is just one tool and anything your company does proactively helps.

Christina Jones – Amelore Reward Lead

Employment Law Updates for 2020

What important UK employment law changes come into effect on 6th April 2020?

Here is a quick overview of the changes that are heading your way. If you have any questions please get in touch with us.

New right to a written statement of terms from Day 1 of employment

  • Currently any employees who have been continuously employed for more than one month must be provided with a written ‘statement of terms and conditions’ within two months of their employment commencing.
  • From 6 April 2020, all new employees and workers will have the right to a written statement of particulars from their first day of employment. Additional information that must be included as part of the extended right will include, benefits, paid leave, details of the probation period and training requirements.

Agency workers rules – amendment

  • Currently The Agency Worker Regulations 2010(AWR 2010) entitles agency workers to receive the same pay and basic working conditions as direct recruits once they have completed 12 weeks’ continuous service working in the same role. The ‘Swedish derogation’ currently provides an exemption to the right to equal pay, if agency workers are employed under a permanent contract of employment with a temp agency and are paid by the agency for periods between assignments.

 

  • From 6 April 2020, the Swedish derogation is removed. Once agency workers have satisfied the 12-week qualifying period, they will be entitled to equal pay to workers who are engaged directly by the employer.

On or prior to 30 April 2020, agency workers whose existing contracts contain a Swedish derogation provision must be provided with a written notification by the agency that it will no longer have any effect.

In addition, from 6 April 2020 all agency work-seekers must be provided with a statement setting out the terms under which they will undertake the work.

Changes to IR35 rules for the private sector

  • At present, the IR35 rules apply where an individual (worker) personally performs services for another person (client), through an intermediary (usually a personal service company, or PSC), and if the services were provided under a direct contract, the worker would be regarded for tax purposes as being employed by the client.
  • Currently, it is the intermediary’s responsibility to determine whether IR35 applies.
  • From 6 April 2020, changes to IR35 ruleswill be implemented for medium and large businesses in the private sector and will largely mirror changes that took effect in the public sector in 2017.
  • Under the new regime, for all contracts entered into, or payments made on or after 6 April 2020, the onus will shift from the PSC to the end user client to make a status determination.
  • Responsibility for accounting for tax and national insurance will shift to the party who pays for the individual’s services, known as the ‘fee-payer’.

Small businesses will not be caught by the changes.

 

New parental bereavement law

Effective 6 April 2020

  • Currently when an employee loses a child their employer may allow the employee to take compassionate leave or holiday or a leave of absence. In some circumstances the employee may be signed off sick.
  • The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018is expected to come into force in April 2020. If it does come into force, bereaved parents will have the right to two weeks of leave following the loss of child under the age of 18, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Bereaved parents will be entitled to take their leave in one two-week block or in two separate blocks of one week. The leave must be taken before the end of a period of at least 56 days beginning with the date of the child’s death.
  • Bereaved parents employed with a minimum of 26 weeks’ continuous service will also be entitled to receive statutory parental bereavement pay. Those with less than 26 weeks’ continuous service will be entitled to take two weeks of unpaid leave.

Holiday pay calculation adjustment

  • From 6 April 2020, the holiday pay reference periodwill increase from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. Employers will be required to look back at the previous 52 weeks where a worker has worked and received pay, discarding any weeks not worked or where no pay was received, to calculate the average weekly pay.

This change has been made to help even out the variation in pay for workers, particularly those in seasonal or atypical roles.

For more help and preparation please contact ruthcornish@amelore.com

 

CHANGES TO IMMIGRATION CHECKS

ALLOW ONLINE RIGHT TO WORK CHECKS

Organisations have a duty to prevent illegal working and, in order to do so, carry out ‘right to work’ checks on their prospective employees to gain a statutory excuse against liability under the civil offence. This check is conducted using documentation provided by individuals, with the government’s three-step checking process requiring copies to be made of these documents. For certain documents provided, organisation will also be required to carry out a follow-up check as their statutory excuse will be time-limited.

Introduced in April 2018, organisations could use the Home Office’s online right to work checking service, alongside receiving the statutory documents, to carry out their right to work check. With effect from 28 January 2019, organisations can rely solely on the online service to carry out right to work checks, without receiving any documents from the individual. The document checks will continue to apply however where the individual’s immigration status cannot be checked online.

To gain the statutory excuse using the online service, organisations will have to:

  • use the service for each individual and only employ, or continue employing them, where the online check confirms they have the right to carry out the work in question
  • be satisfied that the photograph on the online check is consistent with the appearance of the individual
  • retain and keep a clear copy of the online check response for the period of the individual’s employment and for two years after. This can either be held electronically or in hardcopy.

Where the online checking service is used to employ students, organisations will still require details of academic term dates. Additionally, a follow up online check will have to be carried out in advance of a time-limited statutory excuse expiring.

Where the online right to work check is negative, ie it shows that the individual does not have the right to work in the UK and/or to do the work in question, the organisation will not gain the statutory excuse against civil liability where they employ, or continue to employ, the individual. Where right to work checks cannot be carried out online, such as where there is an outstanding application, appeal, or review with the Home Office, organisations will continue to be required to contact the Employer Checking Service to receive a Positive Verification Notice, providing a six-month statutory excuse.

Additionally, from 28 January 2019, organisations are no longer required to receive full birth and adoption certificates from UK nationals when carrying out document checks. The List A documents have been updated to allow UK individuals to provide their prospective employer with either full or short-form certificates, alongside an official document containing their National Insurance number, to establish a continuous statutory excuse for the length of their employment. This change is aimed at making documentary checks easier for UK citizens who do not have a passport.

GDPR (what you need to know) part 3

This article forms part of our GDPR series in which Amelore employment experts offer practical advice, ahead of the coming-into-force of the GPDR in May 2018.

The General Data Protection Regulation (the Regulation) represents the most significant shift in European data protection legislation since the Data Protection Directive (enacted in the UK through the Data Protection Act) of the late 1990’s. The Regulation presents a very significant challenge to all data-driven units of modern business, not least human resources (HR).

In this article, we explore the legal and practical challenges the Regulation’s requirements pose to HR.

Scope

The GDPR expands the scope of European data protection legislation in both subject matter and territorial application. For the first time data processors (parties who process personal information on behalf of a data controller) will find themselves required to meet direct regulatory obligations. In addition, the Regulation’s intended jurisdiction is no longer restricted to EU-based organisations. The Regulation brings in scope any organisation selling to or monitoring the behaviour of EU citizens. Like much European law, the extent to which the Regulation will see successful enforcement outside of the EU is a developing area.

From a HR perspective, these provisions raise significant considerations for global employers, and providers of virtual HR and HRIS products. For a multinational employer, detailed understanding of global data flows will become an increasingly key. This is especially critical where a centralised storage and database solution manages global (both EU and non-EU group company) HR data. Non-EU group companies, using a shared resource, may find themselves directly affected by the GDPR.

For outsourced HR and recruitment, and HR software providers, the Regulation is set to present a new legal burden. At present, suppliers have, as data processors, enjoyed liability limited only to contractual arrangements with data controllers. Under the Regulation such processors will be required to comply directly with GDPR and by extension, face direct liability (and the same fine thresholds as data controllers under certain circumstances).

Fines

Regulatory fines under the GDPR are set to increase well beyond the ICO’s current enforcement ceiling of £500,000, representing a fundamental shift in risk profile for UK organisations.

That said, the Regulation grants Data Protection Authorities significant discretion as to whether and the extent to which fines will be imposed on an organisation, in the event of a breach.

In addition, the fine parameters are set against a two tier system to account for the comparative seriousness of different breaches.

From a HR perspective, it is critical for organisations to consider whether existing policies and procedures lack GDPR compliance, especially where time limits may be a factor, e.g. in relation to breach notification (see below).

Privacy Notices

The Regulation mandates a host of required information, which a data controller must provide to an individual data subject at the point at which personal data is collected. Non-exhaustively, these include details of:

  • the legal basis upon which personal data will be processed;
  • how long personal data will be retained;
  • if, and the extent to which, personal data will be transferred overseas, and, in the event that personal data will be transferred outside of the EEA, the appropriate safeguards in place to protect that data; and
  • the mechanism by which an individual would make use of their data subject rights, including:
    • how to make a subject access request; and
    • how to request the deletion or rectification of personal data.

These mandatory requirements present employer challenges both in relation to the employee/employer relationship and in the context of job applicant data.

Employers must consider whether existing employee and applicant notices meet GDPR requirements and consider how clarity and accessibility of notices can be ensured.

Employee Rights

The Regulation significantly enhances the rights of data subjects, which will in turn present greater compliance obligations for employers.

Areas which face significant change include:

  • the information to be provided to data subjects, in response to a subject access request – we will address this is in detail later in the series.
  • the Regulation mandates a more detailed set of information be provided to a data subject, particularly in relation to the purpose and means by which personal data is processed.
  • data rectification rights(in circumstances in which data held about a data subject is inaccurate or incomplete) – in some respects rectification rights remain unchanged under the Regulation. However, data controllers will now face a mandatory obligation to notify other third parties in the event that data is amended in response to a data subject request. Employers should be prepared to notify any third parties to which employee data has been transferred and consider how they might implement procedures to action this obligation in practice; and
  • the right to be forgotten– this new right presents a potentially significant practical challenge for employers, particularly where employee personal data is backed-up in somewhat inaccessible or complex systems. Much like rectification rights, a data subject’s right to have their personal data deleted on request should prompt all employers to consider how this would be practically achieved.

Breach Notification

The Regulation introduces dramatically enhanced requirements in relation to breach notification.

In summary a data controller:

  • must notify the relevant DPA within 72 hours of becoming aware of a breach, unless it can provide justification for a delay; and
  • is required to notify data subjects affected by a breach directly, without undue delay, if the breach is likely to present a high risk to the individual’s rights and freedoms.
  • This is tempered by exceptions, such as where the personal data is encrypted. Under these limited circumstances, controllers may be spared the obligation to notify data subject directly.

For HR, this presents a two-fold challenge. Should a breach originate within HR itself, effective co-ordination between HR and an organisation’s legal and/or compliance teams is likely to prove critical (especially when considering the tight timeframe for response). In addition, should the breach affect employee data and require data subject notification, HR is likely to play a key management role. Ensuring compliance will likely require a complete review of internal policies and procedures, with a particular focus on efficient internal communications. Data processors are also required to report breaches to data controllers.

Employee Consent

A change HR is likely to feel very directly is in relation to the use of consent as grounds for processing employee personal data. Non–specific consents to processing are unlikely to be considered valid under the GDPR.

Practical steps to compliance

The following are likely to prove critical risk management steps:

  • comprehensive gap analysis and business wide data protection audits;
  • a full review of internal and external policies, procedures, templates and information notices;
  • consideration of consent alternatives; and
  • consideration of (potentially mandatory) data protection officer appointment, and instruction of external legal/ compliance support.

Our next article will look at how to conduct a gap analysis and a wider data protection audit.

Looking forwards

The GDPR clearly represents a significant compliance hurdle. Employer’s must therefore maintain an awareness of developments at a national level, especially in relation to equality, recruitment and health and safety provisions.

Employers should however take some comfort that some element of harmonisation between EU data protection law and the UK’s eventual domestic position will be desirable. Compliance with the GDPR’s requirements, will likely be the most efficient way for organisations to futureproof.

Disclaimer

This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute specific advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought in relation to your situation and organisation before acting on any of the information given.

Our top 10 tips regarding “Right to Work Checks”

Every employer is aware that it is unlawful to employ someone who does not have the right to carry out the work in question, and employers can be subject to a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per worker for any breach of this.

Avoiding the £20,000 penalty

It is possible to establish a statutory (legal) excuse in respect of such penalties provided that the employer checks the worker’s documents prior to employment commencing, and then repeats the checks for those workers who have time limited permission to work in the UK.

Generally, UK nationals and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals have the automatic right to work in the UK, whereas migrant workers from the rest of the world will need to establish this right to work by showing that they have appropriate permission under one of the tiers of the UK points based system, by way of another form of visa, or under other European Treaty rights.

However, it is important that checks are carried out consistently on all employees and below we detail our top tips on what to do and some potential pitfalls.

  1. Obtain

Obtain an original of one or more documents listed in the Home Office’s Guidance.

The Home Office has produced a helpful right to work checklist which details those documents that can be relied on.

This list is “non negotiable” and no other documents “will do”. You have been warned!!

  1. Check

Check the document in the presence of the holder.

It is surprising the number of employers who arrange for reception staff or managers to take copies of the document but then in fact pass these copies onto the HR function to validate. This is not strictly compliant. Whoever is in the migrant’s presence when the document is presented should be the person doing the check. HR can of course assist, but the ultimate responsibility lies with this individual, so ensure that he or she has had appropriate training.

  1. Make a copy

Take a clear copy of the document(s). If the copy is blurred, illegible or has information missing/cut-off the statutory excuse will not be achieved. This sounds obvious but you’d be surprised.

This copy should then be marked as a true copy of the original, clearly signed and dated, and then stored or scanned and filed securely. Beware Biometric Residence Permits (BRP’s). It is mandatory to copy the front and back if the statutory excuse is to be secured.

  1. Check the documents thoroughly

It is not simply a matter of taking a photocopy. Make sure you check the validity of the documents, for example that the photos are consistent with the actual appearance of the individual and that any stamps/endorsements look genuine.

If you are given a false document, you will only be required to pay a civil penalty if it is reasonably apparent that it is false, and that means it has to be properly checked.

  1. Specifically check the terms of the visa:

Make sure the job you provide does not break any conditions or restrictions on the type of work an individual can do, or the hours they can work (see below). The terms of the visa or work permission should clearly say what these are. Again, a proper considered check is vital to securing a statutory excuse.

  1. Beware students:

It is important to be aware that non EEA migrants who come to study in the UK under Tier 4 of the points based system are generally entitled to work for a maximum of either 10 hours or 20 hours per week term time (dependent on the course and the educational establishment), and for any period during vacations and following the end of the course to the expiry of their visas.

Since May 2014 it has been the employer’s responsibility to check the dates of working against the student’s published term time tables. If a student is found to be working over the permitted hours during term time then they will be working unlawfully and you will not have a statutory excuse. That additional extra hour of work could therefore cost the business £20,000 per student, so do be sure to check.

  1. Beware discrimination claims:

In an attempt to avoid a £20,000 penalty do not then risk a claim of discrimination, which could prove even more costly. Presumptions should not be made about a person’s right to work in the UK based simply on the basis of their background, appearance or accent. As stated, apply the checks consistently to all workers regardless.

  1. Be mindful of ANY staff that have come TUPE

Yes, that four letter word again. Any employer who “inherits” employees under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 would be wise to carry out the right to work checks on all transferring employees if it wishes to be certain it has the statutory excuse.

You have a grace period of 60 days to do this and although you may be able to rely on any checks previously carried out by the transferor, there is no guarantee that these will have been done correctly.

  1. Don’t risk it:

£20,000 is the fine for unlawfully employing a worker subject to immigration control, if this is by mistake / oversight / incompetence. If you know the migrant does not have permission to carry out the work in question then the penalty is unlimited and the owners of the business can be sent to prison for up to two years, and this is set to rise to five years.

  1. If you are audited and fail – take urgent advice!

If, for whatever reason, a statutory excuse is not obtained and the employer finds that it has unknowingly employed a worker unlawfully or finds itself the subject of a Home Office audit, or even “raid”, all is not lost. There are still ways in which to seek to avoid or mitigate any civil penalties but in that eventuality it would certainly be sensible to seek urgent professional advice.

If you would like a review of your current employment practices with a particular focus on your starter and leaver processes, contact Amelore for more details.

www.amelore.com

Immigration Act 2016 – Illegal working offences

visa stampAfter months of rumbling through the political process the much debated Immigration Bill finally received royal assent on 13 May 2016, becoming the Immigration Act 2016.

Hot on its heels came the enabling regulations which will bring many of the measures into force on 12 July 2016, including those detailed below.

The purpose of the Act, put quite simply, is to make it as hard as possible for illegal migrants to live and work in the United Kingdom.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire stated  “The message is clear – if you are here illegally, you shouldn’t be entitled to receive the everyday benefits and services available to hard-working UK families and people who have come to this country legitimately to contribute.”

Below are the key changes employers need to be aware of:

Illegal working

The act of illegal working is to become a criminal offence, punishable by fine and/or up to six months imprisonment. Whether those convicted are in fact jailed at taxpayer’s expense prior to deportation will remain to be seen. However, the obvious point is that, as a criminal offence, any “proceeds” (which would include wages/salary) will now come under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and so therefore open to confiscation.

Employing an illegal worker

The penal sanction in respect of employing an individual illegally is to rise from the existing two years to five years, together with a continuing unlimited fine. This is further “beefed up” by amendments to the existing offence. Previously the risk of criminal liability arose if the employer knowingly engaged the migrant unlawfully.

The Act now provides that the offence will be committed if the employer “has reasonable cause to believe that the employee is disqualified from employment.” This is a lower threshold than previously, and presumably is to prevent those who routinely exploit illegal workers, from using plausible deniability to escape unlimited civil penalty and possible imprisonment.

However, for the purposes of all of those other employers who dutifully carry out right to work checks and then monitor the position as appropriate, the stakes have been raised significantly.

At what point, for example, does “reasonable cause” arise, whereby a consequential dismissal may be defended on the basis of “illegality” or “some other substantial reason”? Inaction or delay in this regard may result in an unlimited fine and imprisonment, whereas erring on the side of caution and moving immediately to termination of employment may subsequently result in a successful unfair dismissal claim, with the inherent further risk of an ancillary race claim.

Current new starter processes

Many companies still have out of date or insufficiently robust starters procedures which fail to check properly whether an individual has the right to work in the UK.

Next steps

Now, more than ever, it is important to get right to work systems and policies up to date, fit for purpose, and in place, as the consequences for failing to do this are now significantly more severe than they were previously.

See our blog on Right to Work checks for our top tips.

 

Entrepreneur shares business highs and lows at Cheltenham event

Online retail entrepreneur and best-selling author Sophie Cornish shared her business highs and lows at an exclusive event last week.

The co-founder of notonthehighstreet.com visited Cheltenham to speak at a one-off charity event to raise funds for Maggie’s.

Interviewed by BBC Points West reporter Steve Knibbs, Sophie was joined on stage by Ruth Cornish, who provided HR expertise to notonthehighstreet.com during a period of rapid growth and organised the event to raise funds for Maggie’s who supported her during cancer treatment.

Together they took questions from the audience and talked candidly about their business experiences.

Ruth Cornish said: “It was a great evening with a mix of people from small businesses, start-ups and established firms. Sophie was very honest about the struggles she faced in the early days of setting up her business. The audience really engaged and asked lots of searching questions. Most importantly this event raised money for Maggie’s. Thank you so much to everyone involved.”

A grand raffle and auction on the night raised £1200 and overall Ruth Cornish has raised more than £4,600 for Maggie’s Centres this year.

Jane Fide, Head of Maggie’s Centre in Cheltenham said: “Thank you to Ruth and Sophie for a very inspiring evening.  I am sure everyone enjoyed the evening and picked up some excellent tips from both Ruth and Sophie.  Thank you again for the funds and awareness raised for Maggie’s Cheltenham””

Sophie and Ruth’s top business tips from the evening are now available online at http://blog.amelore.com/2015/11/11/top-business-tips-from-sophie-cornish-and-ruth-cornish/

For a full list of raffle and auction winners go to http://blog.amelore.com/2015/11/23/amelore-raffle-winners/

Ends

Sophie Cornish MBE founded notonthehighstreet.com in 2006 with her business partner Holly Tucker. From its initial network of 95 of Britain’s most creative small businesses, the company now works with 5,000 small business partners selling over 200,000 products. They have secured five rounds of venture capital funding and have published two best-selling books, Build a Business from Your Kitchen Table (2012) and Shape Up Your Business (2014).

Ruth Cornish is Managing Director of Amelore, a Gloucestershire based company providing integrated HR to fast growing businesses, as well as coaching and career strategy to senior, high-profile individuals. She has been a regular columnist for Moneywise magazine and is the HR expert in ‘Shape up your business’ the latest book by notonthehighstreet.com

Issued by Nic Davies on behalf of Amelore Nicola.davies@straightbatpr.co.uk 07725 832901

Understanding more about Forensic HR

The background

We are all aware that the police use forensic techniques to collect evidence and build a criminal case. Likewise many will be aware of the growing discipline of Forensic Accounting and Taxation which often results in expert witness presentations in court for criminal or civil actions.

Forensic HR (FHR) is still quite rare in the UK partly because of how HR practitioners are trained.  Initially they qualify with the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) who don’t recognise or promote FHR and then most of their CPD is in the form of legal updates led by lawyers whose risk adverse cautious approach is infectious. Lawyers are informed by case law which is basically the latest legal argument or debate.  Interestingly recent case law allows employers to monitor private telephone calls if they have reasonable cause to do so.

Forensic HR is more common in countries like America, South African and Australia.

Ultimately anyone in dispute wants a swift resolution and the law allows companies to agree Settlements with employees without going through a protracted disciplinary process although the majority of companies seem to go through a long process as advised by their HR department, legal helpline or lawyers before they agree to settle. Likewise good contracts of employment will usually have the provision for reasonable investigations if the employer has just cause.

What is it?

In a nutshell the Forensic HR expert is called in to hear an allegation or suspicions regarding an individual, group of individuals or a company. Often the individual or company has an outstanding complex case and what is required is new or fresh evidence to present a counter claim or new angle and help close the matter.

The Forensic HR expert will always ensure there is just cause to investigate and that any investigations don’t stray out of a tight and agreed remit. Likewise if they feel there are any medical concerns they will ensure those are closed off before and if they proceed. Any investigations must meet the high standards demanded by the CIPD code of conduct and be both ethical and lawful.

Typical investigations can include:

  • Private investigators – for cases like sickness absence where there is good reason to suspect the case is not genuine or theft where stock is going missing or where the company wishes to investigate a potential new senior employee
  • Forensic laboratory techniques – To restore a document to it’s original state like a taxi receipt, set of accounts, or hard copy notes from a meeting.
  • CV, qualification & background checking services – to verify that every piece of information given to the employer is 100% correct.
  • Social media searches – it is quite common for employees to put information on social media and therefore in the public domain that is useful to a FHR investigation.
  • PC, mobile and other devices investigations – Looking at this in-house or sending it away to recreate deleted files. Particular focus on emails sent by the employee externally.
  • Interviews as part of a Protected discussion which present select pieces of evidence and use of intensive interviewing techniques designed to stress test the individuals case & resolve.
  • Time recording evidence – Many companies have systems which track how long employees are in the office or online. This information can be very useful.

The skill with Forensic HR is to gather just enough evidence to help present a case and agree a settlement.  The purpose is always to avoid paying out large sums due to fear or management incompetence. The forensic HR expert will often be looking in a different area to the one the complaint originated from.

Forensic HR takes a brief from the highest level within a company and needs an “Access All Areas Pass” to carry out a thorough investigation & present a report and recommended actions. Often we may take charge of negotiations with the employee regarding a swift exit or they can work closely with the in-house HR team, employment lawyers etc

A Forensic HR case

A great example of a successful Forensic HR case was a large firm of brokers who employed a well connected female broker whose nationality was Greek. She enjoyed lots of flexibility from her employer including 10 weeks paid leave to return to Greece when her father was ill.

One evening when her boss had gone home without signing out, she accessed his emails (without his permission) and saw that he had referred to her as a “bubble” in a jokey conversation with a collegue about how long she took off. He had said “These bubbles take a lot of time off”. (From the Cockney rhyming slang – bubble and squeak – Greek).

She immediately complained to HR that this was racially offensive and as the Director admitted he had said it, he was suspended pending an investigation.  He made a lot of money for the firm and was unable to trade. The firm were advised by a lawyer they consulted that as racism was discrimination, the total compensation paid out could be excessive as it would be uncapped.

Amelore were brought in by the CEO who was flabbergasted by this and wanted an alternative viewpoint. We quickly investigated and presented a case to show that she had regularly altered her taxi receipts to claim expenses relating to the weekends & also traded over her limit. Neither had been picked up or challenged as staff were frightened of her.   

She also had no right to access her bosses emails without permission which was a disciplinary matter in itself. She was a registered person with the FCA so when dismissed for gross misconduct it was the end of her career.  She was not entitled to any notice or other pay.

As part of our service we did some training with the HR team who had failed to see the bigger picture.

Can any HR practitioner have a go at Forensic HR?

Forensic HR should only be practiced by individuals with long experience of Employee Relations; a good understanding of employment and other relevant legislation, human behaviour and the right type of inquisitive, intelligent, objective and impartial approach. Training is recommended. Equally it is much harder to practice Forensic HR as an in-house practitioner. As the employer you have a duty of care to the individual you are investigating and this can present a conflict of interest. Likewise the trust and confidence in HR by the rest of the workforce may be damaged by your actions.

Criminal cases

Whilst most companies choose not to pass information on to the Police once an investigation is concluded, some of our clients have done this for extremely serious cases which have resulted in custodial sentences.  All our investigations are highly confidential however, if we come across anything that is criminal, involves children or vulnerable persons we will immediately notify the relevant authorities.

A good result

Ultimately Forensic HR is about saving the Company money – reducing a potential liability by introducing and presenting a stronger case. But equally its about leaving the organisation in a better and stronger place. Our final debrief with the CEO/COO/FD/HRD is a critical and important part of the process.

If you are interested in finding out more about Forensic HR or arranging some training for your HR team, do get in contact with us.

www.amelore.com

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Can be used to investigate grievances, disciplinary situations, draft policies & procedures, run performance management training, develop or attend assessment centres, reward and incentive reviews, gender & equality support etc

Current rate             £POA per day (senior consultant)

0-5 days                   15% discount

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10-20 days               25% discount

20 days plus            quotation on request

Product 2 – Executive Coaching

Executive coaching support for senior and ambitious individuals

Current rate £POA a day or pro rata

6 month package    £POA

8 month package    £POA

1 year                        £POA

This includes unlimited sessions and support as the individual needs it and seems to encourage people to use us more and develop a supportive relationship. Travel and agreed expenses not included and invoiced monthly. We charge up front for coaching services. 

Product 3 – Due Diligence Review (Forensic HR)

One off or Annual Review of all HR/People issues – confidential board level report and recommendations

Our team have all worked in an accountancy/legal auditing/due diligence environment and our process has been developed from that position of expertise.

Ensures full legal compliance and spots problems early.

Fixed price depending on size of organisation, areas to be reviewed & number of Amelore staff required.