More about the Immigration Bill

The Immigration Bill 2015-16, which is currently working its way through parliament, is intended to clamp down on illegal immigration, tackle the exploitation of low-skilled workers and punish those that facilitate this exploitation. Small business owners need to be alert to developments in order to avoid severe punishment heavy fines.

While employers are already required to prevent illegal working in the UK by carrying out relevant document checks in accordance with guidance from the Home Office, the new Bill will provide immigration enforcement officers with considerable more powers and also increase the penalties handed out to businesses who fall foul of the law. The government already publishes lists of companies that are served civil penalty notices, thereby ensuring maximum damage in both monetary and reputational terms.

Small firms and startups that employ a considerable proportion of low-skilled workers, for example retailers, independent hotels, restaurants, pubs, coffee shops etc. should start preparing now because the repercussions of failing to ensure that there are no illegal immigrants amongst a workforce will be severe. If the Bill progresses without any problems, as anticipated, it will become law by July 2016.

What are the main changes?

For small business owners the most significant proposals are the additional powers that will be given to immigration enforcement officers.

Firstly, the Bill will enable officers to seize the earnings of anyone found to be working illegally. Naturally, this will affect an employee more so than the actual employer but the Bill will also tighten the rules that determine if a worker has been employed illegally. Not many business owners are aware of the criminal sanctions related to illegal working as the Home Office often publicises the £20,000 civil penalty scheme on the basis that it is easier to administer.

Currently, an employer commits a criminal offence if they knowingly employ an individual who did not possess the relevant permission to work in the UK. This is being amended slightly so that an employer may still be guilty if there was “reasonable cause to believe” that a person was an illegal worker. There has also been an increase in the maximum sentence period from two years to five years (upon conviction on indictment).

The Bill will also enable immigration enforcement officers to shut down any business suspected of wrongdoing for up to 48 hours and there is the potential that closure could be extended should the appropriate court order be obtained. Immigration officers will also have increased powers to search a business premises and seize documents should they believe those documents to be related to suspected illegal activities such as suspected illegal working.

The consequences for employing illegal workers were always serious but the new proposed measures add a new level of severity to the situation.

What are the most likely pitfalls?

All of the above proposals are centered on the notion that employers should bear responsibility for who it is they employ and the status of those individuals.

The difficulty that employers face is the ever changing nature of the right to work checks, and so mistakes will inadvertently happen. This is particularly the case for smaller organisations who do not have the luxury of an HR or compliance officer.

There are a number of common pitfalls which can trap employers:

  • Employers forgetting to record the date on which a check occurred – this can be done on the actual photocopy of the document or noted on an internal or on-line HR system.
  • Employers forgetting to make follow-up checks at the correct time – important to diarise when checks should happen.
  • Additional checks are required if the employee is a student with work restrictions. Employers must also obtain, copy and retain details of a student’s academic term and vacation times so that employers can ascertain independently when it is that a student can work full time
  • Employers frequently get caught out by not retaining evidence of their checks for the necessary period of time or by not retaining copies in a secure manner (i.e. an unlocked cabinet in an unlocked office)
  • Photocopies are unclear or not complete. Historically a partial right to work check would be considered a mitigating circumstance but this has since been done away with meaning that a correct check is now more important than ever before
  • Employers can also enter into difficulties by conducting a right to work check after an employee has already started work. All initial right to work checks must be conducted prior to the individual commencing work.

Employers now front line immigration control

The attempts of the Home Office to simplify the right to work checks as well as the desire to make it harder for illegal migrants to work in the UK has resulted in employers being on the front line of immigration control in the UK. Most employers who receive a civil penalty notice only do so due to poor and weak practices – all of which can be avoided with some training and careful planning in advance of the new requirements becoming law.

As always having strong HR procedures that are regularly reviewed will provide a solid foundation for your business to grow. If you are unsure how up-to-date or good your existing practices are, why not get someone external to conduct an operational review? Many employment lawyers offer a legal compliance review and HR consultancies will check that as well as designing and implementing suitable practical procedures if required.

Not making the right checks and potentially employing someone illegally is an extremely serious matter which will be both distracting and damaging to you and your business. Avoid this by getting ahead now and making any necessary changes.

Upcoming employment law changes for 2016

In 2016, employers will begin to feel the impact of the employment law reforms made by the first Conservative Government in nearly 20 years, with some controversial decisions affecting a number of areas in the world of employment.

Employment law dates at a glance

11 January 2016 Zero hours employees and workers gain protection rights against employers trying to exercise exclusivity clauses.
1 April 2016 Prospective enforcement date of a cap on public sector exit payments.
6 April 2016 ‘National Living Wage’ (NLW) will be introduced for workers aged 25 and over. A 50p premium will be added to the existing National Minimum Wage.

For more information see the Government’s National Living Wage policy document page.

Jan – June 2016 Gender pay gap reporting draft regulations.
Jan – June 2016 Consultation expected on extension of shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents.
October 2016 Earliest likely implementation date for measures in the Immigration Bill 2015-16.
April 2017 Apprenticeship levy due to take effect.
September 2017 30 hours free childcare becomes available for 3 and 4 year-olds in working families.
2018 The government plans to extend ordinary parental leave, the 18 weeks unpaid leave that may be taken by a parent until their child is 18, to grandparents as well.

The introduction of the national living wage sees a major change to minimum pay levels; this will be a big issue for many employers as they consider how to introduce it.

For the first time, large employers will also be required to publish details of their gender pay gap.

Aside from these two big reforms, other changes to which employers need to pay attention include the Trade Union Bill and new rules on exit payments for public-sector workers.

Read our guide to the key employment law changes in 2016 to ensure you have a head start to the year ahead. 

  1. Gender pay reporting begins

We know that regulations must be introduced by 26 March 2016 that will make it compulsory for organisations with 250 or more employees to publish information about the difference in pay between men and women. This will need to include details of the gap in bonus payments.

However, further details of what this means for employers are yet to be disclosed, including the particulars that they will need to provide and where the information should be published.

It is expected that employers will be given time to get to grips with the legislation before the reporting requirements come into force.

  1. 2. National Living Wage introduced

A significant change for the lowest-paid workers is the introduction of the national living wage on 1 April 2016.

For the first time, employers will need to pay staff aged 25 and over the national living wage, which will work as a new top rate of the national minimum wage. For those aged under 25, lower national minimum wage rates will apply.

The national living wage is initially set at £7.20.

The national living wage is separate to the living wage, a recommended rate based on the cost of living, used by the Living Wage Foundation.

Another change concerning minimum pay is the doubling of the penalty for failure to pay staff the national minimum.

  1. Statutory parental pay rates and sick pay frozen

The Government has proposed that the annual increase in the weekly rate of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay and statutory shared parental pay will not happen in 2016.  The rates normally increase every year, but a fall in the consumer prices index has meant no uplift for 2016/17.

Statutory sick pay will also remain the same.

  1. Restrictions placed on public-sector exit payments

Payments made to public-sector staff when they leave their job are subject to new rules.

First, to limit excessive payments, exit payments for public-sector staff are capped at £95,000.  There is no confirmed implementation date for this change.

Second, from 1 April 2016, there will be a requirement for public-sector employees with annual earnings of £100,000 or more to repay exit payments where they return to work in the same part of the sector within 12 months.

  1. Trade union law amended

The Trade Union Bill reforms the law applying to trade unions, including placing more stringent requirements on trade unions before they take industrial action.

The measures include: increasing the voting threshold to 50%; introducing a requirement that 40% of all those entitled to vote in the ballot vote in favour of industrial action in important public services; setting a four-month time limit for industrial action after the ballot; and increasing the amount of notice to be given to an employer of strike action.

  1. Workers given power to seek redress where employer ignores ban on exclusivity clauses.

Exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts were prohibited in 2015. New regulations that apply from 11 January 2016 aimed at addressing avoidance of the ban, give employees the power to make a complaint to an employment tribunal where they have been dismissed or subjected to a detriment following breach of an exclusivity clause.

  1. New rules to protect apprenticeships

The Government bans organisations from using the term “apprenticeship” where it is applied to describe a scheme that is not a statutory apprenticeship, for example in a job advert.

There will also be an apprenticeship target for public-sector organisations.

  1. Updating laws on employing foreign workers

The Immigration Bill makes various changes to the law applying to foreign workers, including: creating an offence of illegal working; requiring all public-facing public-sector employees to speak English fluently; and introducing an immigration skills charge for employers that use foreign workers.

If your organisation would like any help and advice about the implications of any of these areas please call us on 01453 548070 or visit our website www.amelore.com

Taking people costs out of your business

January is the perfect time to start thinking about how you’ll reduce costs and achieve growth in the year ahead.

In difficult trading conditions, companies often jump straight in and make redundancies when a prudent review with an experienced eye would reveal significant savings and avoid such drastic action.

In our latest blog, we look at where savings can be made. If you’re interested in a review of your organisation’s people costs and growth potential, get in touch.

 

Here are some typical areas where costs can be shaved.

Administration – if you still have manual systems requiring data entry you are costing yourself money.  It is worth investing in a good self service system that links directly to payroll. Likewise administrators will always ensure they have enough work. Consider outsourcing administration to a third party or removing it all together.

Appraisals – So many businesses still have clunky manual appraisal systems eating up time, money and morale – rarely are they the performance driver some HR professionals would claim they should be.  There are much more cost effective alternatives. Make sure you know about them!

Employee Benefits – It’s always important to review the cost of employee benefits annually and look at alternatives. If your business has grown since you first chose a provider, you may have more bargaining power for a better deal.  Consider removing benefits and replacing them. Ask your staff what they would appreciate from you.

Terms and conditions – If you have made your benefits contractual, re-negotiate contracts with staff to give yourself flexibility again. Take the opportunity to look at the  hours your staff work, how much holiday they are entitled to and the terms of your sickness absence policy and procedure compared to reality (i.e. many companies have contracts saying they only pay SSP yet they regularly pay staff in full when they are off sick).

TUPE staff – Since the change in TUPE regulations in January 2014, it is now possible for employers not to have to honour so called static terms negotiated by collective bargaining. This is particularly relevant if you have taken staff from a public sector environment.

Equally if the economic trading environment you are operating in requires you to harmonise terms and conditions to avoid making redundancies you should do this.  Take care to ensure it is not seen as directly connected to the TUPE transfer.

Salaries – Make sure you are fully informed about the market rate for key roles in your organisation.  It’s absolutely fine to pay over the odds or a premium for someone that will be key to your business but do this too often and you will become uncompetitive.  Remember that recruitment agencies have a vested interest in pushing up salaries so make sure you are independently informed.

Recruitment – If you are fast growing, recruitment can become a big part of your people costs.  Are you paying out recruitment fees to a variety of agencies or have you negotiated a good rate with a few.  Would an in-house resourcing specialist be better for you.  Advertising directly via Indeed and Linkedin can provide good results. So can using university careers services for graduate level positions.

Overtime – If overtime is habitual it makes sense to incorporate into the individual’s salary and remove the entitlement. Take care to go for an average figure to ensure you make some savings.

Bonus – Bonus payments can be a great incentive when things are going well and targets are met.  However if you don’t have the results don’t pay them to avoid your staff feeling upset.  Make sure you have communicated with them about this and consider an alternative to soften the blow.

Review Flexible working – This can be a great way to hire and retain talented staff that want to work in a flexible way, often part-time or remotely.

However if your business has too many people working part-time and you are having to double up on costs to ensure the smooth running, you can review this and restructure.

Part time staff and holidays – Make sure that part time staff have pro rata and not full time holiday entitlements.

Managing poor performance – Let’s throw in a nice controversial one.  It is never ever cost effective to try and manage poor performance.  Especially at senior levels. It is actually much kinder to agree a settlement and move on.  Clearly in unionised environments or in large organisations there will be long winded policies to manage capability.  Our advice is to cut through this and reach an agreement.

Employees v freelance staff/outsourcing – The living wage is coming in as is auto enrolment making staff more expensive. Employers are increasingly use freelancers or outsourcing specific functions or tasks. Often things can be done quicker and more effective with freelancer or outsourced staff working along side in-house staff.  Consider whether this option is a route you should be considering.

Risk adverse HR advice – This will without doubt be the most expensive people cost in your business.  If you feel you are getting this, get a second opinion and compare and contrast.

Amelore can provide a complete review of your HR, people and employee admin costs. Contact us…….

Do As You Would Be Done By – Working With Associates

 

For us the most important thing is to give our clients flexibility and the right expertise, no matter what issue crops up. It’s also about running a fluid business that can change and expand when it needs to.

We work with a group of trusted (and vetted) freelance HR professionals but we put simple systems in place to ensure that their work represents the standards we set for ourselves. We insist all documentation is stored on our secure shared drives, that all work or advice is quality checked and we hold regular case conferences. We also offer payroll, HR software and other integrated services that it is harder to replicate as a freelancer. We recognise that flexibility and professionalism are key… on both sides.

We also reward our freelancers for their efforts. If a freelancer comes to work for us and brings existing clients, we charge no mark up on that work, if they want to use our systems and bill through us. Maybe even benefitting from our P.I. insurance cover. It helps us grow our business and develop a rewarding supportive relationship with them.

If an associate takes a client

But what if an associate does go behind your back and work directly for a client? We know this happens and what it
should do is provide an opportunity to look at your own business and find out why. Is there a wider issue? Was your client concerned about cost and are they getting a better service working directly with an individual. Maybe your systems, response times or SLAs need reviewing.

It’s obviously in breach of your associate’s agreement with you to do this but perhaps they’ve taken the view short term work is worth more than developing longer term relationships.

So what would Amelore do? It might surprise you to know that we wouldn’t do anything at all. If either party had asked we’d probably have said yes anyway. At the end of the day personal integrity, personal brand and relationships are critical in business. We are all in business to make a living.

Our working motto is do as you would be done by. It influences all our relationships and approach. With clients, staff, suppliers and our business partners. That’s the Amelore way.

Coaching, a strategy for goals and personal growth.

Why work with a coach?

Coaching is an area of our business that is really growing. It’s something that I personally do more and more and really enjoy. With careers become more fluid and individuals running portfolios, aspiring to self employment or considering radical changes, the timing has never been better to work with a coach.

In the sports world an athlete doesn’t get to the top of their profession without the guidance and support of a coach. Without a coach they would not be at the peak of their performance, achieve the goals they set themselves and gain the success they so badly want.

Whatever your ambitions, be they running your own business, wanting to progress in your career or achieve a happy work-life balance we know that:

  • If you commit your goals to writing you are 40% more likely to achieve them.
  • If you tell someone else you are 60% more likely to achieve them.
  • If you have a coach you are 95% more likely to achieve your goals.

Coaching can come in many forms – but a coach is someone who will enable you to improve, motivate you and hold you accountable to set and achieve your goals, enabling your personal growth. When we ask people about personal growth it is often something they abandoned long ago as other responsibilities crept into their lives. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Some of the positive benefits of working with a coach are:

  • Time to focus on YOU and what you want to achieve.
  • Achieve greater results in less time.
  • Someone to challenge, motivate and support you.
  • Enable you to come up with a fresh approach to an old problem.
  • A safe supportive environment to discuss your issues and test out your ideas.
  • Your personal development mentor.
  • Give you accountability and commitment.
  • Create an action plan and support you in achieving it.
  • Someone to provide unconditional support and praise or give constructive feedback.

Coaches provide:

  • Regular focus, motivation and make you clearly accountable
  • An objective impartial point of view.  Unlike your friends, partner, family, work colleagues or boss.
  • A different perspective – allowing you to step back and take a fresh look at things.
  • A safe environment in which to talk through your challenges and issues.
  • Questions that will uncover the source of any problem or blockage.
  • Identify what is really important for you.
  • Challenge – to stretch you and nudge you out your comfort zone.
  • A sounding board for your ideas.

Amelore Raffle Prize update!

Here are some of our awesome raffle prizes that you can have a chance to win come the big draw on Tuesday 3 November 2015 during an evening with Sophie Cornish and Ruth Cornish at the Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham. In aid of Maggie’s Centres, it promises to be a fascinating evening especially if you want to grow your business or have the kernel of an idea and wish to build a business around it… To get your raffle tickets contact the office and for The Event tickets are available through Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/1Me1Cv9

Enter the raffle for your chance to win…

Roksanda Dress

The lucky winner who chooses this prize wins a dress by this amazing Designer. Click through the link below to see some of the wonderful dresses from Roksanda to get excited about.

http://www.matchesfashion.com/womens/designers/roksanda

Monica Vinader Earrings

Win a stunningDSC_3134 pair of Riva diamond and amethyst cocktail earrings from Monica Vinader… A perfect accessory for your Christmas cocktail outfit for years to come.

 

 

 

 

Penny Vincenzi – signed book ‘A Perfect Heritage’ and afternoon tea.

Only afternoon tea and a signed copy of Penny’s latest book ‘A Perfect Heritage’. Here Penny talks about ‘A Perfect Heritage’ in this short film.

L’Occitane Hamper

DSC_3091Packed with all sorts of goodies including Almond Oil Shower Gel, Lavender foam bath, soaps, hand creams and lotions. Win this and luxuriate in these renowned toiletries from Provence.

 

A bottle of Rothschild Blanc de Blanc Champagne

DSC_3136A very nice bottle donated by Sian Westerman. Reviews say the colour is pale yellow. Orange zest, lemongrass, jasmine and chalky minerals on the perfumed nose, with a hint of white pepper adding lift. Juicy, mineral-accented citrus and orchard fruit flavors are fleshed out by suggestions of melon and honey, putting on weight with air while maintaining vivacity. Spicy and focused on the very long, mineral-driven finish, which leaves chalky mineral and floral notes behind. – Josh Reynolds. Good to drink until 2020 or take it home and celebrate on the night!!

A slice of cake a month from The Cake Nest.

cake nest

Shortlisted for the notonthehighstreet.com Make Awards, The Cake Nest will post a delicious slice of cake (they are designed to fit through your letterbox!) every month for a year. Click on the link below to see what it’s all about.

http://www.cakenest.co.uk/shop/cake-slice-club/monthly-cake-club

The evening will also include an auction of a business review with star of the night Sophie Cornish and lunch with City businesswoman Nicola Horlick.

Good luck to all who enter and look forward to seeing you on the night!

How fashionable is HR?

Roksanda Ilincic
Roksanda Ilincic

Monday I was delighted to be invited to the Roksanda SS16 show. I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited before and it is such a privilege. Well once you have got past the what should I wear question (neutral and black). I can’t image there were many other HR professionals in the audience and it made me reflect on how the skills of HR are so important in every type of fast growing business.

Amelore have been working with Roksanda and her business for a few years now and seen it change in that time growing from strength to strength.

The key thing for every ambitious business is to ensure that everything you are introducing, including the people you hire, is scalable and relevant for your business. If it works for you now be mindful that you may be quickly outgrow it. Don’t be afraid to be different or bold. Remember that behavior was what got you to where you are now.

In the time we have been working with fast growing businesses we have come up with these key areas to focus on.

  1. Never stop recruiting – if you are a founder you will learn about what skills and roles you need in your business by meeting candidates. You will also unearth critical talent that could be goal changing for your company. It’s OK to completely redesign your structure to accommodate someone amazing. Trust me on that one. Recruitment is not an area to delegate or get glib about. Personally sign off every hire until you get to 3 tiers.
  1. Constantly review your structure – (see above). For a while, depending on the nature and projected growth of your business, you will have everyone reporting to you. This will enable you to keep a birds eye view on everything and then suddenly you won’t need to – you will hire a COO or a CEO to run the operational side and focus on critical growing areas – like Product development, sales, marketing, finance, brand and people. Don’t lose sight of your people even if they don’t all report to you. Stay connected. Stay informed.
  1. Reward and retention is key – As you grow constantly think about your team and how to keep them with you. This might be a share of the profits or a Christmas bonus or a guaranteed sabbatical or something they tell you they really really want. Listen and stay open minded.
  1. Don’t introduce things just because you are told to. Investors or advisors don’t always know what is best for your business. Avoid making your growing organisation too corporate or clunky. Keep it agile and fleet of foot. Processes like appraisals (which many large companies are taking out) may be wrong for you – take advice and consider alternatives. Pare your HR practices down to critical tools only.
  1. Take time out to learn new things yourself – Creating space for yourself to think and be creative and reflective, be it facilitated by a coach or alone, is really key. Arranging development is all part of you investing in your most valuable asset. You. In the second book by Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish of notonthehighstreet.com called “Shape up your business” I write about coaching yourself. Both books are a good read (the first one is called ‘Build Your Business From Your Kitchen Table’).
  1. Take care of your alumini. This is something Roksanda is very very good at. She stays in touch with people and is genuinely interested in how they are doing. Her interest in people and abilty to read and understand them is significant, I am sure, to her great success as a fashion designer. She understands and cares about people and because of that can design things that make them feel amazing.

So getting the right HR advice in your business is important whether its fashionable or not. Do it and stay ahead of the competition.