Job evaluation scheme and gender pay audits

With the new requirements for organisations with 250+ staff to conduct a gender pay audit and publish results from 2018, many organisations are reviewing or implementing their job evaluation schemes.

Employers operate job evaluation schemes for a range of reasons, including the development of clear and orderly pay and grading structures and to help counter equal pay claims, as well to assist with market pricing where required.

A single job evaluation may be implemented to cover the whole workforce or employers may operate different schemes for varying groups of employees. The former approach is often favoured as this is likely to help counter any potential equal pay issues.

Types of job evaluation

There are two main types of job evaluation: analytical schemes, where jobs are broken down into their core components, and non-analytical schemes, where jobs are viewed as a whole. The use of analytical schemes is more popular because of the capacity to help provide a defence against equal pay claims.

Analytical schemes

These offer greater objectivity in assessment as the jobs are broken down in detail.

Examples of analytical schemes include ‘points rating’ and ‘factor comparison’ approaches.

Points rating – the key elements of each job, which are known as ‘factors’, are identified by the organisation and then broken down into components which may also be weighted. Each factor is assessed separately and points allocated according to the level needed for the job. The more demanding the job, the higher the points value.

Examples of factors commonly assessed include:

  • knowledge and skills
  • people management responsibility
  • communication and networking
  • decision-making
  • working environment
  • impact and influence
  • financial responsibility.

Factor comparison is also based on an assessment of factors, though no points are allocated. Use of this method is less widespread than ‘points rating’ systems as the latter approach enables a large number of jobs to be ranked at the time.

Non-analytical schemes

These are less objective than analytical schemes, but are often simpler and cheaper to introduce. Methods include job ranking, paired comparisons and job classification.

Job ranking -puts jobs in an organisation in order of their importance, or the level of difficulty involved in performing them or their value to the organisation.

Paired comparisons – compares each job in turn with another in an organisation. This takes longer than job ranking as each job is considered separately.

Job classification, also known as job grading. Before classification, an agreed number of grades are determined, usually between four and eight, based on tasks performed, skills, competencies, experience, initiative and responsibility. Clear distinctions are made between grades. The jobs in the organisation are then allocated to the pre-determined grades.

Developing job evaluation schemes

Whether adopting an analytical or a non-analytical approach, organisations have three main options over scheme design and development:

  • a scheme may be developed in-house
  • a consultancy’s off-the-shelf package may be purchased
  • a consultancy may tailor its package to suit the organisation’s needs.

The system selected will depend on the size of the organisation and the aim of the job evaluation exercise. The Hay Group’s Guide Chart-Profile Method is the most widely used scheme.

Other factors to consider

Job evaluation is a complex and time-consuming task and many organisations draw on the expertise of external organisations to help. The key issues to consider include:

  • The process is often as important as the results.
  • Job evaluation is an ongoing process.
  • An appeals procedure should be established before the evaluation begins.
  • Clear, detailed and up-to-date job descriptions have to be drawn up.
  • The more complex the scheme, the more detailed the job description needed.
  • Accurate records of decisions have to be kept.
  • The results have to be checked to see if there are any pay anomalies.
  • Effective communications are essential, as employees may have concerns over their future job grading and pay.

Operational considerations

Many organisations don’t have the skills in-house to conduct a Gender Pay audit or review or implement job evaluation schemes. The latter can be a big piece of work and organisations should not under estimate the time and cost implications.  Given we are half way through 2016 and first set of published results will be April 2018 time is tight to really get your house in order though still possible. 

Any company Job evaluation (and market pricing exercises) schemes need to be reviewed regularly to ensure such approaches continue to meet changing business needs. Job evaluation is an assessment of the role, not the person doing it, and should be based on a fair, transparent system that is effectively communicated and understood by employees.

The type of scheme chosen will depend on organisational needs, but any staff making decisions on job roles must remain impartial and may require training in the chosen system.

How can we assist you?

Amelore can provide both job evaluation and gender pay auditing services tailored to your needs.  If you would like more information, please get in touch with us.

www.amelore.com

Gender pay – How ready is your company?

gender equalityMore than four decades after the Equal Pay Act, the gender pay gap still stands at about 19%, with the average British woman earning around 80p for every £1 earned by a man.

In October 2016 the Government will introduce Regulations that require all companies with 250+ employees to carry out a gender pay review, and publish their data.  This has implications for the company’s reputation, its ability to attract and recruit staff and could also trigger equal pay claims from existing staff.

The Regulations will make changes to the Equality Pay Act 2010, and aim to “end the gender pay gap in a generation” (David Cameron). They will take effect from 1 October 2016 with the first reports needing to be published before 30 April 2018 and then annually by 29 April.

Getting prepared

Has your company ever carried out an equal pay audit? Do you know what your issues are and are you taking steps to resolve them?  If not, we strongly recommend that you consider carrying out an Equal Pay Audit this year ahead of the compulsory reporting dates so that you are not caught by surprise and can address issues early on.

A confidential Equal Pay Audit will:

  • Review and analyse gender pay
  • Identify any gaps and risks
  • Examine which objective justifications exist
  • Make recommendations for resolving areas of high risk.

Facts and Figures

The UK’s gender pay gap currently stands at 19.1% (Office for National Statistics, 2014) – forty four years after the Equal Pay Act was introduced – and lags behind the rest of Europe on 16.4%.

The new duties apply to private and third sector employers, employing 250 or more staff within Great Britain, and include limited companies, LLPs, statutory bodies and unincorporated associations.

Employers will have to provide and publish five items of gender pay information: the mean and median gender pay gap, the mean gender bonus gap, the percentage of men and women in the bonus scheme, and the distribution between men and women in salary quartiles.

The September 2015 Business in the Community Survey reported that 89 per cent of employees said they would feel more negatively towards their employer if the gender pay gap was relatively large in their organisation.

However if it was relatively small, 71 per cent would feel more positively towards their employer.

Do employers intentionally pay women less than men?

Not they don’t do this intentionally but they can often do it unconsciously.  Men are often much better at negotiating when they join an organisation. Women have the expectation that if they work hard and are good at their job so they will be fairly rewarded. Whilst this is true it is extremely rare for an employer or HR professional to review salaries with gender in mind.  If someone is earning less than they could or should, this is seen as operationally savvy and commercial. Good management even.

women high five

We have reviewed many employer data sets and observed stand out discrepancies which are explained away as historical, personality or line manager driven and as such no longer issues.  However if an organisation is paying a woman or women less than men in equivalent roles for no tangible reason, this will not only need to be rectified urgently but could result in resignations and a damaged employer brand and/or Employment Tribunal proceedings.

Benefits to the organisation

Pay is at the heart of the employment relationship, it influences how valued an employee feels and can act as a powerful demotivator if you get it wrong.

As an employer you will need to go public with your data, publish it on your website and upload it to a government website.

It is worth looking at the information early to assess what risks you are carrying and what measures need to be put in place over the next year to two before the first reports are published. Carrying out an audit now will help you comply with the law and good practice.

It is important that you feel confident that any analysis has been carried out reliably and that valid defences are understood or that indefensible issues are tackled so that you have fair, rational and transparent pay for your employees.

Understanding your risk profile and the measures to reduce these risks will protect your company from reputational and financial risks.

How we can help?

Amelore can conduct a gender pay audit and provide you with a report and recommendations now so you can address any issues before this legislation takes effect.

www.amelore.com

M&A – Assessing People and Cultural Fit

So many factors contribute to success in merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions — and many involve getting the right people into the right jobs. Unless the deal involves nothing more than physical assets — which is the exception to the rule of acquisitions in today’s global business world — the acquirer will need talented, high-performing individuals at all levels in order for the deal to reach its full potential.

Consequently, it is critical to assess the target company’s human capital with the same rigor that is applied to the assessment of pension liabilities, inventories, financial statements, and other significant assets. If we agree that people are ultimately a company’s most valuable asset and largely responsible for income generation and revenue growth, identifying and managing people risks and opportunities usually account for the difference between M&A success and failure. In many cases, however, acquirers know very little about the human capital — at least not initially — that may soon be part of their corporate families.

M&A transactions always trigger decisions about individuals. A merger, for example, often produces redundancies; suddenly there are two CFOs, two HR Directors and so on. The question is: Who should go and who should stay (even if in a different role)? In an acquisition, the acquirer must determine whether incumbents from the target are the best people for the job, given the objectives of the new organisation. Talent assessment addresses this important issue.

For each key position, talent assessment aims to answer these questions:

  • Can this individual successfully achieve the business strategy?
  • Has he or she demonstrated leadership that produces results?
  • What is the employee’s industry-specific knowledge?
  • How well does this person manage relationships?
  • Will this individual be able to work within our culture effectively?
  • Does he or she develop the talents of key subordinates?
  • How long will this person stay and remain motivated?
  • Are there any reasons for concern about stability or volatility?

Pre-close pressure

Talent assessment can be completed at any time, but the more information an acquirer has before signing a letter of intent or closing the deal, the better. For many practical reasons, however, this almost never happens. Time is insufficient. Data from the target are spotty or unavailable. Or the target will not give access to its key people. As a result, a big part of talent assessment tends to be done after the closing, when the acquirer has full control.

Thus, organizations should do whatever they can to overcome these barriers as early in the deal as possible. While a full, formal assessment may not be possible in the early stages of a deal, many actions can be taken to begin the assessment process and get an early read on people and potential deal risks that allow for an early determination of whether to proceed with the deal or walk away.

These include observing behaviour during management presentations and meetings, reviewing CVs provided in the data room, conducting internet searches (or “desktop” research), and conducting informal operational or functional meetings as part of the due diligence process.

The target’s deal team can begin compiling a list of business, leadership, and other behavioural attributes that begin to tell the story of whether a key or critical employee will fit into the go-forward organisation or kill the deal.

The figure below describes the assessment approaches and tools that can be utilised for a systematised approach to talent assessment that will ensure thoroughness and save valuable time.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 16.58.11

In our experience, there are five steps in the process.

  1. Clarify the business imperative

Always begin with the objectives of the deal and expectations for the new organisation. Talent, after all, must be measured against its potential to fulfil those expectations. A clear understanding of business objectives should guide the assessment. For example, is quick turnaround of the business needed, are growth objectives very high, or is the acquisition in a stable environment that will need little change?

  1. Define the essential success criteria

The next task is to define the success criteria required by the business objectives. Those criteria typically involve skills, knowledge, behaviours, experience, values, and — for executives — leadership ability and strategic thinking.

For example, to fill the CEO position at a target company, it is important to determine:

  • The level and scope of experience required to successfully lead the organization, depending on its size and complexity.
  • The technical skill/industry knowledge required for success in this position.
  • The intensity of ambition, commitment, and personal interest a person must demonstrate in order to achieve the defined business objectives.
  • The balance of strategic and operational focus needed by the ideal leader.
  • The leadership style and fit with culture and core values

Culture is an important part of this step. The acquirer should define the workplace culture it wants its key people to embrace and demonstrate through their behaviour.

In many instances, acquirers want people whose values are compatible with their culture. They know that conflicting values will make for a bad corporate relationship and impair the deal.

  1. Develop role profiles

In this step, the assessment moves from the general to the specific, documenting the success criteria for each position in terms of job scope and responsibilities; required skills, know-how, and behaviours; and experience the ideal candidate brings to the table. Based on conversations with the acquiring company or hiring managers, the assessment team identifies the level of responsibility and job requirements for the target roles.

From this it identifies the requisite skills, knowledge, and abilities necessary to carry out the role requirements to their fullest extent. In addition, the team examines what experiences have helped other successful individuals in the past that are relevant to the current situation. This enables the creation of a robust, defensible, and detailed description of the requirements of the target roles.

  1. Assess the talent pool

The first three steps set the stage for the detailed work that follows, gathering whatever relevant data are available on candidates for each key position. The goal is to give decision-makers the information they will need in selecting the best people for each role. These data are gathered by interviewing the board (in the case of CEO talent assessment), hiring managers, or others involved in the acquisition and by gathering any past performance information that is available.

For executive and director/manager positions, the typical selection criteria include leadership ability and leadership style, alignment with the culture of the new organization, potential for future personal development, cognitive ability, and motivation. For professional positions, selection criteria are more geared around specific skills and experience in the job; thus, assessment is heavily weighted toward professional competency, work history, past performance, and future skill-development potential.

  1. Review and select talent

The results of the assessment are presented in detailed reports to decision makers, who use them for review and selection. The quality and extensiveness of these results go a long way toward ensuring the full value of the deal.

CONCLUSION

Indeed, M&A transactions are full of risks and opportunities, and many of those reside in the target company’s human capital. Because of this, it is essential to thoroughly evaluate key and critical talent with focus, rigor, and honesty, beginning as soon as possible and continuing throughout the deal phases.

The consequences of getting people decisions wrong could be the difference between winning and losing in the marketplace — something no company should risk in today’s highly competitive market and volatile economic environment.

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

How to avoid Tribunal Claims for your company.

tribunalTribunal claims have dropped significantly since the introduction of fees. Despite this many organisations (including legal firms) still sell HR services linked to Tribunal insurance, which introduces a risk adverse much slower pace and lengthy process for resolving disputes. Failure to follow advice or a long winded process

In the most expensive pay-outs for 2015, it is easy to see both a public sector bias and also a theme regarding the types of claims. For instance, due to the Equality Act, any situation where your approach to staff with additional protection may deemed to be unfair might leave your business exposed.

Ensuring you are treating all your staff fairly and even handedly will be important. Likewise getting good pragmatic advice as early as possible if you have any concerns. Ask whoever you are going to work with if they have ever lost a Tribunal? We haven’t in 25+years across a variety of sectors and we are very proud of that fact.

Personnel Today have done a great summary to round up the six-figure employment tribunal awards that employers were ordered to pay in 2015, with a total compensation amounting to £2.5 million.

Expensive employment tribunal awards: six-figure sums in 2015 

  1. Large award for caste discrimination claimant

In Tirkey v Chandok and another, a claimant who brought a groundbreaking caste discrimination case was awarded a total of £266,537.

  1. Employees dismissed after raising commission concerns

In Gilmore and others v Vodafone Ltd, five salespeople who were dismissed after complaining about how their commission worked were awarded £264,349. 

  1. Mismanagement of sick leave was disability discrimination

In Turner v DHL Services Ltd and another, the claimant was awarded £257,127 over his employer’s lack of support when he went off sick as a result of work-related stress.

  1. Redundancy of mother of disabled child

In J v H Ltd, the employer was required to pay out £251,460 to the mother of a disabled child over the way in which her redundancy was handled.

  1. Dismissal of employee with acute anxiety

In Marcelin v Hewlett Packard Ltd, a claimant who was disciplined for, among other things, his refusal to consent to the release of a medical report was awarded £239,913 for disability discrimination. 

  1. Large award for senior NHS whistleblower

In Sardari and another v South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and another, the employment tribunal found that a senior NHS manager who raised concerns about an alleged biased recruitment process was subjected to a detriment for making a protected disclosure. She was awarded £228,778.

  1. Deceased London Underground worker in large payout

In O’Sullivan v London Underground Ltd, a deceased London Underground worker was awarded £223,869 for disability discrimination. In the event of a successful claimant’s death, the tribunal award goes to the claimant’s estate.

  1. Disability discrimination against ME sufferer

In A v S, an employee with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME) was able to show that the way in which a move to a new role and her subsequent absences were handled was discriminatory. Her compensation totalled £192,656. 

  1. Financial officer dismissed after accounting disclosure

In Nishioka v C&S Shops Ltd, a financial officer who was suspended and summarily dismissed after raising accounting concerns was awarded £184,741 in a tribunal. 

  1. Employer admits constructive dismissal

In Asare-Brown v Mortgage 27 Ltd, an employer that admitted that it constructively dismissed a web designer after non-payment of wages was required to pay £130,702.

Median employment tribunal awards 2014/15

Sex discrimination: £13,500

Disability discrimination: £8,646

Race discrimination: £8,025

Age discrimination: £7,500

Unfair dismissal: £6,955

Sexual orientation discrimination: £6,000

Religious discrimination: £1,080

THE REAL COST OF GETTING IT WRONG

Generally the cost of getting it wrong is much bigger than the actual claim. Management time, morale and reputation, retention and if it gets in the press it can affect sales.

At Amelore we have a tailored our services to help business grow quickly and feel confident about making the right decisions. We have never lost a Tribunal (as a company) or in the history of Ruth Cornish our founder who has worked in a variety of sectors including the City and the Public Sector.

Call us on 01453 548070 if you’d like to discuss your needs.

 

HR – how does it work in an emergency?

For many years I worked at the Environment Agency and without doubt everyone got involved when there was flooding. As a senior manager I used to take turns with other managers to be a Duty Manager (and give the Regional Director a rest) and lead our region‘s response to any emergency situations over the weekend.

One weekend in particular in July 2007 sticks in my mind. The summer floods rudely interrupted everyone’s plans including mine for my daughter’s first birthday and I spent all weekend on the phone organizing sandbags and staff, to send to other parts of the country to stop people’s homes being flooded. It was serious life changing stuff.

As an HR professional I am aware that there are knock on effects. When I returned to my desk on Monday our organisation was in full scale GOLD alert mode in response to the flooding we were dealing with. This involved most of our staff and as the lead operational HR team we also went into Emergency response mode.

The recent weather has caused me to reflect on what I learnt then.

HR in times of EMERGENCY

Manage people by supporting them

Managing people in times of emergency is very different from when your organisation is in a steady state. From an HR perspective it is all about anticipating and facilitating everyone doing their job. This may include organising accommodation, refreshments, staff briefings, block booking rooms and drafting communications. Turn your hand to things you many not normally turn your hand to. Make it your job to constantly be aware of what needs to be done.

Staff health, welfare and stress

You will see people giving 110% and doing as much as they can. You will want to be among them checking in on them. Everyone from the CEO to the staff on the frontline. People in these situations need nudging: to sleep, to eat, to take time out and hand over to others. To talk about how they are feeling. We drafted in teams of counselors to support anyone that wanted to talk to them.

In particular media interviews can cause great stress and often people get caught in the spotlight with little training. Big organisations have experienced media teams to provide support and council – but HR need to be on the ball too, every employer has a duty of care whatever the situation.

Giving bad news

Whilst we didn’t lose anyone during the floods we were constantly checking on the welfare of all our staff and family were getting in touch if they hadn’t heard. It was tempting to give lots of extra information (especially as people would plead with you) but of course we had to check who they were and stick to facts – speculation is not appropriate during a crisis. Data Protection was still important and we were all mindful of that.

We did have a moment when a staff member went missing and we had to notify the next of kin. We involved the police as we are not trained to give such news and worked collaboratively with them. Luckily they were found working with another team. As part of our review of the emergency response, we ensured that all staff understood why following our strict protocols was important. Losing staff members in this situation can cause ripples as far as the House of Commons!

Document what you’re doing

In any large organisation the people at the top, the general public, the media will want regular updates and you will want to keep a record of the decisions you made and the facts you had to hand. If you are in a leadership role, take care to document at least three times a day what is happening – morning, afternoon, evening. The public sector and first responders have these systems in place already – but if your company, charity or organisation has a supporting role in an emergency, it’s worth you doing the same.

Don’t be a hero

Being in a support role may not be exciting but staying calm, consistent and centered to support everyone else is really important. Also not running yourself into the ground and following the advice you have dispensed to others. Lead by example and others will follow. Just as they will if you run around red eyed and a bit ragged.

Plan for the emergency to continue

Flooding emergencies in particular can go on for some weeks – and even your core office-based staff team may be needed to work emergency hours for some time. If the emergency is localized then many of your staff will be directly affected and not able to get to work. Think about which services are essential and which ones can wait. Plan a staff rota to ensure everyone gets a rest but that essential services are delivered. Things like payroll must continue, even in an emergency, staff being paid on time is one of the most important things you must do.

Brief and Debrief everyone

Even if your role is one of co-ordination, ensure that the workforce are regularly briefed about what is going on. If possible do this face to face so staff can ask questions. Many will want answers to questions. You may have a separate emergency budget they can tap into or need to put in an emergency rota or check that people know they can talk to you if they are worried. Take care about shouting out big successes as this can later embarrass you if it causes others to mirror the behavior which then causes problems.

Praise and thank staff

A good timely (so quite soon afterwards) de-briefing which includes naming and praising by senior management is critical. I was never prouder of the Environment Agency and my own HR team than when we were in Rapid Response mode. Highly professional, compassionate, supportive.

My thoughts are with anyone affected by the flooding.

Making sure it’s a Merry Christmas

Christmas holidays – planning & managing absence

Christmas is a time of celebration for many and employers can help the festivities by planning ahead especially for holiday requests and/or managing absences.

Christmas and the workplace

The Christmas season has a big impact on most businesses and employees in the UK. It’s also a time when there is will be extra demand for products, services and sales in some businesses whilst others may experience a quiet period or may shut completely for Christmas.

Many employees will doubtless request time off for family time, holidays or attend religious services. Employees working over the Christmas period may experience different working patterns, a change in the nature of their workload or face difficulties getting to and from work. It’s also a period when some industries might need extra support and will take on seasonal workers.

Christmas bank holidays

This year the 25 December 2015 falls on a Friday which is a Bank Holiday in the UK. Boxing Day (26 December 2015) falls on a Saturday which means Monday 28 December 2015 is a Bank Holiday. There is no right to have either day away from work or taken as paid time off unless terms of the employment contract allow otherwise. Paid public holidays can be counted as part of statutory annual leave.

There is no legal right to paid leave for public holidays. Any right to paid time off for these holidays depends on the terms of a worker’s contract. Paid public holidays can be counted as part of the statutory 5.6 weeks of holiday.=<a

Annual leave over the Christmas period

An organisation’s annual leave policy should give guidance on how to book time off. However, employers may wish to look at being a little more flexible when allowing employees leave during this period.

Employees should remember however that this may not always be possible as it could be one of the busiest times of the year for the organisation. The key is for both parties to try and come to an agreement and to plan as early as possible while being fair and consistent with all staff.

Some employers may need to restrict annual leave over the Christmas period which is completely acceptable however this must be stated in the contract of employment, implied from custom or practice, or incorporated into individual contracts from a collective agreement.

Restricting leave can take many forms, but some of the most common are:

  • shutting down for certain periods while workers have to use their annual leave entitlement
  • nominating particular dates as days of closure when workers are expected to take annual leave
  • determining the maximum amounts of leave that can be taken on any one occasion and also the periods when leave may be taken
  • determining the number of workers who can be off at any one time.

Sickness absence during the Christmas season

An organisation’s usual sickness policy will apply during this time. This policy should be managed and operated fairly and consistently for all staff. Levels of attendance should be monitored during this period in accordance with the associated policy. Any unauthorised absence or patterns in absence (eg high levels of sickness or late attendance) could result in formal proceedings.

Where an employee is sick or absent from work on a day they requested off but were refused or the day after a work Christmas party, normal sickness policies and procedures would apply.

Updating your holiday policy or contract or advice

If you find your contracts or holiday policy need updating or redrafting or you want some specific advice about a situation do call us. Our number is 01453 548070. Our last working day is 18 December 2015 beyond our usual 24/7 emergency service for our retained clients.

Have a wonderful holiday.

Is everyday sexism really a legal issue?

My blog post and outraged response to the Guardian’s Dear Jeremy column back in May, remains one of my most read and shared.

Here’s a reminder if you missed it http://blog.amelore.com/2015/05/02/its-2015-but-my-interviewer-wanted-to-know-how-id-juggle-work-and-motherhood-an-alternative-response/

Many of you have asked me if I ever received a reply. Well yes I did. But it was so disappointing that it just outraged me even more.

Fortunately I had a kick-boxing class to take it out on.

So here it is, the official response from the Guardian.

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From: Readers editor – reader@guardian.co.uk

Date: 13 May 2015 at 15.21

Thank you for your email about the Jeremy Bullmore column, which was forwarded to this department. We received a number of emails about this column and have discussed them with both Bullmore and his section editors. Bullmore says that he does make clear that he is not qualified to deal with matters of employment law, and that much of the advice he offers every week is along the lines that mutual understanding leads to happier outcomes than immediate recourse to the law. 

However, he recognises the points you make in your email, and his section editors will be keeping a closer eye on the column in future.

Best wishes

Barbara Harper

#EverydaySexism

Never has the hashtag #everydaysexism been more appropriate than now.

Does anyone truly need to be an expert or qualified in employment law to know whether something is sexist or not? Absolutely not.

So Dear Jeremy doesn’t think his reply is sexist and I’m afraid Dear Reader neither does his Editor. Whilst the role of a columnist is to give their personal view – and court controversy – I believe that in this case, the Guardian has a responsibility and a vicarious liability to comply with the Equality Act and ensure others do as well. I hate to say it, but this editorial team needs some equalities training.

This response is especially disappointing as it comes after Katherine Viner was appointed as editor-in-chief of the Guardian. The first woman to run the newspaper in its 194-year history. One assumes that the competitive selection process she won, beating 25 other candidates, didn’t ask her gender specific questions or assume she was less capable of committing to and doing a good job because she was female?

Commenting on her appointment, Viner said “I intend to lead a media organisation that is bold, challenging, open and engaging.

This particular reader isn’t seeing much evidence of that yet.

True equality in 2015 still seems to be aspirational rather than achievable or just the norm. We have to do much more about this if we are not to see whole generations of women under achieving because of the unconscious bias that is the foundation of the workplace.

If you’d like to do something about it, contact me.

 

Planning your Christmas party – don’t let it all go wrong

Whilst we appreciate that some will say that it is “only” November and therefore too early for a festive article, our local council has started decorating the town with Christmas trees and fairy lights and so, as far as we are concerned, the festive countdown is on!

A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) case of MBNA Limited v Jones (UK EAT / 0120/15/MC) is a good example of a staff night out gone wrong.

The Background Facts

MBNA Ltd (the “Bank”) hosted a corporate event to celebrate its 20th anniversary. All staff were told that it was a work event and that normal standards of behaviour and conduct would apply and any misbehaviour would be subject to the Bank’s procedures and guidelines.

An employee called Mr Jones (the “Claimant”) together with other employees had started drinking prior to the event. At an early stage of the evening, the Claimant was kneed in the back of his leg by another employee to which the Claimant responded by licking his fellow employee’s face. Onlookers considered the incident to be no more than “fun / banter”.

Later in the evening the Claimant was again kneed in the leg and at this stage the Claimant punched his fellow employee in the face. The corporate event then ended and the night continued with some employees going to a local nightclub. While the Claimant was inside the nightclub, his fellow employee waited outside and sent the Claimant a number of text messages threatening to (inter alia) “rip your ******* head off”.  However no further incident did in fact occur.

The Bank conducted a disciplinary investigation and brought charges against both the Claimant and the other employee. The Claimant was charged with, among other things, punching his colleague and behaviour which could harm the reputation of the Bank.

The Claimant claimed self-defence however he was was dismissed. His colleague, however, was not and received a final written warning in circumstances where it was found that the inappropriate text messages were made as an immediate response to the Claimant hitting him.

The Claimant brought a claim for unfair dismissal, arguing that he had been subject to inconsistent treatment which was unreasonable. The Employment Judge agreed with the Claimant and found the dismissal to be unfair.  The matter was thereafter appealed to the EAT.

The EAT overturned the Employment Tribunal’s decision. In particular, the EAT noted that the Employment Judge had not, when considering any argument on disparity, expressly drawn a distinction between a deliberate punch in the face at what was designated to be a workplace and a threat afterwards that was never carried out.

Lessons Learned

This case is but one further example in a body of case law which has arisen as a result of behaviour and acts committed at social events and/or Christmas parties which are considered to be an extension of the workplace. It is most definitely the season to be jolly and whilst an employer can’t always stop bad behaviour, induced by alcohol or general festive exuberance, it can manage the expectations of staff so that everyone knows the standards of conduct that will be expected from employees at work social events and the consequences if these are not maintained.

While it may be too early to wish readers a Merry Christmas, planning the office Christmas party should act as a timely reminder to employers to ensure that company disciplinary, harassment and discrimination policies are in force and up to date.

And that everyone understands that they are bound by them. No matter how senior.


Have a wonderful party.

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.