Brexit – Dommage or Damage?

Like many people, I’m still slightly in shock about the outcome of the EU referendum on 23 June 2016, when the majority of the British public voted for the UK to leave the European Union.  Perhaps because I’m currently and living in working in Europe, it feels a more serious reality than if I was living back in the UK.

Now the dust has settled a bit on the surprising result (yes, even those campaigning and voting for “Leave” were surprised that they had actually won), it is time to start thinking what the actual implications of the UK leaving the EU will actually mean in practise.  Lots has already been written on this, both here in this blog and across the media as a whole, but let me share with you a European perspective.

“Nothing will happen for at least two years…..”

Things are already happening…….

For UK workers currently posted in Europe and paid in sterling, rather than Euros, their actual salary has already decreased by 15% and counting.  If you employ “posted” workers you will need to think how you can help your staff to still feel that they are earning a reasonable, fair salary now that their money is not going as far.  You will also need to be mindful of how the exchange impacts on the minimum wage of the country they are working in and whether you are still legally complying with it.  (for example in France the minimum hourly rate is currently 9.53 Euros, which is now equivalent to around £8.20 per hour rather than around £7.33 pre-Referendum.)

The tourism industry is already feeling the impact, with potential UK holiday makers deciding maybe they won’t holiday in Europe this year after all.  The area I am working in France is already feeling and noticing this dip in potential income and bookings.  For countries like Spain or Greece where tourist numbers are even higher and their economy is also more reliant on tourism income this could be really serious.

Going forward there is also the question of whether UK citizens will be able to work easily in Europe, or whether they will need to apply for work permits.  Again, for the tourist industry and other industries that employ semi-skilled, short term staff on the local minimum wage, will it be worth their while to even employ or post UK workers to Europe anymore?

Things could also happen more quickly than in two years if some EU politicians have their way, so don’t assume that we definitely have two years grace.

Does Europe care that the UK plans to leave the EU?

In a word, “yes”!

The people I have spoken to recently about Brexit, including those working in local government, the hospitality industry and the tourist industry seem to fall in to two camps.  Those who say it is “dommage” – a shame – and those who think it will be really damaging to Europe, its economy and stability.  Even those who fall in to the “it’s a shame” corner think that things will be worse for the UK, and indirectly, for them too.

While it would be nice to think that nothing much will change and that we have time to get used to the idea of being “out” of Europe, I honestly think that the reality will be different.  As the old saying goes “be careful what you wish for…..” – it will be interesting to see whether leaving Europe is a dream come true or a nightmare.  Watch this space…..

www.amelore.com

 

Eu exit and the implications for your business

Following the unexpected confirmation of a “leave” vote, many businesses will already be turning their attention to what happens next?

The most important message is that the referendum result does not trigger any automatic legal changes; neither does the UK’s formal notification that it will be withdrawing from the EU.

The UK will continue to be a member of the EU for the time being, and the status and effect of all UK and EU law remains unchanged for now, and possibly for some time in the future.

Beyond that, however, much remains to be debated and negotiated – such as the shape of trading agreements between the UK and the EU, the status of EU-derived law, thorny issues such as acquired rights, and the UK’s relationships with non-EU states.

It’s still business as usual for a while – no immediate changes

Neither the referendum result nor the UK’s formal notification to the EU has any immediate legal effect. From a legal perspective, it will be ‘business as usual’, probably for some time to come.

  • The next step is for the UK to give formal notification to the EU of it’s intention to leave. This will start the withdrawal process, which must be concluded within two years unless an extension can be agreed (which requires the consent of all twenty-seven remaining Member States).
  • The future trading relationship between the UK and the EU could take one of a number of different forms; which form it takes will have significant implications in terms of the movement of goods, services, people and capital.
  • The UK will also need to undergo a major legislative project to identify which areas of EU-derived law will stay, which will be modified and which will no longer have effect in the UK.

Each of these processes is likely to involve much consultation with the UK public and industry. Businesses have an important part to play in shaping the environment that they will be trading in, domestically and cross-border.

Employment implications of Brexit for your business

UK employers are unlikely to see any large-scale changes to current employment law in the short-term as a result of the UK leaving the EU.  The UK’s on-going relationship with EU Member States, as well as our own workplace culture, is likely to demand that the UK retains many of the EU-derived laws that have already been incorporated into domestic legislation.

Free movement of workers within the EU

Now we’ve voted to leave the EU, the free movement of workers will certainly be affected. However, changes to legislation are likely to be gradual rather than immediate.

While in theory citizens of EU member states no longer enjoy the automatic right to work in the UK (and vice versa), this will form part of negotiations to establish the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU.

EU nationals already employed in the UK may already have acquired rights under UK legislation, depending on how long they’ve been here. It’s likely that many will be permitted to stay in return for a similar agreement for UK nationals currently employed in EU member states.

For prospective employees, however, it may be a different story. While it will still be possible to employ personnel from EU member states, there may be extra administrative costs to be factored in, such as visa applications. An EU employee’s capacity to remain long-term in the UK may also be affected.

There may also be limitations on the type of workers that will be allowed to seek employment in the UK. If we choose to follow a model more like the US or Australia, visas may only be granted for those in professions identified as having a particular need.

Other employment legislation changes

We also expect some piecemeal reform to specific areas of employment law, such as:

  • Clarification of the rules for calculating holiday pay and how holiday accrues during periods of long term sick leave, under the Working Time Regulations (WTR)1998.
  • There is on-going litigation regarding inconsistencies between the WTR and the EU Working Time Directive (which the WTR implements in the UK), creating wide-spread confusion for UK businesses and potentially significant accrued and on-going liabilities.
  • Whilst the UK government is unlikely to repeal current working time rules, it may well take the opportunity to clarify the rules around holiday pay and provide much needed guidance for employers.
  • Pro-business reform of agency worker rights, given the additional costs and complexities of engaging agency workers since the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which implement the Temporary Agency Work Directive.

Whilst the AWR gives agency workers limited equal treatment rights with comparable permanent employees from day one, following a 12-week period, an agency worker has a right to equal pay, working time and holiday with a comparable permanent employee. The extent of any reforms in this area will depend on the exit terms the government is able to negotiate.

KEY THINGS TO CONSIDER NOW

Understand the profile of your workforce. How many are EU citizens? How long have they lived in the UK? Do any have the right to a British passport that you can support?

If you are in a sector recruiting lots of EU nationals or likely to, consider accelerating any planned recruitment before changes are announced to the process. Much more likely that any existing arrangements will be allowed rather than unpicked.

If you are planning to expand into areas of Europe, familiarise yourself with local employment legislation and understand any opportunities to second staff from UK and vice versa.

If you would like to speak to an experienced employment advisor, please contact 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

Executive Search and Recruitment Agencies – Do you know the difference?

recruitment posterHiring the right people is as significant to the success of a company as the business model and health of the balance sheet.

Recruitment is a highly lucrative unregulated and fast growing industry. It is important therefore for companies to understand the different options available to them, the costs as well as the benefits and any downside of the choices they make.

Some Key Facts

The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) in partnership with Hays Recruitment, conducted a Resourcing and Talent Planning survey in 2015.

Resourcing and talent management in current economy “an employee’s market”

  • Half of CEOs have recruitment & talent management as a priority
  • Three quarters are recruiting key talent/niche areas
  • Growing demand for labour – more than half expecting headcount to increase
  • Skills shortages are escalating – four-fifths feel that competition for talent has increased
  • Lack of specialist or technical skills & lack of sector/industry or general experience were common problems
  • Organisations are increasingly required to be creative in both their search for candidates and the packages they offer

What is the difference between Executive Search and Recruitment Agencies?

The aim of Recruitment Agencies is to fill a position with the best available person. Recruitment agencies source from a pool of candidates that are actively looking for a new challenge by advertising on various platforms. This leads to a group of candidates that are “self-selected” of which the selection was not pre-determined by the company.

The aim of Executive Search consultants is to locate and recruit the best person, regardless of whether he or she is already employed or seeking a new position.

This approach can broaden and deepen the talent pool available to a search firm’s clients and places the control of who should be part of this talent pool, squarely in the hands of the client company.

There may also be the use of specialised psychometric tools, resources and skills to enhance the selection process.

The costs

Executive Search and Recruitment Agencies tend to charge a percentage fee or a retainer.

The percentage fee is based on the starting salary of the candidate and is normally payable once the candidate starts work with you. This form of charging is most common and if you don’t find a suitable candidate, you don’t have to pay the agency anything.

However, fees can vary from 8-25% depending on the agency and the salary. If you choose a retainer fee, it is agreed at the outset; with a percentage being payable upfront and the remainder due when the candidate starts their employment.

What are your recruitment options?

Your network – Many companies use their personal network to find staff and this can be very effective. However it can also lead to skills shortages and complications with personal relationships.

Advertising online – Companies may advertise via online sites such as Linkedin, Indeed, Monster, Fish4jobs etc  This has the benefit of advertising that your company is busy and hiring but can create a lot of administration.

Recruitment Agencies – You won’t have been in business long before the sales calls start.  When choosing an agency, try and get a recommendation and check their credentials. Anyone can set an agency up with no qualifications or experience. If things like diversity and inclusion are important to your company make sure you ask about this.

Executive Search or Headhunters – This is usually used for senior or specialised roles due to the cost. Finding a firm that understands and challenges you is worth a lot. Meeting a few firms and interviewing them can be helpful.

De-constructed recruitment – A key component of recruitment is identifying the passive candidate.  You pay a day rate for experienced researchers to find and speak to candidates for you.  A cheaper option but requires internal co-ordination.

Independent HR company or individual – Many experienced HR professionals have strong recruitment experience. They will often manage the process for you, even if you work with an external recruiter.

Common recruitment mistakes

Organisations in high growth mode often run very inefficient and costly recruitment processes with little thought for the candidate experience even though it is a seller’s market.  Multiple repetitive interviews, waiting until vacancies have been created to start a process and failing to assess candidates thoroughly are typical.

Looking ahead

It is important for companies to understand and cultivate their ability to read market conditions, trends, movement and fluidity in order to develop and manage effective recruitment strategies. Needs changes as companies grow and it is important to regularly review this.

Do get in contact if we can help you with your recruitment or retention issues.

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.

International Women’s Day – 8th March 2016

IWD landscapeYesterday to celebrate International Women’s day I was on an expert panel at an event organised by the Enterprise Network at the stunning Bowood House, Wiltshire.  One hundred and fifty, mostly female, attendees came to celebrate, share and inspire each other.

It’s an important date in our calendar for two reasons – firstly it’s our son’s birthday – he does not expect different things from himself or his younger sister. He has just got into grammar school and expects his sister to do the same. He doesn’t expect to have a better career than her. Or for her not to have one. Neither does she.

Secondly, we must never forget that women have been treated very differently by society; they didn’t have the vote, were sacked when they got married or pregnant, were suppressed, dominated and silenced. However, things are moving on…

Yesterday’s panel was made up of female business owners who were asked what issues they felt women needed to focus on in 2016.

Mine was simple. Just be in business. Stop being a woman in business. Men don’t brand themselves as men, they are just in business. Men don’t call themselves working dads. They are just parents. Let’s do the same.

I know that many women care for their children and run the home as well as running a business. Women are amazing.

I know they often work long into the night to get things done when it is quiet. Respect.

I know that they can be limited by their husband’s job and geographical constraints. But they still create wonderful businesses.

I know they beat themselves up about the fact their children don’t return home to immaculate homes or freshly baked biscuits. I certainly do!

But the thing is being in business isn’t easy whatever your other roles.  Whatever your gender!

I’m lucky in some respects and unlucky in others depending on your point of view.

I work and my husband is the primary carer getting involved with the business when he can.  This gives us flexibility to bring up our children but it doesn’t give us a second income and security to fall back on.  I had my first child at 19 so have always been a working parent. I’ve still enjoyed a great career though I had to make it happen for myself.

I’ve had many senior HR roles and often one inherits or gets asked to lead or set up a Womens focus group. Such initiatives have been around a long time and I have to say, in their current format they just don’t work.  Mainly because the people that attend already care about women in business and the ones that don’t are out there doing business.

Likewise, womens business networking groups are great if you are selling products that only women will want to buy. But less good if you want to expand your market.  Female only environments can frighten or confuse men and aren’t great for equality in the same way ‘Boys Clubs’ exclude women. Female only environments can segregate women further.

Targeted development sessions and 1-2-1 coaching is different and we know that women can still hang back in the way that men don’t.

I’m all for talking working parents, and Shared Parental Leave presents great opportunities for men and women, especially Generation Y to work in a different way. It’s all about choice.

Most of the experts that work for Amelore are working parents and our model of linking them to fast growing businesses, providing flexibility on both sides, is working well.

The key thing in the business world is to ensure we provide opportunities and ways of working that enable everyone to flourish and thrive.

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

Creative people need a creative support team

We have just heard that Chef Benoit Violier, whose Swiss restaurant was named the best in the world in December, has been found dead at his home.

BBC News reports that Mr Violier, 44, ran the Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville in Crissier, near the city of Lausanne.  It earned three Michelin stars and came top in France’s La Liste ranking of the world’s 1,000 best eateries.

Swiss police said Mr Violier, who was born in France, appeared to have shot himself. We can only speculate as to the reasons for Mr Violier apparently taking his own life. It is hard to keep at the top of your game especially in the hospitality industry. Sadly, his death comes some six months after that of Philippe Rochat, his mentor and predecessor at the Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville.

Working with creative people

In our business we have a creative approach to HR and work in a flexible and fluid way with many creative people including chefs.  Often our role is as much about looking after the needs of the creative individual who becomes under increasing strain the more successful their business is, as much as we support the business.

Key stressors for creative leads

  • Excessive working hours.
  • Managing investors and shareholders.
  • Managing demanding staff.
  • Having too many direct reports that are time bandits.
  • Being accountable & responsible for everything.
  • Press, PR, Marketing, HR, Payroll – requiring decisions.
  • Poor work life balance (need to attend events & lack of personal time).
  • Poor diet (yes even chefs) and lack of exercise.
  • Not working in a structured way – giving into the creative side and letting the business side back up.
  • Letting the paperwork get out of control so the paperwork starts to control.
  • Hiring and firing on a whim and getting caught up in Employment Tribunals.

Mistakes that get made

Many creative businesses are often poor at the paperwork side, and when they do realise they need to get more organised often attempt to quickly implement something that is not fit for purpose (way too complicated or generic – more suitable for a very corporate business).

Likewise many businesses will have an Office or Studio Manager or Restaurant Manager attempting to do everything from the website to contracts of employment. It’s very hard to keep control of the situation in this way; and the stress levels!

What works well

We work with businesses in a variety of ways from retained to ad hoc.  In businesses with a strong creative lead we find attending regularly is key so we can pick up what is going on and head off any issues quickly.  Being external helps as does paring back all the paperwork to a core. So everyone understands it and there aren’t long winded staff handbooks that no-one dusts down until there is an ET.

At Amelore we simply don’t do ET’s.  Our approach is one of pragmatisim, commerciality and flexibility.

Give us a call on 01453 548070 or visit our website if you’d like to find out more.

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…….

2016: What is in store for employers?

The National Living Wage

A happy new year for the low paid and not so for business… April 2016 sees the Government’s new National Living Wage enshrined in law. Anyone working and aged 25 or over and not in the first year of an apprenticeship, legally, will be entitled to at least £7.20 per hour. The Government is committed to increasing this annually, so by 2020 it will rise to more than £9 per hour.

If you’re an employer, you’ll need to make sure you’re paying your staff correctly from 1st April 2016, as the National Living Wage will be enforced as strongly as the current National Minimum Wage.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

In 2016 it is likely that we will see new requirements for organisations to report on differences in gender pay. Whilst no organisation intentionally sets out to pay women less than men, the Office for National Statistics reports that top-level gender pay gap is 54.9 per cent. Whilst shadow women and equalities minister Kate Green said the gender pay gap in the UK was nearly 20% more than the European average. Really quite shocking!

In a March 2014 study by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the gender pay gap for all staff in the UK in 2013 was 19.7 per cent, as measured by hourly earnings for all employees.

The gender pay gap varies for different age groups and in 2013, and was lowest for those in the youngest age groups. It then increases up to the 40 to 49 year old age group, before falling in the older age bands.

The gender pay gap across high and low earners also varies. In 2013 the gap was lowest for those in the 10th percentile of earnings. However for those earning the most it has not decreased by as much as the other groups. According to the Guardian (9 November 2015) among Britain’s top earners, the pay divide between men and women is nearly 55%, according to the TUC. The top 2% of male earners bring in more than £117,352 a year, while women get £75,745.

There is much to do to close the gender pay gap and this likely new reporting requirement will require organisations to keep detailed records and invest in or develop strong systems to report on this whilst avoiding an additional administrative burden.

Commission and holiday pay

An answer in the long running saga on whether commission should be included in holiday pay came a step closer recently when the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) heard an appeal in the case Lock v British Gas Trading.

The judgment is expected early in 2016 so watch this space…