People often ask what differences I see between working in the UK and France, particularly as a manager. If there is one thing that is likely to strike terror in to the heart of a French manager or business owner what do you think it would be? Trade unions? Staff demanding their 2 hour lunch break? The actual answer is an “inspecteur du travail”, who is literally a government “workplace inspector”. Under French law, people in these roles have the right to inspect any business, big or small, at any time to ensure that the employer is upholding their legal, employment obligations towards their workers and staff.
Surprisingly most French people actually think this role is a good and important thing, rather than being “government interference”. It helps to ensure staff safety, means that French businesses always have their paperwork in order and apparently contributes to France’s high productivity levels. But it could never happen in the UK could it, especially not after Brexit?!
No – not exactly. However, if you work in a “regulated industry” or supply services to one, you may actually find your employment practises (including your employee related “paperwork”) come under scrutiny. So what do I mean by a “regulated industry” and could it include you? The typical kinds of organisations or activities that would put you in this definition would be some of the following examples (though not an exhaustive list by any means):
- Financial services – particularly product selling and advising.
- Social care – providing any sort of social care, to people young, vulnerable or old.
- Health Care.
- Education – be in for children or adults.
- Housing providers – private sector, public sector or not-for-profit.
- Utilities providers – including telecoms, as well as water, power etc.
- Local government – who may well also provide some of the services outlined above.
When you include organisations and businesses who supply services or goods to the types of organisation listed above, you start to realise what a potentially large number this is.
The people who do the scrutinising or inspecting are likely to come from a regulatory body such Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) or OFWAT, but there are times when other individuals may need or demand to scrutinise your business. For example, should you be unfortunate enough to have a serious workplace accident, then the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will come in and investigate. This will include scrutinising your policies, training records, employee files and more. It can be incredibly scary, especially as you won’t have had time to “get your house in order” beforehand so any gaps in your “paper trail”, that you have been meaning to fill in, won’t have been sorted out. Oops.
As you are probably aware, the penalties that the HSE or other inspection bodies can levy can be punitive, substantial and costly. They can even stop you trading / operating. All potentially because you haven’t been able to produce a particular bit of information or paperwork, or because you haven’t got a policy or process in place.
Sometimes businesses also voluntarily invite people to come and inspect them too. If your business wishes to gain accreditation from Investors in People or to gain an ISO standard then their assessors will need to scrutinise and check that you say you are doing exactly what you claim and what their standards require. Again, this will be a detailed look at your processes, procedures, policies and employee files. If you don’t have the things in place that the standard requires, then no accreditation – and potentially a long wait (and associated cost) until you can attempt to get accredited again. It may even mean that you can’t tender / provide your services to key customers until you get that accreditation.
So, how confident are you that your current HR policies, processes and employee files would stand up to such close scrutiny – be it on a voluntary or regulatory basis? If you aren’t sure, then we strongly recommend that you take action now. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
What does an HR Audit or HR Operational Review involve?
Bringing in external auditors is not anyones favourite pastime however it is accepted as a normal part of business life. Important for shareholders and investors to get reassurance that everything is going well and often Directors get well deserved credit for good governance and Internal controls.
However, what a more in depth internal audit can bring is a sensor check of how compliant and fit for purpose your business is.
Depending on your needs, we can just do a paper review and look at key documentation such as employment contracts, employee data and staff handbooks. Or we can also meet key staff and check understanding and needs spotting early problems emerging and flagging them. We can also assess the fit of key staff in key roles if you would like us to.
We then produce a report with recommendations for you to set and implement your own priorities. Our work with you may include further reviews to check on progress.
HR Audits give you the heads up on what you could and should be thinking about in your business.
At Amelore we offer a tailored service to help you to get your business in shape and to make sure you are ready for whatever tomorrow may throw at you. Why not contact us to find out more about our HR audit service or our HR bootcamp?