Advice for employers in dispute

It can be an awful shock. One minute everything is ticking over quite nicely and the next minute you get an employee going off sick with work related stress and/or a grievance or a letter of resignation. You had not seen it coming and feel both worried and upset. Then the employee lets it be known that they have taken advice and have made lots of notes. This makes it all feel much worse.

BUT HOLD TIGHT!

The important things to remember are as follows:

  1. Stay calm and stay in contact with your employee. Most issues can be resolved by speaking face to face. But listening is the most important thing here – even if you don’t agree. Do make a note of the meeting.
  2. If an employee is off sick with stress agree how you can communicate with them whilst they are off. Directly or via someone else. Obtain their permission for you to do this. Find out if anything is worrying them that you can investigate further. Understand that they may need extra support and understanding and can’t control how they are feeling.
  3. If you have a grievance or a letter of resignation try and meet them face to face. As soon as possible but not when you feel angry or upset. Be mindful that both documents are official records and if there is any claim or allegation in there you need to take it seriously and respond. Even if they verbally retract it. Get anything in writing as that is what will be relevant in a Tribunal situation.

The types of issues we have seen include:

  • A link with health problems or experiencing work-related stress
  • Allegations of bullying or harassment
  • Allegations of unfair treatment or discrimination
  • A feeling that they aren’t valued
  • A feeling that they have no future
  • A suggestion that things are not as they seem internally
  1. Take care to keep the matter as confidential as possible. No matter how outraged you are don’t share this unnecessarily as that can cause more issues. You can’t control what others say. You also have an obligation legally to keep the matter confidential. This includes sharing it with ex employees and anyone that does not have a clear managerial or professional interest.
  2. Be wary of venting your frustrations on email as your employee could make a Subject Access Request (SAR’s) and see everything you have written. If you want to vent do so verbally and to someone that is in the loop formally.
  3. It’s important not to take your employees action as a personal betrayal. Yes they may have worked with you for a long time but no matter how close you are, you are still their employer and that brings legal and statutory obligations to your door.
  4. Make notes of all conversations and acknowledge the resignation and/or the grievance. Follow your sickness policy if someone is off with stress and consider involving Occupational Health.
  5. Seek professional advice as necessary. This could include an HR Consultant, Employment lawyer, Occupational or Wellbeing practitioner.
  6. Do not ignore how you are feeling. Is this too much on top of everything else you are dealing with? Or can you cope with some self care and support.

For more information and advice please contact ruthcornish@amelore.com

Let’s all relax…

The Mitchell Method of Relaxation

Relaxation is a skill and, like any other skill, benefits from practice.

The relaxation procedure we detail below is one that has been practised for 10-15 years. It is called the ‘Mitchell Method’. Studies have shown that it is extremely effective. The method is commonly used by the NHS in the UK.

Advise your team that you are going to talk them through the Mitchell Method of relaxation and that you would like them to follow what you say in order to practice the technique.

Ask them to get in a comfortable position; this could be lying on the floor, leaning forward onto a desk, or sitting back in their chair. It really is not important as long as they feel comfortable.

When all are in a comfortable position, you will talk them through the following script. Do not alter the words as they are designed specifically to aid relaxation.

The Script:

  1. Arms

Shoulders Pull your shoulders down towards your feet. STOP pulling your shoulders down. Feel that your shoulders are now lower and your neck feels longer.

Elbows Push your elbows slightly away from your side. STOP pushing your elbows out. Be aware that your elbows are open and slightly away from your side.

Hands Stretch out your hands, fingers and thumbs. STOP stretching them out.

Observe your hands, fingers and thumbs fully supported. Feel the surface they are resting on.

  1. Legs

Hips Roll your hips and knees outwards. STOP rolling outwards. Be aware that your legs are slightly apart and turned outwards.

Knees Adjust until comfortable. STOP adjusting. Reflect on the resulting position.

Feet Gently push your feet down, away from your face. STOP pushing them down. Feel your feet hanging loosely from the ankle joints.

  1. Body Press your body into the support. STOP pressing. Consider the sensation of your body resting against the support.
  1. Head Press your head into the pillow. STOP pressing. Feel your heavy head nestling comfortably in the hollow you have made in the pillow.
  1. Face

Jaw Keeping your lips closed, pull down your lower jaw. STOP pulling down.

Feel that your teeth are no longer touching and that the jaw-line is easy.

Tongue Move your tongue low in your mouth. STOP moving. Register that your tongue is lying in the middle of your mouth.

Eyes Close your eyes, if you wish to, or state instead.

Forehead Imagine someone smoothing away from your frown lines from the eyebrows up over the top and the back of your head. STOP doing this. Feel the smoothing of the skin.

  1. Breathing Sigh out. Breathe low down in your chest at your own natural resting breathing rate, with slight emphasis on the out breath

Ending the relaxation

To bring this relaxation session to an end – gradually become aware of the room – feel the floor/chair underneath you – open your eyes – give your limbs a few gentle stretches – have the feeling that you are alert and ready to carry on with your life.

If you would like some training on stress management or to discuss how you can incorporate wellbeing into your People Strategy do get in contact with us.

Bereavement: beyond the legislation

As many of you will be aware, it has recently been reported that parents will become entitled to two weeks of paid bereavement leave if they lose a child. This new law will be effective from April 2020. It will be called ‘Jack’s Law’ in memory of Jack Herd whose mother has been campaigning for reform since her 23-month-old son drowned in 2010. Lucy Herd, Jack’s mother, has commented that she is proud to have achieved this in Jack’s memory and hopes this will help future families.

Whilst this new law on bereavement is a welcome step in the right direction, many employers will want to consider their approach more holistically. The death of a child is one of the most tragic life experiences and therefore an employee is likely to need significant support in order to return to work successfully after such a life changing event.

In our experience, many employers are very sympathetic towards employees losing loved ones – offering them the time and financial support they need to return to work successfully. We encounter many firms that are already going beyond the statutory minimum offering. Two approaches organisations can take is firstly provide time off and secondly support the individual at work itself through, for example, an employee assistance programme which provides access to counselling.

It is becoming increasingly common for organisations to adopt well-being frameworks and approaches which provide employees with channels of support. This support can include provisions for those suffering from poor mental health at different points in their life to help prevent feelings of isolation. Companies without a defined well-being approach should make this a priority of any people strategy.

Earlier this year the Mayor of London and Peter Cheese, Head of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, launched ‘London’s Good Work Standard’ which provides a framework of good work guiding principles. One of those is dedicated to workplace well-being and outlines that employers need to go beyond the legislation and create a channel for workforce dialogue as well as fostering a positive culture around work-life balance; offering flexible working for all and encouraging senior managers to model that behaviour.

People strategy is no longer the playing ground of just big companies and corporates, smaller organisations are also now concerned in understanding and supporting their workforces more fully in order to attract and retain talented employees. If your business is small, growing, and concerned about the well-being of its employees a conversation around your people strategy should be on your agenda as well.

If you would like to discuss how well-being becomes or remains a priority for your business, please contact ruthcornish@amelore.com for a discussion on how this could be incorporated into your business’ people strategy.

Death in Service Checklist

A death at work is as rare as it is shocking. In this article we detail a short checklist to enable you to cover all bases at a time of considerable stress for you and your organisation.

Here are ten steps to follow if an employee dies at work.

  1. Call 999 and notify the HSE, ASAP. https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/reportable-incidents.htm There is never ever a reason to wait to inform the authorities and doing so will only cause problems.
  2. Immediately thereafter, notify the employee’s emergency contact person, preferably in person. This news should not be delivered over the phone if at all possible. If you must deliver the news via a phone call, arrange for a company representative to meet the family, likely at the hospital. Alternatively the police will do this in your behalf and they are trained to do so.
  3. Notify Directors, key stakeholders and other employees with a need to know what happened. If you work in the public sector you will also be required to complete a SitRep (situation report) so ensure you follow the correct procedure.
  4. Notify your remaining employees of the fact of the death and let them know that further details will follow. Identify if anyone is significantly destressed and send them home or provide additional support. Take care not to share details unnecessarily.
  5. Follow your internal procedures for contact with the media. If you do not have any such internal procedures, or if you are not comfortable with anyone in your organization facing the media, engage a public relations firm, as soon as possible. You will need someone to say something. “No comment” is not a good statement under these circumstances; it will look like you’re hiding something or don’t care.
  6. Show extreme sensitivity to the family of the deceased. Who do they want to be their contact person? Who will disseminate funeral arrangements and how? What are the family’s wishes regarding flowers, donations, calling, visitations, and other contact? How and when does the family want to handle necessary employment issues (final pay and holiday inc bonus, pension, company car, death in service benefits, access to Employee Assistance if relevant etc)
  7. Designate one suitable internal person as the main contact who is briefed to communicate information to employees, and for employees to ask any questions. Take care to appoint someone that you judge can handle doing this as not everyone could no matter how senior. Unless the family directs otherwise, instruct employees not to contact the family.
  8. Arrange for counselling or other mental-health services for those employees who witnessed any accident, or are otherwise impacted.
  9. Don’t forget yourself. Are you OK? Who is supporting you? Have you eaten or contacted home. What do you need?
  10. Once the initial actions have been taken it is important that someone leads a debrief for all that are involved. This may be a week or two later. Think about what the company can do with regard to the funeral (sending flowers etc) and how to pack up belongings and get them to the family. The company may also consider making a corporate donation (with the families permission) to a suitable charity in memory of the employee.

And finally

If the death at work was in any way suspicious the police will investigate as will the HSE.  However you may also wish to lead your own investigation and appoint someone independent – either internally or externally to enable you as an organisation to reflect and learn at a later date.

If you would like any help or support do get in contact with us.

www.amelore.com

CHRISTMAS TIPS from the AMELORE HR HELPDESK

CHRISTMAS TIPS from the

AMELORE HR HELPDESK

At this time of year our helpdesk always gets busier. Here are some tips taken from all the queries we have answered in December for the past 3 years.

H – Holiday rules. We get lots of questions about this. The main issues are Annual leave entitlements, Employees fighting over holiday dates and Holiday approval disputes. All much more easily resolved if you have a clear policy and HR system in place to manage it. Harassment claims do rear their heads around now and are to be treated seriously.

A – Arguments just seem to increase about now. Do try and resolve informally and listen to both parties. A is also for Adults and that is generally how we want people to behave; but if you feel further investigation is needed, do one. Alcohol is something that needs managing especially if you are offering it to your staff. Provide alternatives as well and food to soak it up.

P – Pregnancy is wonderful! It leads to the creation of little humans and is to be celebrated regardless of gender. Take a festive look at your parental policies.  P is also for Promotion. Remember that a talented employee remains talented regardless of any assumption you might make about their ambitions because they are about to become a parent.

P – PARTY TIME!  Christmas party for the office can be lots of fun but also might cause a few problems; also, from the effects of attending too many! Decide what your approach is going to be by the culture you want to create.

Y – Young People under 25 are often in need of a bit more guidance at this time of year.  Unplanned absence is often a problem. Help them understand what is OK and what they must avoid.

C – Coughs and colds are rife. There are a lot of germs around at this time of year so manage absence according to any policy you have but remember no-one can prevent the lurgy. Having the goodwill of your staff is everything but so is being fair and consistent.

H – Home is a good place to be and fine for staff to be based there or work remotely. Think about whether this could become more of a thing for you in 2020. In a positive way rather than putting energy into stopping it.

R – Reward time for all that hard work. It’s the season of good will so thank whoever has helped you. Don’t forget the contractors and consultants. Everyone is a worker in your business. Resolutions to make changes at work often happen about now. Make sure you go one step further and get a plan in place.

I – Icy outside so take care and make sure avoid anyone having an accident on your premises. However, don’t stray into giving staff too much advice about how to handle ice and snow.  Other than to enjoy it! Decide what your position is if there is a snow day before you have a snow day! I is also for Image.

S –  Self-care is king. If you feel someone is frazzled or stressed and hasn’t booked holiday or isn’t looking after themselves intervene! Great companies help their staff. S is also for Stay interviews. The opposite of Exit Interviews. Do these for the people you want to keep whilst you still have them. Shutting the door after the horse is bolted is not where you want to be. To be called in and told you are part of the future is powerful.

T – Tribunals are actually quite rare. Don’t overreact if someone mentions one. It’s to trigger you into offering a settlement often. Just take good advice from a professional that doesn’t benefit from going to an ET, follow a process, know your rights and obligations.

M – Mince pies are delicious. However every day from now until Christmas Eve might just be making your workforce feel slow sluggish. Get the Satsumas in!

A – Ameliorate –meaning ‘to better or improve’ your performance review process. Lots of tech solutions out there but often un-needed. Just think about how you can have regular supportive conversations with your teams. That are two way.

S – SAR’s requests. Sorry but they spring up like mushrooms at this time of year. Often deliberately timed to run over the Christmas period. Don’t panic – you can ask for an extension but also, we really like this company who can help the process. It’s the redaction and GDPR that take time.  www.contentcaptureservices.co.uk S is also for Single. Remember that some staff struggle at this time of year which is very geared towards couple and families.

If you would like to find out more about subscribing to the Amelore HR Helpdesk for unlimited access to HR support, please email us at  office@amelore.com

 

 

 

 

What are the unwritten rules at work?

When you start a new job, you may feel a warm, welcoming vibe as you’re introduced to your colleagues via a company-wide email and taken out to lunch by your boss.

In these early days, you’ll get information on how to file your expense report, order your business cards or how to claim expenses.  You’ll learn what the ‘official’ rules of the workplace are, what policies must be complied with, and what is expected of you in the role you were hired for. Along with an explanation of the company’s values, goals, and mission, your induction may include information on cool company perks such as being able to bring your dog to work.

There’s another category of new workplace rules though that’s not written down anywhere. Not only do they govern the way things actually get done, regardless of anything else you may have heard, but they also define the culture of the organization. “They pick up,” writes Frances Frei and Anne Morris in Harvard Business Review “where the employee handbook leaves off.”

“Culture,” Frei and Morris explain, “Tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is, of course, most of the time.” Though they aren’t documented, they are certainly observable in the workplace. And in the immortal words of Yogi Berra – “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

Here are six things you should observe about the rules you won’t find in your employee handbook.

  1. What flexi time really means:

You love the idea of flexi time and why shouldn’t you? You took the job, in part, because you liked the idea of calling the shots about when you log on and what time you get to the office. Perfect, you thought, as you signed on the dotted line: No more fretting that your boss is timing how long your dentist appointment has you away from your desk.

But, take note. Does your workplace really embrace the flexible arrangement it boasts? Or does it seem like most of your colleagues are at their desks by 8 AM and rarely out the door before 6 PM? Does anyone ever leave midday for a gym class, to go to the chemist, or even to squeeze in a haircut—or are those suspiciously comfy office chairs occupied all day long?

Understanding the reality of the workday and what’s expected of you—no matter what the hiring manager told you in the interview—will keep you from tripping up and help you schedule your extracurricular activities accordingly.

  1. When the work-day actually ends:

Sophie, a woman I worked with, started her second post-university job with huge enthusiasm, a pay raise, and a sparkling brand on her CV. Then she quickly realized she had a problem that was totally going to cramp her happy hour style: No one left the office until the boss did. And the boss didn’t leave until 8 PM.

Being the first to depart in a situation like that can be stressful. If you came in early, it’s likely that no one saw you arrive. If you leave early, everybody knows it. Regardless of how productive your day was, if you regularly jet hours before the majority of your co-workers, you may get inaccurately labelled as lazy or lacking drive and ambition.

The most important thing, of course, is that you get your work done, and that your boss knows you got it done. If the pressure to stay late never lets up, or if your performance is deemed lacking as a result, this might not be the right culture for you.

  1. The open -door policy:

You may find a peach of a company that will tell you the CEO’s door is always open! Come and share your best ideas! We want to hear from you!

The reality may be quite different. You see, it turns out that your manager does not love the idea of you marching into the executive suite and spilling all your brilliance.

Moreover, as lovely as an open-door idea is, it may not always be practical. The CEO may never be around or may rarely have a minute of time to spend with you, or any employee for that matter.

If your company says it has this policy, watch to see if anyone actually uses it (and what happens when they do). Best to be informed before you invite yourself in to share your big ideas with the head honcho.

  1. When you’re expected to respond to email:

Your manager loves to fire off detailed project emails late at night. No need to respond she says, she just needs to get it off of her mind. But the next day, when you notice that your colleagues are talking about the email exchange that happened while you were fast asleep, you feel out of the loop and uninformed.

Knowing when, and how, you’re expected to participate is important. So take a cue from your colleagues. Even if you’re not inclined to change your bedtime just so you can respond within minutes of your supervisor’s message, you can take a look in the morning and get yourself up to speed with anything you may have missed overnight.

  1. How to dress:

You wore your finest interview attire when you were called in to meet with the hiring manager and your future team members, but do you need to replicate that look on a daily basis?

As you walk through your new workplace, note whether your co-workers are dressed in jeans and flip-flops or business-casual attire. Depending on your role, you may be able to rock the T-shirt and trainers—or you might not. But no matter what, remember that your attire plays a role in how confident, creative, and competent you feel. And it certainly plays a part in how you’re perceived by the group as a whole, so dress accordingly.

Oh, and be sure to check out how the team handles tattoos and piercings. Some organisations or managers will be more open to these accessories than others. Observe what your department is doing, and follow suit.

  1. When to take holiday and for how long:

It’s been well documented that Millennials don’t want to be chained to the workplace. But every company defines the concept of work-life balance a bit differently. The stated Annual leave policy will tell you how much time you get to take off. The culture will tell you whether or not people actually pay attention to that policy.

Are you seeing lots of leave days booked and taken by others? Or are the office absences few and far between? Even in companies that offer unlimited holidays, employees may be reluctant to take much time off. Observing the behaviour in your organisation will give you a sense of what the actual Holiday policy really looks like, and how much freedom you’ll have for all the adventure travel you’ve been saving up for.

The bottom line is that no matter what you receive in your induction materials, so much of what you need to know in your new job isn’t going to be found on paper. By utilizing the powers of observation, you can get up to speed quickly. And so that you don’t commit any office faux pas—or worse, put your work ethic in question—you’d do well to figure out the unwritten rules as soon as you’ve memorized where the coffee cups are kept.

 

5 Typical Mistakes in Employment Contracts

  1. Protection of connections and information

It is astonishing how few of the contracts that we are asked to review, provide adequate protection once an employee has left employment.

Confidentiality clauses are a must in nearly all contracts, but are often missed or poorly drafted.

Well drafted post-employment restrictions preventing the poaching of customers or employees can be enforceable and should be put in place for key employees and sales staff.

Restrictions should be periodically reviewed to ensure they are likely to be enforceable and, as a rough rule of thumb, they should definitely be checked if they:

  • · last for more than 9 months after termination;
  • · don’t have a geographical limit;
  • · aren’t offset against a period of garden leave;
  • · aren’t limited to only protecting the contacts and activities that the employee has been

involved with in the last 12 months of employment.

  1. Contracts working against the employer

A number of insurance backed Legal and HR service providers insist that their clients have contractual disciplinary procedures.

This leaves the employer bound to follow that process for every disciplinary issue and any failure could result in a breach of contract claim, regardless of the employee’s length of service.

Contractual policies may be great for ensuring that claims are never brought against your Legal or HR provider’s insurance, but may not give you the flexibility you need to run your business.

  1. Signed, sealed and delivered

Do your contracts need to be signed as a deed, if so, do you know what is required? Are any new contracts issued to your existing employees enforceable even if signed?

If you want certain protections in your employment contract, often relating to intellectual property or directorships, then how the contract is signed is crucial. Often contracts incorrectly specify that they merely need to be signed, but this could render sections unenforceable.

A mere signature of a new employment contract by an existing employee, without any additional benefit, could also render any post-termination restrictions unenforceable.

  1. Benefits, bonuses and commission failures

Does your contract actually reflect the benefits, bonuses and commission you offer? Does it give you sufficient flexibility to vary those benefits in future?

We often find that contracts fail to deal with fundamental questions, such as:

  • · Do you have flexibility to change the terms of a benefit or commission scheme?
  • · If you discover misconduct, are you able to clawback any bonuses paid?
  • · Do the benefits offered impact on the calculation of holiday pay?
  1. Contracts for board directors

Do you have service agreements for your company directors? If not, you probably should.

These are the individuals who have overall responsibility for the running of the company and have specific legal obligations. You need to ensure that all of their obligations are documented and that the relationship between their employment and their statutory role is stated.

Time for a review?

Please call us if we can help you further.

 

www.amelore.com

Executive Search, Recruitment Agencies, In-house – what is right for your business?

Hiring 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 findings of the latest Labour Market Outlook from the CIPD and the Adecco Group demonstrate how important this is. They surveyed 2,182 employers on their recruitment, redundancy and pay intentions for the second quarter of 2019. 

Pay outlook– pay growth largely limited to key staff and new starters

  • Despite rising recruitment and retention pressures, median basic pay expectations in the 12 months to March 2020 remain at 2%. However, pay expectations have fallen back in the private sector from 2.5% to 2% and have risen in the public sector from 1% to 1.5%. 
     
  • Inflation is continuing to put upward pressure on pay for some organisations. Recruitment and retention difficulties are also a key factor in driving pay decisions, affecting new starters and key staff in particular. More than half of employers (53%) said they have increased starting salaries for at least a minority of vacancies and one in four (28%) have increased salaries for the majority of vacancies in response to recruitment pressures.  
     
  • In addition to hiring challenges, a third of employers (33%) said that it has become harder to retain staff in the last 12 months, particularly in the public sector (42%). In response, over half (54%) of organisations have increased salaries in some capacity and one in four organisations (25%) have increased salaries for key staff only. 

Skills shortages– employers are having to be more flexible to find candidates 

Skills shortages are particularly being seen in professional occupations (e.g. scientists, engineers) where 50% of employers report that applicants don’t have the required level of skills needed. 

The Labour Market Outlook found that:

• Two in five employers (43%) are upskilling existing staff to offset hard to fill vacancies 

• 23% are hiring more apprentices 

• 19% are recruiting from outside the UK

• 1 in 7 (16%) are lowering their recruitment standards 
 

In line with recent ONS data*, the report also found that employers were making greater efforts to hire those aged over 55 (8%) and those from disadvantaged groups (6%). 

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 pyschometric 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 on line– Companies may advertise via online sites such as Linkedin, Indeed, Monster, Fish4jobs and even Facebook.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 can also manage the whole 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.

Ruth Cornish (FCIPD) is the Managing Director of Amelore an HR consultancy. Amelore provide exclusive HR and OD services to high growth and ambitious companies.

www.amelore.com

5 things every manager (of people) should know

Being a manager can be both a tough and a highly rewarding job. Often the result of a promotion coming after hard work. Or a brand new role in a new organisation.  But rarely does the status of manager come with a tight brief and any training. Most managers learn the hard way about what is expected of them and for many their main source of development is how they have been managed; well or badly.

If every manager understood the following 5 things clearly their chances of being successful and effective would significantly improve which in turn would have a powerful knock on effect across the company.

What their purpose is

When we audit companies we often ask the CEO and other senior people, what the purpose of different roles are. We also ask the individual doing that role. Often the definitions don’t match. Sometimes it sounds like two different jobs to us. If you do nothing else, make sure you can articulate the purpose of the manager’s role.

Often explanations talk about production, technical expertise, sales targets, quality but rarely do they talk about responsibilities for the people being managed. It can be seen as Business as Usual – ie in addition to other expectations on the manager meaning it will be a low priority. Which will impact on the whole culture of the organisation and not in a positive way.

What they can and can’t do

This might seem obvious but it rarely is.  We are talking about whether they can hire and fire, what their budget is, whether they can arrange training and promote people. Are they free to discipline their staff or must this be culturally approved? What isn’t written on the job description or needs to be explained?

What vicarious liability is and how it might impact on them

Vicarious liability refers to a situation where someone is held responsible for the actions or omissions of another person. In a workplace context, an employer can be liable for the acts or omissions of its employees, provided it can be shown that they took place in the course of their employment.

Many employers are unaware that they can be liable for a range of actions committed by their employees in the course of their employment – these can include bullying and harassment, violent or discriminatory acts or even libel and breach of copyright. It’s also possible to take action against an employer for the behaviour of third parties, such as clients and customers, provided these parties are deemed to be under the control of the employer.

The key question of any case of vicarious liability is whether the employee was acting in a personal capacity, or in the course of their employment. This can often be difficult to determine. Nor does an employer’s liability end once the employee leaves the organisation – as the law stands, action can still be taken against an employer even though the person in question no longer works for them.

What their H&S responsibilities are

Under the law employers are responsible for health and safety management. For every employee this responsibility lies with their manager. Even if there is a H&S Advisor. It is the managers that have the responsibility on a day to day basis because it is the employer’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business.

This means making sure that workers and others are protected from anything that may cause harm, effectively controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace which includes managing and monitoring stress. Also managing sickness absence and understanding when an employee may need to be offered reasonable adjustments if they have a special need or a disability, and it might help them remain at work.

Employers also have duties under health and safety law to assess risks in the workplace. Risk assessments should be carried out that address all risks that might cause harm in your workplace.

What the unwritten rules are

Often the unwritten rules or internal ways of working are the biggest keys to success or failure. Knowing them is a start. Often politics is a key part of this. Who to know, be connected with. Who to avoid upsetting. How the organisation deals with conflict and disagreements. How the culture dictates the ways of working for the organisation.

We get involved in situations where managers haven’t worked out and often failing to understand and comply with unwritten rules (obvious to everyone apart from the manager) is sited. Imagine being told it was all over for failing to comply with rules that no-one told them about.

Often a solution to tackling any of these issues that you recognise can be signing up to an HR audit and a bespoke management training programme. So that you know your managers are being supported but also that what they are being taught and guided on is appropriate and on brand for your company.  This can be in conjunction with senior leaders and any internal HR function.

The good news is Amelore offer this service so do get in touch if we can help and advise you further.

GDPR AND IMMIGRATION PROCESSES

Most employers will be aware of the upcoming introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. But how can they be sure the way they collect and store information for immigration purposes will be compliant? Amelore look at the key risk areas.

GDPR

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) presents a huge challenge for employers in many data processing scenarios.

Not surprisingly, immigration processes necessitate the collection and processing of considerable personal data by an employer and, in many situations, one or more third parties such as legal advisers.

And with the deadline (25 May 2018) fast approaching, there is a chance that certain types of personal data processing will not be captured in your thinking, and will therefore create a risk of a breach.

For many employers, immigration is a niche activity that changes constantly and is therefore difficult to fully understand and account for with internal policies and processes.

However, given the sensitive nature of data collected and processed, and the multiple parties often involved in this, now is the time to look at key immigration activities and ensure that they are GDPR compliant.

Here are a few scenarios that illustrate the wide range of immigration data points to be accounted for in preparing for GDPR.

Right to work checks

Employers must conduct right to work checks on any new employee, ideally before they start working for you so you only employ people with the ‘right to work in the UK’.  Employers should take copies of any original documentation they see and copy, sign and date the document copy which should then be securely stored.

While it is easy to assume that this is covered by a “legal obligation” that is not actually the case.

A right to work check is done to establish a statutory excuse against a civil penalty – that is, to avoid a fine should an employee be found to be working illegally. It is not strictly speaking a legal requirement to perform a right to work check and there are no penalties for failing to perform a right to work check where the employee is working legally. However, employers that do not carry out right to work checks will not have a statutory excuse.

Therefore, the retention and processing of data relating to immigration status would be categorised under “legitimate interests” and this processing should be covered in a privacy notice.

Resident labour market test

The resident labour market test (RLMT) is conducted as part of a Tier 2 General (new hire work permit) application to justify the recruitment of a non-UK/EU individual, ahead of a UK/EU individual.

The employer generally needs to place two adverts on two websites for 28 days each, and then assess applications against the skills, education and experience described in the advert.

If there are no suitably qualified candidates from the UK/EU, then a non-UK/EU individual can be offered the role and be sponsored under Tier 2 General.

Documentation, including job applications, CVs and interview notes need to be retained for up to seven years in the event that the Home Office conducts a compliance audit.

Now imagine you were one of the candidates who applied for that role. You were interviewed for the job but ultimately were unsuccessful. It would be reasonable to expect that your details would be retained for a reasonable period, for example six months, to allow the employer to defend any challenges arising from the appointment.

However, most candidates would be surprised to learn that their personal information would be stored for up to seven years and shared with legal advisers and the Home Office as part of the immigration process for the successful candidate.

While employers may be able to argue that retaining the information is a legal obligation, the Home Office document that describes document retention is not technically part of the immigration rules. Rather, it is a policy document and therefore it may be open to interpretation whether it is a legal obligation or not.

As such, employers may instead have to rely upon “legitimate interests” as the appropriate legal basis to retain such information. This of course requires a proper assessment to ensure those interests are not outweighed by risk of prejudice to individuals.

What steps do employers need to take to ensure that their RLMT processes are GDPR-compliant?

  1. Ensure your privacy notice for recruitment purposes makes clear the possibility of personal data being processed and retained for the purpose of immigration requirements, specifically the RLMT for Tier 2 General, including the sharing of that data with legal advisers and the Home Office, and the length of time data may be stored.
  2. Minimise personal data where possible. The personal data that must be retained on file, as per the relevant Home Office policy document, relates only to applications shortlisted for final interview – rather than all candidates who responded to the advert. Likewise, do not ask for personal data that is not strictly required at this stage of the process, for example, copies of passports, immigration documents and evidence of qualifications and experience.
  3. Redact and anonymise personal data. A further way to minimise the personal data you hold is to redact information that is not relevant to the information you need to retain, such as contact details, interests and hobbies.

Immigration enquiries and opinions

Throughout the course of employment an employee can expect that their employer may need to consult with legal advisers and other professional advisors on a range of matters, including immigration, and in doing so may need to share personal data.

This should of course be covered in the section within the privacy notice dealing with disclosures to third parties.

However, what if as part of these enquiries it is necessary to transfer data outside the European Economic Area (EEA)? For example, where the organisation is looking to transfer an employee to the US and would like a US-based immigration lawyer to assess eligibility.

Transfers of personal data outside the EEA need to be addressed within privacy notices. Also, any such transfers of personal data should only take place where steps are taken to ensure adequate protection for that personal data in the recipient country (this is also the existing position under the Data Protection Act 1998).

With just over a month to go until GDPR goes live, now is the time to understand the data points in your immigration processes and ensure they are GDPR compliant.