Data, data everywhere – but what data should I do something about?

Data, particularly “big data”, seems to be constantly in the headlines – whether it be because data has been lost (the TalkTalk hacking incident) or because it’s being used for something that’s perceived to be intrusive (adjusting insurance premiums or the monitoring of emails by the NSA).  For some people and organisations data is a fundamental part of what they do, but for the rest of us – should we be taking more notice of our data?  Are we missing a trick?

Depending on what type of organisation you currently work for, then you may find that you are already required to report on and publish some key data.  If you work in an organisation that is classed as a “public body” under the Equalities Act 2010   definition (for example the BBC, a local Council or the Police) then you already need to publish data about your workforce.  Specifically data that relates to how your workforce is made up relating to “protected characteristics” and other equality data – for example the percentage of your workforce who are disabled, the age profile of your workforce and the gender split. If you work in local or central government then you already have to publish data about the remuneration of your senior / executive managers.

Even if there is no statutory requirement for you to report and publish the sort of employee data highlighted above, could you find this information useful?  Certainly if you do any form of workforce planning for your business then you probably already look at and use key employee data such as salaries, length of service, duration that people have been in role, employment status (temporary or permanent) and key skills / competencies.  If you don’t currently do any workforce planning, should you think about doing some to help your business to be ready for the future? (hint – we recommend you do!)

If you are struggling to recruit to a certain role then looking at the data could help you come up with a solution. Filling some roles takes more than an advert on your website and Totaljobs etc…..  Looking at your recruitment and candidate data may help you to tap in to a new pool of potential candidates who you’ve previously overlooked or help to identify a different, more effective recruitment channel.

Even if you don’t want to go on a data journey yet, you will find that going forward more and more businesses are going to have to start reporting on and publishing key employee data.  Hopefully you are aware of the gender pay reporting requirements (The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017) that are due to come in to force some time in 2017?  If you employ more than 250 staff, then these regulations will apply to you so you need to start preparing now.

There are also discussions about whether businesses need to do more to be transparent about what they pay their senior staff (eg. Directors and Chief Executives).  After all, the public sector already has to report on what they pay their senior staff.  The government has just issued a “Green Paper” to consult on whether businesses must report on the pay of their most senior staff compared to the pay of their average employee. The consultation is open until 17 February 2017 if you want to contribute.  Should the consultation end up being translated in to new legislation, then you’ll need to get to grips on your data again – so watch this space.

If you’re struggling to get to grips on your employee data then we can help…Consider having an audit of your organisation’s HR systems and procedures which can examine what data you hold and why and provide you with an overview of your obligations and how compliant you are.

Equally commissioning a gender pay audit to enable you to address any issues before the data becomes public could be helpful.

www.amelore.com

Christmas. It’s the time of year when…

This is the ultimate advice checklist for how HR should deal with Christmas issues…
1. Employees sometimes do stupid stuff. At Christmas time and otherwise. It’s a fact of life.
2. Just deal with it.
3. Resist the urge to worry too much about vicarious liability, discrimination and constructive dismissal. Although it is probably a good idea not to put any mistletoe up in the office.
4. Resist the urge to write any sort of policy.
5. Resist the urge to put any sort of disclaimer about behaviour in any Christmas party related literature. If someone wants to punch Bob from Accounts on the dance floor after 12 pints of beer then they will do it anyway. See points 1 and 2.
6. Resist the urge to write special rules about absence from work after social events. See point 2.
7. Apply Christmas common sense.
8. Avoid sprouts in an office environment at all times. This is especially important in small or poorly ventilated offices.
9. Never, ever, buy Secret Santa presents from Ann Summers.
10. Put a tree up; Eat some Quality Street; Wear a Christmas jumper; and remember to enjoy yourself.

Fit for business? How about an audit?

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?

www.amelore.com

The impact of the Uber case and other recent employment law changes.

 

You may not normally pay a lot of attention to the world of employment law – after all that’s what HR professionals are for – but you may well have noticed the recent case about Uber in the media. So what does the recent case ruling mean for you and your business?

Put simply the Uber case was about whether the taxi drivers working via the Uber app are self-employed or actually work for Uber, so are classed as “workers”. Why does it matter?  Being a “worker” gives you a number of rights and protections under current UK employment law that you don’t get if you are self-employed.  Being a worker is a big advantage for the people driving for Uber as it now means that they are entitled to earn at least the National Living Wage (if they are aged 25 years +) or National Minimum Wage (if they are under 25), as well as being entitled to paid holiday and other benefits.  Up until now many Uber drivers had complained that they weren’t earning even the National Minimum Wage and were being treated as “slave labour”.  This is now set to change, pending an Appeal of the case by Uber.

A lot of businesses use self-employed people, be they consultants, skilled tradesman or technical experts.  This is particularly true of small businesses and new “start-ups” who don’t necessarily have the budget or need for staff all of the time.  However, neither you as a business owner, nor an individual, can just decide that you want someone to be self-employed – they have to meet certain criteria or conditions, which can be complex to interpret.    If you get it wrong, both the business and the individual are liable for some hefty penalties from HMRC. You can find more information about this here  but we also recommend that you get some appropriate professional advice on this if you are in any doubt – we can assist with this.

October is one of the two months when changes to employment law currently happen. This October (2016) has seen a few changes that, depending on the nature and size of your business, you may need to take action on. The main changes are:

  • Increase in the National Minimum Wage rates – effects all businesses and sectors

Effective from 1 October 2016 there has been an increase in all levels of the National Minimum Wage that you must pay to any workers or employees.  The new rates are:

Age 21 up to 25                      £6.95 per hour  (+ 25p)
Age 18 up to 21                      £5.55 per hour (+ 25p)
Under 18s                               £4.00 per hour (+17p)
Apprentices                            £3.40 per hour (+10p)

Workers / employees aged 25 years + are entitled to the National Living Wage which is currently £7.20 per hour and has not changed.

  • Modern Slavery statements – effects any business supplying goods and / or services with a turnover of £36m + per annum

The Modern Slavery Act was implemented earlier this year, and it’s first deadline for businesses to take action has just passed.  If you are a business  whose turnover is £35m + and whose financial year ended between 31 March and 30 April 2016, then your business should have published a “modern slavery statement”, signed by a Director, on your company website or have one prepared that you can issue on request.

Hereon in every organisation whose turnover (relating to goods and / or services) exceeds £35m per annum needs to publish their annual “modern slavery statement” within 6 months of the end of their financial year.  If your business hasn’t yet prepared your statement yet and are now or soon required to do so, please contact us for help and advice.

There are other changes on the horizon too, that we recommend that your business starts preparing for:

  • Mandatory gender pay gap reporting – reporting to start from April 2017, for publication in 2018 onwards

This will apply to any organisation that employs 250+ people.  The guidance on what is required in the reports is still being developed and is complex.  Large fines are likely to be issued for non-compliance. If you are a larger business and don’t already analyse and report on your gender pay differences / gap now is the time to start preparing to do so.  We have expertise in this area and are happy to help you prepare – please contact us.

  • Pension auto-enrolment updates – now scheduled for April 2018

This will apply to all businesses who employ at least one worker / employee.  This will see an increase to the minimum employer contribution rate, taking it to at least 2%, as well as an increase to the minimum employee contribution rate.  Given the amount that these increases will be an added employment cost to your business, we would recommend that you start your financial modelling now so you can see how this will affect your future workforce costs.

Looking to recruit high quality staff but not succeeding?

Despite the looming shadow of Brexit, many UK organisations are still recruiting – albeit on a temporary rather than permanent basis.  Many industry sectors are reporting that it is still difficult to find the right candidates with the right skills and experience, despite the fact that many people are out there searching for new roles right now; myself included.

Is it a matter of the right skills not being out there in the job hunting population or is something else at play?  Here are a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean….

A friend, J, is looking for a new role and career change.  Knowing this he is prepared to take entry level role with the right organisation as long as it gives him what he’s looking for.  J likes being outside, getting up early and working autonomously – he thinks that being a Postman is just the new career for him.  Then he tries to apply for a role with Royal Mail….. To cut a long and painful story short, J’s “candidate experience” is a very negative one.

Why, you may ask?  This should give you a flavour and is not unique to the Royal Mail:

Applications have to be made via an online recruitment portal, which requires you to register, fill in your personal details and to complete an online assessment.  Easier said than done…. J is fairly computer literate and his brother is an “expert” – they try and fail several times to register a basic application.  There is no phone number, email address or help option for him or other applicants to help them with this labyrinthine application process.

If J wasn’t so keen he would give up now. Other suitable applicants may not have the “IT savvy” or the perseverance, so Royal Mail is losing out on a potentially large candidate pool. (how IT savvy do you need to be a Postman anyway?)

  • Where there are multiple vacancies, perhaps with a minor change such as working hours / days or work base, J has to apply separately for each. Each time he applies for a role he has to do the exactly same online assessment again and again.  Frustrating, a waste of his and the Royal Mail’s time (and money?) and it undermines the validity of the assessment. (practise makes perfect – so repeating the test and getting the feedback means you can easily boost your scores).
  • J finally manages to get an application registered and waits to hear. And waits…. And waits. The closing date has been and gone, and despite being told to check his “portal” for progress / an update, there is none.  There is no phone number or email address for him to chase this up so he has to decide whether he waits any longer.  He’s been invited to attend another interview for a different role – so perhaps he’ll just go with that one instead.

I can echo similar experiences to J’s and can add to the what not to do list further:

  • I have a non-standard address and post code – the computer says “no” to allowing me to progress my application. Now what – make one up? (easier said than done)
  • The salary and the exact work location are a mystery. How do I know if the role is paying enough for my needs and am I able / willing to work in that location? (client confidentiality is not an excuse!)  Should I bother to apply?
  • Do I really want to spend hours filling in a very detailed online application form when the majority of this information is on my CV? Can’t I just upload my CV and add in the missing bits?  Also – I can’t save my application part way through – it’s all in one go or nothing.  I don’t have 2 uninterrupted hours available so perhaps I won’t bother….
  • The recruitment portal promises to save my details for next time, should I apply for other roles with the organisation. It doesn’t….  I have to start again if I want to make another application  – do I want to go through that pain again?

So in summary, many of the issues that are putting people off seem to be due to overly automated process with no “human touch”.  Theoretically going for an automated, standardised recruitment portal should make recruitment slicker, cheaper and easier for your organisation – but what about for the candidates?  The initial impression they get from your recruitment system can be extremely negative and it means you have lost them before you even know about them. Employee branding, good PR, your employer reputation and your brand recognition / values aren’t going to change that.

Is it time for a rethink and change to your recruitment approach? We can help……..

www.amelore.com

Company mergers – creating one big, happy family?

 

mergeIn my HR “life” back in the UK, I often found myself providing advice on managing change, whether it be restructuring, TUPE transfers or subtler cultural change.  I now find myself on the other side of things, as Happy Holidays and one of their former competitors, Smiley Holidays, have both been acquired by a large French company.  While these purchases took place a while ago now, it is interesting to see how the changes have now started to trickle down to the staff (me!).

So, can these changes create one new, contented holiday company / family?  At the moment, the views of myself and colleagues are mixed – we’re not entirely convinced that things will be better, or even as good.  What could be done to change our minds and to keep us engaged and motivated?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate

With any changes or takeovers there are always rumours about what will and won’t happen.  Clear, regular communication is key if you are to stop the rumour mill and keep staff feeling engaged, rather than worried for their jobs.  A monthly newsletter is better than nothing but it doesn’t really do all it needs to.  How about using social media and other forms of communication too?  – Especially if staff are based in multiple locations or work different shift patterns.  Certainly face-to-face updates and briefings tend to be the most popular method with staff themselves, so can this be done in any shape or form? (Skype, Facetime, podcasts etc)

  • It’s not all about structures…..

Most people tend to think of “change” as being about restructuring, but that isn’t always the case.  Yes, it can make sense to join up some teams and to make some efficiencies and savings while doing so, however, this shouldn’t be the knee jerk reaction.  If you are keen to keep current brand identities then you need to keep some differences in place, which means not merging and restructuring everything.  Be clear on what structures will change, why and when, so allowing other, not directly affected teams / departments to stop worrying about what might happen to them. (at least for now)  At least they can focus on their roles properly again and not be distracted or worried about what may lie ahead.

  • Timing is everything

Make sure you understand what the businesses do when and why.  Are there any critical or very busy times when it would be unwise to change things?  For example for Happy Holidays, changing all of the company mobile phones over to a new network provider with new phone numbers perhaps should have been done outside of the holiday season!  There would have been no customers in resort trying to call old numbers or not knowing about new numbers, and would have avoided a number of problems, upsets and complaints.

  • Who are we again?  What do we do?

Staff do identify with the organisation they work for and can often be surprisingly loyal to it.  Staff will feel that they have their “psychological contract” in place with their employer, as well as their actual employment contract.  Any change can potentially challenge the trust between employer and employee, and potentially sever the “psychological contract”.

It’s really important that staff can see and understand what the future holds and what will be changing. They can then choose whether they want to be part of this or not, and act accordingly.  This can include seemingly obvious things such as – are we still planning to deliver the same product(s) or service(s) to the same customer(s)?  Will we keep the same company values (eg. “green” or “ethical” commitments)?  Will I still wear the same uniform?  Will I still work in the same place?  Will I be working the same hours?  Things like this can really make a difference to someone deciding whether they will stay and go through the changes, or leave now to avoid them.

Even though this is about the two holiday companies I hope that the suggestions will be helpful for your business too.  If anyone from Happy Holidays is reading this, you know where I am and I’m more than willing to make this change a positive one!

www.amelore.com

It’s holiday time – So, how does your holiday policy shape up?

Whilst most employers run the usual January to December holiday year, some companies operate a holiday year which mirrors their financial year. Those very brave employers have a holiday year which follows each employee’s employment start date (administratively this must be a nightmare!)

Employers with an April to March holiday year will find themselves in a peculiar situation for 2016 through to 2018. Remember that all workers are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday, which means 28 days for a full-timer. Bank holidays count towards this entitlement.

Due to the moving Easter holidays, rather than the typical eight bank holidays in a year, April 2016 – March 2017 will have only six bank holidays, while April 2017 – March 2018 will have ten.

So what can you do about this?

Your first port of call is to check your contractual wording around holiday entitlement. This could throw up a number of different scenarios.

Here are a few (using full-time workers as an example):

  1. When the contract states: “you are entitled to 20 days holiday plus all bank holidays”. For April 2016 – March 2017 this would mean that your employees would only receive 26 days holiday, which is obviously below the statutory minimum entitlement. You would therefore need to give them an additional two days paid holiday. For April 2017 – March 2018 they would receive 30 days holiday, but without specific wording which has anticipated this exact scenario it is unlikely you will be able to deduct the extra two days, as the entitlement is to “all” bank holidays.
  1. When the contract states: “you are entitled to 20 days holiday plus 8 bank holidays”. Again your employees would only receive 26 days holiday for April 2016-March 2017 as there are only six bank holidays. You would therefore need to give your employees an additional two days paid holiday to ensure they receive their statutory minimum entitlement.

However, for April 2017 – March 2018 you could choose not to give employees two of the ten bank holidays (there is no automatic right to time off on a bank holiday). However, unless they agree otherwise, you would not be able to deduct these from the 20 day holiday entitlement as the contract says that they are entitled to 20 days holiday. You would instead have to get them to work two bank holidays, which may not be practical if the office is closed and certainly will not be popular.

  1. When the contract states: “you are entitled to 28 days holiday inclusive of bank holidays”. The result of this is the same as point 2 above. You will have to give two extra days for 2016-2017 and you could choose to require employees to work two bank holidays for 2017-2018.

This situation is bound to arise again in the future so the next time you undertake a review of your employment contracts it would be worth considering whether you want to include wording in the holiday clause so that holiday entitlement can be adjusted each year if necessary to allow for this scenario.

This may be even more desirable where you already offer holiday in excess of the minimum statutory entitlement and don’t want to be in a position of having to afford additional days to employees in a particular year.

www.amelore.com

Our top 10 tips regarding “Right to Work Checks”

Every employer is aware that it is unlawful to employ someone who does not have the right to carry out the work in question, and employers can be subject to a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per worker for any breach of this.

Avoiding the £20,000 penalty

It is possible to establish a statutory (legal) excuse in respect of such penalties provided that the employer checks the worker’s documents prior to employment commencing, and then repeats the checks for those workers who have time limited permission to work in the UK.

Generally, UK nationals and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals have the automatic right to work in the UK, whereas migrant workers from the rest of the world will need to establish this right to work by showing that they have appropriate permission under one of the tiers of the UK points based system, by way of another form of visa, or under other European Treaty rights.

However, it is important that checks are carried out consistently on all employees and below we detail our top tips on what to do and some potential pitfalls.

  1. Obtain

Obtain an original of one or more documents listed in the Home Office’s Guidance.

The Home Office has produced a helpful right to work checklist which details those documents that can be relied on.

This list is “non negotiable” and no other documents “will do”. You have been warned!!

  1. Check

Check the document in the presence of the holder.

It is surprising the number of employers who arrange for reception staff or managers to take copies of the document but then in fact pass these copies onto the HR function to validate. This is not strictly compliant. Whoever is in the migrant’s presence when the document is presented should be the person doing the check. HR can of course assist, but the ultimate responsibility lies with this individual, so ensure that he or she has had appropriate training.

  1. Make a copy

Take a clear copy of the document(s). If the copy is blurred, illegible or has information missing/cut-off the statutory excuse will not be achieved. This sounds obvious but you’d be surprised.

This copy should then be marked as a true copy of the original, clearly signed and dated, and then stored or scanned and filed securely. Beware Biometric Residence Permits (BRP’s). It is mandatory to copy the front and back if the statutory excuse is to be secured.

  1. Check the documents thoroughly

It is not simply a matter of taking a photocopy. Make sure you check the validity of the documents, for example that the photos are consistent with the actual appearance of the individual and that any stamps/endorsements look genuine.

If you are given a false document, you will only be required to pay a civil penalty if it is reasonably apparent that it is false, and that means it has to be properly checked.

  1. Specifically check the terms of the visa:

Make sure the job you provide does not break any conditions or restrictions on the type of work an individual can do, or the hours they can work (see below). The terms of the visa or work permission should clearly say what these are. Again, a proper considered check is vital to securing a statutory excuse.

  1. Beware students:

It is important to be aware that non EEA migrants who come to study in the UK under Tier 4 of the points based system are generally entitled to work for a maximum of either 10 hours or 20 hours per week term time (dependent on the course and the educational establishment), and for any period during vacations and following the end of the course to the expiry of their visas.

Since May 2014 it has been the employer’s responsibility to check the dates of working against the student’s published term time tables. If a student is found to be working over the permitted hours during term time then they will be working unlawfully and you will not have a statutory excuse. That additional extra hour of work could therefore cost the business £20,000 per student, so do be sure to check.

  1. Beware discrimination claims:

In an attempt to avoid a £20,000 penalty do not then risk a claim of discrimination, which could prove even more costly. Presumptions should not be made about a person’s right to work in the UK based simply on the basis of their background, appearance or accent. As stated, apply the checks consistently to all workers regardless.

  1. Be mindful of ANY staff that have come TUPE

Yes, that four letter word again. Any employer who “inherits” employees under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 would be wise to carry out the right to work checks on all transferring employees if it wishes to be certain it has the statutory excuse.

You have a grace period of 60 days to do this and although you may be able to rely on any checks previously carried out by the transferor, there is no guarantee that these will have been done correctly.

  1. Don’t risk it:

£20,000 is the fine for unlawfully employing a worker subject to immigration control, if this is by mistake / oversight / incompetence. If you know the migrant does not have permission to carry out the work in question then the penalty is unlimited and the owners of the business can be sent to prison for up to two years, and this is set to rise to five years.

  1. If you are audited and fail – take urgent advice!

If, for whatever reason, a statutory excuse is not obtained and the employer finds that it has unknowingly employed a worker unlawfully or finds itself the subject of a Home Office audit, or even “raid”, all is not lost. There are still ways in which to seek to avoid or mitigate any civil penalties but in that eventuality it would certainly be sensible to seek urgent professional advice.

If you would like a review of your current employment practices with a particular focus on your starter and leaver processes, contact Amelore for more details.

www.amelore.com

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

 

Immigration Act 2016 – Illegal working offences

visa stampAfter months of rumbling through the political process the much debated Immigration Bill finally received royal assent on 13 May 2016, becoming the Immigration Act 2016.

Hot on its heels came the enabling regulations which will bring many of the measures into force on 12 July 2016, including those detailed below.

The purpose of the Act, put quite simply, is to make it as hard as possible for illegal migrants to live and work in the United Kingdom.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire stated  “The message is clear – if you are here illegally, you shouldn’t be entitled to receive the everyday benefits and services available to hard-working UK families and people who have come to this country legitimately to contribute.”

Below are the key changes employers need to be aware of:

Illegal working

The act of illegal working is to become a criminal offence, punishable by fine and/or up to six months imprisonment. Whether those convicted are in fact jailed at taxpayer’s expense prior to deportation will remain to be seen. However, the obvious point is that, as a criminal offence, any “proceeds” (which would include wages/salary) will now come under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and so therefore open to confiscation.

Employing an illegal worker

The penal sanction in respect of employing an individual illegally is to rise from the existing two years to five years, together with a continuing unlimited fine. This is further “beefed up” by amendments to the existing offence. Previously the risk of criminal liability arose if the employer knowingly engaged the migrant unlawfully.

The Act now provides that the offence will be committed if the employer “has reasonable cause to believe that the employee is disqualified from employment.” This is a lower threshold than previously, and presumably is to prevent those who routinely exploit illegal workers, from using plausible deniability to escape unlimited civil penalty and possible imprisonment.

However, for the purposes of all of those other employers who dutifully carry out right to work checks and then monitor the position as appropriate, the stakes have been raised significantly.

At what point, for example, does “reasonable cause” arise, whereby a consequential dismissal may be defended on the basis of “illegality” or “some other substantial reason”? Inaction or delay in this regard may result in an unlimited fine and imprisonment, whereas erring on the side of caution and moving immediately to termination of employment may subsequently result in a successful unfair dismissal claim, with the inherent further risk of an ancillary race claim.

Current new starter processes

Many companies still have out of date or insufficiently robust starters procedures which fail to check properly whether an individual has the right to work in the UK.

Next steps

Now, more than ever, it is important to get right to work systems and policies up to date, fit for purpose, and in place, as the consequences for failing to do this are now significantly more severe than they were previously.

See our blog on Right to Work checks for our top tips.