Getting ready for Autumn

October is almost upon us (yes, it really is!) and so now is a good time to start
preparing for the colder months. We have a few hints and tips for you for coping
with the colder weather: –
Adverse Weather
It happens every year. Snow, ice, frost and fallen trees can cause havoc on our
roads and also on public transport, so much so that you could have staff who are
late to work or even unable to make it in at all because of the winter weather.
You are under no obligation to pay staff who are unable to attend work, but it is
always a good idea to put things in place which allow your staff to maintain pay and
also for your business to continue to function.
Think about allowing staff to arrive later at work, work from home or make up their
hours on another occasion.
If you do decide to pay staff who cannot attend work, ensure that they are told that
it is an act of goodwill and is not intended to be contractual.
School Closures
The weather is also a factor when it comes to schools and sometimes, even if staff
can travel, their children’s schools may decide to close, meaning that staff have no
childcare and, therefore, might be unable to get into work.
Again, you are under no obligation to pay staff who are unable to attend work but it
might be a good idea to think about what staff could do if they have no childcare.
As above, think about allowing staff to arrive later at work, work from home or make
up their hours on another occasion, and perhaps even allow them to bring their
children into work (as long as they are aged between 8 and 16 years old). This is
also a great way to give some educational, interactive and inspiring experiences to
school-aged children, and also takes the pressure off their parents a bit as well.
Get the children involved in simple tasks and keep their minds occupied. But make
sure that your insurance covers you when children are in the workplace.
Staff Sickness
Coughs, colds, sniffles and maybe even the flu are inevitable at this time of year,
and this can mean that businesses experience higher absence levels than normal.
October, November and December are the perfect months to promote good hygiene
in the workplace Provide your staff with hand sanitisers, sweet-smelling
antibacterial soaps, telephone and keyboard wipes to help reduce germs spreading
and to keep staff healthier for longer.
Now is also the perfect time to review your sickness policy and remind employees
who, how and when they should contact work if they are sick.
Annual Leave Reminders
Some businesses have their holiday year starting on 1st January and ending on 31st
December. If this is the case for your business, now is the perfect time to remind
staff about their unused annual holiday allowance.
You do not have to allow staff to roll over their unused holiday into the next year
unless there are exceptional circumstances such as maternity leave or illness.
Remind staff that unless they use up their holiday entitlement, it will not roll over
into 2020. As the saying goes, use it or lose it.
And believe it or not, you are also able to refuse holiday if it is not a convenient time
for your business or if there are too many staff off.
That being said though, it is good to give staff time to rest so you should be
reasonable when receiving holiday requests.
Many employers are also unaware that they can impose annual leave. So if your
business has a down period or if your staff have unused holiday you can simply give
them a day off. Remember to give notice though.
Halloween
Festivities
With October comes Halloween, and one of the associated acts of Halloween is
dressing up as ghosts and ghouls and maybe even a few clowns. Some businesses
even use dressing up as a motivating factor.
In a similar vein to dress-down Fridays or dressing up for Children in Need,
managers still need to set some expectations of what is and isn’t considered
appropriate behaviour if they are going to facilitate a dressing up day.
In particular, employees should be reminded that Halloween is not an excuse to
cause an offence.
A few years back Tesco and Asda withdrew two Halloween outfits from its shelves as
they were named ‘Mental patient’ and ‘Psycho Ward’. The outfits were seen as
offensive to those with mental illness and so Tesco and Asda donated £25,000 to
Time to Change.
Outfits such as these could give rise to a discrimination and harassment claim and as
an employer, you would be liable.
It isn’t sufficient to simply tell your staff not to wear outfits which might cause
offence. You should give your employees examples of scenarios of acts or clothing
which may be considered harassment or discriminatory.
You may want to tell your staff about tribunal cases surrounding fancy dress so that
they see what consequences could arise from their actions.
Also, remember that not everyone celebrates Halloween, so you need to be mindful
to not exclude or discriminate against any staff members.
Trick or Treat?
Another common action during Halloween are pranks and the trick or treat custom.
Whilst no employer wants to be the grim reaper of fun, you need to take care to
ensure that staff do not feel threatened or intimidated by the acts or behaviour
around them.
That being said, employers should be aware that they need to strike a balance. It
has been known for a pagan employee to bring a discrimination claim against their
boss for not taking Halloween as seriously as other beliefs. In 2011, there was in
excess of 50,000 people in the UK who identified themselves of pagan.
If you would like any other information on things to deal with in the run-up to
winter, drop us an email at
info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk
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The Pro’s and Con’s of using HR Software

Have you ever wondered what an Online HR Information System is? Or why it could
be beneficial to use one?
Well, put simply, a Human Resource Information System (HRIS) is an online
software solution for data entry, data tracking and data information for the Human
Resource department of a business, including payroll, management and accounting
functions. It is an incredibly useful tool for all processes that a business wants or
needs in order to track and from which to gather useful and purposeful data.
As your business grows, you may find that managing your business’s human
resources can become more and more complicated as the number of employees increases.
In a lot of businesses, the HR person or department often face a dilemma with managers
wanting to be able to improve the overall work environment for employees but also
needing the time to be able to deal with the paperwork and routine administrative
tasks that come with the job.
To address these routine tasks, many businesses will use a Human Resource
Information System (HRIS) to help improve productivity.

Benefits To The Employer

There are many different benefits to using an HRIS, for both employer and
employee. These include: –
Faster Integration
With many businesses growing rapidly, it is obvious that new employees are
required. But with new employees comes more employee integration into the
business, and this can mean that many, many hours are eaten up with paperwork
and processes and administrative tasks, simply to get that employee up and running.
By using an HRIS, the integration process can be a more efficient and consistent
one. Such a system provides easy access to training materials and handbooks for
new employees, and employee information can be stored in one convenient, easy-
to-access place.
Access To Information
How often do you or your HR team need to access employee information? We can
imagine that this is a fairly regular need and if you keep employee records in a well-
organised filing cabinet in the office then this won’t necessarily take up vast amounts
of time. However, if your files are kept in a storage room, or a highly disorganised
filing cabinet, you could be losing hours and hours of productivity. Your files are also
at a high risk of being lost or compromised.
An HRIS system can eliminate paper and turn all of your employee records into
easy-to-access online data, which can then be retrieved by anyone with the correct
authorisation.
Recurring Tasks
Many businesses will have various different tasks that recur on a regular basis and
which could be easily automated by the right HRIS.
For example, by automating your payroll system with your HRIS, you can take back
hours of work for your HR department.
Tasks such as holiday requests and employee time management can also be
approved or denied automatically, saving even more hours for your team.
Employee Tracking
Your business will always run more smoothly when you know who is working where
and who is unaccounted for.
An HRIS will allow your HR team to know exactly where your employees are in case
they are needed or if there is an emergency.

Benefits for the Employee

An HRIS id not only a benefit to your HR department. Your employees also
get added benefits and a more flexible work environment.
Quicker Access to Information
Employee self-service is on the rise within a lot of businesses at the moment. But, of
course, employees will always have questions about the terms and conditions of
their employment, salaries, holiday and other types leave, and many more things.
This means that your HR department will always be busy answering these questions
for each and every employee in your business.
The correct HRIS will provide a better employee self-service and, thus, higher
employee satisfaction.
Of course, with pros also come cons, and online Human Resource Information
Systems are no different.

Cons Of Using an HR Information System

High cost
Most people are pleasantly surprised to find that HRIS is not very costly. Although there is a cost attached it does save you and your business money in the long-
run.
Not all HRIS’ are perfect for all businesses
There are also many different systems available, all offering different solutions to
different problems and they may not always be the best fit for your business. This
can mean changing systems until you find the right one for your business
Therefore, if your business is lacking in sufficient upfront funds, this can prove to be
difficult to achieve.
Impersonal
Some businesses may see an HRIS as very impersonal and may decide to stick to
the traditional way of doing things.
Of course, this may be an issue and we would, therefore, suggest having regular
meetings or catch-ups to ensure that you keep the personal side of things going.
Perhaps hold a monthly staff meeting to find out if any employees have anything on
their minds, or if they have any suggestions to help the business move forward
further.
Wellbeing meetings are always a good idea as well. The purpose of these
meetings, held individually, is to ensure that each employee is happy and there are
not any issues that need to be dealt with.

Summary

The benefits of having a Human Resource Information System are vast for both your
HR team and the rest of your employees.
You need to make sure that you choose the right system for your business and once
you have done so, you will save both time and money, as well as provide a cutting
edge work environment that your entire team will benefit from. We are happy to say that both we and many of our clients are already using an online HRIS and we absolutely love the simplicity of it.
We sell a system provided by Breathe HR which is available as part of our packages
or stand-alone. If you would like any more information, contact us at
info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

How hot is too for work? Keeping work going during Summer.

Summer is here and the sun is shining brightly. But it’s still business as usual for all of us and that means knowing how to cope in the hot weather when we still need to be working inside.

We have a few hints and tips for you for dealing with the working environment during the summer months: –

Office temperatures

There is no law for there to be a minimum or maximum working temperature in a workspace (i.e. if it is too cold or too hot to work).

However, during working hours, the temperature in all indoor workspaces must be reasonable. Guidance suggests a minimum of 16ºC (or 13ºC if employees are doing physical work).

There is no guidance for a maximum temperature limit within a workspace but employers must adhere to the laws contained in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, including: –

  • keeping the temperature at a comfortable level; and

  • providing clean and fresh air.

Ask your staff to talk to you if they feel the workspace temperature isn’t comfortable.

Dress code

We know that sometimes it’s important for your staff to wear a suit and tie or formal attire for business meetings. But when your staff are simply in the office, allow them to remove these and cool down a bit. Perhaps suggest to staff that they wear natural fibres and light colours to avoid attracting the heat so much.

Ice, ice and more ice

If you have a freezer, keep it stocked with ice cubes and ice lollies for your staff. If you don’t have one, perhaps think about investing in a small one specifically for this reason.

Fresh fruit

Although your staff may still want to munch on cakes and cookies, keep a selection of fruit in the fridge as well, in case they want something fresh and cool instead.

Drinks

Hydration is important for the mind as well as the body. A well-hydrated employee is likely to be more productive. Keep a selection of different fruit juices and squashes in the kitchen for a nice cool, refreshing drink for your staff.

Cool breeze

It might sound counter-productive but instead of having all the windows and doors open, keep them closed, pull the blinds or curtains and put the air conditioning or fan on. The closed windows and doors will prevent the hot air seeping in and the closed blinds or curtains will keep the direct sunlight out.

Outdoor meetings

Instead of holding your staff meetings in a stuffy, uncomfortable office, head into the garden or over to the park instead. Staff will enjoy sitting outside in the sun (or shade) and will appreciate a break from the office.

Picnics

Perhaps think about having a weekly or fortnightly staff picnic outside. This will help boost morale and get staff socialising and relaxing.

Summer hols

Remember that with the summer months also comes the summer holidays for parents. Juggling childcare with work can be a stressful time for parents. Think about allowing staff to work from home or do flexi hours so that they can still work but look after the kids at the same time.

Some businesses start the business day an hour earlier to allow for an earlier finish but be mindful of this if it is not in your contract.

Bring your child to work day(s)

With the above in mind, if you have staff members who have children aged between 8 and 16 years old, why not allow your staff to bring their children into work for a few days throughout the summer holidays? It’s a great way to give some educational, interactive and inspiring experiences to school-aged children, and also takes the pressure off their parents a bit as well.

Get the children involved in simple tasks and keep their minds occupied. But make sure that your insurance covers you when children are in the workplace.

Summer break

Unless it’s essential for business reasons, don’t reject staff holiday requests unless it’s absolutely necessary. Everyone needs a holiday and will always be more productive once they’ve had a break.

If you would like any further tips or guidance on dealing with the working environment during the summer months, drop us an email to info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

Did you know we have over 30 blogs on our website? Visit http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk to read a few more.

Work Experience with Orchard Employment Law – By David Nagy

At first, I was a bit nervous coming into work experience, I did not know what the people were going to be like, I didn’t know what the environment will be like. Knowing that I would be going into an office I expected to enter into a quite strict environment as it is an office at the end of the day. I expected it to be a quiet and calm place where people can get their work done nicely.

However, I was wrong. The people here are really nice and the place is really nice and enjoyable. I did not expect this place to be a co-working area so I did not expect it to be what it really is. However, I am happy that it is like this because I can socialise with everyone here because they are really friendly and kind. The place, in general, is really nice and I like the style of it. The fake grass area and then the kitchen and lunch area. This all adds up to a nice co-working area where we can all get our work done.

We do have trips here and there, for example, I didn’t expect this either. I did not expect to go on trips like going to radio shows, networking and training sessions that Jemma runs. This is all a great addition to work experience because this gives an insight into how a smaller business works and how to market your business as this is something I am interested in doing in the future.

I now understand more about Employment Law and how it works and what will be taking part next year. I now understand more about employment contracts, National minimum wage, auto enrolments, and HR. This is a really good experience for me as I have a better insight into what the future will look like for me when I start up my own business.

The entire thing is not what I expected. But this is a good thing. This is something I could have wished for as work experience because I get to have a good time and do some business work as well. At first, I was a bit nervous to talk to some people and just to be here in general. Now I feel much more confident in being here and talking to everyone in fact. People here are really kind which makes it a good environment to do my work experience.

I really enjoy the lunch breaks that we have here at the office, this is because we get to have a break from work and just have a nice chat with everyone who decides to join in and it is just some good fun. We usually sit down at the couches and eat our food while having a nice chat and then go back to the office’s and do some more work until the day is finished.

The trips that the work experience has to offer is a really good addition because I get to see what goes on behind the scenes while owning and managing a smaller business. I now understand how I can get my name around the area and get some people to check out what I would have to offer and maybe get some clients in the meantime.

We also looked at my CV, Jemma had a look at my CV and told me what’s good about it and what could be improved from an employers point of view. This was helpful and good because now I could improve my CV so I have a better chance of an employer looking at that and it sticking out so they would want to contact me.

My work experience here is really good and helpful for me as I take Business class in school, so this just further enables me to get higher grades in school.

On the 3 of July, I joined Jemma on her training session that she holds on about once or twice a month. While at the session I got to see how one of these training sessions works and what goes on during the session. This adds up to the experience of how the whole thing works.

The radio show was amazing. A new experience that was really fun, I have never experienced something like this before. It was a lot of fun and was interesting. We had a laugh and talked about business, the things that you hate the most in the business industry and at last, I interviewed Roland about Dragon Co-Working. This was good as well as we all got to learn a bit more about Dragon and why he has started it up in the first place.

You can come and listen to future radio shows at www.channelradio.co.uk/two

You can also go to that website and download and listen to our radio show with Me, Jemma and Roland.

Supporting Mature Employees in the Workplace

This month, Jemma and Lucy attended a roundtable discussion hosted by CXK to discuss the importance of supporting older workers and the free services which CXK and the National Careers Service offer, including information, advice and guidance to help businesses to retain, retrain and recruit older workers.

CXK is a charity that delivers a range of services to empower young people and adults across the South-East to build the skills and confidence they need to move into education, employment or training.

We learnt a lot on the day and were pleased to be able to add to our knowledge base.

Did You Know

The average person aged 25-34 years will only stay in a job for 2.8 years and the average person aged 35-44 years will stay in a job for 4.9 years.

But the average person aged 55-64 will stay in the same job for 10.1 years. This is more than three times that of a younger worker.

The “Older Employee” is considered to be more experienced, more dedicated, more motivated and more eager to learn than those of the younger generation.

Older employees value having a job that gives them meaningful work and social interaction. With most of their financial commitments behind them, older employees choose to work because they want to, not just because they have to.

However, evidence shows that a high proportion of people aged 50 and over who left the workforce in the last eight years have done so due to factors that are likely to have pushed them out against their will. The main reasons for this are health, caring responsibilities, lack of skills and redundancy.

Twenty per cent of older employees are support-carers for their elderly parents or disabled children. However, it is felt that support from employers is inadequate and needs significant improvement.

It should also be noted that the Law protects carers from direct discrimination or harassment if they are treated less favourably because of their caring responsibilities. This is because carers are counted as being ‘associated’ with someone who is protected by the Law because of their age or disability under the Equality Act 2010.

By the time a person reaches age 55-59 years, nearly 40% of those in work want to reduce their working hours compared to just 7.7% who wish to increase them.

And a lack of skills can also be a hindrance to a person working longer.

With fewer young people than ever deciding to venture into the labour market, the older generation will represent an increasingly significant proportion of the workforce in the near future.

Employers, therefore, will need to rely on the skills and experience of older workers if they want to remain competitive, increase productivity and growth, and avoid skills shortages in the future.

How are you supporting the older workforce?

Older workers are fundamental to the future of successful businesses.

Businesses can benefit from retaining, retraining and recruiting older workers through: –

  • Increased staff loyalty and retention;

  • Improved productivity;

  • A workforce which reflects their demographics in terms of customer satisfaction;

  • A wide range of skills, ideas, experiences and ways of thinking which come with the older generation;

  • Reduced recruitment costs – the average cost of recruiting and training a new member of staff is estimated to be at least £4,000.

CXK and the National Careers Service offer a FREE service which supports employers and their staff in order to retain, retrain and recruit the older generation.

For more information, visit www.cxk.org

Supporting Staff During Ramadan – Avoiding Discrimination

All staff have the right not to be discriminated against because of a protected characteristic. Religious beliefs are one of the nine protected characteristics recognised in Employment Law under the Equality Act.

An employer could find themselves facing an Employment Tribunal claim if they are seen to have discriminated against a member of staff.  Religious discrimination is the unfair or unfavourable treatment of a person because of their religious beliefs. This can include policies or practices.

To help to avoid discrimination employers can have policies or Equal Opportunities, Bullying Harassment and clear Grievance procedures.

Ramadan is a religious period observed by many Muslims. This year, Ramadan began on 5th May and ends on 4th June.

Ramadan happens every year, in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During this 29 or 30 day continuous period, Muslims will not eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset (known as fasting).

Ramadan is seen as one of the five pillars of Islam. Most Muslims (there are exceptions for the young, the elderly and the sick) will fast between sunrise and sunset and will also partake in prayer, reflection and charity work.

For the majority of Muslims, Ramadan will not have any effect on their day-to-day work. However, others may very well be greatly impacted. Therefore, it is very important that employers give consideration as to how they can assist their employees during Ramadan.

  • Fasting may very well affect the employee in certain ways. They may become a little irritable or slightly tired during the latter parts of the day. Therefore, some understanding from managers and colleagues is helpful.
  • It may be obvious to your other employees that the employee isn’t eating and if they do get a little irritable, which can be natural, why they are not their usual self. Therefore, it would be a good idea to suggest that the employee informs their manager and colleagues that they will be fasting.
  • With the above in mind, the employee may wish to start work earlier in the day and finish earlier, so that they can rest during the latter part of the day at home. The employee may also wish to work from home, and you should consider allowing them to do this.
  • It can also help to hold meetings and undertake more challenging work in the mornings and perform more routine tasks later in the day.
  • Although the employee should still take their breaks, a shorter lunch-break could make it easier for the employee to manage their workload if they wish to take time off to carry out additional prayer or worship.
  • The employee may also wish to use some of their annual leave entitlement during Ramadan, especially during the final ten days, as this is a particularly special time for Muslims.
  • It is a good idea to suggest to colleagues that they should refrain from offering food and drink to those who fast, and also ask other staff to not eat during meetings.
  • It can also be helpful to avoid social events and even full team meetings during Ramadan.

 

Understanding the employee’s experiences and accommodating their particular needs shows great management skills and will also help to ensure that staff perform to the best of their abilities. Putting in place policies that are accommodating to all religious events can also lead to a better mutually trusting relationship with your staff and ultimately lead to higher staff retention, better morale, more effective teams and greater productivity.

If you would like help with policies or training on avoiding discrimination please contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk.

We can also assist with HR meetings such a grievances and Employment Tribunal representation for employers.

For all Employment Law or HR matter contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

6 Questions Employers Should Not Ask During an Interview.

It is always important to ask questions of a potential employee. How else will you know if they are the right fit for your business otherwise?

However, you should ensure that your questions don’t delve too deep into the potential employee’s personal details. After all, you don’t want a discrimination case brought against you, even if you did not intend to discriminate.

Therefore, it is important to know what questions are a definite no-no. So, here goes: –

 

  1. Are you married?

 

Any questions about marital status, children or future family plans are simply not permissible.

Such questions are too much of a personal nature and could even be potentially discriminatory. Asking a potential employee if they are married could be seen as trying to determine their sexual orientation and this has absolutely no bearing on whether they have the ability to do carry out the job or not.

  1. Were you born in the UK?

 

Yes, you have a legal obligation to ensure that your employees are eligible to actually work in the UK. But you should not ask questions about their race, religion or native language.

A question of whether or not English is the potential employee’s first language is irrelevant, even if your employees are required to speak fluent English.

If the potential employee can speak and write in English to the standard that you require, and they can provide proof of their legal right to work in the UK, then they may well be the perfect person for your business.

 

  1. How old are you?

This question might seem innocent enough, but there are very few reasons why you need to know a potential employee’s age.

Yes, some businesses require their employees to be a certain age for legal reasons, i.e. to sell alcohol, but otherwise, a potential employee’s age should not affect their ability to carry out the job effectively.

Instead, you can ask the potential employee for their date of birth on a separate Equal Opportunites Form, but remember that the interviewer is not be allowed to see this.

 

  1. How many sick days did you take in your last job?

Questions along the lines of health, sickness or indeed disabilities should always be avoided at all costs.

The only time you may need to ask such questions is if you need to find out if the potential employee might need an assessment to establish their suitability for the job, or to establish whether adjustments need to be made in order to accommodate their needs (e.g. fitting a lift or disabled toilet).

 

  1. Do you have any previous criminal convictions?

Potential employees are not required to advise of any criminal convictions if they have already served their sentence.

Therefore, you should not ask such questions, nor refuse employment because of a previous crime. The only exception to refusing employment is if the position relates to teaching, childminding, financial matters etc.

Remember that criminal records checks can be requested from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for certain roles (e.g. working with children, healthcare etc). However, these should be requested before the interview stage.

 

  1. Are you a member of a trade union?

The Government website advises that an employer must not use the fact that a potential employee is a member of a trade union for or against them when deciding whether they are suitable for the position or not. This includes not employing them because they are a trade union member, or insisting that they join a trade union before you offer them the job.
The above questions are the big red flag ones that should not be asked of a potential employee during an interview. If you would like any further information on what you can and cannot ask or any other Employment Law query please get in touch via our website at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

Thinking of Hiring An Apprentice?

National Apprenticeship Week 2019 (NAW 2019) will take place between 4th and 8th March 2019.

The aim of NAW 2019 is to celebrate the various Apprenticeship schemes throughout the country and aims to bring the whole apprenticeship community together in order to celebrate the impact of apprenticeships on both individuals and employers and also on the economy as a whole.

An Apprenticeship is a way for someone to gain the skills, knowledge and experience which are needed if they want to get into a specific career. They combine work, training, and study, letting the apprentice earn while they learn.

There are a variety of different apprenticeships available throughout various different industries and for a wide range of job roles. As a paid employee, each Apprentice works at the same time as studying.

Another advantage for the Apprentice is that there are no student fees. These are covered by you as the employer and by the Government.

 

Employing an Apprentice

It’s not just the traditional industries and larger organisations that are opting to go down the route of having an apprenticeship program in place. Smaller businesses are also discovering that it is an advantageous way of recruiting and training staff.

Now, apprenticeships cover more than 170 different industries and 1,500 different job roles, from entry level all the way up to degree level.

So, whatever business or industry you are in, there are all sorts of different benefits that apprentices can bring to you and your business. Employing an apprentice could definitely be a wise investment move for the future of your business.

 

Wages For An Apprentice

You must pay the Apprentice at least the UK National Minimum Wage for the Apprentice’s age group, which are currently as follows: –

 

CURRENT RATES

Apprenticeship Rate = £3.70

Minimum Wage Rate for Under 18s = £4.20

Minimum Wage Rate for 18 to 20 = £5.90

Minimum Wage Rate for 21 to 24 = £7.38

Minimum Wage Rate for Over 25s = £7.83

 

However, don’t forget that these rates will change in April 2019 to: –

 

NEW RATES FROM APRIL 2019

Apprenticeship Rate = £3.90

Minimum Wage Rate for Under 18s = £4.35

Minimum Wage Rate for 18 to 20 = £6.15

Minimum Wage Rate for 21 to 24 = £7.70

Minimum Wage Rate for Over 25s = £8.21

 

The Apprenticeship Rate applies to those Apprentices who are: –

 

  • Aged 19 years or under;
  • Aged 19 years or over and in the first year of their Apprenticeship.

 

For example, an Apprentice aged 22 years who is in the first year of their Apprenticeship will receive a minimum hourly rate of £3.70.

 

Apprentices are entitled to the Minimum Wage Rate for their age group if they: –

 

  • Are aged 19 or over; and
  • Have completed the first year of their Apprenticeship.

 

For example, an Apprentice aged 22 years who has completed the first year of their Apprenticeship is entitled to a minimum hourly rate of £7.38.

 

Of course, if you wish to pay the Apprentice more than the minimum requirement, then you can certainly do so.

 

Don’t forget the Rate Change in April 2019 though.

 

In order to complete their Apprenticeship, the Apprentice must: –

  • Work with experienced staff;
  • Learn job-specific skills;
  • Study during their working week (e.g. at a college or a training centre).

 

What Are The Benefits Of Employing An Apprentice?

“Hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way for any organisation to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. Employers who have an established apprenticeship programme reported that productivity in their workplace had improved by 76%, whilst 75% reported that apprenticeships improved the quality of their product or service.” – National Apprenticeship Service

 

There are also many other benefits of hiring an Apprentice, including: –

 

  • 90% of apprentices will stay on in their place of work after completing their apprenticeship;

 

  • Businesses are able to customise the training that their apprentice receives according to the needs and requirements of their business;

 

  • An apprenticeship allows businesses to diversify and freshen up their workforce;

 

  • Businesses can employ apprentices aged 16 years and over, up to any age and from any background.

 

So, if you have thought about hiring an apprentice, perhaps now is the time to do something about it.

Things To Look Out For In 2019

It’s hard to believe that we are already in 2019.

This year, there are a few different changes to legislation that will come into force and which you should be aware of in your business.

There will, of course, be more new laws and other legislative amendments throughout the year, but for now, here is a summary of the changes that we already know about.

 

National Living Wage Will Increase

From April, the UK National Living Wage will increase from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour. This will benefit around 2.4million workers and is an average £690 annual pay rise for full-time employees.

Other National Wage Rate changes are as follows: –

Age Group New Rate Current Rate

25 & Over £8.21 £7.83

21 to 24 £7.70 £7.38

18 to 20 £6.15 £5.90

Under 18 £4.35 £4.20

Apprentice £3.90 £3.70

 

Income Tax Thresholds Will Increase

The tax-free Personal Allowance will increase by another £650 in April to £12,500 – this is the amount you earn before you have to start paying income tax.

This means a basic rate taxpayer will pay £1,205 less tax in 2019-20 than in 2010-11.

And the amount that someone will have to earn before they start paying tax at the Higher Rate Threshold of 40% will increase from £46,350 to £50,000 in April, meaning that there is an additional £730 for people who earn above £50,000.

However, those earning more than £100,000 will not benefit as much, or even at all.

 

National Minimum Wage For Sleep-Ins

Last year, the Court of Appeal decided that people who work sleep-in shifts, i.e. nurses and care workers, are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage for any time that they spend sleeping and are ‘available for work’ but not ‘actually working’.

A request to appeal this decision was lodged with the Supreme Court and a decision is expected in 2019.

 

Pension Contributions

The minimum contributions for auto-enrolment pension schemes will increase for both employers and employees from April.

Current legislation means that employers must contribute a minimum of 2% of an employee’s pre-tax salary, with the employee contributing 3%.

Under the new legislation, employers and employees will now have to contribute a minimum of 3% and 5% respectively.

 

Itemised Payslips

From 6th April, a person’s legal right to receive a payslip will be extended so as to include workers as well as employees, such as contractors and freelancers.

Employers will also be required to include the total number of hours worked on payslips for employees whose wages vary depending on how much time they have worked. The payslip will also need to include the total number of hours worked for variable pay rates.

 

Sick Pay and Statutory Family Pay Rates To Increase

Statutory Family Pay Rates are likely to increase to £148.68 in April. This rate will apply to Maternity Pay, Adoption Pay, Paternity Pay, Shared Parental Pay and Maternity Allowance.

The weekly rate for Statutory Sick Pay is likely to increase to £94.25 from 6th April.

 

Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

It was confirmed last year that the Government will be introducing a right for bereaved parents to take paid time off work.

Under the current proposals, parents who have suffered a bereavement will be able to take leave as a single two-week period, as two separate periods of one week each, or as a single week.

They will be entitled to take such leave within 56 weeks of their child’s death.

It is expected that this new legislation will come into effect in April 2020, but employers should start preparing for it this year.

Employers may also decide to introduce their own Bereavement Leave Policy if they do not already have one.

 

Further Changes To The Apprenticeship Levy To Support Employers

From April, larger businesses will be able to invest up to 25% of their Apprenticeship Levy into supporting apprentices in their own supply chain.

Further, some employers will only be required to pay half of what they currently pay for apprenticeship training – down from 10% to 5%. The Government will be paying the remaining 95%.

 

The Annual Investment Allowance Will Increase

The Annual Investment Allowance increased from £200,000 to £1million on 1st January 2019. This will end on 31st December 2020 and will help businesses to invest and grow.

In addition to this, from October 2018, businesses are now able to deduct 2% of the cost of any new non-residential structures and buildings from their profits before they pay tax.

 

Post-Brexit Immigration Rules

What are likely to possibly be the most significant changes to occur in 2019 are those relating to the employment of EU nationals, regardless of whether a deal on the UK’s exit from the EU is agreed or not.

Once the UK leaves the EU, free-movement will end. However, it is highly likely that this will be delayed pending legislation to repeal current laws. It will also take time to put into place the practical arrangements necessary to make these changes possible.

The Government has introduced a scheme in which EU workers who are already living in the UK will be able to apply for “settled status”, in order that they will be able to continue to live and work in the UK indefinitely.

However, employers should be aware that, moving forwards, the employment of EU nationals is highly likely to be subject to the same restrictions as those involving the employment of other foreign nationals. Employers will, therefore, need to adapt their recruitment processes as a result.

If you would like any further information on how these changes will affect you and your business, please email us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk We’d be happy to help.

Things that employers should be thinking about leading up to Christmas

Not long now until we start hearing Christmas jingles and seeing Christmas adverts on the TV and everyone starts talking about mince pies and mulled wine.

Of course, there are some people who think November is too early to start talking about Christmas, whilst others are literally counting down the days. And some have even finished all of their Christmas present shopping! 

We have a few tips to help you, as an employer, get through the Christmas period, and get your staff motivated and productive, instead of wishing the days away until they get a break.

Christmas Opening Hours

First of all, you should be confirming to your clients and customers, as well as your employees, what your Christmas opening hours are. If your business provides services all year round, inclusive of bank holidays, you need to start letting your employees know when they will be working in order to avoid poor attendance over the festive period.

Payroll

Secondly, start planning your Christmas payroll. Will you be paying your employees early? Does payday fall on a Christmas bank holiday? Will your employees be paid after Christmas?

Be organised in this regard to avoid delays in paying your staff.

 

Christmas Parties

Whether you are organising an official or unofficial Christmas party, it is always wise to remind your staff about what you expect from them.

Send an email or memo to your staff to gently remind them to behave appropriately, drink responsibly and arrange appropriate transport. No one wants to come back to work after Christmas without their driving licence or having to face a disciplinary over events that took place at a work party.

Also, remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas, so you need to be mindful to not exclude or discriminate against any staff members.

 

Bonuses

Many businesses reward their staff with Christmas or end-of-year bonuses and this is a great way to help staff morale.

However, we would always advise employers to have a policy in place regarding bonuses, in order to avoid being sued for discrimination or non-payment of a bonus.

This policy should state that bonuses are non-contractual and it should also clearly set out qualification terms, including that staff members must still be working for you at the time of payment in order to receive the bonus.

 

Adverse Weather

It happens every year. Snow, ice, frost and fallen trees can cause havoc on our roads and also on public transport, so much so that you could have staff who are late to work or even unable to make it into work at all because of the winter weather.

You are under no obligation to pay staff who are unable to attend work, but it is always a good idea to put things in place which allow your staff to maintain pay and also for your business to continue to function.

Think about allowing staff to arrive later at work, work from home or make up their hours on another occasion.

If you do decide to pay staff who cannot attend work, ensure that they are told that it is an act of goodwill and is not intended to be contractual.

 

Sickness

Coughs, colds, sniffles and maybe even the flu are inevitable at this time of year, and this can mean that businesses experience higher absence levels than normal.

November and December are the perfect time to promote good hygiene in the workplace. Provide your staff with hand sanitisers, sweet-smelling antibacterial soaps, telephone wipes and keyboard wipes to help reduce germs spreading and to keep staff healthier for longer.

Now is also the perfect time to review your sickness policy and remind employees who, how and when they should contact work if they are sick.

 

Annual leave reminders

Some businesses have their holiday year starting on 1st January and ending on 31st December. If this is the case for your business, now is the perfect time to remind staff about their unused annual holiday allowance.

You do not have to allow staff to roll over their unused holiday into the next year unless there are exceptional circumstances such as maternity leave or illness. Remind staff that unless they use up their holiday entitlement, it will not roll over into 2019. As the saying goes, use it or lose it.

And believe it or not, you are also able to refuse holiday if it is not a convenient time for your business or if there are too many staff off.

That being said though, it is good to give staff time to rest so you should be reasonable when receiving holiday requests.

Many employers are also unaware that they can impose annual leave. So if your business has a down period or if your staff have unused holiday you can simply give them a day off. Remember to give notice though.

We hope that these tips help you to get through the festive period smoothly and efficiently.

But remember to have fun as well!

For any help with staffing issues, Employment Law or HR you can contact us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk