Moving Forwards

So, Christmas is over and we’re into the New Year already.

You may well be thinking that you need to move your business forward in 2018 but you have no idea how to do that.

This can be a tricky subject, and one that many businesses keep putting off simply because they don’t know what else to do. Muddling along as you’ve always done, however, is not good practice, especially if what you’ve been doing in the past hasn’t really worked properly.

Now is the time to start implementing new ways of working and making progress so that 2018 is as successful for you, and your staff and customers, than ever before.

Here at Orchard Employment Law, we have a few hints and tips on what to do to make your business more successful this year and into the coming years.

  • Keep up with your competitors

First up, you need to keep up to date with what your competitors are doing. Find out what they are offering to their customers and see if you can offer something similar to that. Obviously, you will want to make your products and/or services unique but by knowing what else is on offer to your customers means that you are ahead of the game.

  • Reach out to your clients

In keeping with the above, talk to your clients about their needs and requirements. You may very well be surprised at what they say. They might tell you that they need something that you’ve been considering and working on but haven’t launched yet as you felt that the market for it wasn’t right.

  • Don’t get comfortable

All businesses will do this at some point. They will start thinking that everything is going exactly as it should be and that there is nothing that needs to be done to improve and progress. Do not think like this. Getting comfortable will be your downfall. There are always things that can be done to improve and progress your business.

  • Take action

Don’t get comfy but take action instead. Stop procrastinating and get moving. Make those tough decisions. Sitting on your hands and burying your head in the sand will not solve any problems, so head them face on instead.

  • Talk with your staff

As well as talking with your clients, talk with your staff as well. Listen to their ideas and suggestions. See what they think is going right and what (and how) they think things can be improved. This will give them confidence and make them feel that they are valued. Which will lead to better motivation and more productivity.

  • Monitor progress

Here, we don’t just mean monitoring progress with sales etc, but encourage your staff to monitor their own progress and keep a track of their own successes. Have targets, not just for your staff but for yourself and the future of your business, and monitor how and what you and your staff are doing to reach those targets.

  • Have integrity and trustworthiness

You need to grow a reputation of trustworthiness. Your business will rely on many outside factors during its lifetime and by cooperating with others and proving that you are trustworthy will go a long way to being successful. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver, don’t ask for something from someone else that you wouldn’t be prepared to give yourself.

Above all else, show that you have integrity and that you can be trusted.

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Getting to know Lucy

As many of you will know, Orchard Employment Law was started just over two years ago by founder Jemma Fairclough-Haynes. Jemma’s aim is to support employers throughout the lifecycle of an employee, to promote employee engagement and to minimise the risk of litigation.

Jemma has recently been joined at Orchard Employment Law by Lucy Torble. Lucy joined us on 5th December, as Personal Assistant to Jemma.

Lucy’s Work Experience

I have many years experience within the legal profession, starting over fifteen years ago as a Re-Mortgage Case Handler at a busy law firm in Canterbury. I then moved on to be a Conveyancing Assistant at another law firm in Canterbury, where I assisted the Conveyancing Solicitors with all aspects of buying and selling property.

From there, I moved into Private Client work (this includes Wills, Probate and Court of Protection matters) as a Legal Secretary. After four years here, I then moved to Broadstairs as a Conveyancing Paralegal, and then to Faversham as a Conveyancing Executive.

I then left the legal profession for around ten months to have my son Ethan, returning to work in May 2016 as a Private Client Paralegal on a part-time, temporary basis.

After this contract finished, I decided that I wanted to spend all of my time with my son and so left the legal profession completely. My husband runs his own content marketing and social media strategy business and I assisted him with various different aspects of this during my time off.

Our son is now attending nursery a couple of days a week and I felt that the time was right to venture back into the legal profession and start to re-discover myself (and not just being Ethan’s Mummy and Richard’s wife!) and my love of law.

About Lucy

I love being able to help people and my knowledge of law and legal practices enables me to assist individuals and businesses with many different aspects of UK legal matters.

I love being pampered, and would quite happily spend an entire day, if not longer, at a spa! I also enjoy reading, which, admittedly, is difficult with a toddler but I do try. And what girl doesn’t like shopping?

I have a small addiction to tea, but it has to be made just the way I like it – strong with just a dash of milk. My husband still hasn’t got this right. And what better way to enjoy a cuppa than with a few biccies dunked in.

I hate most forms of exercise, but I have recently discovered a self-defence system called Krav Maga. It is a brilliantly effective self-defence class which is specific to modern day threatening situations. It is a simple method and so much fun.

I am very excited to be working with Jemma and I look forward to helping to grow the business further with her.

Please feel free to email me at lucy@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

Winter Blues and Don’ts

5 Tools to take your staff to the end of the year.

 

This autumn and winter you can keep your staff productive your and business running by following these steps.

 

Sickness

Coughs and colds are an inevitability this time of year and this can mean that businesses experience higher absence levels than normal. November is the perfect time to promote good hygiene in the workplace. You can do this by providing telephone wipes, keyboard wipes, sanitsers and sweet smelling soaps. This will help to reduce germs spreading and keep staff healthier for longer.

Now is the perfect time to review your sickness policy and remind employees who, how and when they should contact work. If you would like some help reviewing your existing sickness policies and procedure please fill in the contact form at www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

 

Adverse Weather

Fallen trees, ice, frost and snow can cause havoc on public transport and our UK roads. You may find that staff are late to work or unable to come to work because of the winter weather. There is no obligation to pay staff who are not able to attend work but you may want to put things in place to allow your staff to maintain pay and for your business to continue to function. Consider allowing staff to arrive at work later, 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.

Black Friday

Black Friday sales in the UK are becoming increasingly popular. You may find that employees attention to work and productivity levels drop as they try to find the best online bargains.

Managers are advised to ensure they have an up to date internet rules and usage policy. This policy should also be shared with staff. Whether you take a more relaxed approach to the use of computer devices or a strict approach be sure to be consistent so that you are not accused of discrimination.

Annual leave reminders

If your holiday year runs from January to December now is the perfect time to remind staff about their unused holiday allowance. You do not have to allow staff to roll holiday over into the next year unless there are exceptional circumstances such as maternity or illness.

You are also able to refuse holiday if it is not a convenient time for the business or if there are too many staff off.

That being said it is good to give staff time to rest so you should be reasonable when in receipt of holiday requests.

Many employers are unaware that they can impose annual leave. So if the business has a down period or your staff have unused holidays you can simply give them a day off (with notice of course).

Christmas

Christmas do’s and bonuses are a lovely way to boost morale, bring the team together and enjoy the end of the year but there are a few things that employers should bear in mind.

  • Not everyone celebrates Christmas so be mindful not to exclude or discriminate against any staff members.
  • Bonus can become contractual if they are given consistently year after year. Always remind staff that the Christmas bonus is not intended to be contractual.
  • Sometimes staff behaviour at Christmas parties is unacceptable. Remind staff that they are still expected to comply with harassment and disciplinary policies whilst they are having fun.

 

For HR advice or support and help with Employment Law please contact us at www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk or email info@orchardemplolymentlaw.co.uk

 

An employers guide to surviving the summer holidays

The summer holiday period can be difficult for UK employers as you try to juggle the need to keep business functioning whist addressing the need of employees who are parents.

In this blog you will find 6 practical tips on how to manage the 6 weeks summer holidays without grinding your business to a halt.

But first here is a brief overview of your staff rights and employer rights when it comes to holidays.

All employees are entitled to paid annual leave. UK employment law states that full time employees are allowed  minimum of 28 days paid holiday and part-time employees are the equivalent leave based on the number of hours they work.

From a HR perspective annual leave is a good thing. Your staff work better when they have regular breaks and it is good for morale. Although the employment law gives employees the right to have time off work employers can refuse annual leave if it is not a convenient time. This means that you can refuse annual leave if it is a busy period within the business or if there are other staff who are away

  1. Childminder ill

Sometimes even well planned childcare arrangements fail. The babysitter becomes ill or has a family emergency and this may mean your employee is unable to come to work. HR Law allows employees to take reasonable time off to take care of dependants during emergencies. In these circumstances the leave can be unpaid or you may allow the staff member to use their annual leave.

2. Think about being flexible

Employment does not always have to be 9 – 5. Allowing flexible working during the summer holidays may help you and your staff. Consider allowing employees to work condensed hours or take annual leave by the hour rather than by the day. This allows them to spend time with their children and continue working.

3.Home working

Another way of solving staff absences during the school holidays is to allow your staff to work from home. Many employers find that employees are more productive when they work at home and this can help employees who struggle with childcare. It is not a suitable solution for all types work or industry but it is certainly worth thinking about.

4.Handover

Never underestimate the importance of a good handover. A well documented list of work done and duties outstanding can lessen the burden of staff holidays on employers and staff who are still at work.  Consider informing customers in advance that their contact will be away. Make sure you know where to find keys and passwords so that business can continue to run as smoothly as possible.
5.Get cover

Temporary and agency staff come at a cost but they can be a great help to the workplace when there is a staff shortage. Hiring agency workers or students during the holiday period could be the answer you have been looking for.

6.Manage the workload

It is important not to burn out staff who are left behind during the holiday season. Try not to overload one person with all of  the work. Where possible spread the workload evenly to prevent the quality of work being compromised. This will also help to reduce staff illnesses and a feeling of resentment.

For advice and support with HR and Employment Law contact Orchard Employment Law at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

 

Holiday Pay Is Not Just About The Money

In 1926 Henry Ford introduced the 8 hour day and the 5 day working week because he realised that employees who rested were more productive. The same applies to employees and annual leave.

Some employers see holiday pay as another tax however, it is really important for employers to understand that holiday pay is not all about the money!

Holiday pay is about Health and Safety. It is there to encourage workers to take adequate rest breaks. This will in turn help your business by having healthier workers who are more productive because they are less tired and staff who make less mistakes because they are less tired.

The Law governing holiday pay in the UK is the Working Time Directive which was introduced in 1998. The Working Time Directive provides instructions and rules as to how many hours employees should work, when they should work and how much holiday they are entitled to.

Most employers now understand that full-time employees in the UK are entitled to a minimum of 28 days holiday within a year but there are still many employers that are making a BIG mistake.

That mistake is paying workers holiday pay in advance of the holiday being taken. This is prevalent with those employers who have staff on zero hour contracts. It is a practice known as ‘rolling up holiday pay’ where the worker will receive an enhanced rate of pay in lieu of holiday.

For example a worker who is over the age of 25 must receive a minimum of £7.50 per hour. A worker who is over the age of 25 receives an enhanced rate to include holiday pay will receive £8.41 per hour.

The problem with this is that the worker is less likely to take holiday because they will fear being without wages. In 2005 a Judge confirmed that this practice is unlawful and that holiday pay should be paid for  at the time when the employee actually takes holiday.

The recent case of British Gas v Lock 2016 reminded us that employers should not be doing anything which might discourage workers and employees from taking annual leave. It was also another example of how not paying holiday pay correctly can lead to a lengthy employment tribunal case.

So remember, holiday pay is not only about the money. It is a health and safety matter and it makes your workers more productive.

If you currently pay your staff an enhanced rate and you would like some assistance renegotiating the contract please contact Orchard Employment Law by visiting http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk/contact

 

There is no such thing as a probationary period

Yes you read the title correctly. There is no such thing as a probationary period in law. Most employers include a probationary period of 3 to 6 months  in employment contracts for new employees.

It is a common misconception with both employers and employees that passing a probationary period means that the employee is ‘safe’. However, the truth is that UK Employment Law has no regard or concern for the customary probationary period.

 

So… there are no rights for employees before 2 years?

Not quite, there are certain rights that staff receive on day one or before employment regardless of probationary periods. These include protection from discrimination, protection against poor treatment following whistleblowing and the ability to ask for a statutory right such as holiday pay, wages or asking about health and safety. These rights allow an employee to sue and employer if at any time regardless of length of service.

 

What is the safe period?

On balance the law provides its own ‘probationary period’ of 2 years or 103 weeks. Legal and HR professionals call this a qualifying period. In simple terms, staff with less than 2 years continuous service cannot sue their employer for things such as unfair dismissal unless it is as result of the things in the previous paragraph.

This means that employees are not safe until they have completed 103 weeks of service. It means that employers can dismiss employees that they believe to be unsatisfactory at anytime before the two years. It also means that employers do not have to wait until the end of a probationary period to decided whether or not the employee is a good fit for their business.

 

Should I still include probationary periods in my contract?

Yes, it is still good practice to include a probationary period in your employment contracts. This tells the new member of staff that you will be monitoring them more closely during this period. It also encourages you to give the new staff member time to find their feet before you start reprimanding them.

What choices do I have at the end of a probationary period?

In an ideal world you would have been monitoring the new member of staff before the end of the probationary period. Whether you have been monitoring the employee throughout the probation period it is a good idea to have a probationary review to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the employee and how they fit into your team.

If the staff member is great you can tell the employee that the probationary period was a success. If the employee shows promise but you are still not quite sure you can extend the probationary period. If the employee is the wrong person for the job or your team you can dismiss them with notice.

How can I get this right?

This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice. Employers and employees may have circumstances which are not explored in this article.

Of course the best way to have peace of mind that you are doing things correctly is to take advice. If you would like to find out how we can help you visit www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk or email info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

5 things employers should know about bank holidays

 

Everyone loves a bank holiday unless you are a manager trying to work out your rights and obligations.  As we approach 4 bank holidays in April and May here is what you need to know about them.

1.There is no entitlement to have a bank holiday off work.

The law states that full time employees must be given a minimum allowance of 28 days holiday (or 5.6 weeks) each holiday year. A holiday year is determined by the employer and can start any month in the year so long as it runs for 12 months. Many employers choose January or April as the start of their holiday year but you could just as easily begin the holiday year in June. If there is no holiday year set by the employer it will be the month the employee began to work for the employer.

A contract may include bank holidays within the 28 day holiday allowance but for those that don’t those 28 days can be used at any time.

2.No entitlement to double pay, time and a half or time of in lieu.

Once again this may be different if you have stated this in the employment contract but there is no automatic right for an employee to be paid anything more than their basic salary when working a bank holiday.

3.What happens if my staff don’t work on a Monday?

It is against the law to treat part-time staff differently to full-time staff and this still applies where bank holidays are concerned. Often part-time worker do not work on a Monday or a Friday. This doesn’t mean they should get less holiday. The best way to do this is to allow part-time or non Monday staff to have a different day off so that they still get their full holiday allowance.

4.What about staff that have been off sick for a while?

Employees who have been off work due to illness for a little while should continue to be treated the same as they would be treated during a normal working day. This means that if an employee is receiving company sick pay (CSP) or statutory sick pay (SSP) they continue to do so. Employees continue to accrue holiday allowance during periods of ill health absence so they will not miss out as they can the day off at another time.

5.What about casual workers?

Casual workers also known as zero hours workers are also entitled to holiday pay. This is calculated based at 12.07% of the hours they have worked to date. The nature of casual work mean that you cannot insist they work on a bank holiday.

If you would like assistance with any Employment Law or HR issues in your business please email info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

 

Valentines for employers (avoiding a harassment claim)

Orchard Employment Law

Sure it is wonderful for your staff to be smiling and happy about where the next anonymous card is going to come from but what is the difference between harmless fun and sexual harassment.

The answer is that there is no answer. One person’s idea of being romanced might be another person’s worst nightmare.

The Equality Act of 2010 gives us some guidance. It says that harassment is ‘unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating and intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual’.

In simple terms it is unwanted attention. It doesn’t matter how sweet or thoughtful a person thinks they are being when trying to woo another, if the recipient does not want this attention it may be deemed as harassment.

This means flowers, songs, special attention, touching and in one…

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Is the fear of Employment Law hindering you from growing your business?

In an age where terrifying stories are the ones that hit the headlines you can be forgiven for not wanting to employ staff. After all staff are just added costs and obligations that a small business does not need aren’t they? Or are they?

In this short article I’m going to tell you why staff needn’t be a headache, why you might find you already have employees and how they can be a benefit.

Ask yourself why you are in business. Perhaps it is because you want to be cash rich or maybe you want to be time rich. You might be fortunate enough to be both time rich and cash rich and if you are you can stop reading this article here.

However, if you are lacking either time or cash maybe staff are the solution to the problem. An extra person or two (with the right guidance) can achieve far more than you could achieve on your own, hence the proverb ‘two heads are better than one’.

Having the right staff in the right jobs allows you to relinquish those jobs you hate or are not very good at. Extra manpower can enable the business to continue to function whilst you are on holiday and this in turn will bring in extra cash as well as extra time.

You might argue that you achieve this through working with freelancers, consultants, self employed people or whatever you choose to call your team but you may just find that you have (without any intention) become an employer.

This has happened to the big boys such as Uber and Amazon so there is the possibility that you might have gotten it wrong. Regardless of the name you attach to an individual the Law can still impose a relationship on your working agreement. If you are in doubt take advice.

Besides, with the right contracts, policies and a little reassurance having staff needn’t be a headache. No one expects you to become a HR director or an Employment Lawyer overnight (unless you want to). You don’t even have to employ one.

If you would like to grow your business and remove the fear of having staff. Contact Orchard Employment Law at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk to see how we can help.

 

Employer tips for the start of 2017

365 days already! In this short blog I am going to give you 7 pointers to kick start 2017.

  1. Reflect, evaluate and measure.

Take some time to evaluate the last year of business. What went well? What could have gone better? What did you learn? What was unexpected and How can you improve? This has to be the starting point for any employer. That way you can keep the great things, and improve the not so great things.

      2. Visualise a perfect 2017

This might seem a little clichéd but it is important for every business to have a vision. Your vision can change and should evolve as the business evolves. Your vision is what drives you to do what you do and if you have staff your vision needs to be clear so that they too can work towards achieving it. So once you have a vision, communicating that vision with your team is essential.

      3. Plan

Create a plan. Now that you know what worked in 2016 and what you want for 2017; how will you and your team achieve it?

     4. Get your house in order

When it comes to Employment Law documentation is key. Why not use the New year as an opportunity to ensure your paperwork in up to scratch. Check all staff have employment contracts and that they are still legally compliant, review your policies, ensure you still have the correct address and next of kin details for each staff member and check that you are still paying minimum wage or more.

     5. Training

We never stop learning. Identify your training needs as a manager. Refresh and revise training you have already had and invest in training for your team. Perhaps you promoted a member staff in 2016? Or maybe you took on a new worker? Either way it is important to ensure that they have the correct tools needed do the job you want them to do to the best of their ability. If you need advice on training I am happy to help or point you in the direction of someone who can.

   6. Employment Law things to look out for in 2017.

Changes in Employment Law for 2017 could be a blog in itself but a few key things to look out for are: Increase in National Living wage, increase in statutory sick pay, the removal of tax benefits to some salary sacrifice schemes and of course auto-enrolment if you haven’t already done it.

   7.Appreciate and Motivate

A great way to motivate your team is to appreciate them. Employees who feel appreciated work better and stay with you. This does not require a big gesture, a little ‘thank you’ can be enough. If you have more than one member of staff call a team meeting, inject the meeting with positivity and set some SMART goals.

All that is left for me to say is Happy New Year from Orchard Employment Law. If you need assistance  with Employment Law or HR during 2017, please contact me on 01634 564136 or info@orhardemploymentlaw.co.uk.

You can also follow me on Twitter @jemmafairhay