How Do Employers Manage Quarantine After Holidays?

We may have had Freedom Day in the UK but the pandemic is still very much here. What do employers do if employees wish to holiday abroad and how do we manage swift changes in the isolation rules? 

Holidays abroad seemed like a thing of the past for a while until the government introduced a traffic light system which has different procedures for those who wish to travel to another country.

The Traffic Light System

Currently Green countries are those countries which do not require quarantine upon return to the UK.

Amber destinations are deemed to have more risk than Green countries and will require quarantine for people who have not been vaccinated or travel before the rules change on August 16th 2021.

Red destinations are countries which the government has advised against travelling to and require a hotel quarantine period.

But what happens when a country moves suddenly from Green to Amber, Amber to Red or when the rules change at short notice just as they did with Paris?

Banning Staff From Going Abroad

Of course we cannot and would not want to ban staff from travelling abroad. Travelling means different things to different people. For some it is the joy of seeing somewhere new, to others it may mean a long awaited hug from a family member or loved one and for others still it is a matter of business.

It would not be reasonable or appropriate to stop staff from travelling and if it resulted in dismissal it could lead to an unfair dismissal claim.

However we do suggest advising staff that travelling might be at their own financial risk if they are required to isolate.

Do I have to pay staff to Self-Isolate following travel?

The current rules are that staff who are required to self isolate by law are entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from Day One of isolation. You can pay more but SSP is the minimum that you must pay.

Can I request that staff work during isolation?

If staff are able to work from home and they are well enough to do so you can ask staff to work from home. If staff are working from home they should receive full pay.

Can I insist that staff attend their place of work during Self Isolation?

As of September 2020 it became illegal for an employer to allow a member of staff to work anywhere but their place of isolation during self isolation. Insisting that a staff member attend work when they should be in quarantine can result in a £10,000 fine for the employer.

Aside from the legalities and the fine, it would also put other staff, service users and clients at risk.

What can I do if my employee asks to use annual leave during self isolation?

There is nothing stopping you allowing a staff member to use annual leave during self isolation. It may well help them financially.

Employers can also request that staff use annual leave at any time providing they give twice as much notice as the leave they would like the employee to take. In real terms this means, 2 days notice for 1 day annual leave or 8 days notice to use 4 days annual leave.

Should I be telling my staff the procedure for self isolation following the holiday?

There is no legal requirement to outline a self- isolation procedure following annual leave but this is good practice. It will help staff know what they should do if they find themselves in a quarantine situation after a holiday. It also helps managers know what they should be doing.

Where can I get HR and Employment Law Support with staff?

You can get free advice from acas and from our newsletters.

We are always happy to help employers with Employment Law, email us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk or visit our website at www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk to see how we can help you.

Do I Need A Working From Home Policy?

Working from home and Hybrid working has been a normality for some businesses for many years. However, many other businesses began working from home on a much larger scale during the pandemic. As we start to recover from the pandemic some employers have decided to ditch the office altogether whilst others have decided to opt for a Hybrid solution. 

I didn’t have a Working From Home Policy last year, why would I get one now?

Most businesses were not prepared for Boris’ ‘work from home if you can’ announcement in March 2020, but British businesses are adaptable and resilient and we rose to the challenge in a hurry. That meant scrambling for laptops and PC’s, moving documents onto a cloud and a mass rerouting of telephone lines. For many, the legal and security implications were not a consideration but we are still required to follow GDPR ( General Data Protection Regulations), Employment Law and Health and Safety Laws.

Data

You must still ensure that staff data and client data is secure. This can mean you need to consider a number of things such as:

How do staff dispose of documents containing data, will you supply a shredder, a confidential waste bin or require old documents to be returned to the office for safe disposal?

Are staff able to store documents safely in a locked cupboard?

Will they be sharing their computer with other members of their household?

Are they wearing headphones when they are having conversations which include sensitive data?

Is the email and internet usage encrypted?

Health And Safety

Employers are still responsible for the safety of staff whilst they are working from home. This doesn’t mean you need to do a daily home visit but you may well ask staff to carry out a risk assessment. At the very least you will want to ensure that they have the right chair and desk set up.

Who  Will You Allow To Work From Home?

Working from home is not suitable for everybody, some people do not have the space, the internet speed or the desire to work from home. If you are introducing working from home or hybrid working for a selection of staff then you should be able to explain why you have disallowed it for others. A working from home criteria is useful to help avoid discriminating against groups of people.

Expenses and Bills

Working from home can incur additional expenses for staff, your working from home policy should set out who is responsible for bills and expenses.

Avoiding An Us And Them Culture

If some staff are able to work from home whilst others are in the workplace you will need to make an effort to prevent an us and them culture.

You will still want everyone to feel a part of the team and although working from home has many benefits it can mean that staff miss out on general chit chat where friendships are built or they miss out on the social activities which workplaces inspire. It can also lead to resentment from work based staff who would like to work from home. Keep having regular meetings either via video link or in person and team activities to keep the team together.

How do I get a Homeworking Policy

We are able to supply you with and Homeworking and Hybrid working policy for your business. To enquire about our working from home policy contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

The importance of managing misconduct (even if it is a small issue)

It is important to deal with employee matters as soon as possible, even if they are minor issues.

One reason for this is to avoid what we call ‘The Straw Effect’. The straw effect is where managers ignore small issues (usually because they want to be nice or do not wish to make a fuss) and then act what seems like unreasonably for a minor issue when in reality is is ‘the last straw’ or ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back.’

Employees need to be aware of what is and what is not acceptable in the workplace and if they are not informed of these then they will behave and carry out their work in the way(s) that they feel are correct.

It may be the case that minor issues are dealt with by having an informal chat with the employee. If the employee then carries as before then formal disciplinary actions may be required. If an employer does not deal with conduct issues at the time that they occur, there is very little that can be done about these in the future. They can be used as historical evidence in any future matters but, unless a disciplinary or conduct hearing is held and warnings are given to the employee at the time of the incident(s), an employer cannot give warnings for these incidents in the future, without reasonable reasoning. Misconduct issues should be dealt with and investigated as soon as they become known to management.

Failure to investigate misconduct not only sends the wrong message to employees but also runs the risk of scrutiny by third parties. Fair disciplinary procedures should apply to all alleged incidents of misconduct. These include investigation and disciplinary meetings (where necessary), the right for the employee to appeal the decision, and different individuals carrying out the different aspects of the process, i.e. one person carrying out the investigation, a second person carrying out the disciplinary and a third person dealing with any appeal.

If a business does not have enough members of management to carry out the different stages of the process, it may be that an outside party, such as a business owner from another business or an HR consultancy firm, carries out some of the process.

When disciplinary proceedings involve accusations of alleged historical misconduct that have only now come to light, additional issues must be taken into consideration, including: –

● Why have the allegations only come to light now?

This could simply be down to evidence only emerging now. The investigator should consider the time of the alleged incident(s) and whether the employee’s behaviour might not have merited disciplinary action at the time of the incident(s).

● Was the employee’s line manager aware of the alleged misconduct at the time it occurred?​

If the answer is yes then it is crucial that the investigation considers why disciplinary action was not undertaken earlier. If the misconduct was ignored or accepted by the line manager, there is the possibility that this could undermine any subsequent decision to dismiss or impose any other disciplinary action on the employee. If you have concerns that line managers are not performing to the correct duties, you should consider providing training on how to deal with misconduct in the workplace, including the importance of dealing with misconduct when it arises.

● How can we investigate something that happened in the past?

You must believe that the alleged misconduct actually took place, and be serious enough, for a dismissal to be considered fair. A proper investigation and disciplinary hearing must be carried out and evidence provided to support this belief. The circumstances of the alleged misconduct will determine what is reasonable. If witnesses are no longer available, you could base your decision on evidence if this evidence can be corroborated, sounds feasible and there appears to be no ulterior motive. If documents or other evidence are unavailable, then it may not be reasonable to rely on personal recollections of the contents of that evidence.

A recent case held at the Employment Tribunal has awarded the Claimant £25,000 compensation for unfair dismissal. Mr. Trice had worked for Southeastern Railway for eight years and, at the time of the incident which led to his dismissal, was working light duties at Paddock Wood Railway Station after suffering a broken ankle.

Mr Trice had found himself alone in the ticket office after his colleague had left the window open to go to the shop. A customer approached the window to buy a ticket and, although Mr Trice was not authorised to issue tickets, he went ahead and assisted the customer. Southeastern Railway started an investigation and during this period, Mr Trice admitted that he had acted incorrectly and was very apologetic.

Despite his contrition, Southeastern Railway dismissed him without notice. The colleague who had left the ticket window unattended to go to the shop was only giving a warning, despite also breaking the rules. The Employment Tribunal held that Mr Trice had been wrongly dismissed, saying: -​

“We agree that the Claimant’s actions constituted misconduct and warranted at least a warning but we do find it outside the reasonable range to dismiss. “The Claimant’s motive was to assist a customer, albeit misguided, and there was clear contrition and acceptance he should do differently in future.”

The tribunal went on to say that, instead of dismissing Mr Trice, Southeastern Railway should have provided further training.

This case highlights the fact that employers should consider both motive and whether or not a staff member is remorseful about any alleged misconduct.

We do not know the history of Mr Trice’s employment with Southeastern Railway and, therefore, cannot say if there had been any previous incidents which should have been investigated by Southeastern Railway but in which nothing was done.

It could be that Mr Trice’s conduct and disciplinary record with Southeastern Railway was, on paper, very good but if there were incidents that were not investigated and/or dealt with following correct procedures, then this could have influenced the decision to dismiss Mr Trice.

If you would like any further guidance on carrying out or assistance with conducting a proper disciplinary hearing, or for more information on management training, please feel free to contact us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

“We agree that the Claimant’s actions constituted misconduct and warranted at least a warning but we do find it outside the reasonable range to dismiss. “The Claimant’s motive was to assist a customer, albeit misguided, and there was clear contrition and acceptance he should do differently in future.” The tribunal went on to say that, instead of dismissing Mr Trice, Southeastern Railway should have provided further training. We do not know the history of Mr Trice’s employment with Southeastern Railway and, therefore, cannot say if there had been any previous incidents which should have been investigated by Southeastern Railway but in which nothing was done. It could very well be that Mr Trice’s conduct and disciplinary record with Southeastern Railway was, on paper, very good but if there were incidents that were not investigated and/or dealt with following correct procedures, then this could have influenced the decision to dismiss Mr Trice. If you would like any further guidance on carrying out or assistance with conducting a proper disciplinary hearing, or for more information on management training, please feel free to contact us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

If the answer is yes then it is crucial that the investigation considers why disciplinary action was not undertaken earlier. If the misconduct was ignored or accepted by the line manager, there is the possibility that this could undermine any subsequent decision to dismiss or impose any other disciplinary action on the employee. If you have concerns that line managers are not performing to the correct duties, you should consider providing training on how to deal with misconduct in the workplace, including the importance of dealing with misconduct when it arises. ● How can we investigate something that happened in the past? You must believe that the alleged misconduct actually took place, and be serious enough, for a dismissal to be considered fair. A proper investigation and disciplinary hearing must be carried out and evidence provided to support this belief. The circumstances of the alleged misconduct will determine what is reasonable. If witnesses are no longer available, you could base your decision on hearsay evidence if this evidence can be corroborated, sounds feasible and there appears to be no ulterior motive. If documents or other evidence are unavailable, then it may not be reasonable to rely on personal recollections of the contents of that evidence. A recent case held at the Employment Tribunal has awarded the Claimant £25,000 compensation for unfair dismissal. Tony Trice had worked for Southeastern Railway for eight years and, at the time of the incident which led to his dismissal, was working light duties at Paddock Wood Railway Station after suffering a broken ankle. Mr Trice had found himself alone in the ticket office after his colleague had left the window open to go to the shop. A customer approached the window to buy a ticket and, although Mr Trice was not authorised to issue tickets, he went ahead and assisted the customer. Southeastern Railway started an investigation and during this period, Mr Trice admitted that he had acted incorrectly and was very apologetic. Despite his contrition, Southeastern Railway dismissed him without notice. The colleague who had left the ticket window unattended to go to the shop was only giving a warning, despite also breaking the rules. The Employment Tribunal held that Mr Trice had been wrongly dismissed, saying: -​

Furlough Explained

Many businesses across the UK have been experiencing a downturn in revenue as a result of the worldwide covid19 outbreak and had to make some difficult decisions about staffing levels.

On Friday 20th March 2020 the government announced that they would support businesses and staff by introducing a Coronavirus Retention Scheme. The scheme means that the government will pay up to 80% of an employees salary up to the value of £2,500 if they have been furloughed during the pandemic.

The big question is what is Furlough and how do you do it?

The general rule is that employers have an obligation to provide work for employees (not zero-hours workers) as stated in the employment contract. This means that you are still required to pay your staff for their contractual hours if you send an employee home due to a shortage of work.

However, you will not have to pay employees to stay at home if you have the right to lay-off (also known as furlough) their staff. 

Lay off or furlough is not redundnacy or dismissal and they continue to accrue annual leave and other employment rights during this period. Lay off us usually or reduced pay with a minimum payment of £29 per day for 5 days within a 30 day period. In this instance, the staff will be paid a reduced salary.

Do I have the right to furlough staff?

Employers can furlough staff if they have a contractual right to do so. This is often termed as a lay-off clause in the contract.

If you have a lay-clause you must still follow some rules including:

  • Explain to staff what lay-off means
  • Tell staff of their rights during lay-off
  • Tell staff how long you expect the lay-off to last
  • Tell staff how much pay they will receive.

What if I don’t have a  lay-off clause in the contract?

The Coronavirus Retention Scheme is still subject to current UK Employment Law. This means that if you do not have a lay-off clause contract you will need to negotiate with staff to add an additional lay-off term.

At the moment, many staff are agreeing to the term but you cannot force them to do so.

It is important to note that any amendment to the terms of employment should be done in writing.

Choosing who to furlough

If all staff are not subject to lay-off it is important that you have a clear and transparent selection criteria for who will be laid-off.

Employers should be careful not to discriminate on the against staff on the grounds of 

  • Race
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Marital Status
  • Pregnancy or Maternity
  • Religion or belief
  • Disability

We hope that you have found this information useful, Contact us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk  if you would like advice or help with documentation for furlough or any other HR matter. 

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.

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

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

A quick overview of Sick Pay

Although we are currently enjoying the Indian Summer we will, at some point, start experiencing cooler weather. With this, it is common to have staff off work with coughs, colds, sniffles and maybe even the flu so this month we are blogging about sick pay.

There are two types of Sick Pay and they are often referred to as Statutory Sick Pay and Company Sick Pay.

Here is a quick guide to sick pay.

Statutory Sick Pay

If an employee is unwell and too sick to work, they could be entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). As an employer, it is your legal obligation to pay this to your employee.

There are certain criteria which need to be met for an employee to receive SSP, including: –

  • They must be classed as an employee and must have carried out some work for you;
  • They must have been ill for at least four days in a row (including non-working days);
  • They must earn an average of at least £116 per week;
  • They must tell you that they are sick before the qualifying deadline – or within seven days if they do not have one.

Agency and casual workers, part-time staff and staff on fixed-term contracts are also entitled to receive SSP (as long as the above criteria are met).

Of course, there are exceptions to the above. An employee will not qualify for SSP if: –

  • They have received the maximum amount of SSP (28 weeks) in any one year;
  • They are receiving Statutory Maternity Pay.

An employee will still qualify for SSP if they started working for you recently but have not yet received eight weeks’ pay.

If your employee has regular periods of sickness, these may be classed as ‘linked’. In these situations, the periods of sickness should: –

  • Last for four or more days each;
  • Be eight weeks or less apart.

However, the employee will not be eligible to receive SSP if they have a continuous series of linked periods that last for more than three years.

Your employee is only required to provide a doctor’s fit note (previously called a sick note) if they are off sick for more than seven days in a row (including non-working days).

Statutory Sick Pay is paid at a rate of £92.05 a week (as at October 2018), for up to 28 weeks in any one year. As an employer, you cannot pay less than this amount. However, you can pay more if you have a Company Sick Pay Policy (see below).

SSP is payable from the fourth ‘qualifying day’ (the day on which the employee is normally required to work). The first three qualifying days are called ‘waiting days’. SSP is not normally paid for the first 3 qualifying days unless the employee has been off sick and getting SSP within the last 8 weeks. Payment of SSP stops when the employee returns to work.

Remember that the employee’s period of sick leave does not stop if they are on annual leave/holiday during their illness.

If the employee has worked for just one minute before going home as sick, you cannot count that day as a sick day. If the employee works a shift that ends the day after it started and becomes sick during the shift or after it has finished, the second day will count as a sick day.

It is entirely up to you how you record your employees’ sickness absence. However, remember that HMRC may need to review your records if there is any future dispute over the payment of SSP for a particular employee.

You can no longer claim back SSP for sick leave from the Government.

 

Company Sick Pay / Contractual Sick Pay

Some companies have a Company Sick Pay Policy, sometimes called a Contractual Sick Pay Policy. In these cases, the employee’s Contract of Employment must state what the company’s sick pay policy is and how much they will be paid.

For example, the employee’s contract may include provision for payment of the employee’s normal salary in circumstances when they are off sick. Alternatively, the Contract of Employment might state that the employee will receive their normal salary less the amount of statutory sick pay.

If under the terms of the employee’s contract, contractual sick pay is not payable at all, the employee will only be entitled to receive SSP.

Why monitor sickness

Monitoring sickness can help you to identify trends. It may be that your staff member is off sick every Friday or at the end of the month.

You might find that sickness levels are related to stress or that the staff member has a disability.

By monitoring sickness levels you can reduce absences and help your staff.

If you would like more information about matters relating to Employment Law or HR, please contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

What should employers know about Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, to raise awareness of the devastating disease that is Alzheimer’s, with the aim of challenging the stigma that surrounds Alzheimer’s and Dementia. 

There are over 100 types of  Dementia and Alzheimer’s is a form of Dementia. This year (2018) marks the 7th World Alzheimer’s Month.

World Alzheimer’s Day is on 21st September each year and 10th October is Mental Health Awareness Day.

Dementia in the Workplace

People can live well with Dementia, however, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease automatically qualify as a disability so employers need to be aware of disability discrimination. Some employers choose to have an Equal Opportunities policy, Bullying and Harassment Policy and an Anti Discrimination Policy to help prevent discrimination from occurring. It also helps staff to know what they should do if they feel they have been discriminated against.

According to the ACAS website, “More than 40,000 people under the age of 65 have been diagnosed with Dementia in the UK – and 18 per cent of them continue to work after a diagnosis. As the number of people with Dementia is forecast to increase (to over 1 million by 2025 and 2 million by 2051), and with a greater number of people expected to work later in life, it’s an issue that’s bound to become increasingly significant in the workplace.”

The future is unclear on the matter of Dementia in the workplace, but it is highly likely that businesses will see an increase in employees who have Dementia over the coming years, and this could become an issue because some employees may find it difficult to cope with this syndrome whilst at the same time still trying to perform their work duties. 

Being aware of the symptoms of Dementia and Alzheimer’s and the different stages of this disease will be invaluable to both employers and employees, in order to improve the response to supporting affected employees in identifying their symptoms and moving forward and helping them to live well.

Although memory loss is a well-known symptom of Dementia and Alzheimer’s, some other early signs of Dementia could include: –

  • Loss of initiative;
  • Changes in mood and behaviour;
  • Changes in personality;
  • Problems with abstract thinking;
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks;
  • Poor judgment;
  • Disorientation of time and place;
  • Misplacing things.

With improved awareness, employers (and their staff) can reduce the likelihood of misinterpreting some of the early signs of Dementia and mistaking them for capability or misconduct issues.

The Alzheimer’s Society says that “Employers must be prepared to support … people aged under 65 with Dementia, many of whom continue to work following diagnosis …

“The Equality Act (2010) requires employers to avoid discrimination and make reasonable adjustments to ensure people with Dementia are not disadvantaged in the workplace. Employers are also obliged to consider requests for flexible working from carers under the Flexible Working Regulations (2006).

“Employers should provide appropriate support throughout the journey of a person with Dementia. As the condition advances, employees will require information, advice and guidance about finishing work.”

Supporting people with Dementia is going to be an ongoing matter for employers, but employers do have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for staff with Dementia in order that they are not disadvantaged at work.

Such adjustments could include clear signage, having quiet areas, and installing visual barriers to minimise distractions. They might also include a review of the employee’s current job description, reallocation of duties, a change of working hours, or redeployment to another position within the business.

Of course, at some point in the future, it may not be possible for the employer to continue to make adjustments to accommodate a Dementia employee, and the time may come that the employee will no longer be able to continue with their duties. However, when that time does come, employers should avoid using capability and disciplinary procedures, and should instead follow a ‘dignified exit package and strategy’.

The diagnosis of Dementia will be a difficult time for the employee. However, honesty about options over a long period of time will ease some of that difficulty and help them to continue with their working commitments as much as possible.

If you would like any further advice on Dementia and Alzheimer’s in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk or give us a call on 01634 564 136.