Dismissal for Some Other Substantial Reason: Demystified – Part One

The whole dismissal process can be a minefield for employers, so it’s important to understand the differences. I wrote about those differences in a recent newsletter, but the term ‘dismissal for some other substantial reason’ (SOSR) needs further clarification.

There is a danger that some employers use SOSR as a convenient way to get rid of unwanted employees. But there really must be a good, reasonable and substantial reason for doing so. You must demonstrate that you followed a fair procedure, because if you didn’t, an employee can successfully claim unfair dismissal.

Under Section 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the potentially fair reasons for dismissal are:

• Capability
• Conduct
• Redundancy
• Contravention of a statutory duty or restriction
• Or, if none of these apply, ‘some other substantial reason (SOSR) of a kind such as to justify the dismissal of an employee holding a position which the employee held’

Examples of dismissals that could be held for SOSR include:

• Non-renewal of the fixed-term contract of an employee recruited as maternity leave cover
• The dismissal and re-engagement of an employee to impose new contractual terms and conditions that the employee has refused to agree
• A dismissal because of a personality clash between employees that makes it impossible for them to work together
• Dismissal of an employee where there are concerns relating to the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults, but where the employer does not have grounds for a misconduct dismissal

Client Refuses to Have an Individual on Site

Another valid reason for using SOSR is when a client reports that they no longer want one of your staff members back on their site. Naturally, you need to protect your commercial interests and maintain a good business relationship with the client, but you must also balance the employment rights of the employee.

If you were to dismiss the employee without taking any steps to find a solution, or take account of any injustice towards the employee, you run a high risk of a successful unfair dismissal claim against you. But if you have acted reasonably and investigated fully before deciding to dismiss, SOSR can safely be used as a fair reason for dismissal.

What’s the Problem?

Firstly, investigate why the client has objected to the employee to see if the problem could be resolved. If the reason is evidently misconduct at the client’s workplace, then it needs to be dealt with accordingly using your disciplinary procedure. Where the reason is less clear, such as the client disapproving of a particular working practice, the employee could be asked to change their process to match the client’s needs.

When the situation is serious, a tribunal will need to be satisfied that you have taken the appropriate steps to find any scope for resolution. Ensure you have a written record of discussions with the client when trying to resolve the problem; ask them to provide their objections in writing. If you cannot establish the truth of the client’s allegations, or do not agree with their actions, the commercial pressure on you both may still provide sufficient grounds for a fair dismissal on SOSR grounds.

What About the Employee?

If your client is adamant that there can be no satisfactory resolution, and that the employee should not return, it’s important to consider what injustice might be caused to the employee when deciding whether to dismiss. For instance, how long have they worked for you? How satisfactory has that service been? What are their prospects on the labour market? Case law has shown that none of these factors is conclusive, but should all be considered prior to dismissal.

What other alternatives are there rather than dismissal? Could you offer redeployment within your organisation? If it’s large enough, there may be a different type of job that your employee could do.

The Employee’s Contract

Your case will be strengthened if the employee has been warned that the client may intervene to have him or her removed. These days, many commercial contracts include a clause stating that the client may ask the employer to remove any employee whom the client considers unsuitable. It would help to include this in the employee’s contract of employment, as it shows reasonableness when acting on third-party pressure. Your employees should also be informed of the importance of maintaining good working relations with clients during their induction. The induction is also an ideal time to reiterate the client’s right to insist on the removal of employees.

In Part Two of Dismissal for Some Other Substantial Reason: Demystified, I’ll cover the difficult subject of refusal to work with other colleagues. Look out for that one coming soon.

Meanwhile, if you need any further advice on dismissal or any other staff issues, do call me on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me.

Helping Employees in the Lead Up to their Retirement

The thought of retirement for the employee can be mixed – a relief, exciting, or even tainted with a dread of the unknown. Especially if they haven’t made any firm retirement plans. Alternatively, they may be planning to work until they’re 70, as recent research undertaken by the CIPD shows that many people feel this will help them to remain mentally fit.

Whatever the employee’s feelings about retirement, as an employer you need to be as supportive as possible on the lead up to retirement. You also need to be careful about how you approach people who you feel may be nearing retirement age. It could be that your employees don’t want to retire yet, and you may be accused of age discrimination.

Due to a change in the law introduced on 6 April 2011, employers can no longer compel employees to retire at a specified age, unless the requirement to retire is justified objectively – for instance, if your organisation relies on a certain level of fitness to perform their job functions effectively, such as within the construction industry. This change in legislation means that employees can choose to retire when they want.

The law now means that you cannot use retirement as an excuse to dismiss employees who might be experiencing difficulties with their work, for whatever reason. Instead, all employees of all ages should be treated fairly and equally when appraising past performance, or when providing training and development opportunities. Doing this regularly will help to prevent capability issues from arising.

Treating older employees differently from younger employees could amount to age discrimination, which could, unless justified, be unlawful. For example, if you disregard inadequate performance on the part of a 65-year-old employee on the assumption that he or she will be retiring soon, but deliver heavy criticism to a 25-year-old employee whose performance is similarly inadequate, the difference in treatment would amount to age discrimination.

Similarly, if the employee indicates during an appraisal interview that he or she is considering retiring soon, take care not to discriminate against him or her. Instead, you could begin to make future plans if the employee does decide to retire.

Dos and don’ts

  • Do continue to treat the employee in the same way as you would treat other employees, for example in the provision of training opportunities.
  • Do adjust the employee’s performance expectations proportionately if they indicate that they would like to work reduced hours in the run-up to retirement, and if you can accommodate this.
  • Do discuss with the employee how they could pass on their knowledge and skills to other staff in the run-up to retirement.
  • Do discuss succession issues with the employee, for example how they might be involved in training a replacement for the job.
  • Do reassure the employee that they can change their mind about retirement if they wish.
  • Don’t say or do anything that might amount to age discrimination against the employee.
  • Don’t assume that, if the employee indicates that they plan to retire at a particular time, they will do so. Until the employee actually hands in his or her notice, communication of an intention to retire is not binding on the employee. You could, however, remind the employee of the requirement to give notice under the employment contract, and the length of the notice period.

By being mindful of both your legal requirements and your employees’ needs, and acting accordingly, means that your business is not only helping your employee during this often difficult transition in their lives, but you are also protecting, or even improving, your organisation’s reputation as a good employer.

For any further advice on how to help your employees retire well with the least disruption to your business, do call me on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me.

What Do You Do When a Member of Staff Becomes Disabled?

This guest blog has been written by Roland Chesters from Luminate, a Disability Development Consultant.

Despite the high number of people living with disabilities in the UK, many organisations have still little experience of working with someone with a disability. Too many people just don’t know what to do when a member of staff becomes disabled. They don’t know how to work with and look after that person, or how to meet their legal obligations as an employer.

While every situation will be different, depending on the person and their disability, there are some basic guidelines that you need to follow. I want to share them with you in this post.

Without wanting to sound too obvious, the first thing that needs to done is talk to the member of staff who has become disabled. After all, it’s they who know best how the disability will affect them and their work. Their manager will need to have as many confidential, confidence building conversations as they need, about how to help them to get back to full productivity as soon as possible. Line managers should resist the urge to rush to the internet to find out as much as they can about the disability; the only thing they need to do at this stage is to ask the person with the disability what they need.

The next stage of the process is for the manager to liaise with your HR department, or an Occupational Health specialist, about any adjustments that are needed to help the disabled member of staff to perform at their best. Some of these adjustments might be visible, such as different working hours or equipment that is needed, which can cause other members of staff to start asking questions. “Why is that person coming in later than everyone else?” or “Why does she have a new chair?” Remember that line managers are not allowed to talk to other members of staff about this particular person’s disability – it is up to them to discuss it with their work colleagues, if they want.

#Tip: For SMEs that don’t have Occupational Health advisers or who can’t afford them, the Fit for Work service is a free resource. The service offers free health and work advice through its website and telephone advice line, to help employers with absence prevention. It also provides free referrals for an occupational health assessment for employees who have reached, or whose GP expects them to reach, four weeks’ sickness absence.

It’s really important that managers keep communication channels open with someone who has a disability, to make sure that future adjustments can be made if they are needed. Situations change and people adapt to living with disabilities, so managers need to remain supportive and aware of how a disabled member of staff is performing and managing.

How do managers answer questions from their staff about the visible changes to working conditions that they can see? Since managers are not allowed to discuss the details of the disability with other people, the best way to handle it is to just let them know that it’s a confidential matter that has been agreed between the line manager and the individual member of staff.

When someone at work becomes disabled, the organisation needs to assess the impact of the cost of making changes to accommodate that person and the cost of the functioning of the business. They also need to be aware of their legal obligations. However, it’s just as important that managers remember that at the end of the day, they’re dealing with a real person, who has thoughts and feelings. Talking to them about their disability is the best way to find the right solution for everyone, to make sure that they can carry on doing their best for the business.

What is a disability?

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination where they work, as well as in the wider society in which they live. It protects people from discrimination against them, on many grounds (such as age, sex and race), as well as disability. According to the Act, a person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

The Act states that employers are legally bound to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities.  You can find out more about the Act and your legal obligations here.

#Tip: If you have a disability, remember that your employers cannot make adjustments for you until you tell them about your disability. Your boss is not a mind reader!

What are reasonable adjustments?

The average cost of reasonable adjustments per individual is about £75. In many cases these adjustments are simple and inexpensive or even free. What may seem like little changes can have a profound impact in allowing your employees to maintain productive working lives.

Examples of possible reasonable adjustments are:

  • Providing flexible work hours or a phased return to work (flexible, part-time hours)
  • Allocating a ground floor workstation to an employee who uses a wheelchair, or providing a lift or ramp
  • Providing equipment which is suited to the individual, such as a louder phone for an employee with a hearing impairment, or a special keyboard for an employee with arthritis
  • Allowing an employee with social anxiety disorder to work at a designated desk, rather than hot-desking
  • If an employee has a particular phobia, removing such items from the work area
  • Consider job sharing to help reduce the workload.

Factors which may affect what is considered a ‘reasonable adjustment’ include:

  • the extent to which taking the step would prevent the effect in question
  • the extent to which it is practicable for the employer to make the change
  • the financial and other costs which would be incurred by the employer in making the change
  • the extent to which making the change would disrupt any of the employer’s activities
  • the extent of the employer’s financial and other resources
  • the availability to the employer of financial or other assistance with respect to making the adjustment
  • the size and type of business.

#Tip: In situations where an individual requires assistance which is beyond reasonable for the employer to provide, you may consider getting support from Access to Work. This is a government-run programme which helps disabled people to get into or retain employment. The programme provides advice and practical help in assessing the disability needs of a person in the workplace. It may offer financial support towards any costs which are beyond the reasonable adjustments that the company is obliged to provide.

If one of your members of staff has a disability and you think that you might need to make adjustments for them, do get in touch and we can talk about it. Click here to email Roland or call him on 07752 518 925.

How to Manage Annual Leave

Mismanagement of annual leave can have a dramatic impact on your company’s business, as demonstrated by Ryanair’s cancellation of hundreds of flights after it admitted “messing up” the planning of pilots’ holiday in the summer of 2017.

Here are some of the most common problems with managing annual leave, to help you to avoid them:

1. Encourage your employees to take holiday throughout the year

Allowing staff to build up too much leave and not spread out their holidays over the year can be a major problem for you. This could occur if there is an excess of work to do or if the business is struggling because of the economic climate, meaning that employees feel they are not able to take annual leave without putting their jobs at risk.

You should encourage your employees to plan and take annual leave. The responsibility for monitoring it is usually allocated to line managers, who should check their employees’ annual leave balance and remind them that they need to use the holiday up by the end of the leave year.

  • Do encourage your staff to submit dates for their holiday as far in advance as possible.
  • Do review regularly whether or not employees have taken, or at least planned to take, some of their holiday.

2. “Buying out” annual leave entitlement

You may be tempted to offer staff a cash substitute in return for giving up their annual leave entitlement. However, it is a fundamental principle of annual leave law that employers can’t give employees payment in lieu of their minimum statutory annual leave entitlement (i.e. the 5.6 weeks guaranteed under UK law). The exception to this is on termination of employment. When an employee leaves a job part way through the holiday year, they will be entitled to be paid for any accrued statutory holiday not taken by the date they leave.

  • Don’t give in to employees’ requests for pay in lieu of holiday.

3. Carrying over of excessive amounts of holiday

You could consider allowing employees who have not taken their full entitlement to carry over holiday into subsequent leave years. Current EU law prevents you from carrying over the first four weeks of your employees’ statutory annual leave, except when an employee is unable to take the leave because of sickness absence.

Beyond the first four weeks of statutory annual leave, you can allow employees to carry forward periods of holiday. If you do, you should have a rule requiring the excess leave to be used up within the first few months of the next holiday year.

  • Do remind your employees now and then how much annual leave they have outstanding.
  • Do ask any employee who hasn’t taken any holiday or submitted any holiday dates by a certain date – such as the middle of the holiday year – to book some holiday dates as soon as they can.
  • Don’t wait until near the end of the holiday year before reviewing whether or not employees have taken all their holiday.
  • Don’t make staff feel guilty about taking holiday.

4. Allowing too many employees to take leave at the same time

One of the biggest dangers for employers is the effect on the business of allowing too many employees to take time off during particular periods, typically in the summer or at Christmas.

Line managers can sometimes be reluctant to turn down employees’ holiday requests, particularly if an employee has already booked a trip or has a family commitment. However, as their employer you don’t have to agree to a worker’s request to take holiday at a particular time, unless the contract of employment contract says otherwise.

You should have a clear policy on holiday requests, such as ‘first-come, first-served’ approach. Line managers should be brave enough to turn down holiday requests (with the correct notice) when the timing of leave would cause the business difficulties.

  • Do ensure that holiday leave is planned in such a way that the department has adequate cover at all times.
  • Don’t leave the matter of holiday to chance.
  • Don’t take the view that it’s up to each individual to decide whether or not they want to take holiday.

5. Paying your employees the right amount during annual leave

The calculation of holiday pay needs to be done correctly and can no longer be based on just an employee’s basic pay.

Case law has established that pay during annual leave should now include other payments such as overtime pay (both compulsory and voluntary), standby/call-out allowances, shift premia and travel allowances.

You need to decide on a sensible approach to holiday pay calculations, including the length of time used to calculate the average and what allowances should be included.

These are probably the most common issues of annual leave that you will face an employer. Encouraging your employees to take their full allowance of holiday is not only good practice for the business – it is also vital for the health and welfare of your employees. Ensuring that employees take regular time off will help you to build a stronger, more productive workforce in the long run.

If you have any questions about dealing with holiday issues, do get in touch by calling 0118 940 3032 or emailing me here.

Source: XpertHR

It’s Time to Stamp Out Bullying at Work!

The issue of bullying and harassment at work is a serious matter. The CIPD published a study showing that 13% of employees reported having experienced bullying or harassment at work in the previous 12 months. Yet many managers assume that the problem does not exist, often because no one has complained. A belief or assumption that bullying and harassment do not happen is probably the biggest barrier to tackling the problem.

Many employees may be reluctant to report instances of bullying or harassment out of fear of damaging working relationships with their colleagues, fear of reprisals, embarrassment or worry that they may be perceived as troublemakers. It is important for managers to bear in mind that just because no one has complained does not mean that bullying or harassment is not taking place.

Let’s look at what you can do to deal with bullying and prevent it from happening.

What is Bullying?

Bullying at work is behaviour that is:

  • threatening, aggressive or intimidating;
  • abusive, insulting or offensive;
  • cruel or vindictive; or
  • humiliating, degrading or demeaning.

Bullying will inevitably erode the victim’s confidence and self-esteem. It normally relates to negative behaviours that are repeated and persistent, and deliberately targeted at a particular individual. It is often an abuse of power, position or knowledge, and may be perpetrated by the victim’s manager, peers or even subordinates.

The following table gives some examples of behaviour that could be perceived as bullying.

What about Harassment? 

Harassment is unlawful if it relates to sex, gender reassignment, race (which includes colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins), religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability or age.

The right not to be harassed at work extends to all workers, so agency temps, casual staff and contractors are all protected.

Employees can complain of harassment even if the behaviour in question is not directed at them. This is because the complainant does not actually need to possess the relevant protected characteristic. An employee can complain of unlawful harassment if they have experienced:

  • harassment because they are related to or associated with someone who possesses a relevant protected characteristic; or
  • harassment by a colleague who has the mistaken perception that they possess a relevant protected characteristic.

For example, an employee could complain of harassment where it relates to the fact that they have a homosexual family member or is wrongly perceived to be homosexual. In addition, harassment could occur where a protected characteristic is used as an excuse for the behaviour, even if the perpetrator does not believe that the employee possess the protected characteristic. For example, a line manager may harass a colleague if he teases him about a learning difficulty, even if he does not have a learning difficulty and the line manager knows that he does not.

It is also unlawful to engage in unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature, or to treat a person less favourably because they have rejected or submitted to unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or unwanted conduct related to sex or gender reassignment.

How Can You Stamp Out Bullying and Harassment? 

As an employer you should have and put into effect an anti-bullying/harassment policy. You need to make sure that all your employees know that bullying and harassment at work will not be tolerated and that all instances of such behaviour will be viewed as misconduct, leading to disciplinary action up to and including summary dismissal. 

You should also have a well-publicised complaints procedure, to provide a clear route for employees who believe that they are experiencing bullying or harassment at work to raise the matter without fear of recrimination and have it dealt with.

All your managers and supervisors should receive training in how to prevent and deal with bullying and harassment in the workplace. The training should include an overview of the relevant legislation and what it means and the measures needed to deal fairly and effectively with instances of harassment should they occur. Further, all your staff should, ideally, receive basic harassment awareness training.

You should also make a confidential record of any complaints of bullying or harassment that arise. Once a complaint has been effectively dealt with, you must follow up to ensure that working relationships have returned to normal and that no further harassment is taking place. 

As with most people issues, the best way to deal with bullying and harassment is straight away. Stamp it out immediately so that it does not escalate into a more serious problem and make it clear to your employees that it will not be tolerated.

If you think you’re being bullied at work, or that bullying is happening in your workplace, please do get in touch with me straight away for a confidential conversation. Call me on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me.

Source: XpertHR

How Do You Handle Employee Suspension? Part Two – What Happens Next?

In a previous blog, which you can read here, we looked at how best to handle suspending an employee. There are certain principles that you need to consider, before you can move on to other considerations. We’ll cover these in this blog.

The Length of Suspension

In line with the Acas code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures, the period of suspension should be kept as brief as possible, and its continuance kept under review. Where possible, you should tell your employee how long the suspension is expected to last, and update them as to the progress of the investigation and any delays. The suspension should be lifted immediately if the circumstances of the case no longer justify it.

Pay and Benefits

Your employee should be fully paid during a period of suspension, unless there is a clear contractual right to the contrary. All other benefits should also continue unless the contract states otherwise.

The Risk of Constructive Dismissal

If you impose an unjustified period of suspension, this may amount to a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence, entitling your employee to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal. Whether or not you are in breach of this implied term will depend on the circumstances of the particular case. Suspension of an employee may put you at risk of such a claim if, for example:

  • the suspension is imposed without reasonable and proper cause
  • it is imposed in an unreasonable way
  • the suspension is unpaid, in the absence of a contractual right for it to be without pay
  • there is an unnecessarily protracted period of suspension
  • the employee who is suspended is permanently replaced.

The Conclusion of the Investigation

On completion of the investigation, you must decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to justify disciplinary action. If there is, you should follow your disciplinary procedure and the Acas code of Practice as soon as you can. It may be appropriate for you to keep your employee suspended until the disciplinary procedure is complete if the circumstances still justify it.

If no disciplinary action is needed, you should lift the suspension and ask your employee to return to work without delay. It may be that they feel aggrieved by the period of suspension, so it is advisable for you to have a return-to-work meeting to enable your employee to discuss any concerns that they may have and allow you to address these concerns. You should assure your employee that the period of suspension has not affected their position, or continued employment, and that they will not suffer any future detriment as a result of the suspension.

As with any tricky situation with a member of staff, if you have any concerns about the best course of action to take, please get in touch with me for some confidential advice, before taking any action. It is vital that you follow correct procedures. Call me on 0118 940 3032 or email sueferguson@optionshr.co.uk.

Six Common Summer Employment Issues

With high temperatures possible during the summer months, in this blog we’ll look at some employment law scenarios that you may have to deal with, as an employer.

Maximum office temperatures – The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that the temperature in the workplace needs to be “reasonable”. However, there is no maximum temperature. What is reasonable will depend on the nature of your workplace and the work being carried out by your employees. Factors such as whether or not the work is strenuous or physical will need to be taken into account.

Unauthorised time off – If a holiday request is refused but your employee goes ahead and takes the time off anyway, it’s important not to jump to conclusions. You should carry out an investigation to establish whether or not the absence was for genuine reasons. If, however, there is no credible explanation from the employee, it may become a disciplinary issue and your disciplinary process will need to be followed.

Summer dress codes – It may be reasonable for you to adopt a more relaxed dress code during the summer months. However, the extent to which your employees may be allowed to dress down when the temperature rises will in part depend on the role he or she performs.

In the case of customer-facing roles, certain standards of presentation may need to be maintained. For health and safety reasons, it may be necessary for employees to continue to wear protective clothing, irrespective of summer heat.

One way or the other, you should ensure that the dress code is reasonable, appropriate to the needs of your particular business and does not discriminate between groups of employees.

Competing summer holiday requests – Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, you are not obliged to agree to an employee’s request to take holiday at a particular time, unless the employment contract provides otherwise.

If competing requests for holiday are received from different members of staff, your managers may prioritise requests, provided that they do this in a way which is fair and consistent, for example on a first-come, first-served basis.

To avoid the short periods of notice for requests and refusals, it makes sense for your business to have its own holiday policy in which you can set out your own notice provisions and other arrangements relating to holiday.

Late return from summer holiday – Issues may also arise in the case of an employee who returns late from his or her summer holiday. In the first instance, you should allow the employee the opportunity to provide an explanation. Supporting evidence, for example a medical certificate in the case of ill health, should be requested.

However, if the explanation does not appear genuine, you will need to consider following your disciplinary policy.

Summer work experience – The school summer holidays are typically a time when employers offer school-age children the opportunity to carry out work experience. You do not have to pay a child of compulsory school age while on work experience. However, all other rules and restrictions on employing young people will apply, and relevant approvals from the local authority or school governing body will need to be obtained.

Is your business ready for more heat this summer? If you need any advice regarding working conditions for your employees over the summer, just get in touch. You can call 0118 940 3032 or email me at sueferguson@optionshr.co.uk.

Source: XpertHR

What’s Changing in Employment Law?

Every year in April, a number of changes are made to Employment Law. As a manager or an employer, it is really important that you know about these changes and how they might affect your staff and your business. If you missed our recent workshop, where we talked through many of the changes, here is a summary of those that affect how much you pay your staff and when.

National Minimum Wage – from 1 April 2017 these have increased as follows:

  • Workers aged 25 and over – £7.50
  • Workers 21 to 24 – £7.05
  • Workers 18 to 20 – £5.60
  • School age to 18 – £4.05
  • Apprentices under 19 or in their first year – £3.50

If you need to review your pay rates, you should identify eligible workers and check the new rates which are now applicable. Work out the gross pay received during the pay reference period, including bonuses and commission but not overtime or tips. Calculate the number of hours worked, excluding rest breaks and travel to work. You will then need to pay any arrears immediately and increase the worker’s pay to the minimum wage level or higher. Make sure that you keep records of changes in pay, as it your responsibility, as the employer, to prove payment. HMRC have the right to check at any time, to ask to see records and to order payment of arrears.

Statutory Redundancy Rates – the maximum week’s pay for the purposes of calculating a statutory redundancy payment increased to £489 on 6 April 2017. The maximum number of years of employment that can be taken into account is 20. From 6 April 2017, the maximum statutory redundancy payment that an employee will be able receive is £14,670.

Statutory Maternity Pay – from 2 April 2017, statutory maternity pay after the first six weeks of maternity leave increased to £140.98 (or 90% of average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate.) The lower earnings limit also increases to £113 in April 2017.

Statutory Paternity Pay – Statutory paternity pay increased to £140.98 (or 90% of average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate) on 2 April 2017. The lower earnings limit also increased to £113 in April 2017. Paternity pay is available to a person of either sex in an adoption situation, and to the spouse, civil partner or partner of either sex of the biological mother of a child.

Shared Parental Leave – Statutory shared parental pay increased to £140.98 (or 90% of average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate), on 2 April 2017. The lower earnings limit also increased to £113 in April 2017. The shared parental leave and pay depends on the amount of maternity leave and pay that the mother takes, and the amount of shared parental leave and pay that the other parent takes. Shared parental leave and pay is also available in an adoption situation. Each parent claims shared parental leave and pay from his or her own employer. Parents must satisfy individual eligibility requirements and joint eligibility requirements.

Statutory Sick Pay – the rate of statutory sick pay increased to £89.35 a week on 6 April 2017. The lower earnings limit also increased to £113 in April 2017. If the employee’s average earnings before deductions, such as tax and national insurance, are equal to or more than the lower earnings limit (currently £112), they will be entitled to £88.45 a week. Although the rate of statutory sick pay normally increases on 6 April, the rate did not rise on 6 April 2016. This rate has therefore applied since 6 April 2015.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting – from 6 April 2017, companies and employers in the private and voluntary sectors with 250 or more employees are required to publish gender pay gaps. These must be published annually on the organisation’s website and uploaded to a Government-sponsored website.

Apprentice Levy – on 6 April 2017, this levy was introduced, to be paid via PAYE. The levy will be 0.5% of an employer’s pay bill, although employers will receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset against payments. It applies to employers with a pay bill over £3 million. The Digital Apprenticeship Service will distribute funds raised by the levy. The levy is being used to fund the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment through co-investment, up to 90% of agreed price. Employers with 50 or fewer employees can receive 100% of the cost if they take on apprentices aged 16-18 (or 19-24 who have previously been in care, in local authority education or on a health and care plan.)

A number of other changes are being made to Employment Law this spring, which we’ll cover in some of our blog posts, which you can read here. If there are any issues that you would like to know more about, please contact us for a confidential chat. Call us on 0118 940 3032 or email sueferguson@optionshr.co.uk.

How Can You Improve Employee Performance for Free?

Employee performance is something that I am asked about on a regular basis. How do you manage it? What’s the best way to improve it? To help answer these questions and any specific ones that you have, I am running a free webinar at 11am on Wednesday 31 May 2017. It will last for around one hour, to give you plenty of time to ask any questions that you have. Book your place online now so that you don’t miss out. Click here to reserve your place.

Two-Thirds of Small Businesses Risk Being Fined Through Lack of HR Resources

A recent report shows that time-poor small businesses are struggling with the burden of HR administration, leaving themselves at risk.

Only 25% of small business owners polled feel up to speed on matters to do with employee rights and employer regulations. As little as 37% of SME (small-to-medium sized enterprise) owners have a good understanding on all matters to do with employee rights and employer regulations and keep updated on regulatory changes on an ongoing basis.

New research from Jobandtalent has uncovered a worrying lack of understanding around employment regulations amongst small businesses in the UK. A lack of HR resources and expertise is leading to risky hiring practices in this market, the report finds.

The report follows the release of official data from the pensions regulator, which revealed that the number of employers being fined up to £10,000 a day for not complying with the new regulations on workplace pensions, has shot up by 300% in three months.

The survey of 500 SME owners was carried out by OnePoll and was commissioned by Jobandtalent, an online job marketplace, which matches SMEs with local talent. The research found that owners of SMEs are most at risk due to a lack of dedicated HR expertise or resource.

According to the Jobandtalent survey, a quarter of SME owners admitted that while they understand current regulation, they struggle to keep up with changes. Worryingly, 12% felt they have limited to no understanding of present employment regulations – let alone changes in the future. This represents a clear risk to the business.

When questioned about the hiring process and time to hire new talent, two-thirds (67%) of the 500 SME owners questioned revealed that they do not have anyone dedicated to finding talent and hiring or HR. Of those businesses, the vast majority (77%) answered that the responsibility for hiring fell to the business owner.

Is your business at risk, because you don’t have time to keep up with all the changes? Don’t take the risk – if you have a question about HR or Employment Law, contact us now and we talk about what you need to do. Call us on 0118 940 3032 or email sueferguson@optionshr.co.uk.

Are You Ready for the Next Employment Law Changes in April 2017?

Reserve your place on our next workshop here.

What are the next changes that will be made to Employment Law and how will they affect your business and your staff?

On 30 March 2017 we will hold the next of our regular Employment Law Update workshops. We do this twice a year, when the changes are approaching, so the next one will be in October 2017.  If you’re a business owner or manager it’s important you understand how they affect you and your employees.

This workshop is your chance to ask your questions in a confidential, friendly session, which is always attended by people who, like you, are looking for ways to keep up to date. Share your issues and hear how other people deal with the issues you have to deal with in your business.

The workshop will be held at Hennerton Golf Club in Wargrave, Berkshire, at 9.30am for a 10am start, finishing at 1pm. The cost is just £20 +VAT and includes plenty of tea and coffee! Online booking is available now.

Someone who attended a previous workshop said:

“I thought the workshop would be full of other HR people who knew more than me – but it wasn’t like that at all. I learnt a great deal from the Employment Law update and it was really useful talking to other people to hear how they dealt with similar issues to me.”

Book your place online now and we look forward to seeing you on 30 March.