Welcome guest, please log in here   |    T +44(0)115 7180333   |   E   info@halborns.com


November, 2019

Parenting v Performance – managing the needs of working parents

Posted on: November 28th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

Any working parent knows that balancing work and children can be a tricky business at the best of times. When their child falls ill they rely on childcare support, unpaid time off, sickness absence, home working or holiday.

We’re hearing more and more that you’re struggling to balance support for working parents with sustaining performance. Here’s out guide to your rights and options when an employee’s child falls sick…

Know your rights – you have to allow the employee reasonable unpaid time off if:

a. help is needed where the child falls ill;

b. they need to make arrangements for the care of an ill child;

c. they need to deal with disrupted care arrangements;

d. they need to deal with an unexpected incident involving the child at school;

e. (and clearly in the event of the child’s death).

The employee doesn’t have the right to unpaid time off to:

a. deal with an appointment at their home (such as a delivery or plumber);

b. take their child to a medical or dental appointment;

c. take their child to and from school/nursery;

d. care for the child (beyond when they initially fall ill and once they have had time to arrange for their care).

Balanced approach – it’s all well and good knowing your rights, but managing an employee with a sick child can be complex. You’re likely to be trying to support them, drive performance and deal consistently with everyone within their team. We’d suggest:

a. having a clear policy to deal with these situations and following it to the letter (to avoid inconsistency creeping in);

b. ensuring that the employee continues to tell you when they are likely to return and agreeing what is a reasonable amount of time off in the circumstances;

c. confirming what will be communicated with the team so that they’re aware of the support you’re giving to the individual and also to them;

d. avoiding homeworking in the circumstances unless you’re certain the employee is able to do their job;

e. keeping a record on your people system of absences taken so that you can track trends and levels of absence (click here for more info about our system, Intelligent Employment Hub);

f. asking for evidence the child is sick if you begin to doubt how genuine the absence is;

g. dealing with inappropriate absence as a disciplinary issue;

h. avoiding payment for absence (even if absence is just for an hour or so) if you doubt the genuineness of the absence or it’s becoming too frequent.

Other rights – bear in mind that if the child is disabled the employee has additional rights that you’ll need to consider. Also remember that there are other statutory rights such as shared parental leave and statutory parental leave that could support both you and the employee in the appropriate circumstances. 

Encourage healthy conversations – manage sickness absence

Posted on: November 21st, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

On average, employees take 4.4 days’ sickness absence each year, at a cost of around £600 per employee (1) . What’s more, two in five say they’d fake it for another day off! (2)

Here are our suggestions on keeping your team happy and healthy.

Healthy conversation – every return from absence should be supported by a ‘welcome back’ meeting between the employee and manager. Our equivalent to a ‘return to work interview’ – it’s a positive, easy to handle discussion to record the absence, identify any support and check on sickness absence levels.

Hold managers accountable following training – it’s their job to ensure that their team are aware of their sickness absence levels, provide support where needed and follow up when the employee returns.

Timely triggers – help managers to track absence with a people system which fires an alert to them when absence needs dealing with formally (in accordance with your policy). Click here to find out about our system – Intelligent Employment Hub.

Keep in contact – agree when you’ll chat with the employee when they’re absent. Don’t be out of sight and mind.

Proactive steps – support employees with positive advice on how to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing including dietary advice, flu jabs and telephone support lines.

Time out – ensure that time off is quality time to relax. Encourage employees to switch off and avoid contacting them unless absolutely necessary.

A great policy – should set out clear markers as to what level of absence is unacceptable, when formal discussions will be held and when support will be offered. It should also set out that lying about being ill is a disciplinary issue.

Flexibility – being ‘sick’ isn’t always black and white. On odd occasions the offer of flexibility, whether an extra day off or working from home,can mean that an off-colour employee remains productive.

Pay – consider whether your sick pay appropriately balances support for employee’s sickness absence alongside encouraging their return.

We’ve created an engaging and interactive toolkit designed to support managers throughout the absence process (and more!). Click here if you’d like to know more!

Sources – (1) Office for National Statistics, (2) ComRes & BBC

Inbox impact assessments

Posted on: November 15th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

Even though employees use work emails and you have a good email policy, doesn’t mean you can freely root around inboxes.

Whether you’re accessing an inbox when an employee’s absent, in an emergency or to investigate, here’s what you need to know.

Employee’s have the right to put their trust and confidence in you as their employer. Snooping at emails without proper cause, will breach that trust and confidence, data protection laws, right to a private life and could give rise to constructive dismissal claims (and possibly discrimination claims). So only access inboxes with good reason.

Before you open an inbox, ensure you’ve carried out an impact assessment to show:

  • the reasons for the access
  • there isn’t another way to secure the information
  • you’ve limited the search to particular terms
  • that any data found will be kept secure, not needlessly shared and deleted appropriately.

If someone is absent and you need to look at their emails, ensure that you limit the view to subject headings only and open only those which appear relevant.

As ever, a policy setting out when you may access inboxes, identifying whether personal use of work email is permitted and the need to mark personal emails as private is a must!

You can access our impact assessment template through the Intelligent Employment platform. If you don’t have access and want to know how it will benefit your business, get in touch!


Contract confidence

Posted on: November 8th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

Compliant, commercial, contemporary – the three Cs that make for a great employment contract.

We review our fair share of them…here’s what we always tend to see:

Poorly drafted post-termination restrictions (or none at all) – meaning little or no protection when the employee leaves.

Old data protection provisions – meaning you’re not securing appropriate consent to take photos of employees or provide references.

Continued accrual of benefits after five years’ service – you could well be discriminating against younger individuals.

Holiday allowance – no reminder that if employees don’t use it, they lose it (new case law makes this important).

Performance processes that are still called disciplinaries – likely to make your process unfair.

Failure to comply with employment contract fundamentals – they’ve been required by law since 1996. Without them you could be exposed to fines of up to four weeks’ pay per employee.

Complex and confusing – tone that is not simple or straight-talking devalues what should be a straightforward document.

With the Good Work Plan making agreed employment contracts a day-one right, it’s a good time to take a fresh look at your contracts. Let us know if you’d like to look into a review or update of your documents.