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Halborns News

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

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.

 

Good probationary practice

Posted on: October 31st, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

Whether you call it a ‘probationary review meeting’, ‘early career conversation’ or ‘end of probationary catch up’, the importance of an early performance discussion can’t be underestimated.

But, so often, managers don’t value creating time for new team members and probationary discussions go unsaid.

We’ve updated our probationary templates to support you and your team with those early conversations… so there’s no excuse!

If you’d like to know more about accessing our awesome bank of contemporary employment documents – click here and we’d be delighted to have a chat!

Executive People Update

Posted on: August 20th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

As part of keeping you in our focus, our exec people update ensures you’re on top of the latest people opportunities, threats and legislative changes so you are ready to update the Board. If you want more insight, give us a call or send us an email and we’ll make sure you’re fully up to speed with all the detail.

New harassment helpline 

There’s a new helpline giving women free legal advice if they’ve experienced sexual harassment at work. Having received high profile support from Emma Watson and significant press attention, the helpline is funded by donations and is operating limited hours at present. It is covered by two female employers aiming to support “women to exercise their legal rights in the workplace”.

Criminal record reform 

The Ministry of Justice has proposed criminal record reforms to help ex-offenders back into employment. Currently, if someone has served a sentence over four years (even as a child), this must be disclosed to potential employers for the remainder of their life.

The proposed change will mean that some sentences over four years will no longer have to be disclosed to employers after a specified time (to be determined after public consultation). This will not apply to the most serious sentences including life, or for sexual or violent offences.

EU Settlement Scheme 

Over one million people have now been granted settled or pre-settled status. If you haven’t already, audit your workforce to determine if anyone needs to apply or has already had their status granted. If any of your people still need to make an application, the Government has a useful employer toolkit to help you support.

Here are the deadlines for settled status applications in a deal/no-deal scenario:

  • Deal – 30th June 2021
  • No-deal – 31st December 2020

Good Work Plan (GWP)

We’re still hearing you don’t know about the GWP, so here’s a reminder of what you need to get in place for April 2020:

  • All workers, not just employees, will have the right to an employment contract from day-one
  • The reference period for calculating holiday pay will extend from 12 to 52 weeks

Apprenticeship agreements 

Whenever we get our hands on an apprenticeship agreement, it’s rarely flexible enough. De-risk your apprenticeship agreements by ensuring you have the flexibility to terminate the arrangement if the apprentice consistently under performs – here’s out latest update.

Let us take a look over your agreement if you’re in any doubt.

Tribunal trends – our views

Posted on: August 13th, 2019 by Ginny Hallam

Our tribunal advocate, George Miller, explains the tribunal trends we’ve seen in the last year (and how to avoid being on the wrong side of a claim).

Poor claims designed to elicit cash

Lack of evidence and bringing every claim under the sun are common. But, tribunals are wise to employees manoeuvring employers into defending claims without the prospect of success. They’re striking out claims and issuing orders for employees to pay money into the tribunal to continue with their claim.

Low value claims 

There’s been an increase in claims for smaller amounts of cash – like holiday and notice pay for example.

A long time for cases to be heard

15 months in some cases for the claim to be heard at tribunal. Tactically lengthy waiting times can take the wind out of an employee’s sails, but often you’re as keen to dispose of the case as they are!

Increase in claims being withdrawn 

We’re increasingly successful in encouraging employees to withdraw their case or settle for low values. It’s still only 10% of cases that ultimately end up going to a full hearing.

Lack of fees make tribunal claims attractive to disgruntled employees, but there’s plenty you can do to avoid one landing…

  • Train – great managers to have great conversations
  • Talk – nip issues in the bud early to avoid escalation and surprises
  • Respect – deliver consistent decisions in accordance with company values
  • Culture – drive great behaviours and trust so employees know you’re trying to get it right
  • Processes – set, update, and communicate sound processes to support challenging employment issues
  • Performance – communicate frequently and follow up often
  • Evidence – keep records on a great people system (they’re your first defence)
  • Precedents – don’t settle unless you really need to (if you’re known to pay out at the sniff of a claim you can often find plenty more landing your way).

Watch this space for news on when tribunal fees are set to be introduced again (no news yet!).