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28
Jun 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Five Steps to Building a Positive Recognition Culture

As an employer, it is your job to ensure that your organisation cultivates a positive work culture. One of the most effective and accessible ways we know of to do that is through employee recognition. When employees feel seen, heard, valued, and upheld it positively affects nearly every human need.

Let's take a look at putting it into practice

1. Building a recognition culture

The most important thing about recognition is to embed it culturally, so it flows in every direction in the organisation. It’s important to recognize people immediately after an event as it can be more motivational for the employee.

2. Making it personal

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to recognition. It’s important that employees find out how their colleagues prefer to be recognised and tailor approaches accordingly. This builds empathy, tolerance, and compassion which can contribute to positive mental health.

3. Create Meaning

Recent research from The Achievers Workforce Institute highlighted the importance of giving meaningful, specific feedback. 64% of those surveyed wanted to receive more meaningful recognition about something specific they did; about themselves as individuals or something they valued.

4. Accelerating impact through Technology

With many people working from home or working hybrid, technology plays a vital role in helping to match up and connect people, provide communication channels and manage feedback and preferences.

There are many approaches and tools you can use to support your goals- from simple spreadsheets and communications software up to integrated peer to peer recognition and rewards platforms.

5. Empowering Managers

Finally, managers play an important role in building recognition cultures that promote mental health. But for them to feel empowered to do their part, HR must continually support them. You should ensure that managers meet up regularly with their team and ensure that you help them give constructive motivating feedback.

It’s not enough to give managers targets for recognition, but you need to coach and mentor them on how to give that meaningful, timely recognition that they deserve.

Posted in Employee Handbook

24
Jun 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Employing Young People: What you need to know

With the Summer season upon us, may employers will be looking at recruiting teenagers for the summer months. In doing so employers need to be mindful of the specific legislations that apply to young workers.

There are a number of employment rights all workers have when they start a job, but younger workers, those who are under 18 years old, have a few additional rights to protect them at work.

Key Points:

  • Younger workers are entitled to two days off per week
  • A daily rest break of 12 consecutive hours (the break between finishing work one day and starting work the next)
  • A rest break of at least 30 minutes if the working day lasts more than 4.5 hours
  • Younger workers normally will not work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week.
  • Younger workers don’t work at night, but there are some exceptions
  • Workers aged 16-17 are entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage at the relevant rate.

National Minimum Wage Rate April 2022

Age 23 or over - £9.50

Age 20-21 £9.18

Age 18-20 £6.83

Apprentices & Under 18 £4.81

Working Time Regulations

Normally younger workers (16 & 17 year old’s) are entitled to 12 hours of uninterrupted rest within a 24 hour period in which they work for.

They are entitled to 2 days off per week and these cannot be averaged over a 2 week period and they should be consecutive days.

Night Work Limits

Workers under 18 are not usually allowed to work at night, however, exceptions can apply in some circumstances.

Young workers may work during the night if they are employed in a hospital or similar places of work, or in areas such as, advertising, sporting or cultural activities.

Young workers may work between 10 pm or 11 pm to midnight and between 4 am to 6/7 am if they are employed in:

  • Agriculture
  • Retail
  • Postal or newspaper deliveries
  • A catering business, hotel, public house, restaurant etc
  • A bakery

Working Hours for workers over 18

In general, workers aged 18 and over are entitled to:

  • Work no more than six days out of every seven, or 12 out of every 14
  • Take a 20-minute break if they work more than six hours at a stretch
  • Work a maximum 48-hour average week

 

Posted in Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Law

17
Jun 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Employee Inductions: The Complete Guide

Workplace induction is the process of getting new employees familiar with your business. This includes helping them get comfortable with their new jobs and providing them with information to make them valuable team members. Research suggests that induction programmes benefit both employers and employees.

A good induction program sets the tone and expectations for employees. It also details their relationship with managers and the organisation. It helps new employees know the purpose, functions, and tasks of their job.

Topics to Cover During Induction

Usually, managers and supervisors are responsible for handling workplace induction. Induction training needs to include practical information that immerses the employee into the company culture. Meeting new colleagues and getting familiar with the workplace are essential. Everybody wants to feel welcomed and secure on their first day.

Heath and Workplace Safety

Learning health and safety procedures on the first day is necessary. This includes going over any specific safe work procedures your company has.

Documents and Policies

During induction make sure each employee fills out and signs all necessary employment paperwork. You should also help employees understand the incident reporting system at your company. A strong understanding of workplace procedures allows new employees to be the most dependable team members from the beginning.

Benefits of an effective induction programme

A well-designed induction programme results in a positive first experience of an orgaisation. It means the employee:

  • Settles in quickly
  • Integrates into their team
  • Understands the oganisation’s values and culture
  • Feels supported
  • Becomes productive quickly
  • Works to their highest potential

Without an effective induction, new employees can get off to a bad start, and lack clarity on their role and how it links to the organisation’s goals, which could impact on their intention to stay in the role.

What to avoid in Induction

  • Providing too much, too soon - the inductee must not be overwhelmed by a mass of information, especially on the first day.
  • Pitching presentations at an inappropriate level - where possible, presentations should be tailored to consider prior knowledge of new employees.
  • Creating an induction programme which generates unreasonable expectations by overselling the job.
  • Creating an induction programme that focuses only on administration and compliance but does not reflect organisational values.

An effective induction programme should be engaging and reassure the new employee that they have made the right decision to join the business.

The induction process should be evaluated to determine whether it is meeting the needs of the new recruits and the organisation. This should include opportunities for feedback at the end of the induction process and allow new recruits to highlight areas for improvement.

As well as getting feedback from new employees, it is important to identify key measures of success of the induction process.

 

 

Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employee Records

17
May 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Changes to Flexible Working Rights

In September 2021, the UK Government published a consultation document to reform the right to request flexible working under a new Employment Bill- which is yet to be put before Parliament.

What will the new legislation mean for hybrid work?

The document will put forward five proposals;

  • Making the right to request flexible working a day one right
  • Consider whether the currently permitted business reasons for refusing a request all remain valid
  • Consider the administrative process underpinning the right to request flexible working
  • Requiring the employer to suggest alternatives to what has been requested by the employee
  • Requesting a temporary arrangement

These proposals will broaden employees’ rights to request flexible work. However, employers will retain the right to reject such requests for one or more broadly defined reasons.

What does this mean for employees?

The main change for employees would be the right to request flexible working from the first day of their employment, rather than first having to accrue 26 weeks’ service under the current legislative framework. It’s important to note that employees only have the right to make a request for flexible working, rather than a right to flexible working, and employers will still be able to refuse the request on certain broad business grounds.

Unless there is a discussion between the employer and the employee about flexible working before their employment starts, employees who want to work flexibly will have to start working on the basis of their original terms of employment while trying to change them, as there is no right to make a request before starting the job.

What does this mean for employers?

Rejecting a request might become more difficult for employers. Employers could be required to suggest, or at least consider, alternative arrangements to those requested by the employee.

As it stands, employees can only make one request every 12 months, and employers have 3 months to consider the request and make a decision. Potentially increasing how often an employee can make a request will somewhat reduce existing barriers to flexible working and would recognise that employees’ personal circumstances can quickly change. The Government suggests where these changes are temporary to encourage employees to request temporary arrangements.

Striking the right balance

Many employers already have hybrid working policies in place, meaning that any reform is likely to have a limited impact in practice. Whilst employers will clearly benefit from embracing flexible working in terms of recruitment and retention of employees, whether requests can be accommodated will very much depend on the requirements of the business and the nature of the employee’s role, and employers will have a broad range of reasons on which to reject any request if necessary.

In Bright Contracts, we have a flexible working policy which you can add to your handbook where you can edit to suit your company's needs.

Further guidance on flexible working can be found here.

Related Articles: 

Everyone's Talking About Flexible Working

Pilot Testing the Four-day Working Week

 

Posted in Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Hybrid Working

5
May 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Menopause Policies in the Workplace

The conversation around menopause in the workplace has been amplified recently, with weekly press reports stating that an increasing number of companies are taking steps to support employees who are going through menopause.

A major high street retailer announced in March that they would be paying for employees’ hormone replacement therapy (a common treatment for severe menopause symptoms). Additionally, a large media company is offering access to menopause resources and desk fans for women suffering from hot flushes.

Creating an environment supportive of women going through menopause is particularly important in the context of retaining senior women in the workplace. Recent research reported that almost a fifth of women with menopausal or peri-menopausal symptoms took more than eight weeks’ leave, and half of these women resigned or took early retirement.

A recent poll conducted in March 2022 revealed that 72% of companies do not currently have a menopause policy in place and only 16% of businesses train line managers on how to address the menopause at work. Given the increasing number of queries we are responding to on this topic, we expect these statistics to change significantly this year, as employers are to place greater emphasis on supporting those going through menopause at work.

Bright Contracts has a Menopause Policy available in the 'Terms & Conditions' section of the company handbook.

Related Articles:

Supporting Female Employees: Implementing a Menopause Policy

Don't Be Afraid to Talk About Menopause in the Workplace

 

Posted in Company Handbook, Employee Handbook, Employment Law

16
Mar 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Unfair Dismissal Claims & How to Avoid Them

An unfair dismissal can occur when your employer terminates your contract of employment with or without notice or the employee terminates their contract of employment with or without notice due to the conduct of your employer.

A dismissal is automatically considered to be unfair if you are dismissed for any of the following reasons:

  • Membership or proposed membership of a trade union or engaging in trade union activities
  • Religious or political opinions
  • Legal proceedings against an employer where you are a party or a witness
  • Race, colour, sexual orientation, age, or member of the Traveller community
  • Pregnancy, giving birth or breastfeeding or any matters connected with pregnancy or birth
  • Availing of rights under legislation to maternity leave, adoptive leave, parental leave, carer’s leave, parental leave, or force majeure leave
  • Unfair selection for redundancy

 

Steps to avoid Unfair Dismissal

Have clear policies

It is important to ensure that all new and current employees have access to the companies’ policies regarding harassment, dress code and attendance policies. The policies must be easy to read for the employee and available to them at any stage during their employment. These policies are not only to keep employees informed but they are used as important reference points to use as the employer during the disciplinary process. Failing to follow these policies can result in an unfair dismissal claim.

HR & Equality training

Employers need to make sure that the dismissal is thoroughly thought through beforehand and is not an impulsive retaliation to an employee’s actions. By providing training for all staff members involved in the dismissal process you will know that the process is being conducted legally.

Keep track of employee conduct

Terminating an employee can sometimes devolve into a he-said she-sad argument with no clear winner. Without proper documentation, it can be difficult to terminate an employee without fearing an unfair dismissal claim. When you begin to see that an employee might not be suitable for your company, start keeping track of their misconduct. Use a word document or journal to keep track of any problems the employee encounters. For example, take note of any time they showed up late or were not dressed appropriately.

Implement a performance management plan

When you first discuss with the employee about potentially dismissing them, you will need to set up a performance management plan to give your employee a chance to improve. If you still need to terminate this employee, the document plan shows that you tried to help your employee. Employers can do this by setting up parameters and goals for their improvement.

 

Related Articles: 

Covid-19: The Most Recent Tribunal Cases

Don't Get Caught Out: Discrimination Case Law

 

Posted in Dismissals, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook

15
Oct 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Buzz About Carer's Leave

This month the Government confirmed that it will introduce a 'day one' right to statutory carer’s leave. The new entitlement to statutory carer’s leave will:

1. be available to the employee irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer (a day one right);

2. rely on the carer’s relationship with the person being cared for  – a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household as the employee or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care; and

3. depend on the person being cared for having a long-term care need. This would be defined as a long-term illness or injury (physical or mental), a disability as defined under the Equality Act 2010, or issues related to old age. There would be limited exemptions from the requirement for long-term care, for example in the case of terminal illness.

What can the leave be used for?

Personal support, helping with official or financial matters, or accompanying someone to medical and other appointments.

How can the leave be taken?

Either as a single block of one week, or more flexibly in individual days.

How are employee's to notify their employer?

The notice requirement will be in line with that of annual leave, the employee must give notice that is twice the length of time being requested as leave, plus one day in order to enable employers to manage and plan for absences. Employers will be able to postpone, but not deny, the leave request for carer’s leave on grounds that the employer considers that the operation of their business would be unduly disrupted. Employers will be required to give a counter-notice if postponing the request to take Carer’s Leave.

Is there protections for those undertaking carer's leave?

Those taking carer's leave will be protected from suffering a detriment for having done so, and dismissals for reasons connected with exercising the right to carer's leave will be automatically unfair.

When will carer's leave be introduced?

According to gov.uk this right will be introduced into legislation when Parliamentary time allows. In the meantime employers should start to prepare a written policy to introduce this new requirement once introduced.

Related Articles:

Annual Leave Post Covid

Care Home Workers & Mandatory Vaccinations: The New Regulations

Posted in Annual Leave, Company Handbook, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Employment Update

28
Jul 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Everyone's Talking About Flexible Working

The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has completely shifted the way we work and live. Companies have had to quickly adopt new initiatives and technologies to ensure employee safety whilst maintaining productivity. Working from home has now become the normality for many of us and adapting to these new ways of working is essential for business continuity.

The UK has been ahead of the curve with the right to request flexible working having been in place since 2014 and after more than a year of enforced home working, UK employers are anticipating an influx of flexible working requests as restrictions lift and staff begin to return to the office.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working can refer to a variety of arrangements includes but is not limited to; part-time work, ‘compressed hours’ over fewer days, remote working, ‘flexitime’ and job sharing arrangements.

Flexible working arrangements can be formal or informal. Some organisations choose to amend the written employment contract when new working arrangements are put in place, and/or include flexible working policies in the employer’s handbook. However some forms of flexible working, such as working from home, are likely to be offered informally, for example in agreement with an employee’s line manager.

Examples of kinds of flexible working that you can request include:

  • reducing your hours to work part-time
  • changing your start and finish times
  • having flexibility with your start and finish time (also known as ‘flexitime’)
  • doing your hours over fewer days (‘compressed hours’)
  • working from home or elsewhere (‘remote working’)
  • sharing the job with someone else (‘job share’)

The right to request flexible working

The legal position is that all employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment are able to make a statutory request for flexible working, in writing, for any reason. A new request can be made once every 12 months. Where a request is made, the employer must deal with that request in a reasonable manner and notify the employee of the outcome, including any appeal, within a three-month period, unless that timeframe is extended by mutual agreement.

Making a request

When making a request for flexible working there is no form however in order to qualify as a statutory request, it must:

  • Be in writing.
  • Be dated.
  • Explain the change they would like to their working pattern.
  • Explain when they would like the change to come into force.
  • Explain what effect the change would have on the business.
  • Explain how such effects might be dealt with.
  • State that it is a statutory request.
  • State if the employee has made a request previously and if so when.

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Contract of employment, Coronavirus, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Law

16
Jun 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Let's Get Topical - The Vaccine Policy

The Vaccine. . . a major topical area and again one that information about is changing by the day. Instead of overloading you with paragraph upon paragraph of text, we thought we’d approach this section as a Q&A which covers all questions you may have about the vaccine policy.

The first question is - Can you insist that an employee be tested?

In the absence of a legal requirement for employees to take a test, no individual can lawfully be forced to take one, as such an action could be considered assault given the physical element of taking a test.

Employees who have no symptoms should only be asked to take a test on a voluntary basis. Employees who have no symptoms and are not a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case may query the legal basis of being required to take a covid test before entering the workplace. In this scenario, the purpose of the test should be explained to the employee and if the employee continues to refuse the test, employers need to tread very carefully to avoid employee relations issues.

Moving onto question 2 - Can you ask an employee if they have been vaccinated?

While employees are not obliged to provide personal medical information, employers may seek vaccination information on the foundation that they are meeting their legal obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work etc. Act 1974. It will be up to the employee if they wish to volunteer this information to their employer. If they choose to volunteer this information, then employers should not disclose this information to other employees. As medical data is considered as a Special Category of Personal data, additional data protection regulation apply and must considered.

Lastly, question 3 - Can you insist that an employee be vaccinated?

Currently vaccinations are recommended by UK authorities, but not compulsory for any citizen. Even with the role out of the Covid vaccination amongst medical workers who are employees of the HSE, for these employees the vaccine was not mandatory. With this in mind, it is likely to be very difficult for an employer to argue and defend a case that vaccination is compulsory in a workplace. There is little an employer can do if their employee refuses to get the vaccine however, understanding their concerns is important and finding solutions that meet the business needs without infringing on their rights is crucial in managing their integration into the workplace. Employers need to think carefully about any action they take and consider the potential legal consequences associated with these actions.

If you are an employer, now you are most likely thinking, 'What can I do about the vaccine and my workplace?'. The answer is simple, employees cannot be forced to avail of the vaccine however it is vitally important that employers promote that their employees take a vaccine. The best way to take a proactive stance here is to roll out a vaccine policy. We would advise doing this now to help prepare employees. In creating a vaccine policy you’ll want to consider :

1. Providing your workforce with a list of resources where they can obtain further information about the vaccination programme, for example, gov.uk, nhs.uk

2. Your policy must recognise that the decision to avail of the vaccine is the individual's choice however the employer encourages their workforce to make an informed decision through:

    • Reading information about COVID-19 vaccinations via official sources;
    • Listening to the information provided when offering a vaccine; and
    • Being cautious of misinformation around COVID-19 vaccinations by unreliable sources.

3. Detail whether your employee's will be paid or un-paid for the leave to attend their appointment.

4. If an employee feels unwell after their vaccination they will be instructed to follow The Company's sick leave policy.

Lastly, we would recommend :

5. That employers include a section in the vaccine policy about employee's respecting others privacy and not having open discussions about the vaccine with colleagues.

Bright Contracts has recently been updated to include a vaccine policy which covers these consideration points for our customers to include in their employee handbooks, which can be found under the terms and conditions tab.
Related Articles:

Our Employees Are Back! – How Do I Return My Employees Safely?

It's As Easy As 1,2,3: Key Elements of a Safe Employee Return

- Vaccinations & The Workplace

Posted in Company News, Coronavirus, Customer Update, Employee Handbook, Health & Safety

11
Jun 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Supporting Female Employees: Implementing a Menopause Policy

2021 has been a year of big change for everyone and has given rise to many different topics of conversation, a vitally important topic is that of menopause among the female workforces. Media outlets across the UK have been discussing menopause and from these discussions it has been said that ‘The menopause is where mental health was 10 years ago’. A statement which could not be more true. These discussions have brought to the surface the realisation that menopause is considered a taboo subject, like mental health was and like mental health we are not educated enough in what menopause is, the symptoms of it and how we can help those going through menopause which is why it is so important for employers to educate their workforce and to recognise the importance of supporting women in the workplace who are transitioning through menopause which is why we believe it is vitally important for organisations to implement a menopause policy as we believe it needs to be acknowledged and recognised as an important occupational issue requiring supports to be made available.

To ensure that companies show a positive attitude towards the menopause, we want to encourage employers to create an atmosphere where women feel there are colleagues with whom they can comfortably discuss menopausal symptoms and that they can ask for support and adjustments in order to work safely and without fear of negative repercussions. For this reason, the menopause is an issue for men as well as women. So let’s touch on the basics of menopause by answering the simple question, ‘What is menopause?’ Menopause is a natural stage of life when a woman’s estrogen levels decline and she stops having periods. As menopausal symptoms are typically experienced for several years, it is best described as a ‘transition’ rather than a one-off event. The menopause typically happens between age 45 and 55. The ‘perimenopause’ is the phase leading up to the menopause, when a woman’s hormone balance starts to change. For some women this can start as early as their twenties or as late as their late forties.

There are various symptoms that can be experienced through menopause and can be both physical and/or psychological. They can include: hot flushes, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, memory lapses, anxiety, depression and heart palpitations and each of these symptoms can affect an employee’s comfort and performance at work which is why we developed our menopause policy to ensure you are assisting your female employees in their daily duties. In order to assist those experiencing these symptoms in their daily duties, it is important that your company menopause policy explores making reasonable accommodations to the individuals role or working environment with the aim of reducing the effect that the menopause is having on the individual which is explored in our new menopause policy available on Bright Contracts today! We are committed to ensuring appropriate support and assistance is provided to female employees and that exclusionary or discriminatory practices will not be tolerated. Our menopause policy is fully compliant with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work etc. Act 1974 as well as the Equality Act 2010.

Check out your Bright Contracts today to view the update, or if you would like to become a Bright Contracts user you can download the software and purchase a licence today.
To access the update, log out of your Bright Contracts company file and log back in, you will then see a yellow bar across the top of the page asking you if you would like to upgrade the content.

Posted in Bright Contracts News, Company Handbook, Customer Update, Employee Handbook, Employment Law, Health & Safety, Software Upgrade, Staff Handbook

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