HR consulting services

HR consulting services

As an HR and Employment Law Consultancy, we’re often asked to speak with prospective Clients who are ‘beauty parading’ a number of HR consultancies before deciding on the right one for them.  Often, what happens though is much like when you love all the things on a restaurant menu or try too many beautiful fragrances in a local department store – they can’t decide!

They see that there are differences – style and approach to managing HR dilemmas, culture fit with their business or even just plain old fashioned price, but most of the time, the consultancies offerings merge into one and they just can’t determine what consultancy would best meet their needs.  Sound familiar?

If you are scratching your head trying to decide what provider is right for you, we’re here to help!  Here are our top ten things to consider when choosing and using your HR supplier – no bias – promise!

  1. Know what your HR needs are

Are you a small start up business with one employee or a more established SME with a number of staff?  It’s very common in today’s fast paced marketplace that businesses can grow at a rapid rate and often, what worked for you as a start up, can quickly become out of date.  Therefore, when choosing your HR supplier, you need to be really clear on what your HR needs are today and what they are likely to be tomorrow and choose an HR supplier that is flexible and skilled enough to deliver both.  Do you want a call centre or IT solution that you can contact/use 24/7 or do you want a face to face solution?  Do you want to be sent templates to complete or letters prepared for you and ready to send?  Do you want only the Directors of the business to liaise with your HR supplier or do you have managers that require HR support also.  By establishing your current and future needs, you will be more prepared for any supplier meetings and may even be able to de select potential suppliers just by looking at their website!


  1. Evaluate their expertise

How many times have we gone into businesses where the owner tells us that they have the HR basics covered, contracts of employment, employee handbooks, absence management etc.  Sometimes of course this is all there and more and is a great foundation for advanced HR strategy and practice, but often, when we review these documents, they are at best ill thought out or at worst out of date legally.  This leaves the business and its Directors exposed to legal risk.  It pays to check who you are partnering with in advance – how long has the consultancy been in business?  What’s their operational structure?  Who will be dealing with your issues on a day to day basis and what are their qualifications? How often will the supplier update your paperwork and ensure that it complies with legislation?  Can they carry out small and larger scale change projects? Have they ever been to a tribunal?  These and many other questions will soon tell you about the credibility of your supplier and their expertise.


  1. Eye up the competition

No business owner has time to meet with every HR supplier that’s out there; however, once you have established your needs, you can quickly pick which suppliers you want to meet with.  Our advice would be to keep those meeting numbers low – maximum three potential suppliers.  Any more and your head will be swimming with choice and you will be left in the scenario of not knowing who to choose for the best.


  1. Establish if there’s a culture match

Now you have chosen the three suppliers you want to meet with and evaluated their expertise – it’s time to look at what kind of business they are.  What are the Directors/Business Development Manager like?  Are they aloof or down to earth?  Do they appreciate your challenges and have empathy with you?  Will they work with you as a business partner or are they simply there to get the deal?  How do they treat their staff? How long has their team been established?  Questions like these really focus the mind on how alike the supplier is in terms of culture and fit and will help you make a better choice


  1. What are they offering?

HR suppliers can vary in terms of what services they offer and how these are packaged for Clients.  It pays to choose a supplier who can be flexible to meet your needs.  Sometimes, before you sign up to a retained agreement, you may want to ‘try before you buy’ and work with your preferred supplier on a small piece of work to confirm that you can work together and that you are happy with their style and approach to dealing with your HR challenges.  If a supplier can’t offer you this – why not?  Retained agreements are great for both Client and supplier, however, if the supplier is the right one for you, they should work with you in a way that makes you feel the most comfortable before signing you up to any longer term commitment.  Of course you may want to commence a retained agreement immediately and that’s great.  Just make sure you are happy with all the terms of the agreement before doing so.


  1. What else can you do for me?

As your relationship with your HR supplier becomes more of a partnership, you may wish to use them to support other people related processes in your business.  Recruitment is a great example of this.  Recruitment can be a time and cost drain on your business and it can be a weight off your shoulders to work with a trusted partner to support you in getting it right.  However, many HR suppliers don’t offer additional services such as Recruitment either as part of their retained agreements or as a stand alone offering.  Therefore, it pays to check that your supplier offers the full spectrum of HR activities and has in house expertise in these areas that can help you when you need.


  1. Take up References

As you would with any new employee, we would always recommend taking professional references before committing to a supplier.  If they are as good as they say they are, then they should be able to provide at least 2-3 professional references from businesses, similar to your own, that you can speak to independently and ask any questions that you may have regarding the business as a supplier of professional HR services


  1. So what’s the deal?

Once you have agreed how you will work with your supplier and taken references, you need to review and agree to business terms.   As best practice, your preferred supplier should have provided you with a written proposal for the work to be undertaken, including the detailed elements of that work and any related costs.  Be sure to clarify what exactly the costs include and exclude e.g. project work and provision of third party services such as Occupational Health Consultations may be charged separately from any retained agreements.   Once you have agreed to the proposal, the supplier should follow up with a contract for services.  Any contractual agreement should be reviewed by Client and Supplier on an annual basis and should be flexible enough to be revised by both parties as required at that stage.


  1. Measuring Success

Your HR supplier, should, over time, be able to demonstrate how they are positively impacting on your business.  Once you commence working with your supplier, it might be a good idea to sit down and discuss with them how you will, together, ensure a return on investment.  Whether it’s reduced absence or turnover rates, increased employee satisfaction and engagement, your HR supplier should be able to establish early on how their success can be measured, should you choose to do so


  1. Use your HR service!

Finally, whilst you may not have HR issues arising daily, it pays to communicate actively with your supplier and discuss with them pro active HR strategies such as engagement, employee communication and involvement and so on.  Remember HR is not just about being reactive and fire fighting but getting the most from your people for business benefit.  There will always be something to do and your HR supplier should support you in finding the ‘magic dust’ that will take your business from good to great!


Contact Solve today to discuss your needs.

Employer Right to Work Checks

The UK’s Data protection rules are set to dramatically change with the introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25th May 2018.  The new regulations will involve significant changes to how organisations process data.  The new restrictions being brought mean that there will greater penalties for failing to meet data protection regulations.  The introduction of GDPR will have a serious impact on employers in terms of how personal data is processed and stored for not just employees but also for contractors and job applicants.

Don’t let Brexit allow you to think that GDPR won’t apply to the UK as we will still be in the EU when the new legislation comes into force and it is likely that the UK Government will adopt the same or similar legislation when we do eventually leave the EU.

Breaching the law could subject a company to significant fines of up to €20 million, or 4% of an organisations’ global annual turnover, whichever is higher.

The major changes that GDPR will have on HR information are:

1.     Data protection by design and default – A new approach to data that will require organisations to embed privacy considerations in both operational and strategic HR. Employers need to ensure that only personal data necessary for each specific purpose is processed. This includes ensuring that:

  • only the minimum amount of personal data is collected and processed for a specific purpose;
  • the extent of processing is limited to that necessary for each purpose;
  • personal data is stored for no longer than necessary; and
  • access to the data is restricted to that necessary for each purpose.

2.     Processing by consent – Many employers process employee personal data based on consent. This approach has been increasingly criticised, as the validity of employee consent is questionable due to the imbalance of power in an employment relationship. Under GDPR consent must be “freely given, informed, specific and explicit”. Where an employer obtains consent in a written declaration that also concerns other matters, the request for consent must be presented in a manner that is clearly distinguishable from the other matters, in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. This means that broad consents in employment contracts to process employee data will not be valid. Further, the requirement that consent be freely given means that valid consent will generally be difficult to obtain in the employment context due to the imbalance of power.

3.     Legal basis for processing – There will be a greater focus on the legal basis for processing personal data under the GDPR. As processing employee data on the basis of consent will be problematic, employers will need to rely on other grounds, including that processing is necessary for:

  • compliance with a legal obligation;
  • the performance of a contract; or
  • the purposes of the legitimate interests of the employer or a third party.

If an employee objects to processing based on legitimate interests, the employer cannot process the data unless it shows that its legitimate interests are sufficiently compelling to override the interests or rights of the employee, or that the purpose of processing is to establish or defend legal claims. The right to object could cause significant delay and disruption in the context of disciplinary or grievance procedures, redundancies, terminations of employment or business sales.

4.     Information for employees and job applicants  – Under the GDPR, employers will be required to provide more detailed information than under the Data Protection Act 1998 to employees and job applicants about the processing of their personal data. Under GDPR, information that employers must provide includes:

  • the identity and contact details of the employer as a data controller;
  • the data protection officer’s (DPO) contact details (if the organisation has a DPO);
  • the purposes for which the data will be processed and the legal bases for processing, including, if relevant, the legitimate interests relied on;
  • the categories of personal data to be processed;
  • the recipients of the data;
  • any transfer of the data outside the European Economic Area (EEA);
  • the period of storage;
  • the rights of data subjects, including the right to access, rectify and require erasure of data, the ability to withdraw consent or to object to processing, and the right to lodge a complaint with the supervisory authority;
  • the consequences for the data subject of failing to provide data necessary to enter into a contract; and
  • the existence of any automated decision-making and profiling, and the consequences for the data subject.

Employers must provide the information at the point of data collection. Where an employer wishes to process existing data for a new purpose, it must inform employees or job applicants of that further processing.

5.     Data subject access requests – Employees have an existing right under the Data Protection Act 1998 to obtain from their employer (or former employer):

  • confirmation as to whether or not their personal data is being processed;
  • information on their data, including the purpose of processing, categories of data collected and the recipients of such data; and
  • a copy of the data being processed.

Under the GDPR, employers must provide the requested information within one month of the request (three months in the case of complex requests), and free of charge unless the request is manifestly unfounded or excessive. The GDPR places much more rigorous obligations on employers to ensure that there are systems in place to ensure that they comply with access rights, with particular emphasis placed on the clarity, transparency and accessibility of such systems.

6.     Accountability principle – One of the biggest changes under the GDPR is the new principle of accountability; the GDPR requires employers to demonstrate compliance with the data protection principles. This will mean enhanced obligations for employers, including a requirement to keep extensive internal records of data processing operations, which must be produced to the supervisory authority for inspection on request. Employers should create a data register to meet their record-keeping requirements. This should be an up-to-date written record containing information about all personal data processed by the organisation, including:

7.     Automated decision-making  – Employees have a right under the GDPR not to be subject to a decision made solely by automated processing where that decision significantly affects them. This includes decisions based on profiling (any form of automated processing to evaluate certain personal aspects of individuals, in particular to analyse or predict indicators such as their performance at work, health, personal preferences, reliability and behaviour). The GDPR requirements regarding automated decision-making mean that employers should incorporate human intervention into automated processes that significantly affect employees unless they are relying on an exception to the rule.

GDPR will become law on 25 May 2018 and that is a “hard deadline”. Organisations will need to be 100% compliant from day one.

Accountability needs to be entrenched in an organisation, requiring a cultural and organisational shift and for companies to take a proactive, methodical and answerable approach toward compliance.

For more information on how to comply with GDPR please speak to us at Solve.

Employer Right to Work Checks

The world is going through a phase right now of increased hacker activity, and as companies we need to respond and show that we are taking steps to protect employees. Here is a quick outline of 4 basic steps you can take to do that.

1. Data Encryption

It’s becoming more and more advisable that all data for your company is kept on an encrypted hard drive. This essentially is a locked hard drive that requires the unique key to open it. It’s easier than ever now to make use of high level security features with online cloud storage making huge strides towards online security for your data.

2. Keep what you need, nothing more

Part of the data protection act requires that we don’t keep data we don’t need, and though companies follow this rule, generally, well, we could tighten it up for ourselves, and make a distinct effort to not keep data on an employee we really don’t need or could do without. By reducing what we keep on our employees we reduce the amount of information a hacker might get hold of. Mothers maiden names are now so dangerous due to their overuse as “secret question” answers. We can get better at this!

3. Use dedicated online systems

We wrote a blog post a while back on using an HR Management System in your business, and while these can be practically rewarding due to simplicity, they offer security benefits. Essentially, you don’t store HR related data onsite, it’s elsewhere, and you can generally be assured that these companies are doing their best to keep this data safe, if they didn’t they wouldn’t exist long! While it’s common it’s not a given, so research the security of the system you are considering before you invest.

4. Keep it non digital

This seems drastic, and counter intuitive to what we are saying about HR Management Systems, but we aren’t saying don’t use them, just add an extra level of protection to some data by keeping it in hard copy only. It depends on what data your company needs, but it might be worth a consideration that not all data requires instant access, and it could be safer in hard copy only.

Solve HR childcare

Solve HR childcare

What experience does Solve have of working within the childcare sector?

At Solve we work with a nursery that has 5 individual nurseries spread around Edinburgh and the Lothians.  This has given us valuable insight into the challenges faced by nurseries including

  • SSSC standards
  • The importance of Care Inspectorate reports
  • Finding the right employees with the necessary qualities, experience and skills
  • The day to day ER issues faced by nurseries

How can Solve assist with the recruitment of childcare roles?

We have been actively involved in the recruitment of Nursery Managers, Practitioners and Support Workers so we understand how difficult it can be to find the right people for these roles.  It’s not just about having the right qualifications it’s also about having the right qualities and behaviours to undertake a role in childcare.  In conjunction with our nursery client we have established a robust advertising and recruitment strategy that has enabled us to fill over 20 roles in the last year including a number of senior positions.

How can Solve support Nursery Managers with day to day HR?

We understand that the main priority for Nursery Managers is the care of the children in their charge as well as the day to day running of the nursery so they may not have the time required to be able to fully manage HR issues.  We have provided our nursery client with hands on HR support with a variety of different issues such as:

  • Absence management
  • Maternity
  • Flexible working
  • Disciplinary Issues

What other support have you offered?

In order to help the Nursery Managers with their development we have also run a number of training courses such as:

  • General Management training
  • Managing Difficult Conversations
  • Managing Probationary Periods
  • Investigations and Disciplinaries
  • Recruitment

At Solve we believe that through our extensive experience we understand the challenges faced by not just nurseries but other organisations within the care sector and that we truly can support these organisations with all their HR needs.

childcare staff selection and recruitment

childcare staff selection and recruitment

Working in your industry Solve. is aware that high quality care and the maintenance of service delivery is essential for your reputation. This means that the commitment of your care staff is crucial and their values are your competitive advantage. However, with turnover now averaging 14% (an increase of 2% on the previous year); attracting, sifting and selecting for the right employees has never been more critical.

Does this sound familiar?;

  • You place an advertisement for new nursery staff and are inundated with responses from completely unsuitable candidates
  • You need staff who demonstrate the key values of care, commitment and integrity but have no idea how this fits into your selection process
  • You’re starting to feel like your business has a ‘revolving door’, with the number of staff joining and leaving within very short timeframes
  • Parents are starting to complain about the lack of consistent care

At Solve. we can help make your Recruitment and Selection challenges a thing of the past and strengthen your business with the introduction of up to the minute tools and techniques that will ensure you attract, select and retain the best in the business.

Employer Right to Work Checks

The voluntary Living Wage has increased 2.4% to £8.45 an hour across the UK.

The changes announced by the Living Wage Foundation this week affect around 3,000 Living Wage accredited employers. The rate applies to workers aged 18 and over.

The Living Wage is independently calculated each year to reflect what employees and their families actually need to meet their living costs. This is based on research by the Resolution Foundation.

In London, the rate has increased 3.7% to £9.75 meaning an increase of 35p per hour.

These rates are distinct from the National Living Wage, the legal minimum introduced in April 2016 for over 25’s which was set at £7.20 per hour.

The changes come a day after a poll showed one in five workers (more than five million people), are being paid less than the Living Wage.

Employers including Ikea, Majestic Wine, National Express Bus and EDF Energy have signed up to the scheme and it has recently been announced that Everton Football Club, the British Library, MoreThan owner RSA Insurance, Curzon Cinemas and law firm DLA Piper International have now been accredited.

Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “It’s more important than ever for leading employers to join the growing movement of businesses and organisations that are going further than the Government minimum and making sure their employees earn enough to cover the cost of living.