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Every business has different standards of what is deemed appropriate or inappropriate behaviour. While some forms of behaviour will always be inappropriate, it is important that everyone in the business understands where the line is drawn.

1. Bullying: undermining and humiliating another person. For example, off-colour jokes may appear to be simply bad taste, but it depends on the situation. They can be used to target an individual or group.
2. Harassment: unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic which violates an individual’s dignity. Such behaviour could manifest in subtle ways such as a creeping invasion of personal space.
3. Substance abuse can be identified by unusual changes in a person’s judgment, alertness, perception, performance and emotional state.
4. Violence can be easier to identify than other forms of inappropriate behaviour, and swift action is vital to deal with any incidents.
5. Disregard of company rules; reoccurring lateness, theft, disregard for company property etc.

By watching out for these 5 signs, Managers and businesses can be confident in their ability to offer staff a working environment free of inappropriate behaviour.

For guidance on inappropriate conduct at work, contact Solve on 0131 300 0433

Natwest has found itself at the forefront of the media recently when an employee went on an anti-vegan rant to one of their customers. The debacle made headlines when a Natwest customer phoned up for a loan with the bank and although the customer didn’t meet the loan requirements, the call was recorded and after investigation, it can be revealed that she spoken to in a manner which would not suggest great customer service.

After the staff member learned that the customer was vegan, he was recorded saying that “all vegans should be punched in the face” and told her that he felt vegans were forcing their beliefs on him. The customer stated that she felt his tone was “really unpleasant” and didn’t feel she should be punished for her lifestyle choices by a “big organisation.”

After listening to the recording, the bank decided to accept her loan request for £400 and pay out just under £200 in compensation.

Last year, Starbucks had to deal with public fallout after an employee mocked a customer with a disability. The customer had a lisp and the employee wrote his name on the cup as “SSSAM”.

Like the Natwest story, both of these incidents have a great impact on the Company’s branding. Poor practice, especially within visible customer-facing roles or roles susceptible to media coverages raises questions about how engaged employees are with the Company’s corporate ethos.

The impact for a Company’s brand is huge if their employees are not upholding the tone or image that is expected of the Company.

Often, improving employee engagement is incumbent on HR, as they are looked upon to improve how employees feel about the Company and how they engage with their work. A recent survey found that only just over four in 10 employees knew what their Company stands for.

If you would like help on employee engagement and retaining your company image through your employees, contact us at Solve.

Last month the government unveiled plans for new legislation that will mean that pregnant women and parents returning to work will receive greater protection from redundancy.

The government announced it would begin consulting on extending legal protection against redundancy for pregnant women for six months after they return to work.

The 10-week consultation recommends maternity and parental leave (MAPLE) regulations be extended to cover a six-month period after a new mother returns to work. It could potentially also be applied to others, including men, who return from adoption leave or shared parental leave.

Under current regulations, if redundancies are being made, employers have an obligation to offer those on maternity or shared parental leave a “suitable alternative vacancy” where one is available, giving these employees priority over others who are also at risk of redundancy. However, this provision ends when an individual returns to work.

The consultation cited research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that found one in nine (11 per cent) women said they had been fired or made redundant when they returned to work after having a child, or were treated so badly they felt forced out of their job.

The BEIS study also estimated 54,000 women a year may lose their jobs due to pregnancy or maternity.
Separate research published last year found fewer than one in five women feel confident returning to work after maternity leave. The survey also found more than a third (37 per cent) felt so isolated they considered resigning.

The government also committed to exploring evidence for changing employment tribunal time limits for claims relating to discrimination, harassment and victimisation, “including on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity”.

The government said tribunals could already allow the three-month time limit to be extended in discrimination cases if it is considered this “just and equitable” given the circumstances of the case. It hoped the consultation would build on previous work to gather data on the success rate of “out of time” tribunal claims for pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

The consultation on extending redundancy protection for women and new parents will end on 5 April.

Family-friendly regulations and policies are designed help foster inclusive and productive work cultures. If you would like review your existing family friendly policies and procedures speak to us at Solve.

New amendments to the 1996 Employment Rights Act will come into force from 6 April 2019, increasing employer’s responsibilities regarding the payslips they produce. It is important to understand these changes, firstly because employers will be required to provide greater detail within their payslips. In addition to this, the legislation also requires employers to send payslips not only to employees, but to all those classed as ‘worker’. To help you stay compliant, the team at Solve HR have summarised the upcoming payslip responsibilities below.

Inclusions
The following details will be required in every payslip from 6 April 2019;

1. Gross salary or wages
2. Net salary or wages payable
3. Where there are deductions, specify the amount and what it relates to
4. Where it is paid in parts, the amount and payment method for each part
5. If any part varies due to time worked, specify both rate of pay and total number hours worked. This can be either as a single aggregate figure, or separately for each rate of pay or type of work

The reasoning behind the increase in detail demanded of payslips is to increase transparency around what is being paid and why. By helping employees better understand their pay, it is hoped that this will ensure obligations around National Minimum Wage, Holiday Pay and Sick Pay are more likely to be honoured. It is anticipated that some organisations may find they need to introduce new software or update their existing payroll processes in order to meet the new requirements. If your business would benefit from further guidance in this area, the Solve HR team can provide you with expert support.

‘Worker’ Status
Even if someone isn’t classified as an ‘employee’, they may legally fall into the category of ‘worker’, and as such be entitled to employment rights around National Minimum Wage, paid holiday and sick leave. With the emergence of the so-called gig economy, it is becoming increasing difficult to determine the status of their workforce. This is being reflected in Employment Tribunal cases, where we are increasingly seeing instances of those who were originally defined as ‘self-employed’ winning the right to be treated as a worker, as can be seen in high-profile cases such as Uber. Many employers are finding the boundaries are blurred between an employee, a worker and a self-employed contractor, and by not understanding the distinctions, running the risk that they are not fulfilling their legal obligations.

If you find that you are in any doubt about the status of your workforce, or you have any questions regarding the new payslips legislation, you can contact Solve HR for advice at mail@solvehr.co.uk.

Every business has different standards of what is deemed appropriate or inappropriate behaviour. While some forms of behaviour will always be inappropriate, it is important that everyone in the business understands where the line is drawn.

1. Bullying: undermining and humiliating another person. For example, off-colour jokes may appear to be simply bad taste, but it depends on the situation. They can be used to target an individual or group.
2. Harassment: unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic which violates an individual’s dignity. Such behaviour could manifest in subtle ways such as a creeping invasion of personal space.
3. Substance abuse can be identified by unusual changes in a person’s judgment, alertness, perception, performance and emotional state.
4. Violence can be easier to identify than other forms of inappropriate behaviour, and swift action is vital to deal with any incidents.
5. Disregard of company rules; reoccurring lateness, theft, disregard for company property etc.

By watching out for these 5 signs, Managers and businesses can be confident in their ability to offer staff a working environment free of inappropriate behaviour.

For guidance on inappropriate conduct at work, contact Solve on 0131 300 0433

Should Staff Get Paid For Snow Days

Should Staff Get Paid For Snow Days

It’s that time of year where the UK is prone to experiencing periods of heavy snowfall.  Our article aims to answer some of the more common questions on the impact of severe weather conditions.

Do I have to pay employees who cannot get to work because of severe weather?

In short, no, you are well within your rights to refuse to pay an employee who does not appear for work due to severe weather such as heavy snow.  This is because an employee who is not working is not fulfilling their contract of employment, and so therefore, you don’t have to pay them.  That said, you may wish to take a reasonable approach and pay your staff on a ‘snow day’ to maintain staff morale and your reputation as a good employer.

Do I really need a policy on severe weather?

It is good practice to have a Severe Weather and Travel Disruption Policy in place to ensure that employees are aware of the rules and procedures that the Company adopts should they experience difficulties in attending work due to bad weather or disruption to travel.

What can I do if I need employees to work even though the weather is bad?

In the modern world of work, many jobs can be done from home, and employees who frequently work at home should be encouraged to do so when bad weather approaches.  If you know that the weather is going to be bad, you might want to take a proactive approach and seek mutual agreement from staff to ensure the business can run effectively during these periods.  You should be careful about asking employees to work at home when a requirement to do so is not included in their contracts of employment.  To require an employee to work at home in severe weather will constitute a unilateral variation of his/her contract of employment requiring consultation in advance.

You should also consider the implications of the employees’ health and safety before imposing a homeworking requirement: some employees’ homes will simply not be set up to be turned into a temporary workplace.

Can employees take holidays when they cannot get to work because of bad weather?

Where employees are unable to get to work because of bad weather, taking the time as a paid holiday may be an option.  There is nothing to stop you asking the employee if they would like to take a holiday if they are unable to get to work.  Many employees will find taking paid holiday preferable to losing a day’s pay.  However, there may be circumstances in which this might not be possible. For example, where the employee has used their holiday allowance or they wish to keep their holidays for a later date.

If you are going to insist that employees take the time as holiday, you must provide them with the minimum statutory notice.  For example, if you request an employee to take 2 days holiday, you must give then at least 4 days’ advance notice.

If I close my workplace because of bad weather, do I have to pay my staff?

 If an employee is unable to work because you have made the decision to close the premises, this will in effect be a period of lay-off, therefore, unless there is a contractual provision allowing for unpaid lay-off, you should pay your employees their normal wage.

I have employees with children at schools and nurseries that are closed because of the severe weather. Do I have to give them time off when they have no childcare?

Employees have the statutory right to a reasonable period of unpaid time off for dependants.  This right applies where an employee needs to take time off work because of unexpected disruption to the care arrangements for a dependant.  An employee taking advantage of this right must inform you of the reason for the absence, and likely length of the absence.

If your business would benefit from a Severe Weather Policy, contact us at Solve. HR.