INSIGHTS

follow us here and on twitter @ukhrhub to get all the latest HR hints, tips, advice and news

Fun police – Can I ask my employees not to travel abroad this year?

Fun police – Can I ask my employees not to travel abroad this year?

We’ve all been desperately looking forward to our long awaited summer holidays: jumping on a plane, feeling the instant heat when you land, seeing the bluest of skies, seas and pools that are yours for a week or two… Ah… bliss!

However with the sudden turnaround on Portugal’s ‘green’ list status many of us are still wondering if we should play it safe in the UK or risk going abroad.

The UK’s vaccination programme seems to be on track but the government are still being very cautious in committing to any guarantees as the global pandemic continues. So what are your obligations as an employer? Can you stop employees from travelling? and would you even want to?

From an employment law perspective, each employee is entitled to a minimum of 28 days holiday a year including any public holidays, which will be pro-rated for those that work part-time. This annual leave should be taken every year, although some employers allow an element of this to roll over if necessary. There is no upwards limit on holiday that you can add to your employee package.

The law states that people must give reasonable notice to take holiday which is normally twice the length of the time requested, eg: 2 weeks notice for a weeks holiday. However you do have the right to refuse this if it is a busy period or others in the team are away, or you have allocated holiday times to work with the seasonality of your business.

Traveling abroad for holiday

Q: Can I stop employees from going abroad on holiday this year?

While an employer can normally dictate when people take holiday, lawfully you have no right to dictate where they can go on holiday. If you are worried about the consequences of planned quarantine or last minute changes to government policy that enforce last minute quarantine for those travelling abroad you may wish to implement a specific policy to discourage employees from going. For example, to make it clear that any quarantine advice must be followed but they would not be paid during this time, or home working provisions are to be agreed and put in place before leaving so they can be accessed if necessary on their return.

Q: Do my employees have to tell me whether they are going abroad on holiday this year?

During these uncertain times it would be worth encouraging communication between staff and line managers or HR to ensure that the return process is as smooth as possible in the event of a return to quarantine. If an employee has been allowed to work from home throughout the pandemic, and could continue to do so on their return then it may be an easy conversation to have. However, if your staff cannot work remotely this may cause a problem. So having a clear policy on whether you require employees to use additional holiday or unpaid leave in the event of quarantine then even those that don’t speak to you should be aware of the consequences should the situation arise. There is no legal requirement to pay employers during quarantine (and they are not entitled to sick pay), but for staff retention and goodwill you may decide to have a discretionary case by case approach to this.

Needing employees to travel again for work

You may be in a position where International business travel is essential to your company. With this you are subject to the same red, amber and green lists as travel. Although you would have to factor in paid quarantine, possible additional hotel costs and pay for any tests due to local restrictions at the destination.

Certain very specific professions have modified or relaxed requirements when travelling back into the UK, but they are quite limited and vary across the UK countries; most people will need to comply with the default rules around green, amber and red list countries, even if travelling for work.

As an employer you have a right to request reasonable instructions be followed by your team, but in the current circumstances that is likely to depend on the destination and what the employee is being asked to do there. There is also the matter of how COVID-safe it is. Asking someone to travel to a red list country is unlikely to be considered a reasonable request unless there is a very compelling reason. So your employee may have the right to refuse to travel if they feel you are being unreasonable. As always good communication between all parties is the best policy here, you want your staff to feel safe and valued especially after such trying times.

If you want to discuss any situations you may have, then drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048

How the HR Hub helped Bedford Consulting grow

How the HR Hub helped Bedford Consulting grow

The HR Hub initially started working with Bedford Consulting in August 2018 and continues to do so in 2021.

Bedford Consulting is the largest and longest-running sole Anaplan reseller and 2020 Anaplan Partner of the year for EMEA, specialising in project implementation, software sales and connected planning. The company had grown quickly over the previous two years, tripling the size of the team in 18 months up to August 2018. Cathal Doyle (CEO) and Paul Rawlinson (CCO) had reached a stage where they wanted to ensure that they had the right structure to be sustainable as they grew further.

The key HR challenges

Bedford Consulting needed the HR Hub to ensure they had the right foundations; to keep the people they had already invested in happy and growing and make sure they were putting in place support for all the recent hires. It was noted that the structure up to that point had been very flat and the increased headcount had meant that the Directors were becoming thinly spread in terms of management.

An initial review of Bedford’s company data and HR Strength ™ was undertaken in conjunction with interviews with a cross section of staff and a proposal to tackle three key areas per quarter to improve the overall employee experience. 

Actions taken

After analysing the data, the HR Hub suggested a variety of actions and solutions to implement in order to achieve their HR goals.

There were four strands to this strategy,

  1. Learning and Development
  2. Hiring and Onboarding
  3. Team Structure
  4. Employee Engagement and Motivation

Firstly Learning and Development was given a new lease of life. A competency framework and structure was recommended and created for the Customer Success team, together with associated salary bands. This provides consistency, transparency and an understanding of all the roles in each team and what career progression looks like for all roles in the CS team ( the remaining teams to be rolled out this year). Formal Quarterly reviews have also been put in place to provide everyone with the opportunity to discuss their development & progression on a regular basis – all built using the tech they consult on: Anaplan. 

Hiring and onboarding was refreshed and additional support was input for all new hires to enable their onboarding.

Team structure was improved to reflect the company growth. An additional supporting structure was input to the organisation through the creation of POD leader roles (to provide dedicated support to a small group of consultants each) and a series of training and development initiatives created to support the POD leaders in these new roles

Employee engagement and communications was boosted with more regular points of contact. Previously Bedford had always held Quarterly Off site meetings for all employees, however communication channels have been boosted by monthly ‘All Hands’ style calls and weekly feedback received through use of survey technology which is reviewed on a monthly basis and actions taken by the management team

Results and client testimonial

Because of these steps, Bedford Consulting have retained their key staff during a period where a further 15 staff have also been hired. Engagement scores show that the team feels supported in the transition to the new POD structure and the flow of communication has been improved. This has resulted in a happy successful expanding team ensuring a strong growing business.

“Working with Claire and the team at The HR Hub has been critical to our growth and sustainability over the last two years. We would not have been in a position to put such a robust framework in place while we continued to grow at 50% YoY without their guidance and richness of experience. They continue to support our growth strategy but also act as a comfort blanket in areas of ongoing HR. Our recruitment, enablement and retention are stronger than ever which has been forged throughout our relationship with The HR Hub. It has been a pleasure working with Claire and her team, and we look forward to continuing that relationship for many years to come as we continue on our growth story”  Cathal Doyle (CCO) 

Asking for feedback – an HR hub case study

Asking for feedback – an HR hub case study

Asking for feedback is a critical part of maintaining a successful business. Whether that is customer testimonials, product reviews or a follow up after a specific incident.

As you can imagine during the past years pandemic our team have been extremely busy. Our help has ranged hugely, from adapting to new ways of working, guiding clients through new legalities, assisting with furlough, giving tips on staff motivation through to dealing with crisis. Plus an extraordinary amount of personal employee health and family matters on top of dealing with more regular company HR solutions remotely. Now as workplaces are starting to open back up we are advising on successful ways to get people back into the office, guidelines for new hybrid working plans and even a few clients that are keen to embrace the working from home system, ditching the office altogether.

Our team have had our clients backs through it all and there is a definite feeling of success within us. However, it still felt brave to put ourselves out there to ask our clients for testimonials. We were blown away by the amount of responses and the kind words they have shared with us.

We are very proud and happy to share what Laura Paplauskaite, CEO, Bit Zesty had to say about the HR Hub.

“The service HR Hub provides is very personal and pragmatic, which is of great value to us. They really understand balancing people and business and the service feels perfectly tailored to our small business needs. Initially I was worried that the advice would not take into account my concerns as a business owner. However, this is not the case.

The HR Hub saves me lots of time and money trying to figure things out from a legal perspective. More importantly, the team help me make the right business and people decisions. Claire is very personal and always has her business as well as people hat on. Working with her saved me countless sleepless hours, especially through the difficult times during Covid.

HR Hub acts as an advisor and sounding board – which gives me confidence that I am doing the right thing by all. I would recommend TheHRhub to any small business.”

Here at the HR Hub, we love that not only have we managed to help Bit Zesty save time and money, but that we have established a relationship that empowers Laura to feel confident when making HR decisions. Seeing these kind supportive words come in from a diverse range of clients has given us all a boost. This is more than just the marketing tool we thought it would be, this is motivation and pride for the team.

If you haven’t asked your customers for a while – How are we doing? Maybe now is the time…..

Image credit : Canva

Legal Eagles: Up and Coming Employment Law Changes

Legal Eagles: Up and Coming Employment Law Changes

It’s that time of year again folks…. This April new employment legislation comes into effect.

Here’s a quick summary of the new legislative changes coming into place this Spring:

  • Extensions of IR35 to the Private sector: this one is key if you employ a number of people through PSC (Personal Services Companies – also known as ‘umbrella’ organisations) as IR35 rules prevent contractors who are performing similar roles to employees, and working through PSC, from paying less tax and NICs than if they were permanently employed by these companies. From 6 April 2021, deciding whether IR35 applies becomes the responsibility of all private sector employers that in a tax year have: more than 50 employee; an annual turnover over £10.2 million; a balance sheet worth over £5.1 million.
  • Wage rises: Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on November 2020 that from April 2021, the National Living Wage would rise to £8.91 an hour (an increase of 2.2%) and be extended to 23 and 24 year olds for the first time (previously the NLW applied only to 25 year olds and older). All other NMW rates will increase at the same time in line with Low Pay Commission recommendations.. Other rates also increase.
  • Statutory pay rises for maternity, paternity and other parental leave payments: to £151.70 per week
  • Gender Pay Gap reporting: Private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees are required to publish information about the differences in pay and bonuses between men and women in their workforce, based on a ‘snapshot’ date of 5 April each year. Due to COVID, 2019/20 reports are suspended however companies now have to September 2021 to report 20/21.

For further help and advice on how legislation might affect your business, drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or give us a call on 0203 6277048.

Image: Photo by Flickr – Maia Weinstock. LEGO legal justice team.

It Takes All Sorts – Encouraging Diversity & Inclusivity in your Team

It Takes All Sorts – Encouraging Diversity & Inclusivity in your Team

Stepping out of the North Sea on New Year’s Day after my short ‘dip’, I was grappling with changing back out of my wetsuit into dry clothes under an enormous (yet not quite big enough…) towel, when my family were greeted by some passers by on the beach shaking their heads and muttering “It takes all sorts” to each other. We smiled and nodded at them through chattering teeth with what I hoped conveyed a sense of more cheery New Year’s Day vigour than I felt at that particular moment (given both the temperature around us and the fact that due to misjudging the car parking vs beach entry point we were in for a ‘bit of a walk’ back to anything which resembled heating). And ignored the slight judginess that came with the phrase they’d just shared.

True, it might be slightly at odds to submerge yourself in near freezing water when you could have joined the masses on ‘a perfectly good walk’ to get you out in the fresh air and keep healthy, without the risk of pneumonia or (worse still) ‘hat hair’ for the rest of the day. And there was nothing particularly accomplished about our trip to the beach: no fitness records broken, no significant calories burnt (I did mention it was a ‘dip’ didn’t I??). But who’s to say with the many health benefits cold water swimming gives, that my version isn’t better for you? I just have a different view of what’s fun…

And it’s the same in any business to a degree. You need to have different points of view to see the options available to you: diverse perspectives and experiences which don’t mirror your own.

Over the past few years, it’s become clear that a key way to accelerate your business performance is to become more diverse and inclusive. Gartner found that the difference in performance between diverse teams was 12% more positive than non-diverse teams and Fast Company reported that those companies with higher gender diversity and engagement experience up to 48 – 56% stronger financial performance than others.

Yet ‘Diversity’ as a word in my experience has tended to anaesthetise or polarise many in SMEs. Either they zone out on the basis that it’s not something they need to concern themselves about (I’m not sexist/ racist/ ageist/ ableist so we’re doing good, right?),  they associate it with something that only ‘big’ companies’ need to get their head around or that it’s just too hard.

And I understand that to a degree. Because taking action on diversity and inclusivity isn’t passive and takes energy. Energy to sit and listen to other’s experiences who do not mirror your own view of the world, a growth mindset that is open to the fact that there is more you can learn on a regular basis and then take action to change what needs to. And who has any energy left after such a bumper year?!

But with increased data on the impact of diversity (from the positive it brings to the negative when it’s not present) and key world events such as the killing of George Floyd sparking candid conversations in the workplace, it’s not something anyone can ignore.

And there are many things you can do whether your team is made up of 5 or 500 people.

  • Re-think your strategy and be as intentional with planning diversity & inclusion as you are with planning out your sales.
  • It all starts at the beginning… So get real in your advertising and think about the words you are using to describe the candidates you are looking for. Make sure any job adverts are inclusive by checking for the sentiment they convey and don’t include a wish list which doesn’t actually describe what you are looking for. Is it really essential that this person has over ten years experience in a specific type of environment at a senior level? Because if it is, then you might have unwittingly just ruled out anyone who’s ever had a career break. Surely you want someone who’s delivered the best results and in which case, change your criteria (and your questions later).

  • Shortlist a blend of candidates: The next time you go to hire, ask the person helping you with your hiring to provide a representative group of candidates in the mix. It’ll be tough in some industries, but challenge yourself (and them) to do so.

  • Highlight the unconscious bias that sits in all of us: Make everyone who is interviewing candidates watch at least 3 of the videos in Facebook’s series of unconscious bias training. They take about 15 minutes each, can be watched over lunch and I guarantee will have people thinking more about their own unconscious biases and the impact of them. This isn’t a male or female ‘thing’. We’re all in this one together.

  • Promote those people who are underrepresented in your business. And I don’t mean promote them to a new role all the time. But promote and recognise their accomplishments, encourage them to showcase their work internally and externally and act as a champion for them.

  • Find role models to mentor these team members: if you can’t find any internal mentors then provide external help or encourage them to join networking groups in your industry where they can find support.

  • Offer greater flexibility. More so than ever people have opened up to the idea of flexible working, historically something which has helped women progress their careers.

It really does take all sorts to build a business. Well, a successful one at least.

If you want to chat about how you can encourage diversity & inclusivity in your team, then drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048

Image: Canva