INSIGHTS

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Are You Discriminating Against Married or Civil-Partnered Employees Without Realising It?

Discrimination is always a hot topic in the world of HR. We spend a lot of our time of making sure employers aren’t discriminating against their employees for any reason. But some ‘reasons’ are much clearer cut than others. For example, you might not think it, but it’s possible (and quite easy) to discriminate against an individual because of their marriage or civil partnership status….

Marriage And Civil Partnership Status Is One Of The Lesser Known Protected Characteristics Under The Equality Act 2010

The Act states that it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee or worker because they are married or in a civil partnership, in exactly the same way as it is unlawful to discriminate against someone because of age, disability, sexual orientation or race or one of the other protected characteristics.

It’s A Complex Issue & The Latest Advice Is Readily Available Online

Acas recently published a guide for employers on how they should handle their duty not to discriminate when it comes to marriage and civil partnership and the guide explains what marriage and civil partnership discrimination is and how it can occur in your business (you can read the full guidelines here).

Think This Isn’t Relevant To Your Business? Think Again

You may well be reading this thinking that this doesn’t apply to you and that you absolutely don’t discriminate based on marriage and civil partnership.

But, the biggest risk for employers isn’t direct discrimination (where as an example you wouldn’t promote an employee because a role involves travel and you feel that the role would be better suited to a single person) but rather indirect discrimination which is when an policy or practice which applies to all your employees has the effect of discriminating against a certain group of people, in this case, those that are married or in a civil partnership.

You should also be careful that you’re not making assumptions at any point during the employment journey.  As an example, any of your employees that are involved in the recruitment process (or equally involved in any internal recruitment processes) should not make assumptions about how an employee’s personal circumstances might impact their performance, for example assuming that people who are married or in a civil partnership might be less willing to work irregular hours or travel.

As an employer, you must ensure that all of your terms and conditions of employment – including your contractual benefits – don’t generally disadvantage or exclude employees because they are married or a civil partner.

For help and support with your policy documentation, contracts of employment or any other HR issue drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call us on 0203 627 7048. 
Image: Canva

What’s In A Name? The Trend For Blind CVs

A recent article published by the BBC found that a CV with an English name was offered three times the number of interviews than an applicant with a Muslim name.  The fake candidates, Adam and Mohammed, applied for 100 jobs as business managers within advertising sales in London.  After two and a half months ‘Adam’ was offered three times more interviews than ‘Mohamed’.  If you don’t recall, ‘blind CVs’ hit the press in October 2015 when David Cameron announced that organisations would pledge to recruit on a name blind basis as a means of addressing discrimination.

A Blind CV Has All Of The Personal & Contact Information Removed

A blind CV, in essence, is a CV with all of the personal and contact information removed – for example, name, DOB and address (think along the lines of the ITV show The Voice where contenders are judged based on their voice alone). This means that a candidate can be evaluated without any biases coming into play. It’s quite common now for name, marital status and date of birth to be omitted from CVs and applications but, this new government initiative is primarily to reduce other forms of discrimination which seemingly occur when applications are received from ethnic minority backgrounds.

In Theory, They Should Remove Unconscious Bias From The Recruitment Process

It is our own thoughts and beliefs that inadvertently influence the ways in which we recruit and whether you care to recognize it about yourself or not, you will have individual biases. Whilst some of us may be conscious of those thoughts and beliefs, the majority of us aren’t and an unconscious bias poses a threat because these thoughts are automatic, based on the way we were brought up, the culture we live in and our social environment (the danger being that most of the time we don’t even realise we’re having them). As an example, if you had 2 CV’s on your desk one of which attended university in Leeds and the other in Brighton (which happens to be the university that you attended) would your natural bias be to interview the candidate who had been to Brighton University?…. be honest with yourself here!

Lots Of Blue Chip Companies Have Already Introduced Blind CVs

There is certainly an increasing trend towards incorporating blind CV’s into recruitment processes (a number of big name employers including BBC, NHS and Virgin Money have already done so) and there’s some evidence that indicates that it also impacts diversity. According to Earnst and Young their decision to remove all academic and education details and ban CVs from its trainee application process has proved successful in diversifying the company’s workforce.

But What Are The Pros & Cons To Using Blind CVs?

Pros

1. It can be good for your company’s reputation.  Being seen as an employer who truly embraces the concept of equality can be a great way to attract candidates.

2. Candidates have more confidence in submitting an application. Today, candidates are looking for what differentiates your company from others. Having a blind CV recruitment approach is likely to encourage more applicants to put their CV forward.

3. The organisation is less likely to face claims of discrimination.  Although there are no guarantees, having a blind CV recruitment policy is likely to reduce the chances of your business being accused of discrimination during the recruitment process.

Cons

1. The Interview process is still subjective and you will only be papering over the bias initially.  Even if a candidate is able to make if past the first part of a screening process to be offered an interview it does not shield them from possible prejudices that might be there when they get to interview stage. Whilst anonymity can benefit candidates at application stage by removing discrimination, you can’t run an entire recruitment process without disclosing a candidate’s name.

2. You can’t Google candidates.  With social media playing an increasingly large part in how we recruit a name on a CV often offers the opportunity to do some research on a candidate including their experience, achievements and recommendations (and other claims in their CV) before you meet with them face to face. Without a name, you are somewhat going into an interview ‘blind’ yourself.

So, although there is clearly a lot of evidence to suggest that it is harder for people with a ‘non-white’ sounding name to secure an interview, are blind CV’s really the solution? The obvious response to this seemingly unsolvable problem (and trust me this has been on ongoing topic for several years now) is to address the roots of the bias, educate people and attempt to wipe out discrimination all together. Easier said than done, given we still see discrimination despite tens of years of anti-discrimination measures and legislation!

What is clear is that something needs to change if we’re going to achieve the right balance when it comes to recruitment but what this balance will be remains to be seen. As for now, it’s certainly a topic to watch out in 2017.
If you need help with your recruitment process or any part of your onboarding sign up for our HR Guru service offering you pay as you go support or contact us at The HRHub for your free 30 minute consultation.

Image: Canva

HR Surgery: What’s The Ideal Notice Period?

A client asked me recently what the ideal notice period is. In truth, that is a question to which there is no one ‘right’ answer. Most businesses have varying notice periods based on the job role, industry type and level within the organisation.

Finding the right notice period for your business needs to be a considered choice which you should review as your business grows:

Your Legal Requirement

If an employee has been with you continuously from one month up to 2 years – the minimum statutory notice period is one week. This goes up to two weeks’ notice if the employee has been employed continuously for two years. After that, with every additional year of continuous employment they are entitled to an additional week’s notice up to a maximum of 12 weeks. In return, employees must give you a minimum of one week’s notice once they have worked for one month and this minimum notice is unaffected by length of service.

However You Can Enhance The Statutory Minimum In Your Contracts Of Employment

When you have a specific notice in place, above the statutory minimum, it’s typical to expect employees who have resigned to work their full notice period, otherwise why would you enhance it?! But getting the balance right when it comes to notice periods is not always straight forward.

My advice? Start at the top – and go from there: 

Consider Your More Senior/‘Specialist’ Roles First

In these cases you need to balance what is right for the employee and what is reasonable for your business when considering how long it will take you to find somebody else, for them to join the business and complete a thorough handover. In these situations, you would typically have an enhanced notice period of 1-3 months.  Potential employees looking for a senior role may expect to see a lengthier notice period as part of their terms and conditions but don’t be tempted to negotiate.  Putting a longer notice period in place when you know you will need an individual to leave swiftly if things go awry (for example if they have a client facing role) could see you having to continue to pay an employee who is on Garden Leave and potentially delivering you nothing. That said, more senior individuals or those where there is a limited number of roles in their given area of expertise may look for longer notice periods as part of their job security.

For other roles that are ‘easier’ to source or where there isn’t a skills shortage you are likely to still want to enhance notice period from the statutory minimum to 1 month (or 4 weeks) to allow you enough time to source a replacement.

But What Happens If You Are Faced With The Dreaded Scenario Of Parting Company With An Employee On Less Than Good Terms?

There are definitely steps you can take in situations when there is animosity and/or you need an employee to exit the business sooner rather than later. 

1. Payment In Lieu

As an alternative to an employee working their notice you can pay them in lieu of notice but, you should include a clause in your employment contracts to state that you retain the right to do this.  It’s important to remember that payment in lieu of notice (or PILON as it’s more typically known) is different to putting an employee on garden leave, in this situation you continue to pay the employee up until the end of their notice period but you don’t require them to be on site, with PILON you pay them their notice in advance and cease their employment prior to the end of their contractual notice period. 

2. Including Holiday Entitlement In Their Notice Period

Another way to reduce an employee’s notice period if you would like them to exit early (they will have to be in agreement) is to offset it against any outstanding leave. For example, if they have 2 weeks’ holiday outstanding and they have a 4 week notice period they can work for 2 weeks and then be holiday of the remaining 2 days.

You will of course always come across those individuals who resign, agree to work their notice and then go AWOL – yes it does happen and I have seen it countless times – unfortunately in these circumstances there isn’t a lot that you can do (unless you want to endure a lengthy and costly legal fight)

Whatever you decide to do make sure you put it in writing (especially if you reach a mutual agreement with an employee where they want to leave before the end of their contractual notice period, for example to start a new job, and you agree to this) whatever the situation.

Lastly, Can You Ever Reject A Resignation?!

Just to clarify to those managers who really don’t want to lose an employee……. no – you can’t refuse to accept a resignation if its given! An employee can choose to resign at any time and you should have a process in place which allows you to have open dialogue to allow you to understand what has brought them to this point. Knowledge is power after all and if there are any underlying reasons why an employee is exiting they are normally only too happy to voice this to you before they exit the business. That said, don’t take everything to heart, employees tend to leave businesses either feeling nostalgic about their time and taking a glass half full approach or taking a glass half empty approach…..take feedback seriously but be pragmatic about what you can change and what you can’t.

Get in touch via hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048 for more support and advice on contractual notice periods.

TheHRhub: on demand and online HR support for startups and SMEs

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Look To The Future: Key Employment Law Changes Coming Up In 2017

There are a few things that you can guarantee in life. Death, taxes, and employment law changes. As we make our way further into the new year, it’s essential that as a business owner, you know exactly what’s coming, and how to prepare for it.

Do you think that you can just hope for the best and plead ignorance if you’re caught out? Well let’s be honest, you don’t really believe that’s an option!

You need to be compliant, and we’re here to help you. Let’s take a look at the changes that you need to pencil in your diary for 2017…

Gender pay gap reporting

For the first time, private sector, public sector, and voluntary sector employers with 250+ members of staff will be required to publish information relating to the gender pay gap, and how they are performing in terms of driving forward equality.

At the moment, the exact requirements are still being drafted, though it’s expected that the deadline for the first report will be 4th April 2018, based on data from 2016/2017. We’ll release more guidance on this once it’s available.

Changes to regulations surrounding employment of foreign workers

From April 2017, employers sponsoring foreign workers with a tier 2 visa will have to pay an immigration skills charge of £1,000 per worker. This will be reduced to £364 for small employers and charities.

In addition to this, the minimum annual salary threshold for ‘experienced workers’ applying for a tier 2 visa will be increased to £30,000. If you employ foreign workers, or plan to open up your recruitment channels in the near future you need to make sure you’re compliant.

National minimum wage and living wage changes to be aligned

The dates for changes to national minimum wage and national minimum wage will be brought into alignment, so the good news here is that there are less dates to keep track of!

From April 2017, the national living wage for staff aged 25 or over will increase to £7.50 per hour.

Changes to salary sacrifice schemes

If you are offering employees any salary sacrifice schemes you will need to review these as many salary-sacrifice schemes will be abolished from 6 April 2017.

Schemes related to pension savings (including pensions advice), childcare, cycle-to-work and ultra-low emission cars will not be affected.  Schemes in place prior to April 2017 will be protected until April 2018, while arrangements related to cars, accommodation and school fees will be protected until April 2021.

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

Although GDPR does not come into force until May 2018, the scope of the changes under the new Regulation means that preparing for the GDPR will be high priority for employers in 2017, even for those in small businesses.

Even organisations that have robust processes in place need to assess their systems, policies and procedures, as GDPR draws closer. This Regulation applies to all processing of personal data, from collection, through to storage, distribution, retention and protection of data, security and cross-border data transfer.

As the GDPR will come into effect before the UK exits the EU, organisations that are not compliant by May 2018 risk fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover, whichever is higher.

Apprenticeship levy introduced

The apprenticeship levy is being introduced on 6th April 2017 but employers with a paybill of £3 million or less will not be liable to pay it.  Those not liable to pay the levy will be able to receive government funding towards the costs of apprenticeship training and assessment.

All things considered, there’s plenty to think about in 2017, and plenty that you need to plan for. And of course, there’s the tricky issue of Brexit…

There’s still a grey area over what we should really expect, though things are likely to become clearer in the coming months. As always, make sure that you keep an eye on our updates for practical, no-nonsense guidance on what you really need to know.

If you need help ensuring that you’re compliant with the upcoming and changes and legislation we can help.

Get in touch via hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048 to chat about your HR needs.

TheHRhub: on demand and online HR support for startups and SMEs

I Quit! Different Ways Your Employees Will Say Goodbye (And What They Each Mean)

You simply can’t avoid it, employees often quit their job, it’s simply the circle of life. Resignations can range from euphoric to being full of anguish and there’s no real way to prepare for how an employee – or you – will feel when they take that first step of handing in their resignation.

Evidently, however, there is an underlying classification system to the way employees resign from their jobs and it’s a system that has remained in the fog until relatively recently.

Researchers, Anthony Klotz and Mark Bolino, set out to map the way in which employees resign from their jobs by interviewing several hundred individuals. In their report the authors found that employees typically use 1 of 7 different styles when resigning and it found that the 2 most common resignation styles were what they refer to as ‘by the book’ and ‘perfunctory’ resignations.

If you’ve been employing people for a while now, you may recognise some of these types below. But if you’ve yet to be on the receiving end, then here are the 7 ways found by Kiotz and Bolino, to help prepare you you for what you might be on the receiving end of….. 

  1. By the book
    By the book resignations involve a face-to-face meeting with one’s manager to announce the resignation, a standard notice period, and an explanation of the reason for quitting. Other names
  2. Grateful
    A discussion which focuses on the employee’s gratitude towards you, their employer (imagine a euphoric resignation where an employee is happily reflective of their employment with you). Sometimes you have to leave a job that you like to progress- or at least a team or boss that you’ve enjoyed working with – and in these cases, people want to make the process as painless as possible. This is what the researchers are calling the “Grateful Goodbyes” method, which 9% of job quitters use when leaving their position. It’s a positive and grateful way of bowing out, helping your old team deal with the loss and maintaining good relations in the future.
  3. In the loop
    The employee has already told you that they were thinking of leaving. Similar to Grateful Goodbyes, those “In the Loop,” are where you are aware that an employee will soon be leaving as they’ve shared the information first hand out of respect to you. Perhaps the employee is looking to switch career tracks, or is going on to further training — either way, you know that the individual isn’t going to stick around, and are therefore are prepared for the resignation. This occurs in 8% of cases.
  4. Perfunctory
    Similar to ‘by the book’, but the discussion is shorter and no explanation is given. You know the ones: you walk in and find a letter on your desk and despite asking, as an employer you never get a true sense of why the person is resigning. This means employees follow the basic framework of the “By the Book” method, but do so very carefully with an almost surgical precision, and do not elaborate as to why they made the decision to quit. I also call it the “It’s-not-you, it’s-me” way of quitting a job. And we all know what that really means….
  5. Avoidant
    The employee resigns in writing, tells your HR Manager and allows the words to filter back to you. The “Avoidant” method is the most passive-aggressive way of resigning and is essentially like breaking up with your partner over text message. Employees send in their notice or resignation through HR or a third party, maybe even over the weekend, and then avoid seeing you and/or the wider team. Nobody likes an awkward breakup, and avoiding the other party can make it easier — though it’s a bit of a cop out.
  6. Impulsive
    In this situation, the employee walks out without notice, forethought or explanation. Have you ever been pushed too far and just snapped? In 4% of cases surveyed, the researchers found people have simply had enough, blow their fuse and walk out. Typically, it’s the result of some long-simmering frustrations or underlying tension that finally reached a boiling point. There’s no notice, simply a few choice words from the employee (normally at a high volume), shortly followed by them storming out of the office! Having seen several people ‘quit’ in this fashion, only to them return sheepishly (or in some cases, still indignantly!) the following morning – be cautious about accepting whether this is genuinely a ‘resignation’, which normally needs to be in writing ( emails are fine).
  7. Bridge burning
    This is the worst-case scenario. In these situations, the employee attempts to harm your, the staff or the company’s reputation as they exit the business. Though similar to impulsive quitting, “Bridge Burning” is less explosive, but every bit as dangerous. Be very cautious when you have an employee who exits the business in this manner, with tools such as Glassdoor at the tip of their fingertips your reputation can be tainted within a matter of minutes of an employee leaving.

In my experience, a 8th one could also be added, which could be summarised as ‘Ghosting’: one day they’re there and the next they don’t turn up, don’t answer calls and you don’t see hide nor hair of them until you spot a Facebook post of them looking happy with their new team many months later….

If you’re need some help with ensuring that your business is fighting fit for the year ahead, then get in touch via hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048 to chat about your HR needs.

TheHRhub: on demand and online HR support for startups and SMEs

Flickr: Woodleywonderworks, Final Day