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Should They Stay or Should They Go? Dismissing or Extending An Employee During Their Probation Period

Should They Stay or Should They Go? Dismissing or Extending An Employee During Their Probation Period

Do I need to wait until the end of the probation period to dismiss? What if I’m not quite sure about an employee by the time I get to the end of their probation period? Should I extend? All are questions we at the The HR hub are asked quite regularly as people struggle to work out what to do when someone they’ve hired isn’t quite the wunder-hire they’d hoped….. 

First some basics on about being ‘on probation’: probation periods are not guided by employment law per se, but instead are a contractual arrangement between your business and their employees. Typically they will be used to set expectations that during the initial period of employment – normally 3 to 6 months – and sometimes are extended to cover a further period if a relationship has not been cemented or performance standards are not met.

Essentially however, yes, you can dismiss an employee before the end of their probation period if you feel things are not working out. But there are a few things you need to be mindful of and it’s not just a simple as saying ‘bye bye’ one morning. You need to give them the correct notice period and, as with any other dismissal of any other employee, it should be for a fair reason, including conduct, capability, breach of statutory provision,  redundancy or some other substantial reason (nb – we find that most situations fall into performance during this period however, where the employee hasn’t demonstrated to the employer that they’ve met the standards needed). 

BUT. Before you have that conversation, take a minute to think whether that  you have really done all you can to make sure the environment is right for their success in this regard. After all that time and money spent on hiring that person, have you spent at least the same again investing in making sure that the newbie understands what’s expected, held their hands a little (at the very least) and given them the support they need to make a success of their role? Often people think they have but then often this is not the case… So I ask again: Have you really done all you can to make sure they had the chance to succeed? Were you clear about what was expected? Did you give them regular feedback on how they were doing and offer them the chance to address any areas which weren’t sitting well? Was there anyone even around to provide regular support to them? If you can’t answer these as honest ‘Yes’es, then I would suggest that you look at giving them one final chance.

According to past research from Spring Personnel, 20 percent of employees fail to pass their probation period in a new role or have it extended, so if you did go down this route you would be in good company.  

Thinking of extending their probation instead? You should always make sure that this provision is written into their contract in the first instance. If not, then although there is nothing stopping you from extending the period and making that clear to the individual, you could be liable to pay them the full notice period laid out in the contract for post-probation should you subsequently dismiss during the extended probation period. As an aside, we also wouldn’t recommend extending their probation for any further than an additional three months: an extended period will impact on their engagement for one and for another, after 6 months in post, you should be able to make a decision one way or another.

Probation periods can be a challenging time for both employee and employer and if you want to find out more about how you’re getting the best out of your team through this time and beyond, drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048 for your no-obligation chat.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

#probation #ticktock #lightthespark #employeemagic #development

April 6th 2019: The Employment Law Changes You Need To Know About

April 6th 2019: The Employment Law Changes You Need To Know About

It’s that time of year again folks… On April 6th a raft of new employment legislation comes into effect and its vital for all businesses to up to speed.

Here’s a summary of the new (and potential) legislative changes coming into place this spring:

  • Increase in National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates – Having been announced as part of the 2018 Budget, both the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates will increase in April 2019. Under the new NLW, the minimum hourly rate that workers aged 25 and over are entitled to will increase from £7.83 to £8.21. At the same time, the NMW rate for workers aged between 21-24 will increase from £7.38 to £7.70 an hour; the rate for 18-20 year olds will increase from £5.90 to £6.15 an hour and those over compulsory school age but not yet 18 will experience an hourly increase from £4.20 to £4.35. The minimum rate for apprentices will also increase from £3.70 an hour to £3.90 an hour, providing the apprentice is under the age of 19, or 19 and over but in the first year of their current apprenticeship.
  • ‘Settled Status’ for EU nationals – European workers currently living in the UK will be able to apply for settled status in 2019, allowing them to remain indefinitely in the UK following the end of the Brexit transition period in 2021. To be granted settled status individuals must be able to prove they have been living in the UK for 5 years by the date of application. Those who do not meet this requirement can apply for temporary status, allowing them to remain until they have accrued enough residency to be granted settled status.
  • An increase to auto-enrolment contributions – From April 2019 the minimum contributions for auto-enrolment pension schemes will increase for both employers and employees. Currently, automatic enrolment requirements mean employers must contribute a minimum of 2% of an eligible workers pre-tax salary to their pension pot, with the individual contributing 3% themselves. However, under the new requirements, employers and employees will now have to contribute a minimum of 3% and 5% respectively. Employers are reminded to allow appropriate time to consult with staff before making any changes to their pension contribution scheme.
  • Payslips for all workers that include all hours worked – Changes to the way employers issue payslips will also come into force on 6th April 2019 as from this date onwards the legal right to a payslip will be extended to include those who are recognised as ‘workers’. Employers will also be obliged to include the total number of hours worked on payslips for employees whose wages vary depending on how much time they have worked. It is important that employers work with their payroll departments to ensure the correct procedure is in place ahead of April’s deadline.
  • A decision on National Minimum Wage for ‘sleep-ins – Following 2018’s Court of Appeal decision on Mencap v Tomlinson Blake, a precedent was set that individuals working on sleep-in shifts, such as nurses and care workers, would not be entitled to national minimum wage (NMW) for time spent asleep in scenarios where they were ‘available for work’ and not ‘actually working’. A request to appeal this decision was lodged with the Supreme Court by Unison and a decision is expected in 2019 as to whether this case will be analysed further. Any ruling in 2019 will be important in defining the rights of thousands of staff currently working sleep-in shifts.
  • Gender pay gap reporting for some medium-sized companies – Private organisations with 250 or more employees will again be required to publish their gender pay gap figures on the 4th April 2019. Although employers will be reporting for the second time, this year will be the true test as figures are expected to be heavily scrutinised in order to determine whether efforts to address any significant pay disparity highlighted in 2018 have been successful.
  • CEO pay gap reporting for some medium-sized companies – New legislation will also come into force in 2019 that requires companies with more than 250 employees to publish their executive pay gap. Although the first reports are not expected until 2020 businesses should be calculating the necessary figures throughout 2019 to show the gap between the total amount paid to their CEO and the average pay for an employee.
  • The legality of micro-chipping employees may be questioned  – If recent news stories are to be believed the act of micro-chipping employees may become more common in the UK workplace during 2019. The UK legal system has not yet been challenged in this regard, however it will be interesting to see how a court decides to rule on microchipping staff given the potential invasion of privacy and GDPR implications.
  • The use of non-disclosure agreements with employees might be limited – The government have brought forward a review into the use of non-disclosure agreements in the workplace, with a response expected in 2019. These agreements, otherwise known as gagging clauses, were originally used to protect intellectual property when employees moved from one company to another. However, recent media coverage has highlighted the fact that they are often used to silence claims of harassment and bullying. Whilst these agreements remain legal, the government’s response may go some way to deciding how they can be used in the future.
  • Statutory family and sick pay rate to increase – The weekly amount for statutory family pay rates is expected to increase to £148.68 for 2019/20. This rate will apply to maternity pay, adoption pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay and maternity allowance.  The increase normally occurs on the first Sunday in April, which in 2019 is 7 April. The weekly rate for statutory sick pay is expected to increase to £94.25 from 6 April 2019.
  • Parental bereavement leave and pay on the horizon – The government has confirmed that it intends to introduce a right for bereaved parents to take paid time off work. Under the current proposals, bereaved parents will be able to take leave as a single two-week period, as two separate periods of one week each, or as a single week.  They will have 56 weeks from their child’s death to take leave. The new right is expected to come into force in April 2020, but employers should start preparing for it during 2019, and could decide to introduce their own bereavement leave policy if they don’t already have one.
  • The National Insurance Contributions Bill comes into place –  effective from April, it will introduce some key changes to National Insurance Contributions (NICs). Including:
    • NICs must be paid on termination payments over £30,000
    • Class 2 NICs will be abolished

For further help or advice on how the new legislation might affect your business drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or give us a call on 0203 627 7048.

Childcare Vouchers: What’s Going On??

Childcare Vouchers: What’s Going On??

You could be mistaken for thinking that the current Childcare Voucher scheme has now closed (after all we have been talking about it since 2017 now….) however it has now been extended for new members by another 6 months following a Commons debate, with a revised closing date of October 2018 (exact date still tbc).

The current Childcare Voucher scheme (which means that parents can save up to £933 a year on childcare) was due to close to all new members on 6th April, making way for the new Tax Free Childcare scheme which was launched in April 2017.

So, what’s the difference between them? In short, both schemes reduce the cost of childcare but one scheme may suit an individual’s circumstances better. The most significant difference between the 2 schemes is that Tax-Free Childcare offers savings per child per year, while childcare vouchers offer savings per parent per year.  

With childcare vouchers, each parent can take up to £55 each week from their salary before tax and National Insurance, or £243 a month, to spend on childcare no matter how many children they have, as long as the parent is a basic-rate taxpayer and the employer has chosen to run the scheme.

The Tax-Free Childcare initiative however is much more akin to a savings scheme and under the rules parents have 20% of their childcare costs each year met by the Government, up to a limit of £2,000 a year per child (or £4,000 if your child is disabled) The scheme is directly managed by the employee and not the employer and so employees are not restricted based on whether or not their employer runs the scheme.

What do you need to know as an employer?  If you don’t offer child care vouchers to your employees you don’t need to do anything! However, if you do offer Child Care vouchers you should be aware of the following:

    • Anyone who joins the Childcare Vouchers scheme before the scheme closes can continue to benefit from the savings for as long as their child remains eligible, they must also stay with the same employer, or have received a voucher within the last 12 months;
    • Employers will continue to benefit from up to £402/year savings in employer NI for every parent on the scheme;
    • Once an employee has left Childcare Vouchers to move to Tax Free Childcare scheme, they cannot rejoin
    • Employees can’t use both schemes at the same time.

For help or guidance on Child Care Vouchers or any other benefits related query contact us at www.thehrhub.co.uk.

Image Credit: Unsplash

Boom In Use Of Agency Workers Is Set To Continue

Boom In Use Of Agency Workers Is Set To Continue

Recently published research by the Resolution Foundation shows a boom in the use of agency workers by businesses looking to fill their skills gap, and the findings suggest that it’s a pattern that’s set to continue. Almost half (43%) of respondents said that they’d increased their reliance on agency staff during the past five years, and 25% planned to increase their usage even further in the next five years.

It’s thought that the trend is being fuelled by uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and of course the cost pressures that plenty of businesses are facing on a daily basis. Today, it’s estimated that there are around 800,000 agency workers in roles all across the UK.

So if you’re looking to expand your team during 2018, you might want to take a little step back and consider whether working with an agency could be the solution that gives you exactly what you need. Recruiting and selecting the right people is a tricky process, and it can place a real strain on your resources. Outsourcing to the experts is an option that clearly appeals to many.

There is a very important issue at play here though, that plagues the reputation of businesses looking to tap into more flexible ways of finding and working with talent. The gig economy and all the pitfalls associated with it is constantly being debated in the media, and it’s clear that not all business owners are giving proper consideration to workers’ rights. There’s a clear crossover here between issues associated with the gig economy and the use of agency workers, and employers absolutely must proceed with a reasonable level of caution.

The Resolution Foundation offered some practical suggestions for ethically leveraging agency talent, at both a business and government level. The Swedish Derogation, for example, is a controversial piece of regulation that the Foundation would like to see removed. It permits businesses to pay agency workers less than directly comparable employees, and a repeal is currently under consultation, in response to the Taylor Review.

What happens from this point onwards will definitely be interesting from an employment perspective. The pressure on the government is mounting when it comes to workers’ rights, whilst businesses still face cuts and need to look towards less conventional ways of hitting their goals and meeting operational requirements.

If you’re planning to use agency workers, what steps will you be taking to protect your employer brand and maintain a happy and productive workplace?

TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing expert advice  and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket – but without the price tag!

Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.

Boring-but-important: Auto Enrolment Updates for April 2018

Boring-but-important: Auto Enrolment Updates for April 2018

It is just over five years since the first employers started to automatically enrol eligible workers into a qualifying pension scheme but for your SME it may have been a lot more recently.

Up until 6th April 2018, the minimum contribution under auto enrolment rules has been set at 2% (of which the employer has been required to contribute at least 1% of the employee’s salary) However, on 6th April 2018 there will be an increase from the current total minimum contribution of 2% of qualifying earnings, rising to 5% (of which the employer must contribute at least 2% of qualifying earnings whilst employees make up the difference of 3%). Contributions will then rise again on 6 April 2019, eventually reaching a total minimum contribution amount of 8%. These changes will apply to all employers regardless of the size of their business and so even if you were part of the last wave of business to auto enroll employees you will still be subject to the changes.

When you initially rolled out your auto enrolment scheme you should have sent each eligible member a letter which set out that contribution levels will increase over time. If that was some time ago (and in fact even it was recently) it is likely that many employees will be unaware of these changes and the impact it will have on their income. So, although there is no legal requirement or additional duties for you to write to your employees about the increases you should consider reminding them about the change as it can provide an opportunity for employees to financially prepare for the statutory increases and potentially reduce the number of scheme leavers and opt outs.

Summary of Contribution changes

Effective Date Minimum Employer contribution Employee contribution Total minimum contribution
Until 5 April 2018 1% 1% 2%
6 April 2018 to 5 April 2019 2% 3% 5%
6 April 2019 onwards 3% 5% 8%

It remains the employer’s responsibility to ensure pension schemes are qualifying and that contributions are deducted accordingly, so, remember to contact your scheme and payroll providers to make sure that the change in contributions will be correctly calculated and paid.

You don’t need to take any further action if you don’t have any staff in a pension scheme for automatic enrolment, or if you are already paying above the increased minimum amounts and remember that these increases don’t apply to staff who asked to be put into a scheme that you don’t have to pay into.

For help and support with the upcoming changes to auto enrolment contact us at www.thehrhub.co.uk or call us on 0203 627 7048.

How To Handle Blossoming Romances In Your Workplace

How To Handle Blossoming Romances In Your Workplace

Dating apps might often be considered as the modern way to find a romantic partner, but plenty of people still find love at work. According to a study by Approved Index, 65% of office workers have been involved in at least one workplace relationship during the course of their career. Something we at TheHRhub can testify to only too well to, with at least two of us going on to marry the person involved!**

And of course, it’s hardly surprising. Many of us see our coworkers much more than we see our family and friends, so it’s natural that working relationships sometimes blossom into much more.

But as the boss, relationships between your coworkers can seem like a disaster waiting to happen. With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s a great time to think about what your approach should be, and the challenges that you should be aware of. Here’s our advice…

Accept that sometimes things just ‘Happen’

Don’t be the romance police and try and implement any kind of policy that bans romantic relationships between employees. It would be unreasonable to do so and it probably wouldn’t act as a deterrent. Possibly, if anything, you’d be doing the opposite by creating a culture of secrecy and mistrust.

Recognise that most workplace relationships have a happy ending, and in the majority of circumstances, you’re going to experience no problems whatsoever if your workers start seeing each other romantically away from the office. Your staff are likely to want to be discreet, and there’s usually no need for any intervention whatsoever on your behalf.

Nip any problems in the bud

No one wants to see canoodling by the canteen, or have to navigate their way through locked lips just to get to the kettle. And luckily, most couples will know this already, and will often do everything they can to make sure that there are no awkward moments for their colleagues and PDA’s avoided.

But if you do feel that boundaries are being crossed though, take action quickly. And discreetly. Have a word with both individuals: explain your worries, and remind them of what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

If a manager starts showing preferential treatment to a team member because of their relationship outside the office, that’s a problem. Similarly, gossip could get out of hand and create a bad atmosphere.

Take harassment claims seriously

There’s a very big difference between a consensual relationship and unwanted advances, and as an employer, you have a legal obligation to ensure that you take harassment claims seriously, and act swiftly. If you don’t already have a policy that covers exactly how you’ll handle any such matters, then it’s absolutely vital that you get that covered.

The policy should be clear and well communicated, and it’s essential that line managers have the skills, understanding, and confidence to see that it’s enforced. If a member of staff came to you today and claimed that they were being sexually harassed, would you know exactly what to do? If not, this needs to take a top spot on your to do list.

Managing and leading human beings is complex business, and we all need to recognise that we’re not dealing with robots here. Emotions and relationships and affairs of the heart might not strictly be your line of business, but when you’re running the show, they’re things that you’ll probably have to deal with at one point or another. It doesn’t have to be a drama, but it does have to be something that you’ve considered.

**Full disclosure: my husband was my boss at the time of his proposal. He popped the question two weeks after giving me notice of redundancy: I’d like to see many try and repeat that!! 

TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs:  providing advice, support and tools straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket!

Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.