Back to Work

Following the government guidance from the 13th May the UK lockdown has started to ease and we are now seeing an increase in businesses returning to work.

For many businesses this has meant recalling staff back from ‘furlough’ which is causing a dilemma in itself:-

• Who should be re-called, first furloughed first back
• Do we require full or partial return

For employees and employers alike returning to the workplace can be trickier than first imagined and therefore you may find the following approach helpful:-

• Firstly ensure that you are able to adhere to the ‘Health and Safety’ guidelines. Avoid      hot desks, ensure that social distancing can be maintained and provide screens where appropriate
• Maintain/implement new ways of working to include from home where possible
• Ask for volunteers to return to work initially, allowing those who are shielding or looking after dependants to hold back if preferred
• Consider who has the right skill set requirements
• Ensure you communicate to staff your intentions i.e. measures taken, reasoning behind  your decisions etc

If you still experience some reluctance by employees to return to the workplace do take the time to discuss this with them and try and understand their reasons for resistance. Often many issues can be overcome once you have taken time to talk things through.

For those employers who are unable to overcome these issues and refusal to return is maintained without good reason disciplinary steps may need to be taken and this in turn can have an unwelcome impact on your company.

If you require any advice on getting ‘back to work’ please do not hesitate to contact me when I will be happy to offer my help. Initial consultations of up to an hour are free.

Social-Distancing-at-Work-1

Protecting your Workforce

As we start to reach the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK many companies have made, or are in the process of making, ‘furlough’ leave arrangements for their employees to ease the burden on their current cash flow.

As a business leader our priority is to maintain cash flow in order to keep the business afloat for future trading. However, let’s not forget the impact that some of these measures may be having on employees too.

Having discussed this over the last few weeks with some of those impacted, it has become apparent that the effect of ‘furlough’ for some is not dissimilar to that of being made ‘redundant’. This can be likened to a period of mourning, a sense of great loss.

The Coronavirus poses a real threat to both us and those around us. The working environment brings a sense of normality and purpose, work brings us together with colleagues.

Here are some tips to help keep morale up during such difficult times:-

• Keep in touch – regular communication with colleagues re-enforces the team ethic as a united front. It’s important that if some, or all of, the workforce are put on furlough that they are made to feel they are all playing a vital role in keeping the company going.

• 121’s – try and keep up with 121’s, a quick virtual meeting with your line manager can help ease any concerns

• Wellbeing – look at what support packages you could provide your workforce online to help with their general wellbeing.

It may not seem like it at the current time as we fight for survival to keep our heads above water but without our workforce waiting in the background, ready and able, the struggle to come back from this will be so much harder.

If you would like some further guidance or help during these difficult times on any of the above or other employment queries, please do get in contact with me. I am able to offer a free of charge one hour consultation with you to understand your business needs.

services

Furlough

As a direct result of COVID – 19 businesses are finding themselves in a position where due to business interruption cash flow is becoming a serious issue.

To assist businesses at this time the government has set up the ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ which is open between March and May (this will be reviewed). The scheme provides an alternative to offering ‘lay-off’ working or ‘redundancy’ to staff, helping businesses to retain their employees whilst providing financial support to them.

The scheme is available to all UK employers with a PAYE scheme in place and any employee who has been employed as of the 28th February 2020. Please visit the Government website for full details on how to make a claim.

Employees will be entitled to receive at least 80% of their current wage during ‘furlough’, capped at £2,500 gross per month. This may be topped up by the employer once agreed.
Furloughed employees will not be able to work for the employer during this time however, voluntary work is permitted as long as the work does not make any money for the business.

It will be necessary to obtain the employees express permission to be classed as a ‘furlough’ worker and a variation to their contract of employment should be put in place for good order. In some cases where over 20 employees are involved it may be necessary to carry out a consultation. However, if you already have a ‘lay off’ clause in your contract of employment you do not need agreement.

Should an employee not agree to ‘furlough’ working you should advise them that this could result in them being ‘laid-off’ or made ‘redundant’.

Following any period of ‘furlough’ working the employee can return to their duties where possible. However, it may be necessary for the employer to still consider ‘lay-off’ or ‘redundancy’ depending on their situation.

If you require any assistance with documentation or just some friendly advice please do contact me when I will be happy to help

Furlough

Coronavirus in the Workplace

As Coronavirus is now increasing globally and the spread of the virus is growing daily there are increasing concerns for employers and employees alike.

Whereas we cannot foresee just how severely this outbreak will impact on individual businesses we can mitigate some of the fears surrounding work expectations. Employers have a duty of care under the ‘Health and Safety at Work Act 1974’ and therefore should take steps to protect their workforce.

Communication to your staff plays a vital role into keeping the workforce up to date and will help allay any immediate fears. Regular updates will ensure that all your workforce is fully aware of expectations and processes to follow over the forthcoming months.

Precautions recommended:-
Hygiene – Encourage your staff to wash their hands regularly and ensure supplies of soap and disposal hand towels are made available. Outline the symptoms to be aware of and process to follow if they feel they may be infected or have come into contact with someone who is infected.
Risk Assessments – should be carried out within businesses to ensure that they have the right policies and procedures in place to deal with absence.
Absence – Re-confirm the procedure steps to your managers so that absence can be reported and managed i.e. sickness, self-isolation, bereavement, caring for an independent, travel etc.
Absence reporting – re-iterate the guidelines to staff for awareness
Sick Pay – the Government have announced emergency legislation plans to be passed imminently entitling those eligible to SSP from day one. Statutory sick pay is currently set at £94.25 per week.
Confidentiality – under GDPR employers must ensure that employee data remains confidential. Grievances may be lodged if situations are not handled delicately so ensure your process takes care of this.

The risks will inevitably continue to change as we face new phases of the virus spread so be sure to continue to update your staff.

If you would like any assistance implementing any of the above or have a question that isn’t covered please contact me at nicky.njmhrconsulting.com

Communication

Employment Law – April 2020

The following is a snapshot of upcoming changes with effect from April 2020:-employment-law-1024x683

The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act 2018

This will give employed parents the right to 2 weeks’ leave following the death of a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks’ pregnancy, subject to meeting the eligibility criteria.

Changes to written statements of Employment

With effect from 6th April 2020:-
• All workers will have a right to a written statement of employment
• A statement of employment must be provided on or before the first date of employment
• Additional information to be disclosed:-
a, hours and days of the week the employee/worker is required to work
b, entitlement to any paid leave
c, any other benefits
d, details of probationary period
e, details of training to be provided

Changes to holiday pay calculations

From the 6th April 2020, the reference period to calculate a ‘weeks pay’ for holiday pay purposes will be extended to 12 weeks of work to the previous 52 weeks.

Please note that changes are also being made to ‘agency workers’ rights and to the ‘Information and Consultations of Employees’ regulations. For full details please either contact me or refer to the ACAS guidelines.

Dealing with Coronavirius – Covid 19
As we face an uncertain period of time with the outbreak of Coronavirus please visit the ACAS website for some useful and practical information on how to deal with this within your business.

Time to Talk

I am writing this blog on ‘Time to Talk’ day 2020

3d people partner.
Some of us find talking about our personal life and troubles difficult and many of us still believe that your personal issues should not enter the workplace. However, no matter how hard we try to carry on as normal our feelings do impact on our work which can result in poor concentration and in some cases absence issues.
Our colleagues around us are equally impacted by our mood within the workplace. If we are feeling low we may appear very negative to new ideas and unwilling to help others, which in turn can drag a team down.
Time to talk day is trying to encourage us to change our mindset and help us to understand that by taking the time to talk to others in an understanding manner can not only help that individual feel supported but reflect on the mood within the workplace in a more positive way. This in turn creates greater productivity.
We are not expected to solve any personal issues and we must be aware that we are not all experts in dealing with mental health issues but by opening up some communication in a supportive manner can make a real difference.
Make sure you raise awareness in the workplace and consider upskilling your teams to support one another, the results will be rewarding. If you would like some further advice or help on this issue please contact me when I will be happy to help.

Embracing Change

changeFor many of us after the Christmas festivities its back to day to day life as we know it, setting new goals for the year ahead and looking forward to new challenges.

However, spare a thought for those that are now facing a more uncertain year ahead. With businesses under increased pressure within our local communities the security of our jobs is uncertain.

Many local high street shops will be forced to close after the years trading as lack of support from shoppers sees online trading remaining a real threat to retailers. Businesses are looking to consolidate their asset’s by merging with like organisations leading to closure of offices and creating further unemployment.

This is not only an economically difficult time for business but the effects on family life can prove very challenging.

If you find yourself in caught up in this situation NJM HR Consulting will be happy to provide you with sound advice to help you back on your feet whether you’re are a business or an individual. It is important to stay positive and ride through the storm with positivity, you are not alone!

Please contact me for a chat to see how I can help you move forward positively into the New Year.

How to avoid the office party drama’s!

christmas-party

As December fast approaches and the countdown to Christmas begins, we start to plan the festivities for over the holiday period.

The office Christmas party seems first to appear in the social calendar offering a way to bring teams together to show your appreciation for all their hard work over the year.

However, the office party can be a risky event for an employer, as the drink flows often work-related frustrations come to the surface.

So, as employers, how can you help to ensure that all your staff have a good time without the dramas?

  • A gentle reminder to all employees in advance of the event explaining that despite this being an out of hours event the employee policies for misconduct still apply – its wise to re-distribute this to all beforehand
  • Encourage staff to look out for colleagues that may be drinking in excess to manage their behaviour
  • Consider how much free alcohol is supplied at the event
  • Where possible supply transport
  • Ensure your social media policy is up to date, you don’t really want to see any compromising pictures appearing

Just by following the above steps can help avoid any headaches after the event. If you do find yourself in need of a little advice though please do contact me when I’d be happy to help.

Happy Workers are more Productive in the Workplace

A recent survey carried out by the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, in collaboration with British Telecoms (over a six-month period) found that happy workers were 13% more productive overall. The survey used emojis to understand how staff felt.

emoji

Factors that impacted on the workforce happiness were:-

• The Weather
• Good Pay
• Security of role
• Engagement with the business
• Enjoying a work-life balance
• Good working relationship with colleagues and management

We can’t make the sunshine, or all be fortunate enough to be in a position to ensure regular wage rises are available to staff. However, we can ensure that we establish a good working relationship with our workforce and engage them in the business.
Communication plays a key part to engaging with your workforce and building good relationships but the way we communicate is equally crucial.

So what does good communication look like:-

• Being able to listen to others is imperative in the communication process.
• Having empathy with others
• Encouragement will improve morale and appreciation in the workplace.
• Being aware of others and their emotions means being sympathetic to misfortunes…
• Body language can also impact – so think how we deliver our message

If you would like some helping to improve the happiness and wellbeing of your staff through good communication, please do not hesitate to contact me for further advice

Brexit and Financial Wellbeing

With Brexit being a hot topic this month with a ‘no deal’ looming closer there seems little let up in the news, social media, workplace and even homelife on the subject.

As a business Brexit means for many, uncertainties, which requires careful planning to be put in place to mitigate any changes arising as a result of this. But have you stopped to consider how this may be impacting on your workforce?

Your workforce is likely to be feeling equally uncertain about how the next 12 months will look for them. A rise to everyday living costs are speculated putting pressure on the household. Availability of goods and pharmaceutical supplies may be compromised for a period of time.

So, what can you do as an employer to reduce some of your workforces’ concerns: –

  • Communicate – ensure you are keeping your employees up to date with your strategy for the future. This can be done in several ways e.g. company announcements or team meetings
  • Training – identify any training gaps you may currently have to fulfil the company strategy and implementation of changes moving forward
  • Financial Planning – many businesses implement financial planning for staff already in the form of pensions, income protection and life insurance

post-financial-wellbeing

However, not all the above is affordable to businesses already under financial pressure. Training can be carried out in-house or online but expert advice on planning is required for the financial wellbeing of your staff. You may therefore look to take an alternative approach to financial planning using external advisors. Advisors will welcome the opportunity to visit a business to discuss with your staff either in groups or on an individual basis how they can plan for their future without adding cost to the business.

If you would like to understand more about some of the above please do not hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy to discuss with you how together we can add value to your business.