September, 2017

121 ILM Residential Leadership Development Programme – 21st to 24th November at Forbes of Kingennie Country Resort

We are delighted to introduce our residential Leadership development training programme which has been accredited by the ILM. The first 4-night residential course runs in November this year at Forbes of Kingennie. The Leadership training programme covers all areas that aspiring or new managers will need to equip them for their job and assists organisations in succession planning and retention of talent.

A recent successful delegate said of this programme, “I cannot recommend the workshops highly enough, and I am delighted, that through their attendance, and completion of an ILM qualification, I feel far more confident in undertaking job interviews, performance reviews, managing conflict and enforcing disciplinary procedures as and when required.”

The residential combines learning with fun interaction and additional evening team building activities, along with guest speakers – all geared towards becoming a better leader and understanding how to best motivate people!

ILM is the leading specialist provider of leadership qualifications in the UK. Over 70,000 ILM qualifications are awarded each year and in the past year alone, ILM has delivered over 14,000 management apprenticeships. Taking part in this programme also provides free membership to ILM for a year, providing a toolkit of information and resources to each delegate!

Module 1: Interviewing, Hiring and On-boarding: Designed to enable delegates to recruit effectively and efficiently so that the business can confidently select talent, first time round ensuring induction training plays a vital role for all new employees.

Module 2: Effective Performance Reviews: Providing an understanding of the benefits of undertaking performance reviews and the business consequences of not completing them effectively.

Module 3: Effectively Managing Poor Performance: Covering the essential skills and knowledge to manage and motivate poor performers.

Module 4: Understanding UK Employment Law: Ensures that delegates are aware of UK Employment Laws and up to date with relevant recent changes in employment legislation. Delegates will be aware of changes to Employment Legislation and the impact on the business to ensure compliance with managing employee relations.

Module 5: Effective Time Management: This module aims to establish how managers spend their time and identify time-savers.

Module 6: Running Effective Meetings: Understand the fundamentals of conducting meetings, the planning, participating and concluding meetings successfully.

Cost: £1250 per person, inclusive of accommodation and meals.
2nd delegate £950 per person but only if sharing accommodation. If single accommodation is required then cost remains at £1250
For further information or to book, contact or call 0800 9995 121

  • Posted on September 28th, 2017

Long hours – productive or not?

At various times in the year, employees find that they have to work longer hours to manage their job – most know that regularly working long hours can be harmful for health.

A recent report found that the average UK employee works an extra 13 working days every year, with 64% of those asked admitting they often work longer hours than they are supposed to. 58% of staff believe that the traditional 9-5 working day is an outdated concept, citing the influx of technology as one of the main reasons for being able to work from anywhere at any time.

The report found that three quarters of UK professionals think that a four-day working week would be beneficial to them. This is in addition to an extra 40% who agreed that it would make them more productive in general.

  • Posted on September 28th, 2017

Sick on holiday – reclaiming holiday leave

The European Court of Justice had said that a worker who is incapacitated before a period of pre-arranged statutory holiday should have the right to reschedule that holiday to a later date. The court also suggested that the same should apply to workers who become sick during their holiday (as opposed to before).

Employees are ever-more aware of their individual rights in the workplace. Employers may therefore receive claims from employees that they should be re-credited holidays and be paid sick pay instead. However, there must be a risk that not all these claims are valid, putting employers in a difficult position. How can an employer prove that an employee wasn’t ill on holiday?

Essentially, employers must ensure they adopt a consistent approach to such claims to avoid arguments of unfairness or discrimination. Clear policies and expected standards are required – such as by asking staff to report and notify sickness in the usual way even while on holiday; having return-to-work meetings and obtaining medical certification and evidence where needed.

Employers should keep records of sickness absence and review these, looking for patterns of “holiday sickness”. Contracts and disciplinary policies should also make clear the serious consequences for any dishonesty.

A consistent and firm approach supported by firm policies and clear communication of expected procedure should reduce any false claims of holiday sickness.

  • Posted on September 27th, 2017

National Minimum Wage – don’t be caught out!

Last month, more than 200 employers found themselves on a published list of those who had failed to pay their employees either the national minimum wage (NMW) or the national living wage (NLW).

However some of those employers felt aggrieved because the failure to pay was not deliberate, but because they said they had been caught out by some of the more complex HMRC rules relating to failing to account for overtime, not paying apprentices correctly and making deductions for uniform costs from pay.

It is vital for companies to maintain accurate records and understand what amounts to working time for NMW purposes. For example, when employers ask workers to attend additional training throughout the employment, this time is classed as working time for which they should be paid at least the NMW. The impact of this decision could be costly. Unpaid monthly training may soon add up to a significant underpayment of the NMW.

Many employers have also been caught out for making deductions for uniform costs. Under NMW rules, requiring employees to follow a dress code without any additional pay to cover the cost of the dress code is considered a deduction from NMW. The NMW guidance gives the example of a hairdressing salon requiring its employees to wear white t-shirts and black jeans. If the salon does not pay the employee a clothing allowance and is paying the NMW, then HMRC will consider that the employer has failed to pay the employee the appropriate wage.

It is also important for employers to keep track of birthdays, especially if salary levels are set in accordance with, or near to, the NMW or NLW. The NMW increases when individuals reach 18, 21 and 25 years old. Recognising annual rate changes effective from 1 April each year should also be part of an employer’s salary planning.

  • Posted on September 27th, 2017

Flexible working – not just for women!

Flexible working is one of the most sought-after benefits for employees. The ability to log in at any time and work from anywhere can be an attractive proposition for a prospective employee.

In the past, flexible working has traditionally been associated with working mothers trying to balance home life and a career – however, this outdated misconception has been overturned by findings from a recent report. Four in five male workers surveyed admitted that they would prefer more control and more flexibility in their working day. 90% of employees claim to hate the nine-to-five schedule. Employees of both genders crave flexibility in order to cut down on hectic commuting times, increase their work-life balance and spend more time with loved ones.

The survey also found that young employees are the most concerned with flexible working, with 92% of 18-34-year-olds desiring the perk. Getting flexibility right will be an imperative for employers who want to attract and keep the best possible people at a time of skills shortages.

  • Posted on September 27th, 2017

How not to dismiss!

A care support worker fired over a misunderstanding with a pottery class booking was unfairly dismissed, a tribunal has ruled.

The tribunal heard that the employee had worked since May 2008 as a care support worker. As part of her role, she helped run activities for disabled clients.

One of the activities run at a day centre was a weekly pottery painting class which was cancelled by the provider after a series of conversations with the employee. The employer made an assumption that the employee had somehow caused the cancellation and proceeded to invite her to a disciplinary meeting. However she did not receive the invitation to the hearing until she received a phone call asking why she had not turned up. She was asked if she wished to have the hearing by telephone but declined and the meeting continued without her. It was decided that she should be dismissed, on the grounds that she had caused confusion with the pottery supplier and had caused the day centre reputational damage.

She appealed the disciplinary meeting’s findings, but her dismissal was upheld. Allowing the claims for unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal, the judge decided that the conclusion had been reached through an investigation that was “wholly inadequate even when judged through the prism of the range of reasonable responses test”. The judge also said that the decision to continue with the original disciplinary hearing in the employee’s absence was “procedurally unfair” and, by the time the appeal hearing took place, the employer was “determined to dismiss her.

The employee was awarded £4,466 for unfair dismissal and £784 for wrongful dismissal.

  • Posted on September 27th, 2017

Is the attraction of zero hours’ contracts reducing?

The trend for using controversial zero-hours contracts may be slowing, according to experts.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that 1.4m employment contracts did not guarantee a minimum number of hours in use in May 2017, down a third from a peak of 2.1m in May 2015.

883,000 people had a zero-hours contract role as their main job between April and June 2017, compared with 903,000 people between April and June 2016.
Zero-hours contracts have been widely criticised for not offering enough security to workers. A study released by Citizens Advice in January found nearly 20% of employers using zero-hours contracts changed or cancelled shifts with just 48 hours’ notice.

The government-backed Taylor Review, which was published in July and examined modern working practices, called for rights to be introduced to allow those who had been on zero-hours contracts for more than a year to request fixed hours from their employer which better reflected the hours they had actually been working.
Despite their name, the ONS also found that somebody on a zero-hours contract typically works 25.7 hours a week. However, around a quarter of people on zero-hours contracts wanted more hours.

  • Posted on September 26th, 2017

Businesses reported more than £40m in losses from employee fraud

Businesses reported more than £40m in losses from employee fraud last year, new statistics have revealed The data also showed that employers reported more than 800 incidences of frauds from inside their organisation in 2016-17. Employee frauds include falsifying claims for travel and subsistence, creating bogus customer records or simply stealing cash.

Apparently, the figures are likely just the “tip of the iceberg”, because much of employee fraud goes unnoticed.

The most serious and damaging employee frauds are often committed by longstanding senior employees who abuse their position of trust in the business and treat the company’s cash as their own. Such frauds are often extensive and can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Research revealed that almost half of insider frauds were uncovered by internal controls and auditing, while a fifth were stopped just in time, by line managers or whistleblowing.

According to Office for National Statistics data published in July, fraud accounted for 3.4 million – or roughly 31% – of the 11 million crimes reported in the UK in the year to March 2017.

  • Posted on September 19th, 2017

When is a contractual change constructive dismissal?

Constructive dismissal is where an employee resigns and shows they were forced to do so by the conduct of their employer. An employee may only bring a claim for constructive dismissal if they have a qualifying period of service of two years’ continuous employment. The steps leading to a constructive dismissal claim are:

1. The employer commits a ‘repudiatory breach’ of the contract of employment (ie the employee feels that they have no choice but to leave)
2. The employee resigns in response to this breach. The resignation may be with or without notice.
3. The employee does not delay in resigning.

With constructive dismissal the employee resigns in response to the alleged breach which must be so serious that it justifies the employee resigning. Examples include:

• Unilateral changes to the employee’s contract; for example, pay cut or demotion.
• Changes to the employee’s working hours.
• Change of the employee’s working location.
• Changes to the employee’s duties: many constructive dismissal cases are brought on the basis that the employer made unreasonable demands of the employee.
• Subjecting the employee to unlawful discrimination to the extent that the employee-employer relationship breaks down.

To be effective for constructive dismissal claims, the employee’s resignation letter should unequivocally set out the reasons for their resignation. If it doesn’t, the employee will find it difficult to prove later that it was solely down to the repudiatory breach.

Constructive dismissal claims are technically difficult to win, but employers should take them seriously.

  • Posted on September 19th, 2017

Suspension resulted in a breach of contract

A recent case shows that immediately suspending an employee accused of serious misconduct can cause difficulties for the employer, if unjustified.

A teacher was accused of using unreasonable force towards two children in her class, who were known to exhibit challenging behaviour. The head teacher investigated and concluded that the teacher had used no more than reasonable force. However, the teacher was suspended by the executive head. A letter was sent to the employer, stating that the suspension was a ‘neutral act’ and not a disciplinary sanction. It also indicated that the purpose of the suspension was to allow an investigation to be conducted fairly.

The teacher raised a claim for breach of contract, arguing that, in suspending her, the council had breached the implied term of mutual trust and confidence. She won her case on appeal. The High Court made several criticisms of the council’s handling of the case, including:

• The teacher was not asked for her version of events before being suspended;
• the head teacher’s initial investigation concluding that the previous allegations were unfounded was overlooked;
• no alternatives to suspension were considered; and
• no explanation was given as to why an investigation could not be carried out fairly without the suspension

This decision is a reminder that employers must give careful thought to a decision to suspend. Failure to do so might lead to a claim of constructive dismissal.

Employers can mitigate this risk by ensuring the following points are considered in deciding whether or not suspension is necessary:

• Would the employee’s presence impede an investigation?
• Is there a risk of the employee interfering with witnesses or evidence?
• Is there a risk to the safety of other staff, customers or service users?
• Are there suitable alternatives?
• Is suspension reasonable in the circumstances?

That is not to say that suspension should be avoided at all costs. It is important not to lose sight of the nature of the allegations against the employee – there will be cases where suspension is necessary. However, caution must be exercised to ensure that it is not the default position, even in cases involving potential gross misconduct, and all circumstances should be taken into account.

  • Posted on September 19th, 2017

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