August, 2018

Men are more likely to tell lies on their CVs according to a recent study

A quarter of those surveyed admitted to regularly stretching the truth on their CVs to secure employment. Previous work experience is the most common fib, with 47% of those listings referring to non-existent former employers.

False previous education was ranked second at 41%, closely followed by false personal interests at 20% as the next biggest lie. One in five workers who lied on their CV told perspective employers that they were proficient in programmes such as Excel and PowerPoint to help embellish their applications.

Here are six ways for employers to identify CV lies:

  • Look out for skills without evidence
  • Line up employment dates to make sure that they look legitimate
  • Ask references similar questions to ensure that the match
  • Check social channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to see omitted information
  • Look for obvious signs in interviews such as negative body language, lack of eye contact and shallow answers
  • Run a background check: official sets of results will help verify that your new hire is who they say they are
  • Posted on August 30th, 2018

Monitoring in the workplace must have a clear policy to back it up

Employers must be clear with their staff about their email and internet monitoring policies, after a new report from the TUC revealed more than half of UK workers believe that they are monitored at work.

The national survey of more than 1,200 UK workers found 56% of people felt that monitoring was going on in the workplace, including CCTV, browsing history and phone logs. There are many legitimate reasons why employee data may be used for monitoring purposes, such as in high risk, lone-working roles.  It is important that employers are transparent about their use of data to monitor their workforces.

Any employer which has computers or online systems and allows employees to use them should have a policy reserving the right to monitor use of these systems. But employers must have reason to conduct the monitoring and cannot simply read personal emails on a casual basis without good reason. Failing to warn staff that monitoring is taking place could have legal consequences.

Covert monitoring can only be justified in exceptional circumstances. Employers should explain the reason for monitoring and how they intend to use any collected data.

While recent changes to data protection law via the General Data Protection Regulation have further safeguarded the limits to monitoring of staff, the TUC called for new protections to ensure employers only use surveillance for legitimate reasons, and the introduction of tougher enforcement measures to ensure workers are informed of monitoring technologies.

  • Posted on August 30th, 2018

Dismissal was not in the “band of reasonable responses”

Two repair contractors who were fired for gross misconduct after they were discovered to have used company vehicles for personal purposes were unfairly dismissed, an employment tribunal has rules. While the employees were at fault for misusing the vans, the tribunal found their employer failed to thoroughly investigate the issue before dismissing them.

The company’s driver and vehicle policy dictated that the vans were only provided for carrying out work duties, and must not “under any circumstances be used for private purposes other than for ordinary commuting.  Unauthorised use of a company vehicle is deemed to be gross misconduct and may result in dismissal.”

The company launched an investigation over the employees’ use of the vans, which were fitted with tracking devices, following an anonymous complaint. The tracker information showed that one employee had used his company van to travel to his mother’s house multiple times during one month, which was on his route home and that the other employee had taken his van to multiple locations, including to watch his son play football while on call and to go to the supermarket.

During their subsequent disciplinary hearing, the employees denied seeing the driver and vehicle policy, but the tribunal judge ruled this was unlikely to be true. Previous statements made by the pair suggested they simply found the guidance confusing and evidence showed that a paper copy of the statement had been mailed to their home addresses.

During his disciplinary hearing, one employee said he did not think the personal use of the van should be an issue if his route was on his way home, as long as he “wasn’t taking advantage”. He additionally cited his father’s recent death as a factor requiring him to make visits to his mother.

The second employee said he found the questions about journeys in the van “really tedious,” adding that “95% of the workforce do stuff on their way home”.

Both employees were dismissed for gross misconduct. They appealed the decisions on the grounds that they were not given any opportunity to correct their actions, and that they had not clearly understood the policy. They additionally complained that neither of them had previous disciplinary sanctions. However, the appeals were rejected.

The tribunal accepted the reason for the dismissal was misconduct, and that the employer had a genuine belief in that misconduct. However it found the policy around company vans was unclear and provided no explanation of  the distinction between ‘private’ and ‘business’ use. When combined with the length of service and clear disciplinary records of each employee and the failure to properly investigate on the part of the employer, the dismissal was deemed unfair.

Employers must always ensure that the dismissal decision is within the range of reasonable responses. The tribunal Judge felt that the employer should have considered the employees’ length of service and previous clean disciplinary record. However, the tribunal also ruled any damages the employees received should be reduced, as they had contributed to their dismissals by knowingly contradicting the company policy on vehicle use.

  • Posted on August 30th, 2018

An employee has won £17,000 for unfair constructive dismissal, after refusing to accept a pay cut

An employment tribunal hearing heard that the employee of driver recruitment agency since 2008 refused a request from the company to cut his hours in half.  In 2015 he initially started working at the agency 40 hours a week, had his hours reduced to 32.

In 2017 the Managing Director then proposed that he should reduce his working hours from 32 to 16, with the reason being the agency’s loss of two contracts and a quiet period. This would have resulted in the driver losing £205 a week.

After reviewing his financial commitments, the employee was unable to afford the reduction and proposed a reduction from 32 to 24 hours, if his day rate increased from £102.97 to £110.00. He then confirmed the days which would work for him, alongside the revised day rate, via email. The MD responded, saying he would have “this” sorted, which was construed as acceptance of his proposal.

However, in June, the Managing Director reneged on the deal and offered a new contract which had to be signed. The employee handed in his resignation as a result of the enforced reduction in pay. The tribunal ruled “that a reduction of this magnitude was a serious matter” for the employee and that his employer “had fundamentally breached” his employment contract.

He was awarded £16,852.12 for unfair constructive dismissal. This included a basic award of £4,942.92 for his eight years of continuous employment at the company and a compensatory award of £11,882.20, which was increased by 10% for the employer’s breach of the Acas code.

The tribunal found the company had failed to comply with the Acas code of practice and said that the failure to treat the employee’s disagreement with the pay cut as a grievance. The judge ruled his response “fell short”.

  • Posted on August 30th, 2018

Homeworking tips for employers

With increasing numbers of employers providing flexibility to their staff to work from home, homeworking as a method of working is relevant to many jobs. Homeworkers are covered by health and safety law in the same way as any other employed worker.

Below is some guidance for employers:

  • Any organisation that wishes to implement a working from home arrangement should develop an appropriate policy.
  • A job carried out effectively away from the main workplace can bring benefits both to the employee in terms of flexibility and to the employer in terms of reduced overhead costs.
  • Employers are required to assess all significant risks and to make adequate arrangements for managing the risks to homeworkers.
  • People working from home must be provided with adequate support to enable them to do their jobs efficiently.
  • If display screen equipment (DSE) is to be used, employers must ensure that a DSE assessment is carried out with the homeworker and that health and safety requirements are met, including eye tests and the provision of appropriate equipment.
  • Employers must ensure that any substances are assessed and suitably controlled and should provide appropriate personal protective equipment.
  • Homeworkers should be trained in the use of any equipment provided, which should be suitable for the job, regularly maintained and appropriately guarded.
  • Posted on August 30th, 2018

Requests for Criminal background tricky following GDPR changes

Employers could “struggle to justify” requests for criminal record details early in the recruitment process now the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is in force, a social justice charity has warned. GDPR, which was enacted in the UK through the Data Protection Act and came into force on 25 May, requires potential employers to only collect personal information where it is strictly necessary.
The charity has warned that employers still requesting criminal record details at the start of the recruitment process may struggle to align their reasoning with GDPR. The charity has urged businesses to reconsider what information they ask for and, if it is necessary to request criminal record details, to only do so towards the end of the hiring process, when the candidate is being seriously considered. More than 11m people in the UK have a criminal record and the charity is calling for employers to remove questions about criminal records from preliminary job application forms.
However, a previous survey revealed that 50% of employers would not consider hiring an ex-offender, while 45% of businesses felt an ex-offender would be an unreliable employee.
Last month, the Supreme Court decided a man’s human rights had not been infringed when a criminal record check certificate revealed he had been acquitted of a serious crime. However, the Judge noted that he had concerns over the guidance given to those providing information to be included in criminal record certificates, particularly in as far as how potential employers were likely to react to the information disclosed.

  • Posted on August 30th, 2018

HMRC tool for employment status misleading

According to a recent report, a 14-month investigation into HM Revenue & Custom’s (HMRC) Check Employment Status Tool (CEST) is “routinely” misleading the self-employed, coming to “the wrong conclusion in almost half of cases”.

HMRC released its IR35 tool CEST in March 2017 following a change to taxation rules for self-employed contractors. It now places reliance on CEST to help it administer those rules. However, despite its importance, it seems that the CEST tool does not explicitly look into mutuality of obligation when determining whether someone’s employment status. HMRC considered that, for any contract to exist between an employer and worker, mutuality of obligation will already need to be established.   This mutuality of obligation is one of the fundamental factors that needs to be taken into consideration when applying the legilsation, so the fact that it is omitted through CEST, demonstrates that it is limited.

People completing CEST are asked around 16 questions, and it is thought that, no matter how good the tool is, it can never have the same level of detail as a full review by HMRC or tribunal assessment where the relationship between both parties is scrutinised.

With the number of contractors and others working on a self-employed basis in the UK sitting at close to five million, further change are required.

The earliest date possible for extending the current rules to the private is April 2019, but given these issues it seems that April 2020 is now far more likely, with a possible phased approach based on the size of business or payment.

  • Posted on August 30th, 2018

Only a third of employees see a clear link between their pay and performance, according to research.

Only a third of employees see a clear link between their pay and performance, according to research.

The study, which gathered responses from more than 36,000 employees across a range of industries, also revealed that only two in five employees felt their managers made fair decisions linking performance to pay. Less than half said their organisation clearly explained its reward programmes.

Only 58% of UK companies thought employee performance was being fairly reflected in pay decisions. Employers face a challenging balancing act to manage or deal with poor salary budgets and few incentives, but also to retain and attract talent. Managers must become more strategic in rewarding good performance – Linking pay to performance and rewarding correct behaviours.

  • Posted on August 24th, 2018

Is drug testing at work effective?

There is no real evidence that drug-testing is common-place in British workplaces. It is mainly used in safety critical areas such as transport and energy generation or after an incident and there is also increased usage in the construction industry. The presence of drugs can be detected in urine, for up to three or four days after use; although in the case of some drugs they can be detected for up to 30 days, especially after heavy use.

Testing has become more accurate and, if a sample is conducted by an approved laboratory and the sample is subject to a confirmation test. Even when it does identify drug use correctly, what the test shows is simply whether the residues of a drug are present. It cannot tell with any certainty when the person took the drug, or whether they were under the influence of the drug.

Good practice recommendations are as follows:

  • Only use drug or alcohol testing where it is needed to evidence impairment to work
  • Use the least intrusive forms of testing practicable
  • Tell workers what drugs they are being tested for
  • Base any testing on reliable scientific evidence of the effect on workers.

Drug testing is a costly and time-consuming process so if an employer does introduce a testing programme it should ensure that:

  • It is done by a laboratory accredited by the UK Accreditation Service.
  • It is part of an effective and agreed workplace drug and alcohol policy which aims at supporting any person with a drug or alcohol problem.
  • It is only done after impairment testing has been carried out and there is evidence that the person may be impaired as a result of drugs.
  • No samples are taken without the informed consent of the person (this cannot be given under duress).
  • There is an appeals process, with right to union representation, if anyone tests positive.
  • Posted on August 24th, 2018

A hairdresser who was sacked because of her anxiety has been awarded £6,312.30

The woman had been working as an apprentice hairdresser for around seven months when she was diagnosed with anxiety in April 2017. She told the salon owner that she had been advised to take some time off work to help her manage stress, but the owner responded that they “didn’t do” sick days.

When she returned to work, the owner told her she was a liability, and her “head was all over the place”. She was then told to pack up her things and leave.

The salon argued that the woman’s firing was not due to her mental health issues, but instead a result of longstanding performance issues. The tribunal found in favour of the employee and treated the dismissal as direct discrimination.

In UK law, mental health can be treated as a disability, meaning it can be a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 if it has a “substantial and long-term effect on [someone’s] ability to carry out day-to-day activities.” It also means employers are required to make “reasonable adjustments” so a disabled person can work in the same way as someone who is not disabled.

  • Posted on August 24th, 2018

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