September, 2018

How productive are your meetings?

A recent study has found that employees waste almost 13 days a year in unproductive meetings. The survey of more than 2,000 employees found the average employee spends 187 hours in meetings per year – the equivalent of 23 days. However, 56% of these meetings were deemed unproductive by workers.

More than a third admitted to switching off during meetings that lasted too long, while almost a quarter of those surveyed said they had witnessed someone fall asleep in a meeting.

People are most engaged when they are interested in the topic and feel their contribution is valued and so it is imperative that businesses consider how many meetings are planned in any month, the value of those meetings and the contribution that people are making in them.

Meetings are often vital to the efficient running and success of the business but it is important that not too many staff attend and that everyone has a role to play, and can contribute to specific issues that impact upon the decision.

  • Posted on September 30th, 2018

Considering offering staff shares?

Providing share incentives is a way to help retain employees who have the skills to help drive growth and success. This type of incentive can build morale in a business and make individual employees understand that there are direct rewards for contributing towards their company’s success.

If an employee receives shares in a company, they will become a shareholder in it. Depending on what rights attach to those shares, the employee could then share in the profits of the company and/or take part in voting in shareholders’ meetings.

Registered companies must adopt governing rules, such as articles of association. Many companies also have a shareholders’ agreement in place. Both documents can be used to regulate the relationship between the employee shareholders and other company shareholders. One matter that the shareholders’ agreement and the articles of association should deal with is the situation when an employee leaves your company. What happens to those shares when the employee leaves – who can buy them and for what price?

What is often seen in the shareholders’ agreement is that the existing shareholders have the first option to buy the departing employee’s shares, rather than allowing the employee to transfer their shares to a third party. In addition, the documents often include the concept of a ‘good leaver’ or a ‘bad leaver’ and depending on the circumstances of the departure will determine the way that the shares are dealt with.

In terms of the price to be paid for those shares, a departing employee who is a good leaver may be entitled to receive fair market value for his shares, whereas a bad leaver may only receive nominal value for his shares. This means it is imperative that any business owner considering “sharing” the business, should take robust legal advice before proceeding!

  • Posted on September 30th, 2018

Employment Tribunal cases increased by 130% since the abolition of fees

The outstanding caseload of employment tribunals has more than doubled over the past 12 months, indicating that the first full year since the abolition of fees for tribunals has led to a huge uplift in cases.

The Ministry of Justice said the number of outstanding single cases was 130% higher in the second quarter of 2018 than the same period in 2017, leading to fears among employment lawyers that the system is struggling to cope with the influx in claims and that cases are taking longer to come to justice.

Without the requirement to pay a fee to have a case heard, more employers are likely to face challenges against employment practices, such as wage deductions, even where the overall financial loss to the individual is small.  In June, the Judicial Appointments Commission launched a recruitment exercise to find 54 salaried employment judges in an effort to meet the demands of the fee-free system, as the backlog of cases builds.

Tribunal fees were abolished in July 2017 after the Supreme Court ruled them unlawful and unconstitutional. The overall number of claims brought to employment tribunals rose by 66% in the first quarter following the Court’s decision, while single claims rose by 64%.

The government took immediate measures to stop charging fees, which could total up to £1,200 per claim, and vowed to refund fees to claimants who had paid them between their introduction in 2013 and 2017.

  • Posted on September 30th, 2018

Being an age-friendly employer has benefits

A recent YouGov survey on age discrimination in the workplace found that since turning 50, 14% of over-50 employees believe they have been turned down for a job due to their age and nearly one in five have or have considered hiding their age in job applications. Nearly half have said that their age would disadvantage them in applying for a job and one in five think people see them as less capable due to their age.

It is suggested that employers applying the four steps below will have a more inclusive workforce and will be less likely to be regarded as discriminating against older workers:

  1. Make it easy for staff to apply for flexible working: Businesses that offer more flexibility and manage the application process allows people to be open minded about applying for a job in their later years, knowing they can work flexibly to suit their lifestyle.
  2. Recruit positively: Actively target candidates of all ages, and work at minimising age bias in recruitment processes – ensuring that recruiting managers see past appearance and consider experience and motivation as primary recruitment drivers.
  3. Ensure everyone has support to be healthy at work: Enable early and open conversations, and access to support and adjustments for staff with health conditions – regardless of their age.
  4. Encourage career development at all ages: Provide opportunities for people to develop their careers and plan for the future at mid-life and beyond
  • Posted on September 30th, 2018

Morrisons supermarkets face legal challenge linked to pay and gender

Eight Morrisons employees are challenging their employer in an equal pay row which could cost the retailer an estimated £1billion if the case is successful.
The employees are seeking compensation as they believe they are paid less than most workers in Morrison’s warehouses. It is suggested that around 80,000 employees (mostly female) could be eligible to claim back pay of millions of pounds.
Warehouse workers are paid between £1 and £4 more per hour than their colleagues working on the shop floor and it is thought that this claim may open the floodgates in thousands of gender-linked pay claims for the business as the majority of staff employed on the shop floor are female compared with predominantly male employees in the warehouses.

  • Posted on September 30th, 2018

A new report has recommended that the Government should survey workers annually about their job security, wellbeing and employer support.

The report recommends that the Government should better monitor the quality of work in the UK, by including questions about feelings of purpose, pay and pressure in the annual Labour Force Survey.

The report goes on to cite the increase in more flexible or ‘atypical’ forms of working in the last 10-15 years, a term that encompasses part-time workers, self-employed, agency workers, temporary workers, workers on ‘zero hours contracts’, and people working in the ‘gig economy’ – as creating increased levels of uncertainty and anxiety.

Coupled with this, a recent TUC report highlighted that around one million UK workers cannot challenge minimum wage or holiday pay abuses due to being employed by recruitment agencies, umbrella companies and personal service companies. It is thought that surveying UK workers will improve policymakers’ understanding into how changes, such as the rise of the gig economy and automation, are affecting them.

  • Posted on September 24th, 2018

Are you spending too much on recruitment?

Recruitment costs on average 20-30% of the new recruit’s salary making the average cost of recruitment £5,331.  According to research, the average time to find the right candidate is 13 weeks, with the management opportunity cost of doing this at an average of £10,400.

So how much is wasted on hiring the wrong recruit?

Research has shown that hiring through one channel (a job ad site, for example) will limit employers to a very small pool of candidates. For a full range of applicants, utilise social media, as well as numerous job ad sites or sites that can be shared through other media.

Prepare a well written job specification and sift applications according to the required elements of the role.  Look for gaps in CVs and probe at interview if the candidate seems to have moved around in a short space of time.  Follow up references quickly and if necessary ask candidates to evidence qualifications to determine their credibility.

Make sure that the process is managed professionally – a good candidate won’t wait around for an employer to organise interviews; set the timetable out before the advert is placed.

If the process is managed professionally it will enhance the employer’s image in the market, attract strong candidates and ensure that the correct hire is made, first time. Remember, it is more costly to hire a bad candidate, than to do it properly and find the right one.

  • Posted on September 24th, 2018

Following a number of high profile cases, we recap on National Minimum Wage rules

A ruling in July stated that employees are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) if they are working a ‘sleep-in’ shift unless they are actually working. The ruling marked a significant change to this rule. The care sector was enormously relieved with this ruling but an appeal has been lodged and is yet to be decided.  More is likely to follow on this!

Employees who reported non-payment of the NMC to HMRC increased by 134% in the last year, resulting in employers receiving fines of up to 200% in arrears for NMW underpayments. Nearly 240 employers were named and shamed in July and approximately £1.4 million was paid out to 22,400 workers.

A common reason employers get caught out is that they deduct uniforms and other expenses from employees’ wages, which means that the employees then earn below the NMW. Another common reason is failure to pay for travel time which is an expectation of a job.

  • Posted on September 24th, 2018

Labour party plan to outlaw zero hours’ contracts

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell has announced that a future Labour Government would outlaw zero-hours contracts, repeal the Trade Union Act and set up a department for employment to enforce new policies.

At the Trades Union Congress conference, he suggested that the planned programme of workplace reform would “restore the balance between employer and worker”. It is known that the Labour party wish to strengthen the Trades Union movement and this plan is expected to support this aim.  Furthermore, the party announced a much tougher stance on employers who sub contract labour, effectively allowing bogus self-employment, as a means of avoiding employer responsibilities and the need to pay tax and NI.  Under the plans, workers in jobs with flexible hours and temporary contracts could be given similar rights to those in permanent work.

  • Posted on September 24th, 2018

Employment Tribunal awards tanker driver £23,000

A tanker driver who accidentally spilled fuel over a forecourt has been awarded almost £23,000, along with his job back in a recent employment tribunal.

On a dark and windy night in 2015, the driver and began the usual checks required to deliver fuel at a retail forecourt. An alarm sounded shortly after he started the process. He investigated the alarm and discovered a blockage in a delivery hose but managed to continue the delivery. The alarm sounded again and again he checked but found no issue, so completed the delivery.  However he then realised that he had misread one of the checks and simultaneously, an employee at the forecourt told him that he had spilt fuel onto the forecourt.  The fire brigade were called but did not take action other than to inspect the scene, spread sand and ensure that the clean-up had been satisfactorily dealt with.

The tanker driver attended a disciplinary hearing on 17 December, where it was alleged that his actions had brought the company into “disrepute”. He was dismissed with notice.  He appealed unsuccessfully against his dismissal, and tribunal proceedings began in 2018.

Court documents showed that there was a possible sensor fault in the tank in question. However, the driver had not been informed of this before the delivery.

Although the tribunal regarded the driver’s conduct as “culpable or blameworthy”, it decided his dismissal was “substantively unfair as he would not have been dismissed by a reasonable employer for the misreading of the ullage”.

The employment judge ruled that the driver was unfairly dismissed and ordered his reinstatement. The tribunal also awarded him £22,805.18 in loss of earnings, loss of pensions and expenses while looking for alternative employment.

  • Posted on September 24th, 2018

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