What is an employer’s responsibility if an employee is injured at work?
The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) governs the laws on health and safety management in the workplace. Every business should have a policy for managing health and safety and should detail who has specific responsibilities, the general health and safety policy and what practical arrangements are in place, showing how policy aims will be achieved.
Employers must make ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessments. For businesses with more than five employees, risk assessments must be written down and should record the hazard, how that hazard may harm people and what is already being done to control this hazard.
Despite taking all reasonable measures to ensure a safe working environment, there will always be a risk of an accident in the workplace. If an employee is injured at work, there are a number of things an employer should do:
• Report all accidents. Businesses with more than 10 employees must keep an accident book, in which all accidents, no matter how minor, should be recorded. More severe injuries such as serious burns, occupational diseases, gas incidents and death must be reported in a report under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) within 15 days of the accident.
• Notify the employer’s insurance company. It is important to notify the insurance company as soon as an accident occurs. This is so a claims investigator can be appointed to investigate the accident immediately in case it turns out to be much more serious than anticipated and a claim is made against the business.
• Improve health & safety. Revisiting risk assessments will allow employers to prevent similar accidents.
What to do with outstanding holiday at the end of the holiday year?
Often employers find that at the end of the holiday year, some employees have a proportion of holiday entitlement which has not been taken. This means there can be a rush on holiday requests at the end of the holiday year, leaving employers short of staff or unable to fulfil the request. As an alternative, can employees be paid this entitlement? Not according to the working time regulations which specifically state that an employee should not be paid in lieu of taking their minimum holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks (28 days for an employee working 5 days per week).
Holiday entitlement is there to allow for employees to take time away from work and paying in lieu defeats this object.
There is one exception and this is that accrued holiday entitlement may be paid upon on the termination of employment. Otherwise, employees must be allowed to take their full holiday entitlement during the annual leave year. This means that employers are expected to put in place mechanisms to ensure that their employees take regular holidays throughout the leave year to avoid any claim from an employee that they were prevented from taking their full holiday entitlement.
Are you monitoring your employees’ email activity?
A recent survey reported that employers are likely to monitor emails in the workplace, web history and internal chat systems. The research examined responses from U.K. companies with over 500 employees, finding that 98% of companies monitor their employees’ digital activity.
Whilst most companies will have a policy on IT usage and monitoring in the workplace, outlining their expectations of staff and being open about monitoring certain activity, 11% of employees aren’t aware that their company captures digital activity at all. 11% of respondents said that employees would be “horrified” by the amount of digital activity their companies captured, while 65% of employees would be “concerned.” The survey showed the following:
Remember, if you do monitor then your employees should be informed of your policy, its purposes and circumstances, and the level and areas of control that employees have over their data.
Do you monitor absence and conduct return to work meetings?
Costing the economy £61 billion, three-quarters of ill-health related absence in 2018 could have been prevented with effective management strategies. Employers lose, on average, 35.6 working days per employee per year due to absence. It is becoming impossible for businesses to ignore the link between ill-health and productivity.
According to a survey which sourced these statistics, top performing companies showed common characteristics such as embedding a culture of health and having capable line managers who supported employees with health and wellbeing programmes. In addition, those companies that properly measured absence and regularly monitored attendance using return to work meetings, had a better grip on absence management in general.
The figures serve as a warning to employers regarding the significant effect that absence can have on their workforce and company development overall. Conducting return to work meetings and recording all absence are steps that can be taken to alert managers to the problem of absence, at an early stage. Identifying root causes of absence – such as work-related stress, can also help managers to deal with absence.
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 tospecific issues that impact upon the decision.
121 is running a workshop which focuses on this subject. For further information on “Improving Meetings with Effective Communication” in Dundee on 30th May and Glasgow on 6th June click here: https://bit.ly/2H770JQ
Are you doing enough to support the mental health of your staff?
Last week’s Mental Health Awareness week focused on the fact that 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year. It is clear that the issue of employee wellbeing has never been more important.
A poor culture at work can have a significant effect on employees’ mental health. Conducting regular engagement surveys can be a useful tool to obtain feedback on staff experience, helping to identify factors that are likely to create stress among employees and to evaluate general engagement and satisfaction with workplace practices.
The relationship between managers and their staff can have a huge impact on employee satisfaction at work and encouraging managers to adopt a positive and supportive approach not only promotes better mental health, but can drive productivity by improving motivation.
Employees should feel able to raise any issues and concerns with their managers without any fear of a consequence and therefore managers need to be trained to recognise the signs and to be able to deal properly with employee concerns.
Creating a workplace culture that supports all staff and making wellbeing a priority should be an important part of every business plan – and will result in a more effective and productive workforce.
What should a good company absence policy contain?
Sickness absence is an issue all employers have to address at some point with their staff and the best way to avoid ambiguity amongst employees and managers is to have a well-developed absence management policy and to ensure that managers are trained in its application.
Company terms and conditions regarding provisions for the treatment of absence and for sick pay entitlement must be given to all employees in writing within two months of beginning employment, either as part of their employment contract or via a separate policy or handbook documents.
The main points to include in any absence policy are as follows:
To allow employers to properly manage absence issues, there should also be a clear statement on when absence might be deemed to be misconduct; for example, what constitutes unauthorised absence or the consequences of an employee refusing to cooperate with a process.
It is also good practice to include a section on disability-related illnesses to ensure that those with disabilities have clear information on how to seek assistance, and that managers are aware of their obligations to make reasonable adjustments.
£80,000 fine from the Information Commissioner’s Office for unlawful marketing calls
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined a company selling funeral plans £80,000 for making unlawful marketing calls to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
The company made almost 52,000 calls to people who were registered with the TPS between 1 March and 20 November 2017.In defence the company said it had purchased numbers from a third-party lead provider but could not prove that it had specific consent to call people registered on the TPS. The investigation found it had failed to carry out proper due diligence or check the numbers against the TPS register.
In addition to the £80k fine, the business has also been served with an Enforcement Notice ordering it to improve its practices.
Is your business ready for Settled Status after Brexit?
Regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, all EEA nationals (other than Irish and those with dual British nationality) must act to secure their long- term right to stay in the country.
If the deal is agreed, free movement for EEA nationals continues until 31 December 2020. Any EEA national residing in the UK by then may stay long term provided they apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme by 30 June 2021.
Anyone residing in the UK for less than five continuous years must first apply for pre-settled status. After residing in the UK for the five-year period, they must apply for settled status. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EEA nationals residing in the UK on the date the country leaves (the Brexit date) can remain but must apply for settled or pre-settled status by 31 December 2020.
In the event of a no-deal, any EEA national coming to live in the UK after Brexit date but before 1 January 2021 would not need a visa but may only remain for three months. To remain longer, they must apply for temporary European leave, which is valid for three years. They would either need to leave the UK after three years or apply under the immigration rules at the time. The most significant changes for employers will come into effect from 1 January 2021, when EEA nationals will no longer have preferential access to the labour market.
Businesses should consider taking action, including:
Disability discrimination claims at Employment Tribunal on the rise
The number of disability discrimination claims brought before employment tribunals rose to 6,550 in 2018, a 37% increase on the previous year, rising more than eight times faster than the growth in all other tribunal claims, according to new figures.
The total number of claims at employment tribunals increased by 4 per cent to reach 178,990 last year.
Discrimination claims relating to mental health are also on the rise which indicates that employers should regard this subject as a priority, dealing with the issues before they reach tribunal stage. Although another theory may be that an increasing awareness of mental health may have contributed to the increase in disability discrimination claims, as employees become aware their mental ill-health could be classed as a disability under the Equality Act.