March, 2022

Resignations on the increase as high salaries paid to attract new employees

Booster salary and benefits packages for new starters aimed at helping recruitment are instead fuelling resignations. The most common reason  for UK employees to start looking for another job was discovering that new hires of the same level were paid more than them, according to a recent survey.

This means that businesses are now forced into a dilemma, as efforts to recruit talent indirectly harm efforts to retain it. Around a quarter said they would start the job search if they saw their employer advertising better benefits that they did not receive themselves.This could create issues for employers as close to half of employees have discovered that a new hire is being paid more than them, and 44% said their employer was advertising better benefits for new hires.

According to the survey, employees were significantly more likely to be looking to move job because of pay and benefits disparities than because they felt burnt out. Even an employer refusing to be flexible about hours so that an employee could go to a medical appointment, for example, was less likely to cause people to start their job hunt.

121 HR Solutions is highly experienced in conducting both salary and benefit benchmarking to ensure you stay ahead of the game to both retain and attract talent in your team. Contact enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk for more information.

 

  • Posted on March 30th, 2022

Tribunal finds Tutor was victim of sex discrimination

A Employment Tribunal Judge highlighted a charity’s assumption that women were ‘better suited’ to a task. A French tutor who was asked multiple times by managers to address an issue of personal hygiene with an adult male student was a victim of sex discrimination, according to the tribunal.

The former employee worked for a charity providing French classes to elderly people, told the tribunal she believed she was asked to do this because the managers believed it would be more suitable for a woman to address hygiene issues with students.

The tribunal found this as true and said there was “a level of conscious or unconscious assumption that women were better suited to that task”, and that on all occasions there was at least one man who would have been able to perform that task.

Additionally, both the tribunal and the charity’s current CEO felt that on some of the occasions it “would have been more appropriate for the manager ([of] either sex), not a tutor, to deal with the issue”.

Although she did not raise a grievance at the time, the claim of harassment related to sex alongside several other claims after she parted ways with the charity following the charity’s decision to end its relationship with her. (The charity cited the failure to report a safeguarding issue as one of the reasons for ending the relationship, and the tribunal found that “no part” of the charity’s decision to stop engaging with the former employee was to do with her sex.)

The tribunal found the comment had the effect of creating a “somewhat humiliating environment”, and that it amounted in law to harassment. However, it was brought six months out of time, and so failed. Even so, the award made was £4,000 plus £1,000 interest for “personal injury to feelings” relating to the claim about personal hygiene. All other claims failed. Had they been brought in time the damages would have been significant.

Should you have any potential litigation matters, speak to one of our qualified CIPD Consultants to assist your mitigating risk.

  • Posted on March 30th, 2022

Majority of UK employees unable to take sick days

More than half of UK full-time employees did not take a single sick day in the 12 months since February 2021.In an effort to avoid causing delays to projects, and adding to workloads, it is thought that employees with genuine illnesses will try to push through in the belief they’re making an effective contribution.  This trend is more likely common in the hybrid working environment as there’s no real physical barrier for staff choosing to log on and face the day.

Similarly, more than six in 10 employees said they had not taken their full annual leave allowance last year.  While many employees have carried over annual leave from the pandemic as allowed by law, some may be holding back from taking time off because they feel unable to or want to prove their worth.

When it comes to annual leave, people managers and leaders can play a key role in encouraging employees to disconnect and take a proper break.  Employers need their team to be effective and engaged, and you can’t achieve that if employees are always online and feel as if they are expected to work.

Businesses need to encourage people to take breaks, ensure that they take holidays and promote wellbeing.   Should you have any questions on absence concerns in your business, contact 121 HR Solutions on 0800 9995 121 to discuss.

  • Posted on March 30th, 2022

Many businesses benefiting from implementing four-day week

A recent report revealed that employers have implemented a shorter working week, collectively saving more than £100bn through improved productivity and lower running costs. Two-thirds of UK businesses have said they are implementing a four-day working week for at least some of their employees.

The research estimated that businesses were saving a total of £104bn – the equivalent of 2.2 per cent of the UK’s annual turnover – through improvements to productivity and wellbeing and lower running costs by offering a four-day week while still paying staff a full salary.

Of the employers that were already offering a reduced week, 66% said they had been able to reduce costs, whilst still maintaining the quality of work. Employers also said their workforce were less stressed, happier and that they were spending more time developing their skills.

Additionally, more than two-thirds of businesses said they were better able to attract and retain older employees, while a similar number said they found it easier to attract younger workers.

Businesses are being encouraged to explore a range of flexible working options from hours and days worked to working locations, so everyone can benefit from more flexibility and choice.

Should you be looking to implement changes to your terms and conditions of employment, contact 121 HR Solutions on 0800 9995 121 to ensure you fully consult with your employees regarding any proposed change.

  • Posted on March 30th, 2022

Pregnant worker unable to reach the front for ice cream awarded nearly £40,000

In this case, the claimant had worked at a Gelato Café since September 2018.  The owner agreed to reduce her working hours and removed the requirement that she be late to work or have two shifts while she was pregnant. The tribunal heard that she found it increasingly difficult to carry out some of the tasks required in the store and by her sixth month of pregnancy “could not reach the front scoops” or “reach cakes to serve to customers”. The tribunal heard that although her job involved related risks such as lifting boxes and bending over to reach for ice cream no pregnancy risk assessment had been undertaken.

 

When the Claimant was six months pregnant, a colleague saw her struggling for jobs and told her that if he had a pregnant wife he would not let her work and this caused the claimant to complain about his comment. The store owner responded by telling her that if she was unable to do the work required of her, she would need to look for another job.

 

The claimant was also demoted the Claimant to a ‘regular team member’ role from her manager position because the business was ‘quiet’ and could no longer pay additional staff for tasks she was unable to do. The employee submitted a grievance, saying there had been a change of attitude from the start of her pregnancy, and that she had been discriminated against. The employer’s immediate response to this was to remove the employee from the WhatsApp group of employees.

 

In May 2020 after the pandemic forced the store to operate solely as a fast food and delivery destination, the claimant was made redundant whilst on maternity leave.

 

The employment tribunal ruled that the claimant was mistreated due to her pregnancy and led to her demotion, dismissal and hurtful comments from colleagues. She has now received compensation of £38,677.27.

 

121 HR Solutions can assist employers with pregnancy risk assessments and advice to support employees during their pregnancy. Contact us on enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk

  • Posted on March 25th, 2022

Bereavement leave and pay for working parents

The CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, have reported that 75% of employer’s support extending ‘Jack’s Law’ to allow employees experiencing any close family bereavement to take paid time off.

Jack’s Law is a legal right to bereavement leave and pay for working parents who lose a child under the age of 18, however no such right currently exists for those who lose a close family member. The two weeks of paid parental bereavement leave is available to employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer and weekly average earnings over the lower earnings limit (earning on average at least £120 per week before tax).

Extending the right would mean that employees who experience the loss of a close family member – including a parent, child, or partner, whether by blood, adoption or through marriage/a partner – would also have the right to two weeks’ paid leave from work.

The CIPD commented “Employees that have experienced a close family bereavement will need time to come to terms with what has happened and will be highly unlikely to be able to perform well at work if they are forced to return too quickly. While many organisations provide paid bereavement leave to support employees at one of the most difficult times of their lives, this is far from universal and extending the statutory provision is likely to give employees time and space to grieve rather than worrying about paying their bills and financial worries.”

The CIPD also found:

  • 80% of employers provide paid bereavement leave for close family members
  • The most common length of paid leave is 3-5 days (40%), followed by 1-2 days (14%). Just over one in ten (12%) offer 2 weeks of paid leave.

If you have any concerns about your current policies and their appropriateness to your business contact us at enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.ukand we can discuss.

  • Posted on March 25th, 2022

Observing a religious holiday resulted in court pay out

A claimant has walked away with more than £26,000 in compensation after being dismissed from his job due to taking a religious holiday.

The claimant, who was Jewish was dismissed for not showing up to work on Passover despite having booked time off to celebrate the holy day. As the claimant had recently taken time off work for illness, when he was told to self-isolate by the NHS, just weeks into the UK’s first Coronavirus lockdown, the employer asked him to forgo the holiday and attend work. The employer wrote to the Claimant, saying that the holiday could not be authorised, partly because the newly unfolding pandemic was putting unprecedented strain on the workplace. The claimant responded to explain that he needed time off for religious reasons, but a day later the firm responded that it had ‘no alternative’ but to end his employment.

The employment judge accepted that the business had a policy of cancelling leave following sickness absence, but that in doing so the claimant had suffered in comparison to non-Jewish colleagues. The judge stated, ‘The practice of cancelling holidays or facing dismissal  requires Jewish employees to choose whether to work when they are not permitted to work or be dismissed.” “That places Jewish employees whose faith requires they do not work on certain days, at a particular disadvantage when instructed to cancel annual leave.”

Whilst accepting that the start of the pandemic was a challenging time for businesses, the judge said employees were still obliged to “behave responsibly and with appropriate understanding towards employees”.

Religion and belief discrimination is illegal in the UK and is listed as a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010. It arises when someone is unfairly disadvantaged for reasons related to their religion or their beliefs.

However, employers are under no obligation to automatically give staff time off for religious holidays or festivals, time to pray or a place to pray. Employers should consider requests carefully and sympathetically, be reasonable and flexible where possible, and discuss the request and explore any concerns with the employee.

Refusing a request without a good business reason could amount to discrimination. An employee, in making a request, should be reasonable, flexible, and sympathetic too in considering the demands of their job and the needs of the organisation employing them.

121 HR Solutions can assist in the training of managers in areas of Equality in the Workplace simply contact us and we will be happy to discuss.

  • Posted on March 25th, 2022

Should an employee get sick leave for elective or cosmetic surgery?

When it comes to paying sick pay to employees choosing to have surgery, common initial reactions may be reluctance to pay sick pay and tell employees that they must use annual or unpaid leave. However cosmetic or elective surgery is not always for aesthetic reasons, for example, individuals who have been suffering with depression due to physical issues or who may require cosmetic surgery following a serious road traffic accident or breast cancer operation will feel that although the surgery is cosmetic or elective it is as necessary as non-elective surgery.

There is no statutory right to time off for a person who elects to have surgery, however they are more than likely to be unfit for work for a period of time following the surgery When it comes to paying statutory sick pay (SSP) it is irrelevant that the employee’s ill health may have been self-induced. Employees are entitled to SSP providing they are incapable of doing work that they would reasonably be expected to do under their contract of employment and have complied with the statutory SSP requirements. If they are unfit to work, and have provided the correct notice, SSP should be paid. This is the case whatever the surgery was for, or whatever the motivation was for having it done.

The employee may or may not be entitled to contractual sick pay. Generally, the right to contractual sick pay will be in the employee’s contract of employment, or within the sickness absence policy. Whether or not contractual sick pay is paid over and above SSP will depend on the sick pay scheme. The business may need to take a decision using discretion based on each employee’s request. It is very important to ensure when using discretion that you apply a consistent approach and record the outcomes to ensure all requests are dealt with in the same manner. Contractual Sick Pay is in your control, so make sure it truly reflects the needs of your business.

Both cosmetic and elective surgery have risen in popularity, and likely will continue to do so.

Contact us at enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.ukand we will be happy to discuss any absence issues you may be having in the workplace.

  • Posted on March 24th, 2022

Misuse of company app resulted in fair dismissal

A woman who claimed that problems with an HR app were responsible for her losing her job has been found to have been fairly dismissed by an employment tribunal.

The employee was working as a cleaner for a cleaning company between May 2020 and October 2021 and was required to clock in and out of work using the company HR app on her smartphone. However, after seven months of consistently failing to clock her hours on the app the company let her go.

The employee argued at the tribunal that she was not properly trained in using the app, and that it often failed. She claimed that, when she received the app error message, she would send a screenshot to her boss, and later confirm the hours she worked. She said that when she claimed about this to HR, she received little or no support. She also claimed she was unfairly singled out, as many other company employees did not use the app.

However, the tribunal found that the employee had received training on how to use the app when she started the job, and that the training was sufficient for her to understand it. She used the app successfully when she first started the job, then failed to use it after about two-thirds of her rostered shifts.

The tribunal found no problem with the app, and that other employees were using it successfully. The decision was to uphold the employee’s dismissal stating the employee was not diligent in her use of the application. It found that the company had warned the employee that consistent failure to clock on and off was unacceptable and that the company had a valid reason to dismiss.

  • Posted on March 24th, 2022

The Covid wake-up call: UK’s approach to resilience and wellbeing is not fit for purpose

The House of Lords’ COVID-19 Committee has called for improved resilience and preparedness for a volatile and uncertain future. The Committee believes that the pandemic has shown that our current understanding of resilience and preparedness is not fit-for-purpose.

Living in a Covid Worldpublished by the House of Lords Covid-19 Committee, has concluded that the UK needs more focus on long-term issues and must put a greater emphasis on peoples’ wellbeing.

It was noted that as businesses prepare for more frequent systemic shocks in future, a focus on robust supply chain and critical national infrastructure alone will not secure the national resilience that is needed.

There has recently been a major shift in focus from a ‘Welfare State’ to a ‘Wellbeing State’, placing a new emphasis on governing for the long-term wellbeing, ensuring the wellbeing of its people is at the heart of everything going forward. The Committee believes that businesses should aim to tackle inequalities that hold back specific groups and communities, actively engaging with them to improve their wellbeing.

Martha Lane-Fox, Baroness of Soho and Chair of the Committee claimed “this is a wake-up call which must be heeded. Now is the opportunity for us to resent the State and build back to be more adaptable, more resilient, more developed and more collaborative so that we can effectively deal with any disasters, crises or systematic shocks that may occur in the future.”

The key for businesses from this is examining what more can be done to support employees at work.  Mental health and wellbeing must be an essential part of every employer’s approach to attracting and retaining staff.  If you would like to discuss how you can better support employees to build resilience, contact us on 0800 9995 121. 

  • Posted on March 24th, 2022

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