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Minimum Wage Increases

Posted on September 27, 2013 at 7:11 AM Comments comments (1)
Don't forget that on 1st October 2013 national minimum wage increases for all levels.

21 and over goes up from £6.19 to £6.31

18 to 20 rises from £4.98 to £5.03

Under 18 moves from £3.68 to £3.72 

And Apprentice* increases from £2.65 to £2.68

Employers ensure you make the relevant adjustments and employees make sure you are being paid correctly. 

The new buzz acronym “BYOD”!

Posted on August 29, 2013 at 8:42 AM Comments comments (0)
A number of Company’s now allow employees to use their own devices, such as smart-phones, computers and tablets, to carry out their duties. By your own devices have clear benefits: including a creating a more effective way of working, increased flexibility and productivity which all contribute to a happier working environment boosting morale.

However as with everything there are pitfalls. With the increased growth or employees using their own personal devices to do their work consideration should be made regarding the level of security on these personal devises. Many of us have a relaxed approach to the level of security applications and features applied to our devises and are not stringent in ensuring security updates are carried out and updated regularly. As such there is an increased risk to the security of information held; not just trade secrets but confidential employee records not being stored or secured correctly.
As confirmed in the BYOD guidance issued by the Information Commissioner earlier this year, liability for lost personal information remains the employer’s, not the employee’s, responsibility regardless of where the information was stored. Fines for breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998 can be up to £500,000. A fine is not the only reprimand; there is also the possibility of criminal liability.

As an employer if you allow the use of BYOD then it is essential you have in place a robust and comprehensive BYOD policy. The policy should outline matters such as back-up of data, restrictions on accessing certain types of data and data encryption on removable and local devices. Implementing a BYOD policy will ensure employees using their own devices do so in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

Harries Human Resources are able to provide comprehensive policies and procedures in line with current legislative changes to support your business. To get your free copy of the new “BYOD Policy” contact Harries HR on [email protected]

Unison vs. Tribunal Fees

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 4:36 AM Comments comments (0)
Harries Human Resources reported in our blog dated 10 June 2013 “Tribunal Fees Confirmed” about the changes in full swing for the employment tribunal services.
On and after 29 July 2013 the tribunal service has implemented their charging structure for anyone wishing to make a claim based on a two level fee platform.

However, trade union UNISON has launched a legal challenge against the fee introduction.  This judicial review, if granted could revoke the new fee charges. The union has been granted permission from the Royal Courts for a review hearing in October 2013.

It is the general feeling that the government cannot and should not put a cost on justice and as such the fees are not fair or just and should be dropped.
The two arguing points put forward by UNISON are:-

1.The fees discriminate indirectly against women who earn less than men (typically).
2.It is not lawful to introduce fees which create difficulty in enforcing European Union law.

Though an injunction to delay the introduction of the fees were denied and the fees are now in effect, the full outcome of this challenge will not be known until the full hearing in October 2013.

It is anticipated that if the judicial review is successful the Tribunals may have to repay all fees paid to them in the interim.

Keep visiting our blog as the details of this unfolds!

If you need help and support with any employee issues please call 01206 865464.

To Record or not to Record, that is the question?

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (0)
It is a well known fact that it is good practice to maintain good audit trails through written records of discussion to log performance both good and bad in respect of employees. However is it a good idea to allow an employee to make an audio recording of a formal or informal meeting?
A number of employers believe that when an employee attends a meeting, such as a grievance or disciplinary hearing, particularly if they waive their statutory right to be unaccompanied, it is reasonable to allow them to tape record the meeting if they request to do so.
Harries HR’s suggests that permission for such request should not be given. We recommend explaining that they may take notes and that you will take minutes of the meeting and that they will be provided with a copy and will be given the opportunity to query any points they consider to be inaccurate. This will ensure a true record of the discussion can be mutually agreed.
Tape recordings can be tampered with and the quality of the recording can give the opportunity for misinterpretation, potentially leaving the company exposed to risk.
Audio recordings are admissible as evidence at a tribunal as long as both parties have copies of the recording and a transcript in advance. 
Though one may disallow recordings employees may still secretly record any meeting you have with them.
It is essential therefore to always ensure that you seek advice from an expert such as a CIPD or employment law qualified individual! Choose your words carefully! Remember that if dealing with a difficult employee you can always adjourn the meeting to allow time to ‘regroup’ or even seek further advice as to how to proceed.

If you need assistance dealing with a difficult employee issue and would like further support then please call Harries HR who can provide support on a pay as you go or retained basis!

Are you beautiful enough for us???

Posted on July 9, 2013 at 5:26 AM Comments comments (0)
Throughout June a debate was sparked across a multitude of social network portals asking the question; Does good looks improve your employment prospects?

With the internet dating website beautifulpeople.com planning to launch a recruitment agency, it further perpetuates the belief that looks count for a lot both personally and now professionally. The concept from beautifulpeople.com is to enable employers to post their vacancies on the website and invite good looking applicants to submit their CV’s. This announcement has been met with outrage. However in a recent survey Harries HR spoke with several high street employment agencies who agree that better looking individuals are more likely to get job offers in this competitive job market. Some have even noted an increase in the number of candidates now including pictures with their CV’s and applications.

With this trend increasing are we likely to see the government move to create a further protective characteristic to include the aesthetically challenged to the discrimination grounds list?

As unpleasant as a dating site based on looks alone may be the proposal of applicants being excluded from employment opportunities solely on their looks raises serious legal and ethical concerns. As with other subjective opinions on race, disability and age, the assessment of someone’s suitability for a job is and should be based on their capability, skills and experience. The risk of another assessment method may leave employers at the end of a discrimination claim. Our recommendation is to stay away from these types of tacky gimmicks!

If you need support on your recruitment and selection campaigns based on ethics and finding the best person for your Company contact Harries Human Resources on 01206-856464 today. 

Is your Company safe from Expense fiddlers?

Posted on July 1, 2013 at 5:33 AM Comments comments (0)
It has not been very long since the public fury over the scandal involving several MP’s and their expenses. Therefore, one would assume nobody would risk the potential fallout from submitting expenses for personal items or mileage they have not incurred in the proper performance of their duties?
Sadly it appears that many employees, given the opportunity, may still see fit to embellish their expenses. Based on our calculations up to a quarter of expenses are ‘fiddled’ and as such fraudulent. A significant number of claims submitted are a result of human error as opposed to a deliberate attempt to defraud the Company. Though employees may be ‘sloppy’ with their claims if they are confident nobody is really checking what they submit this enhances the risk of additional items or miles being added here or there.
71% of people in a recent survey felt it was acceptable to inflate expense claims if their employers did not fully reimburse them for the costs they had incurred.  In this same survey 68% of people also thought it was acceptable if employees did a certain amount of overtime and were not paid for it.  And finally 24% felt it fair if they were not paid what they considered to be a fair wage.
So what can Employers do?
  • Make certain everyone understands the policy and processes in place in respect of expenses.
  • Ensure employees know what they are allowed, and not allowed, to claim.
  • Have the right people in place to scrutinise all employee expense claims to guarantee they are correct.
  • Make certain that cross checking all expenses are carried out before final approval.
  • Finally check the claims submitted by the individual who authorises everyone else’s expenses to ensure that they too are beyond reproach under scrutiny.
If you believe you may have an issue with fraudulent expense claims, Harries HR can provide confidential and sound advice on how to manage this correctly from an employment law perspective. 
Call us without delay on 01206 865464... Expect More!


Whistleblowing changes now in force

Posted on June 27, 2013 at 12:47 PM Comments comments (2)
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 is often referred to as the Whistle-blowing Act. Employees who "blow the whistle" on their employer by making a protected disclosure, such as a exposé concerning an alleged criminal offence or other wrongdoing, have the legal right not to be dismissed, selected for redundancy or subjected to any detriment due to the disclosure.

A disclosure made in the public interest will be protected where the employee makes the allegations base on a reasonable belief of wrong doing by the employer. It is therefore recommended that all Companies develop a simple but readily accessible procedure for dealing with these types of allegations.

As of 25 June 2013 several important amendments to whistleblowing legislation come into force.

Section 17 - 20 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 amended the relevant provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996 confirming that:

1.a disclosure will not be protected unless it is, in the reasonable belief of the worker making the disclosure, "in the public interest";
2.a disclosure no longer has to be made "in good faith" to be protected, but an employment tribunal may reduce a worker's compensation by up to 25% if it appears to the tribunal that a protected disclosure was not made in good faith;
3.a worker has the right not to be subjected to a detriment by any act or deliberate omission by another worker employed by his or her employer on the ground that he or she has made a protected disclosure; and
4. a worker has the right not to be subjected to a detriment by any act or deliberate omission by an agent of his or her employer acting with the employer's authority. 

An employer will be vicariously liable for any such acts or omissions committed by another worker or an agent. An employment tribunal will also be able to hold the other worker or agent liable. The employer will have a defence in tribunal proceedings if it can show that it took "all reasonable steps" to prevent the other worker from committing the act or omission, or any act or omission of that description. 

If you do not have a fit for purpose whistleblowing policy or procedure in place contact Harries HR for a free consultation on 01206 865464 NOW!


Latest dates announced for Employment Law changes

Posted on June 20, 2013 at 4:19 AM Comments comments (14)
Further details of when provisions of the Enterprise & Regulatory Reform Act 2013 due to come into force have now been published by the department for Business, Innovation & Skills. The details include the repeal for third-party harassment covered under the Equality Act 2010 and the preface of early conciliation via ACAS.
The provisions under the Act come into force on the 25 June 2013.
In July 2013 the government plans to introduce a cap of 12 months’ pay on the compensatory award limit for unfair dismissal.
On the 1 October 2013 under third-party harassment provisions covered under the Equality Act 2010 employers could be found liable for harassment of their employees by third parties.
National minimum wage is due to be introduced into the agricultural sector abolishing the agricultural minimum wage.
As of the 6 April 2014 claimants will be required to supply information about their potential claim to ACAS for early conciliation before submitting their ET1 to a tribunal.
On 6 April 2014 the statutory discrimination questionnaire procedure is due to be abolished. This procedure previously allowed claimants to obtain information from a party they believed had discriminated against them.
From October 2014 Employment tribunals will be required to impose an equal pay audit order when an employer has breached the equal pay provisions under the Equality Act 2010.

To receive a copy of the guide and timetable for the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 please contact us on T: 01206 865464 OR E: [email protected]

Tribunal Fees Confirmed

Posted on June 10, 2013 at 11:28 AM Comments comments (0)
The tribunal service has now confirmed the implementation date for its new fee structure. As of the 29 July 2013 fees will be applicable for all employment tribunal claims and appeals lodged. The draft Employment tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal fees order 2013 will take effect on and after the 29 July 2013. Moving forward claimants will be required to make a payment based on levels to submit a claim. This introduction will not affect claims already submitted or appeals made before the Order comes into force.

Level 1 claim categories include unpaid wages, redundancy payments, and holiday payments. Where Level 2 claims will cover unfair dismissal, discrimination and equal pay.  The fees payable are covered in two parts an issue fee and a hearing fee for both levels.

Level 1: Issue fee = £160 & hearing fee = £230
Level 2: issue fee = £250 & hearing fee = £950
Appeals: issue fee = £400 & hearing fee = £1,200

These fees are payable by the claimant.

Harries HR can assist you with COT3 and settlement agreements to avoid the need to go to a tribunal. Contact us now for a confidential discussion on 01206 865464.

Next weeks blog update DO NOT MISS OUT!

Posted on June 4, 2013 at 5:45 AM Comments comments (0)
Next week we give you details of:

  • The forthcoming Employment Tribunal Fees and how this may affect you and your employees.

  • Useful information on CRB checks including the new and long awaited 'mobile' DBS certificates.

  • And our round-up of important case law, with cases on post-termination restrictions, redundancy, contracts and TUPE.

Email us at [email protected] to receive your free personnel file check list so you can check that you have everything legally required for each employee on file!