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Important HR Updates

Posted on August 12, 2015 at 9:07 AM Comments comments (0)
Holiday Pay

From the 1 July 2015 new holiday pay rules came into effect.  The Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that employers must factor in overtime, commissions and bonuses when making holiday pay calculations instead of just basic pay.

If your employees receive irregular remuneration due to the inclusion of the above factors you will need to calculate holiday pay based on total earnings of the previous 12 weeks.

  • Guaranteed overtime requires the employer to offer overtime and the employee to work it.
  • Non-guaranteed overtime does not require the employer to offer overtime but requires the employee to work it if offered.

The ruling covers the 4 weeks (20 days) of annual leave stipulated by EU Working time directive and not the full 5.6 weeks provided under British law.

What to do? Check your holiday arrangements and see if any of your employee’s receive guaranteed or non-guaranteed overtime and any other work related payments such as monthly commissions or bonuses. These must be used to calculate holiday pay moving forward.

National Minimum Wage

As you maybe aware, there are significant proposals being made in respect of the living wage and proposed increases to wages in the years to come.

From 1 October 2015:

  • the adult rate will increase by 20 pence and so will go from £6.50 to £6.70 per hour
  • the rate for 18 to 20 year olds will increase by 17 pence to £5.30 per hour
  • the rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase by 8 pence to £3.87 per hour
  • the apprentice rate will increase by 57 pence to £3.30 per hour
  • the accommodation offset increases from the current £5.08 to £5.35

This is the largest real-terms increase in the National Minimum Wage since 2007, and more than 1.4 million of Britain’s lowest-paid workers are set to benefit.

What to do? If any of your current employees are receiving the current level of NMW you must increase their rate to the appropriate level or face fines from the HMRC.

Salary Sacrifice

We have a new policy to cover the process and procedure related to Childcare Voucher schemes being used in the workplace.

What to do? If you are offering child care vouchers ensure you have a policy and clear procedures in place and variation of contract letters prepared for staff who use the scheme.


Money doesn’t grow on trees

Posted on July 22, 2015 at 7:09 AM Comments comments (3)

“Money doesn’t grow on trees, you need to go out and get a job” are words I’m sure my fellow teenagers can say they’ve heard more than once when complaining about needing money. Although for those of us that are ambitious enough to want to work, it’s not easy. The elusive ‘summer job’ is incredibly difficult to secure and schools need to do more to prepare us for the real world. I’ll be honest, I’m blessed to have a mother that works in human resources however, it shouldn’t have been up to her to teach me how to write a basic CV.

Legally you’re able to begin working part time at 13 years old but once I hit 15 my paper round days were over, I wanted more. Each weekend I’d scour the internet and newspapers  for part time jobs but CV’s and fancy cover letters aren’t enough anymore believe me. A simple waitressing job application often required 4 references, a year of experience and (if you’re one of the lucky ones) a fun-filled 45 minute ‘values assessment’ full of questions that are answered on the CV you spent ages preparing.  As well as this, despite completing the hour long application process, most businesses don’t have the courtesy to inform you of whether you have been successful or not. Not even an automated email. I even tried to physically hand out my CV, whether the business was hiring or not, in the hopes that I’d receive that one email inviting me to an interview. Not once did it work – shout out to all of the stores in my area that ‘put my CV on file’.  

In my experience it is due to a ‘lack of experience’… in life I presume as if you are providing the successful applicant with training I don’t see why it should be a problem for someone scanning items at a till. How much experience qualifies you as having enough experience? As well as the usual babysitting that you see on most CV’s, I’ve done admin work for 3 companies, completed work in a café and a restaurant. At 16 years old juggling exams, coursework, homework and obviously attending school, I apparently still have a ‘lack of experience’. Do you see my problem? Adults constantly pressure us to find a job and earn our own money because weekend and summer jobs for students were so seemingly abundant when they were young but the fact of the matter is, things are different now. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills reported in 2012 that the number of teenagers with Saturday jobs has halved since the 1990s to around 20% or 260,000 teens. There’s no doubt in my mind that many of those 260,000 only managed to secure a part- time job because of ‘connections’, you know the :“oh our dog walkers - brothers – friend has a café so I help out in there”; as that’s certainly the case with all of the employed teenagers I know (myself being one of them).

The truth is that trying to find a job whilst studying full time feels like an impossible task and I’m sure most young people can empathise. It is disheartening to constantly be rejected, whether it be due to experience or age, made worse by the attitude of the older generation generalising us as ‘lazy’.

Holiday Hell

Posted on July 17, 2015 at 9:56 AM Comments comments (0)
A client of mine has recently suffered the consequences of poor holiday management processes. Often my clients have too many employees off or requesting leave at the same time as a major bugbear, particularly during the summer months. These issues are relatively easy to manage by ensuring holiday leave policies are robust and time bound and outline fully any mandatory shutdown periods or peak time clauses restricting holiday.

But what happens when employees refuse to take their annual leave?  As a contractual clause I often encourage my clients stipulate that holidays not used in the year it is accrued cannot be taken forward and therefore they will lose their holiday entitlement; if there are no extenuating circumstances such as long term ill health problems. However, this deterrent does not always work.

A worker is entitled to 28 days annual leave each year including the bank and public holidays under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR). Many employers provide the basic and many slightly more. The objective of the law is to protect the wellbeing, health and safety of workers by ensuring they take a sufficient amount of rest leave. Established case law proves this as workers continue to accrue holiday while they are off sick and when they are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave.
As such should workers be forced to take their annual leave to ensure, as an employer, you have not only complied with the WTD but also met the duty of care obligations?
Regulation 15 of the WTR actually allows employers to:
  1. Require workers take annual leave
  2. Specify the days on which that leave must be taken
So some practical steps to help are:
  1. State within employment contracts or employee handbooks that the Company has the statutory right to require all personnel take annual leave and may instruct staff to take leave on particular days.
  2. Remind staff in advance of the main holiday season to book leave.
  3. Encourage employees to plan out main holiday leave based on a week off per quarter to use their accrued leave and get the recommended rest periods.

If you need help with holiday calculations, contractual holiday clauses or creation of employee handbooks and supporting policies contact Harries Human Resources on 01206 865464 or email -  [email protected]

Working Time Vs Travel Time

Posted on June 19, 2015 at 10:49 AM Comments comments (0)

Over the last few months I have received multiple queries about Working Time Regulations and what is counted and not counted in respect of the travel element.

When calculating “working time” for the purposes of Working Time Regulations, any time spent by an employee travelling from their home to the first client’s premises and from the last client’s premises back to their home has never been deemed as part of their working hours.

However, this may all change!

Federación de Servicios Privados del Sindicato Comisiones Obreras vs. Tyco has had an impact on opinions about travel and working time. It is now suggested that where an employee has no fixed place of work, time spent travelling to the first clients premises and from the last clients premises should be classed as ‘working time’. This is not a legal or set decision as the case is still to be heard in the European Court. Should the court agree with the current opinions it could have a huge impact on employees who travel as part of their role.

The rational behind the opinion to count travel time as part of the working hours is based on the belief that travelling is an integral part of the employee’s role and is necessary for providing clients with the required service if that employee does not have a fixed place of work.

If this judgment comes into effect Employers must be ready to implement changes to ensure they remain compliant with the 48-hour week rules. If you are negligent in implement changes then you may face claims for wages, holiday pay, rest periods or breach of the 48-hour week.

Contact Harries HR now for a free and impartial health check and details on implementing the correct policy and get ahead of this change!

Phone - 01206 865464 OR Email – [email protected]

A Brief Guide on ‘Fit for Work’ Service

Posted on February 3, 2015 at 7:06 AM Comments comments (240)
The government has a new ‘Fit for Work’ Service which is being rolled out prior to a full implementation planned for May 2015. This is linked to the government stopping compensation paid to employers’ for statutory sick pay (SSP) as of April 2015. 

FFW Service will offer the following…

  • Free referrals for an occupational health assessment for employees who have reached, or whose GP expects them to reach, 4 weeks of sickness absence.
  • Free health and work advice through its website and a telephone advice line to help with absence prevention.

Contact information and methods

Contact can be made for FFW through its website and by telephone, as many times as needed. It can give employees, employers and GPs advice about work-related health matters (if an employee's health condition is affecting them at work) or when an employee is off sick from work. The advice can help identify adjustments that could help an employee either remain in work or assist with faster return to work.

O.H. Occupational health assessments

Employees can be referred to FFW by their GP, however employers can also make a referral when an employee has been (or is expected to be) off work for 4 weeks and if it is considered that there is a reasonable possibility of the employee returning to work. Employees will be encouraged to tell their employer when they have been referred

by their GP. Though there is no requirement for an employer to contact the employee's GP before it refers an employee to FFW. If FFW service receives duplicate referrals they will be combined.

There are no limits on the number of eligible employees that can be referred to FFW by a single employer however an employee can only be referred for one assessment in any 12-month period.

FFW will be delivered by registered occupational healthcare professionals. An assessment to identify all possible hindrances preventing the employee's return such as physical, mental health, work and personal factors challenges will be carried out over the telephone and will normally be completed within 2 working days of the referral.

The employee will be asked to describe their condition, job role and all factors which are affecting their return to work. The employee and their appointed case manager (the person who carried out the assessment) will then agree a Return to Work Plan to address each impediment and enable a safe and sustained return to work.

The majority of cases are expected to be telephone assessments, though face-to-face assessments can be done if necessary within 5 working days of it being deemed necessary. If the employee consents, their case manager may contact the employer to assist in the creation of the employee's Return to Work Plan.  This may be appropriate where it is necessary to get a better understanding of the workplace context and any limitations than the employee is able to provide; or where the employee's relationship
with the employer is identified as an obstacle to a return.

The Return to work plan

The RTW Plan, with the employee's consent, will be provided to their GP and employer. A RTW Plan will cover a specified period of time and will state whether an employee is fit for work or whether they may be fit for work, subject to their employer being able to follow certain recommendations.

Where available a RTW Plan will include a timetable for progressing interventions and for returning to work. It may also include advice for the employee and their GP and may suggest further potential sources of assistance. While all parties are "encouraged to act on the recommendations", it remains for the employer to decide to implement any recommendations.  The case manager will contact the employee at arranged points to review progress and if necessary a further assessment can be carried out.

There is hope that the new tax exemption of up to £500 per tax year, per employee will encourage employers to support recommendations made by a RTW Plan, which include counselling or physiotherapy.

Where the employee meets the criteria for Access to Work their employer can apply for support, such as specialist aids and equipment or support workers.

A RTW Plan will provide sufficient information for the employer to decide on fitness for work and can be accepted in place of a “fit note” as evidence of sickness absence for SSP purposes.

FFW Discharge

Employees will automatically be discharged from FFW on the following basis:

  • On the date when FFW decide that there is no further assistance they can offer the employee, which will be either when the employee has been with the service for 3 months, or at the point that FFW decides that the employee will be unable to return to work for 3 months or more.
  • 2 weeks after they have returned to work (including beginning a phased return).

Holiday Pay and getting it Right!

Posted on December 15, 2014 at 6:29 AM Comments comments (0)
Historically paid holiday has been based on ‘basic pay’ only in the UK. However, after a recent Employment Appeal Tribunal decision, this approach has been deemed not in line with European Working Time Directive. As such, employers now must take into account overall remuneration when calculating holiday pay for employees.

Under EU Law, full time employee’s statutory entitlement is four weeks holiday pay for each year. This works well as a general rule however variations around this can cause some confusion. For example, many employers include Bank Holidays within that period, part time workers qualify on a pro-rata basis and self employed personnel receive no entitlement at all.

So what does this mean for you?

You may need to now recalculate your employee’s holiday pay to take into account overtime and commission! The EAT ruling stated it is wrong to only take into account basic pay when calculating how much an employee should be paid while they are on holiday.
By law all full time workers on a five day working week are entitled to 28 days paid holiday (5.6 weeks) per annum. Bank & Public holidays can be included within that annual leave. Part time workers are entitled to the same level of holiday pro rata. If an employee leaves without having uses up their accrued holiday, it should be paid.
Based on the ruling precedent has been set for how holiday pay will now be calculated. The new calculations will only apply to the EU Law’s four weeks (20 days) holiday requirement and does not included the UK 1.6 weeks additional time for bank and public holidays or any discretionary holiday on top of that. Therefore, from now on, Companies should take into account commission and overtime when calculating holiday pay covering the 4 week requirement for certain workers.

Harries Human Resources & Birketts LLP will be holding a free Q&A and business to business networking session on Friday 23 January 2015, 9:30am at6 Grange Way, Whitehall Industrial Estate, Colchester, Essex, CO2 8HG to answer all your questions.

Biggest cash increase for low paid workers since 2008

Posted on March 14, 2014 at 6:46 AM Comments comments (0)
As most business know national minimum wage increases every October. 2014 is no different though through a bidrecommended by the independent Low Pay Commission (LPC) this year will see the biggest rise since 2008 for low paid employees. This decision is expected to boost the amount workers take home by as much as £355 per year. This increase will affect employees aged 21 and over.

Business Secretary Vince Cable officially stated “This will benefit over one million workers on national minimum wage and marks the start of a welcome new phase in minimum wage policy.”

From the 1st of October 2014 NMW rates will be:

  • a 19p (3%) increase in the adult rate (from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour)
  • a 10p (2%) increase in the rate for 18 to 20 year olds (from £5.03 to £5.13 per hour)
  • a 7p (2%) increase in the rate for 16 to 17 year olds (from £3.72 to £3.79 per hour)
  • a 5p (2 %) increase in the rate for apprentices (from £2.68 to £2.73 per hour) 


Contact Harries HR for your National Minimum wage increase letter template on 01206 865464 or [email protected]

The New Year, what will it bring...

Posted on January 2, 2014 at 8:34 AM Comments comments (0)
At the end of each year we find ourselves reflecting on our achievements, mistakes or missed opportunities of the last 12 month and looking forward to what the year ahead may hold.

We will make resolutions that we don’t keep such as living a healthier life style and going to the gym knowing deep down it won’t happen. But most of us will at some point be faced with an employment related issue such as seeking a new job with better prospects or progressing within our existing Company or a more sinister issue such as a grievance.

Harries HR aren’t going to come to the gym with you but we can help you to make sure that your employee/ employer statutory requirements are met and is something you can successfully cross off your ‘to do’ list.
What’s changing in 2014

On 31 January 2014 TUPE changes, including those relating to service provision, employee liability information and collective agreements, will come into force.

On April 2014 Flexible Working will be extended to all employees not only those with children of an appropriate age have a legal right to request flexible working.

In spring 2014 Mandatory ACAS pre-claim conciliation comes into effect meaning anyone starting a claim in the Employment Tribunal will be required to attempt to resolve through mediation first.

This is coupled with the introduction of fees which came into force in the summer of 2013 which was aimed at reducing the number of Tribunal claims.

In April 2014 ‘False Self-Employment’ Consultation begins as the HMRC believe that tax is being unlawfully avoided by both individuals and businesses by using workers through employment agencies and claiming those workers are self-employed. Initially the focus was on the construction industry but has now spread to other sectors.  If your Company uses ‘self-employed’ agency workers, then you need to be aware of this.

Zero hour consultation closes on 14 March 2014. The government has acknowledged that there is a legitimate place for zero hour contracts, which offer flexibility for both employers and employees. The consultation which was launched on 19 December 2013 is not aimed at banning zero hour contracts but rather, at making sure they are fair to employees. 

If you have an HR or personnel related issue and need expert advice without the high hourly rate of an employment solicitor, then call Harries Human Resources for a free and confidential consultation.

The Season to be Jolly…

Posted on December 19, 2013 at 11:32 AM Comments comments (0)
Employers are likely to face two inevitable key issues during the season of good tidings. These are holiday and time off requests made late and fitness to work impaired by alcohol.

As most employers’ holiday year coincide with the calendar year and contracts stipulating all annual leave must be taken in the year it is accrued -with some exemptions- employers often find themselves short staffed during mid to end December.

So, how to avoid the problem? Firstly no employee has any right to a particular day off. As such,  employers are urged to not only award leave on a first come first serve basis, but to also ensure holiday request forms are submitted providing ample notice to ensure business continuity. Many SME’s with no shut down periods agree and arrange department cover through team agreement made in the summer. However should an agreement not be reached… who has priority?

Good practice is to have all employees submit their requests before approving any specific application. Employers may use factors such as half term or who had time of the year before to ensure a fair approach is taken. It is important to also note that a request from an employee with children should not automatically trump one without. This refusal would not amount to indirect discrimination provided the employer has objectively reviewed and can justify the refusal.

Top tips are to ensure your contracts of employment stipulate the minimum of 5.6 weeks entitlement in each holiday year (pro rata for part time staff) and expectations in respect of working on Bank or Public holidays, and booking time off are clearly communicated.

In addition to last minute requests for time off employers may face issues with employees being unfit or incapable to work brought on by alcohol or illegal drugs.
It is good practice for employers to have a well-defined Health & Safety policy outlining their rules in respect of alcohol and drugs. It is often the case that an employee may have attended a party of some sort and consumed several units of alcohol. A standard request to ensure an employer’s duty of care is met and employees do not drive or work while impaired by alcohol, is to stipulate and communicate to the workforce the Company’s Alcohol Policy. The policy may outline that an employee while at work must be below the legal drink-driving level and as such notes it you are unfit to drive safely then you are unfit to work safely.

The golden rule is “Everything in moderation”.

Stay safe and Happy Holidays one and all.

Harries Human Resources offers a comprehensive library of Policies and procedures including Health & Safety specifically as it relates to Alcohol & Drugs.

Call us now for a quote and sample document!

T: 01206 865464

The Modern Business Woman

Posted on November 22, 2013 at 5:54 AM Comments comments (4)
I had the great pleasure of meeting the most incredible business woman this week. Ellie Goff the Owner/Director of Butterfly Lodge Education also known at Wellies On is the embodiment of today’s women in business.  

After a successful teaching career Ellie brought her dream into reality when Butterfly Lodge a 40 acre care farm based in Abberton opened its doors. Their qualified teachers combined with Occupational Therapists provide a therapeutic and educational approach to learning. The farms service users have the opportunity to get involved with worthwhile, meaningful activities which stimulate the mind and keep the body active as well as leading to recognised qualifications.

As Ellie’s service provision evolves she secured Harries HR services to support and enhance the existing emphasis placed on empowering and supporting her employees to achieve their personal best.

What makes Ellie so fascinating is not only her approach to running and growing her business but this enthusiasm coupled with the fact that she is heavily pregnant with her 3rd child and almost went into labour during our meeting.

This meeting took place at the Farm at 9:30am on Tuesday morning shortly after Ellie had been seen by her mid-wife who advised her to go directly to the hospital. With bags packed ready for the hospital we went through all the employee contractual requirements and policies and procedures and then took a tour of the newly built office gifted to the farm. An hour later Ellie then drove herself to the hospital.

Gender parity remains a major issue within both private and public sector firms where female directors are still not only paid less but are also under represented on boards. The belief that women are not able to continue to have a successful and senior career due to bearing children is not only antiquated but simply no longer the case.

With the proposed Maternity regulatory reform and other safeguards being put in place the ideal remains to see a day where businesses improve on planning around pregnancy at work and careers are enhanced on return from maternity leave. There is no longer the need to choose between having a family or a career, women can have both.

Ellie working right up to the day of childbirth is proof it is achievable.

Harries Human Resources are able to provide comprehensive family friendly policies and procedures in line with current legislative changes to support your business with planning for maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave. To get your free copy of the new “Maternity Policy” contact Harries HR on [email protected] or call 01206 865464.