New Year resolutions for HR

PROBLEM

As an HR professional, what resolutions could I adopt for 2016?

LAW

Employment laws change frequently and HR professionals can find it difficult to keep up with changes. There is also the burden of general housekeeping to ensure personnel files are compliant and up to date; a task which can be particularly difficult in the hospitality sector given the high turnover of staff.

ADVICE

There are lots of areas where improvements can usually be made to HR practices. Consider the thinking points below and perhaps chose three goals to improve upon in 2016.

CHECKLIST

1.   Right to Work

Have you checked, and importantly, evidenced each of your employees’ right to work in the UK? Usually taking a copy of their passport is sufficient for such purposes. Failure to do this can result in both civil and criminal proceedings.

2.   Contracts of Employment

All employees should have their main terms and conditions of employment set out in writing. Not only is this a legal requirement, having clear and accurate contracts of employment in place can help to avoid disputes about rights and entitlements.

3.   Health and Safety Policy

Employers have a duty to look after the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees. If you employ 5 or more employees, you are legally required to have a written health and safety policy in place.

4.   ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures

It is highly likely that, as an HR professional, you will have to deal with a disciplinary or grievance matter during the course of the year. Make sure you are familiar with the ACAS Code of Practice. Failure to follow this can result in a 25% uplift in compensation if the employee goes on to bring a successful Employment Tribunal claim.

5.   Social Media Policy

Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and the like cannot be avoided in today’s world. Do you have a suitable policy in place to cover the issues arising from the use of social media? From giving guidance about what is and is not acceptable to who owns contacts made, a social media policy is likely to be crucial.

6.   Protecting Your Business After Termination

Your Head Chef has left to join a rival business and poached your Sous Chef too! All of this could have been avoided if you had suitable contractual post-termination restrictions in place. Act now before it is too late.

7.   Equal Opportunities

Discrimination claims can result in high value awards of compensation. Help to avoid Employment Tribunal claims arising by having a comprehensive equal opportunities policy in place and regularly training your staff about anti-discrimination issues.

8.   Holiday Pay

Check you are paying the correct amount of holiday pay. The situation is most complicated for those who have variable pay. Any elements that are linked to the performance of the employee’s contractual duties (such as overtime and productivity bonuses) should usually be included in the calculation.

9.   Maximum Working Week

Do you have any employees who regularly work in excess of 48 hours each week (including overtime)? If so, you may be in breach of the rules on working time unless you have a valid opt-out agreement in place with each of them.

10.   Monitoring

Make sure you obtain the consent of each employee to allow you to monitor their use of company IT systems and telephones. Without this, you could run into difficulties, such as allegations of unlawful monitoring and/or data protection breaches.

11.   Minimum Wage

Ensure your workers are being paid at least the rate of the national minimum wage, which usually increases every October. Failure to comply not only means potential claims by them but you could also find yourself being named and shamed by BIS. Also remember that the living wage will apply from April 2016.

12.   Zero-Hour Contracts

Remember that zero-hour contracts should no longer contain provisions preventing the individual from working for another employer. Make sure that you have updated your contracts to reflect this.

BEWARE

Getting your HR practices wrong does not just mean that you may fall foul of employment law but it can also damage employee relations.

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This guide is for general information and interest only and should not be relied upon as providing specific legal advice.  If you require any further information about the issues raised in this article please contact the author or call 0207 404 0606 and ask to speak to your usual Goodman Derrick contact.