We understand that employment law and dealing with staff can cause you headaches, so we have put together some of the questions that we are most commonly asked to try and ease your pain.
If you want to talk about any of these issues or discuss anything HR-related, we are always happy to have a free, no-obligation chat to find out how we can help you to get the best out of your people. Get in touch on 01282 678321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
When does an employee gain employment rights?
Before they even start! Yes, that’s right, even if an individual is only a job applicant and doesn’t start working for you, they still have rights, like the right not to be discriminated against.
There are almost 100 employment rights, many of them start on day one and are documented in the contract of employment.
There’s a few that start later on though – an employee has to work a month to obtain the right to be given one week’s notice of dismissal (or more, if your contract entitles them to longer notice), they have to work 26 weeks for the right to request flexible working, and to obtain the right to claim unfair dismissal and to claim statutory redundancy pay, they need to have hit 2 years.
What documents do I need if I am taking on new staff?
Before you employ a new starter you need to check that they have the right to work in the UK, this is a simple check and there is a setlist of documents that are accepted, you need to keep a copy of the document when you see it, you can find the most up to date list of accepted documents here, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-work-checklist
Staff must be given a written statement of employment particulars by no later than the first day of their employment. This can be a basic statement containing only the essential minimum information, with a wider written statement, usually referred to as a contract, being issued within 2 months of the employee’s start date. It’s usually best to give them all the information before they start so that they know what they are signing up for.
You’ll also need certain policies and procedures in place that staff can access, they are a disciplinary policy and a grievance policy. If you have more than five employees you’ll also need a health & safety policy and risk assessments.
How do I deal with misconduct?
We’d always advocate the informal, conversational approach when dealing with minor misconduct. However, if it’s serious or your informal route hasn’t worked, your company should have a disciplinary policy in place to help you.
Each situation will differ but the main steps to following a fair process include carrying out a thorough investigation, holding a disciplinary hearing at which the employee has a right to representation, taking due time and attention to decide upon an outcome and offering the employee the right to appeal against any decision.
Each of these 3 stages should be undertaken by a different person so that someone impartial is involved at each stage.
This can be hard if you have a limited structure, but you have the option of outsourcing any or all of these stages to CUBE HR.
How do I deal with gross misconduct?
Your company should have a staff handbook that provides a list with some examples of gross misconduct, the list will never cover everything, but basically, gross misconduct is something an employee does that is so bad that it leads to an irretrievable breakdown in the employee/employer relationship – for example, theft or violence.
In cases of gross misconduct, you will likely need to suspend the employee on full pay pending an investigation. Any period of suspension should be kept as short as possible, and you must still follow a fair process of investigation, disciplinary hearing and appeal.
My employee isn’t performing well, what shall I do?
Staff must understand what is expected of them in the first place so make sure that they are aware of any specific objectives, targets or key deliverables in their role so that they know what they are aiming for.
Poor performance can be a result of a lack of understanding or a training need. To start with you should sit down with the member of staff informally to discuss the issues and try to find out if they know what they should be doing and if they need any support.
You can then put a performance improvement plan in place which sets out what is expected, any support or training to be given and when things will be reviewed. If performance picks up that’s great, you can sign off the plan as completed, if it doesn’t then you should start a formal process and arrange a capability hearing.
If the poor performance continues you may need to go down a formal disciplinary route when warnings can be issued. You could look to redeploy the employee to another role if one is available but ultimately, if there is no prospect of improvement, and you have issued the correct levels of warning previously, then you can dismiss the employee.
Make sure that you document everything, provide support, provide a reasonable timescale for improvement and if you do dismiss then don’t forget the right of appeal.
My employee has raised a grievance, what do I need to do?
We’d always advocate the informal, conversational approach when dealing with a grievance to try and resolve things as soon as possible. However, if it’s serious or your informal route hasn’t worked, your company should have a grievance policy in place to help you.
Invite the member of staff to a meeting so that they can tell you more about the grievance and make sure to listen and find out how they think the problem can be resolved. They can be represented at the meeting and they might also provide you with evidence to consider such as emails or witness statements.
You will likely need to speak to colleagues as part of the process to investigate what has happened, make sure that the need for confidentiality is stressed at all times. Once you have considered everything you should provide an outcome that tells the employee if you uphold all or parts of their grievance or not. Depending on the situation it might also be appropriate to provide some recommendations such as mediation. Sometimes you may want a third party to mediate, we can help solve grievances and bring about a happy conclusion to any grievances.
If the employee disagrees with the outcome of their grievance then they have the right to appeal. You should also ensure that each stage of the process is undertaken by a different person so that someone impartial is involved. This can be hard if you have a limited structure, but you have the option of outsourcing any or all of these stages to CUBE HR.
Help, I’ve received a flexible working request, what do I do with that?
As long as your member of staff has been employed for 26 weeks and they haven’t made another flexible working request in the last 12 months then they are entitled to make a flexible working request.
Ideally, you should have a policy and a template form for employees to use to make requests, as this ensures you receive all the information you need to carefully consider your employee’s request, and you need to meet with your employee to discuss this in detail.
If you do accept you might do so initially on a trial basis to see how things work out or you might accept the request straight away. In either case, you should confirm things in writing, including any deadline dates, as this ensures everyone understands the arrangement.
If you do decide to decline, you should document your reasons for this in writing so that your employee fully understands why their request is not viable. It might be that additional costs associated with the request are unacceptable or that there would be a detrimental impact on business performance, there are a specific number of legal reasons on which you can decline a request, so it’s really important to get the process correct.
How do I deal with staff absence?
Absences must be treated fairly and consistently, no one wants to work somewhere where presenteeism is an issue but it’s finding the right balance.
We’d suggest having a policy in place that sets out what staff need to do when they are ill, what documents are involved and what happens to their pay. For example, on day one of their absence how, by when and to whom they should report their absence and then what happens after that.
If someone is absent for 7 calendar days or less (including weekends) then they don’t need a fit note and can self-certify by filling out a form when they return, it’s also good practice to do a return-to-work meeting.
For absences over 7 calendar days, they will need a fit note from their GP and must let you have a copy. Repeated absence can be managed by using triggers and meeting with staff to discuss their absence, potentially using your disciplinary process to manage excess absence.
For long term sickness, you must keep in regular contact with the member of staff and manage the process to try to get them back to work by considering advice from medical professionals and also looking at adjustments that might be appropriate. Ultimately it may not be possible for them to return, but if you are considering dismissal, you must follow a fair process (as you would for a disciplinary).
It can be confusing to manage long term absence, especially if it might be linked to a disability and you have legal obligations to contemplate before considering dismissal so, please do take advice before taking any action.
I have a pregnant member of staff, what do I need to do?
First of all, congratulate them, it’s big and exciting news. In a nutshell, you need to do the following. Carry out a risk assessment and review it regularly as the pregnancy progresses to ensure that mother and baby are safe in the workplace. Collect from them their MATB1 form which they will get from their midwife and talk to them about their plans and entitlements for pay and leave after the birth, your company may offer statutory maternity pay or some enhanced company pay, confirm the agreed arrangements in writing.
Expectant mothers are entitled to take reasonable, paid time off work for antenatal appointments so make sure you ask your member of staff to keep you posted on when these are. Whilst on maternity leave staff can come in and work and be paid for up to 10 keeping in touch days, keep in contact with your member of staff and agree on any of these days between you.
When it’s time to return to work make sure you have a plan in place and discuss any flexible working arrangements, any needs around breastfeeding and expressing breast milk and anything else that might be worrying the employee so that they can be welcomed back to work as smoothly as possible.
When does redundancy apply?
There are only 3 legal definitions that trigger a redundancy situation when part or all a business is:
- closing, or has already closed
- the necessity to carry out a particular role is no longer needed
- changing location
As an employer, you need to ensure you have a clear step by step process in place so that any redundancies are made fairly. You may also need a selection process if making multiple redundancies or if more than one person carries out a similar role.
If you are making more than 20 staff redundant you need to enter into collective consultation and inform the Redundancy Payment Service (RPS). The consultation period needs to be at least 30 days, which increases to 45 days for more than 100 redundancies.
How does HR outsourcing work?
HR outsourcing involves engaging CUBE HR to look after your HR needs and your people. We become your HR department managing the entire employee experience in partnership with you, allowing you to focus on your day job.
What kind of services do you provide?
We offer 3 core services as below but we can adapt to any HR need:
Retained clients: Our retained clients get our fully bespoke service with one dedicated HR Consultant. We start by ensuring your contracts and policies are fit for purpose and fully compliant with current employment legislation then we’ll look at the whole employee experience with you from induction and onboarding, to training, appraisals, reward & recognition, communication, engagement and succession planning.
You also get unlimited advice and guidance on any problems that might occur, such as disciplinary, grievance, absence etc. Whatever happens in your employees’ journey, we are there to partner with you and we are that confident you will love us, we only ask for a month’s notice if you want to leave us, there is no minimum term.
Ad-Hoc / Projects: You would get one point of contact and we can work on an hourly or day rate to chair disciplinary hearings, grievance hearings or appeals, conduct redundancy consultations, lead restructures and contract variations, TUPE. We can provide maternity cover if your HR person is going on maternity leave. We can deliver bespoke training and development and lead or enhance employee engagement initiatives.
Template service: We can provide contracts of employment, service contracts, employee handbooks, drivers handbooks, invite letters, outcome letters, guidance notes, settlement agreements, absence management toolkits, maternity packs, redundancy packs and many more. You can either buy them to complete yourself, or we can complete them for you.
How much would it cost?
Our retained clients pay a monthly fee based on the number of employees they have and it starts from as little as £99 per month for unlimited support. For ad-hoc and project work we will work with you to look at the most cost-effective option for you. Our values mean we want repeat business, not one-off work so we ensure we are competitive and it’s usually not as expensive as you’d think! Our templates start at £9.99 each.
What locations can you cover?
We can cover any location across the UK as we operate virtually.
What separates you from other HR agencies?
We offer a very personal service with a dedicated contact that you have the mobile number and named email, no call centre advice line or general email boxes here.
We get to know you and your business inside out, we even know where our clients are going on holiday as we build that type of relationship. We’ll even speak to your employees if you want us to, just like an in-house HR department would.
We don’t tie you into a lengthy contract either, there is no minimum term and it’s only one month’s notice if you want to leave, we want our clients to be with us because they want to be and not because they are tied into a lengthy contract.
Why would I outsource instead of hiring someone internally?
Cost and experience. All our team have CIPD qualifications (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) and years of HR experience from many different backgrounds, support that would cost a significant amount if you were to employ someone internally. Plus our service fits your needs, so you get as little or as much time as you need from us.
How do you manage payroll or benefits administration?
We can advise on some payroll and benefits queries and where we need specialist advice, we have several partners.
How can you manage our HR without being onsite all the time?
We’re always at the end of a phone or video call and the pandemic has proven that remote working is effective. We have clients hours away that we have never met face to face. We’re in regular contact with you and when you come on board we carry out an HR Health Check, this allows us to create a plan of action with you. You can contact us at any time and we’re not against visiting your site for a brew and a catch up if you want us to.
How do you know what services we need when we’re not even sure?
That’s the beauty of us being experts. With our knowledge and experience, we will partner with you to ensure you have what you need. Legislation dictates what you must have so we start there and our HR Health Check identifies other areas that you might want us to support you with.
We have an HR team and only need to supplement our team at certain times for projects or services. How does this work?
We work closely with many businesses to roll out projects, cover maternity leave, do things the HR team don’t have time for, or just be on hand for a 2nd opinion, you still get our personal, dedicated service and we will work with you to ensure we offer the best fit for your needs.
Why should my company outsource HR?
You get extensive HR experience and knowledge from a qualified professional for a fraction of the price employing someone would. We make sure you are keeping up to date with current legislation at all times and we can provide your business with as much or as little support as you need. With no contract tie in, no hidden costs and no employment costs either, you have nothing to lose. Our clients tell us they wonder how they ever managed without us.
What is an HRO?
Us! An HRO is an HR Outsourcing service and involves engaging CUBE HR to look after your HR needs and your people. We become your HR department managing the entire employee experience in partnership with you, allowing you to focus on your day job.
What types of companies use outsourced HR?
Every type! There’s no limit to the size or industry that may use outsourced HR – anyone from 1 employee upwards needs some sort of HR support or advice and employment legislation means there are certain things that MUST be done even with just 1 employee.
Will we be locked into a contract?
No, it’s one of our unique offerings. We want to work with businesses that want to work with us so we don’t tie you in – our contracts run for one month and we ask for one months’ notice if you want to leave us.