Here are the answers to some questions that come up regularly in our work

How do I check the qualifications of candidates?

Most roles have a minimum requirement in qualifications. For many jobs these qualifications are not essential to the candidate’s ability to do the job, but in some cases, such as medical, legal or financial industries, they are key and disregarding them could be very dangerous and possibly illegal.

It is your responsibility as an employer to ensure that your staff are qualified to perform their roles. You can ask for the certificates that confirm the candidate’s qualifications and then follow up with the awarding body if you know the candidate’s name, the qualification and the year of award.

There are also many organisations that offer Education Verification services and tools and if you have a large number of candidate’s, it would be much more cost and time effective to employ a specialist than to try and check yourself.

Filled Under: Recruiting Posted on: 1st June 2021

Our staff turnover is very high – what can we do?

If your business regularly has people joining and leaving again it is easy to blame ‘the staff’ as not having the right attitudes or skills. However the truth is that you have probably not recruited the right people in the first instance and then not communicated with them in order to ensure they stay engaged.

Here are my top tips for improving staff turnover

  • Ensure the people you hire have not just the right skills, but the right fit for your business culture. You could incorporate behavioural interview questions
  • Ensure your pay and benefits are competitive and review this regularly
  • Give your team praise regularly, recognition shouldn’t just be an annual pay rise. Ensure you show your appreciation of good work on a regular basis
  • Have a career path for all roles and make sure this is made clear to staff members so they can see the progression options
  • If possible allow flexible work schedules, many employees leave when their job does not match their lifestyle.

Filled Under: Recruiting Posted on: 1st June 2021

Should we have a grievance procedure?

It is the law for an employer to have a formal grievance procedure. It is to the benefit of both the employee and the employer as it prevents issues developing into serious, disruptive and expensive problems.

A grievance procedure is designed to give your employees a fair and objective system to raise issues without bias. It may start with a relatively informal process, and should outline your procedure up to a high level and ensure that fairness is maintained throughout. It should outline who employees should contact, how and what time frames should be involved. It should also outline who an employee can contact if the person they would normally report to is involved. In a small business this may be an external person. It should also give details on who an employee can appeal to if they are not happy with the outcome.

Filled Under: Performance Posted on: 1st June 2021

Can I require employees to download the NHS Test and Trace app?

In order to require employees to download the NHS Test and Trace app you would need to:

  • Consider whether the request would be a ‘reasonable management request’
  • Formally assess the risk of infection in the workplace
  • Analyse what other measures are in place in the workplace to help reduce the spread of the virus
  • And, consider to what extent the use of the app would safeguard your workforce and your customers

There are also a number of practical considerations

  • What device would the app be installed on? If workers do not have work phones or do not carry their phones with them during work there will be limited benefit
  • How would you as the employer check the app has been installed and is active and running – you cannot force workers to hand over their personal phones
  • What would you do if the worker did not have a device capable of running the app?
  • How could you enforce people carrying their phones at all times whilst out of work?

Finally, you would need to have a full procedure documenting not only your assessment for deciding the app was required and how it is downloaded and used, but also for what happens if an employee receives an alert from the app.

Filled Under: Covid-19 Posted on: 1st June 2021

Can I ask for medical evidence when a worker is off sick or self-isolating?

You cannot legally ask for medical evidence until your employee has been off work for 7 consecutive days. You can ask your staff to confirm that they have been ill and they do this by filling out a form on their return to work. This is called self-certification.

If you have a team member who is off sick for more than 7 days then you can request a ‘fit note’ from them which is supplied by their Doctor (this used to be a sick note). The fit note will confirm whether a person is fit for work or not. If the note states that an employee is fit for work it may also include details of the work they are fit to do, or ways the employer could make adjustments to allow the person to return to work.

If you have team members who are regularly off sick in multiple periods of less than 7 days you may want to meet with them to discover if there is another problem which is causing their absenteeism. 

Filled Under: Covid-19 Posted on: 1st June 2021

Do we have to offer workplace Covid testing?

There is no legal requirement for normal employers to offer workplace Covid testing, however if you do choose to do this there are several options.

Unfortunately the deadline for registering to receive free rapid lateral flow tests has passed (it was 12th April 2021). If you registered before that date you can continue to order free tests until 30th June 2021. If you missed the deadline you can:

Buy your own tests and set up workplace testing – ensuring that you are adhering to all the guidelines set up for the correct implementation of the tests


Pay an approved provider (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/list-of-private-providers-of-coronavirus-testing/list-of-private-providers-of-coronavirus-testing) to provide tests or run a test site for you

Remember if any of your employees have symptoms of Covid-19 you SHOULD NOT use a rapid lateral flow test. Anyone with symptoms should order a PCR test and stay home.

Filled Under: Covid-19 Posted on: 1st June 2021

I think I need to make some of my furloughed staff redundant, do they have to come back to work first?

Staff that have been furloughed during the Corona-virus pandemic do not need to return to work before redundancy occurs. You do need to ensure that you are following all the correct procedures for redundancy which you can read more about here.

Here are some specific issues around making furloughed staff redundant

Ensure your selection process for redundancy is fair and that you are not just selecting staff that have been furloughed for redundancy

Staff are entitled to their full pay during notice periods, not their furlough pay. Furlough periods cannot count towards a statutory notice period

Any outstanding leave must be paid

You must carefully consider alternatives to redundancy including retaining the employee on furlough or other government scheme

It is important to remember that government guidance around furlough is being constantly updated, so ensure you are up to date or ask a specialist.

Filled Under: Redundancies Posted on: 1st June 2021

How can I ensure I am being fair when recruiting?

As an employer it is your legal responsibility to ensure you are not discriminating during the recruitment process and that your decision to hire someone is based solely on their ability to do the job, how they will contribute to the organisation and their potential for development. You should ensure that you are treating applicants fairly at all stages of the recruitment process. It is important that you make the process clear to applicants and that adjustments can be made to accommodate disabilities.

For shortlisting candidates you could consider using Artificial Intelligence technology, which can avoid the unconscious bias that humans can experience. You should ensure that any technology you employ has been tested thoroughly and provides a good experience for candidates.

Interviewing candidates is an area which is particularly prone to bias, some of the issues to look out for are:

  • Asking candidates questions which are designed to confirm initial impressions gained before interview
  • Thinking stereotypes are true, such as assumed characteristics about sex, race, disability, marital status or criminal record.
  • Applying the ‘Horns and Halos’ effect, just because a candidate rates badly in one area this judgement should not be replicated across all areas of the assessment.
  • Comparing candidates to earlier applicants throughout the interview process
  • Preferring candidates who are ‘similar to me’ in areas such as background, career history or attitudes
  • Making decisions based on whether you ‘like’ the candidate

I would advise committing to a set of interview questions which are directly related to the performance of the role and that you use consistently for every applicant. However, you also need to ensure that the interview feels natural and balanced and that the applicant has the opportunity to ask questions.

Filled Under: Recruiting Posted on: 15th April 2021

How do employers conduct disciplinary and grievance processes during the coronavirus restrictions?

Employment law still applies during the coronavirus pandemic, however employers need to give careful consideration to how to proceed. 

One of the major issues will be around social distancing and the temporary closure of some workplaces. However as an employer you must ensure that procedures are taken forward without unreasonable delay. It could be possible to suspend a procedure, but only if a safe and fair way to move forward cannot be found. 

You should communicate with the employee involved, their representative (if they have one) and any other people involved such as witnesses to decide if a suitable way forward can be found. Failure to find a reasonable way forward can result in an employment tribunal claim. 

If your workplace is open you may be able to conduct a safe socially distanced meeting, perhaps with PPE in place. If this is not possible, you could consider a virtual meeting, but only if this is appropriate to the circumstances. You will need to ascertain if everyone involved has access to the required technology, if anyone has a disability or accessibility issue which would affect their ability to take part, if any evidence can be accessed and viewed clearly by everyone and also if it will be possible for people to fairly assess and question evidence given. If a video meeting does go ahead it could be recorded and everyone will need to know about and give their permission for this to happen. Find out more about recording meetings here. https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/

Filled Under: Covid-19 Posted on: 24th February 2021

One of our workers has been confirmed as having Covid, should we close the workplace?

If one of your workers has tested positive for Covid you do not need to close the workplace, however you should follow some cleaning protocols which may mean that you have to shut temporarily. You should;

– clean and disinfect the worker’s specific area of work 

– clean and disinfect bathrooms and kitchens that the worker may have used 

– clean and disinfect communal areas that the worked may have used 

The person carrying out the cleaning must wear PPE and if the worker has accessed multiple locations then you should consider anti-bacterial fogging. 

Other workers that have been in direct contact with the infected worker should be asked to self isolate. 

The government provides extensive advice for what to do if someone at work has a positive test. https://www.acas.org.uk/working-safely-coronavirus/if-someone-has-coronavirus-at-work

Filled Under: Covid-19 Posted on: 24th February 2021


Teresa Rice HR Consultancy offers a full range of bespoke outsourced HR Services throughout Dorset and Hampshire. With more than 30 years’ experience in HR we are able to offer bespoke out-sourced solutions to meet all of our clients’ HR needs.

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