FAQs

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

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

Can employers require furloughed employees to use up their holiday leave during furlough?

Holiday entitlement continues to accrue whilst an employee is on furlough and an employee is entitled to take holiday whilst on furlough. The notice requirements in their contract apply in the same way they would if they were working. 

Employers can request that employees take holiday during their furlough just as they can in normal working time if this option is contained in their contract, however the employer should consider whether restrictions (either local, national or personal) would inhibit the employee’s ability to rest and relax, which is the purpose of a holiday. Remember that you must also give your employee notice that you require them to take annual leave and this should be double the length of the holiday required.

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

How do I support an employee who is required is self-isolate?

The support you offer an employee will depend on the reason for their self-isolation. If your employee has Covid-19 then they are entitled to be off work and will receive any sick pay due to them from day one as per the government’s advice, instead of from day four. You cannot ask them to work whilst they are off sick.

If your employee is self-isolating because they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive or because they are returning from abroad then the situation is slightly different. Your employee may be able to work from their home, in which case you should support them in setting up a suitable work space and ensuring they have all that they need to work effectively. If this is not possible then your employee may be able to claim statutory sick pay or you may be able to furlough them. Your employee could also choose to request some of their annual leave or request unpaid leave. 

In terms of support, try to stay in touch with employees who are self-isolating. If your employee is very sick this may not be possible, but perhaps you can touch base with family members so they are assured of your support. Try not to add requests, questions or stress to employees who are self isolating.

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

How can I support staff who are anxious about returning to work after furlough?

Before your staff return to work you will need to have carried out a Risk Assessment, analysing the possible hazards caused by Covid-19, assessing existing control measures and identifying any additional control measures required. You will also have implemented any new control measures. 

The next step is to ensure that this information is communicated clearly to all team members so that they are aware that you know the risks and have taken steps to minimise them. You should also have a clear way in which team members can confidentially communicate any worries to you. Ensure that you take these concerns seriously and address them. Finally make it clear to staff the consequences of not adhering to new safety measures, so that everyone can be sure that as a company you are taking the risk seriously. 

Put into place an ongoing program of Covid-19 communication for employees, so that problems don’t occur moving forward.

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

Are zero hour contracts legal?

Short answer to this question is yes. Zero hour contracts or casual contracts are legal contracts, however as an employer you should bear in mind that although these contracts mean that you do not have to offer regular hours to your employee they are still a legal agreement and you do have responsibilities, for example

  • Zero hour workers are still entitled to statutory annual leave
  • Zero hour workers are still entitled to the National Minimum Wage
  • You are still responsible for the Health and Safety
  • You cannot prevent them from looking for work elsewhere

There is a difference between zero hour workers and freelance self employed workers and you should consult a HR professional to ensure that you are contracting your team properly.

Filled Under: Contracts Posted on: 2nd November 2020

I need to make some team members redundant

The most important thing to know about making team members redundant is that you will need to demonstrate that the employee’s job will no longer exist. There could be various reasons for the end of the role such as your business changing what it does, your business doing things in a different way or your business being in difficulty, however you must ensure that the role will not exist after the person has been made redundant.

There are a large range of rules, regulations and rights with regards to redundancy so if you think you need to make team members redundant it is even more important than usual to use a HR professional to ensure you are not contravening any.

Filled Under: Redundancies Posted on: 2nd November 2020

What are the current Maternity Pay and Leave rules?

So, we are going to talk here about Statutory Maternity benefits, however you can offer additional maternity benefits in your Contracts of employment, so please ensure that you have checked your documents.

Current (December 2020)  Statutory Maternity Benefits are :

• 26 week of Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave (total of 52 weeks)

• Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for 39 weeks and is either 90% of average weekly earnings or £151.20 p.w.

Your employees are not obliged to take the entire Maternity Leave, but must take at least 2 weeks (4 weeks for factory workers).

Filled Under: Pay Posted on: 2nd November 2020

What should I do about poor staff performance?

If a team member is not performing to your satisfaction then it is advisable to bring this up with them in an informal manner in the first instance, rather than immediately instigating disciplinary/capability procedures.

We would advise that this ‘informal’ approach is still documented, but that you clearly communicate the issue to your employee, give them the chance to discuss the problem with you and put in place some clear guidelines for improving performance. You might offer additional support or training and you should give a timescale after which their performance will be reviewed.

If performance continues to be poor you can move on to your company’s formal disciplinary/capability procedure.

Filled Under: Performance Posted on: 2nd November 2020

About

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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