Employees Working
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‘No-deal’ Brexit will still be a good deal for workers

Guidelines released by the government show that protection of workers and the legal responsibilities of employers to their staff are set to remain…

The looming spectre of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit is breeding an atmosphere of uncertainty across the UK – whether you are a home owner, business owner or someone who has to deal with HR issues and workers’ rights.

March 29, 2019 will see the EU leave the UK – and if the increasingly likely-looking ‘no-deal’ happens, the government has released guidelines on what the legal implications might be.

Workers’ Rights

The good news is that the government has already confirmed that there will be no alterations to current rights for workers of their protection – this is all covered in the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which translates EU legislation into UK law. Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, told a recent press conference that domestic law already exceeds the EU when it comes to these matters, and that existing EU provisions would be transferred into UK legislation after Brexit.

What could be a risk in the longer term is the fact that, because these rights will simply be under UK rather than EU law, Parliament could at any time choose to scrap them and there would be no redress to the EU Court of Human Rights.

EU Citizens

If you’re a European Union (EU) citizen, you and your family will be able to apply to get either ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status. This will mean you can continue living in the UK after December 2020.

The application fee will be £65 for adults and £32.50 for children. The application process will be phased and is intended to be fully operational by March 2019. There will be a grace period until 30 June 2021 for EU nationals to apply for either status.

Two useful articles on this include An employer’s guide to preparing for Brexit [People Management: An employer’s guide to preparing for Brexit, 3 Sep 2018] and, on the Gov.co.uk website here [GOV.UK: Settled and pre-settled status for EU citizens and their families].

European Councils

One group that may be affected are European works councils, which represent the European employees at a company or organisation. However, the document states that UK regulations will be altered to enable new requests for a works council to be set up and to allow existing ones to continue.

If your company has European Works Councils and trades unions that are parties to European Works Council agreements, you may need to review your agreements as there will no longer be reciprocal arrangements between the UK and the EU.

Insolvency

Another change relates to employer insolvency. Should an employer go into insolvency, employees will still be protected under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and Pension Schemes Act 1993 implementing the Insolvency Directive [EUR-Lex: Document 32008L0094] or relevant legislation in Northern Ireland.

However, UK and EU employees who work in an EU country for a UK employer may be at risk. It is possible that they will be covered under the national guarantee fund in that country, but that is not a given at this stage.

Finally, should we leave the EU without a deal, the UK would also no longer have access to the European Single Market. This would mean companies would have to make customs declarations on all EU trade, and you may need to employ customs brokers or warehousing. This could be pricey, especially for smaller businesses, so if this applies to your organisation it would be worth becoming familiar with existing guidelines for importing and exporting outside of the UK.

Read the full guidance document from the Government here [GOV.UK: Workplace rights if there’s no Brexit deal].

If you would like to discuss any issues relating to your HR provision and Brexit, and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 769 282 or contact us here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

GDPR 3 Months On

GDPR – three-month review

It’s three months since the GDPR regulations were introduced – now is a great time to review your own situation and ensure that those responsible for HR in your organisation are complying with these regulations…

The GDPR regulations, which were introduced in May, govern how businesses – whatever their size – handle personal data; this includes information handed over during the recruitment process, as well as staff information, data garnered from marketing initiatives and so on.

According to the Information Commissioner, the new laws, along with some high-profile investigations, have been instrumental in bringing data protection and privacy to the core of the UK public’s consciousness:

Elizabeth Denham said: “This is an important time for privacy rights, with a new legal framework and increased public interest.

“Transparency and accountability must be paramount, otherwise it will be impossible to build trust in the way that personal information is obtained, used and shared online.”

Interestingly, in contrast, recent research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing [CIM: Public understanding of data protection down as GDPR arrives] suggests that public understanding of data protection had actually dropped following the introduction of GDPR, as had their trust in companies using their data responsibly, with 73% not trusting technology platforms such as Facebook and Twitter with their personal data.

So, three months in, do you understand your own responsibilities with regard to GDPR – are you happy that you are compliant, and that you can remain compliant with the regulations going forward?

If you need a reminder about how important this is, if you do not comply with the GDPR regulations, which aim to enhance data protection and the right to privacy for EU citizens, you could find yourself facing a fine of 20m Euro or 4% of the company’s turnover.

For HR staff, it means that company employees must opt in to their personal data being used – and be aware of what it will be used for. This also applies to those in the recruitment process.

It is easy enough to put into practice – a data privacy statement should be signed by each employee – however you must remember that if you ever plan to use that information for a different purpose to the one outlined in the statement – you MUST get their express permission.

So, if you made sure this was done in time for May’s new regulations, now would be a good chance to revisit your statement and ensure that data is not likely to be used for any other purposes than those you listed last time.

If there are new additions – ensure you get a new statement produced, issued and signed.

Still not really sure where you stand with relation to the GDPR and data protection? We recommend this really useful tool for SMEs ­- Data protection self-assessment toolkit from the Information Commissioner’s office (ICO).

This toolkit will help you assess whether you are remaining compliant with GDPR, and what you need to do if not. The checklist is aimed at small and medium businesses.

At Embrace HR we know that managing people’s personal information is part and parcel of the HR process. We use HR software to easily keep data up to date and to manage what we need to keep and for how long. Software is a simple way to help comply in part with the GDPR. Take a look here for more information and to sign up for your free trial.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 769 282 or contact us here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Paperwork

The benefits of HR Software

The new regulations for protecting data are imminent but using specialist HR software can help you stick to the rules – as well as offering many benefits with other day-to-day HR tasks – as we highlight below…

No one with an email address can fail to have noticed the vast numbers of messages asking you to re-opt in to newsletters and marketing messages, which have been flooding in over the past couple of weeks.

It’s all related to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 that is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. This comes into effect on 25 May 2018.

These Regulations are aimed at protecting personal data as people become increasingly aware of, and concerned about, how their personal information is stored and shared online.

As well as affecting how you collect and store data from clients and potential clients there are also rules about the information you retain about your employees, what it’s used for and how long it should be kept. Find out more in our previous blog.

Keeping up with these kinds of initiatives can be hard work – especially if you don’t have a whole department of people to keep on top of things. It is a great idea to start automating some of the more transactional and repetitive tasks, freeing up your staff to deal with people-related matters, where they can use their skills and expertise to best effect.

Technology is making it easier to automate some mundane tasks – chatbots (a chatbot is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods that can interact with potential candidates on your website, and collaboration tools such as Asana (a web and mobile application designed to help teams organise, track, and manage their work) can be used for communicating with potential candidates and staff.

Moreover, specially designed HR software – HR Software As a Service (SAS) – can really help streamline your administration and enable your organisation to keep on top of other developments, such as payroll requirements. HR Software makes all data accessible in one easy-to-find place – perfect when you have to keep track of it for GDPR.

But that’s not its only selling point…

Other benefits of HR software

  1. Automate the workload – Makes it easy for you to keep up with admin for holidays, absences and medical leave.
  2. Ditch the paperwork – Time-consuming tasks can be integrated using real-time data straight on to the system, so you don’t have to deal with mounds of paperwork.
  3. Compliancy – The HR Software can produce up-to-date legal documents for issues such as grievances, performance, disciplinarians and staff exits.
  4. Easy access – Because our HR software is based in the cloud, you can access it wherever you are, as long as you have internet access.
  5. Transparency – With information available for you, your staff and managers, people management can be open and transparent.

Just what you need? You can sign up for your free trial of HR software today at https://embracehr.co.uk/cloud-hr/.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 769 282 or contact us here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

legislation

All change – Keeping on top of the Payroll Changes

April is a busy time for anyone responsible for the payroll, as the changes announced in November’s budget come into effect…

Keeping up with the changes in regulation can be mind-boggling sometimes, so here is our handy guide to the latest changes in wages and pension payments so you can keep on track.

First is the National Living Wage, which applies to employees over the age of 25. This increased from April 1 2018 by 33p an hour, taking the hourly rate from £7.50 to £7.83.

For those under 25, the National Minimum Wage applies – there’s a number of rates depending on age and whether employees are on an apprentice scheme:

  • Age 21-24 increased to £7.38 (was £7.05)
  • Age 18-20 Increased to £5.90 (was £5.60)
  • Under 18s increased to £4.20 (was 4.05)
  • Apprentices under 19 are entitled to £3.70 (was £3.50)

Your company may be interested in signing up to the Real Living Wage scheme, which aims to recognise the real cost of living. The level of the wage is set by the charity Living Wage Foundation, and more than 3,000 employers are already signed up to the scheme. The current Living Wage is £8.75 an hour (£10.20 in London). It applies to all over 18s and a new rate is calculated each November.

While committing to the Real Living Wage is voluntary, the minimum contributions set by the government for automatic enrolment contributions to workplace pensions are not.

There are two phases to the increase in these contributions – one started on 6 April 2018 and the next will take place from 6 April 2019.

The increase applies to all employers with staff in a pension scheme, and it is the employers’ responsibility to make sure the payments are made.

The amount you have to pay will depend on the type of scheme you have signed up for. Most schemes require a minimum 2% of earnings (increasing to 3% next April) and based on a specific earnings range (between £6,032 and £46,350 for 2018/2019). Calculations include salary, wages, commission, overtime, bonuses and statutory sick pay, as well as statutory adoption pay, statutory maternity pay and paternity pay.

Finally, another big requirement for companies is the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which comes into effect on 25 May 2018. The requirements are being introduced in order to protect the data of Europe’s residents. A useful guide to this can be found at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/Introduction.

There’s a lot to take in with all these changes, and any part of the HR process that can be automated has to help with the job. HR software takes a lot of the hassle out of the everyday management jobs in HR – keeping track of holidays, absences, performance and so on. Discover more about our Cloud software and read more about the importance of automating processes here.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 07767 308717 or send an email.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

GDPR

Stay Protected with the GDPR

Why HR professionals need to ensure they are complying with the latest data protection regulations…

Time moves quickly, and now there is only three months until the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) deadline comes around on 25 May 2018. Guidance can be found here. [ICO website guide to the GDPR]

HR have always had to keep people’s personal data because of the nature of employing people and was regulated under the Data Protection Act. However, the issue of keeping people’s personal data has usually been something that the marketing department has had to deal with – hence all those tick boxes on competition entries and subscription forms.

What it means

Failure to comply with the GDPR regulations will result in large fines being levied on offending organisations, so it’s important that you get it right.  Additionally, breaches must be reported to the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach.

The regulations require that when you collect data, you make the person aware of under what legal basis you are doing so, how long it will be kept for and whether it will be stored outside of the country. Where this is the case you must detail how the data will be safeguarded. You also need to let them know how they can ask for access to the files you hold and the process for requesting that they be deleted.

It’s worth remembering that the regulations apply to data however it is held – it may be on a main server, it might be in a filing cabinet in the corner of a basement office – the same rules will apply.

Although all regulation implementations involve extra work, the benefit of this work will be that it will help your HR teams to look at the way they process personal data, sort out any gaps in their compliance, and help them to build a healthier relationship with employees. In the process you may also be able to work out where training is needed or identify previously unknown skills within your team.

Data retention

The regulations are aimed at protecting personal data as people become increasingly aware of, and concerned about, how their personal information is stored and shared online. Employers will have more obligations to their staff when it comes to data storage and there will be stricter rules on how long you can keep information for – for instance details that have been gleaned during a recruitment process.

When it comes to former employees there may well be some changes and they will have a right to be ‘forgotten’. That means that while a former employer might want to keep data in case of any backdated employment claims, the employee will have more rights for their details to not be kept by you.

HR departments have been dealing with large volumes of personal date for some time, so it makes sense that this team will become the go-to place for other departments to come to for advice on what information to keep and share.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 07767 308717 or contact us here.

 

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

 

 

 

Embrace HR Autumn Budget and Employment Update

Changes for HR as 2017 draws to a close

What will the latest Autumn Budget statement mean for HR, plus an update on changes in employment law in the past year…

While much of the budget statement from 22 November tackled the housing crisis in the UK, there were a number of changes that will be useful for HR folk.

First, Chancellor Philip Hammond declared that the National Living Wage was to increase – rising to £7.83 for employees aged 25 plus from next year. Also, the tax-free personal allowance will rise to £11,850 in April 2018, while the higher-rate tax threshold will also increase to £46,350.

Good news for HR and training departments was the announcement of an investment in skills development – more specifically digital learning – with the launch of a partnership between the Government, CBI and TUC. It is estimated that poorly performing managers cost the UK £84 billion in lost productivity, so an investment in professional skills can only be a good thing – it can also help to tackle the skills gap.

In terms of employment, the Chancellor also committed to future jobs, with a budget of £500m for projects covering fibre broadband, AI and 5G. The future of work for HR professionals is to ensure that skills in the digital arena are updated and we continue to train in soft and transferrable skills. Who knows what is the future of jobs! Ten years ago we did not have social media professionals, nor drone operatives! Read one of our previous blogs on the subject here. [Skills Crisis Ahead dated September 2017]

Updates in employment law

It’s important to keep up to date with employment law – there are always changes being implemented – and while we usually catch the major alterations, sometimes those ‘tweaks’ slip through without us noticing.

One set of changes that did receive a lot of press were the reforms to tackle the gender pay gap.

The Government introduced a new requirement, which means large organisations must reveal their gender pay gap by publishing key wage information. This will include the difference in hourly earnings as well as gaps in bonus pay.

Other reforms made in 2017 included:

Union action: The Trade Unions Act underwent a number of reforms relating to trade union ballots, including the necessity for a 50% turnout for ballots to be valid; 40% of members to support industrial action and a four-month time limit for a ballot remaining valid to authorise industrial action.

Apprenticeship Levy: Employers paying more than £3 million a year in wages will have to pay a new apprenticeship levy to help meet the cost of apprenticeship schemes across the country. More on the subject here. [See ACAS Apprentices]

The Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017: Employers who sponsor skilled workers under tier 2 of the points-based system now must pay £1,000 per certificate. A paper trail should be in place to show that the employer has checked that this employee has the right to work in the UK. [See The Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017 on the legislation.gov website]

General Data Protection Regulations: From May 2018 employers will have to carry out audits of employee personal data that they collect and process  – see the ICO booklet: ‘Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulations – 12 steps to take‘ [See the ICO website/Request for Publications].

If you would like to discuss this subject further and find out how we can help you manage your HR requirements, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited on telephone: 07767 308717 or contact us via our website. 

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Election 2017
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What HR Professionals Need to Know about the General Election

From political discussions in the office to what the election result could mean to you, here’s what you need to know…

One of the first issues when a general election is called is the matter of politics within the workplace.

Of course, you can’t ban any talk of politics or the general election – it will be uppermost in many people’s minds and on the news constantly. But you are entitled to stop political campaigning at work, which might cause disruption or upset to your staff or customers – and of course if they try to use work equipment for their campaigning, for instance, using the photocopier to produces masses of leaflets.

You are also entitled to stop any political symbols being worn at work. Do you have a dress code or a policy on political activities in the workplace? Use these to let your staff know about your expectations. And with Brexit being at the fore of all parties campaigning in the run-up to the election, any comments that could be construed as harassment, particularly towards other nationalities, is a strict no-go area. HR departments may need to be prepared for conflict on this matter.

So, onto the election and the policies that could affect those of us working in HR.

Conservative Plans

It is expected that Theresa May is planning to protect workers’ rights, as she is said to want to create a fairer, equal society and to aid social mobility. The Conservatives said they would ‘protect and enhance’ workers’ rights in the Brexit White Paper – which would include the three million EU nationals living in the UK, as well as UK citizens in the EU.

Most parties want to keep the employment rights we already enjoy under the EU, so hopefully most of these won’t be changed much, whoever wins the election.

Hopefully May will also stay firm to her promise to help to end the stigma of mental health in the workplace, and the Tories have already promised to back legislation on the gender pay gap – so let’s hope that won’t change either.

Labour Plans

If Labour come to power, Jeremy Corbyn has promised that they would raise the minimum wage for all to a minimum of £10 an hour by 2020. Good news for employees, although there may be some companies questioning if they could afford it. Labour also want to add another four bank holidays to the calendar – these could be especially significant for companies that work with counterparts overseas who don’t have the same days off.

At the moment, the Taylor Review is looking into modern employment practices, including the gig economy and zero hour contracts – so it is hoped that this does not get forgotten amongst all the political campaigning – and its findings overlooked. Read more on the review here.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send a message.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Budget
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The Budget and what it means for HR

This is the last time that we will see a Spring Budget – the main budget will be seen in the Autumn from now on – so the way businesses plan their year may also change in response to this.

These are the main points that concern HR and human resources departments:

Self-employment

The announced plan to increase NI rates of the self-employed was met by uproar, especially as the present government has made a pledge to support the small business. As a result, Chancellor Philip Hammond had to make a U-turn on this in the days that followed the announcement. Good news for the moment for the ever-increasing gig economy.  Read our previous blogs on the Gig Economy here.

The initial decision was intended to help even up the tax benefits between employed and self-employed people, with Hammond stating that there was around a £4,000 disparity between the tax paid by an employed and self-employed person each earning £32,000. However, as critics have stated, the self-employed don’t benefit from the likes of sick pay, holiday pay and maternity pay to name just a few.

But as more people diversify in their working lives, experts say that this has only served to highlight that issues with taxation will become ever more complex – and could be a threat to the gig economy if people can no longer afford to freelance.

Back to work

An interesting development for those of us in HR is the promise to support those returning to work after a career break. A total of £5 million has been set aside to help these people, which will of course include many women coming back into the workforce after having children.

Business rate

Business rates are set to be capped, so that they will not rise by more than £50 a month. A £300m discretionary fund will go to local authorities to enable them to help businesses with their rates where they see fit.

National Living Wage

As we know from the Autumn Statement, the National Living Wage is set to increase to £7.50 this month. The personal tax allowance rises to £11,500 and the higher tax rate now starts at £45,000.

Educations, skills and training

Technical skills come into focus, with the launch of T-Levels, for those training in the sector from age 16-19, while the number of technical courses available will be cut in order to raise the quality of the remaining ones. £40 million will be ploughed into the Department of Education to test and pilot a number of lifelong learning projects. Increasing STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and maths) in schools is also going to be a priority.

 

And finally, you should have heard from the Pensions Adviser or someone in your organisation who may have information about your staging date. Most payroll companies use the auto-enrolment software and can set up the scheme, but if you have any queries please contact us at admin@embracehr.co.uk.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send a message.

 

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.

Statutory Sick Pay
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Getting Back to Work

Employees who have been off work with a long-term illness could still be paid Statutory Sick Pay when they return to employment, if proposals from a recent government Green Paper go ahead.

The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper revealed that sickness absence costs employers £9 billion a year, while the additional cost to the NHS of treating long-term health conditions that keep people out of work is estimated at around £7 billion per year.

Work, Health and Disability Green Paper

The Paper proposes a number of measures to help those with long-term health conditions get back to work.

Included in the Green Paper are recommendations for a review of Statutory Sick Pay and GP Fit Notes in order to help people get back into their jobs more quickly, and to stay there for longer. The aim is that these changes will help to encourage more supportive conversations between staff and employers and enable phased returns to work which, in the long term, should improved retention, employee engagement and productivity.

The proposals look at encouraging GPs to talk to people about what work they might be capable of doing, and for attitudes to change among employers, with the intention of encouraging more contact between employers and their sick employees.

This could see HR departments conduct a vital role in liaising with employees who are off work with long-term health problems, with a view to helping them to get back to work – perhaps on a part-time or remote basis.

In some cases where the return to work is phased, employees will still be able to claim sick pay once they are back at work.

At the moment, staff who may be entitled, can claim £88.45 a week in statutory sick pay if they are too sick to work for up to 28 weeks (see the gov.uk website). But that does mean that should they return to work part time – because it is all they can manage – they lose that sick pay, even though they are not earning a full-time wage.

This change could encourage people to go back to work earlier – doing what they can manage – even if that is a part-time role.

Health and Wellbeing

The move comes as part of a realisation that getting back to work can actually help people’s health and wellbeing. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “With all the evidence showing that work is a major driver of health, this is a big opportunity – to make sure that people get the support they need, improve their health, and benefit the NHS all at the same time. I hope that health professionals will contribute their expertise so that we can ensure the best possible outcomes.” 

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, commented: “Our health, wellbeing and happiness are inextricably linked to work. People in work generally have better health. So it makes perfect sense for the government to do all it can to support employers to close the gap around employment, disability and illness and to enable people to work when they can.”  

If you would like to discuss how the new Green Paper may affect your organisation and employees or to have a chat about your general HR requirements, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR.

T: 07767 308717 or send a message.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.