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.

 

The Future of Work – Part 2

As we mentioned in our previous blog in this series, the world of work is ever changing – and never more so than now.

Fundamental Changes

One of the most fundamental changes is the boom of the gig economy. This is where people work on a freelance basis, for different employers, and possibly in different roles.

A new report from McKinsey, entitled ‘Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy’ is proving to be quite groundbreaking – for two reasons.

Not only is it the first time that any real study has been made of freelancer workers in the 21st century, it has made a – to some – surprising discovery about those workers.

It has been assumed generally that people who work in the ‘gig economy’ do so because they are desperate and unable to find a ‘real’ job. But this report reveals that 74% of independent workers in the UK do so because they want to – and it’s not limited to young people by any means – only of a quarter of those in this category were under 25.

Not only that, but these people seem to be happier than traditional employees, with more job satisfaction. This gig economy stretches across many professions, from less well-paid ones to sectors such as construction, transport, doctors, therapists, accountants and writers.

And PwC’s My life connected report says that while technology is helping to drive the trend, the main catalyst is workers who are keen to take control over their own careers.

The gig economy is set to grow according to McKinsey’s report – which found 14 per cent of traditional workers expressed a desire to become an ‘independent worker’. Forecasts say that by 2020, the gig economy will be worth around £2 billion in the UK and $63 billion globally.

Are HR departments ready to tackle this change in direction? Not according to PwC’s The future of work, which discovered that fewer than one-third of organisations are basing their strategies for future recruitment on this change – even though nearly half of HR professionals expect that 20% of their staff will comprise temporary and contract workers by 2020.

Around half of organisations don’t offer training or appraisals for casual staff – and the figures are even higher for freelance and agency workers.

Embrace Change

HR departments will need to embrace the idea of the gig economy, and form networks with former employees who leave – in case they want to use their new skills in the future. The flexibility that freelance staff can provide can enable companies to be productive for longer hours – maybe making sales or opportunities available with companies in different time zones, to cover staff absence more effectively and to bring in specific skillsets as and when they are needed.

PwC, for example, has an online platform that connects independent professionals with its own teams. Freelancers can register at Talent Exchange and upload their CVs and then apply to work on various projects within PwC. It means the company can access the talent it needs at short notice – what is there not to like?

Talk to your department leaders, find out what resources they are short of. Discover what requirements they need and you could set up a similar system to make a more effective system in your own organisation.

Organisations will need to make changes in their culture and their leadership, as well as marketing and recruitment – and this is a great opportunity for HR to lead the way…

If you would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Embrace HR Limited, based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, helps SMEs who do not have their own HR departments, or those who need HR support from time to time. Please get in touch if you have any questions or require more information on this article by email: cecily.lalloo@embracehr.co.uk or phone: 07767 308 717.

The Future Of Work

In the first of this series, we look at how the way we work and the type of work on offer is changing the face of employment in the UK. In the following two blogs we will look more closely at the gig economy and at how HR professionals will need to adapt to keep up with the rapidly changing world of employment.

Changing face of employment

The world of work is changing at an amazing rate. Unless you had your finger on the pulse of technological developments, you were unlikely to have known 10 years ago that ‘social media expert’ would be a job title – or that it would be possible to take a qualification in Games Design at your local college!

And who could have forecast that the founder of Games Workshop would help to revamp the computing curriculum, and be planning to open two new free schools that will specialise in computer science, technology and the arts? In a few years, these new-look schools will be sending candidates through the doors for interviews – and they will have quite a different skill set from this generation.

Not only are the jobs changing but the way we are actually employed is altering too – the ‘gig economy’ sees many people taking up temporary positions as a matter of course and companies using independent or freelance staff for short-term contracts. It’s predicted that by 2030, millennials will be managing teams of people aged from 17 to 70 – all working in different ways. Many will work remotely and most will be on highly individualised contracts. An interesting proposition for the HR department!

Gig economy

Many people will start to question if their job will actually exist in another 15 years, as the gig economy is fast-growing – with a study by Intuit predicting that by 2020, 40% of American workers will be independent contractors. The World Economic Forum, meanwhile, notes that by that time more than 7m jobs – mostly in white-collar and admin roles – could be lost to ‘disruptive labour market changes’. It’s a sobering thought.

Both of these developments are going to change the face of HR, as more and more employees are likely to be on short-term contracts. Many will have to face the fact that their chosen career path is likely to disappear and will need to adapt and retrain to continue to have a function in their organisation.

It also means that when recruiting, companies will have to look for employees who are flexible and willing to adapt and evolve as the world of work changes around them.

It is going to be a challenging and yet exciting time in the HR arena. Are you up for the challenge?

Next month: we focus on learning and development in this ever-changing environment.

Embrace HR Limited, based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, helps SMEs who do not have their own HR departments, or those who need HR support from time to time. Please get in touch if you have any questions or require more information on this article by email: cecily.lalloo@embracehr.co.uk or phone: 07767 308 717.