Tag Archive for: employment

In the workplace, it is inevitable that conflicts will sometimes arise.

Whether minor disagreements between colleagues over some trivial matter, or something more serious involving disciplinary action, dealing with discord is something employers will be well used to.

But in my experience, at the root of some of the bigger problems are seemingly small matters, which have escalated to the point where it becomes a challenge within an organisation.

Matters like time keeping, extended breaks, some aspects of behaviour – while appearing minor at first, over time they can manifest and impact on the wider team, sometimes seriously. And if it is a frontline care role, for example, there are also potentially implications for the client.

From initially seeming quite inconsequential, it can become the case that it leads to the termination of the employee’s contract – quite a serious consequence for something that once seemed like a minor annoyance.

So for that reason, I would urge employers to deal with the small stuff – address the more minor issues which impact on the running of the business and happiness of the wider team at the earliest possible stage, to avoid it becoming something that can hopefully be avoided.

Addressing minor issues can be difficult. If not handled carefully, this can inflame the situation – so keeping things cordial but professional is important.

This five-step process can be useful in addressing issues with employees:

  • Highlight the problem and why you are discussing it – be clear on why a certain aspect of behaviour is being addressed, and reaffirm to the employee what your expectations of them are
  • Give the employee a voice and listen to their reasoning – they may have valid reasons or personal issues which may be relevant
  • Work through the differences – use this as a chance to ‘clear the air’ and ensure both sides have their say
  • Identify solutions – find a way to resolve the issue while keeping dispute to a minimum, although be sure to take a firm line on what is expected from the employee
  • Keep channels of communication open – let them know your door is open if they need support with anything.

In my experience, handling things early and in an informal way initially, if circumstances permit, can be a valuable opportunity for resolution.

Keep in mind the efforts you went through to recruit the person, the time and resource you have invested in their training. If the issues are minor, then it is usually worth trying to find a way through.

For example – poor time keeping or attendance by an employee, a classic problem which can, over time, impact on productivity and engagement of a whole team.

By holding a face-to-face meeting at the earliest opportunity, as soon as this has presented as a problem, you can get to the root of the issue. Are they unreliable and don’t care? Or are they experiencing some underlying issues, and could benefit with some support, or time off to deal with these?

By getting to the heart of the matter through discussion, you can support your employee and make changes that will benefit their wider team and the business in general.

The consequences of not tackling the small stuff when you have the opportunity can end in disciplinary action, grievances and even dismissal – all of which are very time-consuming and costly, and can be very regrettable all round.

However, sometimes, despite your best efforts, the employee may not respond to your attempts to find a way forward, and further action may need to be taken.

Remember the four stages of disciplinary action:

  • Verbal warning
  • Written warning
  • Final written warning
  • Dismissal

Ideally, the initial, almost ‘pre-disciplinary’ stage, will help you resolve a minor issue to the satisfaction of everyone, and certainly to the benefit of the organisation and its clients – but if further action is needed, at least you have done your best to try and avoid an escalation.

For help in dealing with any employment matters, contact Embrace HR for support on 01296 761 288 or email admin@embracehr.co.uk

carer assisting man holding hand strengthening ball

The workforce crisis in social care is putting huge pressure on the delivery of life-changing provision nationally – but through employers taking a positive approach to recruitment and retention, the foundations of change can be laid.

Cecily Lalloo, MD of Embrace HR, independent HR specialists in private care sector support, discusses some steps organisations can take to address this


The challenges facing social care and its workforce are well-documented, but sadly they continue to grow.

We are now at a stage where, in a sector which employs around 1.4million people, we are seeing a staff turnover rate of around 30 per cent.

Currently, there are at least 150,000 vacancies. That is very troubling, and cannot ensure the quality or indeed quantity of care that so many people depend on across the country for the long-term.

Yet against the backdrop of this workforce crisis, we do see many examples of very good practice by care operators, who are supporting their staff in their development and are investing in their wellbeing in what is a role very prone to burnout.

As the sponsor of the Care Provider of the Year category of the NR Times Awards, I was privileged to judge entries from care operators nationally – and I was greatly encouraged by the many examples of employers delivering the support their workers need and deserve.

To see organisations taking a stand against the recruitment crisis, and helping to deliver solutions, is excellent.

But for so many others, this appears a monumental task, and one where they are struggling to deliver the service clients need amidst the pressure on their resources.

While by no means definitive measures, there are a number of areas employers can consider as they look at their staff recruitment, and particularly retention, in ensuring they are building careers for people for the long-term, and making working in social care a role they want to remain in.

Here are some points for employers to consider:

Create a positive recruitment process

Bringing new people into your organisation, whether large or small, is a huge step to take, so decide what matters to you.

Most likely their values and behaviours are very important, and must align with those you have as an organisation or even as a family for those who employ in their homes.

Offer the opportunity to learn more about the role, perhaps by offering taster sessions or assessment days. Show that care presents an opportunity to develop social skills and positive interaction with clients and families, while benefitting from good working conditions.

Show the ethos of your operation from their first interaction with you, with visible leadership and structures in place for them to see the support that will be in place, alongside a path of development should they choose to pursue it.

Communicate with applicants throughout the recruitment process, to build a positive relationship from the earliest stages and give information on timeframes and what they can expect.

This will help to build a good impression of you as an employer and that each employee matters.

Understand your workforce

By getting to know your team and their needs, you are helping to foster a positive workplace culture, geared around those on the frontline whose roles are often very challenging.

Encourage honest and open dialogue to get to the root of what staff want or need, as individuals and as teams. By developing this trust with workers, and offering opportunities to develop skills and interests, this can help to build loyalty.

By getting to know individual employees and demonstrating they are important to you, this can help identify when they are feeling unsettled or unhappy.

Consider holding feedback sessions or opportunities where staff can share their thoughts – it is important these are listened to and given due consideration.

Of course people do leave and move on, but it can greatly help future recruitment and retention efforts if you can understand why that is.

A leaver survey or exit interview can be important and can help to inform future approaches.

Make wellbeing a priority

A career in social care, while undoubtedly rewarding, can come with huge demands and challenges for an individual.

Burnout is very common and support can be all too often absent.

By creating a culture of wellbeing within your organisation, this can help prevent sickness absence and improve retention rates significantly.

The mental and physical health of staff being tasked with delivering often life-changing care is paramount to them being able to do these vital roles effectively.

Developing policies covering stress, burnout, workload and sickness – which are the shared responsibility of HR, senior leaders and line managers – can be transformational for an organisation.

It is very important that leaders in an organisation are visible, and there are clear lines of communication for an employee if they face challenges.

By making time and space for them to talk and share what they face – whether personal or professional problems – this can benefit their wellbeing enormously.

By showing concern for your staff and the inevitably long hours they are facing, this will also help to demonstrate positive practices.

Encourage employees to use benefits and entitlements like annual leave for rest and recuperation, and help guard against potential issues before they arise.

Offer careers rather than jobs

Often, care is not regarded as a professional role, and as a job rather than a career.

But this is entirely wrong, and care can be a very fulfilling, long-term career – indeed it is for many people across the country.

Perceptions, however, are frequently rather more negative.

By investing in staff training and development, this can help to lay the foundations for longevity.

By giving the opportunity for employees to gain qualifications and accreditations, embarking on training to continually upskill them in the delivery of their role, this will create an ongoing desire to learn.

Often, funding can be available for such opportunities. Development of clear career pathways are also vital to this.

By demonstrating a route for progression and the setting of goals, employees will feel part of the organisation and invested in its future.

While progression may look different for each person, the offer of flexible learning and development opportunities means they can get involved whatever their circumstances.

Offering staff the opportunity to develop into other roles will assist retention – perhaps they are a care worker and may be interested in a team leader role or a role within a therapy team.

Developing staff will also help to establish a long- term plan for individual people and teams, giving more certainty to your future planning and provision.

Recognise and reward

Showing staff they are appreciated is crucial in retention.

Care can be a difficult sector to work in, without question; but celebrating and recognising the achievement of those working within it can make a huge difference.

Whether that takes the form of verbal or written praise, awards, bonus or financial or gift incentives, will depend on the organisation – but to have channels of appreciation in place is very important, for those working throughout the business.

Sharing stories of excellent work or outstanding commitment with the wider world can also be important.

Whether that is on social media or your own website, or through an external forum such as NR Times, publicly showing appreciation can be very important for the individuals involved, but can also reflect well on you as an organisation.

Remember to ensure that people are comfortable with their stories or photos being shared.

While the problems in recruitment and retention will not be solved overnight, and there is a long road ahead, by making positive steps to make workers feel valued in careers where they can develop and progress, we can make change that will benefit the sector today and into the years ahead.

To discuss recruitment and retention policies and approaches in greater detail, contact the team at Embrace HR via www.embracehr.co.uk

Embrace returning to work after lockdown

The use of fixed-term contracts can give clarity and certainty to employers and employees alike – but for employers, they must ensure they are meeting their legal requirements towards those working for fixed-term periods.

Cecily Lalloo, managing director of Embrace HR, independent HR specialists in private care sector support, discusses the key points of which employers must be aware.

Fixed-term contracts can be a useful way for employers to cover positions for a defined period of time, giving assurance that there is enough resource for particularly busy periods or certain projects, while also affording flexibility.

For employees too, being contracted to work for a fixed period can give clarity around the nature and duration of their role, and what is expected of them during that time.

In such a fast-changing sector as healthcare, where resources may suddenly be particularly under pressure, the option of a fixed-term contract can be an effective tool to bring in people for a defined period.

For example, to cover an absence on maternity leave or a long-term sickness absence.

There are four main types of fixed-term contract:

*Pure fixed-term contracts – these expire automatically, at the end of the term, without the need for notice.

These are quite inflexible as there is no option to terminate the contract early

*Contracts with a notice clause providing for early termination – if notice is not given, the contract will expire automatically at the end of the term

* Contracts stated to be for an initial term, during which notice may not be served – the contract terminates on notice after the initial fixed term has expired

* Evergreen contracts – these renew automatically for another fixed term, unless one of the parties gives notice of termination.

Fixed-term employees are protected by legislation through the Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002.

This states that employees on fixed-term contracts are treated no less favourably than permanent employees – so in terms of aspects like pensions or defined benefits, they are comparable.

During their period of employment, employers should review the contractual terms and benefits offered to fixed-term employees and look for any differences from those offered to permanent staff.

Longevity also counts in an employee’s favour, particularly at the point at which a contract expires, which is regarded as a dismissal. Throughout their period of employment, they are entitled to be informed of any permanent roles.

Fixed-term workers will have unfair dismissal rights after being employed for two years, and for those who have been continuously employed for four years or more on a series of successive fixed-term contracts, they will legally – and unless there is justification for the use of consecutive temporary contracts – be treated as a permanent employee.

But in the case of unfair dismissal, fixed-term employees are awarded greater protection, and there are circumstances in which they will be deemed to have been automatically unfairly dismissed.

There is no requirement to have two years of service to bring this claim.

For a dismissal to be fair, it must be for one of the potentially fair reasons set out in legislation, which are:

  • Capability
  • Conduct
  • Redundancy
  • Contravention of a statutory obligation
  • Some other substantial reason.

In this situation, employers will need to establish which reason they seek to rely on, and follow a fair procedure.

Each case will be based on the circumstances at the time.

The use of fixed-term contracts can be beneficial for both sides – but employers must ensure they are adhering to the legal rights afforded to fixed-term employees, and the fact these may increase after two and four years.

For advice or guidance in this area, please contact Embrace HR via www.embracehr.co.uk

Embrace HR Aylesbury Workplace Cultire

Changes happen all the time, everywhere, anywhere and we have to be prepared to update skills and keep them relevant. Working in the care sector it is vital that employees are trained to an acceptable standard, both for mandatory training but also for specific training that their employer needs.

There is a cost to training, not only financial but in time to attend and complete training, as well as the learning curve to put into practice what is learnt. Employees come and go. How do you capture the financial investment in their development, skills and knowledge? When an employee has worked with a client for a fair amount of time after the training, it is a given that they will have used their investment in training to improve working with the client and making a difference to that person’s care and life. How much can you claw back of the financial costs and when?

Can you recoup the training expense when they leave?

Recouping or ‘clawing back’ training expenses is not an easy decision. If you intend to do so, make sure that your employee knows that this is the expectation. Often the employee contract will detail what and when costs will be recouped. It is a good idea to discuss recouping costs early in the employment relationship, even at the interview stage. Most people want to be developed and are quite happy that they may need to repay costs if they leave.

It should not come as a surprise.

When employees need to attend training that is paid for by you, they should be asked to sign an individual training costs agreement detailing the name of the training course, the training provider, the date of the training and an estimate for the cost of the training. This allows for transparency so that the employee is aware of the investment and their obligations to repay should they leave.

An individual Personal Training Record should be maintained and updated for each new training course or refresher training that is completed.

What training should be repaid?

Every Employer will have a different view on what should be repaid. Below is our view of what might be seen as reasonable to recoup.

a) Mandatory training

Keep a training record with a list of mandatory training courses. A training plan for individual Employees should be discussed with them at induction and periodically during 1-2-1 meetings or supervisions. Where the job requires specific training that is set out in a job advert, the relevant certificates/evidence must be seen and recorded. A manager, team leader or family member can be responsible for this activity, or the HR provider is the ideal person to keep such records. If mandatory training is required to be repaid on leaving, this must be clear at the start of employment. However, since attracting and retaining care staff is challenging, many Employers take a view that some training will not be clawed back.

b) Additional training

What additional training courses relevant to the Employer’s specific needs are required? Prior to training being booked, discuss the training requirements with the Employee as well as the commitment that is made for the investment and for repayment. These discussions could take place at induction for new starters or during 1-2-1 meetings or supervision for existing staff. The overall training plan for an individual should include additional training, with a plan in place for when it needs to be carried out. Conduct a training needs analysis periodically to keep up to date with training requirements as they may change from time to time.

When will training take place?

Consideration must be given to whether training should take place during the probationary period or after employment is confirmed. The probationary period is a trial for both the new starter and the Employer. If neither want to continue the relationship and training has already taken place, will you, as Employer, claw back the cost of training?

Take time to consider training agreements and talk to your employees about its implementation.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.
T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.
If you would like to receive our newsletter then sign up here.
Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace HR

Set expectations

Employers in the UK, whether an individual or large or small business, who expect their workers to drive during the course of their employment, must comply with the necessary legal requirements. This guidance aims to outline the key steps to take when checking employees’ driving licences and provides an overview of the rules for driving in the UK.

We recommend that you set expectations at the start of employment by including in your Induction a topic such as: “Driving the employer’s vehicle and driving your own vehicle on the employer’s business”.

If it is essential that your employee drives as part of their job role, this must be stated in their contract. The employee must be made aware of the consequences should they be disqualified from driving. If they are disqualified, how will it affect their job role? Before any action is taken consult with an HR professional or employment law solicitor.

It is important to check the status of the driving licence before an employee is permitted to drive the employer’s vehicle to ensure that the insurance is not invalidated.

Where an employee is required to drive extensively during the course of the job role, encourage them to undertake defensive driving courses or other relevant training to enhance their driving skills and safety awareness. You may wish to offer them time off for the training, or even contribute towards the cost of training as part of their development.

In this document we will refer to “employee”, but the guidance applies to people who in employment status are known as “workers”.

Checking the employee’s driving licence

  1. Obtain consent before checking an employee’s driving licence. It is crucial to obtain their explicit consent. This can be in the form of a signed consent form or an email from the employee.
  2. Use the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) Electronic Service to check an employee’s driving licence. The system allows employers to verify driving entitlements, penalties and the validity of the licence using the code generated by the employee.
  3. Verify the photocard. Ensure that the employee holds a valid photocard licence.
  4. Check the licence categories. Review the driving categories specified on the licence to confirm that the employee is authorised to drive the vehicle they are assigned to.
  5. Check the address on the licence is the employee’s address that is registered with you
  6. Check expiry dates regularly to ensure that the licence has not expired. I recommend at least an annual check of the licence.

Rules for driving in the UK

  1. The Highway Code is the rule book for driving in the UK.
  2. Employees must be at least 17 years old to drive a car and hold an appropriate driving licence.
  3. Check your insurance. Many business-use insurances have an age limit restriction. If a driver is under their age restriction, special authority is required and usually premium is paid.
  4. It is essential that an employee’s driving licence is valid, has not been revoked or disqualified and has not expired.
  5. Your employee must advise you if they gain any penalty points or disqualifications. Keep a record of these points and disqualifications.
  6. Ensure that employees who drive the employer’s vehicles are covered by the appropriate insurance policies.
  7. If your employee drives their own vehicle for business purposes, request evidence of insurance and check regularly. Confirm that their vehicle meets MOT requirements if they are expected to carry a passenger. Many insurances include occasional business use for individuals.
  8. Encourage employees who are required to drive extensively for their job to undertake defensive driving courses or other relevant training to enhance their driving skills and safety awareness.

To summarise

As an employer it is vital to follow the guidelines to maintain legal compliance and prioritise the safety of your employees as well as other road users.

Driver risk assessments should be carried out and staff trained. Contact health and safety or other professionals who are competent for further information.

This guidance is for general information and does not constitute legal advice. For specific legal advice do consult a qualified professional.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.
T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.
If you would like to receive our newsletter then sign up here.
Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.