Each week, Peninsula Business Services invite business owners, finance directors and senior management to take advantage of our national program of FREE Employment Law and Health & Safety Webinars.

Today’s webinar is about the mistakes that you make in the hairdressing trade, and to give you some top tips to avoid them when you’re employing your staff.

HR expert Amanda Chadwick will provide an informative webinar on how to deal with such issues.

Contact Peninsula online for advice on this issue, or call us on 0844 892 2772 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Click Here for the Video Transcript:

Hello, and welcome to the webinar today! My webinar is on common mistakes employers make with their employees in the hairdressing profession. This webinar today is sponsored by Michael John Training.

My name is Amanda Chadwick, and I’m a Senior Speaker and Broadcaster at Peninsula Business Services, Ltd., which is based in the Northwest.

Our company helps around about 28,000 companies throughout the UK with their everyday HR issues, writing contracts, supporting them with letter writing, employment law, health and safety and basically avoiding tribunals.

We currently have over 23 years’ experience in employment law and health and safety. We are voted the third best company in the UK to work for by the Sunday Times. And we’re a family run firm, based in Manchester.

Today’s webinar is about the mistakes that you make in the hairdressing trade, and to give you some top tips to avoid them when you’re employing your staff.

The first question I’d ask you if you’re listening today is, “How many rights does an employee have on day one?” I think you might be surprised to know that they have over 80 rights on day one.

When I speak to employers and people that run businesses, a lot of employers don’t realize that they actually have even more than a handful of rights. Most of these rights don’t have to be written down. They’re already set in stone before the employee walks through your door.

When we talk about policies and procedures, limitations are there, but they’re not put down on paper. In my experience, that isn’t any defence for an employee.

Now what we would like to do is talk about the policies and procedures and just ask you the questions, really, are you just ticking the boxes? Do you understand why those policies and procedures are there? If you have updated your policies and procedures recently, when did you last update them? Why did you last update them? What triggered it? Was it a trend in the workplace? Were people using their mobile phones and you felt you had to have written rules in place to be taken seriously? How did you do it? How did you communicate it? Who’s responsible for checking that your policies and procedures are actually up to date and within the guidelines of the law? These are the mistakes that employers make when it comes to policies and procedures.

First of all, when I speak to employers, quite a few employers say that they actually haven’t got contracts in place, because they’ve never wanted to put them in place, because they’ve never had a problem.

Well, the law dictates first of all that you should issue a statement of main terms on day one for an employee, and that’s even for an apprentice. That’s within the first eight weeks of starting date, and that statement of main terms should include where the person is working, what their job title is, the location, hours, pay, etc.

It says what’s been agreed contractually with that employee. If you do not issue a statement of main terms and you find yourself in problems with the law and you find yourself facing a tribunal, then there is a penalty for not issuing a statement of main terms. On average, that penalty is about £1,400 for not issuing the statement of main terms.

So remember this, it’s a legal requirement to issue one. You must issue it within eight weeks of the start date. There’s a penalty for not issuing it. Later on in employment you must, if somebody’s changing their hours maybe to flexible hours or changing their job role, you must change the statement of main terms. It must reflect the changes that are made.

Remember, you might have different statement of main terms for different staff. Always remember to check your workforce status. In hairdressing, it’s a common problem where people think they put a self-employed member staff when they’re not actually self-employed.

In employment law, it’s very rare that we ever come across a genuinely self-employed person. It’s questions that we’d ask you about your staff to make sure that the workforce status is checked and that have got the right contracts for the right members of staff. You must also check your workforce status because of the new pension regulations anyway.

Where else do employers make mistakes? Well, not having written standards and expectations. Look, if you don’t have written standards and expectations in place, how is your staff supposed to know where they go wrong and what they’re doing right? How do they know how to ring in sick? And what your expectations are of them?

By law, there are actually written standards that you should have in place within the form of a handbook. That would be the disciplinary route, the appeal procedures, the grievance procedures, and the equality policy. It is a good idea now, because the law’s changing on flexible working rights, to have a flexible working policy.

Make sure you have got written standards and expectations in place. Make sure they’re written in line with what your requirements are for your business, not somebody else’s. So don’t copy somebody else’s standards and expectations, because you might find yourself in trouble. Don’t expect your staff to be mind readers. Don’t expect your staff to know why they’re going to get in trouble without having those written rules down and in the handbook.

The other reasons why employers make mistakes is not realizing there’s a legal requirement of certain rules and procedures, such as the disciplinary rules, grievance procedures and appeal procedures. You can’t just dismiss somebody on the spot anymore. You’ve got to follow those procedures.

Also, not formalizing what already exists. Believe you me, you may have rules in place that aren’t put on paper, but they work in favour of the employee at tribunal. Always make sure that you hold inductions, get signatures, get people to sign to say they understand what they’re signing and that they’ve read it.

If you’re giving training, especially the tool box talks, the apprenticeship training that you get them to sign to say that they understand it, they’ve received it, and that they will comply with the training that you’ve given them.

Education of staff. Because otherwise, you’ve got vicarious liability. At the end of the day, it’s you, the manager, the owner, the owner of the business that actually pays out. The manager has the hassle of sorting out the issues, but the owner of the business is the one that it hits in the pocket.

So we have to make sure that we do inductions, that we hold training, and that we educate our staff as our defence. We have formalized this with documents, policies, procedures, handbooks, statement of main terms and training agreements.

Don’t be scared of changing what isn’t broken. I can promise you now the law says that you’ve got to have statement of main terms in place. The law says you’ve got to have disciplinary procedures in place. Where do they go? They go in a handbook. If you haven’t got those in place, then you’re going to have problems in the future. You might find yourself fined.

Let’s not be scared of what’s not broken. By law, we have to have things in place. I can bet you, that again, in 12 months’ time, after you’ve listened to this webinar, if you still haven’t got things in place, you may have a problem in the future and wished you’d made those changes.

Don’t copy somebody’s policies and procedures. Make sure that you’ve got your own and that they’re tailor-made for your business.

Don’t be emotional when it comes to employment law. Lots of employers do get emotional with their staff. I mean by that, if somebody says to you, “Shove your job. I’m not working for you anymore!” It’s quite easy to say, “I don’t like you anyway,” and you could end up in a tribunal because of that. You’ve got to know that there is a procedure to follow. We can help you with that. Don’t get emotional, even though you want to scream at somebody, remember you all end out of pocket if you get it wrong.

Be consistent in your rules. Just because you like a member of staff and you treat them more favourably than somebody else, you can’t do that in employment law. You’ve got to be consistent. The rules you got to have and you apply to your business must stand for everybody. You must be consistent in the decisions that you have with your staff.

One example of that would be where a member of staff has worked for you for five years, but another member of staff has just started. They ask you for time off for their child and you don’t give it them or you might not pay them, but you pay somebody that’s been there for five years. That, you’re not consistent, and you can have a case of age discrimination, if age is the factor, for example.

Don’t make rules up as you go along. Make sure you’ve got written rules in place, and don’t change them as you go along. Make sure you stick to the rules that you have in place within your handbook.

Other areas where employers make mistakes are not issuing job descriptions. How is your staff supposed to know of their duties? How is there supposed to be a role, a benchmark for appraisals, if they haven’t got a job description? It’s one of the biggest mistakes the employers make.

Not writing personal specifications for adverts, so you get the wrong person for the job. If you’re advertising your job, it’s a good idea to sit down with your managers and see what type of person you’re looking for, what qualifications, what experience, to get the right person for the right job.

Also writing adverts incorrectly. An apprentice can be of any age. Putting “young person” in an advert could end up foul of the law again. So make sure you get advice and help with writing the adverts. Make sure they’re written correctly.

Always create a paper trail. If somebody asks you for part time work and time off holidays, you must create a paper trail. Create letters, because this will be used as defence if ever you have a tribunal where somebody’s querying something within your workplace.

Always, when you’re going through an investigation, disciplinary or appeal or grievance, you must have written rules in place, but you need to follow the ACAS Code of Practice.

Now we take about 60,000 calls per week on our advice line. Even from experienced HR professionals that have been in the business for years and years and years. They are always asking us about how to hold a disciplinary, and are they doing the right thing?

Imagine an employer who doesn’t have a clue about disciplinaries and just hold them and guesses as they go along. They will fall foul of the law, so it’s always best to take advice. Making just one mistake within the investigation disciplinary, grievance and appeal rules could end up in a tribunal.

Remember, apprentices. Apprentices have certain rights, so remember an apprentice can be of any age. You must have an agreement in place. Just because you employ somebody, saying they’re an apprentice, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are one.

There has to be a written agreement in place, a training agreement. They must be working for a qualification, such an NVQ. They must be monitored. They must have guidelines as well.

If you are employing apprentices, you don’t treat them the same as you do your ordinary staff when it comes to disciplinaries, investigations. You have to be a little bit more lenient with an apprentice, because you are actually working with them and teething problems.

Employers may not take complaints seriously either. So when somebody says, “Look. I’m not happy about something that has been said. I’m being bullied on Facebook.” Don’t just laugh it off. Take it seriously, because you may have a tribunal because of it.

Here is a checklist for employees. Let’s have a look. How long does it take you to interview a member of staff? I know on average, within the UK takes about 15 minutes before you allow somebody to work within your company. So we’ve got to get that right.

If we are having an interview, we should be using application forms, not CVs. We should be sitting down and asking the same standard questions that we ask for all our staff. We should be steering well away from questions such as dependents, children, and questions about their family life. We should be sticking to proper questions that we’ve got already lined up in preparation for the interview.

Don’t talk to me about my health when you’re recruiting me, when you’re interviewing me. You only talk to me about my health when you’ve actually offered me the job. You give me a health questionnaire to fill in. Reasons for this are because it could be discriminatory. Make sure that you only ask people about their health when you actually offer them the job. You most certainly do ask people about their health, because you could end up yourself having an accident with a member of staff that has a disability. So when you offer me the job, you send out a letter to offer the job. You send out the statement of main terms and then you send out a health questionnaire.

That is used as a defence document later on if ever there was an accident. For example, you employ somebody that’s suffering from severe epilepsy, they don’t tell you. You give them a job where they might be working nights or long shifts. You need to know about somebody’s illness. They might be holding a hot kettle. I need to know if you’re suffering from severe epilepsy.

So we ask that question on the health questionnaire about disabilities, about illnesses, about medication, about counselling on the health questionnaire when we offer the job. That way, we can actually do a risk assessment if somebody says they have a disability or an illness or if they’re taking medication.

But we need to know if somebody is ill. We need to know if they have a disability, to give us the opportunity to prepare for that and to put the risk assessments and health and safety standards in place that we already have. That if we’re not asking people about it, we’ll never know.

Be aware of what you can talk about in the interview. Remember, as I said, to steer away from questions about family, pregnancy or children. Remember when you actually have offered me the job, you should be issuing me the job offer letter, the statement of main terms and also you should be offering me — Sorry, in there, put in the health questionnaire as well.

Have you checked if I’ve got the right to work in the UK? Because you should be checking all your employees to see if they have the right to work in the UK. Not just people with a foreign sounding name or a different colour skin, because that is discriminatory. You should be checking people, every single member of your staff, if they’ve got the right to work in the UK.

Also you should be asking if I have any other jobs. How you should be asking that is in the form of the handbook. There should be a statement that says, “If you want to work elsewhere, please apply in writing.” That should include voluntary work and training as well. The reason I’m putting that there in a handbook is to protect myself, because as the main employer under the working time regulations, actually I am responsible for knowing of any of the jobs that any of my employees have got. So I’m adding those hours to the hours that they do for me, especially with young workers and apprentices. It is a good idea in hairdressing to make sure that you ask the question or you put in the handbook, “If you want to work elsewhere, please apply in writing.”

It might also be a good idea to tweak that a little bit to say that you can’t do anybody else’s hair outside of work. So that if there is an accident or they injure somebody whilst doing somebody’s hair, it doesn’t reflect back badly on you. I do think that you can treat that a bit for the hairdressing sector.

What if you don’t like me after a few weeks? That certainly does happen, doesn’t it, within businesses? We do recommend within the handbook that there is within the probationary period that you certainly put in there a suitability clause allows you to dismiss somebody if they’re not suitable.

Now remember here, I am giving you an overview on employment law. It is actually very important that you make sure that we write it in the right way for your company. But you certainly have a suitability clause within the probationary period that allows you the luxury of giving yourself some control.

We do also recommend within any profession that you do have a search policy, because that allows you to search somebody if you think they’re stealing. It doesn’t mean to say that you can take their clothes off. It means to say that they take their jacket off, if you ask them to. You ask them to empty their handbag. But you can only do this with a search policy. We certainly recommend it in any profession. It allows you to search people. Depending on how it’s written, it allows you to search vehicles if they’re parked on your premises and lockers. You’ve got to write it in the right way. But it gives you the control and also, it’s not just for stealing. It’s also for drug taking, smoking, e-cigarettes and it’s also there and available for alcohols and also for using the mobile phone when you’ve asked them not to.

What if I’m always late? Do you have a lateness policy that allows you to manage that lateness? What about people keep losing their keys, your keys for your shutters or your shop? Damaging your stuff or not doing their hair properly or using too much stuff? Have you got a wastage policy that allows you to claim that back?

Have you got a mobile phone policy that tells your staff they shouldn’t be texting? They shouldn’t be talking on the mobile whilst in work, to control that because it is actually getting out of hand within the workplace.

You have the right to write whatever you want in your employee handbook. They’re your rules. Tailor make them so they work for you. If somebody is forever texting or talking on the mobile, get a rule in place.

You might want to consider having a mobile phone policy — Sorry, for Facebook as well, a social networking policy that says they can’t talk about your staff or your workplace on any social networking site. We do recommend that as a trend within hairdressing that you have a policy for social networking.

How do they ring in sick? Do they text in? Do they phone in? When do you require them to send a fit note in? You should have a good sickness policy within place in your handbook. You should be also doing return to work interviews after one day to manage sickness.

If somebody tells you to shove their job, you need to know what procedures to follow to avoid a tribunal. That’s something we can help you with on our advice line. Do you need to send a letter out to give them a cooling off period and to bring them back into a meeting? But would you have known that before today and listening to this webinar?

What if you have CCTV cameras within the workplace? Do you record your staff? If you do, you should certainly put that in your handbook, because otherwise you’re breaching data protection.

Do you have a layoff procedure in place in cases of flood, there’s a fire, there’s snow, volcanic ash, roadworks, or a genuine credit crunch or a fall in clients? Do you a layoff procedure in place that allows you to lay your staff off while you get your business going again.

Obviously, as I said, I’m giving you an overview on employment law here today, but it’s something that we recommend in every business.

Do you know how to hold a disciplinary? What to look out for? Do you know what is the hot topic in tribunal? It is the working time regulations. It’s flexible working. It’s disciplinary procedures. It’s working hours. It’s illegal deductions from salary. These are some of the hot topics in tribunal as we speak.

There are 76 complaints in tribunal. One of the most common is people taking money out of staff’s wages without their consent. If you want to deduct money from people’s wages, you most certainly need a written agreement in the handbook and your policies and procedures that allows you, enables you to do that.

Do you know what young workers’ rights are? Do you know what hours they should be working? What they’re entitled to with breaks and what happens if you breach that?

Are you managing holidays and the entitlement? Are you giving your staff the holidays? Have you got a written holiday agreement in place? Have a got a written holiday request procedure?

Do you know that you can have a shutdown period and close your shop maybe at quiet times, and tell your staff to take that time as well? How do you manage that? What do you put in place? We can help you with that.

Have you got a notice period in place? Have you got garden leave? That enables you to put somebody at home on full pay if they’ve handed their notice in, especially if they’re going to a competitor. It protects your client base. It’s something we highly recommend in the hairdressing profession.

What about pregnancy? What if a member of staff is pregnant and they haven’t told you and they’re working for you? But you dismiss them because they’re not very good at their job? What about having a maternity statement that says that they have to let you know at the earliest stage possible when they’re pregnant? It protects you from making the wrong decision and also protects you against somebody saying that you dismissed them whilst they were pregnant but you didn’t know.

Do you know what to do if I’m coming in to work but not doing my job properly? Have you got a capability policy? If somebody does have dependents such as children or somebody to care for, do you know what the law is surrounding that? And also family-friendly rights?

I’ve given you a bite-sized piece of employment law today. The changes that happened this year are incredible. It’s a fast moving industry, employment law. We’ve got flexible working rights, ACAS conciliation. We’ve got changes in tribunal. Do you know? Are you ahead of that? Do you know about the pension reforms? I’d like to thank you for listening to me today. It’s been a bite-sized taster of employment law.

If you’d like to take advantage of a free meeting with Steve Oaks, who is our local consultant to review your own workplace documents, or if you currently need some urgent advice, please contact Steve Oakes on 07814 585089. This webinar today has been held by Peninsula Business Services in conjunction with Michael John Training.

I’d like to thank you for listening to me, Amanda Chadwick, Senior Speaker at Peninsula Business Services. As I said, any questions or information about workplace documents, feel free to contact Steve Oakes. Thank you very much and goodbye from me.