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.
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Click Here for the Video Transcript:
Good morning everybody, hello. Welcome to my webinar today. It's the 31st of January and I'm Amanda Chadwick. I'm the Senior Speaker at Peninsula Business Services Limited and today's webinar is talking about policies and procedures and what Peninsula can do for you.Okay, so just a little bit of background about Peninsula. If you look towards the right of the screen at the moment, that's our head office in Manchester. I'm actually based in North Wales. How it all started was really back in 1983, so we've actually celebrated last year 30 years of being a family-run business. What happened was I don't know if you've heard of Betfred, the Done, the bookmakers and the Tote, but our owners Peter and Fred were born and bred in Salford in Manchester and they started out employment for bookmakers many, many years ago.
What they did is they approached him for some funding to set up their own bookmakers but they’d pay an interest back. They were so successful at what they did, within three months they paid the man his money back and they started their own business. Now what they did is like lots of other people when they start the business and like what I would do is they employed their family and friends and one of these friends that worked for them stole some money and they sacked her.
They then thought that was it because actually she was caught simply red handed, they'd stolen from them and at the end of the day you know, it's wrong. You shouldn't steal and so they just forgot about it until they received some tribunal papers. They received tribunal papers, they didn't really know what to do with it and then they asked their own solicitor that dealt with everyday stuff for them to handle this tribunal for them. They went tribunal. They couldn't believe that the law was swayed towards the employee and that somebody who stole from them actually also won at tribunal as well.
So, they thought, you know, there's some here, here. We invested all our time and money into starting up a business. We've given people that we know jobs and friends and family were working really hard. We could have lost the business overnight, so that was 1983 and they thought right, we're going to set up a company that looks after people that own businesses: employers, managers, HR and you know, trustees and help them understand what the law is, manage it for them, keep them informed and then insure them if ever they have a tribunal.
So that was their mission and that was 30 years ago. We now have over 27,000 clients we integrate with throughout the UK. We take 60,000 calls a week which is a hell of a lot of problems there and it's just everyday questions like, could you write an advert for me so I don't break the law? Could you type a letter up to offer somebody a job? Could you do this, could you do that? That's what people use us for, just to keep them up to date and also to manage their policies and procedures.
One thing I'll say to you, I'm going to talk about these policies and procedures in a moment is make sense that the advice you get is conducive to the contracts, policies and procedures that you've got in place. You've got to remember that. You know, there's no point ringing somebody for advice if they don't know what you've got written down because you could breach your own contracts. It's absolutely important.
Now, I'm going to go through some policies and procedures now but the first thing I'm going to ask you because you're listening to me today is, how many rights does an employee have the minute they walk through your door on day one? So, I'm your new starter, okay? I've just walked through your door. Goodness help you by the way. I'm your new started. I've just walked through your door on day one, how many rights do you think I've got the minute I walk through your door?
I think you might be surprised, but I've got over 78 rights the minute I walk through your door from day one. Now, what you've got to remember is those 78 rights, they are set in stone. They're already written down, okay? You don't need to write them down. They're already written down. I've got over 78 statutory rights from day one.
So, what we do is we know that people have all those rights and what we do then is we then write an employment law handbook and we twist those rights, add a little bit of salt and pepper on and make sure that they protect the employer, the managers, HR and trustees and people that run businesses to help them manage their business to give them the control back, okay? I'm going to explain how we do that in a minute.
But we know they've got those rights there. They're already written down. What we're going to do is create a handbook and you can have whatever you want in that handbook as long as it's considered reasonable. So, if you're having a problem with mobile phone, social networking, stealing, people you don't like, people that are off long-term sick, there'll be something in that handbook that will help you and manage it and twist it for you.
So, looking at the photo of me again. Another minging photo for you to look at and print off and put it on the gate to scare off burglars, okay? So, that's my photo. I've put that there for a reason, okay? I'm a speaker so I do face to face events so this is something that I talk about at every event that I do.
Look at me now. I look like your average British, white worker. I look healthy. I look, you know, I'm a woman. I hope I look like a woman. I'm a woman and I just want you to look at that for a second because when you interview me, how long does it take for you to interview me? Well, I can tell you on average throughout the UK it’s 15 minutes. So, you sit there, interview me and assess me within 15 minutes and make a decision whether you're going to take me on or not.
But what do you know about me, okay? What do you know about my health? Do you know if I've got a disability? So, I'm going to talk about that now and I'm going to tell you a little bit about me.
First of all, I'm a speaker, okay? I speak for nearly every association and federation in the UK on behalf of employment law and health and safety. But also, looking at my picture, I'm a working mother and I've got four children. I've also got two grandchildren and another one on the way. I'm deaf. You can't see that by looking at me, but if you look at me on my right ear, I'm totally deaf and on my left ear I've got about 60 per cent hearing and it's deteriorating and it's weird because I can't hear vehicles behind me. But I can hear my husband talking about me behind my back. So, that's selective isn't it as well.
I take medication three times a day and again, you know, I have a debilitating illness. Again, you can't see that by looking at me and if I put that on paper and told you about my health, maybe you wouldn't take me on and I don't know if you know. I'm sorry, you wouldn't know, but I've only had one day off in 12 years. So, you might be frightened to take me on because I have a disability. You might be frightened to take me on because of my health, but actually in real terms I've only had one day off in 12 years. So, this is – I don't want a medal for that by the way if you want to send me one – but I'm just letting you know somebody who is unhealthy that they don't have to be, you know, they can still carry on working.
So here, also what you don't know about me and this is the interesting fact, is that I'm one of seven children of which I've got an adopted Indian brother who's Hindu. My mum fostered a lot of children when I was younger and I think something like 80, 90, 100 maybe. We stay in contact with them, so I've got a real big extended family. But my close family to me, I've got six natural brothers and sisters. I've got a sister called Nadine who's an artist and activist and the most argumentative person I've ever met my entire life. She's married to a man who's a Buddhist. He's from Thailand. She's a Buddhist. I've got a sister that's called Lou Lou. She's married to a man whose father is from Sierra Leone and they're absolute strict Catholics. My great uncle is a Monsignor in Manchester. I've got a traveller brother. My natural maiden name is Gallagher. My natural brother is called Frank Gallagher. My dad's called Frank Gallagher and my granddaddy as well. My brother called Frank Gallagher lives on a shameless estate in Manchester and he's a postman, okay?
Then I've got my children who, four children, speak Welsh. I'm based in North Wales and my husband settled in Llandudno maybe three generations ago. He comes from a Romany Gypsy background and I live on a smallholding and that's my background. Why am I telling you that? Because, I've just walked through your company on day one. One day, I walk through your company. I've walked into your company. I've sat down and two people have said something that offends me and I walk back out again. You find yourself with a discrimination or indirect discrimination claim.
Now first of all I'm going to point out to you, you want to come to one of our parties at my house because it's good fun. Takes a lot to offend us, okay? The second thing is age changes people. So, somebody could walk in at 16 and be offended by something that somebody's done or said. But the same thing happening to somebody in their 40s might not be as offensive or they might not be as sensitive. So, what should we have as employers in place to protect you against people like me?
You need to have a reporting procedure in place, a quality policy, equal opportunity policy and a bullying and harassment policy and in that policy the most up to date policy says, race, religion, religious belief, no belief, environmental belief, political opinion, affiliation, marital status, disability, gender, gender reassignment and age. So, what we've got here is yes, we bring people into our business, but on day one we have an induction with them and we show them our reporting procedure if ever they're offended so they don't just walk out and say discrimination. They give us the opportunity to sort it out and we take it seriously. Quite often the person making the joke doesn't realise that it's offensive. So, we need to train those people as well.
So don't be worried by somebody like me because actually you would be less, absolutely not worried by somebody like me. Get something in place to protect your business and a quality policy, a bullying policy, harassment policy, equal opportunity policy.
So, I told you as well that I'm deaf. I've told you I've got a disability. I've got a debilitating illness. You know, it's easily managed. I'm never off sick, but how do you know I've got a disability and when do you ask me? When do you ask about my health?
Well, you know what? If you're asking about my health before you've offered me the job, you're out of date. That's illegal to do. It's so only in very extreme cases and exceptional circumstances could we ask somebody about their health.
So, I want you – and this is my recommendation to you – is when you take somebody, when you offer somebody the job, you then send the health questionnaire out. You then ask them if they've got a disability. Now, I'm going to give you a defence document now for health and safety and employment law, okay? The first document I'm going to give you is an application form and I'll come back to that in a moment. But the second document as I said is the health questionnaire.
Now, imagine you are in HR and imagine you've done your interviews, you've got you know, you've done everything right. You've had a job description. You've got a copy of the advert, you’ve had the application form back and you've done a personal specification so you know you're going to get the right person for the job. You sat down with that person and then you've decided yes, they're the one.
You send them the health questionnaire out. You send them their offer letter, okay? You give them the job, okay, and that person unbeknown to you, for example, has a medical condition where they shouldn't be driving but the job that you've offered them is as a driver delivering stuff. When you get the health questionnaire back it says that it's a legal document and on there they don't tell you about their illness or disability. I just got you your first defence document if there's an accident.
I just protected the HR, managers and proprietors. You have vicarious liability because if I then drive that vehicle, crash it and kill somebody or have an accident or write the vehicle off, you've got a defense document here, the health questionnaire that you gave out when you offered me the job. On there I put no, no, no, no. I haven't got a medical condition, haven't got a disability and at the bottom of it, it says it's a legal document. There's your defence document because what more can you do as an employer to find out about somebody's disability if they're not honest with you? It's a defence document.
Going forward in the handbook, the employee handbook, by the way, our average which is about 35 pages, on average, thick. In there, there's a statement because people's medical conditions going forward can change. People become pregnant. People take tablets. People have counselling for stress and depression but continue working. People have disabilities or get disabilities or become diabetic whilst working for you.
So, to protect yourself going forward because at the end of the day you are actively part of the business and you haven't got the time to worry about this stuff. You're going to rely on the documents to remind you. A statement that says, "Should your medical condition change, if you have a disability, you start taking tablets, you start having counselling or you become pregnant, you have to let us know written at the early stage possible so we can make the health and safety standards and complete risk assessments applicable to you."
What you've just done is delegated authority and responsibility to your staff. You're saying, "I've taken you on based on your honesty. Going forward, I need to know about a medical change so any decision going forward then whether it be an investigation, disciplinary training or capability issues, I get the full facts," okay? It's protective for you as well because somebody could say, "They dismissed me because I'm pregnant."
You can turn around and say, "No we didn't. We dismissed you because you're not very good at your job and there was a capability issue. You never told us you were pregnant because we have a statement in your handbook that says, 'When a female employee becomes pregnant you have to let us know at the early stage possible so we can make the health and safety standards necessary for you to do your job.' You never gave us the opportunity to do that because you never wrote in and told us you were pregnant. So when we dismissed you, we just based it on the facts we had in front of us."
So you can see how these policies . . . we know the law is there, but you can see how we twist and turn them to make them work for you. So, health only when you've offered me the job. Disability on the health questionnaire and then with a statement in your handbook.
So what should you have issued when you offered me the job? Well, you should have issued me a job offer letter and also you'd issued me a Statement of Main Terms. If you don't want a . . . don't know what a Statement of Main Terms is, if I sat in front of you coming for an interview and then you say to me, is there anything you'd like to ask me about the job? I'm going to ask you the human questions that I really need to know.
Things like, you know, how much money will I be paid, what are my holidays like, what are the hours, where will I be working and they're human questions. They're the things where we go home to our partners, to people we look after and we can't run our family life without those questions being answered. So, that's what I'm interested in. That's my personal contractual terms with you and they go on a piece of paper that's called the Statement of Main Terms.
So, for layperson’s terms just in case you forget it, it's where I'm working, how much I'm getting paid, the holidays and you know, things like that. So, that's my and my job title. So, that's my Statement of Main Terms, perks and benefits. So, that's what you should have issued me when you offered me the job and by the way, I'm going to cover this one again later on, if you don't issue it within eight weeks of me starting anyway and I take you to tribunal, the penalty for not issuing that particular document is on average about £1,400. So, you need to issue it straight away and make sure you do.
Remember, when you're interviewing me that there's only certain questions you can ask me. So, it's worth having the standard questions that are consistent for each applicant that you have. You know, so you just pull them out. They're standard questions you ask. Rather than going off on a tangent and ask me about my personal life, asking me about my health, asking me about my family. You shouldn't be asking me questions like that unless obviously I'm applying for a job for MI5 and then you could ask me everything.
So, what is you starter checklist. You know, when you take me on, what things do you check? Look I, like what if I apply as a job as a nurse or to work with children? Have you ever checked that I've got the right training? Do you bring in a governing body that checks that I've got the right exams and qualifications? What about checking if I've got the right to work in the UK?
I don't know if you know, but the penalty for not checking if I've got the right to work in the UK and then employing an illegal worker is now going up to £20,000 per person. So, that's a lot of money there and don't just check people with a foreign-sounding name, with different coloured skin or a foreign accent. You must be checking all your staff that they've got the right to work in the UK and there's documents that you should be checking.
So also, what about driving licences? Now, this is going to be in big news within the next 12 months. I've been going on about it and banging on about it for what, gosh, like really about 15 years. Saying to people, you must check people's driving licences. There's a reason for this. I'm going to give you a sad story now. This is why I tell people to check people's licences.
First of all, I've got a friend who's got a farm over in Scotland and she has a haulage company as well. When I said, "Do you check everybody's licences?" she goes, "Oh, well I on day one, what I do is get the licence and photocopy it." I said, "No, you should be checking them with the DVLA." She goes, "Really?" When she did, she had nine drivers within her company that were banned from driving. Can you believe that?
So now, let me tell you the sad story. This will make you check people's driving licences, okay? Not just photocopying then putting it on file but actually checking them with the DVLA.
Gentleman in Wrexham, a Director of a company but only in name. He goes out on Friday after work for an afternoon drink. He's a known alcoholic but only known to the pub, not known to his employer. He has a good old drink, gets in his Jaguar, his works Jaguar. He drives down the road, knocks over a small boy and kills him. He drives off and leaves him. So, it's a hit and run. When the police actually find him which is on the Sunday, he's actually in work. He drew out loads of cash. He'd driven all the way to Birmingham, drew out loads of money, bought parts to repair his vehicle, okay, to cover up the accident. He then was arrested on the Sunday and when he was brought into the police station for the hit and run that killed a small boy, he was found not to have a valid licence, okay? He'd been banned from driving for drink driving yet the company he worked for game him a job. Imagine that, and the newspaper coverage for that, because it was a hell of a lot of it.
So, for me, when I speak to employers because at the end of the day we're only doing our job aren't we? We're running a business. We're making it work and if you're in HR, you know, you're trying to tick all the boxes and get it right. Have a big checklist when they start with your company. It's the one opportunity where everybody signs everything. They release documents for you; you check it and check it with the DVLA. Don't just photocopy it. Tie that one up as well in the employment law handbook by saying, if you get banned from driving and you have any endorsements, you have to let us know, okay? So, that's just something to think about. So, you can see how I'm protecting you today.
Then also, do I have any other jobs? Why is that relevant to you? Well, I don't know if you know but there's over 76 complaints in tribunal and the most common ones that you'll ever hear are for unfair, the constructive dismissal ones, but to be honest with you the biggest complaint in tribunal that people really don't know about is the working time regulations. If we're talking about Europe it's called the Working Time Directive. So, we're talking about the UK here, regulations, okay? Working Time Regulations and if you don't know what that is, it's the working week. Working no more than 48 hours a week unless they opt out and that's a piece of paper they've got to fill in to say they've opted out.
We're talking about breaks here. Making sure they get the right breaks. We're talking about young workers and making sure they get the extra breaks. We're talking about people having an 11-hour break between each shift and if ever you breach that, we can help you, you know, get the right things in place so that you can get away with breaching it you know, on occasion. Also, what I'd also say here is it's holidays as well. So, the thing here with the Working Time Regulations and why it's a big complaint is because it has so many things within it, within the regulations.
One of them being holidays. I worked for you for the past ten years. I don't take my full holiday entitlement and every time you say, "Amanda you haven't had all your holidays" and I say, "It doesn't matter, doesn't matter," but then what if I suffered a breakdown, okay? We've got an issue here because I now take you to tribunal and they can backdate up to six years all those holidays I never took. That is the Working Time Regulations; breaks, holidays, working hours and the working week. Why is it applicable to other jobs? I'll tell you why.
You, as the main employer, are responsible for managing how many hours that person's worked, okay? If I haven't opted out, I should only be working a maximum of 48 hours a week over an 11-week period. Now, sorry I think I said 11 week. Seven-week period . . . 11-week period. So, we've got 48 hours on average, okay?
So now what we've got is we've got to work out that average. Now, what we have to do is we have to include any of the work I've got, okay? So, any other work and that means that if I'm working voluntary, I'm working for the Samaritans helpline, if I'm working for anything like that, you need to add those hours to the hours I'm doing for you.
So, I don't know if I'm losing you here for a second, but work this out. I'm working 30 hours a week for you and I'm working 20 hours a week as a taxi driver. I am most certainly breaching the Working Time Regulations here but you know, you're only going to find out about other work if they tell you.
So, I'm going to say to you that all you need to do simply because you are responsible for any other jobs they've got and adding those hours to the hours they do for you is to make sure that you've got a statement in your handbook that simply says so you don't worry, if you want to work elsewhere, please apply in writing. So, is that simple enough for you?
If you want to work elsewhere, please apply in writing, okay? Then when they apply in writing what you do is you then consider that request, okay? Then what you would say is for example, Amanda you already work 30 hours a week for me. Unless you opt out of the Working Time Directive or Regulations, you cannot work no more than X amount of hours per week, okay? It's a 17-week period by the way, not 11 weeks. So, it's an average of. So, that's how important it is to know about other jobs and by the way, the Health and Safety Executive does control certain parts and elements of the Working Time Regulations.
So, have you ever taken somebody on and you don't like them within the first few weeks? They irritate you. They're unsuitable. They're not good at their jobs. Your clients don't like them. So, what are you going to do?
Okay, what I would recommend and what we recommend at Peninsula is to give you the control to be able to say to somebody, excuse me, not suitable, please leave. I don't have to give you a reason. I just give you the notice period or pay you the notice period and that would be contained in the probationary period.
So, remember I'm only giving you an overview on employment law here today and that every business is different, every contract, every handbook should be tailor-made for you and what's applicable to you. What might be gross misconduct in one industry might not be in another, but I like to have a probationary period in each contract that I write.
I like in there, I like to write in there that we don't follow disciplinary procedures or capability procedures if you're with us during the probationary period. And also, I have the right to say to somebody, within the probationary period, now write this down, that if you're not suitable please leave and I have the right to say that. So that's what I like to do is to give the people, my clients that I work with, the control back to manage those people that genuinely are unsuitable within the workplace.
Also, just a quick thing here as well. One of the biggest complaints that a lot of employers do is they don't write into their contract the right to deduct wages, the right to deduct money from people's wages for overpayments such as holidays, overpaid wages and wastage, to deduct money from people's wages or you know, if the till is down. You've got to have a written agreement for that in your handbook.
So, if you are, you know and this one of the top tips for any employer regardless of size. You've got to have that written rule because if you haven't got that written down and you think you can automatically deduct those overpayments, you're wrong. That's called illegal deductions from salary so make sure you've got something like that written in.
So, what about stealing? Have you ever thought about a search policy? So, I would recommend regardless of the size of your business, a search policy. Not just if you're dealing with cash, a search policy isn't just for stealing. It's for drug abuse, it's for alcohol abuse. It is for stealing but it's also when you've got a rule in place that says you can't use your mobile phone and you certainly think that somebody is using a mobile phone. You have the right to search them.
Now, you haven't got the right to take their clothes off them, yes? You don't have the right to touch them, excuse me and then refer them to Embarrassing Bodies but you know, what you have the right to is to say, "I have the right to search you where ever you are working for us."
So, we have a lot of haulage companies, a lot of people that work on other people's premises and by the way, this is a great policy if you are tendering because it reassures the companies that you work for, the staff you provide especially in cleaning companies, cleaning or construction. It's a great reassuring, tendering policy to use because you're saying to them, our staff are trustworthy.
If ever you think that they're smoking, taking drugs, using alcohol or are actually stealing or using their mobile phone, we'll go down and search them wherever they are working for us. I also have the right to search lockers, search vehicles if they're parked on my premises, search my own vehicle. But the fact here is it is quite hard to prove that somebody's stealing but it's very easy to prove that somebody's refused a search.
So, in the search policy it would say and I'm giving you an overview by the way, I'm shortening it down here. It says, refuse review to agree to being searched will constitute a breach in your contract. Check out gross misconduct and then linking that policy to gross misconduct gives you the control back and makes your job simpler, okay? Rather than going a long winded route to prove them stealing you can actually prove they refused a search, okay?
I really want somebody who . . . I'll give you a little story here with the stealing. A client of ours, a lady who owns two dress shops, designer wear dress shop, really top-end ones. We wrote her contracts and we suggested a search policy because she was in retail and she said, "No, the staff have been here for years. I don't really want that because they'll be offended." We walked away and she used us you know, writing the adverts, maternity, that type of stuff. Helping her with everyday issues and every day you know, she'll be ringing up just simple things but what she didn't do, she didn't ring us when she was really in trouble.
What happened is she caught her manageress stealing and her daughter that worked for her opened the lady's bag a little bit and could see that there was garments in there that actually said, sorry, garments in there that actually belonged to the shop and she closed the bag up again. They brought the manageress into the office and they said, "Look, we know you've been stealing."
She admitted it and the woman broke down and said, "I've got many problems and this is the reasons why" blah, blah, blah. She said, "Please don't tell anybody, I'm ashamed. Please don't let my husband know. Please don't do this. Please don't ring the police. I'll resign right now."
Now, a lot of employers would accept that resignation. They're our clients. I would expect them even before, even when they suspected something that they rang us straight away because that's what they're paying us for, okay? Not to handle the situation on their own.
Now, what happens next is the lady resigns, she goes home but she doesn't leave it there. She keeps coming back into the shop and intimidating these poor women, this mother and daughter that own the shop. She's intimidating them. She's knocking things over. She's making their life unbearable, so they ring the police. They have her arrested and an investigation obviously goes on.
Now, she still hasn't rang us, okay? So, she's still managing this herself. The police ring the lady, the owner of the shop, a few weeks later and says there's not sufficient evidence in here to tell you that you know, to tell you of sufficient evidence to let you know that we're not going to go with the prosecution here. Now, she goes, oh, okay then. But the police inspector who's rang up and that's really rare has said to her, "just one thing I want to pick you up on". She says, "Yes". He says, "Your daughter opened the lady's handbag and had a look in. Can I just ask you, do you have a search policy in place because without a search policy that's illegal to do." So, just take it on board, get a search policy. You're very lucky on this occasion and so she went, “All right fair enough.” She still doesn't phone us.
A few weeks later though she receives tribunal paper off the lady that was caught stealing to take her to tribunal and she phones us, okay? I want to be involved right at the very beginning not at the end of the scenario. Now we handle about three and a half thousand tribunals a year. We win 98 per cent of those. I'm afraid that's in the percentage that we couldn't win because we weren't involved right in the very beginning and so I recommend a search policy not just for stealing, drug abuse and alcohol abuse and also the mobile phone.
If you're suffering with people being late, get a lateness policy in and you know, if you work it out, work it out yourself. I don't have to work out the summons for you. Late of my break, late in to work you know, going early, add it up, ten minutes a day per employee, average is £7 an hour. Work it out. Then times it by you know, how many working weeks there are. You work out your losses for lateness. So how about controlling that and remember I'm giving you an overview.
A lateness policy in one industry might be totally different to the lateness policy in another. So, if you're more than 15 minutes late, sorry. If you're more than five minutes late, we deduct 15 minutes’ pay from you. If you're more than 15 minutes late we deduct half an hour’s pay for you. If you're more than an hour late and you haven't even told us, great, thanks a lot. We will send you home without pay because we've got somebody to cover your work. So, lateness policy absolutely works.
A wastage policy. What if we keep damaging stuff and losing keys or being disruptive or malicious? What if I work for a restaurant in Llandudno – true story. A chef plugs up the drains because he thinks he's going to lose his job, so he's disrupting the business. He puts paper towels down the drains, turns the taps on and floods the restaurant.
Bad news really is the directors and the owners of the business aren't the ones that clean up the mess. It's his fellow colleagues. But bad news for him, they've got a wastage policy and they actually invoice him and bill him for the damage that he's caused and the customers lost during the time that they spent repairing the damage that he caused.
If you lose the keys, shutter keys, it's amazing once you put a wastage policy in place how many people don't lose the keys. How many people don't damage cars? You know, how many times do you not go through the insurance company and get it repaired yourself. You know, for wing mirrors, dents and bumps and things like that. How many times do you repair it yourself without going through the insurance company because you don't want your insurance to go up? How about having a wastage policy that says they're responsible and you bill them for the excess, yeah, and it really does work.
What if I'm forever texting or talking on my mobile or using my iPhone as a musical device? So, how about getting in place a policy saying you can't use your mobile phone in work? Now, it's different for different industries. Some industries say absolutely fine, not a problem with it. Some people say, look, we deal with children, we deal with the vulnerable, we deal with the elderly. We don't have mobile phones in work.
Some people say we work in a factory environment, you have your iPod on, you will not be able to hear the fire alarm or machinery or equipment. So, it's what works for you really but it's making sure that it protects your business and controls it so you've got rules in place regarding mobiles and mobiles and technology are the way forward.
Now, when it comes to sickness I am looking for sickness and absentee reporting procedure, but I also want to include in the sickness policy that people can't text in. That's the new thing that people do. So make sure you have strict rules on sickness because the amount of companies I deal with where people turn around and say, "Oh, I never got the sick note, they never send it in, they don't ring in, they don't text in." Have proper rules in place and reinforce them, yeah?
What if I tell you to shove your job? What if I'm working for you and I go, shove your job up your beep, beep, beep, beep, not working for you any more. You might think . . . well, actually I don't really like you anyway, so you know, thank God for that and a lot of people do think that. Then they just then send a P45 in the post, accept the resignation and then they wondered why they end up in the tribunal because the employee then twists it.
What I would say to you is never let emotion take over. If somebody says, shove your beep, beep up your beep, beep, I'm not working for you any more, what you do is you let them go. You give them time to reflect. You write to them. This is your paper trail. This is your defence document. This is something that we would write. You ring us up and say, “Somebody said shove your job, what do I do?" We would then say "You hold fire, let's have a look, who's the employee, right, okay. We've got all the details in front of us. We'll send a letter out now. It'll tell them to give them time to reflect, to come back in for a meeting. You have the meeting. Let us know how he got on, blah, blah. We'll write the letter. Is it a conduct issue? We'll manage it. What you certainly don't do is send a P45 straight away.
You know, when people talk about you and your staff on Facebook, what are you going to do about that? How about having a social networking policy, an internet policy, a mobile phone use policy? What you're going to say is you can't have my clients as friends on any social networking site. You can say what industry you work for, but you can't say who you work for, okay?
Now, it's because everybody makes their public life public now don't they? Their private life public. So, I don't care what you get up to in your spare time. I don't care what your preference sexually is or what habits you've got sexually or what you do in your spare time. I don't care. That's you business, okay, and I hope you have a great time doing it, but when it comes to my business it might put people off doing business with me. So, all I'm going to say is I don't mind saying the industry you work for, but please don't say that you work for me, okay? So, you can't say the employer.
So, when they've got a view on a subject for example and they're getting into an online petition or they're showing their views quite strongly over the internet, if they've got your company name against it, it could bring you into disrepute. So, you might want to write a policy that says, you can say as I said, the industry but not the employer. So, again, Facebook social networking, clients can't talk about my stuff, all things you can't put into handbooks.
Also, we're going to talk about data protection and do you record me, right. Going back to the mobile phones. This is, excuse me, obviously I do a lot of mediation. I work as a mediator. I mean, it's very sad when people don't know the rules you've got in place, okay, i.e., you give them a company mobile yet you don't tell them what they can and can't do on it, okay? Then, one of your clients receives a video or a photograph of them naked that should have gone to their partner. Believe you me, happens all the time, texts, etcetera.
So, when you give somebody a company mobile you must say to them, we can track you on it for example because I'm sure mine's tracked. My iPhone's definitely tracked because every time I go into blooming Tesco's, my husband goes, you're not in the shop again are you? Either that or he's got a private detective following me. Anyway, you know, you can track somebody on their mobile. So what you might want to do is make sure that if you are tracking them that you actually put it into your handbook. Otherwise, it's illegal.
If you're tracking them by their vehicles again, in your handbook. But if you're recording them what you must be saying is that if we record you, if you got CCCV around the building you must say it in your handbook under Data Protection. Otherwise, it's illegal to do and the same goes for looking at the internet, monitoring these internet usage, email usage and mobile phone usage. You need to put it in your policies to say that you're doing it and then going forward you may use that as evidence.
What about one of the most strong policies, the most relevant policies at the moment to talk about? I have spoken about it for years. You're not going to hear the government telling you to get this in place and do you know what they should be shouting out about it because they should be to protecting businesses. Have you got a shortage of work or layoff procedure? Why would you have one anyway?
Well, imagine me now having a sandwich shop in the middle of a road that's got roadworks in front of it and I've got nobody coming in to buy sandwiches but I've staff that want paying. So, I've got no money coming in. I don't know how long the road works are going to be there for. This is where I would use a layoff procedure which enables me just to give them a statutory guaranteed pay, let’s them claim benefits but bring them back into work when the roadworks have gone.
Same for if there's a flood, fire, snow or volcanic ash. So how do you hold the disciplinary? What do you look out for? Well, you should have written investigation rules, disciplinary rules, appeal rules and grievance rules and that's the law, that. You should have them written down and you follow the ACAS Code of Practice.
When we deal with our clients, we help with through every aspect of anything from a layoff procedure, how to speak to staff, to disciplinaries, to grievances, to appeals. We write the letters. We guide them every step of the way. So, the hot topic in tribunal I've already told you, is the Working Time Regulations and it always will be.
So, on data protection. I've told you about that. I've spoken about pregnancy as well and getting that policy in place that says, when a female employee becomes pregnant, she lets us know at the earliest stage possible so we can make the health and safety standards necessary for you to do your job. That way you'll cover yourself with pregnancy as well. And by the way, listening to me now, the recommended lifting for a woman when she isn't pregnant is actually only 15 kilograms. When she is pregnant you should be doing risk assessments to analyse what she should be lifting.
Do you know what to do if I'm coming in to work but not doing my job properly? This is where somebody might be burdened with loads of issues at home such as stress, depression caused by marital difficulties, relationship difficulties. It might be fighting over children. It might be bills. It might just be excessive use of the mortgage, you know? It could just be all coming on top, but they're coming in to work because they need the money but they're not really there. They're, you know, the mind's away somewhere else. They've got lots of things on the plate.
Lack of dexterity. What you need to be having is a capability policy there and we can help you with capability, key performance indicators and appraisals as well to make sure that you manage that situation at the earliest stage so it doesn't get out of hand and you can point people in the right direction. So, what about dependent's leave? Ever have somebody who works for you that says, can't come in today because my child's ill? What is the law on that? Do you know?
Well, actually, the law is that I am entitled to dependent's leave from day one and that it's unpaid. The problem that I get is when employers pay one person and not another person and they're not consistent in their decisions. I like to see something mentioned in the handbook.
Flexitime, flexible working: big news this year. Was supposed to come in again on the change to it on the 6th of April. Been postponed but we are looking for this to come in around about spring this year. That gives everybody the right to flexible hours. What provisions have you got in place for the influx of requests? How do you manage it? Do you know what to do?
Well, I can tell you now. Don't be frightened. What we would do is we would give you the letter to send. We would tell you to tell the people to request it in writing and then you would respond in writing and we would help you either acknowledge that request or refuse that request with the evidence that we have. What you've got to remember though is a lot of people nowadays are looking at different ways of