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.
Contracts of employment are essential in mapping out what is expected from your workforce and having clear rules and guidelines in your contracts can help save you from the risk of employment tribunal.
In this seminar, I will discuss how you can update your contracts and include new provisions to make life easier for yourself.
If you would like any further information or advice on updating your contracts of employment then please call our advice service on 0800 028 2420 or contact us online.
Good morning everybody. Hello. Welcome to our first webinar of the New Year. I’m Amanda Chadwick. I’m a senior speaker at Peninsula Business Services Limited. Today’s webinar is your business resolution number one, which is change in employment law, contracts and handbooks. What to put in, what to look out for. It’s going to be a jam-packed webinar today. I’ll try and keep it within the 45 minutes. But generally, if I’m talking about policies and procedures and everyday life, I actually spend hours talking about them. So I’ll try and put as much information as possible as I can into this webinar. Happy New Year, everybody, anyway. And let’s get on with it. We’re going to cover so much today.On the left of the slide, by the way, in front of you, as you can see it. My picture on the right. On the left is our head office in Manchester, Peninsula Business Services Limited. It was our 30th birthday last year, and we are still a family-run firm, helping tens of, well, hundreds of thousands of businesses. Well, not hundreds of thousands, but I help hundreds of thousands. But, we actually have over 27,000 clients as we speak. Helping them with everyday employment law, and health and safety, and employee assistance programmes. Not bad, going 30 years as a family-run firm. Something to celebrate.Okay, so contracts, employee handbooks. Why do you change them, anyway? Well, I think I’ve told you in previous webinars, if you’re a previous listener, that I do do face-to-face events and I meet people on an everyday basis and quite a lot of those businesses tick by for years on years without ever changing employment law handbook, or having a contract in place. Well, there is a penalty. You’ve got to have contracts in place. It’s the law. So, I’m expecting a statement of main terms within eight weeks of starting with you. I’ll explain later on what a statement of main terms is. But, I’m expecting that within eight weeks of starting with you. So, if I was speaking to you as my client, I would say to you, ‘Best practice, when you offer somebody the job, you give them their statement of main terms, clearly stating where they’re working, how much they’re getting paid, etc.’ Okay? So we’ve got clear water straight-away. I know people who listen to me, and they’ve never issued a statement of main terms, and they’ve never even issued a handbook. Times, you’ve got to get things in place. Because, if you go to tribunal and you haven’t issued a statement of main terms, the average payout is about £1,400 before you even start.So, that’s the first thing. The law says you’ve got to change. Society says you’ve got to change. Legislation says you’ve got to change. You’ve got to keep up to date. And also, your business, as well. Like, I go into companies and write policies and procedures and help them manage their staff. But at the end of the day, when I walk away, unless that person rings and tells me, I don’t know what’s gone on and whether the business has changed. So what might have been effective two years ago might have changed overnight by a trend that’s appearing. And so, there are things you can have in place so that, in the terms and conditions in your handbook, which says that it’s up to your employees to keep themselves updated, and it will be regularly changed to keep up to date. Because you have to, as a business owner, anyway. And you’ve got to have the control of your company as it is, and make your life a little bit simpler. And what you’ve also got to remember is, there’s over 78 rights the minute I walk through your door on day one as a new starter. Those are employment rights, written for the employee. Okay?
What you need to do is, you need to change your attitude to the employment law. The employment law is there to protect the employee. We understand that. But I’m here, and the company I work for are here, and working to protect your business. To protect the managers, the proprietors, the owners, the people, the HR, the people that do the everyday running of the business. So, we’ve got to get the law, twist it, and protect you. And we’re going to talk about that later on. So, yeah, okay, they get holidays. But let’s work it in favour of us as a company, and make it easier for us to manage.
So, what are we going to talk about today? We’re going to talk about what a contract is, what to look for in a contract, how to change a contract, what policies I think you should have in place, and how you implement them. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. So, it’s a very interesting webinar today. And it is, actually, one of our popular ones. So, I hope that you enjoy it, okay?
So, what are contracts? The contract of employment is the agreement between the employer and the employee. It governs the relationship between both parties. And it needn’t be in writing, but can be implied from the surrounding circumstances. A written contract could be one piece of paper, or in differing forms. And I think, nowadays, what most people have is a statement of main terms, and then a handbook. I think a few years ago, or still now some companies do it, they’d have the statement of main terms stapled to the handbook, which makes life a little bit harder. I want to make life simpler. So I want to have a statement of main terms and a handbook. If I’ve got people with less than five staff listening to me, obviously, come on, you need something a bit simpler, don’t you? So it would be the old-fashioned way of the statement of main terms stapled to a few house rules.
So, remember though, it need not be in writing, and it can be implied. A written contract could be one piece of paper, or in differing forms. And if you’ve got loads and loads of manuals within your workplace that you never read, then you need to look at everything all over again. Because I walk into companies and they go, ‘I’ve got this book here. I’ve got that book.’ And I say, ‘When do your staff read it? When do they see it? When do they have access to it?’ They never do. There’s too much paperwork. An average handbook should only be about 30-odd pages, anyway. Failing to provide a written contract of employment results in a lack of clarity since neither party knows the precise extent of their respective rights, duties, and obligations. We’re going to talk about that later. Take the time to carefully prepare a contract of employment for each employee. Don’t rush it. It helps minimise the risk over disputes and ambiguity about the employment relationship. And also, remember, each business has different needs and outlooks. The style and the content of the contract of employment will differ from business to business. So, I don’t want you, and I’ll mention this woman quite a lot, and even though it’s a while ago now, she had a children’s wear shop. She said to me, ‘Amanda, I’ve got a problem. All my staff are taking their carers’ leave.’ And like me, I’m sure you must be saying the same thing, ‘Carers’ leave at a children’s wear shop? Should I be having that in my contract?’ Well, no. There’s no legislation for it. So I said to her, ‘So, where did you get your contracts from?’ Because if your staff are all taking their carers’ leave, where did you get your contracts from? So she said, ‘Well, my husband works for the council and I copied his.’ And, there you go. In a council contract, they actually have a section, in some councils, that say you get a week’s paid carer’s leave. And, do you know what? Everybody was taking it because they just saw it as an extra week’s holiday. We don’t need to have that in a contract of employment. There’s no legislation. There are statutory rights for dependents’ leave, and time off to look for somebody who depends on you. But, that is unpaid. The legislation says that it’s unpaid.
So, in a handbook, I would like to see mention of dependents leave, and know that I would be consistent with my decisions with it. That means, I wouldn’t pay one person and not another. And, in my view, I wouldn’t pay it. I’d manage it. And if somebody couldn’t afford to, took the time off but couldn’t afford it, maybe they could work it back or have it as a holiday instead. What I wouldn’t do, is put something in black and white, in a contract that says, ‘Hey, here you go. There’s a week’s paid carer’s leave.’ Because I can bet your bottom dollar, most your staff will take it.
So, remember, your business is different to other businesses. You have different outlooks, different styles. So the contracts of the employment will differ.
So, what are contracts? Well, terms and conditions, written particulars that define the essential elements of an employment contract or the relationship between the employer and the employee. These include place of work, rate of pay, annual leave, sickness absence, public holidays, holiday pay, job title, hours of work, probationary period, notice period, disciplinary rules and procedures, grievance procedures, etc. And the terms agreed between the employer and the employee and conditions are instructed by the employer and must be adhered to during the employment.
The reasons why people have a tribunal are there are no rules in place. Just put things in place and don’t use, okay? So, that’s another thing that people do. They just shove all these policies and procedures in place and never get to use them. And what they’re just doing is ticking the boxes that they expect they should be ticking. So, a ticked-box scenario, okay? So, ‘Oh, somebody said I’ve got to mention something about holidays. Somebody said I’ve got to mention something about breaks. Somebody said I’ve got to do this.’ We tick it, but we don’t make the law work for us. And you’ve got to make the law work for you. And then you get people that say, ‘D’you know, I’ve never had a problem in ten years of working. You know, I’ve had my own business for ten years. Why change what isn’t broken, you know?’ Because you can bet your bottom dollar, I’ll speak to them and then next year, there’ll be a problem. So get things in place to manage it before it happens. What you generally find is people take their tax seriously, don’t they? But, the penalties for getting employment law wrong, or health and safety wrong are, in some cases, much harsher. Especially if you have a disability claim. So, unlimited awards. So, you’ve got to get things in place before it is broken.
Don’t wait until it breaks and then make amendments. You need to be ready for those to stop the problems in the first place. And that’s why I say, even if you haven’t had a problem, it’s time to look at things that are irritating you. And I can bet you, when I sit there, they then turn around and say, ‘Yeah, actually, there is some things that’ve been bubbling. There are some things that are bothering me. Like mobile phones, social networking. Now that you mention it, there have been things that have gone missing.’ So, that’s another reason why people don’t change their contracts of employment and end it with a tribunal. And also, not consistent. Choosing people that are their favourites. And then, you know, actually saying to somebody, ‘Yeah, you know, your daughter is ill, so I’ll pay you for the day. But she’s always off, so I’m not paying her.’ You know, so favouritism and not being consistent in the decision. And then emotion can end up in the tribunal. Not following the right route. So, you know, ‘You’re sacked.’ Or somebody says, ‘I’m leaving. I’m not working for you anymore.’ And you go, ‘Well, I never liked you anyway.’ And you’re going to end up at tribunal because of that. There’s a procedure you’ve got to follow, even in termination of employment.
And then, other reasons why people end up in tribunal. Not keeping up to date with the employment law legislation. If you want to know what’s happening this year, catch my webinar next Tuesday, because it’s all about the up and coming legislation for this year. So, not keeping up to date. Not following the ACAS code. It’s been set for a reason. Brought in, in 2003, and it’s brought in, not the ACAS code, but the statutory code, statutory dispute resolution procedure was brought in then. And you might remember it as disciplinary procedures, grievance procedures, and appeal procedures. Basically, it was brought in to stop tribunals and try to prevent them. What happened in the past is that a lot of tribunals didn’t need to end up in a tribunal. Things could have been sorted out in the workplace. And they weren’t sorted out. What would happen is, they would just, there would be complaints that would end up at tribunal that would be just simple complaints that could have really been just sorted out, had people had disciplinary procedures in place, grievance procedures, hearings, appeals. And they didn’t. They didn’t have them in place. And so it ended up at a tribunal. So what the tribunal said is, they got together and said, we need to have some sort of code in place. And in came the statutory dispute resolution procedure, which is now known as the ACAS Code. And it makes sense. It helps you sort things out, rather than end up in a tribunal. Because we don’t want that. We want to have a happy workforce. And I can tell you from my experience, I do a lot of mediation work, is that a lot of these problems could have been sorted out at the very beginning if people had bothered to speak to their staff. And also, what I can tell you, is the person that will end up taking it to tribunal, in my experience anyway, is the person that isn’t the troublemaker that moans about everything. It’s the one you’ve lent money to, the one you’ve helped out, the one that’s been awfully sick, the one that’s had stress. The one you’ve really taken your time to care for, and you thought was your friend. In our experience, is generally the one you end up in a tribunal with. And it hurts you even more.
So, let’s follow the ACAS Code of Practice. And then, not also, not taking staff seriously. Somebody coming up to you and saying, ‘Somebody’s bullying me’, or ‘Somebody keeps saying something and I don’t like it.’ When you don’t take that seriously, or have a reporting procedure in place, you’ve got a problem. So, not putting or following procedures. So you have procedures in place, but you don’t follow them. There’s another reason why you end up in a tribunal. And not complying with the working time regulations, which I go on, and on, and on about. I feel like a Duracell battery. I have to tell you, because I go on about that all the time. Because it is the biggest complaint in tribunal. And people still aren’t taking it seriously. And parts of it are governed by the Health and Safety Executive. We’re talking about breaks, here. We’re talking about holidays. We’re talking about working hours. If they’re night workers, we’re talking about medicals and that type of stuff. And people still don’t take it seriously. Yeah, if you’re not paying me the right holidays, I can go back six years in a tribunal and have it back-dated. So just remember that.
So, what makes up the contract? Implied terms, these have not been specifically set out or agreed by the parties. These terms might be implied because they are too obvious to mention, or because the parties assumed they would be incorporated into the contract. An implied term may be that the employee will serve the employer faithfully, and that the employer has a parallel duty not to destroy the relationship of trust and confidence between the employer and employee. So we’re looking for mutual trust and obligation here. And then we’ve got express terms. These have been expressly agreed by both the parties, either orally or in writing. And then we’ve got incorporated terms. These maybe become part of a contract, strategy provision, or the terms of a collective agreement. An example is the equality clause incorporated into every contract of employment by the Equal Pay Act 1970.
So, what makes up the contract? Well, we’re looking at the statement of main terms, which I spoke about. I sit down for an interview, I ask you some questions about the job at the end. What happens then is you think, ‘Yep, she’s perfect for the job.’ You then send me a job offer letter, and then you send me a statement of main terms. Okay? In the statement of main terms, it’s my personal contractual terms with you. So it’s different for different members of staff. It says where I’m working, how much I’m getting paid, who I’m reporting to, etc. Okay? That’s my statement of main terms. That’s my personal contractual terms with you. Penalty £1,400 on average if you haven’t issued that within eight weeks and you go to tribunal. Job description, that makes up the contract. Because what you put in the job description all forms part of the contract. Even what you put in the advert, as well. So I say pile as much information as possible into the advert and into the job description. But also, be careful of what you say in the interview, and what you promise. For goodness’ sake. ‘Oh, Amanda, yeah, we’re going to get you a top of the range BMW.’ You know, and that’s fine. Or, ‘You’re going to have a 20 a year, no, more than that actually, let’s say 40 holidays a year and you’re going to get this bonus every …’ Be careful of what you say in the interview. False promises. And also, your employee handbook forms part of the contract in this, or what you might know as a staff handbook. And then separate policies and procedures. It might even be different documents, paper form, on the intranet, making sure everyone has access to it, of course. I’ve gone in to companies and they say, ‘Yep, we have all our documents on the intranet.’ And I say, ‘Does everybody have access to it?’ And they say, ‘Yes, they do.’ And then I say ‘What about your cleaner?’ And they go, ‘No, she doesn’t.’ There you go. There’s a hole. I’ll always find a hole in your company.
At Peninsula, we like simplicity. Terms of Conditions and the Employee Handbooks. So what should you include? What does the contract cover? And then we’ll talk about changing it. The content of each contract will depend on the nature of the business. What might be breaks in one industry might be different. So let me take this, let me explain this to you. The law, working time directive, regulations, Director of European legislature, although we’re a part of it. Over here it’s known as regulations. We look at breaks, okay? So breaks, I’ve got entitled to them by law. So we have to look at the person, the job they do, and the age of that person. Okay? And then we write that into a handbook. But then, the nature of the business. If I’m writing something for breaks in an ordinary, white-collar job. Everybody, we haven’t got young workers, people are managing their breaks okay. They get 15 minutes in the morning. They get a half-an-hour lunch, and then 15 minutes in the afternoon. There’s no need to put any restrictions in it. We just say, ‘This is your break.’ And that’s it, okay? We don’t have a problem with it.
But then we come to a construction company. They say, ‘We’ve got young workers. We’ve got apprentices. We’ve got people that aren’t trained. We’ve got equipment that might be dangerous to them. We’ve got supervisors. We’ve got smokers. We’ve got people with heart conditions. What do we do, Amanda? Because it’s so stressful for us to work out how we take the breaks.’ Okay. In your handbook. In your safety handbook, as well, and your employee handbook, we’re going to write a paragraph on breaks. But also, we’re going to educate our staff and train them. Get them to sign to say they understand the importance of health and safety and breaks. And rather than stagger the breaks and wait for somebody to come back, what we’re actually going to do is we’re going to tell everybody, to make life simpler for you and to stop your stressing out, that everybody takes their breaks together, and that’s it. Okay? What we’ve just done is we’ve cut all the risks out, okay? Young workers, untrained people, people with health problems waiting for somebody to come back, smokers, leaving people unattended. We’ve just cut out all that risk by saying, ‘Take it together. We’ve put it in the handbook. We’ve looked at the nature of the business and we’ve considered the risk.’ And we’ve made it simpler and we’ve saved them money, Okay? And I, even as I’m talking to you, I can think of several accidents that have happened because breaks were staggered and people were waiting for people to come back and they just went off on break and left young workers. One person lost their eye. I could go on, and on. Let’s make it simple. Let’s just have that paragraph in place, make it a lot simpler. Okay?
What does the contract cover? The job, which is on offer, standard terms and conditions, legal required legislation and procedures. So we’re looking at things I’d recommend, obviously, disciplinary procedures. And you should have legally in place. Appeal procedures, grievance procedures, and grievance procedures, sorry I’ve said that, and equal opportunity, etc. Additional protections can be written into contracts, which can provide for protection, and which are extremely valuable to a business. So we’re going to talk about these in a moment. I’m going to talk about things such as garden leave, restrictive covenants, and protection of assets, etc. And the one that’s big news at the moment, everybody’s talking about, is lone worker as well.
So, things to think of when you’re drafting your contracts, okay? Making sure all the elements are included in the contract that are required by law. So, considering what the law says.
So, we want holidays mentioned in there. We want breaks in there. We want disciplinary procedures, etc., as I spoke about earlier on. Use a separate employee handbook to include all of the other rules and procedures so that the actual statement of main terms document is not hugely long. Okay? Make that simple. Be careful with making things contractual. Because, this means you’ll have to honour it in all situations. It might be better to make some things discretionary, which will retain some flexibility.
Keep contracts under constant review to keep them updated with changing technology and society. Example, social networking and its impact on the workplace. Consider what you want your rules and policies to be in advance, so you can publicise this; employees know where they stand, then. And make all the contractual documents available to staff. You can’t expect someone to follow rules if they’ve never been given the chance to read them.
So this is what goes into a statement of main terms, okay? Right. We’re look at – and remember there’s a penalty for not issuing – it should include the name of the employer and the employee. It should include the job title, the date when the employment began, the place of work, the basic salary, the commission if it’s applicable, the benefits, the pension provider. Now, let me pick up on this now. Big employment news is Pension Act. Okay? And you’re not taking it seriously. I have to be honest with you. You’re not taking it seriously. People are leaving it to the last minute. And I can tell you now, there’s been a hell of a lot, there’s been fines already with this. People not educating their staff about it, not briefing them properly, not providing a pension, not taking it seriously, okay?
Check out your staging date, when you’re supposed to be bringing your employees into the Pension Act, and then prepare at least a year in advance for this. Because it’s costly to the business. There’s going to be some admin fee here. And going forward, there’s money you have to put aside for this, okay? So I’m only giving you a quick, brief thing here because I want to carry on with this presentation today. It is so important, but one of the changes with the Pension Act is in the statement of main terms. So, going forward, you’re going to have to change this anyway. You’ve got to put who the pension provider is in the statement of main terms. This is so important, okay? But, going forward, for everybody, even if you’re not considering changing your contracts at the moment, when you do think about pensions in the future, and let me tell you now, you should be thinking about them right now. In the employment law handbook, you’ve got to mention the pensions, how to opt out, how you opt out, how you brief them. In your handbook. It makes perfect sense, anyway. So there’s two obligations to you, and then briefing as well.
So, you might be sat there now, going, ‘Oh it’s just too much hassle changing everything I’ve already got in place.’ It’s not hassle, let me tell you. I’ll talk about that later on. But what I can say, is the law is actually saying to you, and dictating to you that you’re actually going to have to change your statement of main terms anyway, within the next few months. And, also, your employee handbook because of the Pension Act.
So, it’s a brilliant time to put things in place you’ve never thought about before. So, in the statement of main terms, that means every single one of your employees is eligible for the pensions, has got to have the statement of main terms changed to include the pension provider. There you go. Also, in the statement of main terms, hours of work and annual holidays as well. And do you know, I haven’t seen this anywhere, big billboards telling employers about this. They never do it, do they? They never have like, little messages and radio messages with Karen from Birmingham City football club saying, ‘Ooh, pensions, etc.’ But, actually, what they need to do is put a big billboard up and say, ‘Employers, guess what? You’ve got to change your statement of main terms and you’ve got to change your employee handbook to put in mention of the pension provider and how you brief your staff, and how they opt out.’
You know, they’ve got to make it simple for employers. Because employers are so busy anyway, managers are so busy, and HR because they’ve got their own job to do, and quite often, our part of the business. So, what goes into a statement – I’ll get off my soap box now anyway – what goes into a statement of main terms? Public Bank Holidays. I like to include them in the general holiday entitlement. Makes life ever such a lot easier. Sickness and pay conditions, capability and disciplinary procedures, but can refer to the handbook. Capability and disciplinary appeals procedures, again, referring to the handbook. Grievance procedures, referring to the handbook. Notice of termination by the employer, and notice of termination by the employee. And I just want to pick up on this. I speak to people every day and they go, ‘Oh, you know, there’s no point in having the amount in there, is it? Employees leave and they never give me notice anyway. They cost me a blooming fortune.’ If it’s costing you a fortune, put something in place. If I work for you and I’m supposed to give you four weeks’ notice and I don’t, and I’m in a job where you rely on me, you write something into your handbook. This is your chance, write something in your handbook that says, ‘If you don’t work your notice period, and it is at a loss to us, and we have to get somebody in to cover your job then we will invoice you for the cost. Or we will deduct it,’ written agreement, you’ve got to have a written agreement for this, ‘We will deduct it from your wages, your last wage.’ And then watch people work their notice instead of leaving. Because there’s a penalty. And it is costly for the business. That person has so much knowledge that they take with them. If they don’t work their notice, they’re going to take that knowledge, even little tiny things, admin things that make a big difference, a huge difference to your company. So let them work their notice and put a penalty in place for those people who don’t work their notice and leave you in the lurch. There are, for everything that employment law delivers to me, I can come up with a solution for you to make your life easier. So, employee handbook. Spend time studying business changes. You’ve got to do that. Your business is changing, your business is growing. Trends that are applicable to you. Facebook, social networking, Instagram. You know, give thought to your business personality as well. Every single day, changing contracts. And do you know what? Never, ever lose the personality of your business. Don’t put something in place and lose the personality. Keep it there. Your staff are your asset. And I can guarantee you by putting handbooks in place, and writing it in The Sun’s language, making it personable, but getting rules in place, you’re not going to offend your staff.
So don’t be frightened when I’m talking to you. Don’t be frightened of making changes. There is no point in having policies if you’re not going to use them. And don’t copy, okay, different rules for different people, and include legislation and changes. And include policies you should have by law. And as I said earlier on, disciplinary rules, procedures, grievance, and appeal procedures. Introduce policies that save you money and time. I’m going to talk about a few of them. It’s all about growth now. That’s the message I’m giving to you. You know what? People are outsourcing HR now. Outsourcing health and safety to make, to free up their time, to give them the understanding and introduce policies that save them time and money. And that is what it’s all about. It’s all about growth now. By putting certain policies in place, you’ll get your money back. I just gave you one. I said, if people leave without giving you notice, put something in place where you can deduct the money from them. The same with uniforms and policies like that.
Let’s take uniforms for a second. If you issue a uniform or protective clothing, have a written agreement in place, in your handbook, that says to somebody, ‘If you leave my company and don’t give it back,’ you don’t really want the uniform back but, if they don’t give it back to you, you can deduct it from their wages or invoice them for it. Also, what you could have, if you are issuing uniforms on a regular basis, you should have a uniform policy. But also, what you would say is something like, every time you need a new pair of protective boots, you have to give me the old boots back, and then I will issue you a new pair. Okay? That way, you stop them going on eBay. Which we have had in the past.
So, introduce policies that save you money and also save you time. Employment law is about growth of business, and it’s about control. Okay? It’s about getting back in there, controlling your business, and knowing exactly what to use at the right time. Remember, these policies make for an easier life for the employer, HR, and managers. They ensure consistency and no ambiguity. You’ve got to keep up-to-date. You’ve got to train your staff as well and include what is misconduct and leave no surprises. But remember, using a mobile phone in a white collar office, where it’s an accountancy practice, for example, might not be gross misconduct. But using a mobile phone in a loading bay area, in a factory, is a health and safety risk. Working with children, hospitals, nurseries, in a care home, is gross misconduct. And do you know what? I’m going to educate you and say that it is. So, leave no surprises. So these are the policies I want you to include, and we’re going to talk about how you update, okay?
So, equal opportunity policy. Right, we’ve got race, religion, religious belief, no belief, environmental belief, political opinion, affiliation, marital status, disability, gender, gender reassignment, age, sexual orientation, marital status. So I’ve just done that off the top of my head. That’s how often I speak about it. We want that in equal opportunity policy, okay? We want that in a harassment policy, personal harassment policy and procedures to prove that you take things seriously. I can think of several companies straight away, where people have made complaints about personal harassment, and one of them was a man, by the way. It was a young man, who kept saying, ‘Somebody keeps saying, they keep saying comments I don’t like.’ And another lady that had to be in recovering from cancer, somebody made a joke, they didn’t take it seriously. So, let’s get a reporting procedure in place and let’s take it seriously. There’s a personal harassment policy. There’s procedures. It gives you, it protects HR, as well, because they have got a proper route and people know who to go to in HR, then. So personal harassment policy and procedures, equal opportunity policy. We want disciplinary rules, procedures, appeal procedures, and grievance procedures in place. Why? Because there’s rules then. I’m going to have, there’s step-by-step rules I have to follow and if I don’t follow them, the rule says there’s penalties to the employer. And it’s always, managers or HR, where the owner turns around and says, ‘Why didn’t you get it right? You just cost me ten grand.’
So we’ve got to get it right. Capability policies. Not just for ill-health. Lack of dexterity. People turning into work, and doing the job because they need the money, but not actually working. It could be short-term sick. It could be training issues. It could be not doing the job. Have you got a capability policy? Because, I’ll tell you what, this is self help. It helps you, and it’s self explanatory. It’s absolutely brilliant.
What about sickness and absence reporting procedure? What is different in different companies, and we have got a system actually, there’s nothing like it on the market. HR online, it’s called. It’s absolutely brilliant. Where you can be sat at home, with your iPhone or other smartphone, or whatever phone, or your laptop, and you can log on. You can see exactly who is in today, and who is not, and who’s requested a holiday, who’s absent, who’s late, and plan your shifts, etc., your rotas. That’s amazing for the care sector and places where they have shift-workers and head counts. But, sickness and absence, I would like a big policy on this. And I would like to say, for example, things such as, simple things such as you can’t text in you’re off sick. You’ve got to ring in. You’ve got to ring in within an hour of your shift starting, or if it’s somewhere where we depend on a headcount, you have to let us know the day before. If you don’t let us know when you’re returning to work, we’ll send you home without pay because we’ve got somebody to cover your job. There’s different things you can write in place to protect you. I would also have in place, if you do offer overtime, that if you don’t meet your core hours in one month, that you don’t qualify for over time. And that way it stops people from manipulating the sickness system by going sick on a Friday but getting double time on a Saturday or Sunday. Absence procedures, how you manage it, because if you don’t follow that procedure then, and they’re taking the Mickey, then you actually can take them down the investigatory route.
Holidays, you know everybody is entitled to holidays. They are for the benefit of people’s health, but how about managing the holidays and a mention of sickness and maternity and holidays. But also, as well, how they take them, when they take them. You know, how many days’ notice they’ve got to give you, how many weeks’ notice. You know, sit down, write down a wish list of what you’d like. ‘I’d like, Amanda Chadwick, whenever she takes a holiday, to give me four weeks’ notice. I’d like Amanda Chadwick not to leave it until the end of the year to take holidays. I’d like Amanda Chadwick not to keep taking loads of odd days because she’s disrupting everybody else’s holidays. I’d like Amanda Chadwick not to text in sick in the future.’ So write down your wish list of things that are getting on your nerves, your New Year’s resolution, and change them. It’s your chance. Especially with the Pension Act changing, as well.
And so, holidays, how they take them, and remember, this can change year on, year out, because of your business needs. So, you know, you might have a shut down. I know that around where I live, in North Wales, that several places around here have to shut down within August. And they shut the factory down for three weeks in August. No, sorry, two weeks in August and two weeks at Christmas. And it gives them the chance to get any electrical problems done. It gives them a chance to do audits, stock take, everything like that during this time. And they get specialist people in to do that while their own staff go and take the holidays. And that way, as well, the machines aren’t running and they have a two-week time where they save money. So, some businesses might have a shutdown in January when it’s quiet, and also save on heating and electrical costs and running on, because we use more lights in January. So two weeks’ shut down in January makes sense to save a few hundred quid for a business. So, again, it’s up to you. It’s your business. It’s not my business. It’s what works for you. And then again, breaks. We’ve got to manage the holidays, by the way. Breaks, I spoke about. But, mention of breaks. A lateness policy can save you money. If you’re more than 5 minutes late, we deduct 15 minutes pay from you. If you’re more than 15 minutes late, we deduct half-an-hour’s pay from you. If you’re more than an hour late and you haven’t told us, we’ll deduct, we’ll tell you to go home because we’ve got somebody to cover your shift.
Then, statements to media. You might not feel like you need this, but you might work in an industry where there might be an accident. And, and it might be that people use LinkedIn etc. So, statements to the media policy. Music and iPods in a factory environment, these are becoming more intrusive than mobile phones now. People using iPods. You think you’re speaking to a member of your staff and they’ve got earphones stuck in their ear. How can they hear the fire alarms going off if they’re in a factory or in a place of work? So, again, you might want to have a policy and introduce that as well. A smoking policy to tell them where and when they can’t smoke. Where they can smoke, etc. Remember smokers shouldn’t get extra breaks. That’s not fair and that’s discriminatory against people that don’t smoke. A hygiene policy. Then a stress management policy, and a different, and each of these policies I’m speaking about are worded differently for each business. And they might be stronger and more strength to them, or more whack to them for a different company to maybe an office environment.
So, a stress management policy. If I was working in the funeral industry, working in a hospice, dealing with children, most certainly I’d have a different stress management policy. And then, personal details. You know, this is so important, a mention of this. If your personal details change, it’s up to you. What we’re going to do, is delegate responsibility here. You have to let me know when you move house, not me find out. You have to tell me when your number changes, not me find out. You have to tell me when your next of kin details change because you’ve remarried or had an affair and left your partner, etc. We need to know this. It’s not for me to run around chasing everybody. They’ve got to tell me. But, it’s delegation of responsibility. It’s only a rule if it’s written down. So, personal details.
And then, policies to include that save you money again. Wastage policy. I say to people, ‘Do your staff waste things?’ Well, they leave lights on, heating on, they don’t close windows, they leave doors open. And I say ‘Think about it more in depth.’ And they say, ‘Well they over-order food. They might damage vehicles. They might lose the shutter keys.’ They might do this, they might do that. You know, and that’s what we say, a wastage policy. But it’s a wastage policy to protect you in case someone maliciously damages your business, as well. So a wastage policy is an amazing policy to have that will save you money. And each of these that I speak about, each policy, I’ve got several stories to attach to it. But I haven’t got time to talk about it today.
Then the search policy. People go, ‘Search policy? Oh my gosh, my staff would be offended’ Look, a search policy is not just for stealing, although that’s one of the reasons why we have it. It’s for smoking, it’s for drug abuse. But you know what else it’s for? Alcohol abuse, and it’s for using a mobile phone, and an iPod when somebody shouldn’t be. You know, you’re not actually telling them to take all their clothes off, and then referring them to Embarrassing Illnesses. What you’re actually going to say is, ‘Can you take your jacket off, empty your pockets? Can you open your handbag? Can you open your car?’ And it’s very explicit, the search policy. It’ll say, ‘I have the right to search you wherever you are working for me. I have the right to search my vehicle, wherever it is. I have the right to search your locker at work. These searches are random and do not imply suspicion in relation to any individual concerned.’ And you’ve got to keep doing random searches and documenting it to make it work. You can’t just simply have a search policy and in 12 months later search one person. Because that’s like victimisation, isn’t it? We’ve got to make these policies work. So we’ve got to use them in the right way. But, refusal of you to agree to being search will constitute a breach to your contract. Check out gross misconduct. Refusal of a search.
So, sometimes it’s easier to dismiss somebody after investigations, etc. for refusing a search than it is to actually try to prove they were stealing. So, a search policy absolutely, godsend. Absolute godsend to businesses. In fact, I think every Arcadia group store has a search policy. Liverpool Tunnels, Manchester Airport. You know, everywhere has search policies now. We’re used to it.
Mobile phone policy. These are recording devices, these are photographic devices. These do everything now. And we get so many complaints about them, and they’re so addictive. And you’re going to inherit a new, a strain of employees shortly, especially within the next ten years, people that are addicted to X-box, PlayStations, Nintendo Wiis, etc., and mobile phones. They’re just brought up on technology. And technology is the way forward. Absolutely, 100% the way forward. For advertising, for everything and communication. They’re even using it at university now to let people know when their next classes are. So we know mobile phones are the way forward. But we’ve got to control them in the work place. Some environments scream out that you cannot use a mobile phone at work at all because of protective or vulnerable adults, the elderly, children.
You know, it’s your company. At the end of the day, you have the right to turn round and say that ‘You can’t use your mobile phone in the work place.’ And it’s your company, that’s your rule. You might say you can use it during your break and lunch hour as part of the rules. Some companies say no mobile phones in the workplace, at all. But, it’s up to you. It’s what you want in your policy. And, for me, I think they’re intrusive. And as a worker coming from the early 80s, I know that we used to exist without mobile phones. And I’m sure some of you out there can remember, as well. We used to just have a land line if there was an emergency. So you can use evidence and excuses of technology not being used when you bring this policy in.
Then, an internet policy. Look, a social network and internet policy for work. Then a company, a computer policy for work, and how they use the computers, and that you manage it and you monitor it. So they’re aware, that if you give them a work’s mobile, or a company mobile phone, that you will monitor the work’s mobile and everything that’s sent on it. And, again, with the internet as well, it’s your computer at work. So have an internet policy, a computer policy at work to let them know that you monitor it, so there’s no surprises later on. And then social networking. It’s not Facebook now. It’s Instagram, it’s other things. It’s Tumblr. It’s everything else, you know, there’s the next big thing that comes in, and there’s one waiting around the corner. And it’ll knock the socks off people. And the thing is, people get addicted to it, they use it, and they use it in work. But then, they’re going to mention your company. It’s well within your rights to say, ‘You can’t say who you work for. You can just say what industry you’re in.’ Because, you know, work is work. Personal life is personal life. And at the end of the day, what you get to your personal life, you know I might find it interesting, but I don’t want my clients knowing, okay? So, it might be a good idea that on social networking sites, you don’t have my clients as friends. But, put that as a rule in your handbook. Then say they can’t talk about your company.
So, their social life is their social life, and it’s not work life. And they can’t talk about people, or colleagues, or clients on any social networking site, or have a blog on your company. Then company car rules, as well. And then salaries, health and safety welfare, uniforms, standards of dress, I spoke about that. Mobility, you know, because you might have a couple of shops. One closes down, what about a mobility clause? A flexibility clause. And then maternity policy. Not saying, you know, maternity changes all the time. So I don’t want a huge maternity policy, I want a maternity statement. Let me know when you’re pregnant, will you? So I can meet the health and safety standards necessary for you to do your job. Okay? Written, at the earliest stage possible. And that particular sentence is so strong because we can use that, then, at a tribunal. A maternity policy isn’t going to protect you against somebody who’s saying that they sacked me because I’m pregnant. But that statement, that simple statement I said will. It says, ‘When female employee becomes pregnant, let me know at the earliest stage, written, so I can meet the health and safety standards necessary possible.’
And the problem, what the employee’s problem there is, when I gave you the handbook on day one, you signed to say you’d read it and understood it. You agreed to tell me if you’re pregnant at the earliest stage, written. You’re now saying that I knew you were pregnant, I dismissed you because you were pregnant. Have you forgotten about that statement in the handbook that says that you should have told me? Because, actually, you never told me at the earliest stage, written. And so, when I made the dismissal, I just made it on the facts that I had in front of me. So, it’s a powerful statement. Family-friendly rights.
Other employment. Why would I have that in there? Why would I say other employment? Because, I’ll tell you why. Under the working time regulations, you, the main employer, are responsible for knowing of any other jobs that I have. Especially with pensions, as well, now. So, if you want to work elsewhere, please apply in writing. I don’t expect to be your private inspector, following around every second of the day. But, what I am expecting, is that you’ve got a term and condition in the handbook that protects you. I’m protecting you, at the end of the day. I’m protecting you, the employer, the manager and HR. And you’re writing a term and condition that says, ‘Let me know if you are working elsewhere.’ Or in some cases, people say you can’t work elsewhere because you already work over the working time regulations with me, as it is.
And then, bereavement leave. Mention something about bereavement leave.
Anti-bribery. A lone worker, have a lone worker policy.
Protected disclosures, how they terminate their employment. Garden leave. You think, ‘Oh, I don’t really know anything about that, or I don’t really want it.’ But you know, you might have somebody that works for you that goes to a competitor, or is maliciously damaging […]. Garden leave allows you to send them home, with pay, and protecting your business. The example I’d give you is a children’s nursery. Key worker has handed her notice in. And she’s going to work at a competitor down the road. And all the parents love her. And if the parents find out that she’s going to work down the road at a competitor, or for a competitor, I am in deep trouble because most of those parents are going to follow her. So, the minute she hands her notice in, I’m going to put her on garden leave. She’s not able to contact any of my contacts, any of my friends, anybody I do business with, anybody at work. Now, she’s at home on pay, but what I’ve just done is save myself a lot of time and money and clients. Because, what’s going to happen, is she’s home, nobody’s allowed to say that she’s handed her notice in, four weeks goes by, and they say, ‘Oh, when is she coming back?’ And we say, ‘Oh, she left. Four weeks ago.’ And then they realise that their children have got used to working there without that key worker. The children have got used to going to the nursery without the key worker present. It’s not been disruptive to them, and they can’t be bothered moving them. So, that’s just saved them a lot of clients. So, garden leave, return of property, and mention of the pension rules.
Remember each is a heading of a section that is then broken down and written applicable to what works for your business, organisation or charity. So, when you’re making changes, so I know I’ve ruffled a few feathers today. You’ll be thinking, ‘Gosh I just need to get this in place.’ And I have just scraped the surface here. I’ve not actually gone into detail.
So, timescale to making changes. There isn’t a legal minimum consultation period from evoking a change, if the employees agree to the change. If less than 20 people are affected, then there is no minimum consultation period. However, it’s good practice to have a consultation period and tribunals look on employers favourably for doing this. So, I like to let my staff know, work date in the handbooks, because of pensions, put things in place, hand them out, get them to sign to say they’ve received them, and then get them to sign that they’ve read and understood it. Okay? Remember, this is an overview. I’m giving you an overview. Remember the law, remember what’s applicable to you. Keep up to date. Check my presentation date when listening. So, you know, what I’m saying now might not be applicable if you listen in 2018. And make it simple. But remember, train your staff. Let them know; leave no surprises.
I just think it’s simple. If I get all my workforce in and I say to them, ‘Let’s go through gross misconduct, right? What do you think when I say using your mobile phone? And they say, well, having it switched on. You say, ‘No. Using it in the work place, answering calls, doing texts, looking at Facebook, that’s the type of thing I’m on about, okay? If you’ve got a company mobile, sending rude pictures of yourself, rude texts, etc., or using it excessively.’ So, you know, you train your staff and get them to sign to say they’ve had the training. Don’t just tick boxes, okay? Don’t just do things because people say. Understand why you put a number in there, and then you’ll understand them, your employees will understand them. You’ll be able to explain them. And also, it’s about growth so it’ll save you money, wouldn’t it, at the end of the day? And remember, we’ve got the Pensions Act, haven’t we? So this is the greatest opportunity you’re ever going to have to change things, because the law’s dictated it.
I really hope that I’ve helped you today. I’m sorry that, you know, it’s the first webinar of the New Year, and I know you’re superbly busy when you first go back to work. And lots of people only went back this Monday, didn’t they? Good for them, to have a nice break if you managed to have that. I hope that your business resolution is completed and you think about changing your handbooks and updating them, and your contracts and policies and procedures. I’m not talking to you at Christmas this year, and you saying, ‘Actually, I haven’t done it because I never had the time.’
If you need help, with any area or policy or procedure, or even writing handbooks, we have been around for 30 years now. We are established. We have over 27,000 clients. We help small businesses with one member of staff to some with even thousands and millions of staff, okay? We will help everybody with policies, procedures. We write them to protect the employer, managers, and HR. To help them do their job, and try to make it simpler for them. Remember, we do letter writing, we write letters, we update you, we give you an advice line that’s there 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. And I’ve just given you a snippet of what we do.
If you’d like more information about what we do, and how we can help you, then contact either myself or Lee on 0161-827-9915. We’ll ring you back, if you want. Or, contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org . If you do want to have me featured on any of your websites for people to, for your clients to ask questions, and get some free advice, please contact me to use my email address. And it is me that it comes to. If you want to revisit this webinar later on, later on today in the recording, you can access it under www.youtube.com/pbspressoffice. But always remember to quote webinar number that is appropriate to the webinar that you listened to. Today’s was number 35. I really hope I’ve helped you. Remember that I’m packing everything in within 45 minutes for one of these types of webinars.
And, generally, if I was speaking to somebody face-to-face, this little webinar that I’ve given you today would have taken me over three hours. So, and that’s, again, really breaking it, really squashing it down as well. I can sit for, as you can gather, and just chat for about five hours, talking about one particular issue. So, and I wouldn’t make it boring. So, if you would like to have me host an event, or speak at an event you have on employment law or updates or legislation, feel free to contact me on that as well. But remember, I’m doing a webinar next Tuesday on legislation that’s coming in for this year, and I hope you catch it.
For Peninsula clients, use our advice line. That’s what we’re there for. If you think of any policies need updating, no problem. You’re paying us to do that, okay? You’re paying us to update your policies, your procedures, to keep you in touch, and use the advice line regularly. Thank you very much for listening to me today. I hope to speak to you again soon. And, it’s goodbye from me.