What is a HR Audit?

At Acorn, one of our first steps of engagement is through a HR Audit. It also gives a great insight into how a company is run, how staff are managed and areas that are important to individual businesses.

Below are some of the aspects that we will look at to ensure that you are compliant with current employment law legislation and establishes the organisation as a first class employer.

  • Pre employment – documentation checks, including contracts, job descriptions, work place assessment, agreed method of recruitment, medical consent questionnaire, list of company core companies and organisational structure.
  • Induction – to include looking at how staff start in the company and how they are supported in their first few weeks of their employment.
  • Probation checks – we look at the probation period, how staff are supported within that time and any paperwork associated with this time including successful and unsuccessful probation letters.
  • Performance management and appraisals and what paperwork is used for these.
  • Disciplinary – we will review your disciplinary policy, paperwork associated with this procedure
  • Absence and sickness management – documentation and processes used by the business to monitor long and short term. Paperwork around this can be complex and will include medical consent form, SSP1 form, GP requests and AWOL support.
  • Holidays – holiday management via your holiday policy, support in how to pro-rata holiday entitlement and bank holiday and shut down support.
  • Apprenticeship – and young worker support
  • Grievance – paperwork and policy
  • Flexible – paper work regarding flexible working
  • Maternity and Paternity – policy for Maternity and Paternity, entitlement letter, congratulations letter
  • Training
  • Leavers
  • Settlement agreements
  • Redundancy
  • TUPE
  • Health and safety

Case study – Long term sickness

Case study for a large, multi-site organisation with 80 plus employees.
An employee had called in sick due to workplace stress and had a fit note signing them off for one month.
It was clear that the employment relationship had become strained and the employee didn’t feel comfortable speaking to their line manager.
The employee had refused to attend a welfare meeting stating they were unfit and were in discussion with their Trade Union.
In normal circumstances it would always be advisable that the manager maintains contact with the employee however, in this situation it was clear that support was needed. We therefore offered our services and an Advisor from Acorn maintained regular contact with the employee and informed the organisation of any updates.
Through the close case management provided and through gaining the trust of the employee, the employee attended a welfare meeting which was held by the line manager with Acorn’s Advisor present. The meeting allowed for productive communication between both parties and a return to work plan was drawn up.
The employee returned to work after the expiration of their fit note.
The case demonstrates that regular and effective communication is key to managing long term sickness cases especially where relations have become strained. By maintaining regular communication and being able to hold the welfare meeting enabled a quicker return to work which ultimately saved the employer the cost of sick pay and agency cover, mending relations in the process.
Acorn Support can offer you the tailored support your organisation requires in order to get the right result for all parties.

Mind the gap

By April 2018, companies with over 250 employees will need to publish their gender pay gap.

Approximately 9,000 companies will need to do this, via the government website – https://www.gov.uk/report-gender-pay-gap-data

The gender pay gap is the difference in average hourly earnings, and is calculated on a 1% sample of employees’ jobs. It takes the median average for men and women, which is the level of pay that half of people earn more than, and half earn less than.

The pay gap isn’t the same as equal pay. Equal pay – that men and women doing the same job should be paid the same – has been a legal requirement for 47 years.

A company might have a gender pay gap if a majority of men are in top jobs, despite paying male and female employees the same amount for similar roles.

Public, private and voluntary sector firms are now all required to disclose average pay for men and women, including bonuses.

Employers also have the option to include a narrative with their calculations. This would explain the reasons for the results, and give details about actions they are taking to tackle the gender pay gap.


Information from bbc.co.uk

Acorn case study – Recruitment Support

We have recently been supporting a client with the recruitment of two members of staff.

This has been invaluable to them as we have carried all aspects of the recruitment procedure, this has resulted in saving them time by not disrupting their day to day work. We have been able to develop skills based tests for the interview process. Through the understanding of the company and it’s vision, mission and values we have devised interview questions that ensure we recruit a candidate with the necessary skills and drive, as well as personality, that will be an asset to the company.

We supported with the following aspects

  • Drawn up job descriptions
  • Researched advertising media
  • Placed advert in appropriate media
  • Managed applications – shortlisted according to job role requirements, sent regrets
  • 1st Stage screening – developed telephone interview questions and conducted the interviews
  • Supported with an skills based test at our offices
  • Developed face to face interview questions and supported at the interview process
  • Supported in the overall decision making on the successful applicant.

We will continue to support the employer with the induction process and future training.

Right to work – what you need to know

It is an employers responsibility to ensure that their employees have a right to work in the UK.

What counts as eligibility as proof to work in the UK? Here is the checklist from GOV.UK site http://ow.ly/LZNQ30ioCTX

Employers may have to pay an illegal working fine (also known as a civil penalty) if they employ someone who does not have the right to work in the UK. Here is the link to ‘An employer’s guide to the administration of the civil penalty scheme’ http://ow.ly/X19v30ioDu5

Find out if a potential employee has the right to work in the UK and what documents employers should check.You can also use this tool to find out which documents you need to produce to prove you’re eligible to work in the UK. http://ow.ly/akRI30ioEhK

Cases regarding employing illegal workers 

A takeaway proprietor has failed in an appeal against a £30,000 civil penalty notice imposed for employing two illegal workers

Tesco fined for employing illegal foreign workers

Case study – Bank holiday confusion

A client recently took over beauty salon with 6 employees.
Holidays were not tracked and it was unclear on what the employees holiday entitlement, particularly concerned bank holidays as the salon closed anyway on a Monday when most bank holidays fall. Also, there was a number of part time employees.
Acorn provided documentation that clearly highlighted to the client how many days holiday the employees were entitled to and how many of the bank holidays they were entitled to even though they are not open on a Monday and work part time.
As an employer you still need to meet the statutory annual leave requirements, and this should be on a pro-rota basis for part time employees.
Holidays are what most employees value most, therefore getting it right and clear really helped the client and the staff.

Public and Bank holidays – Pro rata

Because most bank holidays fall on a Monday or Friday, part-time employees who do not work on these days could be entitled to proportionately fewer days off compared with full-time employees, depending on shift patterns and annual leave arrangements within the organisation.

Employers must ensure that all employees have at least the statutory minimum annual leave entitlement and that part-time employees are not treated less favourably than full-time employees. To avoid a complaint of less favourable treatment under the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1551) many employers provide part-time employees with a pro rated bank holiday entitlement.

While there may be no arrangement that will have entirely fair results for all employees whatever their working pattern, one option is to calculate pro rated bank holiday entitlement according to the number of hours that the part-time employee works, irrespective of whether or not he or she works on the days on which bank holidays fall.

For example, if full-time employees are entitled to eight bank holidays a year, in addition to their normal annual leave entitlement, a full-time employee working a five-day week of 37.5 hours would be entitled to 60 hours of leave on bank holidays (ie eight days of seven and a half hours). A part-time employee working a three-day week of 22.5 hours would be entitled to a pro rated bank holiday allowance of 36 hours (22.5 ÷ 37.5 x 60). Calculating an hourly entitlement has the disadvantage of potentially resulting in an employee working for, for example, only one or two hours on a particular day.

The employer should allow the part-time employee to book the 36 hours’ pro rated bank holiday entitlement as annual leave under the organisation’s normal procedure. If the employee is scheduled to work on any bank holiday, he or she would have to book this as annual leave to take the day off. If the business is closed on bank holidays, the employer could require the employee to take annual leave if he or she is scheduled to work on these days, by including this in the employee’s contract or giving the appropriate notice.*




*Original article from Expert HR



Case study – Holiday Entitlement

It is important for staff to take their holiday entitlement and at a recent review meeting it was picked up that there were three employees, within a clients company, who didn’t take much of their holiday entitlement for 2017, this impacts on the statutory provisions.

There is a requirement of annual leave of 5.6 weeks – 28 days, which includes public holidays.  There is also a requirement for employees to take this leave, and for the employer to ensure that they do.  The provisions are established from a Health & Safety prospective, ensuring rest and relaxation for the individual away from the working environment.

With a review of untaken leave, focus was placed on any leave that was less than 20 days, three cases had been highlighted

– 16 days undertaken, 9 of which is below statutory

– 17.5 days untaken, 12.5 of which is below statutory

– 7 days untaken, 3 of which is below statutory

The main concern would be for the employee who has only taken  7.5 days off in the year.  It is appreciated that it is often difficult to have this discussion, however, there are risks for both the employees health, and for the business.

In this particular case, the employee, when he takes leave, will adjust his days of working, and therefore may have the weeks off, however, this is compounded with additional working time either side.  This continues the risk of his allocation of leave

The recommendation is that when you have any of your normal manager/employee meetings, that there is a discussion relating to the plans for leave during this year.  We can then plan for the cover of the work to enable the leave to be taken without fear of work not being covered, or teams being left during the absence.


Case study – Absence Management

Case study to improve absence in employee.
Employee had 50 days absence, over four separate periods, in six months, a mixture of short term and long term absence.
A welfare meeting was held to review and set a target to improve attendance.
The employee had more absences.
They were then invited to a disciplinary as the levels of attendance was unacceptable. They were issued a verbal warning and again set a target to improve.
The employee had more absences.
They were invited to a disciplinary for their unacceptable levels of attendance and issued a first written warning.
They have had no further absences ………
By dealing with absences and starting the disciplinary route, the employee has made significant improvements in their attendance levels, and the company has benefited from less disruption that the regular absences was having to the business, which costs money and effects the morale of other employees.