Case study – Staff absence

Employee had 50 days absence in 4 separate periods over 6 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.
Employee was 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.
The employee was invited to a disciplinary meeting 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.
If you require support in managing absence or disciplinary meeting, please contact us.
mail@acornsupport.co.uk
01562 881019
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When is resignation not simple?

When is a resignation not so simple?

We supported a client recently when an employee resigned, but later wanted to withdraw the resignation and remain with the employee.

The manager allowed the employee several days to be sure they were making the right decision, they still wanted to resign.  They acknowledged the resignation and confirmed the termination date.  Then 2 weeks before the leaving date they informed the manager that they were withdrawing the resignation and would be staying. Plans were in place to recruit a replacement, the team had been informed, the leaving card had been circulated.

What to do…?

The decision was taken that in the grand scheme of things it was in the best interests of the company and the individual to continue with the resignation.  Once one has been submitted and accepted by the Company it is only by mutual agreement that this may be reversed.

If you need support in handling staff resignations, then please get in touch.

What’s an anti-bribery policy?

It is illegal to offer, promise, give, request, agree, receive or accept bribes – an anti-bribery policy can help protect your business.

You should have an anti-bribery policy if there is a risk that someone who works for you or on your behalf might be exposed to bribery.

Your anti-bribery policy should be appropriate to the level of risk your business faces. Your policy should include:

  • your approach to reducing and controlling the risks of bribery
  • rules about accepting gifts, hospitality or donations
  • guidance on how to conduct your business, eg negotiating contracts
  • rules on avoiding or stopping conflicts of interest

Once you have an anti-bribery policy you should:

  • tell your staff and make sure they understand the policy
  • monitor and review your policy regularly

For more information visit www.gov.uk and download the Bribery Act 2010 Guidance

Tips for an adverse weather policy

Adverse weather in the form of gale force winds, heavy rain and icy conditions may cause disruption to employees, over the next few weeks.

What is the legal position when bad weather prevents an employee from getting to work?

  • No legal right to paid time off

In most situations, there is no legal right for an employee to have paid time off if they are unable to get to work or are late for work due to travel disruptions and / or bad weather.

Limited exceptions to this rule exist, e.g. where travel time is classed as “working time” (which will not be discussed here).

  • Good employer – employee communications will help

What happens in practice during periods of adverse weather is therefore down to each employer to decide and communicate to their staff.

Rather than await the chaos (warranted or otherwise) that bad weather brings, we would recommend that employers act now and consider implementing an Adverse Weather Policy.

  • What should an adverse weather policy contain?

The policy should strike a balance between protecting the health and safety of the staff and ensuring the business continues to run as effectively as it can.

The policy could provide for the following types of problems:

Travel disruptions

Where employees’ journeys to work are delayed or have to be cancelled, weather may or may not be a factor.

Alternative working arrangements

It may be an option for employees to work from another, more easily-accessible, location or perhaps working from home is feasible.

Absences and pay

It is at the discretion of the employer whether or not employees are paid, if they are absent or late due to adverse weather conditions.

Employers can decide to treat absences in a number of different ways. For example –

  • As annual leave (noting that a limited number of days’ leave could be used from the next leave year, if there is not enough annual leave remaining);
  • As time off in lieu;
  • Employees to make up the lost hours within a reasonable period;
  • Unpaid leave (this should be referenced in the employee’s contract to avoid any claim that the deduction is unlawful).

If the employer decides to close the office due to severe weather, employees should be paid as normal. Whatever approach employers want to adopt, it should be made clear in the Adverse Weather Policy.

School closures / childcare issues

Those with dependants can take unpaid time off if there is a childcare emergency.

If a school closure is announced in advance – and no other childcare arrangements can be made in time – employees should be reminded that they can take unpaid time off to care for their child.

Training and disciplinary aspects

As with any policy, it should be communicated to the workforce and, if necessary, training should be provided to those who will be handling the day-to-day aspects of weather disruption.

If an employer has reason to believe that an employee is using the weather as a convenient excuse not to come in to work, the employer can choose to investigate the issue in the same way as any other potential disciplinary matter – and take disciplinary action if necessary.

 

Information via United Employment Lawyers

 

Break entitlement at work

Workers over 18 are usually entitled to 3 types of break – rest breaks at work, daily rest
and weekly rest.

Rest breaks at work

Workers have the right to one uninterrupted 20 minute rest break during their working day, if they work more than 6 hours a day. This could be a tea or lunch break.

The break doesn’t have to be paid – it depends on their employment contract.

Daily rest

Workers have the right to 11 hours rest between working days, eg if they finish work at 8pm, they shouldn’t start work again until 7am the next day.

Weekly rest

Workers have the right to either:

  • an uninterrupted 24 hours without any work each week
  • an uninterrupted 48 hours without any work each fortnight

A worker’s employment contract may say they’re entitled to more or different rights to breaks from work.

Exceptions to this are

  • the armed forces, emergency services or police and they’re dealing with an exceptional catastrophe or disaster
  • a job where they freely choose what hours they work (like a managing director) or where the work is not measured (ie no set hours)
  • sea transport
  • air or road transport (known as ‘mobile’ workers)

Air, sea or road transport workers may be covered by special rules that give them different rest rights.

Mobile workers not covered by any special rules usually have the right to regular rest so that their health and safety (or anyone else’s) isn’t put at risk.

There are also special rules for young workers and for lorry and coach drivers.

Work Christmas Party Tips

With Christmas just around the corner this can be a tricky time in the working environment. Most people are beginning to get in the festive mood, and this can sometimes impact on the work environment. From inappropriate actions in the office, to arriving late or hung over.

Here are five tips to ensure your Christmas Party is remembered for all the right reasons.

1 – Make sure it’s fun
Christmas parties should be fun and not forced. If people do not want to attend don’t make them.  Give a couple of options and if any member of staff does not want to come, accept that. You cannot insist people enjoy themselves and you do not want your party to cause any resentment.

2 – Avoid Alcohol and Mistletoe
On their own they can be bad but when mixed you are just asking for trouble.  What can start as light-hearted fun can quickly escalate to harassment and a lawsuit.  Your party should be inclusive and relaxed, avoid any activity that encourages certain types of behaviour.

3 – Think Differently
This year why not involve the family, or partners? This can ensure a different slant is taken perhaps it could be a bowling party or a day out to Safari Park, something that will encourage a different atmosphere.

4 – Take in a show
Why not show your staff a good time with a comedy or magic/illusionist show or a musical.  A Christmas celebration does not have to be a party.
5 – Keep it in the day
A lunch time meal can be a lot more civilized, as well as giving everyone a break from work.

Taking your team out for a meal during office hours is always a good way of maintaining a level of control over the party after all, most people tend to behave better in the daytime.

A thought to remember, if you supply alcohol to your staff at a Christmas Party you, as the employer, becomes responsible for their actions when they are under the influence.  You could be held accountable for any damage or trouble caused. Just think about what the ramifications could mean if they got behind the wheel of a car.

And please remember that the staff party is not for everyone, no one should be made to feel pressured in to attending.
You should celebrate Christmas. Your staff have worked hard, but make sure you know what you are signing up for.

Why take your annual leave?

Holidays are good for your health

So what are the effects of working long hours without taking sufficient holiday breaks? It is important for employers to insist on a healthy work/life balance for their employees:

Excessive hours can have a negative effect on job performance and cause costly or reputation-damaging mistakes.

Fatigue-related accidents are potentially life-threatening.

Employers need to ensure that they do everything in their power to improve productivity through efficiency improvements rather than by overloading their staff.

Working long hours doesn’t necessarily lead to marriage breakdown, it can put a strain on relationships with partners, children and friends

Simon Briault of the Federation of Small Businesses told the BBC: “It is important for employees to take the time off they are entitled to. Everybody needs a break to relax and unwind.”

“In the long run, it will be beneficial for the employee and the employer alike,” continues Simon, “because it helps to reduce ill-health and absenteeism.”

5 tips for the holiday-shy

If you’re married to your job, here are five top tips on how to make sure you take valuable time away from work:

  • Always give your employer plenty of notice of time you’d like to take off
  • Commit yourself to a break by booking flights and hotels in advance
  • Plan a holiday with friends and family so you can’t let them down by backing out
  • Delegate work to colleagues before you leave so you know you won’t return to chaos
  • When you do get away leave the laptop at home, turn off the phone.. and relax!

What is a Data Protection Officer (DPO)?

When does a Data Protection Officer need to be appointed under the GDPR?

Under the GDPR, you must appoint a data protection officer (DPO) if you:

  • are a public authority (except for courts acting in their judicial capacity);
  • carry out large scale systematic monitoring of individuals (for example, online behaviour tracking); or
  • carry out large scale processing of special categories of data or data relating to criminal convictions and offences.

You may appoint a single data protection officer to act for a group of companies or for a group of public authorities, taking into account their structure and size.

Any organisation is able to appoint a DPO. Regardless of whether the GDPR obliges you to appoint a DPO, you must ensure that your organisation has sufficient staff and skills to discharge your obligations under the GDPR.


What are the tasks of the DPO?

The DPO’s minimum tasks are defined in Article 39:

  • To inform and advise the organisation and its employees about their obligations to comply with the GDPR and other data protection laws.
  • To monitor compliance with the GDPR and other data protection laws, including managing internal data protection activities, advise on data protection impact assessments; train staff and conduct internal audits.
  • To be the first point of contact for supervisory authorities and for individuals whose data is processed (employees, customers etc).


What does the GDPR say about employer duties?

You must ensure that:

  • The DPO reports to the highest management level of your organisation – ie board level.
  • The DPO operates independently and is not dismissed or penalised for performing their task.
  • Adequate resources are provided to enable DPOs to
    meet their GDPR obligations.


Can we allocate the role of DPO to an existing employee?

Yes. As long as the professional duties of the employee are compatible with the duties of the DPO and do not lead to a conflict of interests.

You can also contract out the role of DPO externally.


Does the data protection officer need specific qualifications?

The GDPR does not specify the precise credentials a data protection officer is expected to have.

It does require that they should have professional experience and knowledge of data protection law. This should be proportionate to the type of processing your organisation carries out, taking into consideration the level of protection the personal data requires.*

 

*Information from ICO website

GDPR Preparation

May 2018 is approaching, here are 12 steps to take now to prepare for GDPR

  1. AWARENESS – Key decision makers and key people in your organisation need to be aware the the law is changing to the GDPR. They need to appreciate the impact this is likely to have.
  2. INFORMATION YOU HOLD – You need to document what personal data you hold, were it came from and who you share it with. You need to organise information audit.
  3. COMMUNICATING PRIVACY INFORMATION – You should review your current privacy notices and put a plan in place for making any necessary changes in time for GDPR implementation.
  4. INDIVIDUALS’ RIGHTS – You should check your procedures to ensure that they cover all the rights individuals have. This should include how you would deter personal data or provide data electronically and in a commonly used format.
  5. SUBJECT ACCESS REQUESTS – You should update your procedures and plan how you handle requests within the new timescales, which is less than 72 hours.
  6. LAWFUL PROCESS FOR PROCESSING PERSONAL DATA – you should identify the lawful basis for your processing activity in the GDPR. Document it and update your privacy notice to explain it.
  7. CONSENT – You should review how you seek, record and manage consent. Refresh existing consents now if they don’t meet the new requirements.
  8. CHILDREN – You need to think about whether you need to put systems in place to verify individuals’ ages. Parent and guardian consent should be obtained for any data processing activity.
  9. DATA BREACHES – You should make sure that you have the correct procedures in place to detect, report and investigate personal data breach.
  10. DATA PROTECTION BY DESIGN AND DATA PROTECTION IMPACT ASSESSMENTS – You should familiarise yourself now with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) code of practice. As well as the latest guidance form the Article 29 Working Party 
  11. DATA PROTECTION OFFICERS – You should designate someone to take responsibility  for data protection compliance and assess where this role will sit within your origination’s structure and governance arrangements. You should assess if you are required to formally designate a Data Protection Officer (DPO)
  12. INTERNATIONAL – If your organisation operates in more than one EU member state, you need to determine your lead data protection supervisory authority.

Additional information on European Commission website