7 things that you need to do when employing staff for the first time

There are 7 things you need to do when employing staff for the first time.

  1. Decide how much to pay someone – you must pay your employee at least the National Minimum Wage.
  2. Check if someone has the legal right to work in the UK. You may have to do other employment checks as well.
  3. Check if you need to apply for a DBS check (formerly known as a CRB check) if you work in a field that requires one, eg with vulnerable people or security.
  4. Get employment insurance – you need employers’ liability insurance as soon as you become an employer.
  5. Send details of the job (including terms and conditions) in writing to your employee. You need to give your employee a written statement of employment if you’re employing someone for more than 1 month.
  6. Tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by registering as an employer – you can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff.
  7. Check if you need to automatically enrol your staff into a workplace pension scheme.*

If you need any advice, or support, please contact us


01562 881019


*Information from Gov.Uk

Social media problems!

A tweet disparaging President Donald Trump that appeared to come from McDonald’s social media team was pulled pretty quickly last week, but not before it earned plenty of attention on social media.

The tweet on the @McDonaldsCorp feed, which has been deleted, read: “@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands.”

Later Thursday morning, McDonald’s sent out a tweet to say that Twitter informed the company that the account had been compromised.

The @McDonaldsCorp account involved has about 151,000 followers. The @McDonalds account for the McDonald’s USA business has about 3.3 million followers.

Before McDonald’s blamed the post on a compromised Twitter account, many people were wondering whether someone on the McDonald’s social media team perhaps meant to tweet from his or her own account, and mistakenly sent the anti-Trump missive from the corporate account.

The Golden Arches, of course, is not the first company to deal with a social media nightmare, and it won’t be the last. Some may recall Chrysler ending its relationship with New Media Strategies in March 2011 after an agency employee used the f-bomb and complained about Detroit in a tweet inadvertently sent from the client’s Twitter account.

McDonald’s did not immediately elaborate on Thursday’s tweet beyond the statement issued on Twitter.

Whilst your company may not have the followers that McDonald’s does, it is important to have a clear policy for social media use by employees. It is easy for an employee to get cross and tweet this, or for a piece of information be shared by someone, inadvertently. These may seem trivial, but may have a massive impact on your company’s profile and brand.

If you need any advice, or support, please contact us


01562 881019


Why Acorn Support?

There are many options for companies to choose from for their HR support, so why choose us?

We seek to create partnerships with our clients to ensure that the services provided are flexible and tailored to meet the specific needs of the organisation.

We focus on the style and structure of each client’s business on a one to one basis to ensure a personalised service is provided. We want to see a business achieve it’s potential and are passionate about supporting and guiding our clients through the complexities of employment law and employment relationships.

We will be happy to discuss all manner and size of assignment, from the provision of policies, to handling difficult conversations and TUPE transfers.

We offer our services to work alongside your internal departments or we can work independently, meeting away from your premises if that is required or appropriate.

We ensure the utmost level of discretion, confidentiality and professionalism with all of our work. Located in Stourbridge, West Midlands, we are ideally placed to support our clients throughout the United Kingdom.

So get in touch and let us help with your HR issues.

Please contact us


01562 881019


Changes in pay per hour

National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is the minimum pay per hour most workers are entitled to by law. The rate will depend on a worker’s age and if they are an apprentice.

The National Living Wage

The Government’s National Living Wage was introduced on 1 April 2016 for all working people aged 25 and over, and is currently set at £7.20 per hour. In April 2017 it will go up to £7.50. The current National Minimum Wage for those under the age of 25 still applies.

Key points

  • Most workers over school leaving age will be entitled to receive the NMW.
  • The NMW /NLW rate is reviewed annually by the Low Pay Commission.
  • HM Revenue & Customs (HRMC) can take employers to court for not paying the NMW/NLW.
  • There are a number of exemptions to those who receive the NMW/NLW. These do not relate to the size of the business, sector, job or region.
  • The compulsory National Living Wage is the national rate set for people aged 25 and over.

Rates of pay

It is important to note that these rates, which came into force 1 October 2016, apply to pay reference periods beginning on or after that date.

The rates from 1 October 2016 are:

  • £7.20 per hour – 25 yrs old and over
  • £6.95 per hour – 21-24 yrs old
  • £5.55 per hour 18-20 yrs old
  • £4 per hour – 16-17 yrs old
  • £3.40 for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over who are in the first year of apprenticeship.

The rate will then change every April starting April 2017. The rates from 1 April 2017 will be:

  • £7.50 per hour – 25 yrs old and over
  • £7.05 per hour – 21-24 yrs old
  • £5.60 per hour – 18-20 yrs old
  • £4.05 per hour – 16-17 yrs old
  • £3.50 for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over who are in the first year of apprenticeship.

If you need any advice, or support, please contact us


01562 881019


Does HR do anything useful?


The answer, obviously, is yes.

HR teams perform many valuable functions without which organisations, particularly larger ones, would be constantly struggling with unresolved people problems.

Some say that the traditional HR department, which claims dominion over everything from hiring and firing to maintaining workplace diversity, stifles innovation and bogs down businesses with inefficient policies and time-consuming processes.

Some companies have done away with HR departments, relying on managers to do everything that has to be done in respect of those within their teams, or have merged them with other functions such as marketing or finance.

This can be an added pressure to the managers in these areas, who can cope with the everyday running of the department, but will struggle, and possibly put their business in line for a claim, when serious difficulties with staff arise.

Many companies are now insuring against tribunal claims, but hiring in a HR company and having them support the employers and staff, will ensure that cases don’t reach the need for a tribunal.

Acorn Support Limited, support micro and small businesses with their HR needs, with a bespoke service tailored to each client. We can offer support on disciplinary and grievance issues, sickness and absence management, policies and procedures, performance management process, workforce planning, job descriptions, interview support and exercises and difficult conversations – to name a few.

We are here to support you and your business, and we definitely do something useful!

If we can help please contact us


01562 881019




Reducing sickness absence

Definition of absence



  • the state of being away
  • the time during which a person or thing is away
  • the fact of being without something; lack

Word Origin

C14: via Old French from Latin absentia, from absēns a being away

Sickness absence costs businesses an average of £561 per employee each year, but how do organisations reduce this?

Managers need help with reducing absence.

Three-quarters (76%) of the organisations surveyed* have recently taken steps to manage the absence levels of their workforce.

The top reason for introducing an absence management initiative is to support line managers, cited by 69% of respondent organisations.

Other outcomes that employers hope to achieve from introducing absence management initiatives include:

  • Managing the impact on the wider organisation
  • Reducing costs
  • Better management of absence data

Actions taken to manage absence centre on line managers and absence statistics – the latter reflects the growth in gathering and using HR metrics and analytics.

The most common absence management initiatives undertaken are

  • Improving existing record-keeping of absences
  • Improving line managers buy-in to taking an active role in absence
  • Providing absence statistics to line managers
  • Improving return to work interviews

More than seven employers in 10 have also provided line managers with training in absence management

The focus on managers in tackling absence is for good reason.

When employers were asked, which initiative had been the most successful in managing absence, we find that line managers feature in four of the top of the four out of five responses. The findings suggest that ensuring that line managers take an active role in the absence management of their direct reports is key to effectively managing absence.

  • Improve how return to work interviews are conducted and what they discuss
  • Provide absence statistics to line managers
  • Provide line managers with training in absence management
  • Introduce a new or revised absence policy
  • Improve line managers buy in to taking an active role in absence management

Here at, Acorn Support Limited, we offer a range of advice, support and training on absence issues, to ensure you run a successful and profitable business

If we can help please contact us


01562 881019


*Statistics provided from Xpert Hr recent survey

Travel to work ruling: Who is affected and how?

Time spent travelling to and from first and last jobs by workers who do not have a fixed office should be regarded as work, European judges have ruled.

What did the court say?

Until now, those employing mobile workers who had to travel to get to or from their first or last appointment of the day were not required to count that time as work.

On Thursday, the European Court of Justice judgement ruled those without a fixed or habitual office should consider the time they spend travelling between their homes and the premises of their first and last jobs as part of their hours for the day.

The ruling relates to the Working Time Directive – the European initiative which caps the working week at 48 hours. In the UK, employees have the option of opting out of the directive.

 Employees who fall into the category loosely defined as “mobile workers” – those who habitually travel to different places of work – could be affected.

Simon Bond, an employment specialist at Higgs and Sons solicitors, says the most obvious group to fall under this definition is carers not already paid for travelling to their first and last jobs. Sales people who travel between sites and employee workmen and women, such as plumbers or electricians, could also fall into this category.

As many as 975,000 people in the UK could fall under the remit of the ruling, says Paul Sellers, a policy officer at the TUC.  And some employees could be working an extra 10 hours a week once travelling time is counted, Chris Tutton, an employment lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, adds.

I travel a lot for work, but I have a permanent office

The ruling is less likely to affect people who work both in an office and remotely. If your contract includes a permanent base, you are unlikely to be able to successfully argue you are a mobile worker, Mr Sellers says.

There may, however, be cases where it is possible to argue that a permanent base is meaningless because of the length of time spent outside the office.

I have to commute two hours every day to my office

For those with a permanent office (however lengthy your commute), this ruling will not have an effect. Mr Sellers says this final group is the “overwhelming majority” in the UK.

I think I’m affected. Should I expect a pay rise or a change in my hours?

The ruling could eventually affect pay. Unions say the ruling does not directly deal with remuneration, focussing instead on working hours and conditions. But it is possible the European judgement will be used in UK courts to challenge employers who pay an average hourly rate under the minimum wage (once travelling time is taken into account).

That could mean employers facing increased wage bills and raises an outside chance costs for some services, such as cleaners who have to travel and are paid a low wage, could go up.

It could also lead to a change in working patterns – especially for those who do not choose to opt out of the 48-hour maximum. “I think some employers will look at where they’re sending staff – they might try to make sure that the first and last shifts are as close to home as possible because they don’t want to eat into that working time that they have,” Mr Tutton said.

If we can support you, or your business, please contact us

27 Harvine Walk, Norton, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 3BQ

Tel: 01384 823835


Productivity and your brain

When it comes to productivity, your brain is your best ally—but are you ignoring the most important signals it’s sending?

Considering this week is Brain Awareness Week, now’s a good time to start paying attention to your mental energy and learning how to manage it to boost your productivity.

After all, it’s hard to be productive when your mental reserves are tapped, and today’s energy-draining environment is fighting you at every step. The typical response to declining energy and productivity levels is to try time management techniques so that you can catch up and stay on top of your workload. But most of those techniques are destined to fail when your energy level falls through the floor.

Instead of thinking of productivity as a time management challenge, try viewing it as an energy management issue. Because while you can’t recover time—those wasted hours are gone forever—you can recover energy.

And here’s where your brain comes into the equation.

We often let this phenomenon of energy gain and drain happen by accident, but your own mental processes play a huge role in your energy throughout the day—at work, at home and with every person you meet. In fact, your energy levels have a lot more to do with what happens inside your head than what happens outside. Becoming conscious and intentional about this aspect of your life can unlock new levels of productivity. The key is to manage your mental filters, not your time.

Here are 10 quick tips for managing your thinking to increase your productivity:

  1. Be mindful of your energy levels throughout the day. Notice the situations and people that are associated with a loss of energy as well as those that leave you “feeling the flow” and full of energy. Look for patterns: Who is involved? What happens? What time of day does it happen? Some signs that you’re experiencing a situation or person as an energy suck:
  • Your mind wanders.
  • You feel tired.
  • You feel irritated.
  • You start interrupting people.
  • You make excuses to avoid certain events and people.
  1. Maximize your productivity by keeping your changing energy levels in mind and planning for them. For example:
  • Schedule demanding tasks for your periods of highest energy.
  • Mentally prepare for people and events that seem to drain your energy.
  • Involve someone else in your interaction with an energy-draining person.
  1. Meet people where they are, energetically speaking. This is not so much about being non-judgmental as it is about developing empathy. Find out about their preferences and circumstances and what’s draining their energy. A tool like the HBDI® Profile is great for opening a conversation.
  2. Hold the context, please. He acts that way because he’s lazy. She’s doing that because she wants my job. Notice your tendency to unconsciously fill in context when interacting with an energy-draining person. Instead, ask people to proactively share their context. The Whole Brain® Model gives you a way to manage a mismatch of energy. While differences in thinking preference might be the source of the problem, we all have access to all four thinking modes.
  3. Tap into your own cognitive diversity as a way to accept diversity in others. You can either resist differences or embrace them. Embracing them allows you to reverse the energy drain that comes with resistance and start having a lot more fun.
  4. Stop multitasking. What you’re really doing is task switching, and the brain simply isn’t good at it. Studies show that multitasking compromises working memory, and the mental blocks created by task switching can eat up as much as 40% of your productivity.
  5. Master your attention. Notice when you disagree with people, and use it as a cue to give them the gift of your full attention. Even if you don’t agree, when you truly understand their perspective, you’ll be able to minimize energy- and productivity-sapping conflict. Give that gift of full attention to yourself, too: Quiet your mind for 5 or 10 minutes and decide what you will focus on.
  6. Match your tasks to your energy level. There’s only so much you can do to control what’s going on around you, but the one thing you have control over is your brain. So plan to check emails, social media and engage in similar activities that don’t require much of a mental stretch during low-energy times.
  7. Keep a “clean machine.” Your energy levels are intimately connected to your overall health. Exercise. Eat well. Get enough sleep. It’s no coincidence that these are also linked to memory, learning and attention—all essential for peak productivity.
  8. Raise your productivity and energy levels by noticing what works. The only way to keep improving and build on your successes is to pay attention so you know what’s making the difference. Make intentional attention a habit.

Energy is the pivot point in your productivity. The best way to get more productive is to get more conscious about how you manage your energy drains and gains.

Working time for mobile workers

This article was shared with us by our colleagues in the employment team at Higgs & Sons Solicitors regarding a recent recommendation of the Advocate General on how working time is calculated for mobile workers:
Mobile workers are generally those workers who are not assigned to a fixed or habitual location.

The Advocate General looked at this point recently and has recommended that employers must include, within the calculation of working time, the time that the employee spends travelling from their home to their first customer/client and back home from their last customer/client. The advocate general saw no difference between this time and the time spent travelling between jobs during the working day, which is currently agreed to be classed as working time.

The reference to the Advocate General resulted from a Spanish case which involved a group of employee technicians who have complained that their employer is breaching the working time rules by not including their travel time to their first customer in the morning and subsequent return home after their last appointment in their working time.

The Advocate General’s opinion is not binding, but the recommendation does provide a strong suggestion that this travelling time is an integral part of the job and should be counted as working time. The full judgment of the case is still awaited from the European Court of Justice (ECJ), but it is worth noting that the ECJ does usually follow the Advocate General’s recommendations.

The Advocate General’s opinion has potentially wide reaching consequences for employers. Employers in sectors such as the care industry may be particularly affected by any changes in this area. The impact could be significant as what is counted within working time will impact upon a wider range of issues including pay, the national minimum wage and working hours etc. For employers, it is worth noting that in light of the Advocate General’s opinion there may be changes in this area to watch out for. Whilst employers do not need to make any changes straight away, it may be useful to start to think about how practices and operations may need to change if the ECJ’s pending decision does follow the Advocate General’s recommendation.

Should you need to discuss this further, please contact us

27 Harvine Walk, Norton, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 3BQ


Tel: 01384 823835