Dealing with Flexible Working Requests

Flexible working requests can be submitted during times when employees may need some extra help in striking a healthy work/life balance, or when circumstances might prevent or make it difficult for them to continue with their existing working conditions, so it is important to take them seriously and be considerate to the needs of your employees. 

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You’re Invited To Our Seminar

We would like to invite you to our upcoming seminar on ISO certification at the end of January. Please see below for details on the event and how to sign up:

This is an excellent opportunity for any business looking to begin the ISO certification process this year and we hope to see you there.

To sign up or find out more, email [email protected] or give us a call on 0800 652 2610.

It’s a New Year: Time to Carry Out Your Staff Appraisals

Employee Appraisals

The beginning of each year is an ideal opportunity to think about performance management within the workforce, and one of the most effective ways to do this is through staff appraisals.

Appraisals are a great way to underpin good performance management and promote staff development within the workforce, making each employee feel valued and recognised. They are also a good way to identify any training and development needs.

Good Practice for Staff Appraisals

If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well, so when implementing a staff appraisal system, this process should be straightforward. There must be commitment from management, making sure that time is set aside to allow the appraisals to take place without being rushed. Appraisals should also be monitored, firstly to make sure that they are being carried out, but also to record when the next date for review will be.

When designing a staff appraisal system, the employee job description should be referred to, as this will ensure focus can be placed on the correct areas of his/her job role, and a written record should be kept to provide feedback and to assist with monitoring.

There is no formal requirement for when appraisals should take place, but employers should set aside time for at least one per year with all employees. However, it can be beneficial for them to take place every 6 months to ensure that objectives still remain clear and progress doesn’t slip.

To ensure that employers get the most from staff appraisals, the following points should be considered:

Be Prepared

Refer to agreed objectives and notes on performance throughout the year.

Create the Right Atmosphere

Make sure that the meeting is set in a neutral environment in the workplace where the employee feels comfortable.

Plan Ahead

Plan ahead and only cover points which have been pinned down during this time to allow time for the employee to express their own views during the meeting as well.

Be positive, providing praise where possible before discussing areas for improvement. Try to begin by highlighting the tasks done well, as this will allow the employee to relax and feel valued.

Let the Employee Get Things Off Their Chest

This is only fair and provides them with an opportunity to give an overview of how they are feeling within their role. This will also identify any desire for progression or need for improvement they may have.

Stick to the Facts

Focus on experiences around the time of the review, as feedback relating to performance issues should be immediate.

Agree on Measurable Objectives and an Action Plan

Agree what the objectives should be and how these will be achieved, as well as a timeframe for each objective being achieved.

Employees should leave the meeting feeling positive about themselves and their own development.


If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610.

For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here.

Implementing an Adverse Weather Policy for your Business

Winter can bring several instances of staff shortages due to sickness absence, travel disruption and an increase in requests for annual leave.  

In order to deal with these issues as effectively as possible, it is important to have clear adverse weather policies in place, especially to do with employees getting to and from work, but also to do with absence and holiday requests. Clear policies on sickness are also important during the winter months, when colds and the flu are more common. Employers should also ensure that alternative options are provided to all staff where possible. 

For any employer looking to minimise the hours lost over winter, these adverse weather policies are a must: 

What should employers consider in their adverse weather policy? 

One of the main issues that comes to mind during winter is when employees can’t get to work because of snow. Employees are not automatically entitled to pay if they are not able to get to work due to bad weather, however, if employees arrive ready, available and willing to work, but the business is forced to close or reduce its opening hours due to bad weather, they will usually still be entitled to receive their normal pay.  

This would also be the case where other staff, such as line managers or staff who provide access to the building are unable to make it to work.  

Where possible, alternative options should also be considered for employees, such as: 

  • Allowing staff to come in later 
  • Flexible working to allow employees to make up any time lost 
  • Swapping shifts and providing overtime for employees who can make it to work, to minimise impact on productivity 
  • Homeworking 
  • Allow annual leave to be used when employees are unable to make it to work 

Employees are also entitled to unpaid time off when: 

  • Schools are closed and their child/children require looking after 
  • Caring arrangements for disabled relatives are cancelled 
  • A partner is seriously injured as a result of bad weather 

In any case, a clear policy on dealing with absence due to adverse weather must be established and communicated to employees. This should state what your expectations are, but you must remain flexible, plan ahead, make use of IT and take notice of any weather warnings which are issued to keep your business operating where possible.  

Colds and Flu 

Winter colds and flu mean an increase in workers calling in sick, so employers must ensure that absence reporting procedures are clear and must also regularly hold back to work interviews with employees when they return. 

Also, if the illness lasts more than seven days, employees should then obtain a Statement of Fitness for Work (otherwise known as a doctor’s statement or ‘fit note’) 

Working Temperatures 

When entering the winter months, it is inevitable that temperatures within the office will drop. Even though there are no statutory requirements for what this should be, it is important for employee wellbeing to monitor the temperature and adapt when required. ACAS states that suitable working conditions would be around 16 degrees Celsius, or 13 degrees Celsius if a lot of the work is physical, however this is not required by law. During extreme weather conditions, suitable adjustments could involve relaxing the dress code to allow employees to dress in warmer clothes, allowing extra breaks for hot drinks and bringing in extra heating options for the office.   

Wellbeing in the workplace 

Winter can sometimes cause an increase in conditions such as stress and depression so it is important to spot these signs and intervene where possible and also keep in mind: 

  • Employees will rarely talk about any aspect of mental health voluntarily so it is important to spot the signs and try to set some time aside to speak in private and in an informal setting so as to make them feel at ease.  
  • Make sure your line managers know how to respond to signs of stress. They may need the right training to help them handle difficult conversations and raise awareness of health issues. 

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If we can help you with your adverse weather policy or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610. 

For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here. 

 

5 HR Management Tips for the Festive Party Season

During the Festive season, most businesses recognise that festive parties or other social gatherings are an excellent opportunity to build rapport with colleagues and let off some steam after a stressful year at work. 

However, employees must remember that they are still responsible for conducting themselves in a way which promotes a positive company reputation, and that drunkenness should not be an excuse for misconduct. The best way to reinforce this is for HR officers, line managers and upper management to lead by example and effectively promote good company practice when it comes to appropriate behaviour. 

Here are 5 HR issues for employers to consider when organising an office party during the Festive season: 

Vicarious Liability 

It is important to be mindful of this when arranging work-related recreational events. Employers remain liable for acts of unlawful discrimination committed by employees during these types of events if appropriate steps have not taken to prevent this. This is regardless of whether the incident occurs during the champagne reception or the after party at the end of the evening. 

Implementing Clear Policies 

If employers have policies that provide clear guidelines on the standard of behaviour expected at work-related events, and what possible implications (up to and including dismissal) could result from inappropriate behaviour, then this will go a long way towards ensuring the entire workforce understand what is expected of them during a Festive party, or any other work-related social events. 

Larger organisations may also benefit from appointing individuals to supervise social events so that staff can come to them to raise any concerns. They should be provided with guidelines on dealing with drunk or disorderly employees and they should be advised to remain sober during the event. 

Free Bar?? 

While your employees will relish the thought, having a free bar also encourages excessive drinking, so it can be advisable to limit free alcohol and ensure that some low alcohol or alcoholfree alternatives are also available. 

Getting Home 

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees and so must consider how they get home after any work-related events. It may also be beneficial to consider hiring taxis or coaches for the end of the night. Employers may also provide telephone numbers for local taxi firms, or public transport times well in advance. 

The morning after the night before 

If you do find yourself receiving calls from employees the following morning, advising that they are feeling unwell, it is important not to jump to conclusions and reserve judgement until return to work meetings have been conducted in the normal way. 

When referring to the case of Bhara vs Ikea Ltd, two employees were dismissed from their roles, following a fight which occurred after the Christmas party, despite both parties maintaining this was nothing more than a playful wrestling match, so it is well worth reminding employees that their actions have consequences. 

However, it is equally important for all staff to be given an opportunity to enjoy themselves and dance the night away so, making sure the required preventative measures are taken will ensure that an enjoyable night is had by all! 

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If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610. 

For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here. 

Gender Reassignment: Advice for Employers

The number of individuals who undergo gender reassignment (or transition) is relatively small. Many businesses are, therefore, unlikely ever to deal with an employee who is transitioning and, for those that do, it may be a one-off situation. However, where the situation does arise, employers need to ensure that they comply with the applicable law and deal with it with care and consideration. Following good practice will help to make the transition for the transgender employee, work colleagues and clients as smooth as possible.

A transgender (or trans) person is someone who does not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth. The term transgender includes people who have transitioned or are transitioning from their assigned gender to the gender that matches their gender identity, but can also include people who do not intend to undergo gender reassignment. Some transgender people identify as “non-binary”, i.e. they do not regard their gender identity as exclusively male or female.

Good practice will include:

  • Taking into account that gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and that individuals who have undergone gender reassignment may apply for a gender recognition certificate.
  • Being aware of the data protection obligations relating to information about gender reassignment under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  • Appointing a contact person to manage the process of transition from the organisation’s perspective. This should be a person with a good relationship to the employer and have the ability to keep their confidence.
  • Ensuring that the contact person and the employee agree a written action plan to manage the transition.
  • Making sure that time off because of gender reassignment is treated no less favourably than absence because of sickness.
  • Discussing with the employee what information should be provided to colleagues and clients about their transition and when this should be provided.
  • Considering whether or not any issues arise from the organisation’s dress code or single-sex facilities.
  • Compiling a list of records and systems that must be amended.
  • Ensuring that you do not disclose information about an employee’s gender reassignment without their consent.
  • Being aware of the implications of gender reassignment on insurance and pensions.

If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610

For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here.

Re-skilling Your Workforce in the Digital Age

Re-skilling Your Workforce in the Digital Age

Virtually every industry is being impacted by the technology revolution and an increased reliance on data analytics. As a result, businesses of all sizes are being forced to rethink the way they work and turn to new technologies to remain competitive.

One consequence of this trend is that technology is taking over many administrative and repetitive jobs previously done by employees, dramatically reshaping the workforce and changing job descriptions in the process.

Despite fears that automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are putting jobs at risk, many roles will simply evolve as companies look to profit from their technology investment. With some of the more basic tasks off their plate, workers will instead be able to focus on more innovative activity.

To add to this, the rise of automation and more sophisticated analytics will see countless new roles created as employers seek digitally-savvy workers to help them master these technologies.

However, the modern employee will need to learn new skills in order to take advantage of these new opportunities. In fact, recent research by Capita Resourcing found that 54% of leaders think training and development for automation should be a major HR focus over the next five years.

The Modern Employee’s Skill-set

So what skills does today’s employee need to develop as their role evolves?

First of all, the modern employee will need to develop their analytical skills. The technologies that are becoming increasingly widespread will still depend on the way they are exploited and how the new systems that use them are actually designed. As a result, there will be an increasing need for employees to truly understand problems in order to configure technology appropriately.

Given the analytical requirements outlined above, it’s never been more important to be able to listen to and understand what is required to make effective decisions. This includes the ability to research, challenge and design intuitive solutions that deliver what the business requires.

But it’s not just about skills. As new technologies are gradually adopted, modern employees will need to embrace a ‘growth mindset’. This will give them the flexibility to successfully deal with the continuous improvement that is made to business processes and the agile development and rapid deployment of technology that will characterise modern digital businesses.

HR’s Role in Re-skilling the Workforce

Employees will look to their employers to help them develop the new skills they need as their roles change and evolve, regardless of the age of the employee. New entrants into the workforce may be more technologically savvy but they may not have the experience nor business acumen of their more established colleagues. Improvements in coaching, mentoring and also reverse mentoring would help to develop both new and existing staff.

It’s important for HR to note that training cannot be a tick-box exercise – it should be a continuous process based on collaboration and instant-access to relevant information.

HR must adapt training and develop systems to fit with employee expectations and deliver training effectively. However, there is work to do, with just 39% of non-managers surveyed by Oracle saying their organisation uses online and collaborative learning tools to promote their development.

By putting these new training approaches and systems in place, HR will help employees develop the skills they need to perform the new tasks that are required of them. This will provide organisations with the skills base they need to consolidate the benefits provided by emerging technology and ensure employees are in a position to be able to generate business value in the future.


If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610

For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here.

National Stress Awareness Day

The first Wednesday in November each year is National Stress Awareness Day 

We all know what it’s like to feel stressed – being under pressure is a normal part of life. But becoming overwhelmed by stress can lead to mental health problems or make existing problems worse. Employers must note that protecting the employee’s mental health as much as practicably possible falls within their duty of care in the same way that physical health does.

We often talk of an employer’s ‘duty of care’ to their employees. But just what does this duty consist of?

Employers have a duty of care to their employees, which means that they should take all steps which are reasonably possible to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing. Demonstrating concern for the physical and mental health of your workers shouldn’t just be seen as a legal duty – there’s a clear business case, too. It can be a key factor in building trust and reinforcing your commitment to your employees, and can help improve staff retention, boost productivity and pave the way for greater employee engagement.

For the first time, work-related stress anxiety or depression accounts for over half of all working days lost due to ill health in the U.K. In total, 15.4 million working days were lost in 2017/18 as a result of the condition, up from 12.5 million last year. This equates to 57.3 per cent of the 26.8 million work days lost to ill health according to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This increase has been partially driven by a rise in the number of new or long-standing cases, with 595,000 workers reporting that they currently suffer from the condition up from 526,000 in 2016/17.

Recognising the signs of stress, anxiety or depression in the workplace is something employers must be proactive on. Employers are advised to educate line managers about the importance of knowing their staff collectively and individually so they can monitor any changes in their working patterns conduct or behaviours. Is someone taking more sick days that usual, for example, or avoiding completing certain tasks; or do they seem quieter and more introverted than usual? Identifying anything typically out of the norm and taking action early to speak with that individual will make stress, depression or anxiety far easier to understand and manage in the workplace from the outset.

Failing to identify or take action when employees are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression can leave employers open to discrimination claims. To avoid this, they should look to make reasonable working adjustments in instances where stress and depression are an issue, and certainly when formal diagnosis has been given. While it might depend on operational viability or affordability as to whether or not an adjustment is reasonable, it could simply mean removing an element of the job found to be too stressful for the employee or a change to their working times. Working collaboratively will help to limit the possibility of related grievances and make discriminatory claims less likely.

If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610.

For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here.