With the summer holiday season fast approaching, employers need to look ahead to successfully manage holiday absences. Careful planning, organisation and communication of policies to employees should ensure that there are no disappointments or lack of cover for your business. Think about the bigger picture of staff holidays rather than just the immediate needs.
Have a well communicated policy in place
As a business you will need to establish clear guidelines and practices for employees to follow. Communicate to each member of staff the rules and guidelines around the holidays they are entitled to, when they can take them and the procedure for booking them.
Other common questions raised by employees include “What happens if I have to work a bank holiday?” and “Will I receive payment for untaken holidays if I leave?” All such questions should be addressed within the policy.
Ensure you have the policy in your staff handbook, on your staff intranet and even readily available in communal areas or on notice boards.
Encourage employees to spread the booking of their holidays throughout the year
You should encourage employees to plan and take holidays throughout the year. This not only helps with the general welfare of your employees but also ensures that they do not have an excessive amount of holidays left to book at the end of the year. Your policy should determine who is responsible for encouraging employees to take regular holidays.
Giving responsibility to line managers means employees could be reminded of the importance of booking holidays in team meets, and sent gentle reminders via email of how many days they still have available to book. Quick one-to-one meetings could then be held with staff yet to book holidays half way through the year.
Ensure a fair system for booking holidays
Rules for booking holidays need to be clearly established such as how many members of each team can be off at any one time, how much notice does an employee have to give of a holiday and when and why a holiday request may be declined by management.
It is a good idea to have a holiday calendar available to view so employees can check who is off before making a request. There are many online systems that can be used to track and calculate holidays, some of which are free of charge.
Ensuring there is a fair, transparent and consistent system in place for holiday booking will help with avoiding disappointments and remove any possible conflict.
Think of any restrictions you may need to enforce for holiday bookings
If you want to discourage staff from taking holiday during certain periods then let them know well in advance. As an employer, you are able to determine the periods in which employees can or cannot take holidays in response to the business needs. There are a number of reasons why you may decide to set restrictions which include:
- To state days on which employees must take holidays, for example specified days between Christmas and New Year, bank and public holidays
- To stop employees booking holidays during particularly busy periods
- To set the maximum number of consecutive holiday days that employees can take, typically set at a maximum of 10 days within most businesses
- To establish the number of employees who can take holidays within a department at any one time
- To set the minimum amount of holidays to be taken in any one period i.e. no half days
Whatever restriction you wish to enforce you should ensure there is a genuine business reason for this and that you communicate and justify this to your employees. Having the restrictions clearly written within your policy will avoid misunderstanding or conflict.
Set the rules for allowing employees to carry entitlement over to the next holiday year
Employees should be encouraged to take their full annual entitlement, at the very least the statutory minimum. Your reporting system should highlight remaining entitlement for each employee and they should be reminded a couple of months prior to the end of the holiday year of any still to take. Whilst it is their responsibility to ensure they take their entitlement, it is the company’s responsibility to ensure they are able to do this.
There may be exceptional circumstances where an employee is unable to take their full entitlement, such as a project deadline. Ensure the rules are clear within your policy and employees are treated consistently. If employees are not permitted to carry over holidays to the next leave, and lose them due to reasons beyond their control, they might feel demotivated and disengaged so consistency is key to ensure a fair process and avoid the risk of discrimination.
Employers should provide guidance on the following withn the annual leave procedure:
- Whether carrying over holiday leave should be automatic or subject to individual line managers’ discretion. If the latter applies, they should consider the reason for the request and whether or not their department will be able to cope with the leave being taken the following year. However, to ensure a fair and consistent approach, discretion should be kept to a minimum and HR should monitor the scheme
- The number of days that employees are permitted to carry over
- Whether or not employees should take carried-over holiday within a certain period of time, for example two months into the leave year
Employers that allow employees to carry over annual leave should still encourage employees to take regular breaks.
There is no obligation for holidays to be carried forward into the next holiday year or for a payment to be made in lieu for holidays accrued but untaken.
Ensure you adhere to the working time regulations
Employers can permit employees to carry over statutory holiday in excess of the first four weeks only and to the next holiday year only. However, employees may permit employees to carry over holidays in excess of the statutory entitlement for as long as they wish. For example, where a full-time employee’s holiday entitlement is 30 days, the employer can allow the employee to carry over anything up to 10 days, although eight of these days must be taken during the next holiday year.
Create a ‘holiday countdown’ procedure
Encouraging employees to plan workloads and remind their colleagues of the dates they are away from the office will be beneficial to everyone in the business. Make sure appointments are not booked during the period, any ongoing work is handed over and that customers/clients are aware as necessary.
Planning ahead will ensure there is no last minute rush. Ask employees to create a handover list for their colleagues detailing any outstanding work or actions, this should be available to all team members. Remember, communication is key.
And finally remind all employees to set an out of office alert giving alternative contact details for the period they are away.
Employment related aspects of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, which recently received Royal Assent, will come into force in stages over the next year or so, beginning on 25 June in relation to ‘whistleblowing’.
From this date employees who “blow the whistle” will have to show they had a reasonable belief that they were making their disclosure “in the public interest”. The purpose of the change is designed to close a loophole that allowed employees to blow the whistle about breaches of their own contract of employment. In addition, whilst employees will no longer have to be acting “in good faith” in order to show they have made a protected disclosure, their compensation could be reduced by up to 25% if a tribunal finds they are not acting in good faith but for some ulterior motive.
As part of the future changes employers will be held responsible for their employees’ acts or omissions if an employee subjects a fellow employee who has blown the whistle to a detriment because of the protected disclosure. However, an employer can escape liability if they show they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent the victimisation from occurring.
Employers don’t need to take any specific action in relation to the whistleblowing changes taking effect on 25 June. However they should ensure their whistleblowing policies make it clear that it is unacceptable to subject someone to a detriment because they have “blown the whistle”.
|National Minimum Wage (NMW) from 1st October 2012||£6.08 workers aged 21+|
|£4.98 workers aged 18-20|
|£3.68 wokers aged 16-17|
|£95 per week for National Apprentice Scheme|
|Minimum £2.60 per hour for apprentices under 19 or over 19 in first year of apprenticeship|
|Tips, gratuities and service charges excluded|
|Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from 6th April 2013||£86.70 per week|
|Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from 6th April 2013||6 weeks at 90% of average weekly earnings then 33 weeks at £136.78 per week or 90% of average weekly earnings if less|
|Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) from 6th April 2013||2 weeks at £136.78 or 90% of average weekly earnings if less|
|Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) from 6th April 2013||39 weeks at £136.78 or 90% of average weekly earnings if less|
|Statutory Redundancy Pay (SRP) from 1st February 2013||0.5 week’s pay for each year of service under 22 years of age|
|1 week’s pay for each year of service aged 22 to 41|
|1.5 week’s pay for each year of service when aged over 41|
|Week’s pay capped at £450|
|Maximum SRP £13,500|
|Unfair Dismissal from 1st February 2013||Week’s pay capped at £450|
|Maximum compensatory award £74,200|
|Compensation unlimited for whistleblowing, H&S, discrimination|
|Breach of contract||Maximum award £25,000|
P3PM’s Charlotte Gallagher responds:
“Whilst many businesses have undergone major change and restructuring in recent years, others are still making difficult decisions including reducing headcount in order to remain competitive in the continuing challenging economic environment.
“The need to make changes quickly can often lead to simple errors in managing the redundancy process, leaving businesses exposed to increased risk of claims of unfair dismissal at Tribunal. This process should not be taken lightly or rushed, even if the company has conducted other such processes recently. Every case is different and must be given the consideration, communication and planning it requires in order to minimise risk and maximise efficiency.
“One key point which is often overlooked or forgotten is to define the genuine need for potential redundancy. Under s.139 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employee is dismissed by reason of redundancy if the dismissal is wholly or mainly attributable to:
1. the fact that the employer has ceased or intends to cease:
-to carry on the business for the purposes for which the employee was employed, or
-to carry on that business in the place where the employee was so employed, or
2. the fact that the requirements of the business have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish:
-for employees to carry out work of a particular kind, or
-for employees to carry out work of a particular kind in the place where the employee was employed by the employer
“Before considering numbers review the business needs in reference to the business strategy and the processes that underpin the delivery of that strategy. Then you can determine what skills / roles are required in order to deliver the future business processes. Don’t risk losing skills, experience and tacit knowledge that are critical to the future success of the business. The total numbers involved will also affect the timescales of the process and whether you have to give formal notification of the potential redundancies via a HR1 form as follows:
-If 20 to 99 employees are to be made redundant at one establishment,consultation period must be at least 30 days before the first dismissal takes effect
-If 100 or more employees are to be made redundant at one establishment, consultation period must be at least 45 days before the first dismissal takes effect
“Through verbal and written communication advise the employees of the likely redundancy situation and give them the opportunity of making suggestions and representations of alternatives. Always ensure that discussions with employees or their representatives are done on the basis of ‘proposed’ redundancies. Make it clear that a final decision will not be made until the consultation process has been completed.
“When identifying the pool for selection consider for inclusion those employees who undertake the same or similar roles in all parts of the business, employees whose work is interchangeable with those at risk of redundancy and employees of any associated companies who carry out the same or similar functions to the employees at risk of redundancy.
“Identify objective and reasonable criteria to be used (or adhere to any customary or agreed arrangements in place) to select from the pool(s) those who may be made redundant and apply them consistently and fairly. During the consultation process ensure employees or their representatives have the opportunity to make suggestions about both the selection criteria and the method of applying them.
“If there are other vacancies in the company, or any associated companies, ensure these are widely communicated to all employees at risk throughout the consultation process and up to and beyond the termination date if appropriate. Be careful not to make assumptions that an employee at risk would not be interested in any potential vacancy, i.e. because of pay, location, hours or work etc. Do not fill other positions in the company that have not been presented as an opportunity to those employees at risk of redundancy.
“Individual consultation with each employee who is at risk of redundancy is a critical part of a fair redundancy process as this is the employee’s opportunity to ask questions, seek understanding about the business rationale and find out what this means for them as an individual. Open and regular face-to-face, one-to-one, communication with employees at risk of redundancy demonstrates that you are managing each individual with dignity, respect and understanding. It is also an opportunity for you to assist them in managing this difficult process of change and preparing them for opportunities that may lie ahead.
“Employees who have been given notice of dismissal by reason of redundancy must be permitted a reasonable amount of paid time off work before the end of their notice to look for new employment – for example, attending job interviews – or to make arrangements for training for future employment. To qualify for such time off, employees must have been continuously employed for at least two years by the date their notice is due to expire (or would expire if the correct minimum notice were given).
“It is important that the company continues to monitor the business situation during the notice period and communicate with the employees, who have been served notice of redundancy, accordingly. This may mean discussing with employees a change in business focus or strategy to that discussed during their consultation meetings, alerting them to potential new opportunities they may wish to apply for, and supporting them in their search for new employment externally. Don’t forget those staff who may be on garden leave – they are still employees and should be communicated with in the same way as if they were still working their notice period.”
P3 People Management’s Charlotte Gallagher responds:
“The term ‘employee engagement’ is one that crops up very frequently in HR discussions; namely because its impact is so far-reaching. Research has shown that employees who are fully engaged have greater pride in, and commitment to, their work, as well as higher levels of job satisfaction, motivation, support, confidence and a positive ‘can-do’ approach.
“They also better understand and commit to the wider business strategy, the brand integrity and the company’s vision, mission and values. These employees are more likely to give feedback to help shape the future of the business and accept personal accountability and responsibility for results.
“Furthermore, engaged employees have been shown to take fewer sick days and short term absences and companies with an engaged workforce see lower staff turnover, higher sales and revenue growth as a result of increased customer confidence and loyalty, and also higher productivity through smarter working practices, which means lower costs and reduced duplication of effort.
“So the starting point is measuring how engaged your employees are currently, then mapping out the steps needed to improve and develop this. Most companies utilise staff surveys as the first indicator of current levels of engagement. However, be sure your survey is properly thought out to create quantitative research that will stand up to scrutiny and ensure your new programme takes the correct direction. In some cases people confuse employee engagement and employee satisfaction and ask questions about pay and parking facilities which are part of a separate issue.
“At P3 People Management we introduced a new service for employers at the start of this year offering employee engagement surveys using the ‘Q12’ model. This is based on extensive research by the Gallup organisation which argues that there are no great companies but there are great workgroups.
“After years of research, they established that the groups that had high employee retention, high customer service, high productivity and high profits had high levels of employee engagement and they consistently answered “strongly agree” to a specific set of 12 questions. Gallup also states that the employee’s manager is the most important variable when assessing engagement.
“The survey will identify staff as being either engaged, not engaged or actively disengaged. Those who are engaged work with passion and feel a great connection to the company. Those who are not engaged are sleep-walking through their work day; putting in time, but without energy or passion. Those who are actively disengaged are employees who aren’t just unhappy at work, they’re busy acting out their unhappiness and undermining what their engaged co-workers accomplish.
“If you find your staff are engaged based on the survey results, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy with their pay or the parking facilities etc. It does, however, mean that they work with passion and feel a profound connection to the company. They are the ones who drive innovation and will move the company forward.
“When conducting such surveys, after receiving and analysing the results we produce a 12 month plan and where necessary assist in its implementation to improve the scores, increase employee engagement and enhance business performance.”
To arrange an employee engagement survey for your business please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Real Time Information (RTI)
From 6th April 2013, RTI will replace the usual end-of-year PAYE filing process with electronic submission of data to HMRC each and every time payroll is run. It is the biggest change to the PAYE system since 1994, and is a fundamental change for reporting Pay, Tax, National Insurance and other details about your employees to HMRC. It is hoped that reporting data in real time will ensure tax deductions and codes are more accurate, and should help to make PAYE easier and reduce the time spent by you as employers. Also with the planned introduction of universal credit benefit RTI moves the way for the tax department to exchange data with the Department for Work and Pensions.
Most employers will be invited to join the scheme from April 2013. Some larger organisations with 5,000+ employees may have a little longer to come on board between June and September. Organisations with less than 50 employees have until October 2013.
The main area of concern and the most time demanding will be the need to align all data with HMRC. To get started with RTI you will need to submit the following to HMRC:
Employers Alignment Submission (EAS)
If you need to submit an EAS, HMRC will let you know, but it’s mostly for larger businesses (more than 250 employees).
Full Payment Submission (FPS)
You’ll need to submit an FPS to HMRC every time you pay your employees. This is the most common submission and contains details of employee payments & deductions. HMRC will use this to calculate how much PAYE and NIC is due.
Employer Payment Summary (EPS)
The EPS is used to notify HMRC of any reductions to totals already submitted, or if no payment is due to be made. The submission should be made before your monthly or quarterly payment is due.
National Insurance Verification Request
NVR submissions allow you to validate an employee’s NI number or request one if you don’t have it. This submission can be made at any time you need.
|National Minimum Wage (NMW)||£6.08 workers aged 21 and older increasing to £6.19|
|from 1st Oct 2012||£4.98 workers aged 18 to 20 no change|
|£3.68 workers aged 16 to 17 no change|
|£95.00 per week for Apprentices on National Apprentice Scheme.|
|(minimum £2.60 per hour for apprentices under 19, or over 19 in first year of Apprenticeship). Increasing to £2.65|
|Tips, gratuities and service charges excluded.|
|Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)||£86.70 (was £85.85) per week.|
|NEW from 6th April 2013||Payable up to 28 weeks. Must earn more than £102 per week.|
|Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)||SMP is paid for 39 weeks.|
|NEW from 6th April 2013||First 6 weeks of SMP at 90% of employee’s average weekly earnings.|
|Followed by 33 weeks at £136.78 (was £135.45) per week or 90% of average weekly earnings whichever is less.|
|Need 26 weeks’ service at beginning of 14th week before EWC and must earn more than £109 (was £107) per week.|
|Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP)||SPP is paid for two weeks to the natural / adoptive father or mother’s partner.|
|NEW from 6th April 2013||Two weeks at £136.78 (was £135.45) per week or 90% of average weekly earnings whichever is less.|
|Need 26 weeks’ service at beginning of 14th week before EWC or by the week in which notification is received of being matched and must earn more than £109 (was £107) per week|
|Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP)||SAP is paid for 39 weeks for one adoptive parent only.|
|NEW from 6th April 2013||39 weeks at £136.78 (was £135.45) per week or 90% of average weekly earnings whichever is less.|
|Need 26 weeks’ service by the end of the week in which employee is notified of being matched with the child and must earn more than £109 (was £107) per week.|
|Statutory Redundancy Pay (SRP)||Number of weeks multiplied by the average actual weekly wage or a maximum weekly wage whichever is the less.|
|From 1st Feb 2013||0.5 week’s pay for each year of service under 22 years of age|
|1 week’s pay for each year of service when aged between 22 and 41|
|1.5 week’s pay for each year of service when aged over 41|
|Maximum amount for a week’s pay: £450 (increase from £430)|
|Maximum statutory redundancy payment: £13,500 (increase from £12,900) based on 30 weeks|
|Calculations based on age and complete years of service as at date the notice period would expire.|
|Unfair Dismissal||Maximum amount for a week’s pay: £450 (increase from £430)|
|From 1st Feb 2013||Maximum compensatory award: £74,200 (increase from £72,300)|
|Compensation is unlimited for successful cases of whistle blowing, certain health or safety matters and discrimination on grounds of a protected characteristic.|
|Breach of Contract||Maximum award in an employment tribunal: £25,000|
Dealing effectively with an employee who has a personal hygiene problem is one of the most difficult and sensitive situations that a manager may have to face.
Unless the issue is raised with the employee, it is likely that the problem will continue and other employees may become hostile towards the problem employee and disillusioned by management’s lack of willingness to tackle the problem. Therefore it should be dealt with promptly and firmly.
The only effective method of handling a problem regarding personal hygiene is through honest, open, two-way communication with the employee in question. Plain language should be used to explain the problem. Dropping hints is unlikely to work, and may create further problems such as ill-feeling or upset.
It is important to bear in mind that a problem of body odour or bad breath may be rooted in the employee’s health and may not always be due to a lack of personal hygiene. Therefore keep an open mind and be careful not to be seen to accuse the employee of poor personal standards.
Arrange to talk to the employee privately and confidentially, bearing in mind that a meeting of this nature is likely to be difficult and possibly embarrassing. Be sensitive, understanding and patient during the meeting. It will be important for the employee to be reassured that this will remain confidential.
You could open the interview by making a statement along the lines of: “There is a problem I would like to discuss with you. It’s a delicate matter, and I would like to see if we can agree a resolution to it.” Then proceed to specify the problem factually and in plain language. For example, “I have noticed sometimes that you have quite a strong body odour and on occasions that the clothing you wear to work has a stale smell. I feel that this is something that needs to be addressed.”
After allowing a pause, ask the employee if they are aware of any reason for the problem, such as an underlying medical cause. If this is the case, do not pose intrusive questions into the employee’s state of health, but move on to discuss what can be done to resolve the matter.
Be quick to reassure the employee that the aim of the discussion is to help and encourage him/her to recognise and solve a problem. It may be helpful to say something like: “I thought you would prefer to have this pointed out to you.”
Do not tell the employee that other people have commented on the problem (even if they have), as this is likely to cause unnecessary embarrassment. A better approach is for you to take ownership of the matter and to use the expression, “I have noticed that..”
Having pointed out the problem and allowed the employee adequate time and opportunity to respond, move the meeting forward and ask the employee what solution he/she thinks would be feasible. Depending on what the employee’s given explanation is (if any) for the problem, some examples might include:
- to see their own doctor to explain that the problem has been highlighted at work and ask for medical intervention
- to undertake to bathe more frequently and/or to wash hair more frequently and/or to launder clothes more frequently
- to undertake to brush teeth and/or use a mouthwash more frequently
If the problem is one of lack of personal hygiene, inform the employee clearly and firmly that an improvement is required so as to avoid further difficulties. This should be put across in a supportive way, and not in a manner that implies criticism or threat. However, do not be afraid to stress the importance of improvement, highlighting the need for an acceptable working environment for all and the significance of creating a positive image on the part of the company when dealing with clients and suppliers.
Endeavour to secure the employee’s agreed commitment to change and set a date for review within a reasonable timeframe, perhaps a month or so. Dealing with a personal hygiene problem in the workplace is certainly no easy matter, but the employee may, in the longer term, benefit from the sort of frank feedback that will be necessary in such a situation.
P3 People Management are in HR Aspects Magazine http://hr-aspects.co.uk/archives/404