HR FAQ's FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT HR What does Human Resources do? Expand Human resources is used to describe both the people who work for a company or organisation and the department responsible for managing resources related to employees this can include: Managing job recruitment, selection, and promotion Developing and overseeing employee benefits and wellness programs Developing, promoting, and enforcing personnel policies Promoting employee career development and job training Providing orientation programs for new hires Providing guidance regarding disciplinary actions Serving as a primary contact for work-site injuries or accidents Addressing current employee concerns Managing the employee separation process Does my company even need an HR department? Expand The Truth is small companies generally don’t really need to hire a dedicated HR manager. Many small-business owners choose to take on the responsibility of managing HR tasks when the company is just starting out (particularly if there aren’t many other employees). Alternatively, the business owner may decide to allocate these functions to another role (e.g. an office administrator). Once a company gets to about 20 employees, managing HR internally becomes a burden. This is the point at which many business owners start to think about hiring a dedicated HR professional. Increasingly, however, business owners are seeing the value of outsourcing human resources functions to an outside vendor (like BHR), you only pay for the time you need when you need it or you can retain services for a set number of hours each month. You get access to an experienced HR professional without a full-time salary cost! Does my company need HR Policies? Expand Yes! It’s good business practice (and sometimes a legal requirement) to have HR Policies in place - often summarised within an employee handbook. From a legal point of view, creating an employee handbook will help you avoid problems in the workplace. Employees will know what the company expects from them. The same rules will apply to all employees, which makes it easier to run your business. Written policies help show workers that your company wants fairness. Your company’s employee handbook will often contain several important sections and must include information about the organisation’s culture, policies, and procedures. To develop an effective employee handbook, it should be clear, consistent, comprehensive, current, communicated, and committed. A company handbook makes it easier for employees to understand the rules. The handbook should show consistency with the company’s practices and policies. It should align with current employment laws and be comprehensive enough to cover important policies. Also, the handbook should be communicated or distributed to every employee and the company should show commitment to enforcing the rules. Do we need a written disciplinary procedure? Expand If you think there are grounds for disciplining an employee, for instance, on grounds of misconduct or poor performance, you must act fairly and reasonably. To help make sure that you do a disciplinary procedure makes clear to both you and your employees how disciplinary issues will be handled. Good disciplinary procedures are not about penalising employees, although sanctions may sometimes be necessary; they are also about helping and encouraging employees to overcome any misconduct or performance issues, so they can become fully effective again. What should be kept in an Employee File and who should have access to it? Expand Employee performance reviews, disciplinary and training records, their initial application and other documents that have been shared with them. Access should be confidential and kept on a “need to know” basis. Medical information should NOT be included in the Employee file. How long can we suspend an employee for? Expand First, are you sure that suspension on full pay is justified? Only resort to this if it is necessary - the Guide to the Acas Code of Practice suggests the following as examples of when it may be necessary while investigations are carried out: where relationships at work have broken down in gross misconduct cases where there are risks to an employee's or the company's property or responsibilities to other parties, or exceptionally, where you have reasonable grounds for concern that evidence has been tampered with or destroyed, or witnesses pressurized, before a disciplinary meeting If justified, the suspension should be as brief as possible, and kept under constant review to make sure it is not continuing unnecessarily. Make it clear to the employee that suspension is not a disciplinary action or an assumption of guilt, and keep them informed of the progress of your investigations. You can only suspend someone without pay if their contract of employment allows you to do so. We are going to have to hold a disciplinary hearing. What do we have to do? Expand First, tell your employee in writing, giving them enough information about: the alleged misconduct or poor performance the possible consequences if the allegations are proved the date, time and venue - the meeting must be held without unreasonable delay, given the employee's need to prepare their right to be accompanied at the meeting the procedure that will be followed, including how they tell you about witnesses they want to call, and submit witness statements This is so they can prepare for the hearing and answer the case against them. Also send them copies of any relevant documents such as timesheets, sickness or disciplinary records, and any witness statements, unless a person giving a statement has requested anonymity. Make sure these are also available at the hearing. If you can, investigate any explanations you anticipate the employee may offer, including any personal or non-work issues that could have a bearing on the case. Appoint someone who is not involved in the case to take a note of the hearing and act as witness to the proceedings. If the employee might otherwise be unable to take a full part in the hearing - for example, because of a disability or their English is poor - consider arranging an interpreter or facilitator, in addition to any companion (although it is obviously more convenient if one person can fulfil both roles). This means you can show you have not been discriminatory, and have made "reasonable adjustments" for a disabled employee. Map out the structure of the meeting, and plan the points you want to cover. Introduce those present to the employee, explain why they are there, introduce and explain the role of any companion, explain the purpose of the meeting (to consider whether disciplinary action should be taken in accordance with your business's disciplinary procedure) and explain how the meeting will be conducted. Then state the alleged misconduct or performance issues as precisely as possible, and outline the case by going through the evidence. Allow the employee to present their case and answer the allegation - for example, they may have an explanation for their alleged behaviour. Give them the opportunity to ask questions, present evidence and call witnesses, and raise points about information provided by witnesses. Also take into account the rights of any companion. If witnesses cannot attend, and their evidence is important, consider adjourning so that questions can be put to them. If new facts emerge, consider adjourning while they are investigated. Keep the proceedings formal, courteous and make sure it is a two-way process by asking open questions, checking your and the employee's understanding of what has been said, and do not get into an argument. At the end, summarise the main points, and ask the employee if he or she wants to add anything. If it becomes clear the allegations are unfounded, end the hearing. If the employee agrees the allegations, try to agree steps that would remedy the situation. If you decide to take disciplinary action, adjourn while you consider your penalty (or it may look as if you had made up your mind in advance), but give your decision as soon as possible after the meeting. If it is dismissal, tell the employee the reasons, the date employment will end, the notice period and that they have a right to appeal. Whatever the disciplinary action to be taken, notify the employee in writing immediately, setting out: The nature of the misconduct or performance issue; Any period of time given for improvement and the improvement expected; The disciplinary penalty and, where appropriate, how long it will last; The likely consequences of further misconduct or poor performance; The timescale for lodging an appeal and how it should be made For a dismissal, the reasons for it. How should I go about making company rules and regulations? Expand You need to have balance when making rules and regulations. You need not create a plethora of policies that control the actions of your numerous employees when all you require are sufficient policies to control the actions of a few. You don’t need to cover every contingency — you need guidance to handle certain situations. In short, ensure that your rules and regulations protect the company and lead to all employees being treated fairly. Can a company refuse a holiday request? Expand As an employer, you can refuse to grant a holiday or time-off request. For instance, many of your workers in the same team or department ask to leave at the same time, particularly over Christmas, Easter or summer. In such a scenario, it might not be practical to allow some requests because you have to make sure that the needs of the company are met. However, employers are obligated to facilitate requests for time off as much as possible and also encourage staff to take regular breaks throughout the year. If I choose not to provide contracts of employment is my business at risk? Expand Yes. All employers have an obligation to issue a contract of employment within the first 8 weeks of any new employee joining. Failure to provide not only breaches employment law requirements, the business may also find themselves with unwanted compensation being awarded for failure to provide, should they be taken to an employment tribunal for other employment matters. The law on issuing contracts of employment is changing. Although it has been the rule for many years that contracts of employment should be issued within 2 months, the law will change in Spring 2020. The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 have been made. These regulations, which come into force on 6 April 2020, amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 to provide that a written statement of terms must be given on or before the first day of employment. What if I employ other types of workers i.e. self-employed. Do they need to be issued with a contract of employment? Expand All workers must be issued with a form of contract, regardless of the hours they work. All are a valuable resource to any business and should expect written terms of their working conditions and be made aware of Company rules and expectations. Recommended contract agreements are as follows; Part time, Casual Temporary and Fixed Term Apprentices Volunteers or Voluntary Workers Sub-contractors and Self-employed Where can I access HR advice and Support? Expand There are many places that offer some kind of HR support. This could be ACAS or other providers such as Law Firms or HR Consultants. In addition, some membership organisations may provide you with access to employment documents and advice. BHR has extensive experience providing a commercial, cost-effective and practical approach to managing Human Resources. I save you time (not having to find out the information yourself from lots of different sources) and I save you money by helping you to resolve problems quickly! What range of services do BHR offer? Expand BHR works with clients in many ways. Usually starting off with an audit of your existing HR documentation (free of charge). Followed by the development of all appropriate contracts of employment and the employee handbook. Thereafter we act as an outsourced HR business partner offering support in many ways, but typically supporting recruitment processes, managing sickness absence cases, through to facilitating a disciplinary or grievance hearing. I also regularly support restructuring programmes, redundancy processes and other sensitive related terminations such as settlement agreements. If you have a question you would like me to answer, send me a message and let me know!