fifa

The 2018 World Cup in Russia sees 32 nations taking part in 63 matches from Thursday 14 June until Sunday 15 July. Plan ahead to minimise disruption, particularly for games taking place during working hours. Note that most England games are planned for outside normal office hours, but staff may be affected if they work shifts and some staff of course, support other teams

Key dates for England games

England v Tunisia: Mon 18 June 19:00

England v Panama: Sun 24 June 13:00

England v Belgium: Thurs 28 June 19:00

If England won their group progressed to the final they would play:

Mon 2 July 19:00

Fri 6 July 19:00

Tue 10 July 19:00

Sun 15 July 16:00

If England came second in their group progressed the final they would play:

Tue 3 July 19:00

Sat 7 July 15:00

Wed 11 July 19:00

Sun 15 July 16:00

All times are BST.

Your approach

Consider how you are going to approach the World Cup in advance.  This could involve:-

  • Any special facilities or arrangements for viewing events taking place during working time
  • The notification procedure for annual leave requests, which may spike in June and July
  • Any additional flexible working arrangements offered during the World Cup, that is, starting earlier to finish in time to see a4pm game, or allowing employees to take an extended two-hour lunch break and stay late to make up the time, as long as there is suitable cover.
  • Consider allowing shift swaps or relax rules on annual leave by considering last-minute holiday requests.
  • Consider putting in place facilities to allow matches to be shown at work, for example, games shown on TVs in communal areas, employees permitted to listen to or watch games online on work devices.

Taking positive steps to manage the workplace impact of the World Cup can have a beneficial effect on employee relations. As well as allowing staff to watch matches, you could consider:-

  • Putting up special decorations in the workplace, such as flags of the countries involved
  • Running a sweepstake
  • Relax dress codes, including allowing football shirts to be worn or items of clothing that are the same colour as the team(s) playing that day
  • Provide refreshments during games.

Beware of discrimination

During the World Cup, employers need to beware of the potential  discrimination issues that can arise. In particular, ensure that:

  • If you offer special arrangements for England fans, such as flexible working, they offer the same arrangements to fans from other countries
  • If you provide employees with access to a television in the workplace to watch the football, consider offering a different perk for those staff who do not wish to watch the event and may otherwise feel disadvantaged - this could be to watch Wimbledon which starts early July, or provide them with additional breaks or the flexibility to finish early
  • Staff are made aware that harassment linked to the event, for example hostile or racist remarks about a particular country, will not be tolerated.

If it all goes wrong

By setting out your expectations and what will happen if your guidelines are not followed, you should avoid any negative behaviours, however during the World Cup, a small number of employees may misbehave, which will need to be dealt with under the disciplinary policy. Potential issues for employers to look out for include:-

  • Unauthorised absence, for example pulling a sickie after being out the night before to watch a game. To help minimise absenteeism it is worth considering re-circulating your company’s sickness policy with emphasis on the consequences of unauthorised sick leave in connection with sporting fixtures. It may also be worthwhile explaining the impact that sickness has on the rest of the team
  • Ringing in sick on the day of a big match
  • Intoxication at work, for instance returning drunk from a lunchtime pub visit
  • Excessive internet use, for example streaming back-to-back games (sometimes three per day) when they should be working
  • Harassment of colleagues from other countries, for instance racist comments.

 

Introduction data protection

Regardless of Brexit, GDPR will bring in a range of new rights allowing employees to access information held on them by employers. GDPR will replace the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).

GDPR preserves the current rights regarding data and also provides new and enhanced rights and protection for individuals, who are known as 'data subjects'. Failure to comply with the provisions of the GDPR may lead to greatly increased monetary sanctions, so it is critical that any organisations processing personal data are aware of the changes.

Key changes
New data subject rights include the right to erasure, requiring an organisation to delete the personal data it holds and to cease processing it any further.  This data could include personnel records, metadata on computers and servers, CCTV, call logs, electronic premises access records, health and safety reports and any other electronic records or filing systems used within a Company.

In addition, individuals will have a right of personal data to be corrected if it is being processed inaccurately and the right to data portability, essentially giving an individual the ability to have a copy of their personal data in a commonly used and a machine-readable format.

Subject access requests
Perhaps the most prominent and commonly used right under the DPA is 'subject access', where a worker can make a request to see what information is held about them.  The access request is often made during a dispute or Employment Tribunal claim and can result in a company spending hours checking paper documents, email histories and a huge amount of computer files.  This is changing under the GDPR. GDPR defines personal data as 'any information relating to a data subject' and a data subject as an identified or identifiable (whether directly or indirectly) living person to whom personal data relates. 

Companies, will have to consider how to identify individuals, in particular employees. Names clearly identify a person, but so may an email address, payroll number and computer login details. Careful consideration will need to be given to any other aspects of a company’s operation that uses alternative designations (through coding or shorthand) to identify an individual.

GDPR sets out the purpose of a subject access request, something that is not explicit in the current regime. The right of access is stated to enable an individual to be aware of, and to verify, the lawfulness of the processing of their personal data.

Company's will need to use 'reasonable means' to identify those making a subject access request. For an employee, this should be sufficiently easy given the nature of the relationship.  When requesters are not employees, you will need to set out a process to check the identification requirements needed to be sure that the requester is authenticated. This could include asking for passport/driving licence and recent utility bills. This data should only be processed in order to verify the identity of a requester. It should be processed no further once that purpose has been satisfied.

Further, under the DPA a fee of up to £10 can be charged for responding to a request. Helpfully, the time for complying with a request does not commence until payment has been made. This will no longer be the case under the GDPR as the right to charge a fee as standard is abolished.  Organisations will be able to charge a 'reasonable fee' when complying with requests for additional copies of data previously provided. The Information Commissioner’s Office states that the fee must be based on the administrative cost of providing the further copies. To clarify, this would not enable a Company to charge for a subsequent subject access request that sought data that had not been previously requested or provided.

Another big change to the subject access regime will be the time allowed for compliance. Less time will be available in order to comply with a subject access request. The current regime allows for 40 calendar days, but the GDPR will reduce this to one month.  Companies, may, however be able to seek an extension of up to a maximum of two further months in cases of complex or numerous requests from an individual. If an organisation seeks an extension, it must notify the requester within one month of receiving the original request and set out why the extension is necessary. Any explanation will need to be sufficiently detailed in order to justify the request.

Company's will be able to exercise their right, where legitimate, to ask the requester to specify the information relating to the request. The request will not pause the time for complying, but it may be of particular use to those organisations that process large amounts of personal data, bringing the search into focus.  

Finally, Company's will be able to  keep in mind whether a request is manifestly unfounded or excessive. This is a new avenue for organisations receiving disproportionate requests. Company's may be able to refuse to respond to such requests, or rely on the administrative charge if the information is something that has been provided previously. Deciding whether a request is 'manifestly unfounded or excessive' will turn on the individual facts.

As we get closer to the GDPR deadline, more guidance will be available and we will feature this topic regularly within this newsletter.

Young workers

Employing young workers

With the increase in apprenticeships, many organisations are employing young people for the first time.  This article provides tips and guidelines on employing individuals who are under 18.

There are a number of employment rights all workers have when they start a job, but young workers - those under 18 years old - usually have a few additional or different rights to protect them at work.

Relevant employment law

The regulation of the employment of people under 18 years of age is covered by two separate, but related, regimes. The key distinction is whether an individual is a 'child' or a 'young person'.  The definitions are:-

Child: a child is anyone who is of compulsory school age, ie; has not reached the official age at which they can leave school. A person can leave school on the last Friday in June in the academic year in which they turn 16, provided he or she continues to receive some form of education or training until the age of 18. Such compulsory education or training will often be provided by an employer – for instance, in the form of an apprenticeship or training scheme.

Young person: a young person is anyone who is over compulsory school age, but under the age of 18.

What to do before employing young people

The general position is that young people can be employed, but employers need to be aware of a few specific restrictions.  Young people should not carry out work that is beyond their physical or mental capacity. Unfortunately, there is no reported judicial or administrative guidance on what 'capacity' means in this context and the employer will need to make a decision on each young person on a case-by-case basis.

Young people cannot generally be employed in roles that involve:-

  • Contact with chemical agents, toxic material or radiation
  • Extreme cold, heat or vibration which pose a risk to health.

These latter restrictions will not apply if such risks are necessary to the young person’s training, there is proper supervision, and the risk has been reduced to the lowest level that is reasonably possible. Again, the extent to which an employer is able to mitigate risks will depend on the situation in each case. As a result, best practice is to consider each case on its own merits, rather than applying a blanket rule.

Safeguarding

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks must be carried out on any employees who will have day-to-day responsibility for a 'child' or are likely to work with a child unsupervised. This would ordinarily include the child’s line manager and/or supervisor. DBS checks are not usually necessary when employing young people, unless there is a residential or travel element (for instance, a weekend residential course).

Health and Safety

Employers are required by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to carry out such risk assessments in respect of all employees – not only children or young people. However, organisations that employ children or young people must carry out the assessment with those individuals specifically in mind. They must consider a number of factors, such as:-

  • The inexperience and immaturity of young people
  • The suitability of work equipment for use by young people. This is why often age limits are in place on the use of some equipment and machinery such as fork lift trucks.
  • The extent of health and safety training that will be required.

If employing a child, the child’s parents must be provided with a copy of the assessment.

Working time

Young workers are entitled to:-

  • At least 48 hours of uninterrupted rest each week
  • A daily rest break of 12 consecutive hours (the break between finishing work one day and starting work the next)
  • A rest break of at least 30 minutes if the working day lasts more than 4.5 hours. The rest break can be unpaid
  • Young workers normally will not work more than 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week
  • Young workers cannot work between 10pm and 6am, although there are some limited some exceptions (see next section)
  • All workers are entitled to at least the statutory annual leave allowance of 5.6 of their working week.

Night work

Workers under 18 are not usually allowed to work at night, however, there are some exceptions. Younger workers may work during the night if they are employed in a hospital or similar places of work, or in areas such as, advertising, sporting or cultural activities.

Younger workers may work between 10pm or 11pm to midnight and between 4am to 6/7am if they are employed in:-

  • Agriculture
  • Retail trading
  • Postal or newspaper deliveries
  • A catering business, hotel, public house, restaurant etc
  • A bakery.

They may work when the work is necessary to, maintain continuity of service or production, or respond to demand for services or products.

Wage rates

Most workers over school leaving age will be entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage. Young people must be paid the rate for their age, this includes, 16-17 year olds who are above school leaving age but under 18, and apprentices under 19.

England only

Young people who do not hold a level 3 educational training qualification are required to stay in education or training at least part-time, until they are 18 years old. They are required to take part in education or training through either:-

  • Full-time education or training, including school, or college
  • Work-based learning, such as Apprenticeships or part-time education, or training, or volunteering more than 20 hours a week
  • The education or training can be work-based.

shutterstock 1831747

How to ... make an offer of employment

Once you have selected your ideal candidate, there are a number of steps to go through to make an offer of employment.  You will want to set out the key terms that applies to your offer of employment, including a caveat on what you will do if all the recruitment checks are not satisfactory.  In the offer letter you should cover:-

  • The job title, hours of work, whether it is on a fixed term basis and the rate of pay.  Some employers enclose the contract of employment with the offer letter in which case you can simply reference this document within the offer letter
  • The contract of employment must be issued within 8 weeks of the employee’s start date, so enclosing the contract with the offer, meets this requirement, as well as setting out all the main terms of the contract so there can be no argument down the line
  • It is good practice to state that the offer set out supersedes any previous discussions, which will avoid any confusion if there have been any discussions or negotiations about the job
  • Ensure you advise any conditions that have to be met, for example the offer could be subject to satisfactory references, right to work, confirmation of qualifications, etc (see below)
  • Request the candidate accepts this offer within a certain timescale and how they accept it, ie; they need to ring, send back a copy of the offer letter, etc.

Conditions

The offer of employment is usually conditional which must be made clear to the prospective employee.  The usual conditions are:-

  • Subject to receipt of references which are satisfactory to the company.  If you do not make an offer subject to satisfactory references, you might be obliged to give or pay contractual notice if you wish to subsequently withdraw an offer of employment.
  • Receipt of medical report or completed medical questionnaire that is satisfactory to you. If the medical information does not come back satisfactory, you will need to be careful about withdrawing the offer of employment as the health matters may be classed as a disability.  In this case you will need to consider if there are any reasonable adjustments to allow the candidate to do the job and only after all options have been explored, consider withdrawing the offer of employment.
  • Receipt of a criminal records check. You can only seek a Disclosure and Barring Service check (formally a CRB check) if you are proposing to employ the individual into a particular occupation (usually working with children or vulnerable adults).
  • Confirmation of qualifications. Ask to see original copies of qualifications, if the job has been offered because of these qualifications, for example you may wish to check they are a qualified accountant, surveyor, etc.  In addition, particularly for senior roles or in sales jobs, you might need to ask for a copy of their contract from their existing employer to check there are no restrictive covenants that could prevent them from taking up your job offer.
  • Confirmation that the employee has the right to work in the UK.  For all employees, you need to carry out checks, before a candidate commences employment, and to keep a record of the checks you have carried out in case of an audit.  If you fail to carry out checks, the company will be subject to criminal and civil penalties (up to £20,000 per individual found to be illegally working). If you have proof of your checks, no penalties will be applied even if the employee has provided you with false documents which were not obviously false.  The easiest way to check a person has the right to work in the UK is to ask the candidate if they have an in-date 10 year passport.  If a passport is not available a document which shows their name and NI number and name and date of birth.  The documents should be copied and immediately returned to the individual.   If the employee has a specific working visa, you need to check that the visa allows them to do the type of work you are requiring of them and note if there is an expiry date.  If there is an expiry date, diarise this at least 2 months prior as the necessary approvals for any extension can take some time.

Withdrawing the offer

From time to time you might have to withdraw an offer because the conditions you have based the offer on have not been met.  It is important to not act hastily, for example if the criminal records check shows a shoplifting incident when they were 17 and they will not come into contact with money in their job, it may not be appropriate to withdraw the offer.  Document the reasons for withdrawing the offer and keep the documentary evidence that supports the reasons for your decision in case of complaint down the line.

Want more information?

This is just a sample of the regular information we make available to our clients. For less than £1 per day, our HR Toolkit is ideal if you wish to manage HR yourself but want the comfort of knowing there is an expert on hand.   The toolkit gives you access to support by ‘phone or email if you want to ask a question, discuss a problem, or simply check you are on the right lines.  Also includes access to our member-only website which contains hundreds of HR template letters, forms, flowcharts, policies and guidelines. For more information or to arrange a demo of the toolkit, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

christmas timer

Introduction

This one off article provides timely HR guidance on coping with Christmas parties and general festivities in the workplace.  Gone are the days when every company held a Christmas party.  This festive bash used to be a way of thanking staff for all their hard work during the year as well as starting the Christmas celebrations.  However, due to increasing costs and the fear of litigation means that many employers do not hold this annual event. 

Employers are increasingly aware that, if it goes wrong, which so often happens once the drink starts to flow, it could lead to discrimination, harassment or even unfair dismissal claims.  So what should you do?  This guidance will guide you through.

Preparation

Preparation and planning are key if employers want to avoid a severe financial and legal hangover in the New Year.  Decide why you are holding the party and carefully select the venue, refreshments and entertainment in line with that goal.  Employers must take into account the make up of all their employees, for example, if your workforce is mainly women, it is unlikely they are going to enjoy going to a lap dancing club.  As well as gender, consider the age of your workforce as well as nationality. 

Once you have decided on the event, it is good practice to issue guidance to staff about the event and behaviours expected.  If you are unfortunate and do have problems at the event the employee cannot use the excuse ‘I didn’t realise’ and then the whole matter becomes a grey area.

An example could be:-

You [if employees partners are also included, add: and your spouse, civil partner or partner] are invited to attend this year's Christmas party, which will take place on [date]. The party is being held at [venue], starting at [time] and ending at [time].

Dress code is [set out dress code details].

If you would like to attend, please confirm your attendance, and if you are bringing a guest, [email/telephone] no later than [date].

[Company name] will provide [set out drinks arrangements, for example: a free bar / all evening/wine, water or soft drinks with dinner but thereafter the bar will be a paying one. OR  You will be expected to pay for any alcoholic or soft drinks consumed during the course of the evening.]

If transport is provided:

[The organisation will provide a coach between the office and the venue, which will return at the end of the evening. If you wish to reserve a place on the coach in both directions, please contact [name] by no later than [date]. If you do not reserve a place on the coach, we will assume you are making your own arrangements to get to the venue and then home afterwards.]

We do also need to remind you that you and your guest are required to conduct yourselves in an appropriate, mature and responsible manner throughout the evening. In particular:-

  • Alcohol should be consumed in moderation and you should consider arrangements to get home in advance.  [Name] can provide details of local taxi firms close to the venue if necessary. The organisation will not pay for the cost of taxis home
  • Improper conduct or other unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated and is a serious disciplinary matter. This includes excessive drunkenness, the use of illegal drugs, unlawful or inappropriate discrimination or harassment, violence such as fighting or aggressive behaviour and serious verbal abuse or the use of other inappropriate language, whether this is towards a fellow employee, an invited guest or a member of the waiting or bar staff. Please be aware that such misconduct may amount to gross misconduct depending on the circumstances of the case, and possible summary dismissal.
  • Under health and safety legislation, you have a general duty to take reasonable care of your own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by your acts or omissions. Please bear this in mind at the event.

Finally, you are reminded that you are required to report for work the following day, unless you have arranged in advance to take this as a day's annual leave. Any unauthorised absence on the day after the party will be treated as a disciplinary issue. Any sickness absence on this day will be required to be supported by a doctor's certificate. Any costs incurred from your GP’s surgery in this regard will be the employee’s responsibility. A hangover is an unacceptable reason for sickness absence.

All that remains is for the organisation to wish all attendees an enjoyable evening.

Religion

There has been much written about whether holding a Christmas party is discriminating against non-Christian staff and we have all seen articles referring to ‘winter’ rather than Christmas lights.  It is unlikely that holding a Christmas party would in itself be seen as religious discrimination because generally these parties are more about having a staff get-together and boosting morale than celebrating religion. However, employers can face discrimination claims if they do not take different religions into account when planning their Christmas party. A claim has not yet been lodged, but focusing on one Christian festival has the potential to cause offence. Location, theme, timing and catering should all be carefully considered, and a choice of non-alcoholic drinks and vegetarian options are a must.

Harassment

Would the company be liable for the actions of an employee who harassed another member of staff at the Christmas party?  An employer can be held liable for the actions of an employee, even if the harassment occurs outside working hours. Comments made at a Christmas party that are intended to be good natured but are perceived by an individual to be offensive, could result in a claim. In one case, a senior City lawyer admitted mentioning in public that a 29-year-old female solicitor had a ‘great cleavage’.  The comments were made during an office Christmas party, but ended up in a tribunal.

So what can employers do to a harassment claim?  The employer will not be liable if it can show that it took reasonable practicable steps to prevent it from occurring so issuing guidance as set out above will provide excellent evidence of how you managed the risk. Having clear equal opportunities and anti-harassment policies, in your Staff Handbook, which regularly reviewed and promoted to staff are also good tools to confirm that staff were aware of what behaviour could be classed as harassment and that this behaviour is not tolerated by the company. 

Top tips for enjoying the Christmas party

  • Decide why you are holding the party and prepare accordingly
  • Consider your workforce and ensure the event is not going to upset one group of people
  • Ensure there is non-alcoholic drinks and vegetarian food options available
  • Have in place equal opportunities and harassment polices which are taken seriously
  • Issue behaviour guidelines and warn staff of the potential consequences of unacceptable behaviour
  • If a complaint is raised, it should be taken seriously and consistently. 
An online toolkit designed by a St Columb-based human resources consultancy has been adopted by the national Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA).

The service from The Sevier Consultancy Group covers a long list of employment topics from the latest agreements, guidelines and flow charts, to contract details, grievance issues, maternity and paternity.

It was launched at the FLTA open conference two weeks ago and already a significant number of members have taken advantage of the service.

"We spotted a gap in the market for a more flexible approach to HR and began working on the online toolkit."

"It took 18 months to develop but has proved extremely popular with clients. We're delighted FLTA members are being offered the toolkit and equally delighted so many have used it so soon after the launch." 

Link to article in Business Cornwall

Link to article in Cornish Guardian

Over the past few decades, our everyday lives have been changed by technology in literally hundreds of different ways. We live via our phones, which are now more like small computers at the end of our fingertips, we talk to our friends via social media platforms and we ingest information via search engines and the internet. Jane Sevier looks at how this has affected her industry – human resources...

For some of us, it doesn't seem that long ago that we were faxing each other, picking up the phone, or going to the library to do our research. The effects of technology have been clearly depicted in many industries – music, film, dating, socialising to name just a few. But how is the world of human resources handling the forever-changing digital world?

I think most HR professionals would argue that it's been both a blessing and a curse. Whilst being incredibly worthwhile and making life a lot easier, new policies are being made all the time on matters such as Facebook in the workplace, limits on personal computer usage and which sites are allowed in the office.

Read more: The Effects of Digital Advances in the HR world →

All over the UK, employees struggle to make it into work due to the weather conditions every winter. With wind, rain, floods, ice and even talk of snow on the way, nearly everyone has been affected to some degree. When the weather makes it difficult to travel, employers should consider how this could impact on the workplace as well as setting out clear expectations for staff on how potential absences will be handled.

Below are answers to a few questions that come up time and again – by considering all of these, a business should be able to handle adverse weather with as minimal disruption to the business as possible.

Do I have to pay staff if they can't make it into the office?

There is no legal right for staff to be paid by an employer for travel delays (unless the travel itself is part of their normal working time or if the employer provides the transport). However, employers may have contractual, collective or custom arrangements in place for how to handle travel disruption. Before making a decision on to handle a situation where someone is unable to get to work - check staff contracts, handbooks and staff meeting minutes for how this has been handled in the past.

Read more: How can businesses weather out the storm? →

Christmas is usually a time when employers want to show appreciation for their employees' hard work throughout the year and provide a full or part funded Christmas party for staff and sometimes their partners. However, the Company Christmas party is not without its risks so some careful planning to ensure the festivities run smoothly are required.

Party time

Since Christmas is a Christian holiday, staff should not feel pressurised to attend an organised company event. Employers may face discrimination claims if they insist on attendance - for example, on the grounds of religion and belief from employees that belong to other religious denominations.

The party's timing and location should also be carefully thought through. Locations must be accessible for all, including disabled employees and, if possible, the event should be held at a time when the majority can attend, whilst trying to avoid clashes with other religious rest-days or festivals.

Read more: Handling the Christmas fallout →

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