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Peter Etherington
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Employment Update for Small Businesses
October 2021

Dear Subscriber

As we head into Autumn and the daytime starts to contract, the end of the year comes into sight and we start to think about what we may or may not have achieved so far in the year.  This is a good time to turn your thoughts to HR matters whilst there is still enough of the year to have an impact.  This month, we have some thoughts and tips on steps you may wish to take to tidy up HR in your business.
Please contact me if you would like to find out a bit more about any of the subjects raised in this update or if you need any help or advice.

Please forward this email to any of your contacts who might find it of benefit.

Peter Etherington
Tel: 01664 668164


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Peter Etherington
HR Housekeeping
Autumn Tasks

If your holiday year is the same as the calendar year, now is a good time to check how much holiday your employees have left. You may need them to reserve some holiday for over the Christmas period, so you may perhaps need to decide now exactly when you are going to close and how much holiday you need them to keep. You can then go ahead and book that holiday off for them and deduct it from their allowance. If they still have a lot to use up, you can encourage them to book it.

If you want to force staff to take holiday you are able to do so by giving them notice of the holiday to take. Notice must be at least double the length of the holiday you want them to take (e.g. two weeks’ notice for one week’s holiday).

Some of your staff may have been prevented from booking holiday because they have been on furlough or because of the impact of COVID. If that is the case, don’t forget that you are allowed to let them carry forward up to 4 weeks holiday to be spread out over the next two holiday years.

Absence Management

Do you regularly check your staff absence levels? If not, as we head into the flu and cold season, now may be a good time to take stock.

It is really important to accurately record sickness absence at the time it is taken. You should ensure staff complete a self certificate every time they are off sick, even for a day, so that you capture the reason for the absence and the duration. If they are off for longer than a week, they should submit a certificate from their doctor.

It is particularly important to be able to report separately on sickness absence and to ensure you do not include other types of absence with it – such as time off they may have had to take because their child is poorly. Time off for dependants is a statutory entitlement and, as such, should not be included in any sickness absence statistics. You should also separate out any absence which is due to pregnancy.

Once you have your recording sorted out, you need to check absence levels regularly in order to spot any concerns. If you have any staff with high absence – for instance three or more separate periods or 8 days in total – then you should consider starting an absence management procedure. We can assist you with that, so please contact us if you would like to find out more.

Policies and Procedures

When was the last time you checked your HR policies and procedures? As part of your HR housekeeping, you could put aside some time to read through them and check if they are still relevant and have kept pace with any business changes.

If you have introduced home working or hybrid working as a result of the pandemic, do you have a policy to cover that? What about sickness reporting for your home workers – does that still make sense?  Your ICT policy may need updating to take into account the greater use of technology and the way you communicate within the business.

Adverse Weather Policy

What is your policy when staff are prevented from coming to work due to adverse weather conditions? It may be time to consider putting this in writing and communicating it to staff. There are various options you can consider, including home working, unpaid leave, allowing staff to cover this with holiday or granting some extra paid leave. It is entirely our choice, but you just need to ensure you act consistently to avoid any element of discrimination.

HR Management System

Do you have an online HR system in place?  If not, talk to us about breatheHR. We are partners for breatheHR and can get you set up on the system very quickly. We will also act as your admin, so that we can help with a lot of the back office work on it – setting up work patterns and holiday allowances, etc.

This makes recording absence and managing holiday very easy. It also has a lot of other really useful features. If you would like a demo of the system please get in touch.

National Minimum and Living Wage
The current National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates are:

  • £8.91 per hour for workers aged 23 and over
  • £8.36 per hour for workers aged 21 to 22
  • £6.56 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20
  • £4.62 per hour for workers aged 16 and 17
  • £4.30 per hour for apprentices under 19 and those over 19 in their first year*

*N.B. Apprentices over 19 and who have completed at least one year are entitled to the appropriate rate for their age.