“I’m not doing it!” Have you heard this when requesting an employee works extra hours? Frustrating for sure and how you will deal with it will come down to how overtime is detailed in your employment contracts. Generally, there are three possibilities.
Guaranteed overtime is compulsory. There’s an obligation for the employee to fulfil the work AND for you to offer it (or pay them for it even if no work is available).
Non-guaranteed overtime puts an obligation on the employee to work overtime if the business needs it. But there is no requirement for you to offer it.
And voluntary overtime acknowledges that you might offer or request overtime, but that there is no obligation on the employee to work it.
These three scenarios outline your options in how to deal with that employee refusing to work overtime in the run-up to Christmas or during the busy sales. You’ll be reassured to know that judges have found in favour of companies taken to court for unfair dismissal following a refusal to work contractual overtime.
This is just what happened in Edwards vs Bramble Foods Ltd. It was argued that the employee was not only refusing to work overtime as per her contract. But was also spreading discontent among employees who were. The operations of the business were being put in serious jeopardy as Christmas approached. The sacking was judged to be lawful and fair.
That aside, there are other things to consider. When it comes to voluntary requests for overtime, ensure that your procedure for allocating it is fair and available to everyone who is eligible.
Don’t forget that regular overtime must now be considered a factor in determining at least four of the 5.6 weeks of holiday pay. This may be extra expensive for you if you have staff working lots of overtime in the run-up to Christmas before taking their annual leave.
And finally, at this time of year there’s a flurry of bank holidays. Your staff do not have a statutory right to extra pay for working these. Instead their payment terms for bank holidays will be dictated by what’s in their contracts.
The season of sickies
Wintertime is synonymous with flu and other nasties. But, worryingly, a recent BBC survey of more than 3,000 adults found that 40% would fake a sick day, while two-thirds said they’d cover for colleagues pulling a sickie.
With that in mind, you may be wondering if an employee really is poorly on Monday following their behaviour at the Christmas party. That said, there are more complex reasons for feigning a physical illness. For instance, it’s known that some people will do it to mask a mental health issue.
Presenteeism can be just as problematic. We all recognise that colleague who’s sneezing and coughing, and muttering how ill they feel, whilst infecting everyone else! This can prolong or worsen the illness, doesn’t lead to good productivity, and compromises others’ health. If an employee is clearly not well, they should be at home.
So, whether you’re trying to get fit people in or sick people home, how should you manage absence?
Always start with an absence policy, and specify that employees should report their sickness by phone before the start of work. Recording all employee absences in an HR management tool such as the HR Dept Toolkit will help you identify patterns emerging and build a case against serial sickie offenders.
Employees can self-certify their illness for absences of up to seven days, including weekends. On their return, make them go through this process using a self-certification form and conduct a return-to-work interview. It will act as a deterrent to people trying something on, whilst showing that you care for anyone who has a genuine illness. And when it comes to presenteeism, lead by example. If you are unwell, take the time off you need to recover.
The gift of good health
“On the first day of Christmas HR Dept gave to me, health benefits for each employee”
Health benefits really are the gift that keeps giving. Staff perceive them as a desirable benefit (a survey ranked health insurance number one out of 54 different employee benefits), providing financial help and reassurance if they become ill. And for your business, they can help recruit, retain and motivate quality staff, as well as assist with absenteeism by ensuring that medical problems are dealt with promptly and effectively.
Research from a global insurance company found that 76% of UK employers plan to include a well-being element in their employee benefits. This means that increasingly you’ll need to offer some health benefit just to keep up with the pack. The good news is that they come in all shapes and sizes, starting from just a few pounds per employee per month for a health cash plan or EAP.
If you want to find out more, talk to us about our tailor-made, cost-effective packages for SMEs.
Whilst Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been and gone, the debt that some will have got into, now exacerbated by Christmas, remains.
Research from an investment bank found that 77% of people who work in the UK said money worries impacted them when working. As an employer, having some understanding of this issue, and that it may affect so many of your team, could help you manage them, particularly at this time of year.
So, what is financial well-being? People talk about it broadly as: having a clear path to identifiable objectives; control of daily finances; having financial options in life; preparing for financial shocks; and clarity and security for those we leave behind.
Given the number of people that carry worries into work, providing staff with support for their financial well-being is likely to benefit both the company and your staff. Some companies arrange for a financial adviser to run in-house sessions periodically as a means to achieving this.
An inclusive Christmas
Most companies make at least a passing nod to Christmas. Some will have a tree and office party while others will go all out, defrosting Bublé back in November, organising Secret Santa and, of course, Christmas jumper day!
While a majority of employees will get in the spirit, there are 101 reasons why some may not. There are obvious reasons such as religion and some not so obvious – relationship problems for instance. Therefore, it’s wise to be mindful of this and encourage an inclusive Christmas.
Once you are thinking inclusively, good practices will come naturally. But to get you started, consider these. Don’t force anyone into celebrating, participation in festive fun should be voluntary. And as an extension of this, don’t let those who choose not to participate be ridiculed by others. When it comes to food and drink, factor in dietary requirements and ensure that alcohol consumption is not at the centre of every activity. Don’t go too far though and ban wishing others a Merry Christmas, as most people will still appreciate the thought.
I’m an “employee” get me out of here
Whether in the jungle, the catwalk or the boardroom, we’ve seen a boom in reality TV. Some “contestants” make careers from it. And in the complicated world of TV contracts, parallels can be drawn to the gig economy where worker status becomes blurred.
Down under, a reality TV contestant has actually won a landmark compensation case after claiming she felt harassed and bullied. Although she’d contractually acknowledged she wasn’t employed, the tribunal found enough evidence to suggest an employer-employee relationship, and awarded compensation.
What next? Will Lord Sugar have to wait and see if any of his apprentices consider themselves unfairly dismissed when he pronounces his immortal words: You’re fired!
We can only wait and wonder.