Modern slavery under the microscope
Operation Magnify was introduced in 2015 to crack down on the employment of illegal immigrants. It puts into sharp focus the need for all businesses to carry out proper background checks at the start of the employment relationship – whether it seems necessary or not.
Specific industries are being directly targeted, including construction, care homes, food and hospitality, and agriculture. Among the stated intentions of the operation are to protect legitimate employers, and provide more job opportunities and better prospects for UK citizens and legal migrants.
Just last month, 100 people were found to be working illegally in UK nail bars and were arrested.
This crackdown is also intended to tackle the ‘barbaric crime’ of modern slavery and victims of human trafficking. Many traffickers lure their victims to the UK via the Internet, promising a good job and a better quality of life. But instead these victims arrive illegally and become exploited and forced to work.
As part of the activity last month, warning notices were delivered to 68 businesses stating that they will be fined £20,000 per illegal worker if they have not performed the appropriate background checks.
In a high profile case last summer, burger chain Byron Burger was caught up in a furore for employing illegal immigrants – a result of not performing the necessary background checks. The resulting press was in no way good for the brand.
It is of paramount importance to check the right to work of each prospective employee before you take them on. Employing illegal immigrants or failing to carry-out the vetting process and keeping a solid paper-trail could ultimately result in £20k fine per employee and even up to five years in prison.
Six Nations sweepstake
The Six Nations is back! The fortunes of the teams are bound to be a popular topic of conversation in many offices. Fortunately, this is one sporting event that is largely confined to weekends, so most employees won’t face distraction during working hours. That said, some businesses do employ weekend staff. If you are one of them you may want to plan ahead and think about shift patterns, or set out rules of how people can or can’t follow the games whilst on duty.
While they can cause productivity issues, popular sporting events can be a great way to bring teams together, too. Staff may get together informally to watch a game at the pub. Or you could set up a sweepstake to inject a bit of topical fun into your workplace– make sure it’s lawful though.
Tinder – the new workplace matchmaker
Despite only establishing itself in 2012, Tinder has become one of the fastest growing digital apps of all time. On average it records one billion ‘swipes’ per day, and has paved the way for other instant-match dating apps like Bumble and Happn.
Having permanently changed the landscape of online dating, Tinder has also transformed the daunting prospect of finding ‘the one’ into a fun game to play whilst waiting for the bus or for your tea to brew in the office kitchen.
For the uninitiated, the app works by taking note of your location, and then allowing you to upload photos of yourself and a short bio. Then Tinder does the rest, finding suitable matches in your area.
The distinguishing feature of this app is that you judge your potential suitors on a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ basis once you have viewed their images. You swipe left or right depending on whether or not you think they’re a suitable match.
Although this platform makes the formal dating process far less pressured, potential issues can arise when two people match with each other at work.
If this does happen, what’s the next step? If they don’t talk to each other, this could become a source of awkwardness in the workplace. Yet if they do talk, this could lead to a relationship in the office.
Although workplace relationships are not necessarily a bad thing, they can cause many a problem while they last and after a break-up – both for the couple, and their colleagues. Some companies go as far as having policies that cover such relationships.
And what if it never gets as far as a match? One swipes left and the other right, but unwanted attention is still given! In a healthy workplace culture, you will make it clear to staff that they can raise any issues with you if a co-worker has become inappropriate.
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, love will likely be in the air with or without the help of Tinder. If bad romances cause trouble in your workplace, call The HR Dept.
The search for Apprentices…continues
A new government scheme comes into force in April for businesses in England.
To encourage apprenticeships, employers with an annual pay bill of £3 million or more will pay the equivalent of 0.5% of payroll to the new initiative (and the government will add 10p on every pound). So, small businesses won’t have to worry about it, but some SMEs might.
Once employers have paid this levy, they’ll be eligible to access funding and government-approved apprenticeship training providers through a digital account. At first, only employers paying the levy will benefit, but the plan is to allow access to all employers by 2020.
Exit in style
Barack Obama’s departure from The White House got us thinking about business exit strategies.
We all know we can’t run our companies forever. For many, the dream will be to step back and leave a profitable business that someone else can manage. So how do you ensure you leave your company in safe hands? We’d advise you have a succession strategy in place, one that’s gradual but with a solid transistion date at the end to prevent uncertainty. Here some tips to help you along.
- Train up your managers – give people the skills they need to run your company.
- Don’t disappear – The best way to maintain morale is to steadily reduce your hours, rather than leaving suddenly.
- Become a consultant – Be available to pass on your experience.
- Incentivise the next generation – make them motivated to grow your business.
It’s also important to communicate with staff to let them know what’s likely to change and what will stay the same. And, if you can pull it off like Obama, don’t forget to mic drop!
Clocking on to dishonest employees
Trust between yourself and your workforce is essential. It’s difficult to run a profitable and productive organisation if you can’t rely on the people who help you operate it. Having robust policies and systems helps big time – discouraging bad behaviour in the first place but also in catching and dealing with any misdemeanours that do happen.
Clocking-in systems are one area that employees can exploit. This was highlighted when one fast-growing company discovered an employee was also clocking in for a mate, thereby exaggerating the hours they were working.
While this is a clear case of dishonesty, it was facilitated by the company’s clocking-in system. Sadly, if you invest in a poor system, it could end up costing you much more in the long run if it is ineffectual.
Clocking-in is an age old problem, but we have a cutting-edge solution which allows employees to clock in via smartphone or even fingerprints. To find out more, give us a call.
With the temperatures plunging the TV channels show pictures of overcrowded stations, they do not show the empty offices that this disruption causes.
It is at this time that everyone wishes the ‘severe weather’ policy had actually been written instead of staying on the to-do list. Don’t put it off. We of course can help you to put one together that’s right for your business. Below though you’ll find some winter weather resources for you ready to go.
Here’s our Winter Weather Checklist, tick it off as you go so you know you really are prepared for anything.