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People Matter August 2017

The GCSE system is changing

We are all familiar with the GCSE grade format A* to G – GCSEs have been around since 1988. Well, it’s all about to change. So here is your lowdown on what’s coming up.

With the first wave of students being graded this summer, their GCSE results are set to be replaced with a new grading structure from 9 to 1 – with 9 being the highest grade and 1 being the lowest.

So how will this affect you as an employer? And what do you need to know to ensure you’re recruiting the right talent at the academic level you require? The good news is that these new grade boundaries will give employers a better breakdown of competence in each subject.

Doubts have been cast on the integrity of the A* grade because of the high numbers awarded. This new system aims to tackle this perceived lack of rigor, with 9 being a more difficult grade to attain than an A*.

This is particularly relevant for employers that take on apprentices. Also, for employers who hire young workers, this new system should give them a clearer idea of their specific skillset.

The new grading system won’t come into effect across all subjects immediately. English Language, English Literature and Mathematics will be the first GCSEs to be graded from 9 to 1.

In 2018, 20 more subjects including History, Geography and the sciences will adopt the new grading system. All will be using it by 2020. Also, these new grades are only being implemented in England – Wales and Northern Ireland have no current plans to apply them. Scotland has a different system altogether.

If you are an employer who focuses on GCSE results, perhaps taking on young workers, you’ll need to get your head around this new grading system. If you need advice or have any questions, contact your local HR Dept. We can also help you consider other recruitment strategies and techniques that take in softer skills which aren’t measured by GCSEs.


How autumn can affect employee productivity

The varying seasons affect the way many of us function. As the days get shorter and nights get longer, you might find that the upcoming autumn months have an impact on the workplace too.

Some employees become more efficient as there is no glorious sunshine to distract them from their daily tasks. But on the other hand, it’ll come as no surprise that cold weather often leads to increased rates of illness and sick days.

Rainy days may affect the mood of your staff – particularly those who commute in cold, wet weather. And when the daylight really starts to diminish, some find SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) kicks in.

If you need any advice on keeping your employees happy and productive throughout the next few months, contact The HR Dept.


Employers recount the worst interview candidates

A recent Reddit post asked employers to reveal some of their most painful experiences with interviewees. And the results might astound the most seasoned of hiring managers. We selected some of our favourites to highlight just how interesting the world of HR can get!

One manager asked a candidate, “What would you do if you had a conflict with another co-worker?”. The applicant responded with an anecdote about how a previous co-worker had had an affair with his then-girlfriend and he’d had to encounter him every day at work and “resist beating his ass”. The candidate then felt the need to follow this statement with, “I mean, I got him outside of work, but I never touched him at work!”.

Another hiring manager reported the downright brashness of one candidate who said, “You guys would be lucky to have me. Google is trying to recruit me too!”. The manager promptly wished him the best of luck at his job at Google.

During an interview for a restaurant position, one candidate was asked to give an example of his leadership abilities. The candidate replied by telling the interviewer how, in his previous job, he disliked the head chef so much that he organised the kitchen staff to walk out during the Friday night rush. There’s no denying this shows leadership qualities – but maybe not the right kind!

The hiring process can be just as frustrating for those on either side of the table. If you need advice on how to avoid car crash interviews, contact The HR Dept.


It’s a busy time for holiday requests

Managing conflicting holiday requests, ensuring your business is adequately staffed during busy periods… It’s enough to make you want to take a holiday yourself!

Next up it will be the Christmas period, so check out our HR Dept Toolkit quick!

It’s a cloud-based, simple platform that can be used by you and your employees.  The Toolkit manages a variety of HR tasks such as staff holidays, employment contracts, inductions, appraisals and sickness.

A key feature of the Toolkit is that it has three tiers of access – owner, manager and employee.

This means that everyone in your organisation can control and view information at their appropriate level.

So, if you would like to find out more about this stress-free, low-cost way of managing your HR, contact us and we’ll be happy to arrange a demo for you.


Latest update on tribunal fees

We hope you saw our report on this big employment news: The Supreme Court has ruled fees for employment tribunals are unlawful because they restrict access to justice a basic principle in UK law.

The introduction of fees of up to £1,200 saw a 79% drop in tribunal claims in 2013. The government immediately stopped charging the fees and are looking at refunding the £32m charged in recent years.

The big question now is will they allow people who did not make a claim because of the fees to make one now even if technically out of time.
Undoubtedly, more employees will now take their bosses to a tribunal even though it is thought a lower fee will be introduced.

Many of our clients have expressed concern about the increased risk posed by increased tribunals. Sound, practical and pragmatic professional advice is the answer.

Our Advice Line service – which covers unlimited telephone and email support – is backed by our market-leading tribunal insurance. So, if you follow our HR professional’s advice, you’re completely covered from any award at a tribunal.


Gender pay gap update

The BBC gender pay gap has been well publicised.

At the time of writing, the latest news was that female stars were calling on the BBC to take action.

Of course, the BBC isn’t alone in having a gender pay gap. In the case of the screen stars, the BBC may not be breaking the law.

But generally, not only is it illegal to pay employees differently based on gender, it can result in low morale and employer/employee trust issues, as the BBC is discovering.

More work needs to happen on abolishing the gender pay gap.

At the current rate of progress it’ll take 62 years to close it fully.

For help getting this right, give us a call.


T H E  I N D I C A T O R
Employment and litigation issues

Maternity/Adoption pay – SMP/SAP is paid for 39 weeks. Pay rate for first 6 weeks of SMP: 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings. SMP remaining weeks/SAP: £140.98 or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is less. Sick pay (SSP) – £89.35 per week provided employees meet criteria.

Pay rate – 0.5 week’s pay for each year of service for employees aged under 22 (1 week’s pay is calculated at £489 or the weekly amount if it is less). 1 week’s pay for each year of service for employees between the ages of 22 and 40. 1.5 week’s pay for each year of service for employees aged 41 and older.

National Living Wage hourly pay rate – £7.50 for workers aged 25 and over. National Minimum Wage hourly pay rate – £7.05 for workers aged 21 and over, £5.60 for workers aged 18 to 20, and £4.05 for workers aged 16 to 17. Apprentice minimum wage £3.50 per hour (apprentices under 19 or 19 and over who are in the first year of apprenticeship).

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