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People Matter December 2015

New year, new rules…

With 2016 stretching before us, what does the year have in store for HR? Surely the biggest event on the horizon is the introduction of the National Living Wage in April. Starting at £7.20 it will progressively rise to £9 by 2020. This has been coming for months and hopefully that will make it easier for you to manage. If you have not prepared, we would suggest starting as soon as possible. There are various things to consider, including your age profile – under 25s are exempt from Living Wage rules, the impact up the pay bands and the knock-on effects on other parts of remuneration packages. There could be complexities at every turn.

The Living Wage aside there is the small matter of auto-enrolment which is still sweeping across the country. Do you know when your staging date is?

For help with the Living Wage or auto-enrolment call The HR Dept as soon as possible.

Out of the frying pan into the fire? 

Did your team survive the Christmas party with nothing worse than a few hangovers? We hope so, but the celebrations are pretty relentless at this time of year and still to come is New Year’s Eve. If your business is a Monday to Friday organisation you can breathe a sigh of relief, because the New Year’s Day Bank holiday falls on a Friday this time round. So three days to recover. Yay!

Spare a thought though for your ‘weekend worker’ counterparts and their employers. If this is you and you expect to have to manage an unwilling weekend workforce, make sure you remind them in advance that unauthorised absence will not be tolerated. The HR Dept can provide powerful absence management software to help you stay in control. Get in touch for more information.

Employee engagement is for life…

…not just for Christmas. It’s easy to foster team spirit before Christmas: the office party, Secret Santa and general good will. But what about the rest of the year? Good morale is good for business. Poor morale leads to employee churn. And according to a study by Oxford Economics, this costs a business on average as much as £30K per position – principally in lost productivity. That would certainly make it seem worth allocating funds for employee engagement.

Consider employee benefits as a focus: another survey suggested 61% of people would change jobs for more holiday entitlement, so something in that area may prove popular. Flexible benefits are gaining traction too, where employees get to pick and mix benefits like gym membership and childcare through an online portal.

To find out more call The HR Dept.

Latest from Westminster 

While most of the reported news from Westminster is on the current national security situation and the scale of cuts to benefits, you can rely on us at The HR Dept to scour the small print and keep you up to date with the latest stories that affect employers. There are two items to report this month.

The first concerns the apprenticeship levy. In the Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that large employers will have to devote 0.5% of the cost of their wages on funding apprenticeships from April 2017.

A large company is defined as one with a wage bill in excess of £3 million. So we don’t expect this will directly be a burden on many readers of People Matter. In fact, the government themselves say that nationwide it is expected to affect fewer than 2% of employers.

But it has broader significance because it demonstrates the government’s shift in focus towards widening apprenticeship opportunities. George Osborne went on to say that by 2020 the government would have doubled their 2010 expenditure on training apprentices. And that the apprenticeship levy will generate £3 billion annually. It is certainly a growing trend and one which you may find it useful to be aware of.

The second piece of news for us to report is that statutory maternity and sick pay will not rise in 2016. It is common practice for these statutory rates to increase according to inflation – as recorded by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). For the relevant period CPI actually fell and so the rates remain fixed at £139.58 (or 90% of average weekly earnings – whichever is lower) for maternity pay and £88.45 for sick pay. It is worth reminding you that employers can normally claim back 92% of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay.

If you need advice on how to implement any of the statutory pay rates, or are interested in finding out more about apprenticeships get in touch with The HR Dept and they will be happy to help.

Ways to banish Blue Monday

Apologies if you are getting tired of colour coded weekdays following the mayhem of Black Friday, but the next one in our diaries is Blue Monday – the third Monday of every January. In case you don’t know, there is some pseudo-science that highlights this day as being the most depressing of the year.

The time when post-Christmas debt, ‘back to work/school’ glumness, short hours of daylight, miserable weather, and anything else you would care to chuck into the mixing pot, converge in a witches’ brew of down-in-the-dumpsness. Regardless of the scientific rigour behind it, it’s plain to see that the day denoted as Blue Monday doesn’t have too much going for it. Why not, therefore, earmark it as a good day for you as an employer to step in and motivate the troops?

A movement that is developing around Blue Monday is to encourage acts of good will on the day. Nothing too grand, just small gestures to let those around each other know that they care. Or how about pulling out the soapbox and giving a good old fashioned pep talk? flag up some of the milestones that the team have to look forward to in the coming year, highlight achievements of the previous year, or just let staff know how much they are appreciated?

If you like to get the team involved in charity events why not mark Blue Monday in the calendar as an annual day for getting involved and let the associated feel-good factor wash those blues away? If employee engagement and motivation is an issue for you at any time of the year give The HR Dept a call for advice.

Guidance for employing transgender staff

The government has recently published guidance on employing transgender staff. As well as serving as a reminder of the danger of conscious or sub-conscious discrimination against this minority, it also highlights the positives of running an inclusive workplace.

These include being in the market for the widest possible talent-pool when recruiting, encouraging staff loyalty, and creating an environment where employees will go the extra mile for you.

There are obviously things you have to do by law, but the guide also shows how simply being an understanding employer can go a long way.

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