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People Matter January 2016

New Year’s resolutions

With over half of New Year’s Resolutions gone out of the window by January 31st, many people (and businesses) need some serious help to fulfil them. Could HR be your magic wand? We say emphatically “YES”. Whatever your business objectives for 2016, your people will be key in achieving them. So how could HR help? Recruitment could be one answer: whether you are looking for a superstar who will make the difference, or just good quality people you can rely upon.

Make sure you are adopting best practices to get the best people. And what about motivating the staff you already have? Reviewing your remuneration package might have the desired effect. It’s not just about money (although that helps of course). Flexible benefits can be a cost effective and imaginative way to get the most from your staff.

The HR Dept can help you get more value from your people as well as helping sort out the problems along the way, so give us a call and get 2016 off to a flying start.

Sounds like a bout of Blue Monday

If you see your employees crying into their coffee this month, or sobbing at their spreadsheets, then check your calendar because your office may just be suffering from a case of Blue Monday. Monday 18 January is forecast to be the most depressing day of 2016.

Counter this by recognising that your employees may be feeling broke, under the weather, that their summer holiday is too far away – or all of the above. So give them something to be cheerful about. A talk focused on what have they got to look forward to at your organisation this year? How about setting a charity fund raiser for Blue Monday to work up that feel good factor? Or even a team lunch to put smiles on faces – after all, they say an army marches on its stomach! Coming up with some ideas will be extra useful as the following week features Have fun at work day (see below).

Have fun at work day 

Hot on the heels of Blue Monday comes another unofficial day: Have fun at work day. While it may seem a bit frivolous, marking such days reminds us just how much time we spend at work and the importance of enjoying it as we go along.

A happy workplace is more pleasant to be in as well as creating conditions for better creativity and productivity. Experts stress that any attempts at fun must not be perceived as forced. Shoehorning staff into activities they don’t buy in to will be counter-productive.

If you don’t already tune into the mood of your workforce, don’t make sudden dramatic efforts to engage. It will likely come across as weird. Better to build up rapport over a longer period, listening to employees and coming up with ideas for team-building based upon what they say. Employee engagement done right is rewarding for everyone. For more help, call The HR Dept.

When is it OK to deduct from wages?

Did you experience unauthorised absences over the festive period? Perhaps you wondered what you could deduct from the miscreant’s wages.

The law offers employees a good degree of protection in this area, so it is important to get this right lest you find a tribunal making punitive deductions from you! We take a closer look at what you can do. There are some fairly broad triggers that will permit you to make deductions: for instance, if it is specified in the contract of employment. So if an employee had overindulged on, say, mince pies at the Christmas party and didn’t show up the next day without following your absence process, as long as your contract specified that you could, you may deduct that day’s pay from their wages.

Other reasons for lawful deductions include the obvious, such as it being required by law (e.g. income tax), the employee taking part in strike action, or following a court order.

One thing to look out for is that the deduction does not effectively reduce the employee’s pay below the minimum wage.

This is not permitted bar a few exceptions like for the deduction of taxes. If you manage a retail business it is a little more complicated. You cannot deduct more than 10% of a worker’s gross pay in each pay period. This restriction might come into play, for example, if the till is short and it had been agreed in the contract that the employee would have the missing amount deducted from earnings.

In this case you would have to allocate the deductions over consecutive pay periods within the 10% limit. If an employee leaves your service, the final deductions can normally be taken in full from the final pay cheque. If your employee disputes the deduction, it’s always best to try to sort it out internally first. But be aware that if a resolution is not reached they may take the matter to an employment tribunal for unlawful deduction from wages, they do not need to have been employed for two years to do this. Well-drafted contracts can protect your freedom to act.

To have your contracts reviewed or for advice dealing with a specific case, get in touch with The HR Dept.

Cheeky hugger

Are you a hug or handshake person at work? Whatever you do, don’t get caught in two minds. That could lead to one embarrassing collision! Knowing when to hug and when not to can be a real dilemma for some. Maybe National Hugging Day will help by bringing it all out into the open.

Started on 21 January 1986 this will be the thirtieth year it’s been marked. As with Blue Monday, National Hugging Day recognises that late January is a bit of a miserable time of year and is intended to raise spirits. But we have only just had to navigate the mistletoe at the Christmas Party. Is there no end to the reasons for forced intimacy? Caution is certainly advised. Even the man credited with founding the day suggests asking first if you are unsure of the response.

An embrace may be well received, though. According to one survey, a third of us Brits approve of hugging in the workplace. But that still means that up to two thirds don’t! The problem is that the appropriateness of a hug is subjective. What one person deems friendly, another may perceive as crossing a line. And that is just the two people involved in the hug. Beyond that it’s worth considering the message your body language gives to others: warm, friendly, generous and open? Or unprofessional, casual, overfamiliar… in the worst cases even sleazy?

Whether you want to embrace National Hugging Day or not, such personal contact can help define the culture of your organisation – for good or bad. The HR Dept can help you get your culture right, and if someone ‘hugged too tight’ we can take care of disciplinaries too!

Happy new leap year! 

It’s come round again – 2016 is a leap year. And a common question that crops up for managers is: “Do employees get paid more for working the extra day over the course of the year?” The answer depends upon the employee’s circumstances.

If they are salaried, then the annual salary is divided evenly by 12 months so: no, no extra money for them. If the employee is paid by the hour however, then yes. If they work hours on 29th February, they should be paid for them. Find payroll a hassle? Why not outsource to The HR Dept’s cost-effective service?

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