No HR Department? Best Practice for Employers and Managers
23rd March 2015 | Barry Cushway
Barry Cushway talks about the new developments in employment law, personnel policies and procedures that can be found in the latest edition of The Employer's Handbook 2015-16.
1 What kind of employer will benefit from this handbook?
This book is primarily aimed at employers in smaller organizations in all sectors of the economy which do not have the support of a comprehensive Human Resources function to help them deal with day-to-day employment issues. It will also be of value as a first point of reference for line managers in larger organizations, but they will generally have established systems and procedures and access to professional advice for dealing with more complex problems.
2 What’s new for this year’s edition?
The field of employment is in a constant state of flux which is why new editions have to be produced on a regular basis. There are, for example, annual changes to statutory rates such as the National Minimum Wage, Guarantee Payments, Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay. Changes to pension rules and taxation of benefits occur regularly and compensation rates from employment tribunals and statistics relating to those tribunals also change annually.
Employment of overseas nationals is a hot topic and the rules are frequently changing. New patterns of work are constantly emerging and this is reflected by the addition of sections relating to the employment of interns, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and legal changes to flexible working rules.
A major change has been the new right to shared parental leave and for partners and fathers to have time off to attend ante-natal appointments. There have also been a number of changes relating to reservists, TUPE, holiday pay, adoption leave, equal pay audits etc, and these are all covered in the new edition.
3 Why is performance management so important?
Probably the most important role of any manager is to ensure the effective performance of his or her staff. Often the key differentiator between one organization and another lies in the performance of staff and optimizing this performance will help an organization gain a competitive advantage.
For the best results there have to be robust processes at all stages of the performance management cycle including planning, by setting sound objectives (using SMART criteria), managing the attainment of those objectives, reviewing the results, and rewarding their achievement.
4 How do you think employers can reduce unplanned absences?
One of the major day-day problems faced by employers is coping with unexpected and unplanned absences. This issue is magnified in smaller organizations when the limited numbers available mean that there may be little scope for moving resources to cope with any shortfall.
There are a number of approaches than can help to reduce such absences. Probably two of the most effective are firstly, showing that you are taking an active interest in such absences by conducting return-to-work interviews and secondly, by instituting some kind of incentive for full attendance, such as a prize draw open only to staff who have achieved 100% attendance over an agreed period. For various reasons attendance bonuses tend not to work.
5 What things do employers need to be aware of when their company is undergoing organizational change?
This is a big question and there are numerous books written on just this topic. Having personally advised on and implemented major change programmes in about 150 organizations, the emphasis would need to be in four areas which could be described as people, processes, structure and context.