How to support Ramadan

We are now in the period of Ramadan, a period of time in the Muslim calendar which is observed by Muslims worldwide and includes a month of fasting.  Ramadan is held during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and this year and will end on June 4th.  Ramadan is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting from dawn until sunset.

It is best practice to be mindful of this religious festival and consider the needs of Muslim colleagues and members of the public with whom we interact. The following may help you support your employees:

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  • Be aware that Muslims who are observing Ramadan may be awake throughout the night when they are able to break their fast, eating and drinking only after sunset. Think of what that might mean for people working for you.
  • Do not assume that all Muslims are fasting as there are of course exceptions, for example pregnant, ill, young or old Muslims are exempt if they wish. It is better (and politer) to ask rather than assuming.
  • For those who are fasting, avoid offence by refraining from offering food and drink between dawn and sunset.  How would you like to be treated?
  • Consider whether you may be able to allow flexible working arrangements for the period of Ramadan
  • Be sensitive to the fact that those who are fasting may be mildly anxious by the lack of food and liquid, especially in the latter part of the day (and even more so if we have hot, sunny days).
  • Be sensitive to the feelings of anyone who is fasting and if at all possible do please think about refraining from eating in front of them.
  • Be flexible throughout the month, things may change in how people are reacting to the fast and may ask for a change in working pattern part way through rather than pre-plan

During Ramadan, some members of the public observing Ramadan who use your services may sound additionally tired, frustrated or distressed about issues so remember there may needs to be sensitivity as they may be vulnerable at this time.   Let us all be even calmer and more considerate.

 

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Weather Warning!

We have some severe weather warnings forecast for this week across different parts of the country and it is always best to be prepared. But there are some things that as a business we should have in place already:

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  1. Ensure you have an adverse weather policy in place. Implementing a policy gives you an opportunity to show how you will be dealing with major disruptions, in advance of them actually happening, giving you the time to think about how to act when things take a turn for the worse outside. Employees also understand their responsibilities and what they are required to do when the weather is affecting work and can even start to think of alternative ways into work.
  2. It is worth checking that your employment contracts compliment and add value to this policy. The last thing you want is to contradict making it difficult to take decisive actions.
  3. Consider how you will deal with absences caused by weather disruption, to pay or not must also be defined in your policy. Remember you are not obliged to pay for this, it can be classed as unpaid leave.
  4. When considering payments, think how this will reflect upon your culture and attitude towards staff and is this the best approach to take? You may already have practices in place which make it possible for staff to continue fulfilling their responsibilities even though they may not be in work. Think whether any disgruntled employees will get your reaction into the public domain
  5. Consider alternatives which may be available for your staff with their working arrangements; taking holiday instead, working from home, working different hours, making up the hours over the forthcoming weeks are all suitable alternatives to people losing money which they may not be able to afford
  6. Always think through closing your establishment. Closing the workplace where people are willing to come to work will mean that you will need to pay them for the time during which the workplace is closed.
  7. Recognise the effort people put in to attend work. How can you make this time enjoyable?
  8. Consider your Health and Safety obligations as well as your duty of care and welfare to those employed. The workplace needs to be safe as far as is reasonably practical so consider those working outside or near the cold – if the conditions get worse you may need to consider how your staff will get home

Please do not hesitate to call one of our HR Consultants on 07989 343361 or email us on info@temehr.co.uk and we will be happy to talk through with you any of the above areas. Most of all keep warm and enjoy it when you can!

A magical time of year

It can be the most magical time of the year, when the Christmas spirit brings together all those who have been naughty or nice in the workplace. It is an opportunity for most of us to relax, unwind and celebrate the last 365 days and all those who’ve helped it be a successful one.

But for some, the season typically, of goodwill can feel a little deflated with  nearly 20% of office workers in the capital admitting to “hating” the annual Christmas get together, according to research by LondonOffices.com. Many workers are concerned over potential drunken embarrassment, or quite simply, seeing the same faces again socially as we have seen for the last 2000 hours.

A relaxed environment aided with alcohol are usually two ingredients for a great party most of which will happen at this time of year at the annual Christmas party, we can’t forget though the responsibility for behaviour is still vitally important. Employers should be mindful of doing as much as they can to avoid any stilted Monday morning meetings with their staff.

Ensuring employees know their rights before the celebrations is one of the key things to consider. Setting out the standards that are expected even though it is away from the normal workplace is key. Asking people to drink responsibly and a decision on whether to operate a ‘cash bar’ rather than a free bar,”

Recent cases have shown that if employers provide all alcohol free of charge (i.e. free bar) and something happens as a result of too much drinking, there could be a defence by the employee that the employer contributed to the actions.

Another familiar problem employer’s face is time off around the Christmas period. For the majority of us, being required to take annual leave ensures Christmas is spent with family and friends and not work colleagues, however, this can give risks of its own to indirect religious discrimination if non-Christian employees are required to use their annual leave during the Christmas period – a time with no religious significance to them.

To manage these issues, consideration needs to be given if non-Christian workers request time off during a time that is significant in their religion. It would be wise therefore to consider whether agreement needs to be reached to make different working arrangements.

Some other tips

  • Ensure that all annual leave payments are made in line with contractual requirements and that people are taken all unused entitlement if at the end of their annual leave year
  • Although your Christmas bonus may not be mandatory, it needs to be paid to everyone or face a claim of prejudice. Again this is not limited to sex, disability, race/nationality, religion/belief, sexual orientation, marriage/civil partnership, transgender or maternity/pregnancy etc.

If you want us to help you with any aspects of business over Christmas, please do give us a call or visit our website and complete a contact you form, http://www.temehr.co.uk or 07989 343361

Coping with sports events in the workplace

England have secured their place on the continued journey in the World Cup. Exciting times? Or is it when you have to manage things at work? We also have Wimbledon starting next week for all those tennis fans all of which may impact on how to keep employees motivated to still come into work and be productive when they do!

People are passionate about different sports and certainly which team they want to win so think about whether your business has the ability to be open to different ways of working so that it is not unduly affected by these growing sporting events. Options to consider are:

  • Allow employees to listen to matches on the radio or online
  • Provide TVs
  • Consider how to accommodate followers and those not interested in break out areas of work – not everyone wants to hear the cheers and boos!
  • Let people watch on television or the internet during breaks, after work or in the background.
  • Consider whether drinking will be allowed in the workplace for games watched outside of normal working hours, or whether doing so may cause more problems than it’s worth.
  • Different break times to suit different nationalities to enable them to watch their home country.
  • Split shifts with the break taken at work with the facilities of TV etc available

Things to think about in relation to the above are:

  • Make sure you have valid licences in place for TVs
  • That risk assessments are carried out beforehand to identify any health and safety issues.
  • Consider whether some people will use inappropriate or unguarded comments about another team’s nationality or characteristics of its players, which may be offensive and/or lead to allegations of discrimination.
  • A good opportunity to remind employees of the relevant policies in place that relate to conduct within and outside the workplace, and of the potential consequences of failing to comply (for example, World Cup privileges being withdrawn and/or disciplinary action being taken). If your policy provides limited personal use on the internet or social media, remind employees that personal use must be limited and any parameters of personal use that you impose

It is always good to learn from each event as well. What things went well? Did we achieve the attendance at work we were expecting? If not why? Were there reasons for this? As knowing these answers not only gives you great information for reviewing policies and procedures but the way you handle the next sporting event of the year!

Finally, there is potentially one date in the not too distant future which you may wish to put in your diaries, Monday 16th July 2018. If the unthinkable happens and England actually win a penalty shoot-out and go all the way to the final, then this would kick off at 4:00pm on Sunday 15th July 2018. If England somehow managedto win the World Cup then you can probably expect record levels of absence on 16th July 2018!

If you need any guidance or support in any of the issues this may raise please do not hesitate to give one of our Consultants a call on 07989 343361 or visit our website www.temehr.co.uk for more details and other ways to stay in touch.

Your GDPR checklist

It is finally here, in just 9 days we will all be GDPR compliant won’t we?!

We are sure everyone is working towards the new data protection principles incorporated into the new Regulations. The main basis of the change is to move us all into the 21stCentury in relation to how we store and process data in view that most of this nowadays is on line, our marketing has increased, and more organisations have our data.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Word CloudWe have previously provided our Top Ten to prepare for 25th May and the below checklist can be read in conjunction with this or independently. Below is your final checklist to ensure you have the key areas in place:

  1. A publicly accessible Privacy notice usually in place where you collect data from employees explaining to them what you are collecting and why and then what you are doing with the data.
  2. You can do one privacy notice for all employees, this ensures it is separate to the contract and gives you room to explain all the details which are gathered and how they are processed.
  3. Check application forms, medical questionnaires, Next of Kin are they up-to-date, were they gathered for a legitimate purpose, are there any sensitive data held on there that needs to be stored correctly
  4. A Data Protection Policy reflecting the new General Data Protection Regulations and communicating this to your employees
  5. Carry out an audit of your current files and keep only the information you need about the individual for the continuing purposes of their employment.
  6. Request from third parties who process your employees’ data, for their privacy notices to ensure they are compliant with GDPR requirements and you are fully aware of what they are doing with this as processers of the data.
  7. Register with the ICO if you are processing personal data, all information for this is on the ICO website in easy to follow format.
  8. You have created awareness amongst those individuals who process data as to what they are doing with the data and why
  9. Make sure your technical security is up-to-date. Speak to your IT providers for how they have complied with the new regulations and that any data you either hold or pass on is secure.

Good luck !

If you need any further advice on the HR related impact of the GDPR please contact one of our HR Consultants on 07989 343361 or email us and we can call you back info@temehr.co.uk .

The Royal Wedding – from a HR Perspective

beautiful wedding decoration for Silk tent for the wedding ceremony for the newlywedsSo we are fast approaching the wedding of the year – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are tying the knot this weekend but how will this affect your business? What are the things you need to think about?

A Public holiday has not been granted

Their engagement was announced some time ago and speculation started almost immediately whether we would be given an extra day off as a public holiday as we did when Prince William and Kate Middleton (as was then) also married. However, the Prime Minister Theresa May quickly put a stop to this, commenting that the young royals getting hitched should be enough in itself to ‘cheer people up’.

Whether connected to this or not, the happy couple have decided to marry on a Saturday, which is a move that breaks royal tradition.  This gives a larger proportion of the population the opportunity to enjoy the day with most enjoying a Monday to Friday working week.

Do I have to give time off? 

In the eyes of the law, Saturday 19th May will see business as usual for employers throughout the UK.  You are under no obligation to offer time off, or relax any contractual terms.  Any time off for this day, if it is a normal working day, should be dealt with in the normal way as detailed in your annual leave procedure.

It might be wise though to consider how to accommodate the interest the day will have in those who are unfortunate to have to work.

Some businesses have reported that more than half (51.7%) of employers say their organisation’s approach to major sporting and special events like the Royal Wedding has a positive or very positive impact on employee engagement so we should use this as an opportunity. as with other special events that take place during working hours to think of ways to accommodate and have facilities or arrangements include:

  • a TV in a communal area or staff room;
  • allowing employees to follow events online on work devices; and
  • permitting the use of radios.

It might not be possible but you may be able to consider making special working time arrangements. The most popular options are:

  • flexible start and end times;
  • considering late requests for annual leave;
  • allowing employees to make up any working time taken to view events; and
  • allowing differently timed lunch breaks.

All of the above can go a long way when it comes to boosting morale and protecting your employer brand.

Lastly

Hopefully this won’t be the case, but if you do have any issues which occur on the weekend, these should be handled in line with your current people policies. Be prepared though – consider the possibility of a member of staff celebrating a little too hard and failing to turn up for duty the next day?  Or, what if they do come into work, but are clearly still inebriated from the night before?

Remember though, you should be doing nothing differently.  Follow your normal people policies which are well know to your employees so that you remain fair and consistent in your approach.

After our, what seems an eternity of a winter, this may be what we all need but if you do have any problems over the weekend please contact one of our HR Consultants to talk things through, we will be happy to advice, we can be contacted on 07989 343361 or emailed on info@temehr.co.uk

When do I give my employees a contract?

contract of employment

You may be surprised to hear that you don’t actually need to provide a full contract of employment in writing but you do have to provide certain information in writing within 2 months of the employee commencing employment with you.  If you don’t, there is a risk of a legal claim against you.

You are legally obliged to provide the following in writing:-

  • Name of employer and employee.
  • Date employment and continuous employment started.
  • Job location.
  • Pay and whether it’s weekly, monthly etc.
  • Working hours.
  • Holiday entitlement.
  • Job description / job title.
  • Details of any collective agreement that directly affect the employee’s conditions of employment

The following information may be provided in other documents such as staff handbooks:

  • sick leave and pay entitlement
  • pensions and pension schemes
  • disciplinary and grievance procedures
  • appeals procedure under the disciplinary and grievance procedures

Remember a contact of employment still exists from when you verbally make that offer. The full contract of employment does not have to be written down, or signed, to still exist between you and your employee.  It is formed regardless. What you provide for the individual, your day to day dealings, your decisions, what you provide for your employees, employment practices, all set your contract.  And then it may be difficult to change.  So, whatever you start, make sure you are happy for it to be your permanent contractually terms regardless of whether it’s written down or not.  Ideally, you should think this through from the outset and set all your desired working practices and offerings in the form of written policies and procedures so that all parties know what to expect (Employee Handbook).  But at a minimum, you must provide at least the basic minimal legal requirements as listed above.

If you want to talk about your requirements through with us please ring our team of HR Consultants who will be happy to talk through these and other elements of the employment contract on 07989 343361 or email us on info@temehr.co.uk