HR Expert: School Runs

Q- My client has had several staff turn up late to work this week because of their school run commitments. What should they do about this?

A- Your client will understandably be keen to ensure all staff arrives at work on time in line with their contractual working hours. However, problems can occur during the month of September as working parents attempt to find a commuting routine which enables them to drop their children off at school in the morning and still attend work on time.

If your client finds staff are struggling to juggle these commitments then they should hold an informal discussion with the affected individuals, reminding them of their responsibility to attend work on time. Your client should explore solutions which would allow staff to arrive at work on time in the future, perhaps by asking friends or family to take care of the school run or by dropping their children off earlier at a designated school breakfast club.

During these personal discussions, it will be important for your client to refer to their workplace policy on lateness. Therefore, it is important that this policy is reviewed regularly and remains up to date for staff. A successful policy should outline an employee’s obligation to arrive at work on time whilst explaining the correct procedure should they need to notify your client of any lateness. A lateness policy should also be used to outline how your client will approach lateness from a disciplinary standpoint, with many favouring a three-strikes policy in the understanding that on certain occasions lateness will occur, however, repeated instances will not be tolerated.

If issues with lateness persist then your client should start to look at other ways to address the situation, including exploring flexible working opportunities. All staff with 26 weeks’ service have the opportunity to make a flexible working request, which could be utilised to allow parents to begin work 30 minutes later to enable them to carry out the school run. However, this may not always be feasible for your client, especially if they are a smaller organisation, as there is a chance this will lead to an influx of similar requests which may need to be refused due to outstanding business arrangements.

Ultimately your client is entitled to discipline staff who fail to arrive at work on time. Disciplinary procedures should follow your client’s workplace policies, which will often see repeat offenders issued with verbal or written warnings. To ensure fairness and prevent any unrest those with school commitments should not receive any preferential treatment over other staff when arriving late and persistent lateness may ultimately result in dismissal.

Your client should keep in mind that whilst some instances of lateness may take place during September, taking a firm but fair approach to the matter should prevent it from becoming a regular occurrence.

HR Expert: Languages at Work

Q- My client has received complaints from some staff who feel excluded when two employees regularly speak to each other in their native language at work. What should they do about this?

A- Many organisations benefit from having a diverse and multicultural workforce. However, a common issue can occur, as in the example explained by your client, whereby certain employees feel excluded when colleagues regularly converse in their native language at work. Read More

Tax Question Of The Week: Statutory Maternity pay

Q-We have an employee who is being made redundant and is entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). Do we have to continue paying SMP after the redundancy?

A- The simple answer is yes, as for an employee receiving SMP at the time they are made redundant the employer must discharge their full liability by either continuing to pay SMP to the employee based upon what would have been their normal pay period or by paying the SMP as a lump sum payment.

When

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HR EXPERT: How To Address Claims of a Toxic Workplace

Q- My client has had a number of employees resign in recent months blaming a ‘toxic’ company culture, what can they do to improve this?

A- Departing employees often mention specific factors behind their decisions to leave in their resignation letters or leaving interviews. These can vary greatly and are generally specific to the individual, however, Read More

Flexible Working Summer Holiday

Q- With the school summer holidays approaching one of our clients has received a request from an employee for flexible working over this period. What should they do about this?

A- The school summer holidays can be a difficult time for working parents who are often tasked with having to manage workplace responsibilities and increased childcare commitments for a prolonged period of time. Whilst many choose to take annual leave during the summer months to be at home with their children, this is not always possible. Therefore, it is important that

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Dress Code Requirements

Q- A client has told me a female employee has failed to wear high heeled shoes or makeup to work several times this week in line with their dress code policy. What should they do about this?

A- Many employers will see dress codes as an integral part of their business given that they are often an important way of portraying a desired company image. However, in light of recent events they should carefully consider where certain dress code requirements may be tantamount to discrimination and look to change their policies accordingly.

Whilst convention dictates Read More

Benefit In Kind

Q- Some of our clients provide some employees with Company cars that are hybrids. The employees are also provided with fuel cards that are available for their private use and receive a fuel Benefit in Kind in relation to the car. However, the cars are plugged in and charged at home can the employer offset this cost against the fuel Benefit in Kind?

A- No, as the employee is paying for the vehicle to be charged at home this would not qualify for a reduction of the fuel BIK, however, the employee would be able to claim tax relief for the actual cost of charging the vehicle for business purposes.

ITEPA 2003 Section 149 states that a

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April Pay Increase

With April fast approaching, If you are in business and employee staff you need to be aware of the changes in statutory pay rates which are set to come into force.

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage will increase on April 1st. Those aged over 25 on the National Living Wage will benefit from an increase of 4.4%, with hourly payments rising from £7.50 an hour to £7.83 an hour. Younger workers and apprentices will also benefit from similar improvements, with the new rates as follows: Read More

Shared Parental Leave

Q- A client has just seen news about a campaign for employees taking Shared Parental Leave. They’re not familiar with this type of leave so do you have some pointers I could pass on?

It is likely over the coming months more clients will begin to seek guidance on the issue of Shared Parental Leave (ShPL). Whilst the scheme itself is not new, having first been introduced in April 2015, the government are making a concerted effort to Read More

Arguments Amongst Employees

Q- A client rang me after having an argument with a member of staff. Apparently, the employee walked out saying they weren’t going to come back. Has the employee resigned?

 

A-The workplace is often an emotive place and it is therefore not uncommon for employees to react angrily to certain situations. Employers should be advised to act with caution if a member of staff walks out of work angrily after an argument and Read More