Things to consider when outsourcing your HR function

Outsourcing your HR function has many advantages for small businesses. Saving time and money, access to high-level HR expertise and legal advice, increased efficiency, and compliance with complex employment laws are just some of the benefits. As such, many SMEs choose to outsource HR. In this post, we look at things to consider when outsourcing your HR function.

What is outsourced HR?

HR outsourcing is the process of having some or all HR activities and transactions performed by an outside agency or consulting firm. It is usually cost-effective and can help reduce the overhead of establishing and managing a large team. Outsourcing also enables HR to focus on strategic human resource efforts instead of daily, time-consuming rote tasks. It is also an attractive option for SME’s that do not want to go through the hassle of managing important services internally.

Why outsource your HR?

Outsourcing your HR function can offer your business ROI through cost-effective time and money-saving opportunities. HR outsourcing solutions offer an excellent alternative to an in-house department or can complement your existing team to meet the daily requirements of your workforce.

However, why do companies outsource HR? It’s to ensure your human resource activities are directly managed by experts who take a large amount of administrational duties off your hands.

HR services for SMEs can take away the control you have of those functions, but if you turn to a reputable service for guaranteed ROI you can reap some impressive rewards.

Here are some of the main benefits of HR outsourcing:

-Access to expert HR professional if it isn’t viable to hire professionals.
-Cost reductions due to not needing to hire a full HR department.
-A reduction in risk—rely on industry experts to manage your activities for your business.
-Better data management, especially across HR metrics that determine the effectiveness of your initiatives.
-Greater efficiency in your organisation due to effective workload management with your service provider.
-Improvements to the HR software technology managing your company’s data.
-Human resource consulting firms will endeavour to cover outsourcing HR functions that suit your business needs.

We hope that you have found this post on things to consider when outsourcing your HR function useful. If you’re looking for the right HR assistance for your business, get in touch and we can provide you with a free consultation with one of our CIPD accredited experts to discuss your requirements.

How to respond to flexible working requests

Many people enjoyed the flexibility that came with working from home during the pandemic, which may mean that they don’t want to return to the office full time. In a recent YouGov poll of 4,500 adults found that 81% of respondents expected to work from home at least one day a week post-lockdown. 33% expect to work from home at least three days a week. In this post, we look at how to respond to flexible working requests.

Employee rights

Employees have the right to submit a flexible working request if they have been employed with the business for at least 26 days. This also applies if legally classed as an employee. They can also ask for flexible working if they haven’t made a request within the last 12 months.

What procedure does an employer need to follow?

Ultimately, there is no set procedure for employers to follow when dealing with statutory requests for flexible working. They must deal with such requests in a reasonable manner. The employer must notify the employee of its decision within three months of the request, or a longer period if agreed with the employee.

The Acas code of practice on handling in a reasonable manner requests to work flexibly sets out guidance for employers. The code will be taken into account by employment tribunals in relevant cases.

The code recommends that the employer should:

-arrange a meeting with the employee to discuss the application as soon as possible after receiving it , allowing them to be accompanied by a work colleague;
-consider the request carefully looking at the benefits of the requested changes in working conditions for the employee and [the] business and weighing these against any adverse business impact of implementing the changes”;
-inform the employee of its decision in writing as soon as possible;
-discuss with the employee how and when the changes might best be implemented (if the employee’s request is granted, or granted with modifications); and
-allow the employee to appeal the decision if the request is rejected (a request can be rejected only on certain specified grounds).

It’s not acceptable to reject a request because you think it might encourage others to make a flexible working request. Every request should be looked at on its merits. Special consideration needs to take place, particularly if the employee fits one of the protected characteristics of the Equality Act.

What are the options for employers?

An employer has three options:

Accept the request. The employee’s new working pattern will be a contractual variation to their employment and will be permanent. The employer is obliged to issue a section 4 statement within one month of the change taking effect. Preparing a letter recording this change, or new contract entirely, is good practice.
Accept the request but offer a trial period. Employers may choose to offer a trial period or offer frequent review periods.

Refuse a request. To legitimately refuse a request, an employer must do so for at least one of the eight reasons set out in the legislation.
1) the burden of additional costs;
2) the detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand;
3) the inability to recognise work among existing staff;
4) the inability to recruit additional staff;
5) the detrimental impact on quality;
6) the detrimental impact on performance;
7) the insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work;
8) planned structural changes.

We expect that in a post pandemic world, employers will be more willing to consider flexible working as a viable option and may even begin to encourage it because of the many benefits it can bring to employees and employers alike.

We hope you found this post on How to Respond to Flexible Working Requests useful. Should you have any questions about dealing with flexible working requests, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our expert team here.

Are social media policies necessary in the workplace?

Social media is a great platform for communicating messages to businesses and clients; you can also deliver important messages to people that matter, it’s all about communication, building relationships and brand awareness. However, because of the power of social media, it is important that you implement policies that control the usage of social media for work purposes and this also relates to employee usage. Here, we look at Are social media policies necessary in the workplace?

When is a policy required

You need a policy that clearly dictates what boundaries should not be crossed when talking about work-related issues and this includes fellow workers, managers, workplace logistics, clients and suppliers. Your policy needs to explain to employees what acceptable behaviour is across all social media platforms that may potentially play an integral part of your business. Any policy you devise should be clearly communicated to existing and new staff.

What should you include in your social media policy?

Explain the new workplace reality: Many, if not most, employees consider their private and work lives separate, but social media has effectively erased that distinction. No matter how “walled-off” an individual’s social accounts may seem to be ultimately someone, somewhere will tie that person to your organisation. Therefore they need to understand that this means anything they post on social media or elsewhere online may reflect on them and the company.

A good social media policy spells out what is and is not appropriate for employees to post about their company on social networks. Generally, the policy will state that employees shouldn’t write anything they wouldn’t want splashed across the public media. This section may include the consequences of posting unflattering information about the organisation. It will also remind employees that anything posted online – even posts marked as private – can, and will, be used against them and their employer.

Raise awareness of your organisation and what it does: The best social media policies have more “dos” than “don’ts. ” They have clear guidelines to help employees understand ways they can use social media to help achieve business goals. They also help employees reflect organisational values in their online behavior and explain the best kind of material to share on social media.

Outline what’s considered confidential or private information: Employees appreciate having clear guidelines about what the organisation considers public information about its business and its employees. This section will also describe the consequences for sharing company secrets on social media.

Discuss the proper way to engage with others online: It may seem like stating the obvious but this section reminds employees that they should be polite and agreeable. If they must disagree with someone they should agree to disagree with others on social media because disagreements can quickly blow up and go viral.

An up-to-date and active social media policy is as essential today as telephone and personal computer policies were in earlier times. Until people have a lot of experience in social media they are going to make mistakes unless they get good guidance – the kind of guidance social media policies provide.

We hope that you found this post on Social Media Policies – are they necessary in the workplace? useful. Davenport HR was set up with the intent of helping out small and medium-size companies to develop best practices in HR. If you need help with HR or are considering outsourcing your HR function, contact one of our experts today.

How to make your workplace more inclusive

Inclusivity is a hot topic right now. For companies looking to attract and retain top talent, a diverse and inclusive workplace is vital. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives need to go beyond feel-good, box-checking exercises for HR departments; but they have a marked impact on financial and business success. Despite D&I becoming an increasing priority in recent years for HR departments, research has found that 75% of employees believe that more can be done. In this post, we look at how to make your workplace more inclusive.

What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

Diversity is the physical makeup of your workplace, and inclusion, on the other hand, defines how your company creates an environment and culture that supports and enables all employees to contribute and thrive at work.

What makes a workplace inclusive?

For any workplace to be truly inclusive, it must be part of your workplace culture. The interactions, conversations and day-to-day engagement between employees must all reflect your attitude towards inclusion. Helping people to feel welcomed, immersing them in your workplace and giving them a voice that is not only heard, but respected and valued will help to engage and motivate your workforce. They’ll feel valued, and therefore they’ll be happier at work and therefore more productive.

Management must champion inclusion

As the bridge between your employees and senior management team, managers are critical in promoting inclusivity. Managers must be conscious of existing bias, promote diversity of thought, as well as diversity in terms of backgrounds and ethnicities. Encouraging employees to understand their own unconscious bias can help them to be more aware of the diversity within your workforce and drive a culture of respect, community and self-reflection.

Make inclusion part of your company policy

Although there is no legal requirement to have a documented D&I policy, it is good practice to produce one that demonstrates your business’ commitment to being a diverse and inclusive employer. As employers look to become more inclusive, existing HR and workplace policies may need to be reworked – or abolished entirely.

Creating inclusive workplace policies is a great foundation for becoming truly inclusive but employers must regularly audit, review and evaluate their progress towards inclusivity. Use a range of data sources (qualitative and quantitative), elicit frequent feedback from employees and understand exactly where any improvements could be made. Where do barriers exist? What could you do better?

Remember to monitor the impact of your initiatives, policy changes and use employee feedback to proactively make changes where they are needed.

If you need help promoting a culture of inclusion and diversity in your business, contact one of our experts today.

Snow Days And HR Regulations: Keeping Employees Safe

With winter fastly approaching, no matter what industry or sector you operate in, it is important to be prepared for the winter weather and the potential impact it may have on your business and your team. Here, we look at Snow Days And HR Regulations: Keeping Employees Safe.

Employees must know their rights in challenging weather conditions

Many employees may not be pleased to hear the following comment, but an employer has no obligation to pay their employees if they fail to turn up for work. It is important to be aware that an employer cannot force employees to attend work in challenging weather conditions, but they don’t have to pay employees who don’t attend.

Even if the employee has been unable to attend work due to the weather or a lack of public transport, there is nothing which states that the employer is responsible for paying a wage for that day. The same line of thinking can be applied to employees who arrived late or had to leave early, missing out on expected hours.

This is a decision for individual firms to make, and it may be a decision based on goodwill and maintaining staff morale as opposed to be a reasoned business decision.

Childcare is always a factor when travel is compromised

There is an awful lot of excitement surrounding snow days but with schools and nurseries being closed, many employees are placed into a position where they need to arrange alternative childcare at short notice. This can be difficult and an employer that shows flexibility in this situation should find that their employees respect them for the decision. However, there are no statutory rights for employees to receive payment if they require an emergency day relating to childcare. Individual firms’ may have provisions in employee contracts, but this is for every firm to consider as opposed to being a universal situation.

There will be firms who make allowances for time to be made up or to arrange a holiday day at short notice, but there is no legal requirement for employees to cater for the childcare needs of their employees.

Some companies will have considered asking, or even forcing, employees to take a holiday day for the dates that they are unable to come into work. However, for this to be enforced, the employer must provide notice that is twice the length of time that the holiday will run for. The following examples outline what a company must follow in forcing employees to take a holiday:

-For one day holiday, two days’ notice must be given
-For two days holiday, four days’ notice must be given
-For five days holiday, ten days’ notice must be given

While the expectations surrounding forcing employees to take holiday leave are clearly defined, there is room for discussion on the required period of notice when an employee receives more than the statutory minimum holiday period, 28 days.

It is not always possible to be proactive when dealing with weather conditions
most companies adopted a “wait and see” approach to the conditions, reacting to snowfall as opposed to pre-empting the conditions. In this situation, not enough time would be available to enforce holiday periods on to employees.

We hope that you have found this post on Snow Days And HR Regulations: Keeping Employees Safe useful.

Any organisation looking to review their HR practices and conditions should consult a specialist. At Davenport Solicitors, we offer a range of solutions and services to help your company fully comply with regulations while providing a duty of care to employees. Contact us today to find out more.