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.

What HR Managers need to know about TOIL

What HR managers need to know about TOIL

TOIL – Time Off In Lieu – is a term used in the United Kingdom (UK) to describe a type of paid leave that employees can take instead of overtime. The time off in lieu meaning comes from the French phrase ‘in lieu’ which means instead of. While it can be a strange phrase to see at first glance, the toil definition simply refers to when an employer agrees to give employees compensation with time off work, rather than money – e.g. ‘time off in lieu of overtime’. In this post, we look at what HR managers need to know about TOIL.

How does time off in lieu work?

TOIL can be used for holiday days, sick days, or personal days. By offering this as an option, businesses give employees the option of having time off instead of being paid extra for working additional hours.

Employees are usually entitled to a certain number of hours (or days) of time off in lieu of overtime each year, depending on their employer’s policy. The difference between this and annual leave is that annual leave is paid.

As a result, some people see it as a benefit as it allows them to take time off work without using up any of their annual leave. Others see it as a way of getting extra-paid days off each year.

What does time off in lieu mean for employees?

Simply, time off in lieu represents flexibility for employees and is often used to reward them for working overtime. Alongside additional benefits you might offer, it can also help keep morale high as employees know that their hard work is being recognised.

At the same time, employees are able to cover shifts or provide relief for employees who are struggling with workload, so there’s an incentive there. It can be attractive for employees, so if you provide it, it makes good sense to promote your policies and have an evident structure around what you offer, how to secure it, and when to use it.

Creating a time off in lieu policy

Often employers look to create time off in lieu guidelines, and there are some key considerations if you want to create or change a time off in lieu policy. There is no legal requirement for businesses to offer time off in lieu, so it’s down to your own wishes to decide what you offer.

The first is deciding who is eligible to be compensated and this is a company-made decision rather than a legal one. Employees who work overtime are usually eligible, whether full-time, part-time or temporary. However, there may be distinctions in your time off in lieu guidelines between employee types and job roles. For example, managers in senior positions may not be eligible for TOIL, and some functions (such as receptionists) may not have access. Think broadly while you create your guidelines.

The leave earned can be given as one continuous block of time or it can be accrued, but if the employee chooses to take it, they must use it within a certain time frame. In your policy, it’s a good idea to set a date ‒ most businesses choose to have this run through to the end of the financial year or calendar year. 

Final things to consider before you offer time off in lieu 

Now you have the time off in lieu meaning  – should you offer it? We think it’s a great benefit for many employees, however, it’s not something to simply set and forget. If you want to ensure employee welfare and engagement, it’s important to note that a reliance on overtime might reflect the workload of your team or indicate a deeper problem that needs to be solved.  

The UK’s policies and legal considerations are also something to be mindful of. Under the Working Time Regulations, a worker’s working time ‒ including overtime, in any reference period ‒ should not exceed an average of 48 hours for every 7 days, which means it should ideally be seen as an irregular method of rewarding work that is ‘above and beyond’.  

A watchful eye on this area prevents time off from being open to abuse such as team members lagging on projects to clock up over time, or from employees struggling to meet their daily tasks.  

We hope that you have found this blog post on What HR managers need to know about TOIL useful. Should you have any questions about this post, or wish to discuss HR matters with our experts, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team here.

Employment law and the COVID-19 vaccine

Employment law and the covid-19 vaccine

Ikea and Wessex Water are the latest large companies to announce a pay cut in sick pay for unvaccinated workers. Employers across all sectors have faced vast staff shortages as a result of the Omicron variant. This has placed great strain on productivity and profitability and employers are looking for solutions to mitigate the damage. In this post, we look at Employment law and the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Employment law and the COVID-19 vaccine

In normal times of a downturn in the economy, cost-saving exercises tend to rely on redundancies. The challenges of the pandemic have proved more nuanced, however, as companies seek ways to now plug the short-term shortfall arising from mass absences. 

Cutting sick pay for the unvaccinated appears however to be an unprecedented move but one that is becoming increasingly common as companies try to address the pressure. 

Singling out unvaccinated workers, however, is not without risk and may not always be a proportionate or the most reasonable way of realising the bottom line.  Where companies operate a blanket policy like this then such a move may expose the Company to cases of discrimination on grounds of protected characteristics such as pregnancy or philosophical belief. 

The right of choice

The right to a private life remains a principle protected by the Human Rights Act and as long as the Covid vaccine remains unmandated people will have the right of choice. Infringing on that choice by penalising unvaccinated workers is therefore risky when that freedom of choice is protected in law. 

Employers should therefore carefully consider the reasons why employees are not vaccinated and whether those reasons fall into the categories of protected characteristics under the equality legislation. Medical exemptions are likely to be covered by the protections under disability discrimination and the very essence of freedom of choice makes a compelling argument in reliance on the protected characteristic of philosophical belief. 

It’s important to note that the sick pay cut announced by Ikea is in relation to staff who are unvaccinated and have to self-isolate because of being identified as a close contact.

Unvaccinated staff who are off work because of Covid will still continue to receive full sick pay. The risks inherent in balancing these issues have clearly been acknowledged by Ikea as evidenced by this distinction and their statement that each matter will be judged on a “case by case basis”.  Across the pond, however, far bolder moves are being made with “no jab, no job” policies now being routinely rolled out amongst major multinational corporations. 

The legality of such policies in the UK in regard to dismissals and to cuts in sick pay will ultimately remain matters to be adjudicated by the courts when inevitably challenged by employees. 

For now, employers need to be aware of the risks of discrimination claims that may arise when implementing policies relating to unvaccinated workers. 

We hope that you have found this post on Employment law and the COVID-19 vaccine useful. For help with identifying, managing, and mitigating those risks please speak to a member of our employment law team, please call 02079036888 or email

5 Reasons Why Organisations May Not Want to Continue Home/Remote Working?

an image of a woman working remotely from the comfort of her couch with two children

 As a result of the pandemic, the way organisations operated changed drastically with employees working from home or remotely. Now the Government has mapped out a path to return to normality, organisations may choose to return to offices. By doing so, organisations may see the following benefits:

1. Supervision

Although organisations have managed to supervise during the lockdown, some have found it is difficult to supervise junior staff remotely. Some staff have not been able to carry out all their duties remotely.

2. Teamwork

Of course, staff can work as a team remotely however the chances are that colleagues are more likely to talk, collaborate and discuss ideas in the office when they are together rather than booking a virtual call.

3. Productivity

Sometimes it’s just easier to talk rather than spending 10 minutes drafting an email and being careful on how you draft the email so that a colleague is not offended. We all know that emails can sometimes come across as rude!

4. IT

Although some organisations invested heavily on their IT infrastructure during the first lockdown, there are some who have not been able to, either because they are not regulated or because they consider it too costly. The challenge organisations may find is ensuring that wherever their employees are working from, it is secure and data is protected.

5. Mental health

Working from home has been a challenge for many, either because they are trying to work and manage childcare or because they are working around the clock and have not been able to spend quality time with their partners! Being able to talk, meet, go out socially feels good. Having time to go out for a walk at lunch or a coffee is good for your mental health! The likelihood is that working from the office, gives many a structure, there’s a time to clock off!

If you find yourself needing to seek advice for employers please contact our Specialist Employment Documentation Solicitors on 020 7903 6888 or email:

Reasons why you should consider outsourcing your HR

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Are you thinking of outsourcing your HR function but wondering what the benefits are?

Ultimately, HR professionals need to have a deep understanding of different rules and regulations, as well as specialised expertise and knowledge in the field. Having an HR manager onboard 24/7 can be a waste of money and trying to hire people internally could lead to crucial mistakes that could be easily avoided. In this post, we look at reasons why you should consider outsourcing your HR.

As a business that works with a lot of SMEs, Davenport HR understand that small companies with limited headcounts can find themselves overwhelmed by HR and its growing demands. If you’ve got CEOs and General Managers stretching themselves to cover the HR function, or you’re like the majority of other businesses that we come into contact with, you may believe your company’s HR skills are lacking, it might be a sign you need help.
Here are our top reasons to outsource your HR:


Working with a specialist HR Consultancy like Davenport HR can help to cut business costs, plus you’ll have more time to focus more on your customer-facing responsibilities and core business.

Comply with Legal Issues

As a business owner, you may be unaware of how strict the rules or regulations surrounding human resources can be. But when you’re outsourcing, you know that the person you’re working with has a deep understanding of HR and employment law and will always be up to date with the most recent changes, thus meaning your business will always be compliant.

This is particularly important if you’re in a heavily regulated sector, like healthcare and finance, for instance. People in these industries have to always make sure that they remain compliant and working with an HR professional that understands HR law in and out will allow you to do so.

Gain Greater HR Expertise

Outsourced HR can work with your current team to build their HR knowledge and skills. While we’re there to essentially take the grunt work off your hands, the best value will be found in developing a true understanding of why HR-related know-how is so important to any business.

Motivated, Engaged Employees

At Davenport HR, we’ll work with you to develop a benefits package for your staff. When you’re able to offer employees a great benefits package, and they know that you take your business seriously enough to work with HR professionals, they will know that you actually care about them as employees, which will make them more engaged and in turn boost morale. Your management team will also appreciate having a team of experts helping them with establishing a company culture.

For more information on the services Davenport HR offer, contact a member of our team today.

A guide to conducting remote interviews

Woman sitting at table on laptop

The Coronavirus pandemic has placed us in strange and uncertain times, affecting every industry in some way. As we adjust to the ‘new normal’, recruitment has begun to increase again, albeit not to the same levels as pre-covid.

When hiring, it is important to ensure the successful candidate has all the necessary qualifications and desired experience. It is also about the candidate and business getting to know each other on a more personal level, which without face to face interaction, can be more difficult.

The goal of interviews should remain the same: for all parties to leave a positive impression and to ascertain the best candidate for the vacant position. Below are some considerations for conducting a remote interview.

Set expectations

It is important that before the interview commences all parties involved are on the same page about all aspects of the interview. It should be clear as to whether the interview will be just audio or a video interview, the software that will be used and an introductory email introducing all participants of the interview, their role at the interview and setting out an interview agenda.

Prepare technology

There is the perception that by conducting interviews from home, the process becomes more casual. However, this may lead participants to feel less of a need to prepare ahead of the interview. An aspect of preparation that should not be overlooked is technology. The interviewer should provide the interviewee with the opportunity for a test run ahead of the interview to ensure they are familiar with the platform being used to conduct the interview.

It would be naive to think that all remote interviews will be conducted without some aspect of technical difficulties such as wifi dropping out or an issue with the video platform itself. Therefore, it is good practice to have the candidate’s contact number in front of you should the interview need to be completed via phone.

If interviewers require the candidate to show their work or make a presentation during the interview, they should ask them to provide a copy beforehand to ensure that the material can be seen, should there be a technological issue.

Read more: How to manage remote employees effectively


Technological issues and inexperience in conducting remote interviews can both lead to awkward silences and confusion. Therefore, interviewers should have prepared their most important questions ahead of the interview, just as they would for an in-person interview. After the questions have been asked, ample time should be given for responses to be provided. An interviewer should not rush any follow-up questions. They should make sure that a candidate has finished their response before moving on.


If an interview is being conducted by video, participants must ensure that their environment is appropriate. They should make sure that they are not sitting in front of a window or direct light behind as this will make it difficult for them to be seen. Participants should also make sure that they have removed any clutter which may distract them during the interview. In particular, any confidential documentation that can be seen via the camera.

Interviewers should understand that some candidates might not have access to a laptop/computer with a video camera or a quiet space with four walls and this should not be held against them.

Don’t forget the small talk

The walk to the interview room or the escort from the building after the interview provide participants with the opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal basis. The interview is where the professional abilities are assessed but these moments before and after, give interviewers the chance to get know what the candidate will be like to work with. Therefore, it is important that this aspect is preserved in remote interviews by giving a moment before the interview commences once the call has begun.