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Are you aware of the following?

You need to be because whilst it is unlikely you will get a plethora of requests when you do you need to be ready – Just ask as I can help …

parental leave

parental leave

Significant changes in relation to the way that employees take leave following the birth of their child will be effective for babies expected or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015.

Employees who are eligible for maternity leave can still take 52 weeks’ of maternity leave.  That system will remain in place and some may decide to take maternity leave.  However in other cases, eligible parents may decide to utilise the flexibility to take shared parental leave.

Shared Parental Leave will allow eligible parents to share up to 50 weeks’ of leave and 37 weeks of pay within the first year of their child’s life or within the first year after a child is placed for adoption.  The first two weeks of leave after the birth of the child must be taken by the mother alone, thereafter leave can be shared in a very flexible way.

The Government has stated that the aim of these changes is to give parents more freedom to decide how they care for their child in the first year of its life.  It is hoped that this will increase the amount of time that fathers spend caring for their child in the early stages.  The idea is that both parents can retain a strong link to the labour market. It is thought that this will allow employees more flexibility to balance work and child care.

The new system of Shared Parental Leave is a fairly simple concept: but the detailed notifications processes do take some getting used to.   Helpful guidance has been published by ACAS and BIS, designed to help employers understand new entitlements and to help with the complicated notification process.

Whether or not this leads to a permanent change to modern parenting remains to be seen.

All employers need to be aware of these changes. They should also ensure that they have an up to date policy in place to reflect the new legal entitlement.  A clearly drafted Shared Parental Leave policy will help employers to avoid breaching this new entitlement. ©MacRoberts 2015

Did you know that 2nd February was ‘National Sickie Day’ in the UK? How did that affect you? Well here are my 7 Steps to reducing absenteeism to help in the battle against lost time –

IT IS known that the first Monday in February sees an estimated 350,000 British workers take a not-entirely-justified day off sick. For some it’s to attend an interview to fulfil that New Year’s Resolution to change jobs, for others it’s to beat the January blues. Either way their absence causes issues to any business be they big or small so here are my 7 steps to help reduce absenteeism

  1. Record It

Even the simple task of logging how many days are lost, by whom and when will help your business understand not only if you have a bigger attendance problem, but also if there are any key culprits and help establish a potential cost to your business of those lost days.

  1. Have an Absence Policy

This will formalise the company’s expectations in terms of reporting procedures, payment terms, what constitutes ‘excessive’ to you, and what actions will be taken in those circumstances.

  1. Carry out return to work interviews after EVERY sickness absence

After periods of absence these return to work interviews allow you to determine whether an employee has any underlying concerns, whether there is a pattern to their absence or if absent for a longer period whether they ae able to return to their duties and if modifications to their duties are required.  It also sends a clear message you take absence seriously. Imagine, if it was just a sickie, having to sit down with your line manager to ‘explain/excuse’ your absence! A return to work interview will also assist in an effective return to work and will help you determine if you need to consider disciplinary action (this may depend on the employee’s record).

  1. Consider alternative ways of working

With the technological advances today we have the ability to allow certain individuals to work online/remotely if, for instance, they have cold like symptoms. This makes complete sense from both the employee’s and the employer’s point of view; the employee is able to work from the comfort of their own home and doesn’t have to commute when they feel under the weather but are well enough to still contribute, and the business reduces the chances of the cold/flu spreading as well as not losing a worker to sickness.

  1. Ask leavers to identify problems

Do an exit interview when your employee leaves the company – when they have achieved that new role they went sick for the interview 😉 – to help identify any issues that are making your team members unhappy as disengaged unmotivated employees take more sick days. Those leaving are more likely to be honest in such chats if they are leaving the company anyway.

  1. Foster a culture of open communication

When your employee feels a sense of responsibility for their work and loyalty to their team, they’re much less likely to phone in sick on a whim because they don’t want to let their colleagues or your clients down. The idea is that they become more willing to talk openly to their manager if they have a health issue to ask for support from the company and understanding from their peers.

  1. Encourage work-life balance

By providing your managers with training in how to support your staff to achieve a more positive work-life balance you can help combat absenteeism. Additionally you must ensure that employees are aware of policies and programs available to help with work-life balance.

So how would you suggest tackling sickness absence in the workplace? For more help and advice contact us at www.threedomsolutions.co.uk or follow us on twitter @3domSolutions

Are You Ready for Winter?

As the weather gets worse thoughts often turn to how businesses will cope. The question we are frequently asked by employers is: “Do I have to pay my employees if they cannot get to work?”

The answer is … there is no answer.

Employees have no automatic right to be paid if they cannot get into work because of adverse weather conditions. A lot will depend on the contractual arrangements between the parties and the employer’s attitude to staff morale.

If the weather becomes so bad that you have to send employees home, in most cases you will still have to pay them if they are ready and willing to work, unless there is a contractual term (such as a lay-off clause) which allows you to avoid making payment of salary.

As an employer you need to be ready for the bad weather and you should consider whether your employees are able to work from home until the weather improves.

Often employers will agree that absences due to bad weather can be taken as holiday. However employers cannot force employees to take a day’s holiday without consent unless their contract of employment contains the express right to do so.

So, in summary our advice is:

• Look at your contracts of employment and see whether they contain the appropriate contractual policies to deal with employee absenteeism during spells of bad weather.

• Consider implementing a bad weather policy which tells your staff what you expect of them when the weather is bad.

• Explore alternative ways of working to ensure that productivity is not hampered by employees not getting into their place of work.

• Make sure that you are able to contact your employees during spells of adverse weather so you can keep communication open at all times.

WHEN I worked in corporate world I used to dread the holiday season. I was guaranteed to be embroiled in some disciplinary matters after the company office shenanigans turned sour. The grabbing of the Training Manager by one of the engineers for a snog on the dance floor, the lusty glances of two married (to other people) co-workers turning into something more and being caught in flagrante in the cupboard, or the fisty cuffs after one too many beers! Yep that’s right; the snog, marry, avoid consequences of what you all think is just a harmless opportunity to mingle.

a christmas snog

According to an Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) survey of UK managers and workers

  • Almost 9 out of 10 workers (87 percent) have seen colleagues drink too much
  • And 48 percent have gone to work with a hangover after their office party

So please (and I hate to be the ‘bah humbug’ amongst you all but…) take the opportunity NOW to set the parameters for the party and give clear guidelines to all your staff of expectations.

  1. It’s a ‘work party’ therefore they are effectively at work – let them know that work related social functions such as the Christmas party/lunch can be an extension of the workplace and the same standards of behaviour expected. Telling your HR Director she’s a ‘heartless unfeeling machine’ as you walk out into the cold night air will get you into bother! (yes someone really did that!)
  2. Brief out the absence procedures – tell them up front what will happen if they pull a sickie to recover from that handover.
  3. Remind the staff of your social media policy – inappropriate pictures hash tagged with the company name can cause reputational embarrassment, not to mention the potential harassment fall out from the object of that tweet/Facebook post!
  4. Ensure your disciplinary procedure is up to date – it needs to be clear on what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour and ensure when applying it you are consistent.
  5. Make sure everyone knows the Bullying and Harassment policy – a small reminder that offensive behaviour on the grounds of sex, race, age, sexual orientation, disability or religion and belief won’t be excused just because it happens at the party won’t go amiss. I was unfortunate to have to deal with a name calling incident between two colleagues – one thought it just a laugh, the other took real offence so it’s wise to make sure people know to check themselves.
  6. And with that in mind remind all of the drink/drive limits – and if they are not driving, just remind them again it’s an office function and being drunk drunk drunk may impact how people perceive them the next day – pointing and sniggering as they walk into the office is hardly career enhancing is it?

I have to admit it’s rare I get drunk at such an event; after all I’m just as likely to tell the staff what I think of them! So with a few up front actions you could prevent the post party disciplinary hangover.

WHY is it when I mention using an agency most of my clients start muttering about costs and rocking? My guess is that their previous experiences have been so dreadful they daren’t use an agency again! I aim to share a few top tips of how to get the best from the agency you choose as a follow on to my first and second parts in the series of Top Tips for successful recruitment.


So Agencies – If you are going to use an agency then do it properly!

  1. Choose carefully – You need to know the person you are dealing with understands you, your business and the job they are recruiting for. Give them the opportunity to demonstrate this. Meet them. They should make recruitment a painless process. As Monster.co.uk says there are some key questions you need to ask before deciding which agency to use. There is no right answer to many of the questions, it depends what’s right for your business.
  • Has the agency recruited for similar positions before?
  • Do you need a specialist agency or will a general ‘high street’ one suffice?
  • What are the credentials of the consultants that will handle your account?
  • Can they supply testimonials from previous clients?
  • Do they comply with recruitment industry standards?
  • Does the agency have a clear pricing structure?
  • How do their fees compare with the industry average?
  • What background checks will the agency perform on candidates
  • What role will you be expected to pay in the process
  • How much contact will you receive from the agency?
  1. Let them do their job – You will get the best service if, once you have chosen your consultant, you let them do the job. Don’t be tempted to use lots of different agencies either; agree the terms and agree what you get in that service, including timescales from the one you selected.       That commitment from you will gain better commitment from them. Recruitment agencies in general work on a ‘no recruitment, no fee’ basis. By using lots of other agencies you are just making it less likely that they be successful and therefore their commitment to finding you the best lower as their time could be for nothing. There are very few industries who work for nothing!
  2. Make sure they have done their job! – I would expect them to have done at least a first interview with each applicant prior to submitting their CV, not just run an advert and forward the response, or as one agency did with a client of mine – trawl the job sites, download a CV for someone looking for a job and send that through to claim a £4.5k fee! No -if I am paying for a service I want to have that expertise and service!
  3. Make sure they add value – If you chose the right one then they should have skills that you don’t so use these properly. For instance get them to help with the interview process, or ask them to indicate why they have selected that person against another; it is in their best interest for you to get the right person for the job. What are they bringing to the process that you don’t have?
  4. Work with them, not against them – Give the selected agency as much detail as possible on your requirements. This will help them select the right candidates and so provide you with a better service. As a minimum you should provide the following: job role, location, salary & benefits, job description/specification preferred start date and potential interview process. Then provide feedback for the CVs you have received and after any interviews; the more they know about what was good and what wasn’t the easier it is to find you someone. Don’t do as one manager I work with does as he hands back the CV with a ‘No’ on top. Get them to explain why that is a ‘no’ and share that with the agency. Listen to their advice, they will be the experts in the market (assuming you have chosen well) so if they advise you your expectations are unrealistic then move on quickly and be flexible for interviews etc – put yourself in the job seekers shoes again.
  5. Read the Ts & Cs – Take care to understand the fees and rebates. Many will insist the invoice is paid very promptly and may well not include a guarantee period for candidates who have worked on a temporary basis first. Most will offer a free replacement if something goes wrong (other than redundancy) but it will only be for about three months so make sure you manage the probation period carefully.
  6. Barter – I have yet to come across an agency that is not prepared to negotiate on fees (ok just the one that wasn’t). Just because it states 18% (or whatever), doesn’t mean it is 18%. It’s always worth a try. If you plan to use them frequently consider setting up a preferred supplier arrangement. This offers various benefits in service and/or price, in return for a commitment of business.       Remember too that the cheapest is not necessarily the best; consider the overall service/package on offer.

I hope that helps your path through the minefield that is recruitment agencies. I’m now expecting a barrage of comments from my recruitment colleagues – be gentle with me !!

THERE are a plethora of articles on the www. of how, why, when, what to do, and what not to do when interviewing. My aim in this the second of a three part series of articles is to give some bullet points and some practical guidance to help make your recruitment more successful.recruitment

In the first top tips for successful recruitment I looked at the advertisement itself and then how you shortlist. The next stage is the interview and offer stage.  There is no point taking such care and attention getting the advertisement correct only to blow it when you meet with the candidates and attempt to make them an offer they can’t refuse.


  1. Give the candidate a chance – The interview should be a forum for the applicant to show you what they are capable of and their potential. Trying to trip people up and see how they “think on their feet” or deal with a ridiculous question like “if you were a fruit what fruit would you be” will only play into the hands of those either natural performers or seasoned interviewees (neither of which you necessarily want). I can recall a sales colleague of mine being given a pencil and asked how she would sell more; she snapped it in two and said ‘you need another pencil’. Clever and quick but what did that actually show about her ability to charm clients, the number of times she achieved sales person of the month or her ability to achieve targets? Exactly!
  2. Keep it uniform and consistent – Manage the interviewees expectations, let them know what to expect, have a structure and stick to it. How can you compare applicants if you have completely different conversations with each applicant?
  3. Don’t rely on gut instinct – Whilst your gut reaction will always play a part in recruiting don’t let it take over. Sure the old adage of ‘you make your mind up in the first 60 seconds and spend the rest of the interview justifying it’ has some truth to it; but you need to make sure you assess skills against the requirements of the job. It’s the halo and horns effect; don’t just recruit people you like, who went to the same university as you or have the same interests/sense of humour/taste in shoes.
  4. Sense check your questions & keep it legal – There will be lots of things you want to know about your prospective employee however you need to be careful as you don’t want to fall foul of asking anything that refers to any legally protected characteristics (Age, Nationality/Race, Martial/Civil status, Sexual orientation, Sex discrimination, Religious belief, Disability, Political affiliation, Trade union membership) No matter how much you want to! Your questions must be relevant to the job not someone’s personal circumstances. Use the questioning technique of ‘tell me a time when…’, or ‘how would you…’ to tease out the information you want. Often in the examples given, the interviewee will share some personal information anyway. That’s fine – it was their choice to share it, not you asking directly for it.
  5. Let them talk – We have all experienced an interview which has gone along the lines of the interviewer telling the applicant all about the job and the company then asking if they have any questions. How about “tell me what you know about the company” or “what is your understanding of the job” These are questions to ask to find out if they have researched the role and company and truly understand what they have applied for. You can then fill in the gaps. Likewise resist the temptation to just read out the applicants CV to them, “talk me through your experience so far” is a much better way to find out about them.

Job Offer

  1. Move fast – You’ve made up your mind so tell them as soon as possible. But if you haven’t don’t wait too long as in this more buoyant market the good ones get several offers and get snapped up very quickly. Make contact within a day or two maximum or risk losing them.
  2. Always call first – Make that call, share how excited you are they are joining your team and you can gauge how excited they are too.
  3. Follow it up in writing – Drop them the full details of the offer in an email or letter. This should include all elements of the offer: job title, base salary, benefits, holidays, potential start date, and who they will report to etc. Ask for evidence of their right to work too. I personally also make the offer subject to suitable references being received and a medical questionnaire being completed in a satisfactory manner. Then give them a deadline by which to reply and confirm acceptance. Three days to a week is normal.
  4. Don’t be a wall flower if you sense hesitancy – If you sense any reluctance don’t be shy. This isn’t being asked out on a date, this is a serious job offer. Find out what their concerns/worries are, ask questions (without being pushy). ‘I completely understand you want some time to consider it, but can I ask your initial reaction?’ is a good place to start. See if you can overcome any objections or provide additional information that will help them make up their mind and make acceptance more likely.

Easy isn’t it when you know how? So do you use agencies? Let me help you in my next post on whether to choose to use one, and if you do help with that decision making process.

HOW hard is it these days to get the right candidate for the available job you have? There are so many ways to attract interest, and even then when you have their attention you fail to shortlist the right ones or treat them dreadfully in interview!


It is for this reason we regularly get asked for help with recruitment. The simplest rule of thumb in my opinion is to try and put yourself in the applicants shoes throughout the recruitment process – develop some empathy for the process and you will find it goes smoother. Failing that try the following instead:


  1. Advertisements are your shop front. They need to attract the perfect candidate and entice them to want to apply for your job. They should, without going over the top, sell the job and company. Make your advertisement about the applicant not about you. An advert which is just a list of what you want the person to be like, and be able to do, just isn’t very appealing.
  2. Be clear with what you want and why. You must have some pre requisites of who and what the ideal candidate must be and have. This gives you grounds to reject applicants you feel are unsuitable; just make sure they are legal grounds! However ensure you understand why you need them; justify them against the job role.
  3. Keep it legal. Make sure your advertisement does not discriminate on the basis of any ‘protected characteristics’ – such as age, race, sex, disability, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief, either directly ‘must be over 25’ or indirectly ‘recent graduate’ unless the requirement can be legally justified.
  4. Make it simple to apply. A detailed application form in this fast electronic age will put people off applying. Whilst you do not want people to just apply for the sake of it you also do not want to put barriers in their way. Instead ask for an up to date CV and cover letter detailing why they are interested so they have to put some effort in and consider the job.
  5. Manage their expectations. Tell them when they can expect to hear and how, then stick to it. It makes you look professional.


  1. Avoid the assumptions. Whether you are shortlisting from agency CVs or your own advert don’t make assumptions about someone’s circumstances, motivation for applying or ambitions for the future, we are all different. For example we were recruiting for a physically challenging role within a warehouse and had the application from a 59 year old chap. Turns out he had been unemployed for some 6 months, and spent them down the gym. He told us he feared previous companies had rejected him as soon as they saw his age.
  2. Look for reasons to see people. A well written, considered letter, an accurate CV, relevant transferrable skills go a long way, even if they don’t perfectly match your criteria.
  3. Be consistent. Shortlist against the set criteria you used when creating your advertisement.       It was relevant then and remains relevant now! And stick to it; that will help avoid discrimination claims.
  4. Put the ball in their court. It is very easy to apply on line for jobs these days and whilst you don’t want to put people off you also want to be able to get rid of timewasters so check out how serious people are. If you receive a large response, which is possible, then put in a telephone interview stage or a further assessment but make them ring you.
  5. Be quick and always reply. It makes you look better than your competitors. Even if someone isn’t successful in obtaining employment they could be, or know, a prospective customer. Also the best people will go quickly so if you intend to run an advert make sure you have time to deal with the response.

Follow these tips and create a more professional and successful recruitment process.  Next time I will be sharing some tips on successful interviews and how to get the best out of using an agency to recruit for you.

Equal pay

From today, employers who are found to have breached equal pay law will be ordered by the employment tribunal to carry out and publish equal pay audits.

In broad terms, breaches of equal pay law arise where men and women don’t receive equal pay for equal work.

An equal pay audit involves a systematic evaluation of an employer’s pay and reward systems. Any differences in pay, whether contractual or not, between women and men doing the same or equal work must be identified. The audit must include an action plan for eliminating any differences due to gender.

However, compulsory pay audits are not required for new businesses (less than 12 months trading), micro businesses (less than 10 employees), or where an employer has completed a valid audit in the last three years.

Further audits aren’t required where the equal pay breach appears to be an isolated issue, or it’s clear what, if any, action is required, or the disadvantages of an audit outweigh its benefits. This leaves employers plenty of wriggle room.

Furthermore, audits are limited to specified persons to be identified by the employment tribunal. A comprehensive and meaningful audit would ordinarily encompass the whole organisation. The restriction of compulsory audits to specified persons limits the burden on employers but materially limits their effectiveness.

Employers who fail to comply can be fined multiple penalties up to £5,000.

The government heralds compulsory equal pay audits as a tough new approach to tackling persistent pay inequality, but in the same breath estimates that only two or three business a year will be required to undertake them.

With equal pay claims down by 84%, compulsory equal pay audits are set to be all bark and no bite.

For more information, see The Equality Act 2010 (Equal Pay Audits) Regulations 2014.

Published by MacRoberts LLP © MacRoberts LLP 2014

Disclaimer The material contained in this e-update is of the nature of general comment only and does not give advice on any particular matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of the information in this e-update without taking appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

Dress Code


This week, ACAS issued new guidance about employee dress codes which employers might find useful. The key principles laid down in the guidance include:

Employers must avoid unlawful discrimination in a dress code policy (for example religious dress should be approached sensitively)

  • Employers may use a dress code policy for health and safety reasons
  • Dress codes must ensure equality between men and women. However it is noted that there may be different requirements applicable to each
  • Employers must make reasonable adjustments for disabled people

When drafting a dress code policy, employers are encouraged to fully consider the reasoning behind the policy. ACAS also recommend consulting with employees about it in some cases. Having a clearly drafted policy can avoid inconsistent practices being applied across a business.

the detail can be found here http://www.acas.org.uk/dresscode

If you would like some help drafting a policy just ask! info@threedomsolutions.co.uk

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