There's plenty to look out for in the year ahead, says Katee Dias
As an HR professional, what resolutions could I adopt for 2016?
Employment laws change frequently and HR professionals can find it difficult to keep up with changes. There is also the burden of general housekeeping to ensure personnel files are compliant and up to date; a task which can be particularly difficult in the hospitality sector.
There are lots of areas where improvements can be made. Consider the points below and choose three goals to improve upon in 2016.
Getting your HR practices wrong does not just mean that you may fall foul of employment law, but it can also damage employee relations.
1 Right to work
2 Contracts of employment
All employees should have their main terms and conditions of employment set out in writing. Not only is this a legal requirement, having clear and accurate contracts of employment in place can help to avoid disputes.
3 Health and safety policy
Employers have a duty to look after the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees. If you employ five or more employees, you are legally required to have a written health and safety policy in place.
4 ACAS Code of Practice
It is highly likely that you will have to deal with a disciplinary or grievance matter during 2016. Make sure you are familiar with the ACAS Code of Practice. Failure to follow it can result in a 25% uplift in compensation if the employee brings a successful employment tribunal claim.
5 Social media policy
Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and the like cannot be avoided in today's world. Do you have a suitable policy in place to cover the issues arising from the use of social media? From giving guidance about what is and is not acceptable to who owns contacts made, a social media policy is likely to be crucial.
6 Protecting your business after termination
Your head chef has left to join a rival and poached your sous chef too! All of this could have been avoided if you had suitable contractual post-termination restrictions in place. Act now before it is too late.
7 Equal opportunities
Discrimination claims can result in high-value compensation awards. Help to avoid employment tribunal claims by having an equal opportunities policy and regularly training your staff about anti-discrimination issues.
8 Holiday pay
Check if you are paying the correct amount. The situation is complicated for those who have variable pay. Any elements that are linked to the employee's contractual duties (such as overtime and productivity bonuses) should usually be included.
9 Maximum working week
Do you have any employees who regularly work in excess of 48 hours each week (including overtime)? If so, you may be in breach of the rules on working time unless you have a valid opt-out agreement.
Make sure you obtain the consent of each employee to allow you to monitor their use of company IT systems and telephones. Without this, you could run into difficulties, such as allegations of unlawful monitoring and/or data protection breaches.
11 Minimum wage
Ensure your workers are being paid at least the rate of the national minimum wage, which usually increases every October. Failure to comply not only means potential claims, but you could also find yourself being named and shamed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Remember that the National Living Wage will apply from April.
12 Zero-hour contracts
Remember that zero-hour contracts should no longer contain provisions preventing the individual from working for another employer. Make sure that you have updated your contracts to reflect this.
Katee Dias is a senior solicitor at Goodman Derrick LLP (email@example.com)
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