June 29

Worker status or self-employed…….employers need to take care after this ruling from the UK Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a plumber classed as self-employed was in fact a worker, in a landmark case for the gig economy.

The UK’s highest court upheld the decision that a plumber who worked for Pimlico Plumbers for six years was a worker, not self-employed. Despite paying self-employed tax and being VAT registered, Mr Smith was a worker, the Supreme Court said.

Worker status means entitlement to a national minimum wage, holiday pay and protection from discrimination.

The decision has the potential to impact the rights of many people classified as independent contractors across the UK. The company argued that Mr Smith had freedoms, such as the option to substitute someone else to carry out his work, if he wished.

But the Supreme Court held the following factors pointed to Mr Smith being a worker rather than self-employed:
• The dominant feature of Mr Smith’s contract was that he must do the work himself.
• The company exercised tight administrative control over Mr Smith and he undertook to do the work personally.
• The company required Mr Smith to wear a company branded uniform.
• The company required Mr Smith to also lease one of its vans, which displayed the company’s logo and was equipped with a GPS tracker.
• Mr Smith also had to work a minimum number of hours per week.
• Mr Smith’s services to the company’s customers were marketed through the company.
• Mr Smith’s ability to compete with the company for plumbing work following any termination of their relationship was restricted.
• The company controlled when and how much Mr Smith was paid.

The Supreme Court held that the company could not be regarded as a client or customer of Mr Smith. It was clearly his employer.

This decision will set a powerful precedent for organisations in determining how they construct and operate their contracts. The court did make it clear that this decision turned on the unique facts of this case, but employers need to take note that tribunals will be willing to look behind what on the surface appears to be a self-employed relationship in order to uphold worker rights where the circumstances dictate such status.

June 15

Employers should embrace the 2018 World Cup…..!

Employers should embrace the 2018 World Cup…….!

The 2018 World Cup gets underway this week and should be an opportunity to generate a good feeling in the workplace and boost staff morale, wellbeing and productivity rather than focussing on how to prevent ‘sickies!’

There are 63 matches across the tournament, and whilst the first of the England games take place outside of the ‘traditional’ working day of nine-to-five and at weekends, fans that support different teams may of course be keen to see their own matches which may take place during work time.

In addition, England fans may want to watch other big games which may also be played during the working day.

Equally, as the games take place in different Russian time zones, there is a mixture of starting times. Weekend and shift workers may also be on the roster when their team’s game is being shown.

England’s games in the first stage of 2018 World Cup are as follows:

Monday 18th June England v Tunisia
Thursday 28th June England v Belgium
Sunday 24th June England v Panama

Kick-off time for both weekday games is 7pm.

The concern is that staff sick days and unscheduled absences are likely to rise on or around these days, as staff take their seats in front of the TV to watch England play live.

The best employers will be those that take a proactive approach to these events as follows:

· Create temporary flexible working for the duration of the tournament
· Allow late starting or early finishing on match days
· Stage World Cup events in the office by setting up screens to show the matches
· Run a sweepstake to ensure all staff feel involved
· Plan in advance how to respond to multiple and last minute holiday requests!
· Allow employees to watch lunch time matches and then stay late to make up time
· Allow employees to listen or watch games online on work devices
· Permit the streaming of games on employees’ own mobile devices

If you have a diverse workforce, make sure any temporary flexible arrangements are also available to them to watch their own national team play in the World Cup.

Taking positive steps to manage the workplace impact of the World Cup can have a beneficial effect on employee relations. As well as allowing staff to watch matches, employers could:

· put up special decorations in the office, such as flags of the countries involved;
· relax dress codes, including allowing football shirts to be worn; and
· provide refreshments during games.

Giving staff the opportunity to watch or celebrate major events is a really great way of engaging and motivating the whole team!!

June 5

Annual appraisals – positive or pointless….?

The appraisal system is frequently a source of frustration for all concerned, be that HR professionals, managers or employees, many of whom view it as a box ticking exercise with no meaningful or positive outcome. In many organisations, this is not far from the truth.

However, an appraisal system, with careful planning, conduct and follow-up, can lead to positive results: an employee’s performance, efficiency and motivation can increase, and inevitably their employer will feel the benefit in terms of improved output. The key aim is to ensure that appraisals support performance rather than focus on the negative.

Legally speaking

Unfortunately, many managers shy away from difficult conversations, leading to little or no discussion of any problems with employees. Appraisal scores are then awarded in a similar, noncommittal basis making the whole process meaningless.

There’s no legal requirement for employees to be appraised. However, fairly dismissing an employee for poor performance without formal appraisals will be difficult, as the issues are unlikely to have been documented. Indeed, the employee may be oblivious of their shortcomings (and therefore not have been given an opportunity to address them). Similarly, appraisal scores can be useful tools in redundancy selection processes, but if everyone has similar scores then their value is minimal.

Annual or ongoing appraisals?

An annual appraisal has been likened to throwing darts at a dartboard blindfolded, and only being shown your score 12 months later. Both positive and negative experiences will have faded, and the opportunity to learn from mistakes or to capitalise on successes may have been lost.

In recent years there has been an increasing trend for businesses to move away from the traditional annual appraisal to a process of ongoing performance review or “mini” appraisals throughout the course of the year. An ongoing process can be more manageable and meaningful for all concerned.

Training

To maximise the benefits of the appraisal process, it’s vital that both employees and managers participate fully (many employees view it as one sided), and that they understand what they are doing, why and how. Often there is an incorrect assumption that a manager – simply because they are a manager – will know how to conduct an appraisal. Training can help them to understand their role and how to get the best from the process.

Preparation

Appraisals often focus on the negatives. If employees and managers prepare beforehand (with the employee completing a self-assessment and the manager completing a pre-appraisal form) this can provide a structure, allowing the highs – as well as the lows – of the employee’s performance to be discussed.

Conducting an appraisal

During appraisals it’s important to consider whether the employee has met their targets, but it’s equally key to explore how the employee has met those targets – what skills have they used and how can they be improved?
Remembering that the appraisal is a two-way process, and allowing the employee a full opportunity to have their say is vital.

After the Appraisal

Too often, everyone breathes a sigh of relief after the appraisal, and the forms get filed neatly away. Yet the real value in appraisals is setting a path for the future and helping the employee to progress. This is where the “mini” or ongoing appraisal system can be particularly helpful.

Ideally, the employee and manager should agree on a small number of specific, unambiguous, action points (three to five objectives is ideal), which are followed up periodically throughout the year.

For help devising your appraisal form or process, or if you are considering using an external person to conduct your appraisals, please get in touch with Nicola on 07917 878384 or nicola.goodridge@goodhr.co.uk