The Insider - March

HE INSIDE CHANGES ARE COMING. . . ARE YOU READY?

When HR professionals think of spring, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the upcoming changes in legislation. April 1st will see numerous changes in HR and employment law, but how will these affect you and your business? We take a look: ARE YOU READY FOR THE EMPLOYMENT LAW CHANGES THIS SPRING?

Gender Pay-Gap Reporting - This new law requires employers with more than 250 employees in England, Wales and Scotland to publish mean and median gender pay gaps from April 2017. The first reports are due to be published in April 2018 for the period covering April 2017-April 2018. Information on any bonuses paid also needs to be published in April 2018 for the 12month period ending April 2017. Employers cannot ignore this. Companies should be gathering the data now to ensure that they comply with the reporting procedures ready for April 2017. There is no obligation for companies to explain the gender pay gap nor any duty to address it if a company is complying with the Equality Act, neither is there any penalty for failing to publish (as of yet). That said, reputational penalties will be significant as there is no doubt the press will be waiting with baited breath to discover who has failed to produce their report and why and will be looking establish a gender pay gap in high profile organisations. Furthermore, the best candidates may not be attracted to working for companies with a big gender pay gap if they feel that their gender will adversely impact on their career prospects. The reason for this new piece of legislation is self explanatory; research has demonstrated that despite huge equality progress, women are still being paid less than their male counterparts.

Apprenticeship Levy - A new initiative which will take effect in April 2017 is the new apprenticeship funding for 16-18 year olds and 19-24 year olds to encourage employers and young workers alike to increase job opportunities and production accordingly. A levy of 0.5% of an employers pay bill will be introduced on large employers (those with payrolls over £3million) to fund 3 million additional apprenticeships over the next five years. Each employer will receive £15,000 to offset against their levy payment. A full copy of the new structure can be downloaded from the Department of Education and employers can use the Skills Funding Agency tool to check whether they will be liable for the levy and if so, how much funding will be available. It is important to note that the levy will apply to all employers if their annual pay bill hits the criteria. The annual pay bill is all payments to employees that are subject to Class 1 secondary National Insurance Contributions, which includes all wages/pay, bonuses and commissions.

Salary Sacrif ice Schemes - As of 6 April 2017 the government will abolish tax savings through many salary- sacrifice schemes, aside from those related to pension savings, child care, cycle-to-work or ultra-low emission cars. Those which are in place prior to April 2017 will be protected until April 2018 while any arrangements related to cars, school fees or accommodation will be protected until April 2021. This would also affect employers who operate a ‘buying and selling annual leave’ scheme under salary sacrifice

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Modern Slavery - The Modern Slavery Act came into effect for any private organisation operating business in the UK with a turnover of £36 million or more (including subsidiaries) obliging them to either provide a statement showing the steps they have taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in any part of their business or supply chain, or a statement that it has not taken any such steps. Such companies are advised to file the required statements as the Secretary of State can apply to the High Court for injunctions against them if not done and prison sentences can follow for directors. The purpose of the Act is to eradicate ‘modern slavery’, which includes forced labour, human trafficking and domestic servitude. Even if you are a smaller business with a lower turnover, you may still be asked for a statement or policy on Modern Slavery if you trade with a larger business – i.e. in order for the larger business to comply with their own obligations under the Act, they would need to ensure everyone in their supply chain also complies. Certain industries would be more at risk that others – especially those using raw materials such as cotton or cocoa, which they import from ‘at risk’ countries across the world.

National Minimum Wage / National Living Wage - These are two areas which will continue to increase in 2017, with the next raise coming on 1st April taking the National Living Wage up to £7.50 per hour for those aged 25 and above. We are unlikely to see any changes when it comes to NMW/NLW following the triggering of Article 50 as this was very much a British idea and regulation is not required by European law. Furthermore, the UK National Minimum Wage is significantly higher than that in similar European systems and the government recently introduced the National Living Wage. The government introduced a ‘name and shame’ policy for employers who are found to be paying under the National Minimum Wage so it is important for businesses to take this seriously. The National Minimum Wage rates will be as follows from 1st April:

Aged 21-24 - £7.05 (up from £6.95) Aged 18-20 - £5.60 (up from £5.55) Aged 16-17 - £4.05 (up from £4.00) Apprentices - £3.50 (up from £3.40)

**applicable to apprentices aged 16-18 and those aged 19 and over who are in their first year. All other apprentices are entitled to the NMW for their age

Data Protection Changes - The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) was passed in May 2016. While it doesn’t take effect until May 2018, the scale of the changes mean that preparing for GDRP should be a priority for employers in 2017. This regulation will take effect before the UK exits the EU so employers need to be prepared. Those who are not compliant risk fines of up to €20 million or 4% of their annual worldwide turnover, whichever is higher. It’s difficult to predict exactly how the Data Protection Act will be affected by Brexit however it’s unlikely that it would be repealed as to do so would cause public outrage.

For help, adv i ce and guidance on any of the upcoming employment law changes cal l our spec ial i st employment law and HR team today on 0161 785 2000.

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HOW DIRTY IS MEAT? By Mike Williams, Director at STS

Raw meat has had bad press over recent years whether that’s the horse meat scandal, campylobacter in chicken from supermarkets or this latest report on the hygiene standards in abattoirs. It is safe to say, however, that raw meat is very much a low risk product and by following these simple rules it should be safe to eat, whether contaminated with bacteria or not: Control your supply chain – ensure that the place you buy your meat from both holds and maintains the correct government approvals and is certified to the highest 3rd party audit standard possible. By undertaking spot checks yourself or asking for unannounced audit visits you can also help to remove the risk that standards are good for announced visits but then drop off when audits are not due. Ensure that the raw meat is stored safely – maintain the cold chain from point of delivery to preparation by setting your expected delivery temperatures with your supplier, and actively checking them. This will help to reduce any bacterial growth on the meat prior to preparation. Control contamination risks – this should extend to deliveries, checking that delivery drivers do not expose meat to contamination during transport and delivery and that you remove the risk of raw meat contaminating ready to eat foods during storage, preparation and service. Avoid washing raw poultry before use as this can contaminate areas of the kitchen. Cook meat thoroughly – ensuring that meats are prepared and cooked thoroughly is an essential control. Whilst some meats e.g. steak can be cooked rare, remember that rolled meats should be cooked through. Always follow the FSA controls for rare burgers to the letter if you are looking at serving them. Train your staff – ensuring that your staff understand hazards and associated controls is essential to reducing the risk that raw meats will contaminate other foods.

Expecting to receive raw meat that is free from bacteria is tantamount to expecting to win the lottery every week. Not only is it unrealistic but it is also pretty pointless – unless I am mistaken we tend to cook (or treat) raw meats before we eat them. Playing devil’s advocate here, the recent press coverage about failing standards in abattoirs could actually be seen, in some way, as not being news. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have firmly set the record straight on the findings of the investigation, noting that only 0.43% of ALL meat produced in abattoirs is rejected by official inspectors. Yes, audit inspections may find problems in operations but this is the case for the majority of audit inspections at any food operation – inspectors usually find something! Should you be worried? There is one key concern when it comes to the findings of the Guardian article and this is in direct relation to the issue of rare burgers… FSA guidance is quite specific around the sourcing of meat which is produced for consumption following light cooking. If, as alleged, E.coli is present on such meat then there is the heightened risk that rare burgers may cause an E.coli food poisoning outbreak; clearly this would be of concern to food business operators who actively sell rare burgers.

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DOES WORK/ LIFE BALANCE REALLY MATTER? Recently there has been a lot of focus on work/life balance and the importance it plays in mental health and wellbeing but, when it comes to job satisfaction, does it really matter? What value do employees put on having a good work/life balance? New research by Glassdoor indicates that it may not be as much of a priority as employers think. A survey of more than 615,000 Glassdoor users found that when it comes to job satisfaction work/ life balance and salary were the least important factors receiving only 12.1% and 12.0% of the vote. The most important factor was culture and values (22.1%) with senior leadership coming a close second with 21.1% of the vote.

Danny Clarke, Group Operations Director for the ELAS Group, says: “This study demonstrates that companies need to think again when it comes to engaging with employees and retaining top talent. People have become more knowledgeable about workplace culture and values, want to be proud of who they work for as well as feeling that what they do makes a difference and they’re part of something larger. You only need to look to the likes of Virgin, Google, Apple and American Express to see that engaging your employees is more than simply paying them more money. Here are some things to consider when it comes to engaging and retaining employees: • How do you communicate? It’s important to be seen as a leader rather than just a boss. You should be more than just a name on an organisations chart • Lead by example – in order to raise standards you need to be able to set them. You are likely to have a vision for the department or company and it’s good to share that with the people who will help you deliver it. People like to know what role they play in the success of the company, it’s also a good way to assess whether or not your vision is realistic and deliverable • LISTEN to employees - don’t just speak at them, listen to what they have to say. Some of the best innovative ideas stem from your employees, you just need to hear them • Incentivise and reward...and I don’t just mean pay people more. Find out what makes your employees tick, what are their aspirations, desires, motivators remember not everyone will have the same. What does their future hold and how can they progress? Is there progression available? People are more aware of tax so want to companies to consider fringe benefits like childcare vouchers, health insurances and cycle to work scheme

The survey also looked at whether priorities changed as income rose, finding both work/life balance and salary became less important for those earning higher wages whereas career opportunities, culture and values and senior leadership all became more important.

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SOMETIMES IT PAYS TO PUT ALL YOUR EGGS

and whether or not allowing the employee to take the time off would leave the business under-staffed, thereby causing operational difficulty. That being said, if an employer were to refuse an employee’s request for leave to celebrate their religious beliefs (whether it’s a religious holiday or for the purpose of attending a religious event) without good reason then it could amount to a case of indirect discrimination. Employers may want to implement or review their Religious Observance Policy for the purpose of ensuring that employees are aware of the company’s position and how they will support their employees, no matter what religion they practice. For more information call our team today on 0161 785 2000 would be detrimental to the operation of the company; am I able to refuse his request? An employee has asked me if he can take four weeks off so that he can travel to his native country to participate in religious festivals. Allowing such a lengthy amount of time off

CONSULTANT CORNER. . . With David Southall

IN ONE BASKET

This can be a tricky situation that employers often face as it is concerned with the way in which they observe their employee’s religious beliefs. It is important when dealing with situations like this that the employer is not seen to be discriminatory in any way. Employers should be reminded that employees do not have the automatic right to time off for the purposes of celebrating their religious beliefs; however this does not mean that the employer can just deny the request. It must be considered appropriately. When faced with such a request employers will need to consider a number of different factors before making the decision as to whether or not they are going to grant the request. These can include such things as the time of year - especially if it is at a time where the workload is high -

Being able to find a solution which suits your business needs is great; being able to find that solution all in one place is perfect!

#hasslefree

www.elas.uk.com 0161 785 2000

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From a s l i t t l e to a s much suppor t a s you need . . .

Ca l l or ema i l us to d i s cus s your opt i ons

T: 0161 785 2000 E: info@elas.uk.com or visit www.elas.uk.com

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