Monthly Archives: July 2013

What Is Job Evaluation?

Job evaluation is the systematic evaluation of the size of a job in relation to other jobs in an organisation and is used to help determine pay and establish a rational pay structure placing jobs into a hierarchy.  Basically it is job analysis that that is then linked to pay.  External data can be collected to determine the going rate for a job which is called market pricing.  It allows organisations to remain competitive with their pay and benefits.  It is therefore important to obtain up to date data through paid for published surveys, which can be expensive or job clubs where organisations share data amongst themselves.  Market pricing also allows for job pricing of a role that may be difficult to recruit to therefore possibly applying a more attractive salary.

The starting point for job evaluation is to break down the parts of a role eg duties, skills and experience needed so that these can be analysed.

There are various types of job evaluation – non-analytical or analytical.

Non-analytical job evaluation is a simpler and cheaper process compared to analytical job evaluation and there are various schemes, however, they are highly subjective. This means that personal opinion can creep in and distort the final decision.  It must always be remembered that it is the job that is being evaluated and not the person.  Job titles too can over-inflate the picture.

Non-analytical methods include job ranking, paired comparisons and job classification.

Job ranking

This is the simplest form of job evaluation. It is undertaken by putting the jobs in an organisation in order of their importance, or the level of difficulty involved in performing them or their value to the organisation.

Paired comparisons

A technique used to compare each job in turn with another in an organisation, the use of paired comparisons takes longer than job ranking as each job is considered separately.

Job classification

This method is also known as job grading. Before classification, an agreed number of grades are determined, usually between four and eight, based on tasks performed, skills, competencies, experience, initiative and responsibility. Clear distinctions are made between grades. The jobs in the organisation are then allocated to the determined grades.

There are several types of analytical job evaluation schemes:

Points Rating

Each element of the job is broken down into factors which are assessed separately and points allocated according to the level.  The more demanding the job the higher the score.  This type of scheme is highly objective with little room for personal opinion and discrimination.  Therefore, t is highly effective as a defence for an equal value claim.   However it is time consuming, can be complex and costly to introduce.  In house staff will need to be trained on operating the system or external consultants brought in.

However, it is time consuming to introduce and can be complex and costly to undertake. In addition it can be seen to be an inflexible form of job evaluation in times of rapid change and can imply an arithmetical precision which is not justified.

Schemes include NJC, GLPC and Hay.

Factor Comparison

A points rating job evaluation scheme is based on an assessment of factors, though no points are allocated.

 

 

 

 

From Compromise To Settlement Agreements

Today, 29 July 2013, settlement agreements come into force and replace compromise agreements.  To accompany this new document ACAS have produced a code of practice on settlement agreements which will help employers, employees and their representatives understand the negotiation of settlements before any termination of employment.  The code of practice also includes some template letters for employers to use and adapt to their own purposes.

The settlement agreement seeks to settle employment disputes.  It is a legally binding written  contract that will waive an employee’s rights to make a claim covered by the agreement in an employment tribunal or court.  The agreement must state that the applicable statutory conditions regulating the settlement agreement have been met.

The employee will receive a sum of money waiving their rights to go to an employment tribunal.  The negotiations that take place prior to the settlement agreement being signed should be “without prejudice”.  That means that the discussion surrounding the offer and terms of the agreement can not be used as evidence in legal proceedings. A settlement agreement is voluntary and parties do not have to agree to it.  They can be used at any part of the employment relationship.

Whilst not a statutory requirement it would be a good idea to allow an employee to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague.

There will be a minimum of ten working days for the parties to consider the terms of the settlement agreement.

Employees will need to seek independent legal advice so they can understand the rights they will be waiving by signing a settlement agreement.  The legal advice can be sought from a solicitor (not involved in the settlement negotiations), an authorized member of a trade union or an advice centre worker who has written confirmation from the centre that they are fully competent to give such legal advice.  The independent legal advisor should have a current contract of insurance or professional indemnity covering the risk of a claim from the employee in respect of loss arising from the advice. The settlement agreement must identify the advisor.

If resolution can not be found then the employer must resolve the problem using an appropriate procedure such as disciplinary, grievance or capability following a fair process.

 

 

The Basics of Maternity Leave And Pay

As baby fever grips the nation with the birth of the son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge here are the basics of statutory maternity leave provisions in the UK.

All pregnant women are entitled to 52 weeks statutory maternity leave which is made up of 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks additional maternity leave.  Taking the full 52 weeks is not essential but a woman must take at least 2 weeks leave or 4 weeks if they work in a factory.

Leave can start at 11 weeks before the expected week of confinement (EWC), but it can start earlier if the baby is early or if the woman is off work with a pregnancy related illness in the 4 weeks before the baby is due.

The woman must give the correct notice that they wish to take maternity leave by writing to their employer at least 15 weeks before their due date.   The employer will then write back and confirm the start and end date of maternity leave.

To claim statutory maternity pay a woman has to have 26 weeks service by the 15th EWC.  They will also need to earn an average of £109 per week.  If they do so they will be entitled to be paid for up 39 weeks receiving 90% of their average weekly earnings before tax for the first 6 weeks followed by £136.78 or 90% of their average weekly earnings whichever is lower for the following 33 weeks.  Statutory maternity pay is due even if a woman is made redundant, the baby is stillborn after 24 weeks or the baby dies before being born.

Statutory maternity pay commences at the beginning of maternity leave.  A woman must inform her employer in writing when she wishes statutory maternity pay to commence providing proof of the pregnancy – the MAT B1 issued by the doctor or midwife or a letter from them and must do this with at least 28 days notice.  The employer will then write back and confirm how much statutory maternity pay the woman will receive and its start and end dates.

For those women who do not meet the continuous service criteria maternity allowance is available from the state.

A woman must give an employer  8 weeks notice if they want to change the return to work date.  They are entitled to return to work to the same job on the same terms and conditions.

Women who are pregnant or on maternity leave are protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

 

 

 

 

The Changing Face of The Employment Tribunal

I recently represented a claimant case in Nottingham employment tribunal.  The claimant waiting room was eerily quiet being empty when we walked in.  This was compared to sixteen months earlier when I had represented another claim there and the room had been packed out.   My latest case lasted three days and during that time we hardly saw any other claimants and  representatives in the waiting room.   The case ran over and the judge had to assign another day so the remaining witnesses could be cross examined, representations could be made and the verdict decided upon.  He reluctantly did this saying the government had cut back his sitting days dramatically.  This seems to be the shape of things to come.

On Monday 29 July under the The Employment Tribunals(Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013 the government introduces tribunal fees for claimants wishing to lodge a claim and then to request a hearing.  The last day, therefore, for bringing a fee-free employment tribunal claim will be by 4pm on Friday 26 July.  Any claims already in the system will not attract fees.

Following the introduction of the fee system the fees will be repaid to the claimant if they win.

Type A claims (including unlawful deductions, notice pay, equal pay and redundancy pay) will cost £160 to lodge the claim, with a £230 hearing fee; and

Type B claims (including unfair dismissal and discrimination) will cost £250 to lodge the claim and a £950 hearing fee.

Appeals will cost up to £1,600. Witnesses’ expenses will no longer be paid.

Fees will be either paid online via credit or debit card or by cheque or postal order.

There will also be a fee remission system, which will attempt to ensure that access to justice is not reduced through the introduction of tribunal fees. This will apply to individuals in receipt of certain benefits or who have a disposable monthly income below a certain level. The income of a claimant’s partner will be taken into account though when determining whether a fee remission is given.

The potential cost of losing an employment tribunal will rise to £20,000 which will further discourage claims.  Tribunals are increasingly awarding costs to the losing party which will further discourage claims being brought.

Employment tribunals were introduced in the early 1970s by a Tory government as a way of preventing strikes over unfair dismissals and workplace injustices. Tribunals can award compensation, but cannot force an employer to take back a worker judged unfairly dismissed.  With the changes to the employment tribunal system it seems that rogue bosses will once again have the upper hand and claimants will have to think twice about the implications of lodging a claim.

The unions are already pitting their wits against the government claiming it is unlawful to deny citizens the right to take a free claim in pursuance of their employment rights.  The fee structure law will be implemented on 29 July, but if the unions win in court the fees will be refunded.

Employers – How To Cope At Work In A Heatwave

sun 300x199 Employers   How To Cope At Work In A HeatwaveThe British summer has finally begun after weeks of waiting for the Jetstream to move to its rightful place allowing the wonderful warm air to flood in after the coldest spring for years.

For those people on holiday near the sea there will be welcome opportunities to escape to the beach and the cooling sea breeze, however, for many employees stuck at work they may have to bear the un-comfortableness of working in searing heat.

Employers have a duty of care to ensure that their employees work in a healthy and safe environment which includes providing comfortable working conditions. There is no legal maximum temperature.  The Health & Safety Executive states during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.  However what is reasonable can be highly subjective.  Employers nevertheless need to ensure that heat exhaustion does not arise.

For employees working indoors there are various steps that can be taken – shading windows from bright sunlight, opening windows, switching on the air conditioning if that is installed, renting mobile air conditioning units, moving work stations away from direct sunlight, installing fans, ensuring a plentiful supply of drinking water and encouraging employees to drink it.

Employers may like to further consider the relaxing of any formal dress code issuing appropriate guidelines to ensure that staff doe not dress down inappropriately  turn up for work in totally unsuitable clothes such as very short skirts or shorts. Casual smart loose fitting clothes should be encouraged with a temporary relaxing of suits and ties if possible.  Guidance should be included in the employment contract or employee handbook.

Increased rest breaks may be considered so that staff can grab a break in the fresh air and take a cooling drink.

The introduction of flexi time may allow employees to travel to work earlier or later to avoid the rush hour traffic in sweltering temperatures.  The use of continental working hours could be temporarily adopted with early starts and late finishes and a long continental lunch hour.

For employees that work outdoors there is the additional concern of direct exposure to sunlight.  This can be avoided by modifying work routines that that high exposure and heavy physical work is not undertake during the intense sunlight hours of the day.  Employees should be encouraged to wear long sleeves, loose fitting clothes and hats.  Regular breaks should be taken in the shade and the use of high factor sun creams promoted.

Heat exhaustion is very serious.  The symptoms include headache, loss of concentration, giddiness, nausea, fainting, heavy thirst, vomiting, muscle cramps, pale skin, weak pulse and high temperature. Heat stroke can have disabling and even fatal consequences. Some people with particular medical conditions and those who are pregnant can be more vulnerable to heat exhaustion and a risk assessment may be needed.  This can include looking at work rate, working climate and worker clothing.

Whilst the British heatwave will be temporary there are many workers who work in high temperatures on a daily  basis such as in mines, boiler rooms, laundries, rick manufacturing, bakeries, foundries, smelting operations and compressed air tunnels, therefore unpleasant working conditions are a daily hazard and employers need to take the key steps to ensure their duty of care and apply many of these principles as well as considering the use of personal protective equipment where appropriate, providing training to employees in managing heat exhaustion and monitoring worker health.

 

 

How To Manage A Death In The Workplace

 

The recent tragic deaths of two soldiers on gruelling exercises whilst on a training exercise for SAS recruitment in sweltering heat in the Brecon Beacons  brings into focus a dreadful possibility that some employers may need to face.   The MOD already had health and safety procedures in place ensuring soldiers carry six litres of water and take essential rest during training, but obviously something went wrong and this will be investigated.

Dealing with a death at work is one of the most stressful things an employer will have to face whether the death is caused by an industrial accident, disease, natural or stress related causes.

The emergency services will of course need to be called, but the body should not be touched before they arrive.

An employer should keep next of kin details on file so that they can be informed very sensitively ideally by someone who knows them well.

If an employee dies at work an employer has to also inform the police and the Health and Safety Executive.  This includes if there are any deaths or serious injuries off site.    Within ten days an employer must then follow this up by sending a completed accident report form to the Health & Safety Executive.  An investigation will then be carried out to determine the circumstances which led up to the death. According to the Health & Safety Executive the number of workplace deaths in 2012-13 was 148 a drop on the previous twelve months, a relatively infrequent occurrence, but one nevertheless that can occur.

Once family/next of kin and the necessary authorities have been informed there is a raft of administration to be dealt with.   All outstanding payments will need to be made.  This will include calculating final salary making appropriate tax and other deductions.   Payments made after death are subject to the same tax rules as before.  However, class 1 national insurance contributions for both employer and employee do not have to be made.  A P45 will also have to be completed.

A surviving spouse and other dependents may be entitled to receive a survivor’s pension and in some cases a lump sum.  The pension scheme trustee will be able to provide the correct information.

If the employee has taken advantage of a “death in service” benefit linked to their pension or with a separate insurance scheme then their family may benefit from a tax free lump sum payout to their nominated beneficiary.  This can be up to four times their annual wage if the employee dies before retirement.   Death in service ends to be typically available in the public sector linked to current generous final salary pension schemes.

When an employee dies it can cause stress with colleagues; they should be informed sensitively and compassionately and providing access to an employee assistance programme might help them cope if they are particularly affected.  Time off for the funeral may also need to be arranged provided the family is in agreement for colleagues to attend.  An employer might like to send a letter of condolence or organise a floral tribute.  In some situations a subsequent memorial service might also be appropriate.

Outside contacts with whom the deceased had regular contact may also need to be informed.

Coverage of the employee’s job may also need to be arranged.  Short term arrangements may need to be made before making a longer term decision to recruit.   In the meantime provisions should be made to return personal belongings of the deceased to the next of kin.

Fortunately death at work is not a highly common occurrence but having effective health and safety procedures in place will help prevent this happening.  Understanding what to do in such a crisis can help employers effectively manage the consequences.

 

Having a Winning Formula at Work

Andy Murray has just won Wimbledon, the first British tennis star to have done so in 77 years.  He has obviously finally found the winning formula and achieved a most desired objective by him and the legion of fans.  When it comes to applying success in the workplace there are methods that can be applied.  However successful people seem to have similar habits.

Plan

It is important to plan out your working hours.  Making a list every day or every week will ensure that urgent matters are attended to as well as important issues.   It is also important to plan out weekly, monthly and yearly goals and make sure these steadily worked towards.  With any big projects these need to be broken down into manageable, do-able chunks.  Time is precious and should be used effectively.

Work Out the Hours

It is important to work out how long activities take to get an understanding of what work is being undertaken and how productive you are.  It is pointless undertaking fruitless long winded tasks.  Keeping a log will help you do this.

Make Success Possible

Having worked out your objectives it is important to make sure that they are carried out to ensure success.  One good way to do this is to write your objectives down.  Research shows that if you do so  you are more likely to get things done by a) not forgetting what you need to do and b) focusing your mind.

Understand What Is Work

Too many of us spend lots of time undertaking tasks that are not really work eg reading and answering emails.  Email has the capacity to fill much of the working day if it is allowed to take over.  It is important to ration access to the inbox and allowing time to concentrate on completing a project. Often meetings can take over the working day.  Therefore you should really check whether a meeting is essential or could the communication take place another way ie a phone call or send an email.

Practice

To become good at anything you have to practice (Andy Murray has shown this).  You should continually practice your existing job skills including any new ones you have learnt.  Just think about a training course you went on and what you could remember six months later if you had not used the skills learnt – probably very little.   You should be striving for constant improvement which is often the basis of most performance appraisals and by which you are measured against.

Develop Yourself

You should be constantly looking at ways to develop your skills to avoid becoming stagnant or at work unemployable because your skills are outdated.  The world of employment moves on so quickly and and industries are developing all the time.  You therefore need to stay in touch.  Seek out new opportunities, new projects, take on a mentor.  You can also develop a portfolio of work to show off your skills.   Building up a network of people can help you get on.  Seek out new contacts as well as keeping in touch with existing ones.  You never know when you might need to call up them.

Seek out pleasure

Don’t make work the be all and end all.  It is important to enjoy work but having a work life balance is also essential.  Being able to switch off from work and pursuing enjoyable hobbies or  spending time with the family and friends will bring enormous benefits to your overall wellbeing.

National Workaholic Day – Key Facts for Employers

Today, 5 July is National Workaholic Day.  A workaholic is a person who is addicted to work.  The phrase is derived from the words work and alcoholic.

Whilst the person may love their work the phrase workaholic has negative connotations  as the person can neglect other aspects of their lives such as family and personal relaxation.

Characteristics of a workaholic include wanting to work every day, taking few holidays or whilst on holiday thinking about work, overbooking the diary, saying yes to all colleagues, thinking about work all the time, arriving at work first and leaving last, being stressed if  not at work, having no hobbies, not taking lunch breaks, being too accessible at work.  The workaholic will micromanage and be unable to delegate.

Workaholism is not the same as working hard, it relates more to conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorders and addictions just like with alcohol and drugs.  For the employer this can pose some problems.  Working excessive hours consistently is not good for health and can be very destructive to working relationships.  Also it is not particularly productive.  Therefore it is important for the employer to take some important steps to manage such a situation and encourage a good work life balance banishing the long hours culture that hast long persisted in the UK and which may have been further encouraged by the declining economy and fear of redundancy.

An employer has a duty of care to all their employees.  This means they must provide a safe and healthy workplace ensuring that employees’ health, safety and wellbeing is paramount.   It is also a legal requirement governed by the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.  Employers also have a moral and ethical duty not to cause nor to fail to prevent physical or psychological injury.   An employer must  not condone long working hours and they therefore should be regulated to promote the duty of care.

The Working Time Directive imposes a duty on employers to limit working hours to no more than 48 hours per week over a reference period of usually 17 weeks.  The legislation allows for rest breaks and rest periods that should be adhered to.  However the ability for employees to sign an opt out form allows them to work much longer than this.  In such situations employers should be keeping a close eye on the working practices of their staff to prevent excessive working.

Employment legislation provides for 28 days annual leave and many workaholics may choose not to take all or part of it.  It is therefore up to the employer to ensure that employees take all their annual leave entitlement and not to take advantage of those who seem reluctant to do so.  There should be a carefully worded annual leave policy in place and monitoring throughout the year to ensure that annual leave is taken on a regular basis so that a surplus number of days is not left over at the end of the annual leave period which may not prevent the employee from taking it due to essential workloads.  Employees who seem unwilling to take all of their holiday entitlement should be notified of specific days on which they should take holiday.

It would be best if an employer has in place a working hours policy.  A policy should state the responsibility an employer has to take care of employees’ health and safety and how they will fulfil that duty.  The policy should spell out how the employer aims to prevent excessive hours being worked on a regular basis.   It should be carefully monitored for effectiveness.

All jobs should be reviewed to ensure that jobholders are not over-burdened unnecessarily with work.  Role targets should also be reviewed to ensure that they do not encourage excessive working and are achievable.