For all employers, it is important to try and establish sustainable differentials between jobs - possibly by a process of job grading. The problem with differentials is that there is a dual perspective and the old joke is perhaps apposite: 'if I am paid more than you - that is a differential, but if you are paid more than me, that is a discrepancy.' A pay/benefits chart may also be helpful.

Unless there is a demonstrable process of job worth assessment, the 'seems about right ' method of determining a package may create problems. It may be difficult to substantiate differentials generated without, at least, an awareness of a number of factors. All employers should continually review their reward package which is determined by a number of factors.

1. The market rate - what other employers are paying for similar jobs in the locale. This can be determined from checking with the media, job centres, local employers' information exchange, industry wide information exchange, local, regional and national surveys, and even government statistics (although nationally based figures should be treated with some caution, simply due to the effect of compiling statistics based on estimates, or even guesses, from respondents). If the employer wishes to retain good employees it may be advisable to pay slightly over the market rate, but only those that merit a premium should be recruited (or at least retained).

2. The availability of suitable labour. If employees can be trained to perform particular jobs in-house, is the supply of trainable labour scarce or plentiful?

3. The availability of required skill levels. If labour cannot be trained, are the skills we need scarce or plentiful? The organisation attitude to both these points may also help with staff retention. Many employees value the opportunity to improve their personal skills and it is largely a fallacy that well-trained employees are more likely to leave. Most people will leave if they cannot exercise skills that they have or have acquired.

4. The particular requirements of the Organisation. Are our needs special so that we restrict the numbers who can apply? In such a case, a premium to the market rate will almost certainly need to be paid.

5. The particular requirements of the job. Are the needs of these jobs so special that the numbers who can apply are further restricted? A premium to attract suitable candidates may have to be offered.

6. Long-term developments within the Organisation. Are we looking for short-term 'peak cover', project-related work, or long-term employees? Although it could be argued that those wanted for shortterm contracts could be paid less, to obtain the skills we need a premium may be necessary. In any event, under the FIXED TERM contracts legislation, if such people are performing duties comparable to permanent personnel they are entitled (unless it can be objectively justified otherwise) to the same benefits as the latter.

A similar analysis should be carried out at least annually and possibly more often, in order to ensure that the perceived value 'package' on offer is maintained. Failure to do this may lead to the loss of a number of employees - probably those the employer least wishes to lose. If wages are reviewed annually the word 'review' tends to become synonymous with 'increase'. Employers believing in the value of recognition may find that granting small increases more often - and particularly if related to effort - can have a greater effect on morale than an annual review. It is generally accepted that the motivational benefit of a pay increase is eradicated within three months. Granting small increments tends to distort differentials however, unless a system of base salary (linked to a graded analysis of jobs) is used, with discretionary motivational payments paid on top (the latter being related more to the approach to the job by the job holder, rather than the value of the job itself).

Training Grades
Where performance increases with experience, newcomers could be put on a Training Grade - that is being paid, say 10–20% less than the actual rate for the job. As they become more proficient their payment can be increased until they achieve the required work rate or standard, and can command the full rate.

Long Service Pay
The principle whereby longer service employees are paid more than their shorter service colleagues, where experience has very little effect on output, must at least be challenged. Loyalty and/or long service may be better recognised by allocating increased holiday entitlement or other non-monetary benefits. Some commentators have suggested that when 'anti-ageism' legislation is introduced, long service payments and even additional benefits could be discriminatory. If such payments are to be made they may be best described as 'service related' and delineated as a separate payment, rather than as part of the salary, thus preserving the 'distinct' rate for the job.

Job Grading
The relationships (in financial and other reward terms) between various functions within an Organisation need to be supportable if arguments regarding differentials are to be avoided - or answered. Whilst a director may be able to satisfy him or herself as to the appropriateness of paying X more than Y, should there be a dispute, for example, regarding the principle of equal pay, some objective measure will be required to support such a 'gut feeling'. A degree of objectivity is required, to which end the person responsible for the task needs to be experienced in the operations required to be graded and to understand the grading scheme adopted.

The principles and practice of the scheme need to be explained to all involved, together with assurances that appeals will be held and examined impartially. Although a simple scheme such as paired comparisons (see below) does not require weighting of factors, most other schemes do incorporate this aspect and there needs to be general agreement regarding the various factors before implementation. Any weighting must be able to be justified.

Paired Comparisons

Paired comparisons, which is probably the simplest form of job grading, entails taking any two tasks and subjectively assessing which is 'worth more' than the other. A number of people can be asked their opinion to avoid favouritism or victimisation. The scores arrived at will not only indicate relative merit but also a crude relationship between the jobs which might allow some kind of differential to be applied - although this could be risky. It is essential that those asked to participate are knowledgeable concerning all the jobs.

Territory Payments
Sales representatives are often allocated a territory, with the undertaking that their earnings are in part or whole generated by commission on the value of the business or sales obtained from customers in their territory. However, a territory's potential can be changed by external forces, and/or demand can be altered by the development of new products so that it becomes virtually impossible for one person to service the territory adequately. To maximise sales the employer may wish to split the territory (or change its boundaries in some way) and/or allocate an additional member(s) of staff to exploit it more fully. The effect on the person originally servicing the area is that their income is cut, unless there is a clawback provision which in whole or part compensates them by, for example, increasing their salary (at least in part) to reward them for building up the territory. Alternatively, it might be thought advisable to retain the right to give (say) 6 months notice of a wish to change the whole basis of remuneration - although if this would lead to a reduction of income, the potential demotivational effect of this should not be underestimated.

Negotiation and Agreement
Unless the alteration envisaged above is handled with great care and with the agreement of both parties, it can lead to tribunal action.

The requirements of the NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE also need to be observed. Thus, it may be difficult to comply with such requirements where an employee is paid only via commission. There might need to be a guaranteed minimum level of earnings.

Where an employer does not wish a leaving employee to work the notice period required under their contract (irrespective of which party has initiated termination), a payment in lieu of notice (PILON) in respect of the time and benefits of the notice period can be paid.

PILONs can either be contractual or ad hoc. A PILON becomes contractual where the right is specified in the CONTRACT or other contract documentation - the employer takes the right to make such a payment, rather than allowing the employee to work the notice period. The alternative is an ad hoc PILON, where the decision is made without pre-meditation and is non-contractual. Where the right is contractual, exercising the right does not breach the contract and thus all the contract terms (e.g. non-competition clauses) are still operative. Where the right is exercised in an ad hoc manner and there is no contractual right, the employer can exercise the right but, in that case, this destroys the contract and other clauses cannot then be relied upon by the employer - thus a non-competition clause would cease to have effect.

Taxation Effect
Since the attitude of the Inland Revenue continues to harden against all such payments being tax free, these comments are suggestive only. If the contract stipulates that a payment in lieu can be made in the above circumstances then the company, in making the payment, must deduct tax and national insurance from the payment since the Revenue regard it as a commitment to pay. However, if the PILON is made on an ad hoc basis then (subject to a limit - currently £30,000) no tax or national insurance will normally be payable. This understanding has been altered a number of times in recent years, so it may be worth checking this with the employer's Tax Inspector. The ability to make the payment gross can also depend on what has happened previously. Thus, if the employer has made a habit of making PILONs the Inland Revenue may argue that by custom and practice there is an implied clause, and thus the payment should be subject to tax and national insurance deductions.

What to Pay
Where the decision that the employee should not work is made by the employer, although the situation regarding payment in respect of the wages that would otherwise be payable is fairly clear, if there are contractual benefits to which the employee is entitled, the payment should reflect these or else their provision should be continued during what would otherwise be the notice period. For example, if an employee is entitled to private use of a company car then such use should normally be allowed - or compensation paid if not (the calculation of value here can be complex). However, if the use of the car is restricted only to business use then this facility may not be necessary, as if the employee is not working then the use of the car must be nil. Since holidays normally accrue in relation to service then the employee will normally be entitled to compensation for the holiday that would have accrued had the notice period been worked. Since the employee is not required to work most employers would argue that since the period is being paid for, without a requirement on the part of the employee to work, the holiday is paid for. It may be best to state this in any clause.

Obviously, any holiday accrued (but not taken) as a result of earlier employment should be paid for. A similar examination to those set out above needs to be conducted for each contractual benefit. Trying to calculate a payment in respect of some such items may pose such problems that it may be easier to allow the benefits to subsist. This may particularly be the case with contractual bonuses, where these are time/service based rather than performance related.

An employee may have taken in excess of what would strictly be allowed by their service to termination date. Only if the contract stipulates or the employee specifically agrees should there be any clawback of such excess. Further, only if the employee specifically signs to that effect should the monetary value be deducted from monies due for wages etc.

Where LOANS remain outstanding it may be possible to gain agreement to deduct the balance from the PILON - once again this should only be done where there is a specific agreement. Ideally, the loan agreement should address this point (e.g. only granting the loan on the understanding that, in the event of a termination of employment no matter what the cause, the outstanding balance can be deducted from any amount due).

As employee rights proliferated, some employers negated their impact by restricting the numbers of employees entitled to such protection. To offset the impact of such action, legislation gives people working under 'non-standard' contracts the same or similar rights to permanent employees. There are currently two classes of workers protected by this 'comparability' legislation - Part-Time and Fixed Term employees.

Under The Part Time Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 those part timers who perform comparable work to their full-time colleagues are entitled to the same rights and benefits unless the difference can be objectively justified. In this context, what constitutes 'full-time' is for each individual employer to determine, but anyone who works fewer hours than whatever is full-time is regarded as a parttimer.

Thus part-time employees doing comparable work to full-timers - should, for example, be advised of vacancies (as are full-time employees) and - must receive similar benefits to their full-time colleagues - this could include training, mentoring, long service awards etc.

The test is whether the person is doing comparable work. If no-one performs the job on a full-time basis then there is no comparability and no need to provide similar benefits.

It must be said that this ruling has thrown the whole concept of 'comparability' into disarray. This decision was confirmed on appeal.

Effects of the Principle
Subject to regional variances, in the UK, four public holidays occur on Mondays, one on a Friday and the remaining three on days which change each calendar year. Assuming that an employer pays full-time staff for public holidays (and if they do not the following does NOT apply) they need to ensure that part-timers who do not work regularly on all days do not suffer a detriment compared to those who work on all days. A parttimer's entitlement regarding the benefit of such days needs to be established (as well as being reviewed at the start of every year). For example, if there were two cleaners, one working 7 1/2 hours a day for two days a week and the other working full-time, 7 hours a day for a 5 day week, the employer would have to conduct the following analysis:

a. Establish the total number of hours of the paid public holidays (e.g. 8 at 7 working hours a day = 56 hours) to which the full-timer was entitled.

b. Establish the proportion of a working week that a part-timer doing comparable work is required to work (e.g. 15 hours out of 35).

c. The part-timer will be entitled to 15/35 of the 56 hours (i.e. 24).

d. A part-timer who works on days on which no public holiday occurs will be entitled to an additional 24 hours paid holiday (assuming they are employed for the whole year).

This creates administrative problems for employers with large numbers of part-timers, not least since the calculation needs to be made on virtually an individual employee basis - and for each year (or part year, if they are not employed during the whole year).

The Future

As a result of the new rights of those with child rearing responsibilities to ask their employers to make FLEXIBLE WORKING arrangements, there is likely to be an increase in the number of both sexes wishing to work part-time. Since other employees (without such responsibilities) are now indicating they would also like to be able to work flexible hours this trend is unlikely to diminish.

Redundancy is a dismissal but unlike other dismissals it is one for which the employee was in no way responsible or culpable. The employer bears the responsibility since they have too much productive capacity for the current demand for products or services. There is at the very least a moral responsibility placed on the employer when dispensing with employees in this situation to try to find, or assist them in finding, alternative work.

Employer Assistance
Having determined who is to be made REDUNDANT a responsible employer should at least consider if there are ways in which support and assistance can be provided for those forced out of a job. This could include:

  • Paper assistance guiding those seeking jobs.

  • Administrative internal assistance.

  • Contacting local employers, obtaining vacancy lists for leavers.

  • Career counselling.

  • Encouraging, possibly with offers of short-term contracts, redundant employees to set up their own businesses.

  • Guidance for Those Leaving
    This following checklist has been designed primarily to help shop floor employees and some items will need reconsideration for use by senior and/or experienced employees.

    1. Keep your notice letter safely, as it gives information on a number of items that you may need to refer to in the coming weeks. Write your National Insurance number on the letter for ease of reference.

    2. If you wish to continue working you will need to either obtain another job from your own resources (replying to advertisements, contacts etc.,) or use the Job Centre. If you wish to use the Job Centre look up the address in the telephone directory. You will need to register using Form ES1 from the Centre.

    3. If you cease work before the end of your notice period (in other words you are given pay in lieu of notice) this does not stop you registering with the Job Centre. Neither does it stop you registering for the Jobseekers Allowance. However, you will not be eligible for the Allowance until the expiry of your notice period.

    4. Even though (since you have been paid wages in lieu of notice) you may not be eligible for benefit for some weeks it is worth registering immediately

    5. To register as a Jobseeker you will need to take your P45 (this will be given to you with your redundancy money and final wages etc., on the day you cease work) and the information set out in your notice letter.

    6. Any accrued holiday pay will be paid plus salary/wages in lieu of notice and the redundancy amount due. Holiday pay is taxable. Wages in lieu of notice (provided this arrangement is not included in your contract of employment) and redundancy payments (up to £30,000) are not usually taxable.

    7. Neither holiday pay nor redundancy affect any benefit due. Jobseekers Allowance is payable on a per week basis for full N.I. payers (plus an added amount per week for a dependent relative) for the period after your notice expires except for the first 3 days.

    8. You may be additionally entitled to supplementary benefit which depends on your income and savings. To claim such benefit you will have to provide the Department of Work and Pensions with a statement of your income and outgoings.

    Finding New Employment
    The purpose of these notes is to remind you of a few points that may help improve your chances of getting a new job. However, unless you start with a positive attitude - putting the redundancy behind you - your chances of getting a new job may be severely restricted. Experience has shown that provided they have the right (positive) attitude, over 90% of employees made redundant go on to a better position.

    Which Job do I Want?
    Most people tend to drift into jobs, and even from one job to another, without thinking which job they would really like to do. Leaving a job at a time not of your choosing but with a little money may be an opportunity to stop and consider the job you would prefer to do. Talk about any such preferences at the Job Centre and to friends - it may help sort out the kind of job that will most appeal to you. Inevitably, not everyone can find their ideal job - but it is a starting point.

    Finding a Job
    Before you get a job you must first get an interview, which may be the most difficult part of getting a job. Check (and keep checking):

  • the Job Centre (register first, and then check daily);

  • local papers (get to the shop as soon as they are delivered);

  • relatives, friends, colleagues, local traders; and

  • local shops, businesses, factories (keep checking - your persistence may pay off).

  • Application Forms
    Completing an application form is a bit of a chore but it must stand out from the rest of the forms that a Personnel Manager may receive in one day.

    1. Before completing it, read it through and gather all the information you will require.

    2. If you are not used to completing this type of form, write the answers to the questions on a piece of paper first (check the spellings of words of which you are unsure).

    3. Use a black pen and check to see if it asks you to use BLOCK CAPITALS. If is does then USE THEM.

    4. Complete the form carefully and clearly.

    5. Give as much information as you can - single word answers to questions such as 'why did you leave?', do not tell the reader very much.

    6. Include all your personal achievements, for example:

  • first aid course passed (date);

  • member of Parent Teachers Association;

  • member of the Territorial Army; and so on.

  • 7. Keep the form clean and uncreased.

    8. Send it back (first class) with a short covering letter:

    Dear _________________

    I enclose an application form for the job of .which I understand is vacant. I will be pleased to attend for interview assuming you wish to take my application further. I look forward to hearing from you,

    Yours sincerely

    9. Make sure your letter is clean, clear and uncreased.

    10. Take a copy of the form and letter if possible, your application form is you on paper. For the reader to be interested, he/she needs to find the form interesting. If your application form is untidy, dirty and carelessly filled in, it gives the same impression of you and will probably move no further than the waste paper basket. It is worth taking time to complete it as well as you can.

    Going for the Interview
    1. Make sure you know exactly where you have to go and what time. If you are unsure about directions telephone the employer and ask. Check on bus etc., times beforehand.

    2. Dress tidily and neatly.

    3. Aim to arrive 15 minutes before the time of the interview - better to be 15 minutes early than 15 seconds late.

    4. Take your copy of the application form and a pen with you.

    5. Make sure you know the name of the person you are going to see - if you do not hear it properly ask for it to be repeated and make a note on your application form copy.

    6. During the interview make notes of the details the interviewer tells you - rate of pay, hours, holidays etc.

    7. If the interviewer asks if you have any queries try to think of one or two. You could ask:

  • 'Is this job permanent?'

  • 'Will I be given any training?'

  • 'Would I always work in the same department?', and so on.

  • Remember that an interview is a two way enquiry. The employer wants to know about you to see if you would make a suitable employee, but you also want to know about the employer - is it one with which you wish to work?

    Leaving the Interview
    Take careful note of how the interview is left - are they going to write to you, and if so, when? Also be careful to note if the interviewer asks you to do anything - and if he/she does, then make sure you do it.

    Most employers will ask for details of previous employers to whom they can write, in order to obtain a reference. Keep a note of the person's name, telephone number and address who can provide a reference for you.

    Internal Support

    It may have been some time since those made redundant had to apply for and be interviewed for a job. They may benefit from a short internal course run by the organisation own personnel recruiters, who could guide them on the submission of applications and their conduct at interviews etc. Taking this one stage further the Organisation has available all the office facilities which many applicants will lack - copier, fax, word-processing facilities, even a telephone. Making such resources available to leavers for say 6–8 weeks at a set time each week may provide not only valuable administrative support, but also some moral support from their erstwhile employer.

    There have been some notable instances where those made redundant have created businesses of their own. In some cases they were able to start firstly, since they had a tax free lump sum from their redundancy payment and the old employer enabled them to start their fledgling business with a shortterm contract. Providing guidance to those who want to set up on their own, either internally or sourcing external assistance can be very valuable - and highly valued. Such assistance will be noted by the survivors, demonstrating to them that their employer is trying to help. This in turn should support their morale. It is often overlooked that they may need support, since not only have they lost friends and colleagues but also they may have new challenges and additional work. Most people are creatures of habit who dislike change.

    It is often difficult for employees, particularly newcomers, to understand where their department fits within the whole Organisation and their departmental relationships, even though such knowledge may be essential to understand priorities and procedures. One way of overcoming this problem is to publish charts showing such relationships.

    In the two examples shown below, the same structure has been depicted. The 'vertical levels of authority' are widely used but this suffers from two drawbacks. It is usually shown (as here) as a pyramid, with the chairman/chief executive at the 'top' and the ordinary employees at the 'bottom' - an inference which maybe against the ethos of the Organisation. This can be overcome by simply inverting the pyramid - the relationships do not alter, but the psychological overtones of being at the 'top' and 'bottom' are at least blurred. The other disadvantage is that being drawn in vertical levels it implies that departments (and their managers) or personnel on the same level, have the same 'importance' or 'value'. Logically, it may be preferable to show the departments on the same 'level' to emphasise a relationship, even though their status is not identical. Either the relative positions of departments and/or personnel should be carefully checked and discrepancies eradicated, or the chart should carry a note such as 'The positioning of departments (and personnel) on certain levels is not indicative of importance, status or responsibility'. Even with such a warning it is difficult to overcome the strong inference of 'equality' (or 'inequality') presented by the visual image of the chart.

    Figure 1: A 'traditional' hierarchical Organisation chart

    As an alternative, the chart can be drawn with departments depicted within circles emanating from the Board, which is shown as the core. This overcomes the 'top' and 'bottom' overtones and blurs the problem that may arise over levels of importance and/or authority. However, it also blurs the chain of command and may not show the relationships between departments clearly.

    Figure 2: An alternative Organisation chart on a web or wheel basis

    If it is preferred to use the circular Organisation chart to avoid suggestions of subserviency and encourage motivation, the relationships between departments can be shown by using a relationship chart.

    Figure 3: A working relationships chart

    Such charts are meant to focus on the subject department and show other departments relating to it. Accordingly, each department may need to be provided with such a chart. The question of relationships should be addressed during any FAMILIARISATION process.

    The External Dimension
    Traditionally, Organisation charts are for internal use only. However, those organisations that interface directly with the public (and even some where such interface is indirect or merely with other corporate entities) could consider adding a further 'line' or segment to the chart - namely that of the customer. The aim of the Organisation is to make and provide goods or a service to its customers, and leaving them off the Organisation chart negates their important role. After all, it is the customer who pays for everything in the Organisation, including all the wages of everyone working there.

    Most organisations use notices and notice boards to convey much of the information that they feel their employees should have, in order to keep them informed. Unfortunately, very often there is no control over the issuing of notices and many notice boards become swamped, with the effectiveness of new material impaired by numerous old notices, many of which may be well past their effective date. The challenge is to keep notices fresh and uncluttered so that notice boards are read, rather than passed by. This may be easier with electronic notice boards operated via an intranet but research indicates that most people do not like reading on-screen text.

    Whether traditional or electronic notice boards are used, the following guidance may be helpful in attempting to keep the messages required to be displayed, fresh and pertinent.

    Suggested Checklist

    1. To be effective, data for display must be written in the language and for the understanding of the recipient, and be presented in a manner that will attract and retain attention. All notices should be approved for posting by [specify name] who will check that the content meets the above requirements.

    Since the item will be posted on the [organisation] notice board, the very fact that it is posted will imply that the [Organisation] has approved the content. Someone at a senior level should therefore provide a check on this point.

    2. All notices should bear origination and destruct dates. The destruct date being the date following which the notice should be withdrawn. To minimise notice boards becoming overburdened no notice will remain posted after its destruct date.

    3. [Specify] will act as notice board administrator and will keep a register of all notices with origination and destruct dates, together with a master notice board which should show which notices are on display at any one time. (S)he is responsible for ensuring notices past their destruct date are removed.

    4. All notice boards are numbered and numbered copies of each notice should be prepared to ensure that a copy of every notice is posted on every board.

    5. Each week the administrator will post any required new notices and remove any notices which have passed their destruct date.

    6. To aid employee recognition of subject matter, coloured paper will be used, red being used for safety matters, green for disciplinary items, yellow for benefit related topics, blue for social events and white for management initiated items.

    7. Notices emanating from employees and/or their representatives will be displayed on the section of each board reserved for [non- organisational] matters. However, such notices will be expected to conform to the foregoing rules and must be controlled by this procedure. They will be required to bear a destruct date, etc. No notice will be posted which is poorly presented, is in poor taste or is in any way against the interests of the [Organisation]. In this respect, the decision of [specify] will be final.

    8. Managers and those responsible for conducting team briefings etc.(see QUALITY CIRCLES and WORKS COUNCILS) are expected to check that notices are seen and read as part of the management or cascade briefing system, and to this end will be supplied with a copy of each notice posted.

    Permanent Notices
    Some notices are required to be displayed permanently by law. It may be preferable to post such notices on separate boards. The difficulty is that because they are permanent they tend not to be 'seen'. The following list of statutorily required notices should be displayed:

    1. Certificate of employer's liability insurance (renewed annually). Since 1st January 1999 each certificate has been required to be kept for 40 years.

    2. Corporate name and address where documents may be served. This is a requirement for the benefit of third parties rather than employees.

    3. Health and Safety policy (permanent).

    4. Such notices as are required to be posted under the requirements of the Fire Certificate covering the premises (permanent).

    5. Details of how first aid can be obtained/is administered.

    6. Factories Act 1961 notice (permanent for factories).

    7. Offices, shops and railway premises guide and thermometer (permanent for facilities covered by the guide only).

    8. Wages council notices (where applicable).

    9. (If a leaflet covering the item is not given to each employee) A notice under Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 - 'What you should know'.

    Few writers seem to appreciate that when committing ideas, instructions or guidance to paper, they should always try to compose the item to meet the needs of the target audience. Basically, if the reader does not understand the item written, then it is the writer's fault since they have not presented the information in a format capable of being easily understood by the target audience. Thus, having drafted an item the composer of a notice should review it and possibly even check it for ease of comprehension with a person from the target audience.

    For my book 'How to be a great communicator' (Pitman 1995), the following guidance was provided on the presentation of written material derived from research within a number of organisations.

    Written information should:

  • be well spaced with good use of headlines, sub-headlines and visual impact (that is leaving plenty of white paper to avoid the page looking too cramped);

  • use bite-sized chunks of text (say not more than 100 words in the average paragraph) so the content is easy to digest;

  • be written in language that is easy to understand at first glance - since only if initial attention is retained may the item be read at all. (This indicates a need to use simple rather than complex sentences.);

  • be presented using lines of type with on average no more than 65 characters (including letters and punctuation marks);

  • written in ordinary everyday English avoiding jargon or if this is unavoidable explaining any jargon as a footnote;

  • avoid presenting data in a way that makes the written page look dense. If it is, it will almost certainly repel the reader rather than attracting them, whereas the whole rationale of a notice is to attract attention - to more swiftly convey the message.

  • Until the early 1990s, wage rates for many industries were set by industry-specific Wages Councils most of which have been abolished. The introduction of a National Minimum Wage (NMW) returns employers to the type of controls set out above but with one marked difference. Wages Councils operated within each industry and could reflect the terms of business of those industries. The NMW applies across the UK and has severe implications in industries which operate on low margins. It also ignores the lower cost of living in parts of the UK.

    The NMW is currently £4.85 per hour (October 2004) and is reviewed annually. This rate paid cannot be varied on any basis (e.g. area, region, business size, occupation) except age (as set out below). No doubt the rate will continue to rise but no commitment (e.g. to link it with the Retail Price Index or any other index) has been given. There is no requirement to pay NMW when the worker is taking part in industrial action - this is regarded as absence. Homeworkers must be paid at least the NMW.

    The full rate applies to all workers aged 25 or over. Young workers (i.e. those aged 18-21) must be paid £4.10 (October 2004). Accredited trainees aged 22 or over, must also be paid £4.10 (October 2004) for the first 6 months of a new job with a new employer. Rates for those aged under 25 can be set by the Secretary of State. Homeworkers and agency workers are also subject to NMW requirements. Those working for more than one employer have the right to be paid NMW in respect of each employment. From October 2004, employers have been required to pay 16 and 17 year olds the NMW at a rate of £3 per hour.

    Hours Covered
    All hours on 'employer's business' must be covered - thus, although workers have no right to be paid for travel to and from their place of work, if they are asked to travel elsewhere - e.g. for a training course, or to visit a customer - these hours would need to be added to normal working hours and at least an average of the NMW rate applicable paid for all hours. This even covers hours when the worker is not actually working.

    Those excepted from this Act's scope include:

    a. those genuinely self-employed;

    b. children;

    c. office holders (this would include directors who are not also employees);

    d. members of the Armed Forces;

    e. voluntary workers;

    f. work experience trainees who are not employed;

    g. family members not routinely working or employed (i.e. it would cover those who work regularly); and

    h. custodial prisoners.

    Record Keeping
    Employers must keep records which demonstrate that at least the NMW has been paid in respect of each hour worked. Since employers are also required to keep records of hours worked for the purposes of the WORKING TIME regulations, the possibility of linking the two could be considered. Contributions Agency enforcement officers have the right of access to records to check compliance.

    All those covered (i.e. 'workers' including employees) may enforce their right to the NMW by access to an Employment Tribunal, and have the right not be subjected to sanction by the employer for so doing.

    There are 6 criminal offences under the Act:

    1. Willfully refusing or neglecting to pay a worker at least the NMW.

    2. Failure to keep records.

    3. Keeping of false records.

    4. Producing false records.

    5. Delaying or obstructing an enforcement officer.

    6. Refusing to answer, provide information for, or produce a document for, an enforcement officer.

    Each offence carries a £5,000 penalty. Whilst the fine can be levied against the employer, if the employer is a corporate body 'a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body' (including partners in Scottish partnerships) could be held jointly liable for any offences committed under this Act where the offence is proved to have been due to their negligence, consent or connivance.

    Types of Work

    The regulations recognise four types of work:

    1. Time Work
    The worker works for a certain number of hours per working day but is not a salaried worker. He may be required to produce a certain output per hour or day but nevertheless earnings are determined by the number of hours worked. This should pose few problems in terms of calculation of the actual rate being paid - but see below for exclusions from and additions to the gross pay.

    2. Output Work
    Earnings are geared to the number of items produced or sales made. Again, this should pose few problems provided the number of hours as well as the output (which generates the earnings), are recorded. Where there are no set hours the worker and the employer are required to form an agreement 'Hours of Output Worked in a Pay Reference Period' prior to the pay reference period. This must contain an estimate of the number of hours, will require the worker to keep a record of the number of hours worked and to give the employer a copy, and confirms the payment 'piece rate' or other output rate. The total of the hours for the period are called 'ascertained hours' and each must be paid at the NMW rate. If however, the worker works in excess of these hours and generates additional output in addition they will be entitled to be paid for the excess output at the output rate.

    3. Unmeasured Work
    Here the commitment is to work as and when needed (i.e. when there is work to be done). If time is used travelling in order to carry out unmeasured work it counts as time for which the NMW must be paid. The hours that count are either the hours worked or, like the arrangements for Output work, the worker and the employer must determine the average number of hours per day that the employer expects the worker to work and to be paid for.

    4. Salaried Work
    The worker is employed at a fixed annual salary which is their total earnings apart possibly from a performance bonus. Employers need to know the basic hours for the year. Each year for the purposes of this calculation commences on the anniversary of their start date.

    Calculation of Hourly Rate
    The rate paid to an employee is calculated by reference to the number of hours in a 'pay reference period'. Such a period cannot be longer than a month, but can be any shorter period for which a worker is paid (e.g. a week, a fortnight, 4 weekly or since the start of employment). Obviously all hours worked in the period, including Travelling to externally-sited training etc., must be included.

    The pay to be taken into account is the gross pay less non-allowable items. Non-allowable items include pay for:

  • being on call;

  • additional responsibilities;

  • unpleasant or dangerous conditions;

  • for accrued items;

  • for absence;

  • overtime and/or shift premiums;

  • non payroll generated tips or gratuities; and

  • reimbursement of travel expenses and so on.

  • In addition the following payments cannot be taken into account:

  • payments in kind (except living accommodation the value of which can be added to the pay); and

  • vouchers, loans, advances, pensions, allowances, awards, redundancy and so on.

  • To be included is:

  • gross pay;

  • productivity bonuses, profit/performance-related pay; and

  • incentive payments and so on.

  • If the pay with legitimate inclusions but after non-allowable deductions b) is divided by the number of hours a), a rate per hour is arrived at. Providing this is in excess of the NMW at the time nothing needs to be done. If however, the hourly rate arrived at is less than that, then for each hour it must be topped up to at least the NMW.

    As can be seen from the above summary‚ detailed records need to be compiled and kept to ensure that the actual hourly rate for each type of worker is known, so that additional payments can be made if necessary to bring the rate up to at least the NMW.

    Employees who are called up for active service in the Armed Forces, under the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985, are entitled to resume their employment on their return - effectively their contract continues during their service.

    Most employees protected by the law covered by this section are volunteers. However, recently whenever there has been a need to use such volunteers, their participation in active service has been made compulsory by the State so that it is clear that their rights are protected under the above Act. There is no obligation on the employer to pay for the time away from work - the reservist will be paid by the State during that period.

    On returning from service, a reservist must re-apply to his or her employer in writing by the third Monday after the end of the service, giving a date within the period ending with the sixth Monday after the end of the service for return to their previous job.

    The reservist must be taken back on terms no less favourable than those on which (s)he was previously employed - with credit for any improvements, e.g. increased remuneration, profit share etc., made during their absence.

    A reservist with 52 weeks service before call up, must be employed for at least 52 weeks after their return.

    Reservists with 13 but less than 52 weeks must be employed for 26 weeks after their return.

    Reservists with less than 13 weeks service, must be employed for 13 weeks after their return.

    Continuity of employment is assured for reservists re-engaged within 6 months of the end of their military service.

    Should the employer not comply with the above requirements, the reservist (irrespective of the length of their employment) has the right to appeal to a Tribunal for recovery of the wages due to them.

    Even though those on the reserve list may volunteer for service and thus not qualify for the above payments, it is now customary for them to be subsequently conscripted, thus entitling them to the benefits.

    Recent Developments
    An increasing number of employees are members of the High Readiness Reserves - a force which provides peace-keeping, humanitarian and disaster relief services using two categories of reservists. Volunteers with special skills accept, with the consent of their employers, a liability to be called out (often at short notice) to provide such services, whereas Sponsored Reserves undertake support services. Whilst such employees are on-call, the MoD provides funds to enable employers to recruit temporary staff, and the ministry also tops up military pay to the employees normal pay whilst they are on service. Both employers and employees have a right to veto and/or defer the call out.

    From 1st April 2004, those who join the Volunteer Reserve Force are required to notify their employers of their membership of such Force.

    Traditionally there has been no requirement to allow employees to see the records that the employer generates concerning them - although this has been changed by the passing of the DATA PROTECTION Act 1998. However, for some time legislation has governed the provision of medical records and reports, and grants to employees rights of access to them.

    Access to Medical Reports Act 1988
    This Act primarily covers reports originated prior to employment - for example, where an employer asks a prospective employee to undergo a medical examination. A person has a right of access to any medical report concerning him which is prepared by his own doctor. If the subject requests access to the report then the doctor may not send the report to the company for 21 days which gives time for the subject to inspect the report. If the subject disagrees with anything in the report then (s)he has a right to request alteration or, should the doctor refuse, to attach their objections or alterations to the report. The subject can also refuse to allow the report to be sent to their employer. The doctor can refuse access if it is felt that disclosure would seriously affect the well-being of the subject or access should be restricted to certain parts only of the report.

    Where a report is prepared by a doctor who is retained by the employer, the employer has no right of access, although if this report then became part of the employee's personnel records they might then have rights of access because they have a right of access to such records under the Data Protection Act.

    Access to Medical Records Act 1990
    This Act covers ongoing records held by the employer primarily during employment and covers all records (whether generated by the employee's own doctor or one retained by the employer). Employees have a right of access to these medical records concerning them and their access to such records may only be restricted where the doctor feels that the physical or mental state of the subject could be affected by knowledge of the content (although in practice many employers might consider that stating this as a reason for denying access could result in a worse situation that disclosing the content of the report).

    Data Protection Code
    The Information Commissioner published a draft code of practice concerning medical records in early 2004. It recommends:

  • there should be a clear policy covering medical testing;

  • applicants should have to undergo medical examination only if they are likely to be appointed;

  • examinations should take place only if it is a 'necessary and justified' measure;

  • nothing should be done covertly or use data for another purpose than that originally stated; and

  • data no longer relevant for the purposes taken should be destroyed
  • Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work (Amendment) Regulations 1994, employers are required in anticipation of a woman of child-bearing age entering their employ to carry out a pregnancy risk assessment.

    The risk assessment process (which covers those who have recently given birth and are breastfeeding, as well as pregnant women) requires employers:

    a. to assess all risks to which such employees might be exposed;

    b. to ensure they are not exposed to those risks; and

    c. if a risk remains despite preventative and other actions, terms of work (hours, place, etc.), to offer such employees alternative work or grant them paid leave if this is not available.

    The Equal Opportunities Commission recently noted that in 2001 there were 1,387 maternity related discrimination claims regarding breaches of Health and Safety legislation (96% of the discrimination claims). The average compensation claim paid was £9,871.

    The HSE identify 5 general risks that there are to pregnant women in the workplace, but these should be taken as guidance only since each risk assessment of each workplace will inevitably be different. In addition, each employer should identify the particular risks related to their own operation.

    1. Working with Unhealthy Substances

    Perhaps the most widely encountered substance with which a pregnant woman and new mother might come into contact is lead. Any use of lead should be identified and women of child bearing age prohibited from working anywhere near its use or handling products which have been in contact with lead. (Similar restrictions apply to a range of other substances - e.g. radio-active material.)

    2. Violent or Stressful Environments
    What some people find acceptable, other may find stressful - e.g. some people can stand loud music, others cannot. The environments within which people work should be assessed and those working in areas felt to be potentially stressful should be specially advised, and if and when a woman states she is pregnant she should be asked if she wishes to transfer elsewhere.

    The situation of a pregnant or new mother working within an environment which is 'rough' or 'tough' or in any way violent, needs to be assessed very carefully, with specific guidance depending on individual problems and risks.

    3. Lifting
    Employees are generally prohibited from lifting loads heavier than around 55lbs without manual or mechanical assistance. However, applying this weight restriction could be unwise for many pregnant women and a more realistic maximum load is perhaps 4 kilos or 10lb. The volume of a package is also important since a light weight but bulky object might pose considerably greater danger than a small but heavier item.

    4. Confined Working Space
    The simple increase in body size due to pregnancy, can create problems of its own if the working environment is at all confined or small, or there is a restricted access etc. Such items should be identified. If it is impossible to change them, the possibility of the woman working elsewhere should be considered.

    5. Using an Unsuitable Workstation
    Where the woman is using a visual display unit, the ergonomic arrangement of such equipment may often leave much to be desired. Whilst this may be acceptable in the ordinary course, there may be specific dangers to a pregnant woman whose condition requires attention to posture etc.

    Those using VDUs should:

  • have a comfortable, adjustable chair - with good back support;

  • a desk surface which allows them to position the VDU at least 10 inches from their head and provides sufficient space for other working papers;

  • have a monitor which is not situated so that it creates a reflection or glare, and generates minimal radiation;

  • keep the screen clean and adjust brightness and contrast to create a good working light;

  • take regular rests (not necessarily from work but from the VDU work) and allow the eyes to refocus on a more distant subject than the VDU screen;

  • sit so that the wrists are parallel with the keyboard, 'float above it', and can rest on a support regularly;

  • place the feet either on the floor or on a raked footstool to remove strain from the back, thighs should be parallel with the floor; and

  • either the user should face any window or natural light should be capable of being filtered with blinds or curtains.

  • Procedure
    1. Accompanied by a pregnant woman (or a woman who has given birth) tour the whole area where a pregnant woman/new mother might work - identify all risks.

    2. Consider whether any risks can be removed or minimised and, if so, implement changes to effect this.

    3. List risks which cannot be removed and/or minimised on a written risk assessment.

    4. Immediately a woman indicates she is pregnant, give her a copy of the risk assessment (possibly walking round and identifying the risks with her).

    5. Invite the woman to advise the employer if she notes any additional risks so that the risk assessment can be updated.

    6. Regularly review and update the risk assessment.

    If there are serious risks, during the time she continues working, a pregnant woman has a right to have the risks removed from her normal place of work. If this is impossible then she can carry out her work elsewhere where there are no risks. If this is impossible then she can be asked to work on other tasks (without any detriment regarding salient features of her contract - hours, pay, benefits etc.). If there is no work she can undertake she has the right to be suspended on full pay until such time as her maternity leave commences.

    Female employees are entitled to a range of rights before and after giving birth. Close attention to the rules is needed since breach could generate a claim for sex discrimination.

    Leave and Pay: Evidence
    A woman must produce form MATB1 to her employer. This form is available from the 20th week before her EWC (Expected Week of Childbirth). A woman wishing to exercise her entitlements must notify her employer in or by the 15th week before her EWC, giving the employer a copy of the MATB1 if the employer requires this.

    She must also state to her employer when she wishes her maternity leave (and her Maternity Pay - if she is eligible) to commence. She must give 28 days notice of the leave/pay start date. Within a further 28 days her employer must confirm to her, in writing, her rights to:

    i. pay;

    ii. preservation of contract; and

    iii. return (see below).

    If the baby is born before the expiry of the woman's 28 day notice period the leave (and pay if applicable) commences at the date of birth.

    ALL women are entitled to 26 weeks ordinary leave, but ONLY women who have 26 weeks service as at the end of the 15th week before their EWC (i .e. a total of 40 weeks service before the EWC) are entitled to an additional 26 weeks (unpaid) leave, making a total of 52 weeks.

    Provided a woman has 26 weeks service as at 15 weeks before her EWC and has earned at a rate of at least the Lower Earnings Level (LEL) for 8 weeks, she is entitled to Maternity Pay as follows:

  • for the first 6 weeks of her leave she is entitled to 90% of her earnings (averaged over the 8 week period before the 15th week before her EWC).

  • for the remainder of her ordinary leave she is entitled to £102.80 (April 2004) per week or 90% of her average earnings, whichever is less.

    The additional maternity leave of 26 weeks leave is unpaid.

    Both annual and maternity leaves are statutory rights. In the case of Merino Gomez the ECJ stated that a woman must be able to take holiday outside her maternity leave. If her contract requires her to be paid for bank holidays (and there is no legal right to payment for bank holidays; the employer must simply pay for 4 weeks holiday in its holiday year) and one or more bank holidays falls within the 6 week Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) period it would appear that these holidays should be held over until later. In the remaining period of her OML she is entitled to her contractual holiday and during the whole of any Additional Maternity Leave (AML) she is entitled to her statutory holiday entitlement (and for any additional holiday if allowed by the contract). Either her holiday should be added to the end of her AML (see above ruling) or, since AML is unpaid, she might decide to take her outstanding (paid) holiday as part of this (unpaid) maternity leave.

    Recovery of Payments
    92% of the Statutory Maternity payments made to a women during her maternity leave are recoverable by 'large' employers by deduction from their NI contributions. (A 'large' employer is regarded as any employer whose total National Insurance liability for the previous tax year was £45,000 or more.) Other, 'small', employers can reclaim the whole amount plus a 4.5% 'admin' charge. If a small employer would find it difficult to fund the SMP they can apply for an advance.

    A woman must give 28 days notice of the date that she wishes her maternity leave to start. Her employer must (within 28 days of that notification) state the latest date by which she must return to work. She may change the leave 'start date', and, if so, within 28 days of the notification of the change the employer must advise a new 'return date'.

    The employer will always KNOW her required date of return since:

  • if the woman has insufficient service to qualify for additional leave her 'return date' is 26 weeks after she starts her leave.

  • if the woman has 40 weeks service before her EWC (i .e. 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the EWC) then she is entitled to an additional period of 26 weeks leave and thus her 'return date' is 52 weeks after she starts her leave.

    The employer can therefore state the 'return date' with certainty - although if the baby is born before the notified start, obviously this will bring the end of the ordinary leave and, if applicable, any additional leave, forward.

    An employer has no right to ask the employee if and when she wishes to return, but if she wishes to return BEFORE her 'return date' she must give her employer 28 days notice and her employer can postpone her return for any period - but not to a date later than her 'return date'. Otherwise the woman can simply arrive for work on her 'return date' - she does not have to give any notification, although in practical terms this would be advisable.

    Contract Terms
    Her contract continues during maternity leave and thus any rights other than pay (e.g. holiday) continue to accrue. Thus, a woman on maternity leave for 52 weeks could have a full year's holiday entitlement (plus or including Public Holidays if paid) which she should take (and be paid for) during that leave.

    Contract Terms
    Her contract continues during maternity leave and thus any rights other than pay (e.g. holiday) continue to accrue. Thus, a woman on maternity leave for 52 weeks could have a full year's holiday entitlement (plus or including Public Holidays if paid) which she should take (and be paid for) during that leave.

    Job on Return
    A woman entitled to the ordinary leave has a right to return to the job she was doing before her leave. But a woman entitled to the additional leave has a right to return to a similar job (on no less favourable terms) but not necessarily the job she left. Some women may wish to work parttime etc. on return. Women with children up to age 6 (18 if the child is disabled) are entitled to request their employer to consider a request to work flexibly - and to have such a request considered objectively.

    Failure to Return
    If a woman fails to return on the due date, this should be carefully investigated before any action is taken. If she is sick she should be treated in exactly the same way as any other sick employee (that is, asked for certification etc.). If she is not sick then the matter may need to be dealt with under the employer's disciplinary procedure.

    Working During Maternity Leave
    It is possible for a woman to claim maternity pay from one employer whilst continuing to work for another, but she cannot claim payment from any work for the same employer.

    If a woman leaves employment (irrespective of reason) after her qualifying week (15 weeks before her EWC) she is still entitled to be paid her statutory maternity pay.

    Second Baby
    If the woman becomes pregnant during her additional leave she will be entitled to a further 26 weeks ordinary leave but NOT any additional leave (because she had not returned to work after the first birth). If she has returned to work and works for at least 8 weeks for a wage/salary at or higher than the Lower Earnings Level and then finds she is pregnant the whole process is repeated.

    Provided an employee has the required service (and has earned at the required rate) she will be entitled to these rights irrespective of hours worked, casual status etc.

    Compulsory Leave
    Under the Maternity (Compulsory Leave) Regulations 1994 SI No 2479, an employee who is entitled to maternity leave must not work (or be permitted to work by her employer) for 2 weeks (4 weeks if she works in a factory) commencing with the date of childbirth. An employer who breaches this requirement (i.e. who allows the employee to work within 14 days of childbirth) can be fined up to a maximum of £500. This leave is entitled 'compulsory maternity leave'.

    Pension Membership

    Pension schemes are required to treat female members who are absent from work due to pregnancy or confinement and are in receipt of maternity pay, as if they were working normally and receiving the remuneration they would be likely to be paid for so doing. This needs to be taken into account when calculating continuity of membership, as well as rights and benefits to which they are entitled. In addition, members of either sex who are off work for family reasons must also be treated as if they were working normally, although in such cases the actual wages paid will be used as the relevant figure for calculating benefits.

    Antenatal Leave
    Under the Employment Act 1980 all pregnant employees have rights to reasonable time off with pay to attend ante-natal clinics on (if required) production to their employers of an appointment card. No card is required for the first appointment.

  • Whilst the majority of employers avoid granting loans to their employees, many will be asked at some time or another to assist employees. The rules regarding the granting of authority, as well as the purposes for which loans will be granted, need to be carefully laid down and controlled.

    As far as ad hoc loans are concerned, some employers may prefer not to advertise the fact that the Organisation is prepared to assist, fearing this could encourage additional applications. Ideally, this type of loan should be the exception. In addition to ad hoc loans, an increasing number of employers make loans to assist employees with travel costs - e.g. season ticket loans. These would normally be dealt with in a far less investigative manner, although a repayment authority, such as that set out below should be completed in each case.

    Example of Policy
    Whilst [the employer] believes that employees can and should manage their personal finances successfully, it recognises that at times short-term financial help may be necessary. It will sympathetically consider loan applications to [maximum sum] from staff with at least two years service. These arrangements are in addition to the assistance in respect of the 'week in hand' arrangements as set out in 3 below.

    Loans may only be approved by [name] after submission of a written application and completion of a loan repayment authority. All loans must be repaid by deduction from wages or salary, with any outstanding amount due on or before an employee leaves service. The loan repayment authority grants power to the employer to deduct loan repayments from wages and any balance outstanding from monies due, re wages, holiday pay, etc., should an employee leave.

    Where a new recruit is required to work two weeks before receiving their first weeks wages (i.e. the 'week in hand' arrangement), on application, they may be granted a loan of up to 60% of the gross amount of the first week's wages at the end of the first week. This advance will be recovered by two equal deductions from the first two wage payments made. Other than in these circumstances loans will only be granted to employees with two years or more service.

    Loans will be granted in respect of pressing family or personnel circumstances but will not be entertained in respect of non-essential expenditure, for example, a new car, holiday (unless in the aftermath of a lengthy illness), etc. [Name] will have the authority to decide whether a loan qualifies under this policy and their decision will be final.

    In the event of a loan being granted, a copy of this policy will be given to the employee and in signing the loan repayment authority, they will be acknowledging receipt of this policy.

    Repayment Authority
    With the legal prohibitions on employers making DEDUCTIONS from wages, it is essential that a loan repayment authority form is completed. The following draft allows considerable flexibility concerning the way in which the loan can be recovered and needs to be customised for particular circumstances. It is important that the employer has authority to enable the deductions to be made from wages.

    Signing such a form allows the employer to recover the amount in installments. However, where a loan repayment period spans wages increase(s) the suggestion(s) that having increased income, the employee might wish to increase the repayments to liquidate the loan could be made. In such circumstances a fresh authority should be sought - either using the above draft or a simple memo.

    Training Loans
    A number of employers concerned at the high cost of training, now require their employees undergoing such training to agree to repay the whole or part of such training costs either during employment or, more specifically, should they leave their employ within a specified period after the completion of the training. There is little difference between recovering such expenditure and recovery of a loan - an appropriately worded authorisation is needed. Here, however, the important facet is not so much to agree repayment during employment but to ensure the situation regarding repayment at or after termination of employment must also be clear.

    There is a further danger to the employer in making an illegal deduction since once it has been so classified the employer is barred from making recovery in any other way (that is through the Courts).

    Reducing Debt
    Although some employers require employees to finance the training costs during employment, on the basis that the training has benefited the person as much as, or more than, the employer, most tend to concentrate on recovery should the employee leave and recognising that the value of the training has either been gained by the employer or has less value with the passing of time, a reducing percentage for recovery over time may be appropriate.

    Graduate Loans
    During their period of study many graduates are entitled to State loans to assist with living expenses. These loans are repayable to the State but not until the salary received by the graduate reaches or exceeds £10,000 per annum.

    Granting increases to graduates just below this salary threshold needs to be carefully considered to avoid any incentive generated by the receipt of an increase, only marginally above the threshold, being more than eradicated by the need to make deductions in respect of the loan repayment. The manner by which the individual loan can be collected needs to be examined and complied with. There are currently discussions concerning the recovery of tuition fees from graduates which again, may be a task placed upon the employer, subject to salary levels being reached by the employee.

    Normally the employer will wish to collect by deduction from salary in which case the employee must complete a DEDUCTION authority.

    Until fairly recently the number of instances in which an employer was liable to pay an employee when he was not working were few - e.g. time off to seek other work and/or be trained when redundant was virtually the only instance for many years. Since then a whole range of rights to both paid and unpaid leave have been introduced.

    All employees are entitled to receive 4 weeks paid holiday within their employers holiday year. This statutory holiday must be taken within the holiday year to which it relates and can neither be carried forward, nor be paid in lieu (except where the employees leaves during the holiday year with unused entitlement). Statutory holiday can be offset against paid contractual holiday to which an employee is entitled.

    Subject to the production of an acceptable self-certificate for the first seven days (and the production of certificates from a medical practitioner for periods in excess), employers are responsible for paying Statutory Sick Pay for an employee's first 28 weeks sickness (within each year). Only the smallest employers can claim a refund from the State relating to the amounts paid.

    It can be confusing to discern rights and responsibilities when an employee claims to have been sick whilst on holiday. It is important to make it clear in contract documentation that if a person falls sick when on holiday:

    a. they must get a certificate from a recognised medical practitioner

    b. their holiday is suspended for the period of sickness. Amounts already paid in respect of the holiday will need to be recovered - but offset by any SSP and occupational sickness benefit (if applicable)

    c. the amount of holiday during the sickness should be added to the amount still to be taken.

    Public Service
    Where an employee is required to attend the following public events, employers are required to grant leave although not necessarily paid leave: jury service, military leave, duties as local councillor, governor of school, public appointments (e.g. member of a statutory or water authority), witness etc. Where an employee wishes to serve as a magistrate the right is specifically granted under legislation, namely the Employment Rights Act 1996. That Act sets out the reasonableness test but also requires employers to take into account any leave already given for Trade Union activities, and the effect on the employer's business of the employee taking the amount of leave they wish.

    Draft Policy
    Note (The 'entitlements' referred to are for example only. It should not be inferred that such an arrangement will satisfy the requirement.)

    1. This Organization supports those employees who wish to undertake public duties.

    2. Reasonable amounts of time off will be allowed to undertake such duties.

    3. In calculating what is a reasonable amount the needs of the business must be taken into account particularly whether the duties undertaken by the person requesting the leave can be undertaken by more than at least one other person whilst the public duties are undertaken, and whether the person is already taking leave for other such purposes.

    4. In order to support persons undertaking such duties the Organisation will make payment for [50% of the time taken] and expect the remainder to be taken either as unpaid leave of absence or as paid holiday from the employees annual entitlement.

    5. Alternatively, if the person taking public leave wishes, credit could be given for additional hours worked at other times which could be regarded as 'paying' for any unpaid amount of time off.

    6. Application for public duty leave should be made to [specify name] who will review the position in the light of the forgoing and decide whether there are any extenuating circumstances that might justify additional unpaid leave.

    7. If a person is unhappy with the decision they have the right to exercise a right of appeal using the Grievance procedure.

    The Challenge?
    A quote from the CIPD's report 'Impact of People Management Practices on Business Performance' neatly summarises the challenge for the Board:

    'If managers wish to influence the performance of their companies the most important area they should emphasise is the management of people. This is ironic, given that our research demonstrates that emphasis on human resource management is one of the most neglected areas of managerial practice.'

    As American management guru, Stephen Covey, comments: 'management is about doing things right but leadership is about doing the right things'; whilst in his 'Seven habits for highly effective people' he suggests that:

    'Management without leadership is like arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.'

    Practical Means of Retaining People
    If there is inspiring leadership once a team has been created its members are more likely to stay together since most people wish to be associated with success, and may well regard the operation of an effective team as success in its own right. In turn this can help retain key personnel.

  • Maintain the high profile and reputation of the employer - creating a situation where the employee is proud to be associated with the employer.

  • Maintain a package for employees which is at least as good and possibly better than the average in the area/industry. It should make far more sense to invest the expenditure on replacing leavers by ensuring existing personnel are well-rewarded and content. Knowledge of their state of mind can only be gained by true COMMUNICATION and mutual respect.

  • Adopt all the principles of leadership (see above) and make sure employees are empowered as valued team members and their views and suggestions are listened to.

  • Ensure there is a structured training plan which caters for employees aspirations and business demands, and can reward those with required skills. Some people welcome having their skills and capabilities stretched.

  • Allow flexibility - those companies who respect their employees private lives and pressures are more likely to retain them so others may not, and research indicates that over 70% of those asked place flexibility of hours as one of their highest requirements.

  • recognise and reward special effort and performance.

    The management and motivation of staff is a continuing responsibility. Whilst setting up the principles and practice that will motivate employees is essential, so too is a commitment to continuing this approach which can be a harder task than actually starting. Most of us are attracted to 'something new' so developing a new outlook should have something going for it. When things are up and running, leaders may need to work hard to stimulate and retain attention and commitment.

    1. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Unfortunately we often confuse information with communication. Information consists of giving people facts and data which they may or may not understand - it is essentially a sole directional process, does not require input from the target and does not generate any communicative process. Only if we encourage and generate feedback will we start a two-way process which, when both parties understand the viewpoint of the other, will become communication. True communication helps unleash employees' thoughts which may in turn provide a guide to managing them.

    2. Prohibit demotivational forces such as unfairness, discrimination, harassment, favouritism, verbal and physical violence, bullying and perceptions of worthlessness, etc. Ensure fairness at all times.

    3. Delegate. Push responsibility down as far as possible. This will leave time for managers to concentrate on managing and leading their employees (which should always be their first priority) as well as making the delegatee's job more rewarding. In delegating authority everyone must be told so they are prepared to support decisions made by the delegatee.

    4. Empower and enrich the jobs of team members. To a certain extent this will result from delegation since the effect of pushing responsibility down the line of command should be to widen subordinates responsibilities. Whilst some may not welcome this, most do and respond accordingly.

    5. Creation of teams. Encouraging employees themselves to work in teams harnesses the pressure of the team members to make their team successful. This should improve output, communication and productivity. The phrase 'Together Everyone Achieves More' is a useful mnemonic to help put the concept across and to ensure it is memorised.

    As five times gold medal winner Sir Stephen Redgrave and his rowing partner Matthew Pinsent state:

    'For any team to reach its true potential it needs all of its individuals to communicate clearly and work together. It means understanding each other's talents and then using them to the full, and it means knowing when to bolster each other's performance to become closer, stronger and more flexible. What started as a group of individuals ends with relationships permanently strengthened by the experience.'

    6. Task swapping. If there are a number of relatively straightforward, even boring jobs, training personnel so that they can periodically have a change round provides a variety of work and encourages a different approach to it. In this way, new relationships as well as new approaches may result. Indeed, it may be that someone new performing a task may see a way in which it could be improved.

    7. Discussions. Team briefing, QUALITY CIRCLES, workplace forums, improvement groups, suggestion schemes, etc. can all play a part in encouraging thought about the jobs and the way they are performed, and in welding a team together. The title given may be merely a peg but the important factor is that those involved have an opportunity to discuss matters of common interest and to work together as a team.

    8. Praise. In the UK we tend to criticise too often and praise too little. Yet praise is incredibly cost-effective and very motivational. Most people want recognition - even criticism may be preferable to being ignored. Few employees may have heard the phrase 'Praise me, scold me - just never ignore me', but many instinctively subscribe to the content.

    9. Incentives. Recognition can not only reward the good idea but also encourage employees to think about what they are doing. Human nature is strange - sometimes a financially 'worthless' award (e.g. a shield) can have more perceived 'value' than the star prize of, for example, a weekend in Paris. Peer recognition can be a valuable asset to the would-be motivator.

    10. Extend employee ownership, particularly in companies controlled by shares. This movement has been around for many years with tax incentives encouraging the spread of the process. Even the Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown stated in 1999 that he wanted to encourage such ownership: 'Share ownership offers employees a real stake in their company. I want targeted reform, to reward long-term commitment by employees. I want to encourage the new enterprise culture of teamwork in which everyone contributes and everyone benefits from success.'

    Research in 2001 for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development by Professor Freeman (Harvard and London School of Economics), found that the increase in productivity from implementing an approved profit-sharing scheme was 17%, whilst introducing a share option plan raised it by 12%.

    11. Training. Being prepared to invest in employees by means of funding (or even part-funding) training for the mutual benefit of employee and employer may be a valued way of demonstrating commitment. Research indicates that in many, particularly fast-moving, industries good calibre people tend to be attracted to employers who will provide career training thus, enabling them to develop their talents.

    12. Flexibility. FLEXIBLE working and a preparedness to assist employees (particularly - but perhaps not exclusively in the future - related to those entitled under the 'family friendly' legislation), should help create an ambience of a 'give and take' partnership between employer and employed. Obviously, it is necessary to check that any such flexibility is not abused. Indicating these benefits will only exist providing they are not abused should enlist peer pressure to avoid abuse.

  • Reworking the phrase 'the best way to make more money is to stop losing it', the easiest way to ensure we have a good team working for us is to stop losing them. In the UK we have a shrinking working population, a growing skills shortage and a tendency on the part of many employers to assume they will always be able to fill vacancies. Competition for the above average or 'best' employees is likely to become increasingly fierce.

    The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's (CIPD) 'Annual Labour Turnover Survey' discloses that over 50% of all recruits leave within 2 years and 75% leave within 6 years of joining.' The Hay Group's research in 'The Retention Dilemma' indicates that:

  • employee turnover has increased by 25% since 1996;

  • the main causes of voluntary termination of employment are a lack of leadership and a lack of a career path; and

  • the cost of labour turnover can equate to 40% of an employer's annual profit.

    Many personnel practitioners conclude that 50% of employees are capable of operating at one level higher than they do operate at. Whilst a proportion will not wish to move higher or take on more responsibility, this can only lead to wasted effort and an increased labour turnover.

    With a shrinking workforce, labour retention can be said to be one of the major challenges for employers in the 21st Century. The secret of retention may lie in the greater and widespread creation of teams by those in charge acting more like leaders than managers. In the past, insufficient attention may have been paid to providing leadership to companies and their employees who increasingly demand greater involvement in the planning and conducting of the Organisation, and greater consultation regarding decisions etc.

    To be effective as leaders, directors and managers need certain skills in dealing with those who report to them, and without whom they cannot achieve any of their aims or the aims of their Organisation. Would-be leaders should:

  • listen actively;

  • encourage;

  • advise;

  • delegate; and

  • support.

    Taking the initials of these five requirements, an effective director/manager creates, and LEADS a team. 'Leading' implies a far more dynamic and people-orientated role than 'managing'. Such a role is more widely sought by those who wish to be led rather than managed and it is interesting that the Hampel Committee, in its report on improving Corporate Governance, does not mention management in its definition of what creates prosperity.

    Thus: 'People, teamwork, leadership, enterprise, experience and skills are what really produce prosperity. An effective Board [of directors] should lead and control the company'.

    More simply as successful entrepreneur Julian Richer states in 'The Richer Way', 'the way to succeed in business is to develop your staff'. This may mean a rethinking of priorities, particularly on the part of directors for companies used to the requirements of Company Law which requires them to put their shareholders first. But as the UK's most successful entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson (voted the 'leaders' leader' in a June 2004 poll) states:

    'For us our employees matter most. It seems common sense to me that if you start off with a happy well-motivated workforce, you're far more likely to have happy customers. And in due course the resulting profits will make shareholders happy.'

  • When it is necessary to conduct an interview to discover facts affecting an event concerning an employee (e.g. for the proposed application of DISCIPLINE , CAPABILITY, counselling etc.) it is safest before making any decision to ensure a proper and full investigation of the reasons is undertaken, in order to discover the background,.

    With most investigations the ultimate aim is to attempt to find a solution - to do this, information is essential, as is keeping any meeting as informal as possible.

    Suggested Checklist

    1. Find as many facts as possible before the meeting, including as many personal details as possible. Knowing these may aid rapport and encourage a feeling that here is someone who understands and cares.

    2. Although a one-to-one meeting is helpful, this may be impractical if the two parties are of different sexes and the subject matter is personal. The intervention of any third party should not, however, be forced on the subject who may resent it. If the subject is directly related to the sex of the employee, an interview might best be conducted by a member of the same sex.

    3. Be tactful and allow plenty of time. If there is an emotional response, using recesses for short periods may be helpful.

    4. Provide refreshments and allow those who wish to smoke, to do so. This may be a valuable method of relaxing smokers and a way of encouraging a discussion of the problem. If there is a site 'no smoking rule', either the discussion room should be exempt from the requirements, or the discussion should take place 'off-site'.

    5. Ensure the interview is confidential and protected from unwarranted intrusion - including phone-calls.

    6. Try to move to some initial solution however skeletal or capable only of implementation in stages.

    7. With ongoing personal problems suggest arranging for referral to experts (for example, Samaritans, doctors, solicitors and so on).

    8. Take notes of what transpires. This is particularly important where there are disciplinary matters pending.

    9. Keep the employees immediate superior informed of progress.

    10. Update on progress as necessary.

    The Process
    If the interview is part of the disciplinary process the first step is to investigate the circumstances and, if applicable, hold interviews and take witness statements (see below). The person conducting the investigation must approach the process with an open mind. It is not for them to make any decision - their job is to discover all the facts or circumstances of the incident, and to lay them before others who may or may not decide to hold a disciplinary hearing. Thus, the investigator must gather all the evidence - no matter which way it seems to slant the 'case'. The investigator must not be selective - everything must be discovered and recorded. This will entail inviting everyone to contribute no matter how unlikely it may seem that they have anything to offer.

    The investigation report should contain:

    i. details of the incident and/or alleged offence;

    ii. a complete summary all the evidence and data discovered (which will probably be mainly contained in witness statements derived from interviews);

    iii. details of any conflicting evidence;

    iv. any other background information (for example, the fact that there had been previous animosity between two employees could be valuable information where the investigation followed a claim by one that the other had attacked him, or where one persons claimed version of an incident was so much at variance with the others); and

    v. (if asked for) opinions or conclusions.

    It may help justice being seen to be done if a copy of an investigation report of a matter subsequently the subject of disciplinary proceedings is made available to the employee under investigation.

    Witness Statements
    It is usually helpful for statements to be taken from those who become 'involved' with an event by their proximity to it. Whilst this may seem to be a relatively straightforward task, there are a number of aspects which need to be addressed.

    1. Request statements from eye witnesses and any others involved, respecting any unwillingness evinced by some employees. No pressure should be brought to bear to try to generate a witness statement. It would be extremely damaging for such pressure to be made public and the knowledge could undermine the value of the statement.

    2. Statements should be taken as soon as possible after the event. Not only will this mean that evidence is being taken whilst it is still fresh in the mind of the onlooker, but also it should minimise the recollection becoming biased by pressure of colleagues and others.

    3. To take a statement, a quiet and secure room must be used, with only the interviewer, witness and another note-taking member of management present. If the interviewee wishes to have someone present on their behalf this should be allowed, but they should be instructed to keep silent. Alternatively, it may be preferable to tape record the meeting in which case a verbatim record can be made later, rather than attempting to do so at the time.

    4. No attempt should be made to cross-examine the witness, who should simply be asked for their recollection of the facts as the witness saw or understood them. Clarification of unclear points should be attempted but using entirely open questions, thus avoiding the possibility of accusations that words were put into the mouth of the witness.

    5. The exact words of the witness (even if ungrammatical) should be used as this will tend to evidence the veracity of the statement.

    6. A witness form should be used to ensure the collation of all necessary information - or for a verbatim record if a tape recording has been taken.

    7. The witness should be requested to sign the form. If the witness is unwilling to do so - do not insist, but simply note this on the form and request the member of management present to initial the note of the fact and to confirm that, as far as possible, the exact words of the witness have been used and that the statement is a fair record of what was said at the meeting.

    In order to ensure that such statements are comprehensive, they should be checked to ensure they contain at least the following information:

    Witness Statement Form Data
    1. Employers name.

    2. Details (date, place, time, etc.) of incident being investigated.

    3. Confirmation that this is a statement by witness giving name, occupation, etc.

    4. Confirmation of names and positions of those present.

    5. Reason for witness being able to see the incident.

    6. Position in which witness was able to see incident.

    7. Date, place and time of taking of statement.

    8. Full details of what was observed, sequence of events, names of other persons present, believed facts of injury or other occurrence, etc. in witness's own words as far as possible.

    9. Signature of witness or confirmation by note-taker that record is a fair version of what was said and that the witness, whilst prepared to make it, was not prepared to sign the statement, etc.

    Information taken in this way to form part of a witness statement may be subject to legal disclosure requirements (that is it can be required by a claimant to be produced for the purpose of legal action). Legal advice should be taken if the content is likely to be prejudicial to one's own case - i.e. it may be a situation where it would be wiser not to ask certain questions - or even to take the statement at all (although, of course, there is nothing to stop the other side, should they be aware of the potential of the testimony, calling the witness themselves).