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Latest Articles

Breaching Self-Isolation..... do you know the rules?

With new laws surrounding breach of self-isolation requirements now in force, we explore what organisations need to be aware of if their employees are told to isolate.

From 28 September 2020, it became a legal requirement for employees to self-isolate if told to do so as a result of potential, or confirmed, coronavirus exposure. These can range from having symptoms, to being told they have a positive case of Covid-19, to coming back from a country listed by the government has having high infection rates.

Breaching these new ‘Self-Isolation Regulations’ can lead to individuals receiving significant fines, a liability that also extends to organisations. In a nutshell, if businesses are found to have breached these requirements, they will face a fixed penalty notice of £1,000, rising to £10,000 for fourth offenses and above. It is therefore crucial that organisations are familiar with the law.  

In the Regulations, if an organisation requires an employee to come into work despite them being told to self-isolate, they will have committed an offence. This extends not just to them attending the usual place of work, but any other place connected with work that is not the location in which they are self-isolating, ie their home. For example, if an employee is asked to visit a client on work-related purposes, or even a colleague, this would still be in breach of the Regulations despite any social distancing in place and their visit only being a short one. Whilst staff can be asked to work from home if they are well enough to do so, they must not be encouraged or told by an organisation to leave here for work-related purposes.

These provisions also extend to ‘knowingly’ allowing an employee to attend the workplace, in other words being aware they have been told to self-isolate but permitting them to come into work if they want to. However, the situation does get a little bit trickier if the organisation is not aware of their employee’s situation, and this employee then goes on to breach the rules. Whilst employees are expected under the Regulations to disclose this if they have to undertake work-related activities outside of the place they are self-isolating, the law is less clear on what happens if an organisation is not told, or if the message does not get through to management.

To this end, it is vital that organisations take these new Regulations into account and make sure they are adhering to them. Employees should be clearly informed what they are expected to do if they are told to self-isolate, including who they need to tell, when and how. It should also be made clear that, due to the importance of adhering to the Regulations, failure to follow this could result in disciplinary action.

Restrictive Covenants - are you covered?

How aware are you of restrictive covenants? Are you worried about an employee leaving your business and want to protect your customer base or information?

 

In order to protect an employer's commercial interests, it is often commercially desirable to impose certain restrictions on an employee which will apply following the termination of the employment relationship. Employees may have knowledge of sensitive information in relation to their employer's business strategy, customer and/or supplier profile and pricing which they could use post-termination for their own benefit or for the benefit of a competitor. Accordingly, employment contracts will often contain specific restrictions to protect the employer's business interests post-termination.

 

In addition to the list of items that have to be included in the 'Written Particulars of Employment', employers can add other clauses that are specific to the employment in which the employee is engaged. A clause that is commonly added, and which needs some careful thought, is a restrictive covenant.

 

The purpose of such a covenant is to restrict the activities of an employee for a period of time after leaving the organisation. However, to be enforceable and protect the legitimate business interests of the employer, a restrictive covenant must be reasonable. A covenant might be unreasonable if the geographical coverage is too great (for example, restricting an employee from working anywhere in the UK), the length of time that the covenant is in place is too long or the content (the nature of the activity) is too broad.

 

There are four principal types of covenant:

  • non-competition covenants stop the employee from working for a competitor for a specified period of time in a specified geographical area.
  • non-solicitation clauses prevent employees from soliciting the business of clients or customers of a former employer. However, they do not prevent an employee from working with a former client or customer if that client or customer makes contact directly with the employee.
  • non-dealing clauses stop the employee from both soliciting clients from a former employer, but also dealing with the client. These are more comprehensive than non-solicitation clauses because they cover the employee engaging with any activity with former customers/clients for a specified period of time, regardless of who makes the first contact.
  • non-poaching clauses prevent employees from encouraging former colleagues to leave the employer and join them in their new organisation.

Employers should remember that in assessing the reasonableness of a restrictive covenant the courts will consider the position of the parties at the time the covenant was entered into rather than the position at the time the employer is seeking to make use of the covenant. Employers should strengthen restrictive covenants as employees become more senior rather than including the same restrictions for all levels of staff.

 

If your business is looking to expand and you would like advice on ensuring that your contracts are relevant to your needs, please do contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

New Job Support Scheme - What are the Details?

Winter Economy Plan – Job Support Scheme

Last week the Chancellor outlined details of the Government Winter Economy Plan and the Job Support Scheme that will replace the current Job Retention Scheme which allows employees to be Furloughed.

What is the Job Support Scheme? 

The Job Support Scheme (JSS) forms part of the Winter Economy Plan that is designed to protect jobs and support businesses over the coming months. 

The JSS will replace the Job Retention Scheme (JRS). The Job Retention Scheme has been in place since March 2020 to provide wage assistance to employers who were unable to provide work to their employees because of the impact of COVID-19, and to avoid redundancies. Employers could claim up to 80% of an employee’s wages if the employee was unable to work at all, or if they were able to work only a portion of their normal working hours.

The JRS will end on 31 October 2020 and the JSS will begin on 1 November 2020. It is expected to continue for six months. Although the JSS will still provide some wage cover to help employers, there are significant differences to the JRS. The main difference is that the JSS will not provide wage assistance for an employee who is doing no work at all.

Which employers can use the JSS?

Employers of any size will be able to use the JSS but larger businesses will have to show that their turnover has fallen. There is currently no further information on what constitutes a 'larger business' so this will need further clarification from HM Treasury. The Scheme is open to employers who have not previously used the Job Retention Scheme to furlough employees before, as well as those who have.

The Chancellor has confirmed that employers using the JSS can still claim the Job Retention Bonus, which will provide employers with £1,000 for each furloughed employee they continue to employ until the end of January 2021 who also meets other criteria.

Which employees can be placed on the JSS? 

The Scheme is intended to protect 'viable' jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to COVID-19. The JSS will only support those who are working fewer hours than normal; not those who are working no hours. A key criterion to gain access to the JSS is a minimum level of working hours: employees must work for at least one third (33%) of their normal working hours.

Unlike the JRS, employees cannot be given notice of redundancy while on the JSS.  The focus is on supporting viable jobs over the coming months whilst businesses increase trading and therefore some companies may have to make difficult decisions whereby they are unable to provide any work for certain employees. 

What do employers pay an employee on the scheme?

Employers need to pay employees for the hours they work, which must be at least one third of their normal working hours.

The Government and the employer will then each pay one third of pay of the hours not worked.

Employees who work the minimum required (33% of their normal working hours) will receive 77% of their pay, with 55% paid by the employer and 22% paid by the Government. The overall percentage of pay the employee receives will differ depending on the percentage of time they work. The examples given below do not use decimal points for ease of illustration.

Example:

An employee normally earns £2000 per week. Under the JSS, they work 50% of normal working hours. The percentage of hours lost is 50%.

The employer pays £1000 for hours worked, and a further £333 (one third of hours lost).

The Government will pay £333 (one third of hours lost).

The employee receives £1666 in total (83% of total pay).

 

If you would like to talk through implementing the scheme and get further advice on workforce planning, please make contact at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

5 Top Tips for avoiding overwhelm when Recruiting

5 Top Tips for avoiding overwhelm when Recruiting

 

In the current pandemic and post lockdown work climate we are in an unusual situation where there is both good supply and demand in the job market.  Lots of individuals have found alternative work whilst on Furlough leaving positions open.  Meanwhile some businesses have had to make redundancies, creating demand for new roles. 

Effective Recruitment of the right talent to your business is essential but it can be overwhelming when you have a large number of applicants for a role to be ablet identify who will be the most suitable candidate. We have put together some tips to help make the recruitment process a little easier……..

 

Ensure that your Job Description and Person Specification are Up to Date

Before you even consider posting that advert make sure that the Job Description and Person Specification really reflect the detail of the role and also the ideal candidate.   But what is the difference?

  • Job Description – outlines the duties and responsibilities of the role
  • Person Specification – outlines the essential and desired qualifications and attributes held by your ideal candidate for the role.

 

Decide on your Application Window and stick to it!

Give yourself a specific window for applications to be received and close it on that date regardless of how many applicants you have had. 

Also, put a deadline on the first applicant sift and set out the process i.e. tell candidates that if they haven’t heard from you by a certain date then they should assume that they have not been shortlisted. 

Create your Shortlist Criteria before you place the advert

Be clear about how you will sift and score applicants before you place your advert.  Create your criteria for shortlist using your job description and person specification.  Attribute a score for each category and define each score to help create a consistent and non biased way of identifying who should be shortlisted. 

Screen in, not out

Screen your applicants in against your criteria, the details, and the expectations of the role.  Focus on how their skills, qualifications and experience match your requirements. 

Ensure candidates experience a professional process

Use a system such as Breathe HR Software https://www.breathehr.com/ along with your HR Team / HR Consultant to manage the application process.    This will enable you to create a unique URL for the job you are advertising, store all applications in one place and also send multiple acknowledgements and responses automatically. 

Ensuring that expectations are set, and candidates are informed throughout the process is key to providing a professional recruitment process.  There is nothing worse than not receiving a response to a job application.   

But….use the software and technology to help you!

Finally, use a second application window if you need to

If you do not fill the vacancy, do not be scared to readvertise the role.  Given how fluid the market is currently, you may find your ideal candidate is now available or looking for a new role. 

 

If you have found this useful, support with all areas of recruitment can be found at www.valesolutions.co.uk or make contact at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

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