Coffee Break Newsletter

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In this edition we look at how having staff with another job elsewhere may benefit you; how to review your Onboarding process to make it fit for purpose in 2019; how to manage sickness absence you suspect is not genuine and revisit age discrimination in light of the new ACAS guide. So, sit back and enjoy a steaming cup of coffee (winter spirit warmer optional)!

How does “side-hustling” affect your workforce?

As many as 1 in 4 UK workers now have a ‘side-hustle’ – a hobby or second job that has the potential to bring a secondary income. And this figure is expected to grow to 50% by 2030. While it generates about £72 billion for the UK economy, what is the impact on your business and do we need to re-write the workplace rule book?

Currently, as many as 49% of UK businesses do not have anything in writing to manage employees’ expectations regarding secondary employment. With the average cost of replacing an employee standing at £30,000, the price of losing them could seriously affect your business.

You can stipulate in your Employee Handbook and/or contract of employment that your employees must devote 100% to your company, but one day soon it could be out of sync with modern employment norms. If ‘side-hustlers’ are here to stay, employers may need to become more flexible to compete in their industries to attract and retain people who are increasingly looking for flexibility, more money (that you can realistically provide) and the chance to upskill. If employees are unhappy and demotivated and feel that the company does not support their life goals, they are likely to withdraw in favour of an employer who understands.

The benefits to having ‘side-hustlers’ on board are multi-fold. Think of someone whose side job (could be volunteering) gives them the experience and skills you need in the role you are recruiting. Think transferable skills and how this can benefit your organisation in the long run. For example, you need a trainer and the candidate tutors Maths every weekend; or you need a charismatic leader who can engage staff and they happen to be a (successful) motivational speaker in their spare time. 7 in 10 employees who also have a side hobby/job do it, not for the extra money, but to make their life more interesting outside their main employment.

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New Year, New Onboarding Process

If you are currently recruiting, you will be working hard to offer the best person for the role. But what happens once the offer letter and contract of employment have been returned, duly signed? Depending on notice, your new joiner may not start for a few weeks or even up to 3 months. It’s a long time not to hear from their new employer.

Onboarding should be a rich experience for any new starter, more so than the initial attraction process. After all, they are the people you have chosen to be part of building the future of your business. A personalised approach that tells them about their own team, own department and their own future career all have an important part to play.

And the most important element of all will be the building of a community. Creating links between new starters, their line managers, buddies if they will be assigned to one upon starting and their peer network, can give a huge boost to both engagement and retention.

Could you give them access to your instant messaging system before joining if you have one? Or invite them to team meetings if appropriate, ahead of their actual starting date? If you are using a cloud-based platform, can they start reading relevant company information that would be useful for them to know ahead of their first day?

You can always use a Non-Disclosure Agreement if you feel wary of sharing company information before they are an official employee but in essence, giving them the opportunity to feel involved with your business and existing teams will make their first week a lot more attractive and engaging.

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Pulling a long-term sickie!

In a recent tribunal case, an employee who was signed off sick longer-term was dismissed for gross misconduct when found to be doing manual tasks with an alleged bad back. The employee was covered by regular doctor’s FIT notes but was reported anonymously to the company, who then decided to hire a PI to gain photo evidence of the fraudulent conduct (the employee was receiving full pay as part of the company’s enhanced sick pay policy and clearly seen doing back-breaking manual work elsewhere).

The employee won their case of unfair dismissal, not because of the PI investigation but because he was covered by genuine GP’s FIT notes. The Tribunal found that the gross misconduct case was hampered by the fact that the employee had been covered at all times by the FIT notes and therefore “had not lied”. The Tribunal even found that a lesser sanction, such as a warning, may still have been unreasonable.

So, what is a company to do in such blatant cases of dis-genuine sickness? Do you have to abide by the FIT notes and just accept them at face value? Not necessarily.

We’d recommend that you send the employee to see Occupational Health (OH). You can present OH with a statement regarding the ‘other job’ and include a video/facts so that they may question the employee during their assessment. The wording of the questions you would like OH to respond to is also important. They are not there to take sides, but they are able to review a GP’s assessment if there is reason to believe the FIT note was given out because of misleading information provided by the patient.

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New ACAS Age Discrimination Guide

As you may know, under the Equality Act 2010, age is a protected characteristic yet claims of age discrimination continue to rise. Age discrimination at work – that is treating someone unfairly because of age – is mostly unlawful. There are exceptions, but these are very limited circumstances, such as applying the National Minimum Wage; linking pay and extra benefits to length of service (there is still a risk there so please talk to us if you are looking to change some of the terms you offer your staff); or where there is an occupational legal requirement such as being 21 to drive a train.

Age protection under the Equality Act includes protection against unfair treatment because of someone’s actual age, or the age they are thought to be, or the age of someone they are associated with.

Age discrimination or harassment can occur in situations linked to recruitment, training, promotion, performance management and pressure to retire. However, age goes both ways and includes young persons as well as the over 50’s.

The recent ‘Jolly v Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust’ case shows that at 88 years old, you can win an unfair dismissal and age discrimination case!

ACAS, who is responsible for providing legal and best practice guidance in the UK, have written a new Age Discrimination Guide and some factsheets, which we thought you might find useful:

If you need any further information on any of the above, as always the Adastra Team would be happy to help. So give us a call!

Our mailing address is:
Adastra HR Limited, Unit 12, City Business Centre, 6 Brighton Road, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 5BB
Telephone Number: 0330 113 0925