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With many businesses in Lancashire going through substantial change, Claire Thwaite from CUBE HR, outlines how the start of the year is a great time to reflect on employee relations.

There’s no doubt last year was certainly unique for most businesses, with many of us looking ahead to 2021 and making plans to improve on the things that didn’t get properly done or were overlooked in 2020.

Making new year’s resolutions for your business is an opportune time to think about implementing or updating an appraisal process, setting up a training matrix or a reward programme, or maybe looking at more fundamental things like reviewing your contracts of employment and policies.

These may need to include recent changes made to your employees’ circumstances, in particular due to the ongoing pandemic and how it has affected your business and your bottom line.

Adapting to change

People who work for you will change; business needs and circumstances change all the time and the world is definitely currently going through a huge period of change with none of us now totally sure of what ‘normal’ is any more! With all these changes, it’s really important to continually assess and improve on the way you do things as a business and just as importantly, as an employer.

When was the last time you reviewed your new starter procedure? Changes to existing employment regulations came into force from April 2020. These will certainly affect your employment processes, but you may have missed updating them among all the COVID-19 doom and gloom.

The biggest change due to the new regulations is that all employees and workers must be provided with a written statement of employment particulars, no later than the first day of their employment (you previously had up to eight weeks from their start date to do this). This can be a basic statement containing only the essential minimum information, with a wider written statement being issued within two months of the employee’s start date.

We always recommend that employers provide the full contract of employment to an employee prior to starting – as it helps make the employee feel valued and welcome and offers a sense of security before starting. It also provides all the essential information required (and often answers a lot of the employee’s questions), plus it gives the employee a chance to read through and decide if they choose to agree to the terms before accepting the job role.

The provision of training and paid leave

Your contract of employment template should also be updated to reflect new regulations requiring you to include information about any obligatory training that will be provided (whether you pay for this or not) and any paid leaves employees may be entitled to (such as maternity or paternity leave).

April 2020 also saw the introduction of Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave and whilst this doesn’t need expressly referring to in your contract, you will need to include it in your employee handbook or family policies.

It might also be a good idea to cast your eye over your current employee personnel files.  Whilst your payroll may be up-to-date, often things such as salary changes, working hours or perhaps adjustments you may have made to an employee’s hours or salary due to the pandemic, can get overlooked in terms of updating contracts. You won’t need to issue a full new contract, but it would be a good idea to update and confirm in writing any changes that have taken place.

Seek professional guidance

If your heart is full of good intentions for 2021, but your head doesn’t know where to start, it’s a great idea to call in the experts. Outsourcing your HR needs to a professional will reduce your burden in having to deal with employee matters and will free you to focus on recovery and growth for your business.

Boost’s team of senior advisers can help point you in the right direction and also support your business growth plans.

Claire Thwaite CUBE HR 2021

Claire Thwaite is the Head of HR Excellence at CUBE HR.  The firm has many years’ experience helping Lancashire businesses set in place employee-related procedures and documentation and maximise employee relationships. As part of its business support services CUBE HR offers an annual HR health check for all its clients, to ensure that they continue to offer an awesome place to work.

CUBE HR is a member of Boost & Co working towards a brighter future for Lancashire business.

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