Avec des “si”, on mettrait Paris en bouteille – By Nikki Chapman our MS Office Trainer

The French proverb ‘Avec des si on mettrait Paris en bouteille’ sometimes springs to mind when I’m teaching IF statements in Excel, as I’m sure some people assume that using IF is as a difficult as trying to get Paris into a bottle!  However, IF is a powerful function that is actually incredibly easy to use.

Excel shows the syntax of an IF statement as:

=IF(logical_test, [value_if_true],[value_if_false])

This can look a little complicated, but is easily simplified.  For example, say we decide to offer a 5% discount to anyone ordering a quantity of goods over 100, we could write it out as follows:

IF Formula

Writing out the formula in ‘English’ first makes it much easier to understand;  Qty refers to the cell A2 (see below) and the then and else in the statement are the commas.   In other words ‘if the quantity is greater than 100 then give 5% discount else zero‘.  This is how the formula looks in Excel.

IF 2

This method of writing out IF statements is particularly beneficial when using multiple IFs.  It’s all too easy to lose track of how many IFs you need and where all the commas and brackets go.  However, if you start by writing out your formula, it’s easy.  For example:

IF 3

Notice that all the closed brackets for the IFs go at the end of the statement. 

IF 4

As you can see, the formula above is working out the greatest discount amount first.  With IF statements it’s either True or False, so it’s important to get it the right way around.  Writing out the formula gives you an opportunity to test the logic before entering it into Excel.

Nikki Chapman
Associate Trainer (Microsoft Office)
Target HR and Training Ltd


If you may benefit from training in Excel or any of the Microsoft Office packages, full course specifications can be found via the following link. We deliver workshops at Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Level in Word, Excel and Powerpoint.



Using “Outline View” in Powerpoint to Save a Tree – By Nikki Chapman our MS Office Trainer

Well, perhaps not an entire tree…but certainly a few sheets of paper!

When designing a presentation some people choose to use paper or coloured sticky notes before going anywhere near their computer. Whereas others fall into the age old trap of starting in PowerPoint and following the prominent on-screen instruction ‘Click to add text’.

Using the paper method is an effective way of designing your presentation, and if you are using coloured sticky notes you can easily move them around to change the order of your slides before creating them in PowerPoint. However, there is a better way of designing a presentation, using a feature that is built into PowerPoint – Outline View.

When teaching PowerPoint, I find that very few people have even heard of, let alone used Outline View, however, it is a great way to start your presentation. Once you have typed all your topics into the outline you can easily move them around to create the perfect structure.

As many of you will know already, when designing a presentation you need to be careful. It’s easy to get carried away and end up with slide after slide of bullet points. Of course, you then run the risk of your audience either falling asleep or reading your presentation ahead of you. Either way, they are likely to find your presentation very boring. It’s important to remember, your slides should be used as a prompt for you, the speaker, not as a handout for the audience. This is where PowerPoint Outline view can help.

So how does it work?

Below are a few simple instructions on how to create a presentation using Outline View:
1.Create a new presentation.
2.PowerPoint 2013 – Click on the View tab, Outline View.
PowerPoint 2007/2010 – Click on the Outline tab at the top of the left-hand pane (see below).
3.Click into the left-hand pane and type a slide title.
4.Press ENTER. This will automatically create a new slide, which will be a bulleted list (see below). Don’t be tempted to click on the ‘click to add text’ prompts…ignore them!
5.Type the next slide title and press ENTER.
6.Continue to type slide headings and press ENTER, or press TAB to indent so that you can type a bullet list, pressing ENTER after each bullet point.
7.When you are ready to create the next slide press CTRL-ENTER or on a new line press SHIFT-TAB. (Incidentally, CTRL-ENTER is the shortcut key used to insert a page break in Microsoft Word…much quicker than using the ribbon – try it!)

Shortcut keys:
TAB – Indent (if you keep pressing tab you will indent further)
SHIFT-TAB – Unindent
CTRL-ENTER – Next placeholder/new slide

Moving your slides/bullets

You can use the mouse to drag slides or bullets up or down to change the order, or from left to right to promote or demote, i.e. change a bullet point to a main heading or vice versa.
1.Position the mouse pointer directly over the bullet point, or over the rectangle to the left of the slide title. Your mouse pointer will change to a cross.
2.Drag the item to a new position (a vertical or horizontal line will appear). Release the left mouse button.
3.To change the slide layout, click on the Home tab and choose Layout. (Or better still, design your own slide layouts in Slide Master view.)
4.You can right click in the Outline text to display the context sensitive menu which allows you to move/copy, promote/demote, collapse/expand, insert or delete slides.

It’s that easy! So, if you haven’t used Outline View before, it’s definitely worth a go…and perhaps if enough of us use it, we might collectively save a tree!

Nikki Chapman
Associate Trainer (Microsoft Office)
Target HR and Training Ltd

If you may benefit from training in Powerpoint or any of the Microsoft Office packages, full course specifications can be found via the following link. We deliver workshops at Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Level in Word, Excel and Powerpoint.


Mid-summer Employment Law Update

Just like summer, Employment Law changes have suddenly crept up on us. The government has been consulting for a while on the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (we shall call it ERRA for short) for a while now, but it has finally received royal assent and comes in starting from 25 June 2013. Although some provisions may not be implemented until October 2013 or April 2014.

In addition the long awaited introduction of Employment Tribunal fees is planned for implementation on 29 July 2013, for claims initiated from that date onwards. Watch out for the closing down sale on free claims on 28 July !

So what has the ERRA got in store ?

Whistle-blowing rights; Disclosures will only be protected if the employee reasonably believes that it is made in the public interest and they no longer need to be “in good faith”. The final twist their seems somewhat bizarre on the face of it.

Dismissal for political opinions; You will be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal in the first 2 years of employment if you are dismissed for your politics.

Third-party harassment; Employees will no longer be protected under the Equality Act against harassment from 3rd parties. But employers beware of turning a blind eye, as there are other legal obligations on you to protect your employees.

Caste discrimination; Caste has been added to the definition of “race” under the Equality Act 2010.

Financial penalties for employers that breach employment rights; It may cost you more than just compensation if you indulge in careless sackings, or other breaches of the Employment RIghts Act.

Early conciliation; Tribunal claimants will have to give details of their proposed claim to ACAS before commencing proceedings. ACAS will offer pre-claim conciliation.

Confidentiality of negotiations before termination of employment; The uncertainty of is it or isnt it a “without prejudice” discussion should be removed by the ERRA. Genuine discussions to negotiate a termination settlement should not be disclosable at tribunal.

Compromise agreements renamed settlement agreements ; Its not really the change of name that is appealling to employers here, its the fact that there will be a simplified document and even a template with guidance provided by the government. This combined with the confidentiality mentioned above should make it easier for employers to negotiate severance deals.

Employment Tribunal Fees ; Employers have been waiting for this double edged sword for a while and it should be here on 29 July 2013. Claimants will have to pay a fee to fill in the form, and another fee to get through the doors of the courtroom. Music to the ears of employers who have suffered the costs of weak and vexatious claims. However, perhaps slightly unfair that “free justice” has gone for  those with a genuine grievance, but cannot afford to risk what will amount to £1200 to try and win the case. There are plans for a remission scheme, which should help those on low incomes via means testing. Watch this space.

If you would like to discuss any of the above and how they will affect your organisation, or receive more detailed briefings via a retainer contract with us, please contact info@target-hr.co.uk or call 07533 161310


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Employee Engagement – No Magic Solution ?

THR Logo

We hear so much about employee engagement strategies and how important they are to service excellence and profitability. But is the whole idea of an organisational strategy on this subject actually flawed ?

I believe that employee engagement is a unique experience for each person, which means that “strategies” often fail because they are based on assumptions about what engages people in general, or worse based on what would engage the leaders themselves.

The “experts” often talk about empowerment, career development, extra responsibility, lifelong learning etc all being keys to employee engagement. But does this not miss the point in that these things do not engage everyone and in fact turn some people off.

Some strategies will always help, such as good communication, appreciation, understanding of common goals, clean and healthy environment etc, but I dont think they are the complete solution. You could even say that for some they are “Hertzberg dissatisfiers”, that is, you can only get it wrong. A bit like payroll, they are only an issue when they are missing and get taken for granted when they are there.

You may be lucky enough to have an organisation where the culture is so obvious that the engagement strategies jump out and bite you, eg where there is clearly a competitive group of staff (maybe in a small IFA firm) or perhaps you are working at a charity with a group of very altruistic people.

I believe that the only way to get a real benefit from employee engagement is to do it bottom up, via your first line managers. This is the pivotal work relationship and the reason why many people stay or leave jobs. The first line manager must get to know their individual staff members and make the work experience the right one for them.

We all know the motivational theories and that some people go to work to achieve, some go for the social life, some go to learn, some go for the money etc. Therefore, there is no point in having intense personal development meetings or giving empowerment and extra responsibility, to those who want to come in to work simply for the chance to meet and enjoy the company of their colleagues.

Only by finding out what makes the individuals tick will you come up with the right “strategy”, if thats the right word ?  If your team are all socialites and not worried about being the best or progressing upwards, create a social environment, not a competition. If they are all competitive, by all means put the league table on the wall,  but if you do that with the altruistic socialites, they will tear it down and give the prize to the loser 🙂 Another simple example of this is the reward strategy of individual performance related pay. Brilliant for the competitive “achievers” , but completely divisive for the altruistic, team players.

One of the keys to engagement is feedback, but in the wrong hands its lethal. Its a myth that everyone likes praise. Many do, but some dont, and you have to be very subtle in the way you give these people appreciation. You need to know who will shake the champagne bottle and spray it over everyone and those who would want the ground to open up and swallow them !  Feedback can hit the mark or fall flat depending on how its delivered. Therefore managers must think whether its best to be public or private , written or verbal, regular or scant. Only by knowing your team and their values,  can you do this.

If you find, and this will happen a lot, that you have a mixed bag on your team, then you should think like a trainer does and vary it up to appeal to all the styles and motivations.

The above takes time and effort from supervisors and team leaders, therefore I would guess that it goes down the agenda compared to “doing the do”. But they are not paid to “do the do”, they are paid to lead and motivate others to “do the do”. An engaged team will contribute more to the organisation than a flat out supervisor, ignoring their individual needs.

Please post your thoughts on the subject below.

Target HR are accredited to use the SDI psychometric to explore the personal values of individuals and how this may affect their engagement at work. If you would like to know more about this subject please email info@target-hr.co.uk or call Les Potton on 07533 161310


Do you have a culture of well-being ?

Target HR’s Associate Trainer, Joao P Bocas, specialises in employee well-being and stress management, and offers us his thoughts on the benefits of creating a culture of well-being and a sustainable workforce :-

Stress is a real issue in the workplace and a growing problem.

Employers recognise the benefits of a stable and well trained workforce; such as engagement and consequently reduced recruitment, training and sick pay costs. However, poor health is a major factor that can undermine a sustainable workforce.

More than ever, a wellbeing strategy is a “must have”. If you want your staff to compete and gain an edge on your competitors then you need to look after them.

Firstly, it is very important to understand the culture of the organisation, the market, the working environment, the clients, the demands of various jobs and most importantly to know your people. They are the ones that deal with those factors regularly, day to day.

The approach to well being you use will determine the results. Involve your people, ask them about their challenges, about what they need to meet them, and how you can support them as an employer.

Define your well-being strategy to achieve sustainability. It’s no good doing something for the sake of it. You will only achieve sustainable wellbeing if you use a holistic approach, considering the mind, body and spirit of the employee.

Psychological health, physical health, emotional wellbeing, financial wellbeing ; consider all of these, then bring the organisation into the equation. Important aspects such as culture, values, internal procedures, communication channels and other factors in your organisation should be looked at.

Sustainable employee wellbeing will not only make your organisation stronger to compete in the market, but will also reduce absenteeism and turnover through a caring approach where the employee comes first. If you get the balance right, the results can be magnificent for your business, reducing illness and stress levels, increasing motivation and creating a sense of belonging and loyalty.

The corporate world is evolving all the time. Do not spend time and money providing training and development that nobody wants; focus on people’s well-being now. 

Joao Bocas (Associate Trainer – Employee Well-being)

Target HR   

Check out Joao’s suite of Employee Well-being programmes at http://www.target-hr.co.uk/page10.html


Are small businesses too scared to employ staff ?

The government has said on many occasions that the shoots of economic recovery will come from the growth of the private sector and specifically small to medium sized businesses.

With the public and civil services subject to austerity measures, it is clear that jobs need to be created in the private sector, particularly for the 18 to 24 year olds who are our economic future.

However, are small businesses put off from taking on employees by the perceived raft of employment legislation waiting to trip them up at every step?

The government believe they are, and has put together a suite of proposed and agreed changes to employment legislation, some aimed specifically at what they are calling “Micro-businesses”. That is, businesses that employ less than 10 staff.

The first of these changes came in on 1 April 2012.  Before this date, employees required 1 year of continuous service to qualify for protection against unfair dismissal. This rule often led bosses into thinking that is was safe to sack workers in the first year, full stop.

Wrong……. The qualification requirement is only for “unfair dismissal”. Employees have immediate protection (day 1) from discrimination, breach of contract and a number of “automatically unfair” reasons for dismissal such as pregnancy, attempting to assert a legal right and health and safety.

The change that has just been implemented is to return the qualification period to its previous level of 2 years. The theory is that employers, knowing that there is no unfair dismissal protection for 2 years will feel more confident in recruiting. If  it goes wrong it is easier to lose the employee.

Does that theory stack up ? If someone is not going to make the grade, will that not show up in the first year?  

The jury is certainly out and it will be interesting to see if the change has the desired effect. The government believe this change will reduce tribunal claims by around 4000 cases per year.

The government also believes that confidence in recruiting, particularly for “Micro-businesses” would be increased if the process of dismissing staff is made easier.

Protected Conversations

At the moment to dismiss for the fair reasons of conduct or capability, you have to follow a document called the ACAS Code 2009. Its  fairly wordy  and may need the help of an HR professional to interpret what it means in reality.

In a nutshell, the code requires you to give an employee notice of the issue, allow them the opportunity to improve, issue formal warnings (via disciplinary hearings) and if the improvement is not made, go through another formal disciplinary hearing to dismiss.

As you can imagine, particularly in roles such as sales where it takes time for activity to feed through to improved results, this can take weeks or even months, not to mention the amount of management time involved; time that for small businesses should be spent with the customer.

Consequently, business owners are tempted to take risks of varying degrees. For example some might just walk out to the car park, point the finger and quote Mr Sugar……  Others may take advice and implement what is known as a “compromise agreement”.

Here the employer pays a sum of money in return for the employee’s signature that they will not bring a claim. Sounds simple in principle, and it is, but for the pussy-footing and walking on egg shells,  that must occur leading up to the signing of the deal. You can end up with bizarre conversations with employers trying to hint at the possibility of a compromise agreement, without actually saying it and hoping the employee will say those immortal words “are there any other options” ?

Another legal banana skin for employers is “constructive dismissal”. This is where the employer either fundamentally breaches the written terms of the contract, or breaches the implied contractual term of “trust and confidence “ in the employment relationship.

The latter can manifest itself in many ways, from demoting someone through to just being downright unpleasant to them. The breach has to be severe enough to make it reasonable for the employee to resign and make the claim.

Being seen to be “persuading” someone to sign a compromise agreement, could be deemed “breach of trust and confidence” and therefore risk constructive dismissal.

The law has provided a means to help employers through the “egg shells” stage. It is called a “without prejudice” discussion. In theory if a discussion or exchange of letters is without prejudice, the contents cannot be disclosed in legal proceedings.

However, yes you’ve guessed, it’s not as simple as that.

There are a number of reasons why a conversation, even if labelled “without prejudice” ends up being disclosable in court. One is where the claim is discrimination and it is deemed in the public interest to disclose it, another is where there is not a genuine dispute between the parties. The latter could be where the employer puts a  compromise agreement under the nose of an employee out of the blue.

The result of all this ambiguity is large sums paid to lawyers and HR Consultants to navigate the waters, employers backing away from the issue, or maybe taking the risk and enacting the “car park conversation”.

The government has recognised this and has drafted proposals to simplify the compromise agreement process by introducing standard text and call it a “Settlement Agreement”.

There are also proposals to introduce “protected conversations”. These conversations are similar to “without prejudice” but will be recognised more clearly within the employment world and hopefully will come without all the “ifs and buts” around whether the conversation will remain protected.

The HR pundits are arguing as to whether this will encourage poor practice and bullying, or allow employers the opportunity to have frank and honest conversations that may lead to a dignified exit, minus egg shells.

 Compensated No-Fault Dismissals

Another proposal, which could in reality follow a “protected conversation” is a “compensated no-fault dismissal”.

Currently, you have to have a fair reason (there are 6) to dismiss  an employee or you have to be in a dispute that can be resolved via a compromise agreement.

Compensated no-fault dismissals are proposed for Micro-businesses only and would allow the employer to dismiss someone, as it says on the tin, without there being any fault on the part of the employee, by paying a specified amount of compensation.

If it goes through, this is a major change. It basically takes away any protection for unfair dismissal for employees of Micro-businesses, as long as the compensation is paid and the employer does not stray down any other routes to a claim, such as discrimination.

Again the jury is out on whether this will encourage more recruitment and flexibility, or will it scare off workers from joining Micro-businesses ?

Tribunal Reform

Lastly, if all else fails and a claim is made, the government proposes to introduce tribunal fees.

At present it costs an individual nothing to lodge a claim. That claim could be vexatious, but an employer still has to invest time in responding, potentially defending, or in some cases bizarrely having to put economics before justice and make an economic settlement even though they have done nothing wrong.

Various tariffs of fees have been proposed, with the suggestion that they are reimbursed by the losing party.

Some will argue that valid claims may not be heard, because the individual cannot afford to bring the claim, others will say that its not fair that a small business has to invest time and money in defending and sometimes settling a vexatious or weak claim.

Overall the aim of these changes; to encourage small businesses to grow and take on more staff has got to be a good thing. Whether the reality will bring about a change in attitude or behaviour remains to be seen.

If you require some help navigating the waters of dismissal, please contact Target HR info@target-hr.co.uk or Les on 07533 161310


Are you ready for the Agency Worker Regulations ?

The Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) are implemented finally on 1 October 2011. So what do they mean?

Firstly when you hire a temp through an agency, from Day 1 you must provide the same “facilities” as you do to your permanent staff.

Therefore, if you are in the habit of sending your agency temps down to the local Cafe, whilst your permanent staff gorge themselves on a subsidised 3 course dinner, think again !

You must give agency temps access to your permanent vacancies from Day 1 too, in case they love their time with you so much they feel unable to leave.

Finally after 12 weeks on the same temporary assignment with you, the agency worker will be entitled to equal treatment on a number of terms and conditions, including elements of pay, annual leave, working hours, rest breaks etc.

Thankfully for hirers, the agency worker does not acquire full statutory and contractual employment rights such as protection from unfair dismissal, redundancy, company sick pay etc.

As the hirer you are wholly responsible for any breaches in terms of facilities and access to vacancies. However, you are jointly responsible with the agency in terms of equal pay and terms.

The agency will be responsible for paying the worker, and therefore in practice they will ask you, the hirer, for information about terms and  conditions for the role, or for a similar comparator role.

If you do not co-operate and it results in a breach you could well be liable.

If you hire a lot of agency workers, you may have already started to get inundated with paperwork from agencies asking you about your terms. If you need any help with this, you know where we are ……. 

So who is covered by the regulations? Does it swallow up those working on outsourced contracts and self employed contractors? The answer is maybe. It all depends on the tripartite relationship between agency, worker and hirer.

Someone who is under the supervision and control of the hirer, is possibly sucked into the regulations, whereas someone working for an outsourced provider, not under the supervision of the client is unlikely to be. Again, if you are unsure, THR can help you.

It gets a bit complex around the 12 week qualification period, therefore the government have come up the “ticking clock” analogy.

When an agency worker is hired by an organisation for the first time the clock starts to tick.

The clock carries on ticking if the worker goes off on maternity leave.

The clock pauses if the worker starts a second assignment with the same hirer within 6 weeks of the last one, goes go sick for up to 28 weeks, takes annual leave or goes on jury service.

The clock stops and goes back to zero, when the worker changes hirers, there is a break in assignments, with the same hirer of more than 6 weeks or they stay with the same hirer but change roles.

So what do I need to do now?

 When you hire an agency worker you will be prompted by the agency to fill in forms stating your terms and conditions etc. You must respond.

If you need help with the forms please contact Target HR.

Once the agency worker is with you, welcome them with a proper “day 1” induction making sure they know where all the facilities are and where they can find access to the internal job vacancies.

If you would like help with the regulations please contact Target HR on info@target-hr.co.uk or 07533 161310


Could your corporate hospitality land you in jail ?

Q : When is a bribe not a bribe ?

A: When it’s a corporate gift ?

How many organisations freely give and accept corporate gifts and hospitality but have stern words in their employee handbook outlawing the giving and accepting of bribes ?

The Bribery Act 2010 has brought these questions sharply into focus. The act was due to be introduced in April 2011, but was delayed mainly due to the lack of clarity around the point where “lavish corporate hospitality” ended and bribery began.

So what does the act state ?

The main provision introduced by the Bribery Act 2010 is a corporate criminal offence of “failing to prevent bribery”. An offence occurs where a person associated with an organisation bribes another person in an attempt to gain advantage in securing or retaining business. The “briber” could not only be an employee but even an agent operating on behalf of an organisation.

The act also confirms the criminal offences carried out by the individual of “offering, promising or giving” a bribe (active bribery) or “requesting , agreeing to receive or accepting” a bribe (passive bribery).

The act also brings in a specific offence of “attempting to bribe a foreign public official”. 

The penalty for the corporate criminal is an unlimited fine, however the individual could be imprisoned for up to 10 years !

So when does the corporate box at Stamford Bridge or the Christmas bottle of port become a bribe ?

Thankfully the government recognises that the odd “gratuity” oils the wheels of business and the humble HR Consultant giving a client a bottle of bubbly at Christmas should not be banged up for 10 years.

The government guidance allows for “genuine or reasonable hospitality”. Lawyers must be licking their lips at the sight of the word “reasonable” !

If the hospitality/gift is “proportionate” (another great legal term to battle over in the courts) and connected with a legitimate business activity, its unlikely to create more pressure on the prison service.

The guidance does give us a real world example of  “an invitation to foreign clients to attend a Six Nations match at Twickenham as part of a public relations exercise designed to cement good relations or enhance knowledge in the organisation’s field” as being extremely unlikely to breach the act.

The guidance also gives some examples of where “lavish corporate hospitality” oversteps the mark. For example if you give a “foreign public official” a 5 Star holiday completely unrelated to the business in question, you will probably raise the judges eyebrow.

These elements apply to the individual perpetrating the bribe, but what of the corporate offence of “failing to prevent bribery” ?

It was always going to be the case that the “get out of jail free card” for this offence was having “adequate procedures” in place. But until the government clarified “adequate” it would have  been a major concern for organisations as to whether they were doing enough.

The government concedes that the level of “adequacy” will depend on an organisations size and where the business operates in terms of sector and geography. To help us,  joining the “10 Commandments”, and  “8 Data Protection Principles” we now have the “6 Guiding Principles :-

  1. Proportionate Procedures – for example a policy statement and safeguards
  2. Top Level Commitment –  for example appointing a senior board member to figurehead bribery prevention
  3. Risk Assessment – for example carrying out an initial risk assessment and adding bribery and corruption to your risk management agenda
  4. Due Diligence – for example checking the credentials of those doing business or acting on your behalf
  5. Communication and Training – for example updating policies, writing to employees to alert them of the introduction of the act and holding briefing sessions
  6. Monitoring and review – for example an annual review of the bribery policy and procedure to assess its effectiveness

The proportionate response to the act will clearly depend on the size and type of organisation. This is where the risk assessment is key. As a first step you should look at where the risks of bribery could occur and take steps to mitigate them. What you find in your risk assessment will drive the amount of time and money you need to put into procedures, communication and training.

We’ve talked about law, rules and processes, but has anyone thought about the philosophical angle ? What is a bribe ?

The act defines it as “giving or receiving a financial or other advantage in connection with the “improper performance” of a position of trust, or a function that is expected to be performed impartially or in good faith”.

When you cut through the words,  its basically  “giving someone something to induce a different decision to the one they would have made without the bribe”. One  of the examples given is “bribery to secure an order”.

Does that mean, in this example,  you could potentially (depending on proportion) substitute for the word “bribery” the word “discount”, “free gift”, “slap up meal with wine”, “first years fees waived”  “Olympic tickets”. The list goes on.

It will be very interesting to see how case law evolves and how “reasonable” and “proportionate” gets defined with real examples.

What is certain is that from 1 July, the stakes will certainly have been raised.

If you would like help in formulating your “adequate procedures, communications and training”, please contact Target HR on info@target-hr.co.uk or 07533 161310

Did you know, from 2012 the government is introducing automatic enrolment AND compulsory employer pension contributions for all workers?

The Government will implement new laws from 2012 that will have a significant impact on every employer in the UK.

Employers will, for the first time, be required to automatically enrol   eligible employees into a pension scheme.

Employers will also, for the first time, be required to pay pension contributions for any employees who join and stay in the pension scheme.

The Pensions Regulator will police and enforce these new laws.

Even if you have an existing pension scheme, you may have to make changes to comply.

Employers can either use their own pension scheme or rely on a Government built scheme – the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST).

Significant penalties will be levied on any employer who does not comply in full with the new regulations

What should I do now?

Check the deadline for organisations of your size

Assess the financial implications of auto-enrolment and compulsory contributions and start the budgeting process

Start planning how you will comply with the new requirements.

Think about the new administration processes that will be required to monitor the “waiting periods” for enrolment, auto-enrol new starters and set up employer contributions. Do you have the resource to do this in house ?

Is your current pension scheme compliant?

If you don’t have a scheme, do you want to wait for the default NEST scheme or set up your own arrangement and retain complete control over your benefits package?

Maybe think of this as an opportunity to get ahead of the game and enhance your benefits package  and employer brand with some valuable pension provision, before the competition has to join in ! 

Don’t leave it too late, talk to Target HR about how this huge change will affect your business.

Call us on 07533 161310 or drop us a line at info@target-hr.co.uk for more information


Are you ready for next month’s employment law changes?

6 months has flown by and there are more changes in the world of Employment Law for you to digest and act upon. Below is a run down of what’s happening, and in some cases what’s not happening in April 2011 and some news on what is likely to hit later in the year.

1.   Abolition Of The Default Retirement Age (DRA)

From 1 October 2011 you will no longer be able to compulsorily retire employees who reach the age of 65. From then on, you risk age discrimination and unfair dismissal.

 What do I need to do?

You can give notice of compulsory retirement up to 1 April 2011 for those who are already over 65 or will hit their 65th birthday before 1 October 2011. Therefore, if you have retirements to enact in that period then you need to hurry and don’t forget you still need to follow the statutory retirement procedure.

You will need to update any documents, handbooks, contracts and policies that talk about retirement.

Ensure that all managers understand that in future the dismissal of anyone over 65 must be for the same legally “fair” reasons as any other employee.

 In effect you will have to deal with the symptoms of an ageing workforce rather than the root cause. An older worker could become incapable of carrying out a job through age, however you must deal with the capability and potentially make reasonable adjustments if the person is disabled, before contemplating any dismissal.

2.  Flexible Working

From 6 April 2011 the right to request flexible working was to be extended to those with caring responsibilities for children up to the age of 18.

This has now been repealed.

3.   Additional Paternity Leave

From 1 October 2010, fathers or partners acquired the right to “Additional Paternity Leave” (APL), whereby they could take up any unused maternity leave or statutory maternity pay if the mother went back to work.

This right applies to babies born or adopted on or after 3 April 2011, therefore the requests might now start coming in.

What do I need to do ?

Make sure you have procedures in place along with the statutory forms.

4.   Equality Act 2010 – Positive Action

From 6 April 2011, in certain circumstances an employer is able to positively discriminate in favour of a member of a protected group, when recruiting or promoting employees.

It is only allowable when there is a “tie break” situation between equally suitable employees.

What do I need to do?

Decide whether there are any under-represented groups within your organisation, eg in comparison to your client base or the population of the local area. If so decide if you want to make use of the new law to improve your diversity, develop a policy and brief your line managers.

5.  The Royal Wedding

The Royal Wedding has caused major headaches to some employers where contracts are worded such that additional bank holidays mean an additional days pay for all staff.

Depending on how your contracts are worded, you will either have to pay for an additional day for all staff, or you may be able to insist that the Royal Wedding day is taken out of their existing overall holiday entitlement.

What do I need to do?

Check the wording of all variations of your contract and establish whether you have a contractual duty to pay for an additional day. If not you should still consider both the financial implications of saying “yes” (potentially substantial for larger organisations) and the morale and cultural implications of saying “no”.

Good luck !

6.  Increases To Statutory Payments

From 11 April 2011 statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay will increase from £124.88 to £128.73 per week.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will increase from £79.15 per week to £81.60 per week

What do I need to do ?

Update handbooks and policies where there specific amounts are mentioned.

7.  Childcare Vouchers

From 6 April 2011, the tax breaks available to higher rate tax payers will reduce by about 50%. Currently all employees can buy up to £243 of Childcare vouchers from gross salary (tax free), making it an attractive benefit for those with Child Care needs.

Its also an attractive benefit for employers if they have the potential for high take up, as it removes the employers NI contributions on the value of the vouchers (12.8%).

What do I need to do?

Give serious consideration to introducing this benefit now, to enable higher rate tax payers to enjoy the full tax breaks. Providers such as Edenred (formerly Accor Services) can get a scheme set up for you within a week and will manage most of the administration on line. You only pay an admin fee on any vouchers that are purchased. Its a Win/Win benefit and really a no-brainer if you have a significant number of working mums in your organisation.  Talk to Target HR for advice on how to quickly set up a scheme.

8.     Right To Request Time Off For Training

From 6 April 2011, the right to request time off for training was going to be extended to those organisations with less than 250 employees. This will no longer be the case.

Bubbling Under

9.  The Bribery Act 2010

Due to come into force on 6 April 2011, the act would have created a new corporate offence of “failing to prevent a bribe”.

An organisation’s defence against such a charge would have been that “adequate procedures” have been put in place. However the implementation of the Act has been delayed pending the Ministry Of Justice issuing guidance on what constitutes “adequate procedures”.

The Act will require businesses to carry out risk assessments and establish “zero tolerance” of bribery.

What do I need to do?

In anticipation of the act, ensure that giving or receiving a bribe is explicitly outlawed in your employee handbook as an act of gross misconduct.

10.   Equal Treatment For Agency Workers

Due to come into force on 1 October 2011, the regulations will give agency workers the same rights as  directly employed staff once they have completed 12 calendar weeks in a given job.

What do I need to do?

Update your handbook and policies and talk to Target HR about the best type of contract for your needs. With equal rights for agency and fixed term workers these types of contract are becoming less and less useful in terms of flexibility. Also “casual” agreements, with all the caveats in the world, can still bring about employment rights if the reality is that there is an expectation to offer and accept work.

In fact using non-permanent   contracts for on going  work may give managers a false sense of security and bring about ill thought out dismissals that are not lawful.

11.  Employment Tribunal Reforms

In January 2011 the government launched a consultation on reforms to the tribunal system to encourage early settlement of disputes and reduce costs.

The main proposals are :-

  •  Claims to go to ACAS first
  • More reasons for tribunals to “strike out” claims
  • Claimant deposits
  • Increased costs can be awarded
  • Statement of loss required in the ET1
  • Witness statements not read out in court
  • Judges to sit alone for unfair dismissal cases
  • A fee charged to make a claim
  • No protection from unfair dismissal until you have 2 years service
  • Fines for employers that breach employment regulations

If you would like to discuss these changes or how they will affect your organisation, please contact info@target-hr.co.uk or call 07533 161310

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