How to deal with someone who lies either in a job interview or on their CV

It is not surprising that some employees, in the current competitive job market, may embellish or exaggerate reality on their job application form or even face to face at an interview.

White lies about enjoying salsa dancing or scuba diving may not cause you to reconsider whether someone is right for a job or not. However, some lies may be significant enough to destroy the trust and confidence between employer and employee and can result in the employee’s dismissal.

If discovered quickly, it may be possible for an employer to withdraw their offer of employment. Even if the individual has accepted the offer, it may still be capable of being withdrawn if the employer has made the offer conditional on certain criteria e.g. evidence of qualifications (certificates); the right to work in the UK or references.

A paper trail is vital in these situations – something that a good recruitment and selection procedure will contain as a standard – so that you can avoid any allegations that the withdrawal was for a different, unlawful reason, such as discrimination. So a well drafted offer letter, a copy of which the employer keeps, is advisable.

If the employee has already started working for you and you discover that they have lied, this will normally constitute a breach of the mutual trust and confidence that must exist between the parties for the employment relationship to operate. During the first two years of employment, dismissal for this reason will be a fairly simple process – although contractual procedures must be followed in order to avoid an allegation of breach of contract. 

However, the length of employment may play a larger role in dismissal decisions once the employee has been with you for longer than two years and is entitled to claim unfair dismissal. It is important that an employer acts reasonably in his decision to dismiss an employee once they have unfair dismissal rights, and this may be difficult for an employer to show, if the employee has proved that he can competently undertake his job and has done for more than two years. However, if the employee has lied about qualifications which are legally required to perform the role then it would be unlawful for the employee to continue and dismissal would be the result. However, the employer must ask themselves why the employee has been permitted to undertake the job at all without satisfactory evidence that they hold the qualification. 

Therefore, robust recruitment and selection are necessary in an attempt to avoid employment being terminated in this way.

Published in BusinessWeek today.

Published in BusinessWeek today.

Enforcement of National Minimum Wage legislation, do not be named and shamed.

Enforcement of National Minimum Wage legislation has been high on the political agenda for many years and the Government continue to take further measures to ensure that all qualifying workers are paid at least the minimum rate.

Some years back, a system of fines was introduced which meant that not only would an employer have to make good the arrears to the worker themselves, but also pay a fine to the Government which was a direct proportion of the arrears.

The maximum fine recently increased to £20,000 for breach of the law.

As you may already be aware the Government has decided to publish the names and locations of all employers who are found to have underpaid their staff, in a so called ‘naming and shaming’ exercise. 25 new employers’ names have recently been added to the list of those publicly named and shamed. These include beauty salons; restaurants; hotels and nurseries and the underpayments range from £134.35 and £7,310.65. My advice is to ensure that all staff are being paid the minimum wage, regularly check to ensure that you are fully complying with the law and do not fall foul of the legislation otherwise the likelihood is that you will be named and shamed. 

Summer has arrived, it’s time to get tough on employees who “pull a sickie”.

It happens each time we are fortunate enough to experience good weather, the absenteeism excuses start rolling in. Employers are not naive, they are well prepared for a barrage of tall stories. As an employer you need to be tough, sickness days cost our economy, as a business you cannot afford to pay employees who think it is right to “pull a sickie”. Why should fellow employees have to attend work whilst a small percentage decide to take a few days off to enjoy the sun? It’s a no brainer, you need to have a policy in place to deal with weather incidents and absenteeism, it is time to lay down the law. If this Summer proves to be equally as hot as last year then sickness days will undoubtedly soar again and trust me not all of them will be genuine.

Employees who call in sick must talk to management, they need to call in themselves and not rely on a family member. When they return you need to sit down with them and conduct a return to work interview. This will help determine whether they are fit to return and importantly it will deter them from phoning in sick again, they will realise you are no fool and that you are serious when it comes to absenteeism. If it is proved they were skiving then you may be able to discipline, especially if they are repeat offenders but you need proof. 

Remember get tough, ensure you have watertight policies in place that communicate unauthorised sickness will not be tolerated and sit down with staff when they return ensuring you are fair but firm. If staff wish to take time off then encourage them to use up their holiday entitlement, this way their absenteeism is not at the expense of your business.

Advice to keep workers cool, safe and productive during this hot spell of weather

Whilst the Summer months may well bring sunshine and warm [or if we are lucky hot] temperatures it can become a headache for employers and employees alike, yet there are certain measures you can put in place that will help lower the temperature and keep workers safe and productive. Then after work everyone can be free to enjoy the Summer sunshine, while it lasts. 

Keeping your employees productive through the Summer days may not at first seem an issue but await the complaints of overheated offices, overpowering air conditioning, this combined with the appeal of an extended lunch time drink at the pub and it leads to trouble for any employer. What you need to remember is that you have a responsibility for the safety and welfare of your employees, this also means that those who work outdoors also need protection. 

We need to remember that the heat can make workers both tired and irritable. Make conditions more tolerable by treating staff to an ice cream, it will help lift morale and keep employees refreshed. If dangerous machinery is being used on your premises then ensure that employees are not too tired to use, especially if temperatures within your premises are hot enough. Whilst it may seem obvious ensure there are refreshments available for employees to take advantage of, tea, coffee, cold drinks. 

To reduce fatigue and irritability regulate the temperature to ensure it is cool yet comfortable for all. Air conditioning units are ideal for this but ensure that everyone agrees to the temperature. Encourage employees to utilise break and lunch periods to enjoy the outdoors but remember that heat and alcohol do not mix well, so discourage visits to the local pub. 

Where employees are working outdoors provide them with adequate sun protection, sunscreen should be provided or at least allow the employee to purchase and claim back on expenses. If there is adequate clothing available that helps protects workers from the sun-rays then ensure that they are wearing. If possible provide shade, umbrellas or any covered protection that will suffice. Strenuous work should be avoided where possible until the temperature of the day has cooled. Government health bodies often provide heat warnings so adhere to their advice. 

If your business is already heated such as a factory, bakery, or an office that lacks ventilation then it is advisable to conduct a risk assessment to ensure once the temperatures soar you have adequate procedures in-place to deal.  Update annually or when modifications have been made to your premises. 

So with just a few modifications and incentives you can make your workplace whether outdoors or inside a more comfortable and safe environment and hopefully the weather will play its part.

I am published in BusinessWeek today. 

I am published in BusinessWeek today. 

Reminder about Early Conciliation rules

On the 6th May 2014, the Early Conciliation system was introduced and we have received a great number of questions and queries from employers, many of them wanting to know the basics so I wanted to use this editorial to remind you of what this recent change in legislation means.  

Basically it means a requirement for individuals to contact Acas before they can bring an Employment Tribunal [ET] claim, so that conciliation can be offered. Claims will be rejected by an ET if it cannot be shown that the individual has first contacted Acas. The system has now become mandatory. 

In practical terms, the Early Conciliation system means that when one of your employees/ex-employees is considering bringing an ET claim against you, they must contact Acas first, and, if the individual wishes to enter into conciliation, Acas will then contact you to let you know, and ask if you wish to enter into conciliation. 

However, there may be circumstances where you do not receive this contact from Acas before a claim is made: either because the individual does not wish to enter into conciliation, or because the particular claim he/she is considering does not require it. 

Successful Early Conciliation will result in a binding agreement preventing a claim being brought to tribunal. If conciliation fails, or either party does not wish to engage in the process, the employee/ex-employee will not be prevented from bringing a claim. It’s important to remember, a call from Acas regarding Early Conciliation does not mean that a claim has been brought against you – the call simply means that someone is considering making a claim and wants to try to negotiate a settlement before the complaint reaches ET stage. 

As mentioned above, not every claim will be subject to the Early Conciliation system, and therefore, in these circumstances, an individual may still begin proceedings by lodging an ET1 with the tribunals service and not by Early Conciliation.

New employment legislation updates to be introduced this year

The first half of 2014 was certainly active in terms of new legislation, what with TUPE reform and Early Conciliation and flexible working. The second half will follow suit. Here is a rundown of the employment law developments to expect for the remainder of the year:

Final TUPE amendment

For all TUPE transfers taking place on or after 31st inform and consult his staff on the transfer directly. This will not be the case where there are already channels for consultation already in existence e.g. where there is a trade union presence or worker representatives who are suitable for consultation. Where there are no such existing channels, there will be no need to hold an election to elect such representatives. The employer must have no more than 10 staff in his organisation for this to apply.

National Minimum Wage increases

October, the minimum rates will increase as follows:

On 1st

• adult rate - from £6.31 to £6.50 per hour

• 18 to 20 year olds rate - from £5.03 to £5.13 per hour

• 16 to 17 year olds rate - from £3.72 to £3.79 per hour

• apprentice rate - from £2.68 to £2.73 per hour

Fathers to be given right to time off for ante natal classes

From 1st October, fathers will be given the right to take time off work to attend ante natal appointments. This right only extends to time off for 2 classes, and the time taken will be unpaid. It will be unlawful to dismiss an employee for taking time off under this right.

Equal Pay Audits

From 1st October, Employment Tribunals will be given the power to order that an employer who is found to have breached equal pay legislation undertakes an equal pay audit and publishes the results.

Shared Parental Leave

The Shared Parental Leave Regulations will come into force on 1st scheme of taking leave when a baby is born will only apply to parents of babies born on or after 5th April 2015.

What motivates you to come to work on a Monday morning?

For many people Monday mornings are the same, people get up, showered, dressed and commute to work and for a lot of these people they possess the dreaded Monday morning feeling, the one they feel every Sunday evening as they are preparing themselves for work. No matter how many promises they make themselves to look for a new career nothing changes, yet you can do something about it.

I’ve always believed that life is too short to perform a job that you dislike, you should find something you enjoy doing. For me personally I get a lot of satisfaction from helping people but what appeals to me is literally helping businesses tackle HR issues head on, knowing that they have a business to run and grow. Many employers, especially small firms, do not necessarily have the time to deal with a disciplinary issue; or they may face a complicated HR issues that they need assistance with; I or my team provide that advice and it is really satisfying when they call or write and thank you personally. Without sounding cliche that is what makes coming to work satisfying the fact that we may have either saved a small business money, prevented a HR issue escalating and saved the business time and effort whilst allowing them to grow. So ask yourself - what motivates you to come to work on a Monday morning? If you cannot answer or are unhappy with your response then it may be time to change.

How to extend the workplace Summertime feeling well into Autumn and beyond.

Summer is here, everyone seems happy yet before we know it September will be upon us, no I am not wishing the warm, long days away, that is if we are lucky to encounter good weather, but we need to think ahead.

I tend to notice that once employees return from holiday productivity rates increase but then sharply drop as that holiday becomes just a distant memory. It seems that people realise Summer is over and Christmas is still some time away, so what can be done to adjust this behaviour? Well before you start saying it is only early Summer you need to remember that the last week of July, first week of August, is when on average most employees will take their two week Summer break, so the time to plan is now.

Look to extend the positive mood, we have spoken previously about incentives but keep the last Friday of the month social event on your schedule, invite all your employees, provide them with snacks, drinks and remember to entice everyone by providing non alcoholic beverages too. It really does give employees something to look forward to. 

Invite your employees to dress down once a month,  [if applicable of course] maybe stage an event for a good cause, a charity perhaps? At Peninsula we ask people who wish to partake to donate to Destination Florida which is our chosen charity. Some managers would argue that “causal Friday” as it is more commonly known in America, can have a negative impact on productivity, however providing guidelines have been introduced and managers monitor productivity then there should not be any issues or problems.

Maybe entice early finishes or even a day off by implementing KPI’s [Key Performance Indicators]  or introduce a specific target, ensure initiatives are fair right across the board and that all employees are included. Again this boosts morale whilst keeping motivation and productivity levels up.

Finally remember I discussed those free Monday morning breakfasts? Well a number of you emailed to let me know that you implemented something similar and you noticed an increase in communication and a boost in morale which is exactly why I suggested it. Here at Peninsula we found that our business was growing, staff numbers increasing and I wanted to ensure that departments were communicating effectively, a free Monday morning breakfast for all staff seemed a good way to reward everyone, and helped ensure staff could look forward to attending work. It boosted communication, people who would not normally speak with each other in the week started conversations and for us it was a “no brainer”.

So these simple ideas and initiatives can be held at any time of the year, they are not just reliant on the Summer month’s. Hopefully by implementing you will be able to extend the Summertime feeling well into the Autumn months and beyond.