Thinking about how you can shine more brightly at work in 2018, or just keep your job in a difficult climate? Here are 5 key areas you should be focusing on…
1. Change the type of advice given to senior managers
Do you see your role as comprehensively analysing a situation, outlining risks and possible costs for each way forward? If not, maybe you should.
Increasingly managers and businesses are looking to their HR teams to provide them with sound commercial advice, but what does this mean in reality?
HR’s role is to inform, guide and advise, but responsibility for the final judgement should lie with the senior management team.
HR should fully analyse issues and challenges before any potential solutions can be delivered. The implications of each option should also be clearly outlined so that the manager can ultimately make the final – yet informed – decision.
Employment tribunal awards can be significant and have a serious financial impact on an organisation, so failure to provide robust, commercial advice could prove incredibly costly for the HR professional and the business.
2. Prepare for the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
As you should be aware, new data protection rules come into force on 25 May 2018. They will have a variety of implications for businesses and HR teams.
For instance, the regulations mean that the £10 administration fee to process subject access requests can no longer be charged. This used to be a helpful deterrent to potential employees who were ‘fishing’ for evidence and, as such, requests were often withdrawn when the fee was requested.
The time limit to comply with subject access requests is also set to change, with a reduction from 40 to 30 days. Companies should therefore expect a significant increase in subject access requests and processes must be put in place so that those requests can be handled as quickly and compliantly as possible.
It may also be necessary to amend employment contracts, due to changes to consent rules for the handling of personal data and data subjects. This is because now, for example, employees have the right to object. This may have an impact on systems that utilise automatic sifting processes during recruitment, for instance, and clock in/out technologies that use genetic or biometric data such as fingerprints.
3. Comply with Gender Pay Gap reporting
Are you on track for your first Gender Pay Gap report?
Large, private sector employers must publish their first such report before 4 April 2018. The snapshot date is 4 April 2017 and so preparations should be well under way to gather the correct data in readiness.
If this information has not yet been collated, HR and payroll professionals must work together closely to gather the metrics required and prepare any narrative that needs to run alongside.
4. Realise the importance of the abolition of Tribunal fees
As you are no-doubt aware, on 26 July 2017 the Supreme Court abolished fees for Employment Tribunals and this was one of the most pivotal milestones in the year’s HR landscape.
The introduction of tribunal fees was proven to have had a huge impact on the number of claims lodged – a 79% decrease in its first year. This consequently allowed HR professionals and legal advisors to take more risks with HR decisions and processes, because the chance of an employee taking a claim to Tribunal was relatively small.
Since the abolition of fees, claims to Employment Tribunals have steadily increased. When HR professionals are giving advice to managers and internal customers, caution must therefore be expressed, and the increased risk of a claim must be warned against. The danger of not doing so could prove extremely costly to the business.
5. Really understand the business that employs you
This is crucial. Is your company large or small? Is it cautious or willing to take risks? As key individuals responsible for helping to achieve the aims and objectives of the company, it’s up to HR professionals to be fully immersed in, and on board with its vision and values.
It may sound obvious, but the type of business can have a significant impact on what is asked of you. This is more than being able to talk knowledgably about the products or services that are provided. It is important to also understand the culture and what drives the organisation, so that you can provide the best advice possible – and, of course, the level of service that the senior management team expects.
After studying law at Cambridge University, I trained at leading national law firm Mills & Reeve, qualifying into their employment team in 2002. I have extensive employment law experience, gained through advising both employers and employees on a wide range of issues, across an array of sectors – including but not limited to finance, education, hospitality, transport and retail. This diverse experience means I am ideally placed to provide advice in relation to professional conduct and regulatory matters.
I am now a senior solicitor at ESP Law, part of ESP Group – a very different employment law firm and HR consultancy business, with our own in-house legal and HR experts. Taking pride in our reputation for delivering sensible, straight-talking and practical advice – at the same time as being approachable and supportive – I am passionate about the way ESP works with its customers. By building on trusted relationships and providing prompt support at the earliest stage of any issue, we help ensure that sound commercial decisions are taken.
The vision for our business was to deliver an exceptionally personal, yet cost-effective service that truly meets the evolving needs of modern and forward-thinking HR teams and their organisations. I’m lucky to be among a team of very talented employment lawyers who work hard day in, day out, to make this vision a reality.