Previously MD of one of the first companies in the UK to achieve Investors In People status, and also Queen's Awards for both Export and Technology. Then founding Chairman of nationwide management consultancy.
Non-Executive Director of over 15 companies in the last 20 years and frequent business speaker.
Author of 'How to Negotiate Better Deals', 'The First-Time Sales Manager' and 'Developing Your Career in Management', and many tips booklets and business articles. http://www.jeremythorn.co.uk/top-tips/
My discussion replies
I don't come at this from a contractual pov, but purely a pragmatic one.
The published HMR&C tax-free, reimbursable mileage rates don't begin to cover most people's *actual* private car costs per mile - includng depreciation, servicing, tyres, insurance, etc, which *someone* has to pay for - as you will well know yourself if you run your own car and have ever done the sums! Depending on the car and annual mileage, the rates suggested above may often only cover fuel and the tiniest fraction of additional costs. (HMR&C seems to take the view that if you have your own car, the fixed capital costs and the ancillary running costs are already a sunk cost, so fairly to be carried by the employee. But anyone half-financially literate will know they they aren't. And even then, the allowable rates were only last reviewed when fuel prices were far less than now, and ditto insurance.)
For a minimal business mileage, the difference between either 15 or 20p/mile and a fair rate may be insignificant; but then, why would an employer want to challenge it? For greater business mileages, the actual net cost borne by an individual employee can be quite significant.
If it is helpful for employees to use their own cars for valid, authorised and necessary business journeys, why on earth discourage them by asking them to subsidise their employer by only refunding their marginal costs? The cost of damaged employee-goodwill, the loss of their flexibility and indeed their availability (for anyone not on a good public transport route), is surely far less than the costs saved - let alone the costs of a taxi, or even a company vehicle!
I would encourage any senior manager who has been used to having their own company car for a while to remind themselves of how much running the family car really costs before penny-pinching here - and to consider the impact of a miserly approach on their organisational culture. (But I would also offer a word of warning, for those expecting employees to use their car for business purposes at whatever reimbursed rate. Make sure there are no insurance complications?)
If it is helpful to go back to first principles before considering the specific circs, I would:
- First - and ideally - seek an informal discussion with the offending party if you can, if only as a matter of courtesy (which you may feel has already happened in this case?). There may always be another side to this story.
- Second, if then necessary, pass the issue up the management line with all the supporting details and evidence.
If you report to the person being complained about, go to your boss's boss.
If you report through a different chain of command, report this to your boss and ask them to sort it out with the offending party's boss.
More generally though, I am always wary when I hear of a complaint from someone who is *not* directly the offended party. If that is the case here, the specific complaint really ought to come from the person most concerned. Otherwise, it might appear to hint of a cabal?
Best of luck!
I am amazed such a well-informed forum as this hasn't answered your question - as yet!
My own take on this is that the answer depends on your brother's specific employment contract.
More broadly, many building companies are going to go through some very hard times just now and, working with several exemplars at arm's length, I am already seeing employment practices by some of their competitors who are not well advised that may well be open to question and challenge.
Subject to any wiser words from this forum, I'd encourage your brother to seek formal legal advice.
The construction industry has always been a tough place to be in, I think. Strictly from a neutral observer's point of view, I find it is capable of the very best and the very worst. Aggressive competitive tendering in the fashion of this sector, not met by many others, has inevitably seemed to produce a mind-set of short-termism for many with a view to making profits after the initial contract with variations to contract thereafter, notwithstanding the Egan Commission; and the employment market for its workers seems inevitably to run from boom to bust as the economy changes in a way that many other sectors do not.
And if I may say so, this sector seems rarely to be helped by its larger clients who are often developers who understandably have their own agendas.
All of which may account for both building and employment practices in the UK that seem quite outdated elsewhere?
If you might find common ground with any of the above, which I know may seem to be rather contentious, get your brother to fight for his employment rights, however legally provided? Many do not for fear of never being re-engaged, and it does seem many may even be open to the charge of having taken payments without declaring them. I wouldn't dream of suggesting this might apply in your brother's case, but he might be helpfully forewarned?
I hope this is helpful as a neutral observer from afar?
I don't think you can legislate about this and, as so often, I feel Nik hits the button on the head: make sure your remuneration policies are fair and equitable?
As the MD of a large multi-site company some time back, I used to say in my regular briefing sessions to all that there was only one question that I would never answer: what individuals were paid. And it was well-respected. (The fact that the Directors' earnings were published in the annual accounts never seemed to crop up - I suspect because most people were far more concerned about parity with their peers?)
I am no fan of formal, published pay-scales as it happens, but I am a great fan of 'felt fairness' and robust remuneration policies that treat all fairly and equally - as is the law.
I think people will always talk about their earnings, whether you 'let' them do so or not. I don't know how you could stop them. But more especially, if you are worried about this, I'd check your employment and remuneration policies first and foremost?
Yes, as already suggested, there are some statutory risks over whether the redundant employee is truly 'self-employed' in the new regime or not, but it is an approach many employers use to help ease the awful trauma of redundancy for their employees - not the least many HM Government-funded bodies and Local Authorities.
My own view about this is that such initiatives offer a reasonable, responsible and caring approach to softening the heavy blow of redundancy. But the employer may be dependent upon the individual actually finding other employment to show their newly self-employed ex-colleague met all the requirements of FRS 35 etc, which of course they cannot control. If not careful, many employers may well find HMR&C chasing for them for NIC that should otherwise have been payable!
However, given the number of Public Sector employers offering their own ex-employees such an option (even in what some may see as 'unfair competition' to the private sector?) - perhaps any HM&RC investigation might usefully explore these examples first before scoring an own goal against HM Government?
Just a thought.
Meanwhile, if you want to offer arms-length self-employed consultancy opportunities to ex-employees within the bounds of the law, and it is 'arms-length' and not an excuse for re-employing someone in a manner that they might not then reasonably offer their services elsewhere, why not? It seems to be what many employers do - where regular custom seems to be no more than current (and even good?) practice. But do ask a lawyer if in doubt?
HR Consultants come in all sorts of guises of course, just like HR Managers: senior, junior, specialist, generalist, etc.
Just occasionally, I find we are asked to do something because the client wasn't sure how to do themself, or to tell them something they didn't know.
Much more often though, I find we are asked to do something which clients could perfectly well have done themselves, but didn't want to. Maybe they were too busy, or wanted something doing urgently, or just wanted another perspective.
And sometimes, clients just want somebody to take responsibility if things should go wrong, or to tell them what they already knew as an independent outsider.
All seem perfectly valid reasons to my mind.
And the best clients? Those that want to build a long term relationship based on mutual trust without building a dependency upon you.
The best consultants? Those that are there when you want them and know your business, want to know what you want rather than tell you what they think you need, and don't continually pester you for work or become dependent upon you....
How's that for a quick over-view?
Dear Wendy and Debbie
In my experience I am afraid there are no simple benchmarks in any of the companies I work with for senior managers, not the least because most such development tends to be personalised/bespoke.
However, as only very broad guidelines in the UK, I find:
- individual senior exec leadership coaching and/or a year's membership of a professional Leadership Action Learning Set, tend to run at between £5-12k pp as an order of magnitude ;
- 1 week off-site company leadership courses I am familiar with tend to cost around £20-25k for a complete if small group for the external deliverers, plus venue/accommodation costs/travel;
- a 1.1/2 day Development Centre to identify development needs mapped against Core Corporate Competencies in the first place typically costs around £1500 pp for 4-8 people , plus any specific one-off design costs such as bespoke exercise-design and any additional competency mapping you may need, and venue costs and travel etc.
To complete the picture, you might also consider a 4-6 week residential Senior Executive programme at a decent Business School, such as London BS, Insead, IMD, Harvard, Cranfield, Manchester BS in no particular order - and while I am not up to date on the latest costs of these I suspect they must now cost around £25k as an indicator?
I hope this may be helpful, at least to get you started?
Kind regards and good luck! Let me know if I can help further?
Can I add to my last posting? - on a separate issue.
Reluctance to be developed is not unusual - the trick is to demonstrate it as a unique, non-threatening *opportunity* - even a privilege, not a 'threat'! This in itself requires leadership.
You can't beat leadership by example. Noting I have recommended Coaching and Peer Review Groups below, the very *best* person to attend either, at least in the very first instance, is the Chief Executive!
May I warmly recommend this?
I am a great fan of Business Schools for all manner of CPD/CPE needs, but at a senior level where specific leadership experience, practice and personal feedback counts for so much, I don't think you can beat personalised, confidential Coaching - especially for behavioural matters which so many leadership issues entail; and Peer Review Groups.
There are many of these Peer Review Groups available around the country where the Peers are intentionally drawn from completely different organisations, usually in groups of 6-16, often facilitated by way of an Action Learning Set by an experienced and independent Chair, usually supported by Guest Speakers as appropriate.
I am aware of these as I am a regular Guest Speaker to many of these groups nationwide, and I'd be more than happy to make any appropriate introductions if you would like to identify the specific geographic location of a senior colleague who may be interested, with no obligation.
As for Business Schools? I am an alumnus of several and I think the peer-learning was always the highlight for me. So my tip is to go for one where your colleagues will most likely meet the right people for your sector and activity!
Hmmmm! I fully agree that all sources of data in recruitment can be helpful, not the least informal feedback from colleagues on the outside of a formal recruitment process.
But a statement such as 'your attitude stinks' may often tell us far more about the psychological state of the person making it than the recipient - most especially in this context if it was an unsolicited event and not some devious and covert part of the planned recruitment process!
If formal recruitment processes were to rely on or even be influenced by such gut reactions, we might as well go back to judging candidates by their choice of clothes, their haircut, post-code, age, race, gender and whether they went to the right school...