In this month’s HR news round-up, Love Island throws up a few employer headaches, Pimlico Plumbers ruling, IR35 could cause issues for recruitment agencies, and why workforce planning is important for SMEs.

Love Island - the perils of seeking fame and fortune

It's a big gamble to try and break into the celebrity stratosphere seeking fame and fortune.  Over the last few weeks a number of ITV2's Love Island contestants have raised employment issues.

One contestant gave just one day's notice to her former employers. She was in the chorus of a West End show, which does leave a bit of a yawning gap and a headache for employers and colleagues to fill-in at short notice. The former employer is thinking about suing her for £3,000 compensation. And as an article in HR Grapevine highlights, the employer is perfectly within their rights to seek compensation.

Another contestant, a recently qualified solicitor, quit her job  telling her employers that she needed a 'change of direction'. Her employers thought she was taking a sabbatical. She has since been booted off Love Island. In an interview with ITV's Good Morning Britain she suggested she was going to embrace Social Media to further women's issues, but hasn't ruled out a return to the legal profession at some point in the future.

The A&E doctor from Lewisham who's already faced criticism for taking an 8 week break from the NHS to feature in the love fest has definitely got a job to go back to as long as he doesn't 'do anything silly' and bring the hospital into disrepute!

Need a plumber?

Employment status, workers or self-employed, continues to raise issues for many companies. The Pimlico Plumbers ruling has been a long time in coming. The case originally started in 2011, most recently the company appealed against the previous ruling which was in favour of the worker.

Pimlico Plumbers employed plumber Mr Smith who argued that although he paid tax as a self-employed person and was VAT registered, he should have been classed as a worker and due basic workers rights. He'd worked exclusively for the company, when he fell ill and wanted to reduce his hours, his van had been taken away from him, effectively stopping him working at all. The court upheld the initial ruling in favour of Mr Smith, that he was a worker and not self-employed. The legal firm working on behalf of Pimlico Plumbers were however quick to point out that the ruling was made on an individual  basis and doesn't create any legal precedents.

Another recent case upheld an EAT ruling on the status of a courier at Addison Lee who should have been classed as a worker and not as self-employed, and was therefore entitled to holiday pay. As  employment lawyer Sarah Ozanne comments in Personnel Today, the law surrounding employment in the gig economy is still developing and presents a potential minefield for employers large and small.

Employees in disguise

Also in the news, Recruitment Grapevine highlighted the holes in IR35. IR35 was launched in 2000 by the UK government to stop contractors avoiding certain taxes by creating personal services companies (PSC), which means they aren't classed as employees of the company they are working in. In April 2017 the government changed the rules for public sector employers and have since become more zealous in pursuing workers employed in this way.

The HMRC review and determine whether individual's working contracts are one of employment, when IR35 applies or business-to-business services where IR35 doesn't apply. A number of presenters and other workers at the BBC were encouraged to work through 'personal service companies’, effectively a limited company which you are owner and director of, and have subsequently been 'caught' by tougher HMRC IR35 reviews.

Rule changes have also been mooted for the private sector. There have been calls by the recruitment industry for the HMRC to clarify what has become a rather grey area and already caused back-tax issues for many public sector workers who thought they were on the right side of IR35.

Workforce planning isn't just for big businesses

The CIPD recently highlighted the benefits of workforce planning which may sound over the heads of many SMEs but which could yield positive benefits for smaller businesses now and for the future.

Workforce planning provides practical steps to ensuring resourcing on the ground = better productivity.

First as they say, 'get over analysis paralysis', it starts with a review of where a workforce is now

  • How many employees are approaching retirement age - will you lose a significant % of skilled employees over the next few years
  • Are there skills or knowledge gaps developing - lack of training and mentoring, no formal passing on of knowledge and skills; or new technologies emerging
  • Have internal moves caused resourcing issues
  • Is the business growing - what skill sets are you going to need in the future?

There's more in this handy guide from the CIPD

The Chronologic Workforce Management System can help you keep track of workforce skills, training and resourcing which makes the review an easier task.

And finally

A Japanese public sector organisation has apologised for an employee who regularly left his desk 3 minutes early to get his Bento Box lunch, (presumably this was observed rather than monitored by an attendance system?). Senior officials from the waterworks bureau in Kobe called a live press conference to condemn the employee's behavior as deeply regrettable. The employee has been humiliated no doubt by the attention, reprimanded and fined. However, as The Guardian, who reported this says, Japan has yet to really get to grips with its culture of overwork.

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