In this month’s round-up, why social media checks could get employers into trouble, more employees turning up to work ill, why an ex Mini worker has to pay £100,000 court costs and the latest on Shared Paternity Leave employment tribunal rulings.

Why checking a candidate’s Facebook account could be bad for business

In a recent HRGrapevine report an email sent by an employee to another employee about a prospective job candidate also inadvertently went to the candidate and hit the national press. The employee had checked out the candidate’s Facebook profile and as a result, amongst other things, referred to her as ‘chavvy’. The scantily clad images of the lady in question clearly enjoying holidays in the sun made good press but not the kind prospective employer Forest Whole Foods might have wanted to attract.

There is an EU data protection working party looking at the ramifications of checking candidates social media accounts which could result in discrimination. If it can be proved that social media was used to base a hiring decision on, Employee Tribunals tend to rule in the prospective employee’s favour.

Keely Rushmore a senior associate at SA Law quoted in CityAM says “Having weighed up the risks and options, if an employer still considers it necessary to run pre-employment social media checks, it should make it clear early on in the recruitment process that vetting will take place and how it will be conducted so that candidates are fully informed. It’s also important to ensure consistency – if you’re going to check one candidate, check them all.”

Accurate payroll is better for business

We’re often surprised how businesses with relatively large numbers of employees are still clocking manually or using old antiquated systems. And whilst everyone is talking about AI (artificial Intelligence) and IOT (the Internet of Things), for many a simple step to improved productivity would be to upgrade their time and attendance system. If you get payroll right that’s a good platform on which to build!

And instead of keeping information in silos, managers and employees can be given greater access to information. For employees seeing time cards and booking holidays lets them manage their own time better. What they get paid is transparent, there’s less aggravation and argument about money when it comes to the run-up to pay day. For line managers, having access to information when they want it, rather than having to request it from payroll or HR also frees up time and increases efficiency.

In our latest case study, Laura Upson, Assistant Accountant at global materials engineering group Wall Colmonoy, explains how a new attendance system has reduced time spent on payroll processing and benefited supervisors and managers.

All present and correct?

86% of respondents in the CIPD 2018 Health and Well-being at Work survey said they had observed presenteeism in their organisation over the last 12 months, compared with 72% in 2016 and only 26% in 2010.

When people turn up to work sick, whatever ails them can spread, as we found when a colleague came back from a long haul break with flu and took 4 co-workers out for over a week each as well! We would have preferred our colleague to have stayed at home and got better!

Some incentive programmes may also drive presenteeism by sending out mixed messages. Programmes that reward attendance but rule out those who have taken any time off sick within the reward period could contribute to presenteeism – like the recently shelved United Airlines programme.

What’s the answer? A clear sickness policy. And if you don’t trust employees taking sick days, tracking sickness and absence over time to sort the genuine from regular ‘duvet day’ takers would create a fairer and more healthy work environment.

Accidents do happen – but not in this recent case

The HSE reports that in 2016/17 there were 609,000 self reported non-fatal injuries at work. 29% of which resulted in 7 or more days off work. The total annual cost to Britain of workplace sickness and injuries was estimated at £14.9billion (2015).

While the majority of those who claim for injuries at work are genuine, some workers do try to get away with it, as a recent case at the Mini carplant reported in the Oxford Mail showed. A worker claimed that an electric shock received on the production line caused him to lose the use of his right arm and he wanted £1million in compensation.  When BMW and their insurance company looked into the claim, the worker was found working at a local garage with full use of his right arm. He’s since been slapped with a bill for £100,000 to cover court costs!

6% of all UK employment contracts are Zero Hours

The results from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) November 2017 survey of businesses indicated that there were 1.8 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum number of hours, where work had actually been carried out under those contracts.

The report also found that people on “zero-hours contracts” were more likely to be young, part-time, women or in full-time education. On average, they usually worked 25.2 hours a week. 25.3% of those on a “zero-hours contract” wanted more hours in their current job rather than looking for fuller employment elsewhere.

New itemised pay statements to be introduced

From 6 April 2019, employers will be required to issue itemised pay statements, more commonly known as ‘payslips’, to workers where pay varies according to time worked. The legislation is one of the government’s responses to the Taylor Review (July 2017) which was commissioned to review modern working practices.

Shared paternity leave

An interesting piece in People Management highlighted some of the issues around pay and Shared Paternity Leave (SPL) between men and women. Working Families, the work-life balance charity intervened in these two recent cases.

  • Hextall v Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police

The EAT re-examined a tribunal ruling in which Mr Hextall, a serving police constable was told that being denied the opportunity to take SPL on full pay was neither direct nor indirect sex discrimination. In this case the argument is that women received full pay whereas men on SPL received lesser statutory pay. The case has been referred to a further tribunal.

  • Ali vs Capita

In the case of Ali vs Capita they wanted a clear distinction to be made between maternity leave and how maternity leave is paid and the post birth caring responsibilities which a partner undertakes. In 2017 an employment tribunal ruled that it was direct sex discrimintaion to allow Mr Ali only two weeks on full pay when female staff were allowed 14 weeks. In 2018 the EAT ruled that it was not directly discriminatory as the purpose of maternity leave is also to ensure the health and wellbeing of the mother who has just given birth.

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