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People Matter June 2017

Seasonal employment- Your employer’s checklist

With the arrival of the summer, many businesses need additional staff to cover increased demand or to cover existing staff holiday or sickness but it is important to get the right contractual relationship in place.

Firstly be clear about what additional hours and commitment you need. If it is for set hours and time then a Fixed term employment contract is ideal. These staff have the same benefits as your other employees but with a fixed end date. Having notice periods and the right to extend makes this contract more flexible.

To cover fluctuating demand the much maligned casual zero hour contract is best. The people on these contracts are workers and have fewer employment rights but the flexibility of casual work suits many people and is an ideal way to manage seasonal work.

On a more regular basis for drivers or warehouse staff in particular agency workers can be the answer. This is a highly regulated area and can be expensive but in high turnover roles provide the solution.

If you think you can manage using your current staff remember the dreaded Working Time Regulations limit on weekly hours and that overtime could have to be included in future holiday pay.

Whether worker or employee the National Minimum or Living Wage applies and holiday accrues from day one, but to be clear about what is best for you and the rules that apply ring The HR Dept.

Don’t be blind to talent

There are many challenges a visually impaired person may encounter – but employment discrimination should not be one of them.

Only 16% of the visually impaired in Ireland are employed – compared to 41% in the UK, 36% in Australia and 33% in Canada.

This suggests that Irish employers are missing out on a considerable talent pool. There are complexities, with issues like additional costs, workplace adaptations and ensuring other employees are suitably trained. But these are not insurmountable barriers and are no excuse for declining employment.

For instance, there’re grants available that can help with cost. Adaptations can be small – like adjusting lighting. And technology has come on in leaps and bounds: did you know that Braille now comes in a digital format?

We must underline that it’s illegal to discriminate due to disability. If you want guidance on staying legal and finding great employees, including those with visual impairment or other disability, get in touch.

A healthy commute works wonders

A study of workers by OnePoll unveiled that if you want to boost your employees’ morale, then an active commute could be the answer!

Rather than rewarding employees with one off-perks like socials and lunches, the survey suggests it is more valuable to offer benefits that promote long-term happiness, like a cycle-to-work scheme.

And in this day and age, it’s more important than ever to keep your staff happy and motivated. Long-term solutions focused on health and work/life balance may be the answer you are looking for.

Hack attack from own employee

To get hacked by an employee once is unfortunate. To be hacked twice by the same employee looks like carelessness. But that’s what happened to a Californian security firm.
The first time, the employee hacked into the payroll system and falsified records to show that he was working vast amounts of overtime. When this was uncovered in 2014, he was dismissed.

The “ex” employee then hacked into the firm’s system again. This time he went on a spree of causing malicious damage. It included, stealing client information to lure them to his own new venture, deleting or corrupting back-up files and sabotaging the company’s website. In what must be a business owner’s worst nightmare, this included posting unflattering pictures of them on the site with the words “Are you ready?”.

The damage this caused was described as debilitating, and the ex-employee was ordered to pay the equivalent of €248,000 in damages.

Not a pretty picture. So what can you do to mitigate the risk of an employee going rogue? Clearly, much of the defence you can put up will come from your IT department or consultant rather than HR. That said, HR can play an important role too.

First, let’s consider the execution of a cyber-security policy. Unfortunately, 90% of all successful cyber-attacks are down to human error. So, you can use HR to ensure that all staff understand the cyber policies and their responsibilities under them.

For instance, who’s in charge of granting access to sensitive data stored online? Do they fully understand the consequences of inadvertently dishing out a username and password? Does everyone know how to identify a suspicious email and what they should do? And the old chestnut of not leaving a laptop without password protection (or any laptop) in the pub!

But you can go further than this with HR. Good recruitment in the first place to minimise the risk of a bad egg. And putting restrictive covenants in employment contracts to stop staff taking clients with them if they leave. For further advice, give us a call.

The decline of the CV

In the digital age, we can legitimately ask if CVs are on their way out. When employers are looking for great talent, more and more are using creative and online ways to find the right candidates.

With the recruitment world constantly changing, big hitters such as Ernst and Young have decided to remove their ‘2:1 degree only’ policy, because it excludes a large pool of otherwise eligible, high quality candidates.

An increasing number of employers feel that CVs are no longer relevant and that they do not accurately represent the individual. In their place, they are using online personality tests and online talent databases. If you know what you are looking for, online platforms could now be the default recruitment tool for you.

If you need assistance in finding the perfect candidate, The HR Dept is here to help.

Live-in worker pay issues

How much to pay live-in workers has become something of a thorny issue. The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) recently declared that a family paying a Spanish au pair €100pw had been breaching the minimum wage (€9.25ph). This will affect many au pair/employer relationships.

The issue is particularly clouded.

First, because au pairs are often live-in workers, where a charge for accommodation and food is made. The WRC will send a memo to government soon to clarify how much this will be.

Second, many experience blurred lines in their working hours, being asked to undertake additional tasks like household chores or babysitting.

If you pay the minimum wage, these complexities highlight the pitfalls that can drag the effective rate below the legal minimum. Call The HR Dept if you need help with this.

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