Human Resource Management

There are a number of aspects of Human Resource Management, which are relevant to the organisations Quality Systems. The following areas are considered:
- Contract of Employment
- Recruitment
- Selection
- Appraisals
- Training
 
Contract of Employment

Although the Contract of Employment need not be in writing it is normally good practice to do so as this can minimise later disagreements. Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, all new employees whose employment continues for a month or more, are entitled to receive a written statement of particulars of employment specifying the matters described below. You must provide a statement not later than two months after the employee starts work.

The following details must be given together, in a single document, and is known as the "Principal Statement". These details are:
a) the names of the employer and employee
b) the date when employment began
c) the date on which the employee's period of continuous employment began taking into account any employment with any previous employer which counts
d) the scale or rate of pay, or the way pay is worked out
e) the pay intervals (hourly, weekly, monthly etc)
f) any terms and conditions relating to hours of work (including normal working hours)
g) any terms and conditions relating to holiday entitlement including public holidays and holiday pay (including rule on entitlement to accrued holiday pay on termination of employment). These rules must be sufficiently specific to allow the entitlement to be precisely calculated.
h) job title or brief job description
i) place of work, or, if the employee is required or permitted to work at various places, an indication of that fact and the employer's address.

You must also provide the following details, either with the Principal Statement or separately (but within two months)
  • any sickness/injury scheme
  • rules on pension and pension schemes (e.g. whether it is contracted out or not)
  • length of notice to be given by both employer and employee
  • if the contract is “temporary” an indication of the expected duration
  • if the contract is a "fixed term contract" the end date of the contract
  • particulars of any collective agreements which directly affect terms and conditions of the employment including, where the employer is not a party, the person by whom they were made.
  • the name or description of the person with whom the employee can raise a grievance and the manner in which such applications should be made
  • any disciplinary rules applicable and the name or description of the person to whom an employee can apply if dissatisfied with a disciplinary decision and the manner in which such applications can be made (companies employing fewer than 20 employees do not have to provide these details on discipline)
  • where the employee is required to work outside the UK for a period of more than once month, details of the length of posting, the currency in which payment will be made, details of any additional benefits arising from the posting and any terms and conditions relating to the employee’s return to the UK.

  • The matters contained in the Principal Statement must be given in detail to the employee in one document. For the other matters the written statement can refer employees to another document for details providing the employee has a reasonable opportunity to read the reference document in the course of their employment or where the document is made reasonably accessible in some other way (e.g. a Staff handbook).

    Any changes to the details described above must be given to each employee in writing at the earliest opportunity and in any event no later than a month after the change is made. If the change is to one of the matters specified in the Principal Statement the change must be given in full; otherwise the written notification may refer the employee to another document provided it is reasonably accessible.

    We recommend that in addition to the written particulars of the main terms and conditions of employment that have to be given, the employer should provide a clear written document expressing all important terms and conditions of employment, works rules and procedures for resolving problems together with employment policies and procedures.

    The full written contract shall also deal with the many other issues which can protect your interests. These can range from terms restricting employees activities during and after employment through to health and safety. The following rules should be put in writing, as applicable:

    • The authority of management to vary normal hours of work after due notice has been given.
    • The need to work overtime when required by management after due notice has been given.
    • Timekeeping and time recording (especially where time clocks or other systems are employed).
    • Wage payments during sickness if such payments are to be made at the discretion of management.
    • The duty of the employee not to conduct himself during working hours in any manner which can be construed as

    a) detrimental to the interests of the employer,
    b) offensive to the employer or other workers in the establishment, or
    c) a hazard to the safety of the employer, himself or other workers.

    • The duty of the employee to take all reasonable steps to prevent loss of or damage to the employer’s premises, plant, monies, equipment and tools.
    • Disciplinary, grievance and appeal arrangements.
    • Competition in his/her own time (for example, as a self-employed vehicle repair worker) by the employee with the employer.
    • The acceptance of customer’s instructions (especially in relation to bribes and other inducements).
    • The conditions on which tool kits and other personal possessions may be left on the employer’s premises.
    • The employer’s right of search of the employee’s person, vehicle and hand luggage or parcels.
    • The purchase of vehicle spares or accessories by the employee and work done on a vehicle owned by the employee on the employer’s premises.
    • The circumstances in which vehicles owned by the employer or his customer may be driven.
    • The use and misuse of trade plates.

    Some special contractual terms

    i. Probationary periods: If the offer of employment is made “subject to satisfactory completion of a probationary period”, which may be for three months, six months or any other period of time, the contract can be terminated at the end of the probationary period without giving rise to any legal problem providing the employer takes all reasonable steps to give adequate instructions, training and supervision during that period.

    ii. Mobility clauses: A clear unambiguous written statement such as “the company reserves the right to require any member of their staff to work at any of their establishments in the UK”, or “at the discretion of the company , you may be transferred at any time during the period of your employment from one location to another” will protect the employer from redundancy claimsand breach of contract claims. The actual enforcement of the term must be done in a reasonable manner to avoid losing an unfair dismissal claim. If it is not really necessary to insert such clauses (i.e. it is not essential to the effective operation of the business) a woman may be able to make a claim of indirect sex discrimination.

    iii. Moonlighting and competition: There is an implied obligation on all employees to work loyally and faithfully for their employer during normal working hours. Thus, an employee who works either for himself / herself or for another during those hours, or soliciting the employer’s customers, will almost certainly be acting in breach of their contract. There is no need for any written statement banning such work, unless the employer wishes to emphasise the employee’s obligations to himself / herself. However, simply indicating that he/she is seeking other work, even for a competitor, or giving notice of work for one, would not be good reason for dismissal, unless there are grounds for believing that the employee was abusing his / her confidential position and information (see below).

    Taking a job outside working hours, however, is not in itself a breach of this implied term even where that job involves competition, unless significant harm is done to the employer’s business, or the extra work undertaken by the employee affects his / her job performance. It is advisable to have a written term in the contract that restrains the employee from undertaking any work for a competitor, or competing directly against the employer, for the duration of his / her employment. The clause should not be unenforceable as being in unreasonable restraint of trade and therefore contrary to public policy. Even where there is clear breach of a term of the contract of employment, before dismissal occurs the employer must act fairly (i.e. carried out a proper investigation, have reasonable grounds for believing there was a breach of contract and given the employee a chance to explain).

    iv. Trade secrets and confidential information: There is no need for a written clause as there is an implied duty on all employees not to disclose to third parties their employer’s confidential information and trade secrets obtained in the course of their employment. A written clause may, however, have a strong deterrent effect and is useful if it specifies as precisely as possible what information the employer considers confidential (e.g. price to be charged for a new model of car). Information would not be confidential where it is already public knowledge, or easily obtainable from another source, or which forms part of an employee’s general “know-how” or “stock-in-trade”.

    v. Restrictive covenants: Generally, all contractual restraints on an exemployee’s freedom to work where or for whom he / she pleases are void as being in restraint of trade. It can be shown the restraint clause is necessary to protect a legitimate interest of the employer, however, and is reasonable both in relation to the interests of both parties concerned and the interests of the public, it may be enforceable.

    Forms of restraints commonly found in employment contracts are clauses relating to confidentiality, non-competition and non-solicitation of the employer’s customers. Clauses prohibiting the poaching of other employees may also be included.

    Restrictive covenants should be kept as narrow and specific as is necessary to protect the company’s interests in terms of the
    • subject matter (e.g. a salesman specialising in selling Mercedes cars may be restricted from selling those of another company, but not from selling new cheaper cars of other makes)
    • duration (e.g. restricted for no more than one year maximum from selling Mercedes cars)
    • geographical area (e.g. if the franchise only operates in Yorkshire, a prohibition extending beyond Yorkshire would be invalid). If the employer breaches the contract of employment of the employee concerned (i.e. wrongful dismissal) by dismissing without notice or insufficient notice, or in breach of the contractual disciplinary procedure, he/she cannot enforce a restrictive covenant.
    Summary dismissal for gross misconduct would not be wrongful dismissal.

    vi. Training cost contracts: Some employers make their employees sign an agreement to the effect that, if they leave the company’s employment within, say, two years after the completion of a training course, they have to repay all or part of the course fees. Such agreements should ensure that
    • the sum which the employee has to pay back is no greater than the cost to the employer of the training.
    • there is a sliding scale of the percentage which the employee has to repay which decreases with time.
    • the obligation to repay should expire within two years (at the latest).
    • the cost to be repaid is clearly specified e.g. price of course, expenses and lost revenue whilst trainee is absent.
    • a right to deduct the amount owing from the employee’s final pay is included to avoid an unlawful deduction under the Wages Act 1986, otherwise costs would have to be pursued through the County Court.
    • the obligation to repay applies to both if employees leave within the specified period or fail to complete the course (for reasons other than those beyond their control e.g. there may need to be exceptions for redundancy, ill health etc.).
    • there is acceptance by both parties that the formula for repayment constitutes a genuine pre-estimate of loss and is reasonable.
    An example of such an arrangement is included in this pack.

    NB. Whatever terms are included in the Contract of Employment it is imperative that a term relating to legal compliance is incorporated. If one is not included then the following term shall be adopted.

    “The employee shall adhere to all current Policies and Procedures in respect of legal requirements of the business and shall keep abreast of any revision of instructions in this regard.”

    Any change to the terms of the contract should, where possible, be with the agreement of the employees. A simple note to the employee showing the revision with a signed acceptance would suffice.

    Recruitment

    The stages of the Recruitment process shall be as follows:
    - Produce Job Description and Person Specification
    - Decide on the best method of recruitment
    - Decide on the best method of job advertising
    - Drafting the advertisement
    - Short listing
    With respect to Trading Standards issues the first step is critical and the following procedure shall be adopted.

    Produce Job Description

    It is important to take time to analyse the job and produce a specification, which covers what the job content is, in respect of work to be done, and the personal involvement of the employee, as well as the critical aspects of the employee’s performance, which will need to be considered by the prospective employee when considering their suitability.

    Produce a Person Specification

    This represents a break down of the ‘ideal’ candidate for the post, and can be broken down into:
    a) Physical make-up e.g. dress, and speech.
    b) Education attainment and general intelligence/skills.
    c) Special skills/aptitudes e.g. interpersonal/telephone.
    d) Interests.
    e) Disposition e.g. attention to detail, ability to work to deadlines.
    f) Circumstances e.g. out of hours working, offsite working.
    The attributes can be categorised into essential or desirable and consideration must be given to what the organisation, the department and individual need.
    Depending on the post of the applicant the attributes of the successful candidate will include aspects necessary to manage and carry out Trading Standards functions.
    In respect of managers, the attributes under b) shall include as essential, a good level of education and as desirable a basic legal and/or management qualification. The attributes under e) shall include as essential the ability to adhere to company policy, carry out routine checks and undertake disciplinary actions.

    In respect of other employees the attributes under e) shall include as essential, the ability to follow instructions as laid down in company procedures.

    Carry out the Selection Interview
    Within the interview the candidate shall be assessed on the essential and desirable attributes ascribed to the post within the Person Specification.

    Appraisals

    At least once a year all employees shall be given an appraisal of their performance.
    The appraisal shall, among other things, establish:-
    a) The performance, satisfactory or otherwise, of the employee in his/her respective post.
    b) Training needs.
    c) A plan of career development, improvements, rectification for the nextperiod.
    The appraisal shall be carried out by the line manager and the outcomes actioned as appropriate. A record of all appraisals and proposed action shall be retained on the employees personnel file.

    Training
    Training shall be carried out both as induction training, when the employee is first appointed and on going training, where input is needed either to satisfy a knowledge/skills gap or as a refresher.

    Induction Training

    As part of the new employee’s introduction to the company a training course shall be programmed to ensure the new employee is aware of company policy on Trading Standards issues and their specific duties and responsibilities within the system.

    On-going Training

    Where due to a failure on an employees part or as a result of an appraisal it is apparent there is a knowledge/skills gap in respect of an operation critical to the legal integrity of the company then training shall be organised either on an individual or group basis. Where there is a significant change in the law or at least once per year refresher courses for all managerial staff shall be carried out and they will disseminate the necessary information to their subordinates.

    Evaluation
    All training shall be evaluated to assess its effectiveness.
    Records

    It is vital that a record of all relevant training shall be recorded and maintained on the employee’s personnel file.