When people think about human resources, often thoughts go towards HR teams but it can also refer to how a business handles its people (staff) in general. It’s important for companies to have in place HR policies and procedures to ensure their staff are looked after and keeps the company compliant with UK legislation.
HR has been designed to maximise the productivity and performance of employees by closely managing their progress in their job role. Often, HR departments are responsible for several roles within the company, including – Hiring, firing, inductions, training & development, rewards and performance appraisals.
HR departments also handle a lot of admin and paperwork; they’re responsible for payroll, taxes, maintaining legal compliance with employment law and handling employee issues (for example, sickness or holiday leave). These are all crucial functions for business and are necessary, especially when dealing with large numbers of staff.
Some businesses have an in-house HR department that deals with all the people problems which may arise. Smaller businesses, however, often do not have their own in-house team to deal with HR – It can often be the director or manager, adding more to their already full plate.
Businesses small and large can choose to outsource their HR, to companies like Wurkplace, when they feel they can no longer handle their own HR services and need some extra support. It can also be cheaper for some companies to outsource their HR instead of paying a full-time employee, outsource HR consultants only work when they’re needed.
Having your HR dealt with externally can often be more effective than an internal HR department, this is because outsource HR companies hire experts in the field and often internal HR departments are made up of existing employees (who may not have much HR experience).
When looking at internal HR departments, there are five main mistakes that are made and you can read them here.
1. Employment Law
This is the legislation that regulates the relationship between employers and employees, it highlights what employers expect from employees and employee rights at work (e.g. terms of employment, data protection, maternity/paternity, holiday pay & entitlement, etc).
If employers do not follow employment law, they could face employment tribunals or even legal action in serious cases. There is lots of legislation in place in the UK to protect employees, for example, The Employment Rights Act (1996) which covers issues like dismissal, unfair dismissal, redundancy and maternal/paternal rights and The National Minimum Wage Act (1998) which sets out the national minimum wage for all employees.
Employment law is always changing and adapting to improve employee rights in the workplace, this can make it very difficult to keep up to date with, especially when HR departments are busy with other work. Having an outsourced team could be advantageous for this reason because they usually have much more experience in the area and keep informed of changes to HR law.
For example, in April 2020, The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act (2018) was introduced. This gives every employed parent the right to two weeks of paid leave if they lose a child under the age of 18. New legislation like this and adaptations to older legislation happen fairly often, which could cause employees to ask for employment tribunals which could cost the business a lot of money.
2. Absent or Out of Date Documentation
Sometimes having the proper documentation and paperwork can seem unimportant, but it’s actually very important in the world of HR. Making sure all the appropriate documents are filled out and stored is crucial to protect the business from unwanted legal fees or tribunals.
For example, HR departments should file the good and the bad – including performance appraisals, disciplinary meetings and any formal warning given to employees. If these are not stored, your business could be vulnerable if an employee claims unfair dismissal or misconduct.
Outsource HR companies often implement online HR software solutions, these store all your HR documents in once place, making it easy to access and find all the paperwork you need.
3. Hiring and Firing
It is the HR departments responsibility to recruit new employees and to also fire existing employees, if necessary. Having a well thought out hiring and firing process can make it much easier for HR to make these decisions.
It can be difficult for HR to find the best talent to recruit, writing the right job description and choosing the right candidate can sometimes cause a lot of problems for internal HR. If during the interview candidates are asked about their age, sex or religion, the company may be accused of hiring-bias, potentially tarnishing the reputation.
Additionally, if the firing process is not done correctly by HR departments, ex-employees could make claims for unfair dismissal or even slander the business online. Internal HR departments often know most of the employees which can sometimes lead to unprofessional conduct or could make the employee feel embarrassed or ashamed.
4. Poor Inductions and Training
Making sure all new recruits are up to speed with all the policies and procedures and ensuring existing employees have the opportunity to develop their skills is the responsibility of HR. Oftentimes, this can be overlooked by internal HR departments as they’re already accustomed to the business, making it easy to forget important information.
Having all new and existing employees partake in training courses will help companies stay compliant with HR law, making sure employees can do their job effectively and safely. Some internal HR departments struggle to keep track of all the training employees have undertaken and training staff into managerial roles.
Investing time into existing employees can have great rewards, allowing businesses to promote internally, rather than having to hire new managers all the time. Developing leadership skills and knowing how to fill in appropriate documents is essential for staff to improve their confidence and feel more comfortable in their role.
5. Not Having an Updated Employee Handbook
Employers aren’t required by law to provide employees with a handbook, however, they do need key policies and procedures to be written down and the terms of employment. Employee handbooks are an easy way to show every member of staff is aware of these policies and their terms of employment in one place!
Businesses can sometimes overlook the importance of having an up to date employee handbook – It’s recommended that the employee handbook is reviewed once a year to make sure all your policies and procedures are up to date with that latest legislation.
Plus, having your employees sign a copy of your handbook is a great way for businesses to protect themselves against potential legal action in the future. If you have an up to date employee handbook, having a signature proves that the employee knows their rights and the terms of their employment.
Does your business need expert advice and support for HR? Contact our experienced HR support team. by calling 0330 400 5490 or use the methods below!
With over 20 years HR generalist experience across all disciplines, Sarah has worked across a number of business sectors and understands the importance of robust and practical HR processes and trained, motivated and engaged people in delivering business success.
As Wurkplace’s Head of HR, she is passionate about both providing the best HR service to our Clients as well as recruiting, developing and retaining the best team.