Last week we held an event in association with Peninsula Business Services for our clients, covering Key HR and Health & Safety developments. A hugely informative and engaging seminar with our host Tony Kerins.

Tony held the audience’s attention for two hours with his inimitable style as he discussed HR issues facing companies in contemporary Ireland. There was also plenty of audience interaction with members providing insightful examples of issues they have faced.

The four key topics discussed;

  • Changes in legislation regarding sick leave and annual leave; Workers can accrue annual leave while on long term sick leave effective 01/08/2015.
  • New collective bargaining rights for employees
  • How to manage staff issues quickly and effectively
  • Employee stress, the risks for you, your business and your employees

HR is not a new science, it’s been around for a long time and it’s all about providing advice, guidance and services to your organisation and its employees. The core function of HR is to ensure compliance, manage all aspects of the employee experience, align people’s needs with the needs of the organisation and to be caring.

Policies & Procedures

HR policies and procedures are vital in ensuring legal compliance, fairness and consistency. They are also very effective at supporting and building the desired culture within your organisation. They will define the conception and value of the organization on how people and things should be treated.

Legislation is running and changing in the background all the time.  It is vital to keep up to date with legislative changes, to update, amend or indeed create policies and procedures to reflect these changes. HR policies and procedures should be reviewed on an annual basis.

Our host Tony also discussed the importance of having a robust contract of employment. Best practice would indicate that the details contained in your contract of employment should be split into two – the employers’ terms & conditions i.e. the official contract outlining the specific terms related to the job outline, remuneration, location and benefits if applicable. The second part is the employee handbook where all other policies and procedures are outlined in detail and can be amended and updated as required. He asked our clients to consider their own, are they fit for purpose and could they be streamlined? It is worth reviewing your contracts of employment on a regular basis.

Data protection is becoming more and more important every day due to the rapid pace of the digital age. Social media is a platform for freedom of speech where anyone can write a post and it can go viral in minutes and so you must safeguard your company against this. While legislation hasn’t quite kept up, you can extend your media policy to incorporate this.

Long-term sickness & absence

Tony spent quite some time discussing the issue of long-term sickness and absence, showing how your policies and procedures for addressing high levels of absence due to sick leave are the backbone of how you should proceed whilst also ensuring that all employees are being treated with fairness and consistency. An effective absence management policy and procedure demonstrates your commitment to employee health and welfare at work. With the right policies and procedures in place, HR and people managers will be clear on their roles and responsibilities in the effective management of attendance.

Capability & Competence

One procedure discussed at our event, which gained a lot of attention, was the Capability and Competence procedure. Tony outlined three reasons why work doesn’t get done by an individual; either they can’t do it (illness/absence), they don’t know how to do it (e.g. technology has passed them by) or we’ve promoted them beyond their capability. Training and performance appraisals are key to management of staff where you encounter these problems.

A key role within HR is to ensure that there is a process by which people managers and employees work together to plan, monitor and review and employee’s goals, contribution to the company and personal progression.  Companies are now, more than ever reviewing the effectiveness of their performance management tools and engaging employees in continuous feedback meetings.

Stress & duty of care

Stress was a topic in itself and Tony pointed out how stress is good as it comes from the desire to want to get something done, you want to do something well. It’s when stress becomes toxic and persistent and starts to cause physical problems that it’s an issue. The employer has a duty of care to find out what the problem is and help the employee deal with it. Having a strategy in place for this aids the management function. Having these policies in place is also good for employees because they know what mechanisms are in place to help them cope.

Health & Safety

We closed the seminar on the topic of Health & Safety, which is the welfare and wellbeing of people. Your company needs to make sure you have regular health & safety checks and is fully compliant in all areas. It’s important to ensure your policy covers everyone, you must consider where your policy ends and another begins – landlord, neighbour, etc. He advised you should review each other’s policies. Proof is vital in this area.

With Tony’s longstanding experience he was able to divulge real life experiences of past instances which really made for an interesting, relevant and interactive seminar.

Matrix Recruitment Group provides both HR Support and HR Consultancy Services for our clients. Read more about how we can help you here.