Now that the festive season is over and we are into a brand new year, it’s time to get your HR strategy in order for 2012. Expert help is at hand from Margery McBain of Gravitate HR who has compiled a handful of key dates to help prepare for the next six months.
Motivation: January can be cold, dark and a bit dull. While you are looking at your targets and objectives, motivational activity can be a good way to kick things off and spark inspiration in your staff now that the festivities are over.
Salary reviews: If you reviewed staff salaries in December make sure that you have clarified the terms and conditions in writing, informed your payroll supplier and aligned your budget figures to the new salaries.
Check in with your team: Over the festive break, people can sometimes make drastic changes and decisions, so it is worth reconnecting with staff to identify any new developments that may affect your future work plans. Some can come back to work and want to develop particular skills, others might have decided to get married that year, and some might even have had a difficult time over the holidays. It is best not to make assumptions but check back in with your staff to see how everyone is.
Holiday planning: Ensure that you have clearly outlined your public holiday agreement and opening hours and encourage staff to plan out their annual leave so you can try to accommodate all requests. Keep in mind that there is an additional holiday for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the June 5.
Tax Returns: It is critical, if submitting your tax return electronically, that this is done by midnight on January 31. If your online tax return is late, you'll have to pay a penalty, even if you have no tax to pay or if you pay everything you owe on time.
Valentine’s Day: To motivate staff you may want to plan a theme, but bear in mind that chocolates, flowers and cheesy cards are not for everyone. It’s also important to think about the issues of relationships at work. Many long lasting relationships have started in the workplace, but they should ‘develop’ offsite! Some organisations even have specific policies which do not allow family members and close relationships amongst work colleagues. It can be difficult to manage performance if non-work relationships are played out during work hours, so to avoid any embarrassment, plan ahead and focus on what is right for your own environment.
Lack of day: February is a pretty short month, however there is lots to be done in a fewer number of days, so careful planning and allocation of work is important for this fast month.
Progress check: Spring is time for new beginnings and as the first quarter comes to a close its time to dust down those objectives and check the progress.
End of financial year: For some it will be end of the financial year, so you will need to think about annual reviews, bonus payments, and commissions. Start to roll out employee preparation forms, reviews, work achievements and training plans.
Easter holidays: Easter is the first major holiday of the year and the start of a series of public holidays. There is not a statutory right to paid leave on bank and public holidays. However your employer does gives paid leave on a bank or public holiday and this can count towards your minimum holiday entitlement. There are eight permanent bank and public holidays in England and Wales (nine in Scotland and 10 in Northern Ireland).
If you work on a bank or public holiday, there is no automatic right to an enhanced pay rate. What you get paid depends on your contract of employment. If you are part time and your employer gives workers additional time off on bank holidays, this should be given pro rata to you as well, even if the bank holiday does not fall on your usual work day.
Maternity and paternity pay: The legislation on maternity and paternity pay is usually revised in April and October of each year, so watch out for the changes and revisit your policy and practice to ensure that you are compliant.
HMRC: It’s the start of the new PAYE year so you need to think about the P35s, P60s and P11Ds as HMRC and your employees will be looking out for this documentation.
Bank holidays: There is only one May bank holiday this year as the second has been moved to Monday June 4, 2012.
Exam Time: Tthis is traditionally the time for public exams, so in addition to stressed out parents, young employees and casual employees may be looking for time off to study and be a bit on edge. After exams there are often a flood of young people looking for work experience placements and remember that you have a duty of care for this population even though they are not employees but are present in your work place.
Graduates: University courses will be coming to a close and graduates will be looking for internships, seasonal work, and employment in general. Good time to be recruiting additional seasonal staff to cover summer vacations.
The Queens Jubilee: To mark 60 years of the Queen's reign, the Diamond Jubilee will take place June 2-5. There is a bank holiday on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 June, 2012. Whether you need to honour both these days will depend on your contractual arrangements - the statutory provisions state that you are required to give 28 days statutory leave to cover annual leave and public holidays. This is similar to the position taken last year with the Royal Wedding. Some employers choose to allow employees to use annual leave and others granted an additional day’s holiday to cover this event.
Seasonal staff: Seasonal staff often start at this time of the year so remember that you need to be clear contractually, with your expectations of their performance and contribution. Even though they are temporary staff they do have employment rights and you have the same duty of care towards this group.