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Thursday, 08 August 2019 08:41

Summer Business Planning

Summer Business Planning

The summer brings with it a new phase of working for many businesses, albeit with different challenges depending upon whether they operate in a business or consumer led industry.

For many consumer-based businesses, this can be the busiest time of the year as the warmer weather and school holiday period bring greater footfall to retail shops and leisure outlets like cafes, bars and restaurants. Equally, businesses in supporting industries like food & drink manufacturers and distributers will see a seasonal uplift in demand.

Business to business (b2b) organisations are more likely to enter a quiet period as staff take holidays resulting in less resources to gets work done or initiate new projects. This is likely to be matched by their business customers who will be in a similar situation with activity led by the amount of available staff.

HR and Employment Law demands of both types of business will therefore be very different but no less important to implement consistently.

Those businesses led by seasonal consumer demand may for example have a need for extra, temporary staff or seasonal workers. Regardless of the period of employment, all employees must have a contract of employment, or at the very least a statement of terms that outlines their basic conditions of work.

This is also an area where zero-hours contracts are likely to be prevalent. Staffing levels my be determined by how sunny it is on any particular day, but employers still have a duty to apply zero-hours contracts fairly, giving reasonable notice to workers for when they are or are not required.

With schools on holiday many schoolchildren will be looking to earn some extra spending money with their spare time and it’s understandable that businesses will want to take advantage of cheap seasonal labour. Remember that restrictions exist for child workers which prohibit them from working under certain conditions. In addition, during school holidays 13 to 14-year-olds are only allowed to work 5 hours per day (2 hours on a Sunday) up to a maximum of 25 hours a week.  15 to 16-year-olds can only work a maximum of 35 hours a week with a maximum 8 hours per day. (Again, 2 hours on a Sunday).

Right to work checks are not required for under 16-year olds but are compulsory for everyone else prior to them starting work.

On the B2B side, the main challenges are likely to be around staffing levels to cover holiday leave.

Many employees will be tied to the school holiday period, so we need to ensure that a fair process has been applied for allocating holiday dates. This could be on a first-come, first-served basis; just make sure everyone knows about it and no favouritism is shown to any individual. When calculating adequate cover in the workplace, also consider any potential for lone workers that may arise and the implications this can have.

We rarely come across the “factory fortnight shutdown” these days but remember that employers are entitled to stipulate when their employees take their leave, provided they give the required notice. Under the Working Time Directive, you are duty bound to ensure all staff take their allocated leave.

The quieter summer period is also a good time to schedule and plan for staff training. As we find at HR Champions, most businesses don’t have the available resources to release staff for training during the summer. It’s a good idea though to plan everything in advance so that you keep your team’s development on track when you’re back to full strength in September.

Finally, employers must remember their duty of care to their employees, particularly in hot weather. Ensuring that staff have a comfortable working environment will help to maintain productivity, however this doesn’t mean that safety can be compromised so rules around the wearing of safety equipment for example still need to be enforced.

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Read 284 times Last modified on Wednesday, 21 August 2019 15:49

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HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

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