GDPR Compliance Checklist for Small Businesses image

GDPR Compliance Checklist for Small Businesses

Staff Squared date icon6th March 2018

Tag iconSmall Business

As the implementation date for GDPR gets nearer, it’s vital that you have a plan in place for how you’re going to make sure your business is compliant. It’s no good waiting until the legislation comes into effect and then acting on it – you need to get everything ready now so that you’re compliant immediately.

Don’t panic if you’re yet to have all your new measures setup, or if you don’t know what you need to do. This checklist will help you make sure that by 25th May 2018, you’re totally equipped to handle it, by detailing the steps you should start to take.

Understand your data

The first thing you need to do is understand the data you handle. What details are you storing about your customers, clients, employees (past and present) and suppliers? What elements of that data could be considered sensitive (religious views, medical details etc) and require special treatment? Where does the data come from, how do you store it, and what do you use it for?

If you’re ever audited on your data, these are the first questions you’re going to be asked. And if you don’t know it inside out, then you’re going to fail compliance tests. So, make sure you spend the time now familiarising yourself with your data.

Evaluate your consent policies

If your data requires any consent, then you need to make sure that this consent is clear and explicit. While this could apply to several scenarios, the common one will be marketing – if you contact customers via email, direct mail, SMS or any other channel, you need to be able to demonstrate that you have their consent.

Where it states that consent must be clear and explicit, this means you must be clear on what a customer is opting into receive, and you can’t use any tactics to try and gain that consent that could be considered underhanded – including even having consent boxes pre-ticked. Ensure you’ve got clear consent from anyone you market to, and if you can’t prove that you do, consider asking your database to opt in again.

Understand how to deal with access requests

Anyone whose data you hold will have the right to request access to that information. You need to be capable of responding to that request in a reasonable time. Generally, you’ll have a month to reply, but if the request is particularly complicated, you can extend this by a further two months (providing you can explain why it’s complicated, and that you notify the person requesting the data of the extension within that first month).

So, make sure you’re ready. Ensure your data is in order, and that you’ve got the required admin staff to be able to handle and process these requests. You may want to appoint a member of your team to be responsible for all data requests, making sure they’re trained to reply correctly.

Invest in encryption

You’re responsible for the data you hold, which means if you’re cyber-attacked and your data is stolen, it’s you who is liable. Under GDPR you have to demonstrate how you store data and show that it is safe.

That’s why investing in encryption software may be a wise investment. It’ll help keep your data secure and show any auditor that you take data safety seriously.

Write and publish fair processing notices

Under GDPR, you need to display fair processing notices. When an individual gives you their data, your fair processing notice should tell them why you’re holding it, what you’re going to do with it, where else you may send it, and how long you’ll be storing it for.

It’s a good idea to get ahead and write these notices now, so you can publish them before the deadline date. Even if they aren’t a current requirement, the sooner they’re live the better, and it helps show your clients or customers that you’re trustworthy too.

Have a clear out of old data

One of the stipulations of GDPR is that you only store data as long as you need it. So now’s the perfect time to audit your own data and see what you’ve got saved that you know you’ll no longer need. There’s no need to be over-zealous – if you think you may need data then keep it – but destroying any old and unnecessary data now will ensure you’ve less to audit in future, and that you’re already showing you’re compliant.

Check your supply chain

Unfortunately, it’s not just your business that needs to be GDPR-compliant. You also need to check that any suppliers or contractors aren’t breaching the regulations either. If they are, and they pass data to you that isn’t safely stored or hasn’t been consented to record, then you also become liable.

So, check whether your suppliers are also paying GDPR the right attention and acting to make sure they’re compliant. Also review your contracts with them now – make sure that any liabilities for their own data failings don’t impact your own business.

Train your staff

Finally, especially in a small business where you may not have a dedicated Data Protection Officer or specific admin team who deal with data and requests, you must make sure your staff are trained in what GDPR means and what your business needs to do to remain compliant.

Start planning training sessions now, to make sure all key staff are aware of their responsibilities with data. It’s vital that they’re up-to-speed when the legislation comes into effect, so that they don’t mis-use data and get your business into trouble. They also need to be aware of how to report data breaches or process mistakes, and who to.

Don’t put off the checklist

As you can no doubt tell from this checklist, you aren’t short of action to take before the deadline for GDPR coming into effect. And you’re rapidly getting shorter on time. Follow these simple steps without delay, and you can make sure you’ve no compliance issues when the laws change.

Written by Sherree Tibbs

Customer Care Team Manager - Staff Squared

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Disability Discrimination in the Workplace: How to Accommodate Employees with Disabilities image

Disability Discrimination in the Workplace: How to Accommodate Employees with Disabilities

Staff Squared date icon13th March 2019

Tag iconManaging staff

There are over 11 million people with a disability or long-term medical condition in the UK alone and around 800,000 of them are working adults below State Pension age. Yet, even with the implementation of the Equality Act and an ever-growing understanding of disabilities, there are still a large number of people who are made the victim of disability discrimination, either in the workplace or in the wider community.

What is Meant by ‘Disability’?

The word ‘disability’ is commonly used on a daily basis and can often mean different things to different people, but ‘disability’ is offically defined under the Equality Act 2010 as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial or long-term negative effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities; where:

Substantial is more than minor or trivial; and,

Long-term means twelve months or more.

However, there are certain conditions that are not considered as a disability, such as drug addiction or alcoholism. You can read more about these here.

Some examples of disabilities include:

  • Vision impairment
  • Deafness or hard of hearing
  • Mental health conditions
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Physical impairment

Disability Discrimination and the Law

The Equality Act 2010 replaced previous anti-discrimination laws including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) and protects people in the workplace and wider society from discrimination.

The Act states that it is illegal to discriminate based on the protected characteristics of a person, of which there are nine:

  • Age
  • Gender reassignment
  • Being married or in a civil partnership
  • Being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • Disability
  • Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

You are also protected from discrimination if you are associated with a person who has a protected characteristic or have complained about discrimination or supported someone’s claim.

Amongst the many requirements stipulated under the Equality Act, the main points that all employers and organisations should be actively aware of are:

  • Reasonable adjustments in the workplace and wider community must be made
  • A recruiter is limited when asking about an applicants health or disability
  • A person cannot be fired or made redundant based on their disability
  • Employment and education must be readily available to people with disabilities

You can read more about the Equality Act here.

What does Disability Discrimination Look Like?

Disability discrimination is the prejudice against people who have a physical or mental disability or learning difficulty which leads to the ill-treatment of a person or leaves them at a disadvantage based on their condition.

A discriminatory action can be a one-off action or comment, the implementation of a rule or policy that negatively impacts on a person’s disability or a physical or communication barrier which makes access to something difficult or impossible.

There are six main types of disability discrimination.

Direct Discrimination

This means that a person with a disability is treated less favourably than a person without a disability in a similar or equal situation.

For example:

David has Arthritis. He is being interviewed for a job alongside Alice who is able-bodied. During his interview, the employer feels that David is the best candidate for the job, however, he discloses his disability and so they offer the job to Alice as they assume that David will need a lot of time off work.

Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination is when a policy or process is in place that has has a negative impact on a person with a disability. Unless the organisation or employer is able to prove that there is a specific and justifiable reason as to why the policy is appropriate, indirect discrimination is unlawful.

Having a valid reason behind the policy or process being in place is known as objective justification.  

For example:

If a job advert for a delivery driver requires the applicant to hold a driving licence, this is justified as it is a legal requirement of the job, even though this will disadvantage applicants who cannot obtain a licence based on their disability. Whereas, if a job advert for an office worker has the same requirement because it may be necessary to work between two sites, that requirement isn’t so easy to justify.

Failure to Make Reasonable Adjustments

The Equality Act 2010 gives employees and organisations the responsibility of ensuring that disabled people have the same opportunities to access employment, education and services as freely as people without disabilities. This is called the ‘duty to make reasonable adjustments’.

Reasonable adjustments are changes that an employer or organisation can make to the workplace, service or public area that allow people with disabilities to work safely and productively or otherwise carry out day-to-day tasks normally.

Failure to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a person with a disability is a discriminatory offence.

For example:

Sandra suffers from chronic pain and requires regular breaks to move around; however, her employer only allows staff to take breaks during the designated lunch period and refuses to let her move away from her desk outside of those times.

NB: Reasonable adjustments are subject to a number of factors such as the resources available to the employer or organisations and the broader impact that those adjustments might have on the company as a whole.

Discrimination Arising from Disability

Section 15(1) of the Equality Act 2010 states that discrimination arising from disability occurs where:

  1. A treats B unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of B’s disability; and,
  2. A cannot show that the treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

While it is similar to indirect discrimination in that a person with a disability is treated unfavourably, discrimination arising from disability differs slightly as it needn’t compare the person with a disability to someone without; they simply need to prove unfavourable treatment towards them in particular.

For example:

Sam has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and needs to stay on top of a time-consuming exercise regime to manage his condition; however, his employer doubles his workload leading up to an approaching deadline. There are other staff members who could take some (if not all) of the extra work, but Sam’s employer insists that he must do it, even though Sam has expressed his concerns that he will struggle to keep up with his health management while completing the additional work to a high standard. Inevitably, this puts Sam under a lot of stress which leads him to accidentally break company protocol. Sam is dismissed.

NB: If the employer or organisation can show that they didn’t know and couldn’t have been reasonably expected to know that a person has a disability, they cannot truthfully be accused of discrimination arising from a disability.

Harassment

Disability-related harassment is defined as unwanted, exploitative or abusive behaviour targeted at a person with a disability that is intended to violate their dignity, safety, security or autonomy or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment.

Some examples of disability-related harassment include:

  • Derogatory, demeaning or humiliating remarks
  • Name-calling or ridicule
  • Offensive or patronising language
  • Insults
  • Threats and intimidation
  • Invasion of personal space
  • Unnecessary touching
  • Unwanted comments about appearance or disability
  • Intrusive questioning about disability
  • Offensive jokes, banter
  • Abusive verbal or written comments related to disability
  • Offensive emails
  • Cyberbullying
  • Offensive graffiti
  • Financial exploitation of a disabled person including taking their benefits money
  • Deliberately putting aids and adaptations out of reach
  • Damage to a disabled person’s property, including aids and adaptations
  • Sexual abuse, rape and sexual assault
  • Physical assault, ranging from lower level assaults up to murder

Victimisation

Section 27 Of the Equality Act 2010 describes victimisation as when a person is ‘punished’ as a result of being involved in a previous discrimination claim or alleged a breach of the Equality Act.

Examples of victimisation are:

  • A person is turned down for a job promotion as a result of raising a grievance for disability-related harassment.
  • A person complains to the management of a shop because staff have been making fun of his speech impediment and as a result, is treated rudely or ignored when he returns to the store.

NB: Discrimination may not always be intentional. Many people struggle to understand how to treat those who are less able than themselves; however, just because it isn’t intentional, doesn’t mean that it isn’t unlawful.

Things you Should know about Staff with Disabilities as an Employer

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your staff, which includes ensuring that you are aware and fully understand the implications of a person’s long-term health issues or disability.

While there are strict rules in place that limit you to the questions you can ask a staff member about their disability, there are certain things that you will need to know in order to make any adaptations or adjustments necessary to accommodate them:

  • Are there certain tasks that the employee will struggle to do (or not be able to do at all)?
  • Are there any adjustments that the employee will require in order to make access to the property or any resources easy for them to obtain? i.e. a ramp or monitor covers.  
  • Are there any adjustments that the employee will require in order to make them comfortable at work? i.e. additional breaks throughout the day or an orthopaedic chair.
  • Will the employee require leniency to take time out of work for appointments or unexpected days off to recover from illness as a direct result of their health condition or disability?

Once you know these things, you will be able to appropriately put steps in place to make the employee’s time at work as comfortable and accessible as possible.

Tips on how to Accommodate Staff with Disabilities

As an employer, it can be somewhat daunting when you find yourself with an employee who suffers from a long-term illness or disability – especially if it’s a first time experience. What if they don’t feel supported enough and don’t want to talk to you? What if you don’t meet their needs or legal requirements? All normal fears to have, yet unnecessary.

With the following tips, you will be able to accommodate your disabled employees in a way that will nurture your professional relationship and eliminate the worry that you aren’t meeting their needs.

Provide Adjustments and Accommodations

Physical adaptations will differ depending on the needs of the employee.

For example, if they have been diagnosed with cancer and are going through chemotherapy or have a mental health condition such as autism or anxiety, a quiet and private rest area where the employee can take a beat and gather themselves would be massively beneficial.

Whereas, a wheelchair user might need to have a parking space close to the main entrance which allows enough room for them to get in and out of their vehicle.

Other physical or flexible adjustments might include:

  • Flexible schedules
  • Part-time hours
  • Working from home
  • Reduced or revised responsibilities
  • Adaptive office equipment (i.e. sit/stand desk, coloured paper, back support)
  • Layout changes to make the office easier to navigate
  • Disabled toilets
  • Additional breaks

Develop your Policies and Procedures

All companies should at least have standard policies and procedures in place which cover the basic level of accommodation that they will meet in the case of a disabled employee joining their team.

Further from that, any processes in place should be easily adaptable on an individual basis.

Assign someone with decision-making capacity to create and implement plans for accommodating staff – a great place to start is to ask them how they support themselves at home. This will give you an insight into areas that you could replicate for them at work.

Show Support

Being understanding is probably the single most important thing you can do for employees who have a disability. Demonstrating that you appreciate their needs by making reasonable adjustments is the first step towards showing your support, but you shouldn’t just stop there.

Show emotional and social support too by creating a caring environment where management and coworkers show solidarity by helping the employee with offers of help outside of work where possible and arranging events such as fundraisers in support of medical fees or a charity that focuses on research into their disability.

Provide Benefits

Offering benefits such as health insurance or paid leave to attend appointments or therapy sessions is a great way to accommodate the needs of a disabled employee and also helps you to go that bit further in demonstrating that you care about them. There’s nothing worse than worrying about losing money because you have to regularly attend appointments during working hours. That’s just unnecessary stress that benefits no one.

Have Regular Catch-Ups

It’s important to stay up-to-date on catch-ups with any employee to ensure that they are happy and have no concerns or grievances – this is even more crucial for those with long-term health issues or disabilities.

Schedule regular meetings with the employee to review how they are coping with their responsibilities and any adjustments that have been made for them. It may be the case, as with many degenerative conditions, that abilities change; in which case adjustments that are in place or job responsibilities may need to be reviewed. At the end of the day, you want to give your staff the best possible chance to ensure that they are able to perform their job to the best of their ability – it’s beneficial to everyone involved.

Don’t Make them Feel Pressured

Can you imagine feeling insecure or scared to call in sick for fear of being reprimanded or placed on a disciplinary by your manager? Many disabled people feel this anxiety when they find themselves in a situation where they can’t make it into work. This is usually followed by a large sense of guilt that they are leaving their colleagues in the lurch.

Take the time to sit down with your employee and reassure them that you want them to feel that they can call in sick if they are too unwell to make it into the office without feeling pressure to live up to an unrealistic expectation.

The same rule applies for work and deadlines. The employee isn’t always going to be able to meet set deadlines if they are unwell or not feeling 100%, so there shouldn’t be any excessive pressure put on them to get everything done to your timeline as long as they are able to complete their duties to an acceptable standard and within a reasonable timeframe.  

Maintain Contact

If the employee is off sick, nothing says you care more than a call or text for no other reason than to make sure that they are okay and to ask whether there is anything that you can do for them.

In the event that the absence is prolonged as a result of a serious bought of illness, medical procedure or hospital stay, why not start a whip-around collection and send a card to let them know that they’re in your thoughts and are missed.

Welcome them Back After they’ve been Off Work

Make sure that they are welcomed back in a positive way upon their return to work.

For example, arrange for a welcome back card and gift (and maybe even a banner) to await them at their desk, make additional required adjustments ready for when they return or organise a meeting with them to ensure that they are well enough to be back and give them the opportunity to voice any concerns.

The sky is the limit when it comes to making your staff feel valued.

Written by Clarisse Levitan

Lead First Line Customer Support Agent - Staff Squared

Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.

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Fire Safety Laws in the Workplace image

Fire Safety Laws in the Workplace

Staff Squared date icon19th February 2019

Tag iconOperations

It’s without a shadow of a doubt that fire is beneficial to us in many aspects of life. From cooking and heating to lighting and even signalling, fire in its most controlled state is a key factor to the success of mankind. However, when it isn’t managed, it becomes extremely hazardous and destructive.

14th June 2017, saw a fire break out in the 24-storey block of flats in Grenfell Tower, resulting in 70 people being injured and 72 devastating fatalities. It was a tragic and monumental event which has since reminded us all of the huge importance of fire safety and awareness – but what exactly is fire safety, and how can we ensure that we are promoting it?

Fire Safety in the Workplace

We often talk about fire safety and how best to implement fire safety procedures in our homes, workplaces, schools and other public places, but we rarely ever discuss what the term ‘fire safety’ actually means.

To put it simply, fire safety encompasses a series of preventative actions, practices and training that are put in place to help limit the risk of a fire starting and minimise the loss or damage caused in the event that a fire does occur.  

In 2017/18, UK fire and rescue services attended 187,436 fires – a number that, despite recent events, seems to only be increasing. According to figures shown by Government statistics, 53.3% of non-domestic fires happen in the workplace.

Workplace fires are a catastrophic event for any business no matter their size, and many businesses never completely recover from a fire which makes these statistics all the more frightening.

It is for this reason, among many others, that all businesses should have at least one designated responsible person or fire marshal, whose responsibility is to ensure that certain duties are carried out in a timely and satisfactory manner and that action is taken to both prevent fires from occurring and to prevent injury or death if it actually does.   

What are the Fire Regulations for Workplaces in the UK?

UK fire safety legislation is covered by ‘The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005’, under which all premises, including commercial and all other non-domestic properties fall. This order details the responsibilities that businesses are expected to meet and maintain.

Fire Risk Assessment

Every business must have a Fire Risk Assessment in place – it’s the first thing that you will be asked to provide when under inspection by the fire authority.

Your Fire Risk Assessment must be reviewed regularly and be documented if:

  • You have 5 or more employees; or,
  • The premises requires a licence; or,
  • You have been issued an Alterations Notice by the fire brigade which states otherwise.

While you are not required to document your fire risk assessment if you have 4 or fewer employees by law, it’s advised that you do for easy reference and universal understanding.

You aren’t required to have a professional fire risk assessor as long as the nominated person to carry out a fire risk assessment in your business is confident that they can:

  • Correctly identify the potential causes of a fire in the business.
  • Identify the people at risk.
  • Assess the suitability of fire safety measures in place, i.e. fire alarm systems and escape routes.
  • Assess the ongoing management of fire safety in the business, i.e fire drills and staff training.
  • Develop a fire safety action plan if changes are needed.
  • Record all the significant findings.
  • Implement the action plan if one is needed.
  • Keep the fire risk assessment updated at all times.

If you do not have a fire risk assessment and appropriate fire safety precautions in place, you can face prosecution, severe fines and, in cases of extreme negligence, prison.

Check out the .Gov website for more information on Fire Risk Assessment guidelines.

Fire Extinguishers

By law, you are required to provide “appropriate fire-fighting equipment”. This usually means having portable fire extinguishers, but higher-risk companies such as restaurants or businesses that store chemicals or flammable materials might also need hose reels or sprinklers.

Fire extinguishers must:

  • Be the correct type for the business you have and the location they are stored in.
  • Be maintained my a ‘competent’ person (usually your Fire Risk Assessor) and in good working order.
  • Have an annual maintenance test.

A minimum of two Class A fire extinguishers must be kept on each storey of the building. UK fire extinguisher regulations also specify that:

  • All premises with electrical equipment must have at least 2kg CO2 extinguishers.
  • Where there is 415 volt rated equipment, then 5kg CO2 extinguishers are required.

Read more about the types of fire extinguishers and their regulations here.

Fire Safety Signs

To be legally compliant with fire safety regulations, you will also need at least two signs (a Fire Action Notice and an Extinguisher ID sign) that are easily visible, but all that apply should be displayed.

Fire safety signs include:

  • Fire Action Notice – shows what to do in the event of a fire and is mandatory for all premises.
  • Fire Extinguisher ID sign – shows and locates each type of fire extinguisher and is mandatory for all premises.
  • Fire Exit signsshow how and where to exit in the event of a fire. These are required for all premises unless the property is small and simple to escape.
  • Fire Alarm Call Points signsare mandatory if you have a fire alarm and identify where to find and activate them.
  • Other Fire Equipment signsif you have a hose reel of a dry riser, you must signpost where they are.
  • Warning and Prohibition signshighlight danger and are needed if there is an extra risk of fire on the premises.

Fire Alarm Systems

Higher risk businesses such as restaurants are recommended to install fire alarms as an additional safeguard against fire. However, if you operate out of small premises where a fire would be obviously visible to everyone either immediately or upon the shout of ‘FIRE!’ from someone to notify others of the danger, you are not required to have a fire alarm system in place, although this is still advised even though it is not a legal requirement.

According to UK fire safety legislation, all other businesses must have an appropriate fire detection system. This means:

  • You will need either a manual or automatic system.
  • You need an automatic system if it’s highly likely that a fire could go undetected or block exit routes.
  • Everyone in the building must be able to hear the alarm clearly.
  • There must be an alarm call point by every exit on every floor.
  • Your fire detection system must be maintained in good working order
  • You must test your fire alarm weekly
  • You must have your fire alarm serviced at least every 6 months
  • The person who carries out the testing and maintenance must be competent (they may need to be certified and approved to industry standards).

Emergency Lighting

In the event of a fire, emergency lighting is essential if normal light fails. You will need emergency lighting is your building doesn’t have enough ‘borrowed’ light to safely exit the premises in the event of a power cut or in any ‘danger areas’, such as kitchens.

Emergency lighting is recommended in rooms that are 60 square meters or larger.

The main purposes of emergency lighting are as follows:

  • Highlight Escape Routes: the emergency lighting illuminates exit routes and helps you to locate fire fighting equipment.
  • Open Area Lighting: also known as ‘Panic Lighting’, Open Area Lighting keeps communal areas lit during a fire to reduce panic.
  • High-Risk Task Area Lighting: provides light to shut down potentially dangerous processes in the event of a fire.

The British Standard recommends that you have a 3-hour emergency lighting test once a year. Turning off your main light circuit will allow you to monitor your emergency lighting to ensure that there are no faults. Alternatively, if 3 hours is too big of a time period for your business to have the main lighting switched off, it is suggested that you carry out 1-hour test twice a year instead.

Fire Safety Training

Above all, fire safety training is a must! All staff should know what to do in the event of a fire and new employees should be informed upon joining.

UK legislation requires all businesses to:

  • Provide refresher training regularly (this is normally done annually).
  • Provide fire safety training updates if there are any changes that could affect fire safety procedures (such as building alterations).
  • Carry out regular fire drills.
  • Appoint people as fire marshals (to be training by fire safety professionals) who do the following in the event of an alarm:
    • Use fire extinguishers where needed.
    • Make contact with the emergency services.
    • Assist with the evacuation.

IMPORTANT: You must remember that while having the above resources and procedures in place,  you cannot guarantee that a fire safety or evacuation procedure works unless you test it in practice. Fire drills and equipment checks are essential to ensure that you and your staff are prepared for a fire in the event that the worst does actually happen.

Written by Clarisse Levitan

Lead First Line Customer Support Agent - Staff Squared

Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.

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Being a Freelance HR Consultant using Staff Squared image

Being a Freelance HR Consultant using Staff Squared

Staff Squared date icon19th January 2019

Tag iconManaging staff

Going it alone to seek the challenge of running your own freelance HR consultancy rather than working for someone is certainly exciting. However, conceiving your new business is only the start – you still have to sell it and become a success.

Needless to say, if you now find yourself in the big wide open world of freelancing, you’re likely to have a wealth of knowledge from the time you spent working for other HR consultancies. You know the law surrounding Human Resources and you’ve handled many complex cases, dealt with trade unions and learned all you know from a highly experienced and clever head of HR; but there’s one thing you don’t have – a HR solution that you can sell to your clients to give them the ‘full package deal’.

That’s where Staff Squared can help you.

What is Staff Squared?

Lovingly crafted by Atlas Computer Systems Ltd in 2011, Staff Squared is a HR system that makes it easy to manage all HR tasks from one web based platform, including:

Onboarding

Giving your clients complete automation of their staff onboarding processes while remaining compliant with UK employment laws and legislation. The onboarding section allows you to engage with new hires from the outset, get staff actively involved in keeping their records up-to-date and automatically request them to confirm that they have read important files.

Absence management

Using an online absence calendar to manage all staff time off in one central and easy to use area, along with powerful holiday management that allows staff to request their own holiday and automates holiday processing for managers, you will be able to help you clients to easily stay on top of their absence management.

Staff Profiling and data storage

Your clients’ data will be stored in a simple, yet effective profile which is encrypted to ensure high levels of data protection at all times. Information relating to contact details, next of kin information and job relevant particulars can all be stored in their respective profile tabs to make for a tidy and attractive profile page that is easy for you to manage on their behalf.

Effective reports

Our powerful HR reporting is instantly available and easy to export. As an HR consultant, all you need to know about your clients and their HR trends will be available to you in real-time. You can even schedule reports to run regularly in your partner portal.

File management

Store all of your clients’ important documents in one secure, online, backed up location. You can also group them so it’s easy to stay organised and quickly find the files you need. Files can be stored in a shared company area, or individually on each employee’s profile. You can even upload files to your clients’ accounts directly from your partner portal.

And Much More…

With notifications for all holiday and sickness requests, handy alerts if you’re about to double book an event and integrations with Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendars as well as a dedicated Customer Care Team always at hand, Staff Squared is exactly what your potential client base are looking for. Don’t believe us? Check out the testimonials of some of our valued customers.

Want to find out more about Staff Squared? Book a free, no obligation demo now.

The Partner Portal

We have designed a partner portal, specifically with HR consultants in mind. A partner account with Staff Squared grants you access to multiple client accounts all from one simple platform, allowing you to log in and manage their data easily and efficiently.

The portal’s easy to navigate layout allows you to filter between your live client accounts and the clients who are currently trialling Staff Squared – a service available to any new prospective customers on a 14-day free period.

Trial accounts can be managed in the same way as live, paying accounts and, should the client decide that they want to upgrade, all the data that you have already uploaded for them will be exactly where you left it. You and your client can continue to work together in one straightforward and streamlined process.

The best part about the partner portal is that, should your business take off and see you working with other HR consultants in the future, you have the ability to add multiple users, allowing everyone who requires access to the platform capacity to manage client accounts.

Become a Partner

Staff Squared gives you the opportunity to work together with your clients seamlessly as it’s available wherever there is internet access; and here’s the best bit – becoming a Staff Squared partner is completely FREE!

Click here to apply to our partner programme or, if you would like further information on how working with us could benefit your freelance HR consultancy business, contact us on 0800 033 7569 or at support@staffsquared.com.  

Written by Clarisse Levitan

Lead First Line Customer Support Agent - Staff Squared

Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.

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How to Deal with Bullying in the Workplace image

How to Deal with Bullying in the Workplace

Staff Squared date icon19th January 2019

Tag iconManaging staff

Anyone unfortunate enough to have experienced workplace bullying will be the first to testify that this type of behaviour is not confined to the school playground. Finding yourself on the receiving end of unwanted attention from a bully at work can invoke a wide range of issues that can take a very real toll on both your mental and physical health. Bullying can lead to depression and poor sleep, it can affect relationships with family and friends and may even cause post-traumatic stress disorder.

Is Bullying Against the Law?

It might come as a surprise to some that bullying itself is not illegal. While it is an unpleasant act, the law cannot enforce warnings or punishments on someone who is caught to be bullying another person; however, harassment is against the law. Harassment is any negative or unwanted behaviour in relation to a protected characteristic, including:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sexual orientation

What Constitutes for Bullying in the Workplace?

According to ACAS, bullying can be characterised as ‘offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient’.

Bullying is not limited to face-to-face interactions; insulting or threatening emails, phone calls and text messages are considered as bullying, too.

Some examples of behaviour that could be classified as bullying include:

  • Regularly and deliberately ignoring or excluding individuals from work activities.
  • Consistently attacking a member of staff in terms of their professional or personal standing.
  • Constant criticism despite good performance.
  • Having responsibilities removed or being given trivial tasks to do.
  • Shouting at staff.
  • Persistently picking on people in front of others or in private.
  • Setting a person up to fail by overloading them with work or setting impossible deadlines.
  • Regularly making the same person the butt of jokes.
  • Discriminating on the grounds of someone’s gender, race, disability, age, religion or sexual orientation.
  • Blocking promotion.

What to do if you’re being Bullied at Work

If you feel that you are a victim of bullying, it is crucial that you speak up. It’s neither fair on you to have to suffer at the hands, words or otherwise unfair treatment of others, nor is it acceptable for them to act as such in the first place.

However, while there is no reason why you shouldn’t look after yourself in this situation, try to bear in mind that there is a difference between a superior criticising your performance or attitude – when it’s justified – and actual bullying. Accusing someone of bullying is serious, so be sure that’s what is happening before you act. We can all let our pride and emotions get the better of us from time to time.  

The best first move is to talk to the bully. If you think you can, of course. There’s every chance that they have no idea that they’ve made you feel victimised and will likely feel terrible when they realise that what they considered to be a joke was something completely different to you. This being the case, asking them to stop what they have been doing to upset you and to be more mindful of your feelings might be the (simple) solution to your problem.

As much as we would all like to believe that our colleagues wouldn’t actively seek to victimise us, bullying in the workplace is an unfortunate reality and so, while misunderstandings can happen, this is not likely to always be the case.

Before making any moves to report your bully, research your company’s policies to find out their approach with regards to workplace harassment. Your employer has a duty of care towards your health, safety and welfare while you are at work and if you are being bullied, they have a responsibility to investigate and put a stop to the issue.

Keep a log of the harassment – every time you are bullied, make a note of the time, date and what happened. This will make it harder for the bully to deny, easier for your employer to discipline and will also serve as vital evidence in the event that your case needs to be taken to an employment tribunal.  

Once you have your evidence, have a conversation with your manager. Show them what you have recorded and explain what has been happening and for what length of time. Don’t be afraid to express how the bullying is affecting you, either, both personally and professionally.

Your manager will then be able to help you by going through the appropriate channels.

How to Prevent Workplace Bullying from Occurring

Bullying and harassment in the workplace can have a truly negative impact on your staff and, in turn, your company, leading to:

  • Poor morale and employee relations.
  • Loss of respect for management.
  • Poor performance.
  • Lost productivity.
  • Absence/resignations.
  • Legal proceedings which could also lead to compensation.

As an employer, it’s in your best interest to provide a positive and productive workplace for everyone and it’s the right of your employees to work in an environment where they feel valued and confident that they won’t become the victim of someone else’s unpleasant behaviour.

Your care of duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all staff in your employment should lead you to consider several key points that will help you to prevent bullying or harassment occurring in your company.

Have a formal policy – By creating and implementing a zero-tolerance policy, you can clearly outline to your workforce where you stand in regard to bullying. It can be a simple document, but you should consider involving you staff when you write it.

Lead by example – Staff look to their employers and management for an example of how to behave in the work environment. Having a formal policy in place is one thing, but it won’t mean much to your staff if you don’t adhere to it yourself. Put your best foot forward at all times and your employees will most likely follow suit.

Maintain procedures – Bullying is serious and, while it should be the case for all company policies, the rules laid out in your zero-tolerance policy should be a one-size-fits-all deal. There’s no room for one rule for one and another for many. It’s important that you maintain fair and across the board procedures when dealing with complaints from employees.

Make standards of behaviour known – Set out the standards of behaviour expected of your employees in a place other than your policy – perhaps the staff handbook. This information should be available in multiple mediums and should be made known to all staff from the moment they begin employment.

How to Respond to Workplace Bullying as an Employer

Despite your efforts to prevent bullying from happening in your company, occasionally, there might be an instance when you do have to deal with a bullying complaint. If this happens, address the situation immediately.

If your company has a Human Resources department, bring it to their attention and make sure that you are following company guidelines for addressing workplace bullying and harassment – don’t worry if you need to re-read your zero-tolerance policy first. Getting it right is what’s important.

Some companies just starting out or simply small in numbers may not have a HR department, in which case, you should sit down for a conversation with the individual who is bullying their colleague to talk about their actions. Make sure you document everything, including:

  • Details of the incident(s).
  • Dates, times and witnesses.
  • Information about your meeting.

At the end of the meeting, inform the offending employee of the consequences of their actions and what will happen should the bullying continue.

The situation will need to be monitored to ensure that the bullying doesn’t persist, and you should make a point of following up with the victim. Being the subject of bullying can have a lasting effect, so it’s important to make sure that they are okay and have the correct support in place if they need it.

Further Information

Most employees are very hot on keeping on top of bullying and harassment; however, should you or a colleague be experiencing unpleasant or unwanted behaviour from someone at work and don’t feel you can talk to your employer, or that they aren’t handling it in the right way, contact ACAS for further advise.

Written by Clarisse Levitan

Lead First Line Customer Support Agent - Staff Squared

Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.

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There’s Snow Place Like Home: Working Remotely in Adverse Weather Conditions image

There’s Snow Place Like Home: Working Remotely in Adverse Weather Conditions

Staff Squared date icon15th January 2019

Tag iconManaging staff

As a business owner, you must be prepared for when things don’t necessarily go to plan; however, sometimes no matter how much preparation you have in place, you may just get caught off guard. With the threat of more snow hitting the UK in weeks to come, it got us thinking about last year’s Storm Emma and the ‘Beast in the East’.

With the inconvenience that extreme weather can cause business, should companies have plans in place that will allow staff to work remotely from home in such an event of?

What is Adverse Weather?

The term ‘adverse’ is defined as ‘unfavourable’ or ‘harmful’ and is normally a word best used to characterise conditions or the effects that something has on people or situations. Therefore, in terms of natural elements, the phrase ‘adverse weather’ is used to describe a weather event that is significantly different from the average pattern and causes hazardous conditions. These severe weather conditions can include anything from thunderstorms, flooding and snow, to extreme heat.

Where the UK Differs from Other Countries

Across the globe, there are plenty of locations that are no strangers to the impact of adverse weather conditions. Countries like Canada and the northernmost parts of Europe are well adapted to occurrences of heavy snowfall, with efficient infrastructures ensuring that little to no disruption to society is caused in these events. Similarly, countries that lay where the equator falls are well acclimatised to the extreme heat they experience.

The simple fact of the matter is that the UK is just not accustomed to experiencing extreme and adverse weather. While there are historical instances of these events occurring, they are few and far between. Before the snowfall that started to hit on Monday 26th February 2018, the UK as a whole had not experienced such severe weather since December 2010.

A few inches of snow and most of the UK was ground to a halt, with many rail services being greatly restricted or, in some cases, cancelled completely, and roads too treacherous to drive on. This is down to many contributing factors, including lack of preparation and ageing infrastructure.

Why it’s Important for Companies to be Prepared for Adverse Weather

Regardless of the reasons behind the struggles we face as a nation when it comes to adverse weather, it is important to recognise that the disruption it causes has a massive impact on businesses. Most obvious is the issue of staff actually being able to make it into the office.

With hazardous road conditions and major disruptions to public transport, it is unsurprising that employees will struggle to make it into work safely or on time. Working parents will experience the added pressure of school closures, with no alternative child care arrangements; meaning that they will have no other option but to stay at home.

In some cases, where instances of high winds or thunderstorms occur, the issue may be that the weather affects the office environment, making it impossible to carry out work at all. For example, where a power line comes down or internet connections are disrupted or lost.

Even if staff are still able to make it into work during a bout of severe weather, it doesn’t necessarily mean business as usual. With the unpredictability of mother nature, management will still need to keep a ‘weather eye’, so to speak.

It is important in these situations to keep tabs on the real-time progression of both the weather and the forecast throughout the day, to ensure that staff will be able to make it home safely before weather conditions become too dangerous.

With this in mind, we believe that it is important for companies to cover themselves for the inevitability of an (albeit irregular) bad weather day.

Things to Consider Before Closing the Office due to Adverse Weather

If employees are going to be spending hours struggling to make it into work and you are fortunate enough to have the resources to allow staff to work from home, they might as well use the time more effectively, working where they can rather than wasting valuable time.

Not only does allowing staff to work from home during these occasions mean that they are both safe and able to continue with work, but it enhances morale and staff productivity. If you decide to keep the office open, even during hazardous weather, and expect your staff to make it into work without fault or delay, it is likely that they will not feel valued or cared for, potentially leading them to be less responsive to their work duties.

The key to being able to successfully facilitate remote working during adverse weather is planning ahead. As instances of adverse weather leading to office closures are rare, it stands to reason that employers should be prepared for unexpected situations.

Before making the decision to close the office, it is important to consider the following points:

  • Do staff have the means to work from home? In some cases, they may not have adequate equipment or software to allow them to continue with their work.
  • Do you have measures in place to enable staff to complete work from a location away from the office? For example:
    • All systems needed to pick up work must be accessible.
    • An effective office communicator is not essential but would be beneficial in enabling staff to correspond with one another.
  • Can you provide work tasks for staff? You should also ensure that they understand what they are required to do and that they have a means of contacting a member of management if they find any difficulties throughout the day.

What Else Should be Included in an Adverse Weather Policy?

First and foremost, an Adverse Weather Policy should be used to balance the protection of employee health and safety with the assurance that the business can continue to run as efficiently as possible, given the circumstances.

This is especially important in the extreme event that a business is forced to close its office during a turn of adverse weather. In conjunction with this, an effective Adverse Weather Policy should also include procedures surrounding:

Travel Disruptions

A vast majority of employees are commuters, having to travel to and from work either via public transport or by other means. Unfortunately, travel disruptions are unavoidable at the best of times, especially during a turn of the elements. Be sure to include the procedure you expect your staff to follow in the event of travel disruption.

Absence and Pay

While it is not a legal requirement to provide pay for absence as a result of adverse weather, it is important that staff are made aware of your policy. You may wish to offer a goodwill gesture of up to a specific number of holiday days redeemable to compensate for work missed due to the weather. Alternatively, you might not want to offer to pay for these instances at all. Either way, full transparency is a must.

In the event that your office has to close due to the severity of weather conditions, you must detail your employees’ right to pay.

School Closures or Childcare Issues

Employees are entitled to take unpaid time off in the case of an emergency where a dependant is involved, including the disruption of care arrangements. All working parents should be made aware of this right.

Training and Disciplinary Aspects

Any training relevant to the policy and its procedures should be provided to those who will be dealing with the day-to-day aspects of weather disruption. The policy should also outline the steps an employer must take in the event that they feel a staff member is taking advantage of bad weather as a convenient excuse not to come into work, including any disciplinary action if necessary.

Further Information

If you require any further information regarding the effects adverse weather on businesses, visit the ACAS website.

Written by Clarisse Levitan

Lead First Line Customer Support Agent - Staff Squared

Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.

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How can we help?

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