2. ABOUTYOUR WORKPLACE CHAMPION PROMOTING BETTER WORKING LIVES
HELEN PECKHAM Chartered MCIPD
Since starting her HR career in 1997, Helen has gained
extensive experience with leading companies ranging
from aviation to publishing. She has ambition to partner
with businesses with the objective of achieving
success through their greatest asset, their people.
We love to share information through our articles with the aim
of educating, supporting and providing useful tools, checklists,
tips and information to support our mission. We'd love to hear
what you think and if you want to suggest workplace topics
you'd like information on.
Our mission is to support businesses to succeed through
their greatest asset, their people. We aim to demystify the
world of HR and raise the profile and understanding of how HR
can have a positive impact on business. We are your
Champions in the workplace, promoting better working lives.
3. As you know we are all about sharing information, educating and demystifying
the wonderful world of Human Resources. It is surprising how many people
don't know how HR can have a positive impact on the workplace.
That's why we want to be your champion in the workplace and promote better
At Hawkswood HR we make an effort to speak in plain English so that you
understand what we are talking about.
Unfortunately we can’t always stick to plain English so we hope that you find
this guide helpful to decipher the techno babble that you may find on HR
documentation, such as policies, contracts and handbooks etc. or even in
I hope you enjoy our guide which also includes some interesting articles, so you
don't get bored with the jargon!
4. Page 1 - Absence to Coaching
Page 2 - When Employees go on the missing list
Page 3 - Compassionate Leave to Flexible Working
Page 4 - How to handle a knee jerk resignation
Page 5 - Grievance to Outsourcing
Page 6 - Employing People Checklist
Page 7 - PILON to Retirement
Page 8 - Yes! No! Maybe! Sifting CVs
Page 9 - Right to Work to Work Life Balance
Page 10 - Wrongful Dismissal to Zero Hours Contracts
Page 10 - Contact Details
5. ABSENCE - a period of time that an employee takes off work, usually agreed in advance with their line
manager. It is generally best practice to have a policy to explain how the various types of Absence are
handled. Types of Absence are explained further in this Jargon Buster.
AWOL - Absence without approval, where an employee has not agreed a period of absence in advance with
their line manager. It is important to attempt to contact the employee as early as possible to establish
reasons for absence as this may need to be handled under a disciplinary process.
ANNUAL LEAVE - Holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks per holiday year is the statutory requirement under the
Working Time Regulations. Annual Leave should be booked in advance with the double the equivalent time
off requested, so one week would require two weeks notice (this is the statutory requirement, businesses
can request alternative periods if required for operational reasons). Some organisations include Public/Bank
Holidays in the entitlement. When employees start or leave the organisation a pro-rate entitlement is usually
applied. As a best practice approach Employees should be encouraged to take their Holiday within the
Holiday year or they lose any untaken days.
BACKGROUND CHECK - this could be as simple as a check on an employees work history from previous
employers, a qualifications check to confirm the qualifications the employee has are valid and in date. Some
organisations such as those in the Education or Care Sector will need Disclosure Barring Checks to enable
employees to work for them.
BENCHMARKING - the process of comparing your organisations employment practices against other similar
organisations, this could be sickness absence rates, employee turnover, salaries, benefits etc.
BENEFITS - provision of insurances, pension plans and schemes such as Bike to Work, Childcare etc. that are
used to attract, engage, motivate and retain employees as part of an overall Reward Package.
BREACH OF CONTRACT - is when either employee or employer do not comply with the terms of the
Employment Contract. This generally can lead to a loss of trust and confidence and breakdown in the
BULLYING - repeated, unreasonable actions of individuals or groups of individuals directed towards an
employee or group of employees which is intended to intimidate, degrade, humiliate or undermine.
BURDEN OF PROOF - when an employee or employees make a claim against their employer for
discrimination (unfavourable treatment on the grounds of a protected characteristic, defined below), the
tribunal places the onus on the employer to provide a plausible and non-discriminatory reason their actions.
COACHING - the process of identifying an individual's ambitions and talents with the aim of assisting them
to gain confidence to achieve their ambition.
BITE SIZED HR
6. I have read several articles about employees going missing from work, without the employer even knowing.
Both cases were in the EU with one having been absent for 6 years until the company wanted to award the
employee his 20 year service award. The other was two employees absent for 15 years again in the EU.
These employees all collected their full salary during their absence from work.
When you are a small business and an employee goes absent without permission or fails to turn up for
work, it will cause disruption. Initially it will cause you great concern and worry for the employee’s safety. But
if there is no illness or injury behind the disappearance, then it can cause disruption to providing the service
or goods to your clients or customers.
The impact of an absent employee can damage your business if you are unable to rectify it promptly.
Top tips when an employee goes missing: -
Attempt to make contact with the employee - do you have their up-to-date contact details as well as their
emergency contacts? Do you have standard letter templates to use for contacting an employee who has
failed to turn up to work?
Keep a record of the contacts you have made or attempted to make with the employee.
Never assume that an employee who has not turned up for work has resigned. A tribunal may see this as
an express dismissal, an employer cannot infer from an employee’s conduct that they have resigned.
Unauthorised absence should be handled under your Disciplinary process.
Has the employee previously requested annual leave and had this rejected, again this would be a
Ensure your Absence Policy covers Unauthorised absence and that it is understood by your employees.
Employers must make significant attempts to contact the employee before they could consider the
employee to have resigned. This process can be quite tricky and we would be happy to assist you in the
event that you need us.
7. COMPASSIONATE LEAVE - time off to handle a difficult situation such as the death of a close relative or
dependent, clarification should be given within the organisations employee handbook on the amount of
time off and whether it is paid or unpaid time off.
COMPETENCIES - the experience, knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes required to perform the role that
an employee has undertaken. These are typically outlined in a Job and Person Specification.
CONSULTATION– Consultation takes place when there is a major change that will impact the terms and
conditions of employment or in the event of company restructure, merger or acquisition, and redundancies.
There are two types of consultation, “Individual” or “Collective” and it will depend on the type of change as
to which consultation process will need to be followed.
CONSTRUCTIVE DISMISSAL - this is a form of dismissal that takes place when an employee resigns from
their employer due to actions that they believe has caused them to resign. The employee needs to show
that the employer committed a serious breach of contract, that they were compelled to leave as a result.
DISCIPLINARY - process of discussing issues with employees who are falling short of expectations, this can
result in warnings being issued. Clear expectations on behaviour and performance should be
communicated to employees.
DISCRIMINATION - there are several forms of discrimination and these are explained as follows:
DISMISSAL - process of ending employment by the employer, this can be the final outcome of Disciplinary
or as a result of Gross Misconduct.
EXIT INTERVIEW - meeting between employee and employer to identify reasons for leaving and feedback
from the employee on their employment. Analysis of this information can lead to enhancing and improving
productivity, morale, motivation and engagement.
FAMILY FRIENDLY - a suite of policies that cover family related time off, such as Maternity, Paternity,
Adoption, Shared Parental Leave as well as Time off for Dependents or Emergency Leave to handle
emergencies involving dependents living with the employee. Policies should be put in place to ensure clarity
on this type of leave.
FIXED TERM EMPLOYMENT - this is generally a short-term period of employment for a specific project or to
cover absence of an employee and will have a clear end date.
FLEXIBLE WORKING - employees have the right to request flexible working which could include, part-time,
job share, working from home, condensed hours etc. Remember employees do not have the right to work
flexibly they have the right to ask. The employer must seriously consider these requests and can decline if
there is a business justification.
BITE SIZED HR
Direct Discrimination - where an employee is treated less favourably than another person because
of a protected characteristic.
Indirect Discrimination - where an employer places a condition or criteria that disadvantages a
particular protected characteristic e.g. must have at least 20 years experience.
Associative Discrimination - where discrimination occurs against a person because they associate it
with someone who possesses a protected characteristic e.g. an employee with a disabled partner.
8. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it can throw you off balance. When have you felt like throwing in
the towel and giving it all up. An employee who suddenly decides that they have had enough of working for
you and throw’s in their towel, usually in a verbal outburst.
You might want to accept the resignation but to do that straight away could get you in hot water. Legally, if
an employee resigns then the you can take this at face value, a resignation cannot be withdrawn. However,
beware as a resignation that is given in the heat of the moment usually due to an expression of frustration,
an employer who accepts the resignation could be held to have dismissed the employee.
Here are the top tips on handling this situation:
Tell the employee that you are not accepting their resignation.
Allow a cooling off period – so let the employee go home to think about what they have said.
You may want to write to them, but this needs to be worded carefully.
Arrange a meeting with the employee – find out how they are feeling after the cooling off period, do they
still feel they want to resign?
If they do want to resign, you can then accept it.
If they have made a hasty decision, then they are free to come back to work.
It is worth exploring the reasons for their actions and if there is an issue that caused the employee to resign
then investigate and work on resolving it.
9. GRIEVANCE - an employee who has an issue or dispute with their employer can raise this with their
employer who should investigate and hold a meeting to discuss the issue with the employee with the aim to
decide whether there is an issue to answer to.
GROSS MISCONDUCT - behaviour or an act that is serious enough to result in dismissal. An organisation
must give employees a clear indication of what these would be. Examples would be theft; fighting or violent
behaviour; arson; or deliberate falsification of records, such as timesheets.
HARASSMENT - the act of engaging in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating an
individual’s dignity, or creates a degrading, hostile, offensive or humiliating environment for the employee in
question. Acts can be physical, verbal, or non-verbal.
INDUCTION - the process of introducing a new employee to their job, helping them to understand their role
in the context of the overall business. Setting expectations for performance and monitoring and reviewing
to ensure that expectations are met. It is good practice to put in place a formal induction programme and
appoint another more senior employee to assist.
JOB DESCRIPTION - a document giving details of the tasks, responsibilities, skills and competences for a
particular role. Used to ensure that the employee is clear on their role within the business. The Job
Description is also used in the recruitment process to select the best candidate to fill the vacancy.
JOB EVALUATION - the systematic process of comparing jobs within an organisation with the view of
determining the value of that role. Most commonly used for pay structures.
KPIs - Key Performance Indicators. This could be used with individuals, teams or for the business overall. It
is a system of measuring performance from statistics and data.
LAYOFF - a temporary termination of employees during an economic downturn or restructure of a business,
employees would retain employment rights and continuity of service.
LEGISLATION - laws created by Government with the aim of setting rules that protect employees and
employers. Case Law can also impact the way employment law changes.
LIVING WAGE - The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. The current
UK Living Wage is £8.25 an hour. The current London Living Wage is £9.40 an hour. Employers choose to pay
the Living Wage on a voluntary basis and can be accredited through the Living Wage Foundation
MENTORING - a learning partnership between two employees with the aim of guiding, training and
developing a less experienced employee. A senior, knowledgeable and experienced employee will usually
act as the mentor.
MINIMUM WAGE - the government sets a lower level of earnings that employers must adhere to. The levels
are reviewed annually, the latest introduction of a National Living Wage will apply to employees aged over 25
OUTSOURCING - and agreement between an organisation and a third-party company to provide services,
such as Human Resources, Payroll, Training and Benefits etc.
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10. Page 6
Check the status of your new worker – employee or contractor?
Register with the HMRC as an employer.
Recruit the person - decide what the employee will do and how you will recruit
Decide how much you will pay your new employee and does it meet National
Minimum Wage/National Living Wage.
Decide how you will run your Payroll.
Check your Auto enrolment obligations to provide the employee with a
Check your new employee has the right to work in the UK.
Do you need to carry out background checks, referencing or Disclosure and
Ensure you are covered with Insurance – Employee liability; Management
Provide new employee with a Contract of Employment and Job Description.
Provide your new employee with an Employee Handbook, including policies and
Provide appropriate Health and Safety measures
Register for Data Protection or update your existing registration.
Provide the new employee with an induction programme to help them settle in
and pass probation.
11. PILON OR PAY IN LIEU OF NOTICE - this is used when an employer ends the employment of an employee
and does not wish the employee to work their notice period. The payment may be subject to normal Tax
and National Insurance deductions, this is usually dependent on the employment contract and practices of
POSITIVE ACTION - where an employer feels there is a disadvantage or under-representation of a particular
group within their workforce, they may through the recruitment or promotion process select a candidate
from the under-represented group when faced with two or more equally qualified candidates. Selection
should be a proportionate way to address the under-representation. There is no obligation for an employer
to use positive action.
PROBATIONARY PERIOD - initial period of employment where both employer and employee can decide
whether the job is right for them. This is a period when the employer set's expectations and measures
performance of the new employee and is used to resolve any issues that occur.
PROTECTED CHARACTERISTICS - the following are characteristics that are protected under the Equality Act
2010 and make it unlawful to discriminate against a person or group of people with a protected
PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTRACT - the mutual trust and confidence between employer and employee. These
obligations are informal and inferred by the actions of each party, such as promises, expectations and
previous actions. Examples could include the informal payment of a Christmas Bonus; or promises made
during recruitment process.
RANDOM TESTING - used to check whether employees are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Employees randomly selected from a pool to be tested. Generally used where an employer has to comply
with strict Health and Safety Regulations.
REDUNDANCY - A redundancy situation exists where the organisation shuts down or partly shuts down; the
organisation shuts down a specific location (even if moving to a new premises); or the requirement for a
particular kind of work has significantly reduced or come to an end. See also Consultation.
RESIGNATION - a voluntary decision of an employee to leave their employer. Resignations should be made
in writing and notice periods should be adhered to in accordance with the employment contract.
RESTRICTIVE COVENANT - a contractual clause that imposes reasonable time related restrictions on an ex-
employee to protect the organisation from poaching of clients, employees or the disclosure of confidential
information and trade secrets.
RETIREMENT - an employee's resignation with the intention to cease working and enjoy their later life.
There is no compulsory retirement age but an employer should have planning discussions with all their
employees with the intention of workforce planning.
BITE SIZED HR
AGE | DISABILITY | GENDER REASSIGNMENT | PREGNANCY AND MATERNITY
MARRIAGE AND CIVIL PARTNERSHIP | RACE, COLOUR, ETHNIC/NATIONAL ORIGIN
RELIGION OR BELIEF | SEX | SEXUAL ORIENTATION
12. If you run your own advertisement for a vacancy it can be daunting to have to then sift through the many
applications that you have received. Here are my top tips to make this process much easier and effective.
1 Create a selection tool using the Job Description to identify the key criteria you are looking for.
Qualifications – e.g., relevant degree, vocational qualification, NVQ’s, GCSE’s, A ‘Levels etc
IT knowledge – e.g., MS Office, specific software systems you use etc.
Technical knowledge – e.g., engineering, telecoms, nursing, administration etc
Relevant industry experience – e.g., customer service, retail, charity, care home, sales, engineer etc.
Attributes – e.g., team player, innovative, communication etc.
2 Review each application against the criteria, remember you may not pick up everything from the
application but if there is a close enough fit you might want to take to the next step.
3 Create three piles – Yes | No | Maybe.
4 Get someone else to review after you, it’s helpful to have another pair of eyes.
5 Use “telephone screening” with questions around the key criteria you are looking for. It also can be
helpful to clarify a few things. Here’s a few you could include:
Gaps in employment – where a candidate’s employment history does not follow immediately from one
employment to the next employment you should clarify what they were doing during the gap. The more
information you have the better prepared you are, but don’t use it alone as a reason to put in the No pile.
Telephone manner – if you need the candidate to take calls, e.g. Reception or Customer Service team,
you want to hear how they come across on the telephone, very important.
Filling in gaps on knowledge, skills, experience or qualifications – if there is only a little information
you could use this as an opportunity to find out more.
Specific questions – you could ask questions aimed at clarifying the individual’s technical knowledge.
The potential here is endless, but remember the focus should be on clarifying information and finding out a
bit more about the potential candidates to help you narrow down your list. You’re now building a better
picture and the information you have now received can go onto your scoring sheets, your Yes pile might be
smaller and some of your Maybe’s could now move to the Yes pile.
Now you’re ready for the next step – face to face interviews.
13. RIGHT TO WORK - under the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 (Section 8(2)) an employer must make
checks to ensure they are employing individuals who have the Right to Work in the UK. Failure to make
checks or the employment of an illegal immigrant will result in penalties for the employer.
SABBATICAL - an extended period of unpaid time off for an employee to take up an ambition or desire that
they wish to fulfil. Usually the employer allows the employee to return to their previous role, however, this is
always subject to any organisational factors that can occur during the period of time off.
SALARY SACRIFICE - an agreement to reduce gross salary in exchange for a benefit, examples include:
Pension contributions; Childcare Vouchers; Cycle to Work schemes; etc. The scheme must be one a
government recognised scheme. The application of salary sacrifice must not bring the employee's salary
below National Minimum Wage, or National Living Wage.
SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT - a mutual agreement to end a contract of employment made between both
parties. This agreement removes an individual's right to make a claim through a Tribunal. Discussions are
normally held through a “Without Prejudice Meeting”.
SICKNESS ABSENCE - a period of absence when an employee is unable to attend work due to illness or
injury, this could be a short-term or long-term absence and should be managed appropriately by the
employer. Employees are able to self-certify sickness up to 7 consecutive days (includes working and non-
working days) but must provide medical certificates to cover any absences beyond 7 days. A policy should
clearly state reporting and notification procedures and how the employer will measure sickness absence as
well as consequences of unacceptable levels of absence.
SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed. Used in the process of setting objectives that
can be easily measured over a period of time. SMARTER is and extension of the acronym with the last two
letters meaning Extending and Rewarding.
UNFAIR DISMISSAL - a dismissal which is deemed unfair by a Tribunal. To claim unfair dismissal it must be
outside one of the fair reasons:
UNPAID LEAVE - a period of time off for which the employee receives no salary, this could be for example
Emergency Leave, Compassionate Leave etc. The employee will retain their position and employment rights.
VICTIMISATION - an individual who has suffered a detriment as a result of bringing a claim or grievance
under the Equality Act 2010
WHISTLE BLOWING - reporting of alleged illegal acts carried out by an organisation under the Protected
Disclosures Act 2000.
WORK-LIFE BALANCE - the ability for an individual to have some control over their working time to allow for
personal life commitments, creating a balance. This should be to the mutual benefit of the individual and
BITE SIZED HR
Qualifications | Capability | Conduct | Illegality |Redundancy
Some other Substantial Reason
14. WRONGFUL DISMISSAL - is when an employer breaches the employment contract, such as a dismissal with
no notice. The employee can take the employer to court but must mitigate their losses as much as possible
ZERO HOURS CONTRACT - these are used when an employer has a requirement for ad hoc, casual work
that is fulfilled by a bank of workers who are engaged on assignment for short periods of time. Early 2016
saw the introduction of legislation to prevent employers from using exclusivity clauses. Zero hours
contracts are useful when a business needs the flexibility due to work fluctuation and there is no obligation
for the employer to offer work or the worker to accept the work.
BITE SIZED HR
The information contained in this guide is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be
construed as legal advice on any subject matter.
The content of this guide contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments,
verdicts or settlements. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this
guide without seeking legal or professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.
Hawkswood HR expressly disclaims any liability with respect to any actions taken or not taken based on any
or all the contents of this guide.
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