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Zero Hours, Flexible Working Changes & The Good Recruitment Charter

by Jo Shaer, on June 24, 2014

This month's FSB Business Network magazine was interesting from several perspectives relating to our plans to employ an Apprentice from our friends at ITEC in Basildon.

There was an article by Kevin Green of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, who are looking to help businesses to recruit the best staff.

Now I'm a small business owner who is just taking the first steps towards employing other people, so I was keen to find out more.

To 'help employers to audit their supply chain and establish them as an employer of choice', the REC have launched the Good Recruitment Campaign.

They are encouraging businesses to engage with and sign up to a Good Recruitment Charter which they have developed with 14 employers, including Royal Mail, Dixons Retail and Santander as well as a panel of national business bodies.

You have to download the actual document to find out what the nine key principles of good recruitment practice are so I will reproduce them for you here.

1. We are fair, legal and ethical in our resource planning and recruitment procedures, with specific regard to actively promoting diversity and inclusion within the workplace

OK, I'm all in favour of that - I found it tough to get back into work after 15 years as a stay at home Mum.

Zero Hours Contracts

2. We exercise good recruitment practice and apply this equally to temporary, contract, fixed term, zero hours and part-time workers.

I was not totally sure about what zero hours working actually is - so, naturally I Googled it. The BBC tell me that it is where employers can hire staff with no guarantee of work and their pay depends on how often they work. Wow, who would agree to work with a contract like that?

Well, the Office for National Statistics did a survey and found 583,000 people who were on zero-hours contracts - about 2% of the UK workforce.

Checking things out on the ACAS site revealed that these individuals can be entitled to the same rights as other employees, such as holiday pay but that gaps in their contracts may affect other benefits that accrue over time.

But then I'm only looking to employ an apprentice at the moment and I have agreed that I will have enough work to get that person busy from 9.30 to 5.30 five days a week with one day every other week being spent training at college.

3. We deliver a high standard of candidate experience, with ongoing communication during the recruitment process, including two-way feedback for all those interviewed.

Not totally sure what that means, but I would imagine it means keeping the candidate in the picture about the selection process and things that could have been improved in interview technique.

Flexible Working

4. We offer flexible working arrangements and adaptive working practices, wherever possible as a way of boosting inclusion and attracting talent.

Ha, now I had seen something about flexible working earlier on in the magazine. I flicked back to the article by Beverley East of Abbey Legal Services.

On 30th June 2014, the statutory provisions for flexible working are changing so that employees will be able to make a flexible working request - regardless of why they want it - if they have worked for their employer for a continuous period of at least 26 weeks at the date their application is made and providing they have not made another application to work flexibly during the previous 12 months.

So, what is flexible working? Well, it's the ability to apply to vary the hours they work or their place of work. Employers still have the right to refuse the application for one or more of eight permitted business reasons.

However, I can only find seven on the site

  • extra costs which will damage the business
  • the business won’t be able to meet customer demand
  • the work can’t be reorganised among other staff
  • people can’t be recruited to do the work
  • flexible working will have an effect on quality and performance
  • there’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times
  • the business is planning changes to the workforce

But they must deal with the application in a reasonable manner and notify the employee of the decision within three months of the application date. If the employer doesn’t agree to the request, they must have a meeting with the employee to discuss the reasons.

5. We ask that those managing and delivering the recruitment process (whether internal staff or external providers) work to recognised standards, undertake any relevant training/qualification,and commit to continuous development.

Certainly our whole goal for taking on an apprentice is to train them up so they can take on a more responsible and better paid role within our organisation.

6. We ask that our external recruitment providers are signed up to industry codes of practice and demonstrate a commitment to good recruitment practice.

I will check with ITEC, who are working with us to employee our apprentice.

7. Our supply chain delivers good recruitment practice throughout, including where different resourcing models, such as recruitment process outsourcing or vendor arrangements, are in place.

See 6. above.

8. We help to address youth employment through our recruitment procedures; for example, through the provision of apprenticeships and traineeships, and by working with recruitment organisations who have signed up to the REC’s Youth Employment Charter.

Yup, we're taking on an apprentice and I will check to see what our supplier has signed up to.

9. We regularly review our recruitment procedures with feedback from candidates (those appointed and not appointed) and keep up-to-date with new recruitment/resourcing approaches.

Since this is our first set of interviewing procedures, it's going to be a learning curve for us. We have tried to produce a document that describes our company ethos and what we expect from our employees. This is something that will be updated on a regular basis.

Topics:Small BusinessWomen and Small Business

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