New Year’s Resolutions can be quickly forgotten so to help you onto the path of righteousness we asked Ceri Durham, an employment lawyer with Clarkslegal to do the hardwork for you; read on to see her top three HR resolutions for 2006.
1. Release the lawyer in you! Get up to speed with the Age Discrimination Regulations
This is an essential. If there is one big topic for 2006, age discrimination is it!
Unless you have been living in the dark-ages, you will already know that the by the end of October 2006, the UK (and other EU countries) must have regulations in place which deal with discrimination on the grounds of age. The UK Government has decided to do this in the form of Age Discrimination Regulations which will come into force on 1 October 2006. The Government has promised that the final regulations will be released at the beginning of 2006.
The impact of these Regulations cannot be underestimated. Unlike other forms of discrimination, there is no concept of protecting a minority group. The UK has chosen to protect all workers from discrimination on the grounds of age. Anyone who thinks they have been discriminated against for being too young or old (either directly or indirectly) will potentially have a claim.
If you haven’t already done so, get yourself trained on this topic. If your company won’t pay, look out for the free training that is being offered at venues around the country. Get hold of written guidance on the draft Regulations and inwardly digest!
Although current training and written advice can only refer to the draft Regulations, the view of the majority of commentators is that the Regulations are unlikely to change significantly. If you are up to speed on the basics, it won’t be too hard to appreciate any changes in the final version.
2. Update your policies and procedures and get training
Use your newly acquired knowledge to assess the impact the Age Discrimination Regulations will have on your business at key points such as recruitment, promotion, access to benefits, and retirement. As soon as you are up to speed with the Regulations, you will realise how much of an impact they are likely to have on your business.
Whilst you are age-proofing your polices and procedures, take the opportunity to check they are up-to-date for other changes such as the sexual orientation regulations, definitions of disability, the new Civil Partnership Act and even internal matters like the company’s new logo.
Updating policies and procedures can be a boring and thankless task but once done, should only require relatively minor tweaking to ensure it stays up to date. By far the biggest challenge is making sure your managers are aware (and stick to) the policies agreed. Make a resolution that 2006 is the year that your managers will be trained and coached in:
- Discrimination and family friendly issues – and in particular the new ‘crime’ of age-ism.
- Recruitment – at a minimum make sure managers know which questions can be asked. Even better ensure they have interview training and appreciate the importance of competency based questions.
- Handling dismissal, disciplinary and grievance situations – minimum standard procedures have been in place for over a year now. Make sure your policies are up to date and your managers know what to do or when to contact you.
- Retirement procedures – these are new and you and your managers need to be prepared! Make sure you know who is going to do what.
3. Speak to your boss!
Being aware of employment law is all very well, but this is only a small part of the much more interesting and fun things that HR is involved with. Speak to your boss and find out what the business goals are for 2006? What role can HR play in making them a reality?
Nowadays, HR is exactly that – the part of a business, which looks after the resource known as your employees and helps them develop in the best way possible for your business. Therefore think about what your company needs – is it a learning and development programme, more flexible benefits, a proper induction programme? Whatever it is, there is bound to be scope for you to identify the thing that will make a difference and put something into place – even in the smallest of companies.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2006 where all your New Year HR Resolutions come true!
By Ceri Durham, Clarkslegal
Useful resources include:
- Any Answers: The use of ‘junior/senior’ in job titles
- Jargon Buster: Age discrimination
- Age discrimination: Will legislation help?
- Age discrimination notes from Clarkslegal
- How to: Become a change agent
- How to: Measure the value of HR
We’d like to hear about your HR 2006 resolutions – simply post your comments in the box below.