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17

Jan 2019

New Year Resolutions for HR and business owners - what will yours be?

It’s the start of a new year! Leaving aside personal resolutions, what should someone dealing with Human Resources for a business consider as aspirational New Year’s resolutions for 2019?

The Top 5

1.   Review all employment documentation.

A regular annual review of employment contracts and policies is highly recommended to ensure that they are in line with the current business needs, employment law and practice and give sufficient protection to the business interests in terms of confidentiality and post termination restrictions i.e. non-competition, non-solicitation. If in doubt seek specialist legal advice. 

2.   Ensure that your business is fully GDPR compliant

Even though the General Data Protection Regulations came into force on 25th May last year, many businesses are not fully compliant in terms of the policies and procedures and processes that they should have in place.  Given the significant penalties employers can face for failing to comply with the new data protection legislation, it is essential that all businesses ensure their processes and policies for dealing with data protection including responding to subject access requests and privacy notices are legally compliant.

As a business can be held liable for serious data breaches by its employees, you should ensure that business data, security and IT systems and disaster recovery programs are sufficiently robust to prevent data security breaches and check that there is insurance cover for data related claims.

3.   Review staffing levels for the year ahead

Review the business headcount by department, taking into account Brexit and financial forecasts, existing cash flow and any planned retirements, maternity or sick leave absences.  If the outlook for 2019 is looking bleak consider restructuring or redundancies, or, if there is a recruitment need consider if this will this be influenced by changes in immigration policy. 

4.     Improve well-being in the workplace.

Mental Health is a hot topic at the moment with 1 in 4 employees likely to suffer within their lifetime. Consider improving wellbeing and health in the workplace for all staff by encouraging fitness, holidays, healthy living and mindfulness to reduce absenteeism and enable a happier and more productive engaged and valued work force. This will also limit potential claims for disability discrimination and personal injury claims for work related stress.

5.     Protect the business reputation.

A business reputation can take years to achieve and be lost in a few tweets. With this in mind, make sure your business’s social media footprint is maintaining the right business reputation by regularly reviewing it, monitoring and updating it including the social media use by employees. Make sure there is an up to date, robust and legally compliant social media policy in place which has been communicated to all relevant individuals.

What to do next?

Consider what your resolutions for 2019 will be regarding Staff/HR issues in your business and the timeline needed to implement them. Make a record and diarise the actions points after discussing and agreeing them with the relevant people in your business.

Seek specialist advice when under resourced or lacking in expertise and consider your budget for legal/external support for 2019 as this could be money well spent in terms of reducing cost and risk to your business.

For further information please contact William Addis, Associate Solicitor in the Sevenoaks office of Thackray Williams LLP - william.addis@thackraywilliams.com

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