HR FAQ’s

HR can be a difficult area to understand and for many businesses, the best option for them is to outsource to an HR provider.

We have devised a list of the most common questions that arise for HR alongside answers which we hope will enable you to understand the area in greater detail.

Why Outsource my HR

How does HR outsourcing reduce costs?

Outsourcing your HR can cost significantly less than choosing to employ your own, in-house HR team. By working with us, we will become your HR team and handle everything from employee relations to strategic HR – as and when it is required. Working with HR Solutions can save your business time and money.

How do I outsource my HR?

We pride ourselves on delivering a personalised, expert service that brings huge value to you and your organisation. Our team will get to know your business meaning you can leverage specialist outsourced knowledge as well as having an experienced support team.

We work with clients on a 30, 60 and 90 day plan depending on your business needs, and offer different packages depending on the level of support your business requires.

Need somebody to advise you on areas such as case management or legal updates? Our HR Lite/ HR Standard packages will give you unlimited access to our expert team of HR Advisors.

Need more in-depth support and additional protection against possible claim? HR Enhanced gives you access to a dedicated HR Consultant for regular support and training to not only better you, but also your team.

What is HR outsourcing?

HR outsourcing is a contractual agreement between an employer and an external third-party provider whereby the employer transfers the management of, and processing of key employment practices for certain HR functions to the external provider.

Why do companies outsource HR?

There are many benefits to outsourcing, such as having a team of HR experts on hand to guide you through each HR situation. Having the correct policies and procedures in place will ensure compliance with employment legislation, and by following our advice where an employment related issue arises, you will reduce your risks of an Employment Tribunal claim significantly. Outsourcing your HR to a team of experts will also reduce the resource spent on administrative tasks, freeing up your team to spend time on revenue-generating activities.

Outsourcing HR is significantly cheaper than employing an in-house HR Assistant or Manager, which is why its a popular choice for many SMEs.

When should I outsource HR?

Outsourcing your HR will enable you to focus completely on your business. Regardless of your business size, freeing up internal resources can be hugely beneficial to your business and team morale. Whether you are a start-up or an established business with multiple staff, outsourcing will enable your teams to fulfil their individual roles and concentrate on what they know best: your business.

Why is HR outsourcing important?

Outsourcing your HR will save you time, money and resources, allowing you to get the important things done. There is also the issue of legal protection. Our HR consultants are all trained and ready to defend your business for you, should the time come. We have never lost a tribunal in over 20 years.

General HR Queries

What is a settlement agreement?

A settlement agreement is a legally binding document that records agreed terms, usually with some compensation being paid, in return for which the employee waives the right (having received the appropriate legal advice) to bring a complaint to an employment tribunal.

Settlement agreements are commonly used for unfair dismissal, but can also be used to settle a workplace dispute or issue which does not result in the employment relationship ending (eg a dispute over holiday pay). They cannot be used to settle claims for failure to consult under TUPE.

What is the difference between a settlement agreement and a compromise agreement?

Settlement agreements were previously known as “compromise agreements” and were introduced in 1993. Such agreements traditionally tended to be used only for senior executives but have become more common in order to reduce the costs of employment litigation.

What length of absence defines an employee as being long term sick?

There is no legal definition of ‘long-term’ absence so it is up to the employer to decide at what point such absences need to be formally reviewed. Often a trigger procedure that alerts you once an employee has been absent for an unbroken period is put in place, typically set at four, six or 13 weeks. In smaller organisations, the absence may have much more of an immediate impact, therefore many smaller employers regard anything in excess of four weeks as ‘long-term’.

Do workers accrue annual leave whilst off sick?

Workers still accrue their full statutory annual holiday (5.6 weeks) whilst absent on long-term sick leave. They must be given the opportunity to take this, even where that person has exhausted his/her entitlement to sick pay and where the person does no work at all during the holiday year.

Is it just an employer that may be liable for a successful bullying and harassment claim?

Whilst employers are responsible for any acts of bullying or harassment committed by their employees in the course of their employment, employees may also be personally held accountable.

What is the benefit of allowing career breaks / sabbaticals for employees?

Career break schemes are offered by many employers, primarily as a way of retaining a link with your business and thereby hopefully retaining employees who wish to take time out from their careers. A career break scheme may also help to attract high quality applicants and may complement other equal opportunity policies and practices.

Career breaks may be desired by employees for a number of reasons: the most common is for the care of young children, but career breaks can also be used for care of dependants, to undertake a course of study or research, to travel or to pursue some other interest such as sports training for a specific event.

When does a contract of employment start to exist?

An employment contract is an agreement you enter into with someone else, giving rise to obligations on both parties that are recognised or enforced by law. These contracts do not have to be in writing to be legally binding. Even if there is no written agreement, once you have offered a job to someone on certain terms and conditions (“consideration”) and they have accepted it, an agreement is reached and a contract of employment exists.

How can I lawfully deduct from employee wages?

Unless prior written authorisation has been given by the employee, an employer is only allowed to make deductions from an employee’s pay in certain prescribed circumstances. Even if the employee owes his/her employer money (eg repayment of a loan) and fails to pay it back on the due date, the employer cannot just deduct it from the employee’s wages without the employee’s prior specific written consent.

Are there different types of dismissal?

There are essentially two types of dismissal:

  1. Termination of employment, where the employer dismisses the employee, either with notice or (in the case of summary dismissal) without notice OR
  2. Constructive dismissal, where the employer’s actions leave the employee with no option but to resign. This can include unreasonable pressure, imposing changes in terms (eg pay or working hours) without agreement or suggesting to an employee that a failure to resign will result in dismissal.

What makes a dismissal ‘fair’?

To justify that a dismissal was fair, you must be
able to demonstrate that:

  1. You acted reasonably in arriving at a decision to dismiss
  2. The reason for dismissal was one of the five potentially fair reasons, ie:
    – conduct (eg lateness, theft, fighting)
    – capability (inability to perform the role due to poor performance, poor attendance or long-term ill-health)
    – redundancy (where there is a lesser need for workers of that particular kind)
    – breach of statutory enactment (such as someone whose right to work in the UK expires, or a driver who loses his licence and cannot drive)
    – ‘some other substantial reason’ (can cover a range of situations such as reorganisations; where agreement to change contractual terms cannot be reached; personal relationships; personality clashes; breakdown in trust and confidence; expiry of a fixed-term contract on the return of the original jobholder eg from maternity/adoption/shared parental leave; third party demands for the removal of the employee from a contract, the dismissal of an employee where there are concerns relating to the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults but where the employer does not have grounds for a misconduct dismissal and, in all cases, there is no other suitable alternative available).
  3. A fair process was followed.

Working from home

Can I force an employee to work from home or in the office?

Working from home is the most common way of working remotely. An employee might work from home all the time, or as part of a hybrid working arrangement. This should be discussed with the employee so that there is a clear understanding of what is expected from them.

Can my employee claim for working from home?

An employee may be able to claim tax relief for additional household costs if they have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week. This includes if they have to work from home because of coronavirus (COVID-19). An employee cannot claim tax relief if they choose to work from home.

They may be able to claim tax relief for gas and electricity, metered water,business phone calls including dial-up internet access.

However, they cannot claim for the whole bill, just the part that relates to their work.

Mental health

Does an employee have to disclose mental health to an employer?

Sometimes the employer may accept what an employee is saying without asking for more information. But, because mental health problems aren’t visible, it may be hard for an employee to explain the situation to their employer.

How long can an employee be off work with depression?

There isn’t a specific answer. Under the Equality Act 2010, any mental health condition that has long-term (12 months) or substantial effects is considered a disability.

So how long can someone be signed off with depression? For as long as they need to get better. Some employees may need to take time off for treatment while others could just require a couple of days away from work.

How to promote mental health and wellbeing in the workplace?

Employees take cues from how their leaders behave. This means employees in senior positions are key resources when it comes to highlighting the importance of mental health and wellbeing.
Spotting the warning signs of a colleague struggling with their mental health can sometimes be hard, especially as more and more people now work remotely. There’s a huge stigma around talking about mental health in many UK workplaces.

Employees remain too reluctant to talk to their managers about any mental health issues they may be having.
Break this stigma by promoting discussion about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. You could do this by:

  • Embedding mental health training into your inductions.
  • Utilising internal communication channels, such as blog posts or staff newsletters, to raise awareness.
  • Encouraging people at all levels to speak openly about their mental health, if they are comfortable doing so.

Can I fire an employee for mental health illness?

Like physical illnesses, mental illnesses can affect employee’s lives at work. If an illness makes it impossible for an employee to do their job, then employees can be dismissed due to mental health—following a full and fair process.

But it’s the your responsibility to protect employee mental health.

Dismissal should be the last resort. You must make suitable adjustments and support employees with any issues. You have a duty of care to do so.

COVID – 19

How can I support an employee with long covid?

Recovering from long COVID can be a lengthy process and employees will need to be supported to recover at their own pace ensuring that they do not relapse.

Line managers can support staff members with long COVID by having regular wellbeing conversations to see how staff members are feeling now that they have returned to work.

Do my employees need to be vaccinated to return to work?

Generally, vaccination has not been mandatory and this remains the case. It will no longer be mandatory for all health and social care workers, and volunteers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to be deployed as was previously planned.

Legal requirements making vaccination mandatory in care homes were reversed in March 2022.

Here to Help

We pride ourselves on delivering a personalised, expert service that brings huge value to you and your organisation. Our team will get to know your business meaning you can leverage specialist outsourced knowledge as well as having an experienced support team.

The extensive knowledge throughout our team means that although we may not be the cheapest, nor the most expensive, you can rest assured that we will deliver you value when you need it most.

Contact Us

Require further answers or HR advice? Contact us below and a member of the team will be in touch.

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