the Basics Right
Have you ever had an HR Audit?
full HR Audit can look at any potential pitfalls in current
policies and documentation and can recommend remedial
action. Depending on other systems in place and the reason
for the Audit - it could be a regular health check with
the support of an in-house HR/Personnel specialist or
sometimes a review - often on the departure of the long-term
incumbent in the position - before recruiting a replacement.
Sometimes, it stems from a feeling of dissatisfaction
with “HR/Personnel” and what it does/should
should you have an HR Audit?
Procedures and documentation may sound boring but most
employers who lose Employment Tribunal cases do so because
of poor procedures and documentation or - if they have
procedures in place, particularly Disciplinary and Grievance,
and do not follow them correctly.
The 1996 Employment Act consolidated much previous employment
law but also introduced some new requirements - are you
sure your contracts of employment are up to date? Do they
incorporate provisions from the previous Wages Act which
restrict employers from deducting amounts from an employee’s
pay without their written or contractual consent - however
justified it may seem?
Staff Handbooks sit alongside contracts of employment
and enable you to create a good image as a modern employer
(Sexual Harassment and Equal Opportunities policies are
two examples of areas which need to be covered nowadays).
Your Health and Safety policy and your obligation to provide
VDU Screen Users with Eyesight Tests should also be spelt
out. Other useful policies are rules concerning the use
of the Internet at work for private use and banning pornographic
material etc.; policies on bribery, accepting business gifts and
rules for dealing with the media - different businesses
will have different policies which are important to them
and which need to be explained clearly and concisely to
both new and existing employees. King
Associates has produced Staff Handbooks
for both large and small clients from a small Design Consultancy
to a Global Bank.
Another area of major importance to some businesses is
the validity of their Business Protection and Confidentiality
Agreements (sometimes known as Restrictive Covenants).
Case law is always evolving in this area and if they are
drawn up too broadly or are deemed as too restrictive,
they could prove worthless. It is always worth having
your contracts of employment and
associated documentation checked periodically to ensure
that they are working for you and
not against you.
Are your policies and documentation ‘discrimination
free’? Increasingly, litigation is being brought
against employers under the discrimination banner - even
at the recruitment stage by non-employees. Sex, race,
age and disability are just four areas of nine ‘protected characteristics’ to be aware
of in establishing your recruitment policies. If you have
one, the Application Form is a good starting point - does
yours pass the discrimination test?
would an HR Audit Cover?
would need to spend some time in your office with access
to your Personnel documentation and records but most of
the work would be done off site (we are registered under
the Data Protection Act for handling confidential employee
data). A full report would then be produced with recommendations
followed by a meeting to discuss any action to be taken.
typical HR Audit Report would cover the following:
Staffing Levels and Locations
Existing Contracts of Employment
Review of and commentary on existing HR Policies
Review of Existing HR related Documentation including
Personnel Files, Employee Databases and Records
Security and Confidentiality
Other Issues Arising from Audit or Requests from the Company
Summary of Findings and Recommendations
(Copies of forms, master documents and so on)
Specific Audits Undertaken Have Included:
do you want from HR/Personnel?
For one Client, facing this particular problem, we designed
a questionnaire and then interviewed Directors and Senior
Managers to find out “What they wanted from a Personnel
Function?” The results highlighted the Company’s
needs which were not being met and served as a basis for
recruiting a replacement for the existing jobholder whose
skills and knowledge had been overtaken by a rapidly growing
company. We provided outplacement support and career coaching
to smooth the transition for the individual concerned
and successfully recruited a more highly qualified and
experienced Personnel Manager to take the company forward.
of Mind for Pension Scheme Trustees (AVC Audit)
For another Client we audited their Pension Scheme administration
on behalf of the Trustees, to ensure that following an
earlier merger, all employee AVC (Additional Voluntary
Contributions) funds were correctly accounted for and
invested and were correctly recorded in the records of
the appropriate AVC providers. This was a painstaking
reconciliation exercise and involved gaining co-operation
from and liaising with - individual staff members; the
Client’s in-house Pension Scheme Administrator;
their external Administrators (past and present); their
Scheme Actuary and the various AVC Providers. The Client
was left with complete records and an audit trail together
with peace of mind for the Trustees who knew that they
had discharged one of their responsibilities arising from
the Transfer of Undertakings requirements.
where Documentation has been Provided/Streamlined include:
- Sickness and Statutory Sick Pay Records
- A Medical Questionnaire to replace costly pre-employment
- Training Records and Individual Training Logs (essential
for many Compliance Audits in financial services)
- Fixed Term Contracts; Temporary/Casual Worker Agreements;
Directors' Service Agreements
- Declarations for Home Office or Police checks on individuals
working with children or vulnerable adults
- Induction Manuals and Compliance checklists
- Redundancy calculation formulae and selection criteria/consultation/guidelines
- Pension Scheme information and Benefit Statements
- Equal Opportunity Application Forms
- Access to Medical Records/Report Forms
- Loan repayment documents for repaying fees arising
from Educational Assistance Policies for early leavers
- Season Ticket Deduction Forms
- Nomination Forms in conjunction with Pension Scheme
- Holiday and Absence Record sheets and forms
- Accident Report Form
If you need a form King
design it for you.
following is an excerpt from a Chief Executive's personal
'thank you' letter:
I originally was so keen to include an “audit”
element within your consultancy, I was anticipating there
may be skeletons in the cupboard - I don’t think
even I was quite prepared for the amount that has been