In June 2018, our team attended the Childcare Expo in Manchester alongside Morton Michel and their Business Café.

At the Business Café, one of our HR consultants, Natalie Ellis, answered your HR / Employment Law questions. These questions included:

1.How can I effectively manage staff absences?

Absences that last a day or two (commonly known as short term absence) are the most common cause of sickness absence. Staff should follow the correct absence reporting procedure if they are unable to attend work. Regardless of the length of the absence the employer should conduct a return to work meeting when staff return to work. It is beneficial to review the last 12 months of absence to establish if a pattern emerges e.g. on a certain day of the week, around annual leave, bank holidays, and on payday are common occurrences.

The employer should set expectations by specifying a sufficient level of attendance, this can be a part of their absence policy. Therefore, to monitor this effectively, the employer may set trigger points of a certain number of days or occasions of sickness absence. If the staff member exceeds the stated level, the employer may consider a formal course of action. This must be approached fairly and consistently and in accordance to the circumstances e.g. medical conditions which may be covered under the Equality Act 2010.

2.I have a lot of part time staff, should I be doing anything different for them? 

No. Part-time staff have the right to be treated in exactly the same way as a full-time staff member. Therefore, they should receive the same rate of pay (pro rata), have the same holiday entitlements (pro rata), be included in any necessary training, not be treated less favourably when going through redundancy selection any benefits, contractual terms and parental leave made available to them in the same way as for full-time employees.

3.What are my responsibilities for agency staff?

Agency staff are a popular choice for many childcare providers as they are quick to recruit and can provide cover for periods of absence such as holiday and sickness. If they are employed via a recruitment agency, common perception is that the employer has no responsibilities for them but this is not true. In employment law terms agency staff are defined as workers, and remain employed by the agency during their assignment, although be aware that after twelve weeks’ of continuous employment in the same role, they are entitled to the same terms and conditions as permanent employees, including pay, working time, rest periods, night work, breaks and annual leave.

One of our oldest clients had this to say about the service they receive from us:

“Some of our issues need a knowledge of how schools operate whilst others need a more commercial approach. It has not mattered which category my issue has fallen into, someone at AHR Consultants has been able to assist me. The staff I have dealt with have been professional, supportive and over time a relationship has developed where we can have a laugh and a joke (it all helps to lighten the day)”