Supporting Good Practice in Managing Employee Relations

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Employment relationship – defn. “the relationship that exists between employers and employees in the workplace”

When an employee starts a new company there may be many internal and external factors that impact on the employment relationship. One external factor is the state of the economy, in recent years the economy has experienced a recession. This has impacted businesses in many ways; e.g. redundancies - less capital means companies can no longer afford to keep all staff.

A second external factor is the social impact. For example the age of retirement has increased which has resulted in an older retained workforce - the retention of specialised skills and knowledge of the company will be a positive impact on the employment relationship.

However, there are also internal factors that impact the employment relationship. Firstly employee participation. An example of this is to give employees a ‘voice’ by distributing employee engagement surveys, which allows employees to express their views on the company and motivates employees when actions are taken from their opinions.

Furthermore control of performance can also be a vital internal factor. Managing employee’s performances in the process of appraisals can motivate staff to continue reaching individual objectives which contribute to company goals.

Three types of employment status and three reasons why it is important to clearly determine an individual’s employment status are: -

* ‘Self Employment’ whereby a person will work for themselves rather than an employer. It is important to make this definition as the company will not be accountable to make NI contributions or pay any employment tax on behalf of this type of worker.

* A second employment status is a ‘worker’ which includes individuals working under a variety of contracts. It is important to establish this type of worker as they will be entitled to the core legal rights, they will be entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage and be protected against unlawful deduction from wages.

* The Final employment status is an 'employee'. This is the most common status, and applies to the largest group of people in the workplace. The difference between workers and employees are that as an employee you have a wider range of employment rights and responsibilities to and from your employer, such as Statutory Sick Pay, and Statutory Redundancy Pay.

Employers and employees have mutual obligations towards each other, set out in the terms of their employment contracts. It is important to know what these rights and obligations are so as not to breach contract. These rights include the importance of work life balance and how it can be influenced by legalisation.

“Work-life balance is achieved when an individual's right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society.” It is important for employees to be able to balance their life at work and at home, as having an equal balance can lead to a motivated and retained workforce. Legalisation plays a vital role on how work-life balance can be implemented. The Working Time Regulations (1998) means that an employee cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours a week on average - meaning all employees can ensure they participate in personal external activities outside of the workplace, which in turn promotes a dedicated and committed workforce. In general the Working Time Regulations provide rights to:

* A limit of an average 48 hours a week on the hours a worker can be required to work, though individuals may choose to work longer; * 5.6 weeks' paid leave a year
* 11 consecutive hours' rest in any 24-hour period
* A 20-minute rest break if the working day is longer than six hours * One day off each week
* A limit on the normal working hours of night workers to an average eight hours in any 24-hour period, and an...
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