Most employers aren't HR experts, and without the right support, juggling the people aspects of running a successful organisation can be a considerable challenge – one that only increases as you grow.

As much as you might like to able to take on the various facets of human resources management yourself, it is sometimes necessary to call in specialists to provide an extra layer of day-to-day HR support, as well as to help you navigate your way through particularly complex situations.

Bogged down with low-level employee relations issues? Find that you’re often unsure of the correct course of action? Not confident that you have the expertise to handle HR matters in a way that doesn’t invite legal risk? Enlisting external support from an HR expert might be the perfect solution.

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Organisations supported by Ellis Whittam

Ellis Whittam: A dedicated HR expert at your disposal

At Ellis Whittam, we offer a smart alternative to in-house HR support, allowing you to cost-effectively manage your HR management needs without compromising on the quality of service or advice.

We provide close support to over 17,700 clients, ranging from small employers with fewer than 50 employees at a single location through to large organisations employing thousands of people at multiple sites across the UK. 

Integral to our expert HR solutions is the provision of dedicated, legally-qualified Employment Law and HR specialists, who function as a trusted extension of your team on a first-name basis.

Typically, for small employers, our commercially-minded advisers develop and maintain an ongoing relationship with managers, directors and owners. For large employers, we offer an additional layer of support to their existing in-house HR teams, whether that’s providing qualified assistance with particularly complex issues or policy creation, the benefit of a second opinion, or to simply allow them to focus their attention on bigger-picture HR tasks that drive your organisation forward.

Whatever your size, sector or current arrangements, our HR experts have the knowledge, experience and commercial acumen to guide you through any people problems you encounter – no matter how simple or complex – and achieve your preferred outcome, quickly.

Ellis Whittam's HR experts support PureGym

High-quality HR support that doesn’t cost a fortune

While you will understandably want to keep a close eye on your bottom line, attempting to tackle employee relations issues without the right expertise can prove to be a very costly mistake. As well as taking up valuable management time by allowing issues to drag on for longer than they need to, the potential to mishandle matters can leave you exposed to Employment Tribunal claims and reputational damage.

In many cases, the cost of non-compliance far outweighs the cost of support. However, when expert HR help is required, it often comes down to a choice between a traditional solicitors firm, which can mean paying an extortionate upfront cost followed by additional fees for small tasks, or a fixed-fee HR company, where the personalised approach and quality of advice is often lacking.

Ellis Whittam exists to combine the best of both worlds:

High-quality, tailored support from a legally-qualified HR expert who genuinely understands your business and how you operate.
An unlimited, fixed-fee service, giving you the reassurance that our costs won't change no matter how many times you lean on us for expert HR advice.
"I believe that a contract with Ellis Whittam is the best possible use of company funds."
Managing Director, PVC Building Supplies

The benefits to you

Whether you’re facing a complicated grievance, struggling with the complexities of TUPE, or unsure how to go about changing an employee’s terms and conditions, the ability to pick up the phone to a qualified professional can make all the difference.

Our expert HR solutions will enable your organisation to:

Anyone can read legislation, but it takes considerable skill to cut through all the jargon and understand how it applies to real-life situations. Our HR experts can eliminate the headache and explain, in straightforward language, where you stand from a legal standpoint and what the best course of action is. 

Carefully-crafted, robust documentation is essential when it comes to preventing and defending Employment Tribunal claims.

As well as helping you to manage issues that arise quickly and compliantly, we will work with you to proactively protect your organisation by expertly drafting your Contracts of Employment, Employee Handbook (complete with best-practice policies and procedures), and any other letters or agreements you require along the way.

Importantly, unlike some other fixed-fee providers, we don’t simply hand out templates; we’ll do all the hard work for you.

Day to day, your HR Consultant is hand to help you identify commercially-savvy solutions to all your people problems, from common employment challenges such as grievances, disciplinaries and performance, to more complicated matters such as TUPE, discrimination and medical capability.

The advice you receive will be clear, pragmatic and tailored to your individual circumstances.

Plus, if you require more hands-on support with strategic projects or particularly complex procedures, we also offer a range of expert HR consulting services, from conducting HR audits to providing on-site support with investigations.

Your HR management toolkit

In addition to unlimited support via our HR helpline, our core service gives you access to a suite of additional tools designed to make managing your HR responsibilities easier.

Available through our online portal, you can take advantage of:

Our cloud-based HR Software, which streamlines important HR functions, such as holiday and absence management, employee benefits and training
Our growing range of interactive e-Learning courses designed to upskill staff while keeping downtime to a minimum
Our full-version Knowledge Hub, where you can find expert-created guidance notes and downloadable templates ready for immediate use.

We’re available now

If you’re currently facing a particular HR hurdle or just looking to elevate the quality or level of support you currently have in place, we’re confident that we can offer an effective solution to HR management needs.

To talk through your specific needs and find out how our fixed-fee service can help to take the pressure off, call 0345 226 8393 to speak with one of our friendly team.

Quick-fire HR Guides

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What are the steps of a disciplinary procedure?

The way you discipline employees will depend on the severity of the offence. If the matter cannot be dealt with through an informal discussion with a manager, it may be necessary to initiate formal disciplinary proceedings.

Start by appointing an impartial senior individual to investigate the alleged misconduct. This will typically involve interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence that both supports and challenges the allegations made against the employee. If the investigation produces sufficient evidence of misconduct, this information should be passed over to a disciplinary officer. Their role is to conduct a disciplinary hearing with the employee to present the facts gathered and give them an opportunity to respond, before deciding on a fair and reasonable sanction. The employee then has the right to appeal if they feel that the decision is unfair or unreasonable, in which case a meeting must be held with the employee to explore their grounds of appeal, and it may be necessary to investigate the points raised further before reaching a final conclusion.

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How do I change an employee’s terms and conditions?

Changes to working arrangements may need to be reflected in employees’ terms and conditions. For example, asking people to work different shifts, perhaps with a later start and finish time, could involve a contractual change.

A contract can only be changed in line with its existing terms or by agreement, so start by checking what it currently says. If what you are trying to achieve is already permitted under the terms of the contract, the change can be enacted that way. If not, the quickest and easiest way to introduce a change is by negotiation and agreement.

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Am I liable for employees’ posts on social media?

This question was explored in the case of Forbes v LHR Airport, which centered around an an employee who posted a racially offensive image on Facebook. She did this during her own time, using her own computer; however, one of her colleagues showed it to another colleague, who raised a grievance with the employer. This was upheld and the employee was disciplined. However, when the complainant was then rostered to work alongside the employee who had shared the post, he complained and was moved to another location without explanation. He subsequently made a claim of harassment on the grounds of race.

The claim was unsuccessful. The Tribunal ruled that in order for the employer to be liable, the harassment has to be carried out “during the course of employment” and the post had been made outside of work. The employer was fortunate here in that the claimant complained about the employee’s behaviour. If, instead, his claim was about the conduct of the colleague who had shown him the image at work, that would have been an act carried out in the course of employment.

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What is a fair way to select employees for redundancy?

When making employees redundant, a fair selection process is vital. You will first need to identify a pool of at-risk employees, which might include those whose duties or skills are similar, then from this pool select individuals for redundancy by creating and applying fair, objective and non-discriminatory scoring criteria.

Examples of fair selection criteria might include employees’ performance, attendance and disciplinary records, as well as their skills, knowledge and experience. You should avoid any criteria that relies on managers’ subjective assessments, and a ‘last in, first out’ approach should also be avoided as it may be potentially discriminatory.

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Should I be worried about Employment Tribunal claims?

In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that Employment Tribunal fees were unlawful, meaning that employees can now bring a claim against their employer at no cost to themselves. Naturally, since this change, claim numbers have risen year on year.

A recent survey based on a sample of claims in 2018 has revealed a riskier picture for employers compared to five years ago, with lengthier, more complex cases and higher settlements and awards. Notably, open track cases – those dealing with complex issues like discrimination and whistleblowing where compensation is technically upcapped – now make up 40% of all claims.

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