“Employee Handbook: Do’s and Don’ts”

Often, the employee handbook is amongst the first handbooks that HR sets up as a part of workplace documentation. It is considered to be the guiding light for employees, outlining processes, rules, norms, workplace behaviors, standard operating procedures for people and so on. Having all these in writing in a ready reckoner minimizes the need to “push” information to the employee, since the document acts as a “self service” instrument that empowers the employee. However, the mistake is that most HR employees design, develop and distribute the employee handbook, only to forget about its existence. It is not sufficient to introduce the handbook; a “pull” effect must be created wherein employees are eager to turn to it when they have any doubt. On the other hand, HR professionals must take extra efforts to orient their people to the handbook, and also update it on a periodic basis, to keep it relevant to the current times. There are legal implication to this too. Recently the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) took to scrutinizing employee handbooks, to check whether employers had put down unlawful employee restrictions on employees.

Here are the important do’s and don’ts when it comes to making and managing an employee handbook.

Do’s

  • Handbooks should provide a view of what the employees are entitled to, as well as what is expected of them from the organization. For example, provide notice of job duties and responsibilities, at the same time make sure to include the employee rights and benefits. This will help outline both the “give” and “take” element of the employer-employee contract.
  • Outline expectations from employees in terms of the following: behavior and conduct, performance requirements, attendance and time off, discipline etc.
  • A handbook is an effective tool to propagate the employee culture. Have the handbook talk about the organizational cultural elements i.e. vision and mission, history, purpose, values, business and functional goals. Note that the goals may change every year and hence the handbook must be updated.
  • The handbook is a powerful tool to minimize legal implications in case of a dispute or legal allegation. Include policies that minimize the potential for liability. The content and wordings should show that you comply with the law.
  • It is important to keep the handbook glocal—i.e. an overall umbrella organization-level content, interspersed with locally relevant content. For example, keep in mind the language that employees understand better, and have a handbook in that language too. Also, avail the services of a local lawyer to incorporate local laws and rules.
  • A handbook is not just about employee labor laws. Make sure you consult your IT and technology department to incorporate the tech angle—how to handle social media interactions and content, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and other tech policies.
  • Make sure you include external-facing situations related to employee recruitment and exit. For example, outline the confidentiality agreements and non-compete agreements that employees are expected to adhere to.
  • Be sure to do your initial research on legal requirements and trends, particularly on new and emerging areas.

Don’ts

  • Do not have a single standard version of the employee handbook. Often different employee categories (corporate, factory, sales etc. ) will have different entitlements and rules as per law. Make sure you incorporate those.
  • Do not release a handbook without checking whether it is legally valid, compliant and complete.
  • Refrain from the temptation of using another company’s employee handbook as a starting point to draft your own. No two employers are alike, and needs and legalities differ.
  • Do not overlook differences in federal, state and local law. Local relevance is of prime importance.
  • Do not be too rigid in defining employee conduct and disciplinary requirements. Leave room for discretion based on case to case requirements, at the same time retain the ability to discipline employees when warranted.

Over and above these, it is important that the handbook be user-friendly i.e. readable and well understood by the employees and employers. Organize it in a manner that is easy to access; host it on the company intranet. Also, communicate its contents from time to time, as a part of the communication strategy of HR. Review the policies from time to time to keep them up to date. A well designed and communicated employee handbook can shift the onus of behavior and performance to the employee to a large extent, freeing up HR’s bandwidth for more strategic interventions.

 

Source: HR Technologist

Date: 3rd July, 2017

 

Execs Rush to Foreclose Car Leases Before GST

Lease rentals could rise by 25-30% in new tax regime

Corporate executives are rushing in their droves to foreclose existing car leases fearing a substantial increase in monthly payments once the goods and services tax (GST) is in place on July 1due to the absence of any transition mechanism.

Cab aggregators such as Uber and Ola that have about 30,000 leased cars also face this threat. Lease rentals could rise by 25-30% in the GST regime due to the rise in tax incidence.

The Centre is likely to raise the issue at the GST Council, the apex decision-making body, on June 30, when it meets before the midnight launch of the new tax, but no one is willing to take a chance.“We are looking at the issue and will take it to the GST Council,“ a senior government official said.

The transition rules provide relief to goods but leases seem to have fallen through the cracks.

An industry grouping that includes ALD, LeasePlan, Arval, TranzLease, Orix, Magma, AVIS, Clix Capital, Tata Capital, Ola, Uber, Sundaram Finance as well as the Tractor Manufacturers Association have petitioned the government seeking exemption from central goods and services tax on existing leases to prevent double taxation as central excise duty has already been paid on the vehicles. “We are flooded with requests to foreclose,“ said Hari Kaushik, president of TranzLease. “Our teams are working overtime to address this issue.“

Business dynamics for the industry are set to change completely with lease owners’ monthly payments rising.

The peculiar situation has arisen because such leases are treated as goods and not services and were accordingly being levied value added tax (VAT). The central excise tax had already been collected when these cars were purchased.

Under GST, which subsumes central excise and many state taxes, the levy will mean a kind of double taxation as excise has already been paid.

For example, if the basic monthly lease rent of a midsize car is ` . 25,000 under the current regime, it would face 12.5% VAT of . 3,125, taking the total to ` ` . 28,125. Under GST, however, the total will be ` . 35,750.That’s based on GST of 28% plus a 15% cess, making for an increase of 30%.

“At Ola Fleet Technologies, we run a leasing programme for tens of thousands of driver-partners who may not be able to afford buying a car of their own,“ said Shalabh Seth, CEO of Ola Fleet Technologies Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ola.

These driver-partners currently pay 14.5% VAT. In the proposed GST regime, they will have to bear GST rates of 29% to 43% on cars already leased, as an outcome of double taxation on existing leases.

“This will have an adverse impact on their livelihoods, setting them back by over ` .1 lakh for the remaining period of the lease, making it unviable to sustain their business,“ he said.

It’s not just cars that could be hit. More than 150,000 tractors are also impacted on account of incre account of incremental tax burden besides trucks, according to industry experts.

 

Date: 26th June 2017

Source: Economic Times

5 mistakes to avoid as a new employee

If you have joined a new workplace, make sure you don’t commit these gaffes as these can affect your career progression or mar your reputation, says Riju Dave.

IGNORING OFFICE CULTURE & PROTOCOL

Every office has its own norms of functioning and work practices. The biggest favour you can do yourself as a new employee is to observe and adapt to this routine, instead of following your previous office’s schedule or simply doing as you please. Be it the way office communication is carried out, paperwork is handled, work flow takes place, or dress code is followed, you should pay close attention and ask questions, if necessary. If you try to be different or show disregard for the work processes and protocol, you not only risk being ostracised by colleagues but, more importantly, it could harm your career as you may end up offending your boss.

TAKING ON TOO MUCH WORK OR NOT AT ALL

Eager to please the new bosses, many employees make the mistake of taking on too many assignments and then failing to deliver. This is a blunder for an employee at any stage, more so for a fresh worker. Do not set targets you can’t possibly achieve. The best way to tackle this problem is to make a realistic work plan, discuss it with your boss and proceed accordingly. At the same time, don’t follow a set schedule, doing only what you are asked to do.Take the initiative to do more than your mandate, assume greater responsibility, help colleagues and multitask without acting arrogantly.This will easily endear you to your new boss and colleagues.

HAVING POOR SOCIAL OR PERSONAL HABITS

There is no bigger put-off than a new colleague who is a slouch, is unhygienic or has poor social skills. The way you dress, talk, maintain your cubicle, treat support staff and handle your work schedule, all have a bearing on how you will be treated or how long you will last in the organisation. If your attire is too casual or garish, your work area is messy, you come in late or leave early habitually, speak rudely to the housekeeping staff or are generally overbearing in your attitude, you will not be tolerated for very long. Make sure you are polite, dressed well and are genial in your dealings with the staff.

BEING TOO SILENT OR A KNOW-IT-ALL

This is one of the most obvious and, yet, among the most flouted of rules. While it is natural to feel intimidated in a new environment, don’t isolate yourself and pass up opportunities to talk or socialise with your colleagues. This may create a wrong impression of being snobbish or having low confidence and self-esteem. At the same time, don’t act arrogant, be too talkative or familiar with colleagues, or take every chance to display your knowledge and skills at the expense of other team members. You will be sidelined immediately. Instead, show keenness to know and learn about the new work.

PRAISING OR CRITICISING FORMER EMPLOYER

This is another big no-no. Never gloat about your previous office, praise its work culture, act as if it was a better place to work in or constantly compare it with the existing company. It will be seen as an indirect criticism of your current organisation and will not go down well with your colleagues or bosses. If you are in a senior, managerial position, don’t be in a hurry to change the work systems according to your previous workplace. Appreciate the existing culture and bring in changes slowly, giving the team time to absorb these. At the same time, don’t criticise your former employers because you will be seen as a whiner or, worse, a gossip.

 

Date: 26th June 2017

Source: Economic Times

MANPOWER MANAGEMENT – `Benches’ Turn into Marketplace for Ideas at IT Cos

As founder of IT firm Mindtree, Ashok Soota proscribed the use of the term `on bench’, preferring to call it `investment time’. He carried this approach to the next company he set up, Happiest Minds, where employees who are not working on a project are either being reskilled, involved in internal projects or are functioning as shadow resources for an existing team.

“There will always be people between projects. It is incumbent on us to use the time to invest in the person and invest in our programmes,“ said Soota, executive chairman of Happiest Minds.

 

Mindtree, meanwhile, has brought in the concept of an `uberised workforce’, or an internal marketplace where employees can view open projects and apply to work on something outside their vertical.

 

As manpower costs rise and new project wins slow down, IT companies are increasingly finding it impractical to keep a large number ofpeople idle, or `on bench’.Traditionally used as a pool of employees from which workers could be assigned to new projects, IT companies are now tapping into this resource for internal projects and to generate new ideas.

 

While the `bench’ size varies from one company to another, the utilisation rate is mostly in the mid-70s, meaning there are at least a few thousand employees who are in-between projects at any given point in time.

 

Ram C Mohan, head of automation at Mindtree, said, “As the organisational silos grow, you lose visibility of people who may be suitable for a role. This is very effective as employees can pick and choose opportunities, based on what they want. While it is important to optimise costs, as maintaining an extended bench can be financially taxing, it also has a negative effect on people.“

 

Software services giant Infosys has a `zero bench’ project that allows people in-between projects to work on other assignments, depending on the requirement. Its CEO Vishal Sikka recently likened the Infosys bench to Amazon Web Services and Uber. The company’s HR head, Richard Lobo, said, “Zero bench is a next generation people initiative that aims to maximise the potential of our talent who are in-between projects, i.e. `on bench’. We want to ensure that every employee is actively contri buting towards organisation goals by opening up opportunities for short-duration work assignments. We do this through an open, disintermediated, internal marketplace called “Accelerate“.

 

This is a gamified platform for people to post modular work based on their project requirements and for anyone on bench in Infosys to signup for the same.“ Over the last two years, over 40,000 work packets were created, and Sikka said 2,000 ideas had already been implemented by the firm.

 

Similarly, Persistent Systems has done away with the concept of the `bench’ and employees who are not engaged on client projects mandatorily have to undergo training in new tech.

 

“In 2015, we did away with the concept of the bench -some of our employees are on projects paid for by customers and so aren’t.These people work on short term proof of concepts to solve customer problems or create new things,“ said Mrityunjay Singh, the company’s president. Persistent Systems routinely holds hackathons for this pool of employees toenable them to experiment with new ideas.

 

 

Universal Sompo launches new 2-wheeler policy

 

Private sector non-life insurer Universal Sompo General Insurance today said it has launched its new motor product offering, two wheeler long term package policy for the existing and prospective two wheeler vehicle customers for a comprehensive protection ride up to 2-3 years.

 

The Two Wheeler Long Term Package Policy will indemnify the insured towards any damages caused by the insured vehicle to a third-party vehicle/property as well as Own Damages incurred to the insured vehicle andrider/owner along with a vehicle theft cover.

The unique selling proposition of the company’s new product is the dual no claim bonus benefit that is being extended to customers at the time of renewing the long term two wheeler policy.

Alternative facts: The alarming trend impacting 85% of hiring managers

Planning on adding staff sometime in the near future? It appears that there’s some new urgency to double- and triple-check those resumes and ask plenty of follow-up questions during the interview process.  Reason: A staggering 85% of employers discovered lies on job applicants’ resumes in the past year, according to a recent 2017 Employment Screening Benchmark Report by HireRight.

That’s  a huge jump from the 66% of employers that said they found lies on resumes just five years ago.

While lying on a resume is nothing new, the steep jump hiring managers uncovering untruths in such a short time frame is certainly disturbing.

3 lies to look for

So what should HR pros do to avoid falling victim to a lying job candidate. As we’ve covered previously, the best defense is being aware of the more common resume lies.

Here are three of the more common resume tweaks, according FakeResume.com, a Web site that advises job seekers on how to bend the truth and get away with it:

  1. Covering up employment gaps

Many candidates are concerned about explaining periods when they were out of work. FakeResume’s recommendation: Pretend you were volunteering.

It’s a lot tougher to verify volunteer work than employment history. But if you’re suspicious, don’t just brush past the issue. Ask probing questions about the work and, if possible, check references at the organization.

Another tactic to cover employment gaps or inflate experience is the so-called “functional resume,” which lists experience and accomplishments grouped by type, followed by a list of previous employers, rather than a chronological list of past positions. Not everyone who uses a functional resume is lying — but it might put you on alert.

  1. Fake references

Most resume lies can be caught by checking references — so candidates who are serious about their dishonesty will provide references that are fake or impossible to check.

FakeResume recommends candidates provide the name and phone number of a fictitious supervisor at a large company. The number actually belongs to a friend who pretends to be an admin and tells the caller the company only provides references via letter. The candidate then mails a fake reference letter.

Candidates also place “typos” in a former employer’s address or phone number, hoping HR won’t bother when they can’t contact the person.

If you’re concerned about the references someone gives, experts recommend finding the company’s Web site and contacting the supervisor through the main phone number.

  1. Phony responsibilities

Most fraudulent resumes don’t contain outright lies. More often, candidates stretch the truth, beefing up previous titles and exaggerating the responsibilities they had in previous positions.

The best way to catch those fibs is to ask detailed questions and not let the candidate off easy if you get vague or suspicious answers. Another tactic: Bring in somebody who’s already doing a job similar to the one the person’s applying for. Dishonest applicants will try to fake their way through an interview using buzzwords and generalities but break down when someone who’s actually experienced in the field asks for details.

“Comparing life insurance with mutual funds is not appropriate”

In a conversation with Babar Zaidi, Anuj Mathur talks about the usefulness of term plans and why sub-5% returns from endowment policies is not such a bad deal.

Some insurance companies have added new features to their term insurance plans. How useful are these variants of term plans?

These new variants have additional features that suffice the need of the buyer in some way or the other. While the buyer has an option to pick from the variants, at all times he can opt for the pure vanilla term plan which is also available.

Some of these variants don’t really offer value to the buyer. For instance, the return of premium plan gives back the entire premium after the policy term. But it also charges a much higher premium.

A term plan is a simple product that provides financial security in case of untimely death. But theIndian consumer (conventionally) has always been looking for a defined benefit from an insurance policy. To satisfy this, insurance companies have come out with plans that return the premium after the policy ends. Having said that, the consumers are also evolving and we see a perceptible change in the way insurance is bought in India. People have begun to understand the value of protection and are hence opting for solutions which meet their needs. Insurance companies also are playing their part in increasing this awareness.

A simple term plan is the best way to insure yourself. So why do companies and agents push endowment plans and other costly policies?

A distributor looks at the needs of the buyer when he offers advice. If pure protection is the objective, then obviously a term plan, whether bought online or offline, is the best solution. But say, if you want to save for your child’s education then a child Ulip is a more suitable product. Similarly, for saving for a long-term goal like retirement, an endowment plan will be a better fit. Hence different needs demand different solutions.

But endowment plans give very low returns of barely 5%. Financial planners say a mutual fund will beable to create more wealth for investors than an endowment policy.

Comparing life insurance with mutual funds is not appropriate. Most people suf fer from a recency bias, hence end up comparing the returns of recent years and don’t take into account the fluctuations of the past. Mutual funds do not offer either guaranteed returns or life cover for that matter, an endowment life insurance policy will offer both.

Besides, a product offering life insurance with a guaranteed return of 5% over 20-25 years is a decent deal.

But there are other investment options, such as EPF, PPF and other small savings schemes that offer assured returns.Won’t they be better options than endowment policies that offer 5%?

Not everybody is covered by the EPF. As for the PPF, it is an administered rate.There is also a `1.5 lakh limit on how much you can invest in a year. PPF rates are fluctuating and have been coming down over the past years (now below 8%). As bond yields come down further, PPF rates will also decline.

Hence in a falling interest rate scenario, it is important to lock your returns over longer periods . One should also not forget that life insurance is the core solution and the debate on returns should be over and above the primary offering.

Another variant of the term plan is the monthly payout plan. However, they offer far less than what a simple FD would fetch. What do you think of this option?

It boils down to the requirement of the family. If the family is not able to deploy the insurance money on its own, a monthly income option is definitely a good idea.The returns may not match those of fixed deposits because these are for the long term (usually 15-20 years). Fixed deposits are for 5-10 years. The company takes the risk of offering long-term returns in a falling interest rate regime. What is the guarantee that the fixed deposit rate will not fall below 6% in the coming years? Moreover, the income from fixed deposits is taxable while monthly income received from an insurance company is tax free. The monthly payout plan hence offers considerable advantage over the conventional fixed deposit.

Mutual fund houses are supposed to declare if senior officials have invested in any scheme of the fund house. Do you think insurance companies should also make such declarations?

How much life insurance one has and the policies held by a person is confidential information. We don’t think such details should be given out in the public domain because it could lead to a moral hazard. It is hence not advisable to tread this path.

Source: Economic Times

Date: 12th June 2017