HR Administration

Are your staff getting their legal holiday entitlement?


We’ve had a couple of interesting support questions this month at SMB Towers regarding calculation of employee holiday allowances. In both cases, customers were taking on new employees part way through the holiday year and did not agree with our calculations regarding the amount of paid time off a new employee should be able to take outside of public holidays.

This got us thinking and, after a little digging around through our small business network, we found a number of businesses weren’t meeting their legal obligations regarding the amount of paid holiday being offered to new starters and part time staff. Their thought processes went something like this:

If an employee is starting three months into the year, and I usually give 20 days’ holiday plus public holidays, then that new employee should get 15 days (three quarters of the year) plus whatever holidays are left. Right?

At first glance, this is a simple and easy way to calculate holiday allowances for the year.

At second glance, this is actually incorrect, and could leave you open to a nasty legal situation. Here’s why.

In the UK, employees are covered by Statutory Leave Entitlement, which entitles them to 5.6 weeks, or 28 days, paid leave for a full time employee working a full year. Employers can, and mostly do, include the 8 public and bank holidays as part of that leave, leaving 20 days of “bookable” holiday time.

When calculating how much holiday a full time employee should get if they start their employment part-way through the year, you first need to calculate the pro-rata amount of total holiday days. In the example above, the new employee is working for three quarters of the holiday year, so is entitled to 28 days * 75% = 21 days of paid leave.

Now you need to look at how many public holidays actually fall in the working period. If the employee started on the 1st April 2014 and your holiday year ran from January 1st to December 31st, this employee would actually be working during 7 of the 8 public holidays. Subtract that from the 21 days of leave, they are left with 14 days of “bookable” holiday, not 15.

Now let’s assume your holiday year runs from April 1st to March 31st, and the employee starts three months into the year on 1st July. How does it look for this employee?

Again, they’re working three-quarters of the year, so get 21 days of total leave entitlement. However, only 4 public holidays fall in this period (Summer Bank Holiday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day), so this employee would have 17 days of “bookable” holiday. Yes, it may seem they get to book more time off, but actually they have exactly the same amount of paid holiday as the first employee.

Most importantly, both employees are getting their full statutory entitlement and you, the employer, are meeting your legal obligations.

The government have a great calculator on their website to work this out for you – – or better still you can let do the heavy lifting and handle all of the calculations for you. Our platform calculates the exact amount of holiday any employee should receive, whether they are full time or part time, including how much of that time is “bookable” for each employee.

Are you managing absence entitlement correctly?  See what we can do to make things easier for you – register for a free 14-day trial of today.

Image thanks to Pixabay


The future of HR is mobile


We all know that technology has dramatically changed how people work; but for a growing number of employees worldwide, it’s also changing where they work. The International Data Corporation (IDC) says 1.3 billion people will work remotely using mobile technology by 2015. At 37.2% of the entire workforce, that number represents one in three workers taking the ‘office’ out of ‘office job’. Easy mobile working enables employees to be productive on the move and makes it easier for companies to provide better flexible working benefits.

This is an increasingly important factor for employers to consider, and a recent study found that, for Generation Y workers, benefits such as workplace flexibility, work-life balance and the opportunity for overseas assignments are more of a draw than financial rewards. If companies don’t embrace this flexibility, they may find their employees getting a little too mobile and leaving altogether!

With warmer weather (hopefully) just around the corner, at we’re looking ahead to the summer months and anticipating a further rise in demand for flexible working by employees across the country. To accommodate a mobile workforce, employers need an HR management system that enables employees to stay productive – even in the park. Here’s what a great mobile HR solution looks like:

  • It lives in the cloud, so you can access the system anywhere with an internet connect at any time of day
  • It’s secure so your sensitive employee data is stored safely
  • It operates on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices
  • The interface is clean and intuitive for easy browsing on the move
  • Employees have unique self-service accounts on which they can monitor their details and submit holiday and sick leave requests
  • The dashboard provides a clear and coherent picture of employee holiday time available and company absence schedule so you don’t need an HR manager to tell you when someone is away.

Is your HR mobile-ready? Future-proof your HR with a mobile employee management system – register for a free 14-day trial of today.



In search of cloudier climes: moving to an online HR system


2014 is well and truly underway and as everyone settles back into work many of you will no doubt be dreaming of packing your bags and jetting off to sunnier climes. At, we embrace a cloudy outlook and we’re more concerned with a different kind of journey – one that makes sense at any time of year. Instead of packing your swimming costumes and sun cream, you should be thinking about collecting all your data and migrating your employee management system to the cloud.

There are a number of reasons why businesses of all sizes are making the move to an online HR environment. The benefits of cloud-based software include:

  • Better management of increasing data volumes.
  • Lower costs incurred using OpEx model instead of CapEx.
  • Scalability for fluctuating data needs.
  • Security controls to keep private data private.
  • Anytime access, anywhere, on desktop and mobile devices.

So you’ve made the decision to move your employee management system to the cloud – what now? Before you pack your digital suitcases, here are some things to tick off your list:

Cloud HR migration checklist

  • Compile an inventory of all your employee information and HR documents.
  • Determine your data management needs, and plan ahead for future developments, which a scalable cloud solution will accommodate.
  • Before migrating your system, identify any sensitive or confidential information to ensure that it is transferred and stored in a secure fashion.
  • Have a business continuity plan in place and make sure that the migration to the cloud is swift and smooth, avoiding any downtime.
  • Try before you buy! Moving your employee management system to the cloud is an important step in the development of your business, so it makes sense to test the waters first. That’s why offers a 14-day free trial that lets you experience first-hand the benefits that an online HR management system can offer.

Do you manage staff absence, holidays and sick leave? Download your free absence management eBook today!

Image thanks to Pixabay


(Sh)red tape: the 7 bits of business paperwork we’d love to destroy


Do you dream about slicing up printed forms and burning bank statements? Ever find yourself making origami swans out of all kinds of unnecessary administrative paperwork, when you could be spending that time growing your business? We know how you feel! But fear not: small businesses in Britain and further afield in the EU are looking forward to a future of reduced red tape, thanks to promising moves by governments to cut down on business admin. A lighter legislative touch is due to be applied to small, disruptive companies in order to break barriers to entry and help them thrive.

At, we’re delighted by these developments: we know that too much red tape can bind the hands of entrepreneurs – not just when it comes to employee management (though it has its fair share), but to all business functions. Overkill on printouts, forms and pointless documentation doesn’t just harm the environment, it stifles business growth. We prefer as little admin as possible and secure cloud document storage. So, in the spirit of paperwork slashing, we’ve put together a list of the top 7 documents that we (as entrepreneurs ourselves) know small businesses owners fantasise about shredding!

1. CVs and recruitment documents

Good employee management starts well in advance of a new start’s first day in the office. CVs and all recruitment related documentation should be saved securely using a cloud HR software tool. That way you’ll have a good record of the entire employee lifecycle and be able to improve your recruitment processes. Hire good staff; dump bad paperwork!

2. Meeting agendas and minutes

As if the meeting wasn’t time-consuming enough, you’re left with scribbled or hurriedly-typed notes to shuffle afterwards. In an increasingly cloud-based business world, where even physical meetings are being replaced by digital huddles, we can do without the extra hard copies.

3. Personnel files

Paper employee records have a habit of growing bigger than the employees themselves. Give them the chop (the files, that is, not the employees!) – if only to give your straining office shelves a rest.

4. Absence, holiday and sick leave requests

Absence management is one of the most complicated HR tasks when managed badly. If you’re over-reliant on paper and spreadsheets, it’s time to upgrade to an intelligent management tool that calculates holidays and displays allowances clearly – even for complicated shift patterns. Anything else should be consigned to the shredder.

5. Training programmes

With lots to keep under control, from employee requests for training, to the planning and implementation of learning programmes, it can feel like training management itself requires an intensive course in HR organisation. Why not switch to an intuitive online system and put all that pointless paper to better use by incentivising the workforce a staff origami competition.

6. Health and safety reports

Don’t get us wrong, health and safety is paramount in business management, but the EU has recognised the need to rethink requirements for small businesses. For example, the plan is for SMEs in low-risk sectors to no longer have to keep written health and safety records. Great news! We suggest the destruction of any newly-redundant paperwork in a (properly controlled and supervised) fire.

7. Invoices and bank statements

As with the previous entry, banking and finances are also crucial to any commercial enterprise. But paper statements and payment notices? No thanks. Cancel those hard copy statements and go digital. The planet – and your postie – will thank you.

Does ditching paperwork and embracing the smarter digital option sound appealing? Why not see how intelligent software can revolutionise your HR management – try a free 14-day trial of today!

Image thanks to Pixabay


Please excuse my absence: 5 outrageous reasons for taking a day off


We’ve all had one of those mornings. The kind when we wake up and, while we’re not absolutely, technically, certifiably sick, we could definitely do with staying in bed and catching up on some ‘me time’. Most of us will indulge in a snooze button hit or two, but some will go so far as to fake illness or invent an elaborate excuse for not going into the office. Need to fake a doctor’s note? There’s even an app for that! And the rule seems to be: The more incredible the better.

For beleaguered business owners and HR managers, keeping on top of employee absence and sick leave is a hard enough job in itself without having to be a human lie-detector too. It’s impossible to be sure who’s pulling a fast one and who’s being honest. Especially when, the truth is stranger than fiction as outrageous circumstances conspire against well-meaning workers to keep them from their desks.

We’ve scoured the internet and compiled a list of the top 5 real-life reasons given for missing a day of work. Read on and enjoy, and next time you’re tempted to pull a sickie, spare a thought for these hapless employees and the HR headaches they created.

1. “My dog’s having a nervous breakdown”

Now, we understand that pets are an important part of many people’s lives, and that owners often boast close psychic ties with their four-legged friends, but this employee took it to an extreme. While we don’t doubt the dog in question may be suffering, it seems to us that the owner could do with a once-over too, so it’s probably best they make a visit to the vet (followed by the doctor).

2. “I forgot I had been hired”

Forgetting your new email password, we can understand. Maybe even your colleagues’ names. But forgetting you got the job? This doesn’t bode well as a sign of the employee’s dedication to the new role, let alone their mental faculties. It’s probably best for all concerned if this false-start new-starter calls it quits, their zero per cent attendance record intact.

3. “My dead grandmother is being exhumed for a police investigation”

We’ve all heard the one about having to go to your grandmother’s funeral – that favourite of schoolday scivers (I knew a boy who, remarkably, had lost ten grandparents before reaching high school). This excuse adds a new twist to the tale, with plenty of intrigue for good measure.

4. “I can’t get to work because my 12-year-old daughter stole my car”

This excuse has all the hallmarks of high drama: family discord, crime, split loyalties and a challenge to overcome. Left without transport, the victim of the crime understandably wanted to keep the police out of it. However, the story does fall a little short in the drama stakes. Our hero did not overcome adversity, remaining carless at curtains. We’re left guessing about loose ends, like whatever happened to the vehicle and the young GTA enthusiast? If any employers find themselves on the receiving end of a similar absence note, we recommend steering clear: best to avoid any risk of being implicated as an accessory or co-conspirator.

5. “I drank too much and fell asleep on someone’s floor – I don’t know where I am”

While I must make clear that at we don’t condone such Bacchanalian excesses, we do doff our HR caps to this employee for his honesty. It sounds like a post-Christmas party hangover that no amount of morning coffee could shift. The question is, did he make it back home before or after his P45 landed on the doorstep?

Need a better absence management system? Start your free 14-day trial of today!

Image thanks to Feelart from