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A HR check-up: an opportunity not to be missed

Sponsored: Doug Farrow, Director of HR Consultancy at Buzzacott, says an effective HR audit has the power to mitigate many risks

Posted by Jo Golding | September 28, 2018 | Law, finance, HR

Working in an academy brings a lot of day-to-day challenges in securing a better future for the children in your care. On top of this there is the management of personnel and implementation of related policies and procedures to deal with. For an academy, people management comes with risks of fines, poor Ofsted scores and the potential for employment claims. An effective HR audit has the power to mitigate many of these risks. As well as assessing legal compliance, a HR health check can increase the efficiency of the administrative support function, bringing you in line with best practice in people management – both of which form an integral part of running an academy.

Protect your academy against risk

Reducing risk is the primary focus of an HR audit. Firstly, and most importantly, this review checks that all employees have passed the Right to Work checks as employing illegal workers can lead to a fine of up to £20,000 for each individual case. Similarly failing to comply with 2018 GDPR regulations can lead to large fines and reputational risks.

GDPR provides clear and strict regulations for appropriately handling data, both with subject access requests and duration of which data can be held. As complicated as these new regulations are, simple steps can be taken to reduce exposure to the potentially huge fines. An in-depth HR review not only raises awareness among employees about their rights but also provides guidance on how to improve the maintenance and protection of HR records.

Ofsted visits are also a time of great stress and worry for academies. Imagine ensuring that every aspect of your academy is outstanding and Ofsted decide to review a small sample of personnel records. Although there is no expectation or statutory requirement, these random additions can impact your Ofsted score, bringing your rating from outstanding to requires improvement or even inadequate and ultimately could jeopardise all the hard work you and your colleagues have put in to improve your academy. A HR audit will help identify discrepancies in staff training records, revealing where an academy is exposed and ultimately provide guidance on how to improve.

An in-depth HR review not only raises awareness among employees about their rights but also provides guidance on how to improve the maintenance and protection of HR records

Be the most efficient you can be

The secondary benefit of a HR audit is the way it can highlight opportunities to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your HR processes. Where there are a number of locations within an academy group, a HR audit can identify inconsistency in both the records being retained and the implementation of HR procedures across the group, which otherwise could leave academies open to accusations of unfair treatment. It can also identify previously unknown issues around ‘custom and practice’ which contribute to errors in managing staff.

HR audit recommendations provide a template structure where an academy is considering taking over another school or schools. By being clear on structure and processes, it aids the process of due diligence and allows for smoother amalgamation of new locations. It also helps identify potential risks on issues such as equal pay and conditions for academies who have already taken over other schools and have a mix of pay structures and employment terms across the expanded group.

By reviewing HR procedures and policies in this way, academies are able to ensure they keep up to date with changes in HR legislation, be confident that they are complying with employment law and data processing requirements and providing employees with fair and consistent policies and procedures.

Buzzacott has years of experience working with academies to reduce their risk and improve their processes. Give us a call and we will help identify your ways of best practice and help benchmark you against other similar institutions.

T: 0207 556 1453
E: farrowd@buzzacott.co.uk

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