Employees in financial difficulties – how can you help?

November 25, 2015

Overdue word in envelopes to illustrate bills that are late in payment and creditors hitting you with penalties and fees

Following the expense of Christmas, it might be the case that employees may be experiencing financial difficulties, they may not arise from employment but other factors outside the employer’s control (e.g. the employee’s partner has lost their job). Although there is no legal obligation to help employees in financial difficulties, it may be in the organisation’s interest to do so. Here are some ideas for ways in which employers can assist.

Some employers have Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) which provide counselling to employees on a confidential basis, these can be suggested to employees when the situation arises. They aren’t specialists in Debt counselling but would have access to specialists in the field. Be careful however, it is not enough just to offer a stressed out employee the number to a helpline – there are cases where this has been found to be a breach of the duty of care. Investigate further and see if there are more ways in which they can be supported from work.

More specific than just counselling and more available to employers without EAP schemes – the Citizen’s Advice Bureau give debt advice to individuals and also the Charity CCCS. Make it clear that it is a third party and the employer is not responsible for the advice provided.

Loans and salary advances
You may find that an employee experiencing financial difficulties may ask their employer for a loan or salary advance. If your organisation doesn’t have a loan scheme, one can be put into place temporarily. It is important to set out the rules, and document the loans or advances clearly with written agreements on repayment via deductions from future salary and HR180 can help with this. Also make it clear that outstanding amounts will be deducted from final salaries.

Time off work
This is a gesture of goodwill, in some cases, employees will want time off to visit bank managers, search for alternative accommodation if their home is at risk of repossession. These requests are granted at discretion and on an informal basis. However, if there is an increase in requests, it may be the case that the company needs to make a formal decision on how such requests are dealt with

Flexible working
There might be an increase in requests for Flexible working. These have to be considered carefully and fairly. If you have a policy in place, refer to it for further guidance. If you don’t, HR180 can work with you on creating a policy.

Overtime Requests
It could be tempting to give some people priority over others when overtime is required but care must be taken not to discriminate. Always consider ways of ensuring that the opportunity to work is fairly allocated, even those with financial difficulties will have to compete on an equal footing with other employees.

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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