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The Most Common HR Issues in General Practice - How Does Your Practice Compare?

At FPM, we thought you might be interested to see what the most common HR issues are for Practice Managers. We looked at all the queries our HR Helpline received over the last 12 months, to see what the most common themes are and which areas Practice Managers ask for help with the most.

1. Sickness 

In first place (coming as no surprise) are issues related to sickness. This includes long and short term sickness. A huge 29% of all queries received by the helpline were related to employee sickness. The majority of Practice Managers that we speak to mention that employee sickness absence is one of their biggest “headaches” as not only does it create work for the management but, if frequent, can cause issues for the team too.

If you are having problems with sickness in your practice and you are an FPM Member, take a look at this document that gives you a step by step plan for managing sickness in your practice: Sickness Management Procedure

2. Contract Help 

Perhaps initially more surprising, is Practice Managers asking for help with their employee contracts. As a manager, it might feel like something that is only of concern at the start of an employee’s employment, but looking to change sickness entitlements, work days or even holiday entitlement can result in confusion and many questions that need answering. A considerable 15% of all queries were related to needing help with employee contracts.

 

3. Discipline/ Conduct Issues 

Less surprising, is discipline and conduct issues being in our top 5. A huge 13% of all the HR Helpline queries were related to discipline. This includes Practice Managers needing help with disciplinary procedures from the very first investigation or informal meeting, right up to dismissing an employee. It can be one of the most stressful aspects of management and making sure it is done correctly and fairly is of paramount importance, not only for the practice, but for the employee too. We cannot stress enough how important it is to ensure that your practice Disciplinary Policy is current (for example, do you still issue verbal warnings? If you do- it’s not current!), and fully understood by the Practice Management. FPM Members can view our Disciplinary Policy here.

4.Coronavirus

After the year we have had, it’s no surprise that issues related to the pandemic have made our top 5. The guidance has been difficult to follow at times and I’m sure you will remember the confusion in Primary Care that erupted when furlough was first announced - our article on furlough had over 21k views! Thankfully, we seem to be coming out the other side of the pandemic now but we still receive queries relating to vaccination, such as whether practices can mandate the vaccine or only employ those that have had both vaccinations etc. Many questions are difficult to answer at the moment as we wait for situations to be tested in the courts, but we can advise based on our extensive research and professional opinion. 10% of our queries were related to the pandemic.

 5. Recruitment 

Our 5th most common subject is queries relating to recruitment. The most common queries were around whether jobs need to be advertised externally, as well as questions such as retracting job offers after they have been given, or how to go about getting a health assessment for a candidate. 8% of all our queries over the last year have been related to recruitment.

As well as the above, the other top hitters included questions relating to maternity, annual leave/bank holidays and performance issues. Are these the most common issues in your practice too?

If you are an FPM Member and would like personalised HR support for your practice, send an email to hrhelp@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk for 121 help from our HR Specialist


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