Navigating Employment Law with Jemma Fairclough-Haynes

Navigating Employment Law with Jemma Fairclough-Haynes

Navigating Employment Law with Jemma Fairclough-Haynes
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Since our HR solution is built on Salesforce, the flair team is always chatting with HR pros, management experts, and CRM MVPs.

So we thought: Why not bring you snippets of what these experienced folks have to say about their respective industries?

Introducing Forward Thinkers, the flair interview series that invites insights from leading lights within the HR and Salesforce communities.

In this installment, we’re chatting to Jemma Fairclough-Haynes, Orchard Employment Law CEO, and seasoned HR expert. Our conversation centered on keeping up-to-date on labor law and the exciting trends within the human resources industry. We hope you enjoy it.

The Blossoming of Orchard Employment Law

With almost ten years of experience managing a company with a global clientele, Jemma Fairclough-Haynes is well-versed in the fast-paced fields of HR and employment law.

Jemma started the UK-based Orchard Employment Law in 2015, recognizing that companies need early advice to stay on the right side of the law. The company is now an award-winning business that specializes in offering clear and uncomplicated advice and support in the fields of employment law and human resources.

The business had modest beginnings. But it has since evolved into a global operation, with Orchard Employment Law providing legal support to employers in the UK, Asia, and Europe.

“I was an employment law specialist working for a national employment law firm. And I saw some gaps,” she explains. “I thought, hang on a second, if employers could just get some of the advice earlier on, then they'd stay out of litigation.

“I started Orchard Employment Law by myself on my sofa, not even that sophisticated to work around the kitchen table,” she laughs. “And over the last almost nine years we've grown. We're now supporting over 300 employers in the UK, but also in Asia, and some in Europe as well. So we like to say: we're global, baby.

“Sometimes people say you work for the bad guy,” she jokes. “But I feel like it's 360 degrees. If you can tell employers how and what they can do, then employees get looked after.”

Staying Updated on Compliance and New Laws

Employment law firms offer a range of services to both employers and employees. Orchard Employment Law covers subjects such as contract law, maternity leave, redundancies, training, and much more, Jemma explains.

“We get all sorts of questions. Like day to day, people might ask us about holiday pay. Deeper than that, people want to know how they can protect their business: So for instance, say somebody's leaving and they're threatening to take all my clients, what do I do there?

“And then of course we have the disciplinaries and grievances. When you get more than two or three people together, I guess, you then start to get personality clashes and just different ways of doing things. And so it's about navigating your way through those issues,” she says.

Employment law is always evolving. For example in 2023, the UK saw a rise in the national living wage. Meanwhile, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023, which would mean EU laws remain unless repealed one by one, is set to go through the House of Lords.

Elsewhere in Germany, the Supply Chain Act came into force in January 2023. The Supply Chain Act aims to strengthen human rights when it comes to the production of goods and services.  From 2024 onward, its scope will be extended to include companies with at least 1,000 employees. That means companies need to do due diligence on their suppliers and partners to minimize human rights or environmental risks.

So there’s always a lot happening in employment law. But how can we stay up to date? Jemma explains that official sources are a great place to start. And employers or employees can also get a little help from the experts in the field.

“It's important to remember that laws are made in two ways, really,” she says.

“One is through acts of parliament, whether that's a European or your national parliament. And so we get lots of notice when there's going to be a change in that law. In the UK, we've got new workers' rights for those on zero-hour contracts.

“Workers will have the right to request more notice of what their working patterns are going to be. We were told about that last month (October 2023), and actually, that's not going to come into place until maybe September 2024. So you get lots of notice of that.”

Meanwhile, she highlights that expert HR blogs can be a great way to keep updated daily on developments that perhaps feature less on our news or social feeds.

“The other way in which laws are made is when people challenge a law, and that goes through the court system. Then when it gets to the highest court in the land, if a judge makes a decision, that creates what we call case law.

“That's harder to keep up with because you know we're not getting this big act of parliament like the Equality Act. But that's why I think it's important to sign up for blogs.”

Remote Work and HR Innovation

Pivoting to the topic of the post-pandemic work environment and the impact of remote work, Jemma states that what is changing is HR management and people’s expectations of work-life balance.

“I think more what's changed is that remote work is an HR issue rather than an employment law issue. They (the UK government) haven't changed the law as yet to say people have the right to work remotely or hybridly. But what has changed is people's ideologies and people's ideas of what they want to do.

“People understand work-life balance. They are no longer willing to travel 60 or 90 miles round trip if they think something can be done smarter and easier from home. And so employees are kind of pushing things to change.”

And if employee attitudes are changing, what about the new technology that people are now interacting with more day-to-day? That’s changing, too.

“AI is here to stay. It's not going anywhere. It's only gonna get better,” she says.

On the subject of technology in the HR space, Jemma highlights the efficiency of using AI in tasks like drafting policies for employment and HR. Acknowledging the time-saving benefits, she emphasizes the importance of human expertise in fine-tuning and refining all AI-generated content.

And there will be challenges as well as positives. “So I've been to a few training courses for employment lawyers and HR professionals. They are telling us to use AI. Like: ‘Don't spend many hours drafting or formatting a policy, why don't you get AI to draft it for you?’

“But there's only so much the bot can do, right? So you still need your expertise to take out the riff-raff, take out the rubbish, and say this could be worded better or this is more suited in this way. It's here to stay and I think some of it's good, but with some of it we're going to have to be quite careful.”

Choosing an HR Solution

flair provides companies with Salesforce-based software that helps recruiters, HR managers, and employees enhance their HR strategies and compliance. So we had to take the opportunity to ask Jemma what she thinks companies should look for in an HR solution.

In her opinion, usability and scalability are the key.

“Usability is definitely the first thing. So although we may think... everybody knows how to use an app, people know how to use a computer, you've got it on your phone, your tablet. Some people find things more difficult than others.”

She adds: “Then to think about one of my clients. When I started working with them five years ago, they had less than 10 employees, and they've seen exponential growth.

“They've got 400 employees now, but they're outgrowing systems. That's a problem because they then don't want to start a new system. So make sure that the HR solution you're using can grow.”

From the early days of building up a business from a sofa to the current global reach of Orchard Employment Law, Jemma's story offers a captivating glimpse into the trajectory of business success. She also provides a series of insights into what it’s like to operate within the world of law.

To see the full video interview or more tips and conversations from Forward Thinkers, check out the flair Youtube channel here.

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