Labour Standards

   

RPS Group Plc supports the International Labour Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. All employees are entitled to follow the standard grievance procedures outlined in their Staff Handbook on the Group intranet in the event they are uncomfortable with their working conditions, dissatisfied with operational decisions affecting them or if they experience bullying or inappropriate behaviour from work colleagues. The anonymous whistle blowing procedure may also be used if the grievance procedure seems inappropriate in the circumstances. Under RPS’ Work Safe procedures an employee can refuse to carry out a work order if they have reasonable cause to believe that their safety, the safety of others or their own personal wellbeing may be compromised by circumstances prevailing at the time. RPS recognises in-house Workers Councils where these have been voluntarily established by our employees.The company has not been asked to recognise any trade unions to date as such.

RPS Group Plc and its subsidiary undertakings (the ‘Group’) are fully supportive of the principles and objectives of the UK's Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the ‘Act’). Whilst given the nature of the Group’s activities and their lack of dependence on any substantive supply chain, the risks of any breaches of the Act occurring are low, the Group will comply with the provisions of the Act and take such measures as are reasonably required to achieve this.

Employees

The current profile of the Group’s employees presented in accordance with the Group’s segmentation during the year and the changes over that period are as detailed below.

Group 2015 2014(restated)
Average number of employees    
Energy 521 613
Built and Natural Environment – Europe 3,045 2,572
Built and Natural Environment – North America 445 352
Australia Asia Pacific 926 882
Central 117 111
Group total 5,054 4,530
Employment statistics    
Days absent (%) 3 2
Average length of ser vice (years) 7 6
Working part time (%) 11 11
Retention rate (%)* 83 81
Female 1,516 1,621
Male 3,538 2,909
Female (%) 30 35
Male (%) 70 65
Age profile % %
Employees aged under 25 8 7
Employees aged 25-29 14 15
Employees aged 30-49 54 55
Employees aged 50+ 24 23

* Excluding redundancies.

While recruiting more than a few qualified individuals from an ethnic minority background in professions such as town planning and environmental consultancy remains quite challenging, these figures indicate that ethnic minorities as a whole comprise around 10% of the workforce within these particular RPS businesses. While we accept that there is still some room for improvement we also recognise that the shortfall can partly be explained by the career choices still being made by students attending British Universities.

Staff Retention

The recruitment, retention and motivation of high calibre employees is of strategic importance for the Group and as highlighted above represents an area of principal risk. Each of the Group’s businesses therefore maintains appropriate and flexible remuneration structures as well as an environment in which employees are able to develop their skills in a way that can be applied to our clients’ projects These arrangements may differ according to the nature of the specific business but work within an overall framework that is overseen at Group level. Human resource professionals are employed throughout the Group to support the objectives of each business and ensure that best practice is followed wherever possible. The Executive Directors have overall accountability for the development of human resource practice within the businesses for which they are individually responsible.

The gender profile of the Group’s employees is shown above. Of the senior management group that is comprised of directors of the companies that are included in the Group consolidation, 44 are male and 3 are female. We operate largely in sectors which are male dominated. Our ability, therefore, to recruit female fee earning staff is severely curtailed by the employment applications we receive. We do not envisage this changing in the short or medium term and intend to maintain a policy of employing the best available staff regardless of gender.

Building an environment in which employees feel engaged with their business and the Group as a whole is of great importance and in particular to ensure the successful integration of newly acquired businesses. The Group intranet is used as a means to communicate developments and achievements from within the group as well as policies and procedures. Corporate newsletters also facilitate this flow of information. New employees receive an induction and staff appraisals facilitate open communication between employer and employee as well as identifying developmental needs.

The Group operates share plans across all its businesses aimed at giving employees a tangible interest in the Group’s overall performance. Share purchase plans are accordingly open to the vast majority of employees and enable them to purchase shares in the Company with the benefit of a matching share contribution from the Company. A performance share plan is also operated for more senior employees, which offers the potential to build a personally significant interest in the Company over a number of years.

The Group is committed to the training and development of its employees to enable them to realise their potential and effectiveness. Divisional directors and project managers are responsible for the management of training and verification of technical competence for project personnel in accordance with our quality management systems. Continuing professional development is of particular importance for our professional employees who are required to demonstrate technical competence within their specific sectors.

Given the wide range of professional and technical areas in which the Group is engaged this involves supporting training schemes and continuing professional development across a range of disciplines both ‘in-house’ and through professional bodies. Within the UK water business, for example, customer service training is delivered in conjunction with the Institute of Customer Services, whilst a post graduate certificate in urban drainage is supported and accredited through Derby University. In Australia our Infrastructure Solutions business operates a Manager Development Programme aimed at developing broad based project management, business and leadership skills. Our global Energy business also provides training to the oil and gas sector through RPS Training and which also assists in providing technical training within the Group. In addition our project management business in Norway provides both classroom based and e-learning training in all aspects of project management. During 2015 RPS continued its long-term practice of supporting staff in pursuing relevant higher education courses. This involved sponsoring courses at universities and colleges across the United Kingdom, Ireland, The Netherlands, USA and Australia. Vacant positions within the Group are, wherever possible, filled from within.

RPS provides equal opportunities for all its employees and potential employees regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, trans-gender status, religion or belief, marital status, civil partnership status, pregnancy, age, disability, race, colour, nationality, national or ethnic origins. The policy applies to the process of recruitment and selection, promotion, training and development, conditions of work, pay and benefits and to every other aspect of employment.

Support for Education and Training

The Group is committed to the training, general education and career development of its employees (with tuition fees worth £215,000 in 2015) and to assisting students in higher education to enable them to realise their potential and effectiveness. In addition to funding for students in full-time higher education (student bursaries amounting to £6,000 in 2015), divisional directors and project managers are responsible for the management of training and verification of technical competence for project personnel in accordance with our quality management systems.

Continuing professional development is of particular importance for our professional employees who are required to demonstrate technical competence within their specific sectors. Given the wide range of technical areas in which we are engaged this involves supporting training schemes across a range of disciplines both ‘in-house’ and through professional bodies.

Within our UK water business, for example, customer service training is delivered in conjunction with the Institute of Customer Services, whilst a postgraduate certificate in urban drainage is supported and accredited through Derby University. In The Netherlands in-house training courses include project management, customer relationships and team leadership. The Group also provides training to the oil and gas sector through its Training Unit and which assists in providing technical training within the Group.

During 2014 RPS continued its long-term practice of supporting staff in pursuing relevant higher education courses paying £169,000 in tuition fees on their behalf. This involved sponsoring courses at universities and colleges across the United Kingdom, Ireland, The Netherlands, USA and Australia. Vacant positions within the Group are, wherever possible, filled from within and our developmental and training programmes support this objective.

UK universities and colleges where RPS funded academic study in 2014:

Birmingham City University

Burton & South Derbyshire College

Huntingdon Regional College

Lakes College, West Cumbria

Lincoln College

Manchester College, Didsbury

North Nottingham College

Nottingham Trent University

Nuffield Foundation

Sheffield Hallam University

South Birmingham College

South Derbyshire College

The Open University

University of Birmingham

University of Coventry

University of Derby

University of Lincoln

University of Nottingham

University of Salford

University of Southampton

University of Ulster, Belfast

Warrington Business School (Warrington Collegiate)

Irish universities and colleges where RPS funded academic study in 2014:

Dublin Institute of Technology

IBAT College (or the Institute of Business & Technology), Dublin

ICT Ireland Skillnett (Information and Communications Technology)

Sligo Institute of Technology

Trinity College, Dublin

Australian universities and colleges where RPS funded academic study in 2014:

Canberra Institute of Technology

Flinders University, Adelaide

Open Universities Australia

Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane

Swinburne University, Melbourne

University of New England, NSW

University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba

University of New South Wales, Sydney

American universities and colleges where RPS funded academic study in 2014:

Prairie View A&M University

University of Phoenix, Arizona

University of Rhode Island

Western Governors University

Houston Community College

Dutch university where RPS funded academic study in 2014:

University of Delft

Diversity in Recruitment

Recruiting and selecting the right people is of paramount importance to the continued success of RPS. We are therefore committed to ensuring that our recruitment processes are free from bias and discrimination.

The RPS Group plc aims to provide equal opportunity in all aspects of recruitment and will adhere to our Equal Opportunity and Equality and Diversity policies to ensure that there is no discrimination on the grounds of age, gender, trans-gender status, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marital status, civil partnership status, pregnancy, race, colour, nationality, national or ethnic origins and disability and other differences that cannot be justified.

In order to develop the appropriate skills and expertise within the Group, we will recruit staff to complement the specialist knowledge and experience of our existing staff. Wherever possible, the Group has a policy of internal promotion to provide opportunities for training, development and advancement to enable our people to maximise their abilities to the greater benefit of themselves and the Company.

Where a vacancy has been identified, the hiring manager will first look at succession planning within the office and Division. They will also consider other options and factors including secondment opportunities, temporary cover arrangements or appointing on a fixed term basis if appropriate.

We will ensure that the recruitment practices adopted will be fair and professional to all applicants and we will ensure that the remuneration for a given position is sufficient to recruit and retain the appropriate calibre of staff.

The recruitment process will be managed by the nominated Divisional Recruitment Manager who will co-ordinate activity with Agencies, Advertising [via Clere] and Internet Job Boards. Vacancies will also be uploaded onto the www.joinrps.com site.The Recruitment Manager will ensure that all responses are handled in an efficient and professional manner. The Divisional Recruitment contacts can be found in the Human Resources Key Contacts.

Any new appointment is viewed as a key business decision, so our recruitment processes are geared to identifying the necessary skills, knowledge, motivation and attitudes required in the successful candidate. We will use appropriate job descriptions, objective assessment methods and active consideration will be given to all applicants regardless of their age, gender, trans-gender status, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marital status, civil partnership status, pregnancy, race, colour, nationality, national or ethnic origins and disability and other differences that cannot be justified.

This process is monitored on an ongoing basis and management information is produced for consideration and review. An Equal Opportunities in Employment Monitoring form must be completed by all applicants and new employees to RPS. Advice, assistance and relevant training in equal opportunities is provided to employees involved in recruitment and selection by HR where required. On a regular basis, the effectiveness of our recruitment strategy is measured and any improvements adopted.

Training

Induction

Induction training for new employees will be carried out at each office by the relevant Manager, using the induction programme diary. Further induction for senior staff or staff working in specialist functions will also be provided. Induction programmes will be provided on commencement of employment and there is a commitment by the Organisation to ensure all employees are integrated into the Business in a professional and organised manner.

External Training Courses

Depending on the responsibilities of the role and anticipated career direction of an employee, they may be eligible to have their study tuition fees paid for them by the company. Their manager will discuss this with them on a case by case basis. Approval from the relevant Director for any day release requirements and an agreement to cover tuition fees where required should be confirmed prior to committing to any studies.

Consideration will be given to:

Both individual and Company benefit of undertaking the studies

Costs to the Company

Access to resources required

Associated absence

There is a requirement that:

A training course authorisation form is signed

Absence is agreed with the Manager

There is an undertaking commitment to complete the study

Standard Employment Terms

Remuneration and Reward

The Company aims to remunerate and reward all employees in accordance with their individual merit and ability, market rates and the financial situation of the Company in which they are employed.

The following describes the general policies of the Group. Certain Group Companies may not currently be fully integrated in to the system as some employees may, through acquisition, have retained their previous terms and conditions of employment.

Performance reviews

Performance reviews will be carried out in accordance with Divisional practices.

The performance review process is recognised as a continuous process and should not be limited only to formal meetings. Following a performance review, the details are documented and held on file for future reference.

Employment Contract

Employees will find full details of their salary and entitlements to any additional payments in their letter of employment and statement of main terms and conditions of employment.

Annual Salary Review

Salary levels are determined for each member of staff according to their performance, skills, experience and market conditions. The salary upon commencement of employment for each employee will be fixed by agreement and is noted in their offer letter/ contract of employment. Thereafter, any increase in salary will be dependent upon the member of staff improving their performance and/or taking on increased responsibility, and this will be assessed by the relevant Director. Such salary increases come into effect annually, normally on 1 January.

Overtime Payments

Overtime is not normally paid to senior professional, fee earning staff. Some staff may be contractually entitled to overtime payments. No overtime will be payable without the prior agreement of the relevant Director and any agreement may be varied from time to time. Any agreement will be confirmed in writing to the employee.

Overtime does not include travelling to and from the normal place of work and any overtime claimed from time spent travelling to and from client sites must be agreed in advance. It may be agreed between the employee and their Director that time off may be taken in lieu of overtime worked. In such cases no overtime payment will be made, and the number of ‘in lieu’ hours granted must be agreed in advance and will not exceed the number of actual overtime hours worked.

Payslips

RPS continuously seeks to improve and develop its administrative processes in order to benefit both our staff and the Company.

As part of this, in some areas of the Group, we have moved away from paper delivered payslips to the electronic self-service delivery so that employees can view their payslips online.

Individual Benefits

Core benefits are outlined in detail within the employee’s main statement of terms and conditions of employment

Pension

The Group Personal Pension Plan offers a range of benefits provided on a money purchase basis. Eligibility to join the scheme and the levels of contribution are detailed in the terms and conditions of employment.

Share Incentive Plan

The Share Incentive Plan (SIP) offers employees the opportunity to buy shares in the Company. To reward this investment in the Company, for every share purchased RPS will give participants one extra share free subject to the rules of the plan.

Professional Subscriptions

If an employee’s work will benefit from the membership of a professional institute or association, the Company will pay the membership subscription as a taxable benefit. RPS does not cover the cost of more than one subscription.

Childcare Vouchers

RPS in the UK is pleased to offer a childcare voucher scheme, which will save parents money on childcare costs.

Travel Insurance

All employees are covered by accident insurance whilst travelling on Company business. In the event of death or a permanent/partial disablement there is a scale of benefits payable. Details are available from Group Facilities.

Any employees travelling outside of the UK or Ireland on Company business must notify Group Facilities at Milton Park in order that travel insurance can be arranged.

Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

RPS in the UK provides a free 24 hour telephone helpline to all employees and their family members to enable them gain confidential and direct access to a team of highly qualified professional counsellors.

Expenses (as they apply in the UK)

Employees are reimbursed by the Company for all authorised travelling, subsistence, accommodation and out-of-pocket expense reasonably incurred in the course of their duties, on a monthly basis.

Business mileage is paid in line with the Inland Revenue Advisory rates through expenses. Employees who are authorised to use their own vehicles for Company business will be paid a mileage allowance in accordance with the Inland Revenue Fixed Profit Car Scheme.

Receipts for all expenditure must be submitted weekly with the expenses claim form and authorised by the appropriate director. Failure to submit expenses on this basis could result in these not being reimbursed to the employee.

Expenses are paid directly into employee bank accounts.

Working Hours and Annual Leave (as they apply in the UK)

The following describes the general policies of the Group. Please note there may be certain exceptions subject to legacy terms.

Working Hours (as they apply in the UK)

The standard working week will be as detailed in your contract of employment though a standard working week will comprise 37.5 hours. The required hours including overtime (where applicable) may from time to time exceed 48 hours per week.

Working Time Directive Statutory Regulations (as they apply in the UK)

In a 17-week period (which may be extended with the employee’s agreement), no employee is permitted to work more than an average of 48 hours per week under EU law. If you work in excess of 48 hours in this reference period, it is necessary for you to complete an Opt Out Agreement giving your consent.

Employees whose working time cannot be measured or predetermined or can be determined by the employee himself/herself e.g., managing executives or other persons with autonomous decision taking powers, are exempt from the Regulations regarding weekly working time and rest periods.

Up-to-date records must be kept of all employee hours worked and therefore all employees are required to complete timesheets as requested. Health assessment checks should be recorded on the employee’s medical record and should be kept on their personnel file and a copy sent to HR.

If employees have any concerns regarding their working hours or health assessments they should speak to their Manager/Director in the first instance or their Divisional HR Team.

Annual Holidays (as they apply in the UK)

The holiday year runs from 1 January to 31 December. The annual holiday entitlement will be as detailed in the contract of employment. In the UK this is usually 24 annual leave days per annum excluding public holidays with an option to buy back up to five additional annual leave days over the course of the year making up to 29 annual leave days in any one year. Annual holiday entitlement should be taken during the holiday year. Up to 5 days (or pro rata for part-time employees) can with the agreement of the line manager, be carried forward from one year to another.

Employees book their holiday dates by completing the relevant Holiday Request Form (or online through our employee self service web page powered by HR.net). The dates must be approved by the line manager before the holiday is taken. Records must be kept of each employee's holiday entitlement and holiday taken.

Normally a maximum of 10 consecutive working days holiday leave (excludes public holidays) is permitted, unless a longer period is agreed with the line manager.

Leave entitlement may not be replaced by a payment in lieu except in special circumstances or where the employee’s employment is terminated.

On leaving the Company employees may be required to take any remaining holiday as part of their notice period. Accrued holiday not taken will only be offset against any notice period with the express permission of the Manager/Director.

Public/Bank Holidays

In addition to the annual holiday entitlements as detailed in the contract of employment, employees are also entitled to Public/Bank holidays as detailed in their contract of employment.

Leave Entitlement for Part-time Employees

If an employee works part-time their annual leave entitlement will be calculated on a pro rata basis which is based on the number of hours they work each week. In addition to their annual leave entitlement, they will also receive a pro rata entitlement of bank holidays.

Bereavement/Compassionate

In the unfortunate event of a bereavement, employees should inform their Line Manager as soon as they are able to do so. Payment for Compassionate leave will be discussed and authorised by the Line Manager and Divisional HR.

Jury Service

Employees who receive a summons to serve on a jury must inform the appropriate Manager/Director and Divisional HR. Employees are expected to make the maximum claim for compensation for loss of earnings payable by the Court. The claim should be submitted to the Clerk of the Court. All compensation received should be passed to HR/Payroll. Full salary will normally be paid during jury service.

The same rules should apply where an employee is summonsed to appear as a witness in Court.

Public Duties/Territorial Army/Army Forces Reserves

An employee who is a Justice of the Peace or a member of certain public bodies will be allowed reasonable unpaid time off to perform his/her duties. Time off for public duties must be notified and agreed in advance with the appropriate Manager/Director.

Employee Stress Management

RPS is committed to protecting the health, safety and welfare of all our employees. We recognise that workplace stress is a health and safety issue and acknowledge the importance of identifying and reducing workplace stressors.

The Health and Safety Executive define stress as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them”. This makes an important distinction between pressure, which can be a positive state if managed correctly, and stress which can be detrimental to health.

The Management of Health & Safety Regulations 1999 state that all employers must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health & safety of its employees to which they are exposed to whilst at work and this would include stress.

Definitions

Pressure - motivates and stimulates people to perform to the best of their ability. Often pressure is deemed to generate better performance - but there is a threshold that is different for all individuals. Going beyond the threshold can have an adverse affect on individuals performance.

Stressor - a pressure is termed a ‘stressor’ when it leads to stress in an individual. It is therefore important to appreciate that individuals vary in their resilience - so a level of a particular pressure that produces enhanced performance in one person,, may cause stress in another.

Stress - is a psychological state that results from an imbalance between the perceived demands (pressures) upon an individual and their perceived ability to cope. This imbalance causes changes in behaviour and performance and may lead to adverse health effects, both mental and physical.

Company Responsibility

It is the Company’s responsibility to provide a supportive environment for dealing with stress related issues, however, employees must take responsibility for raising their concerns as early as possible in order for the Company to investigate and resolve genuine problems.

To enable individuals to cope successfully with the demands and pressures of work, reasonable and appropriate improvements to the working environment will be made and suitable support will always be provided to those whose health and well-being are being affected by work-related stress.

Outside domestic pressures, such as family, finance, and bereavement are also potential causes of stress and can frequently compound workplace pressure. These should also be taken into consideration where they are likely to have an impact on an individual at work.

We are committed to avoiding or reducing work-related stress by:

Raising the awareness throughout the business about all types of stress and its causes

Where reasonable and practical, producing and making changes to work-related practices to reduce the factors which may lead to stress in the workplace

Providing opportunities for employees to maintain and promote their health and well-being

Promoting and maintaining good management practices to identify stress indicators for those with management and supervisory responsibilities.

In dealing with existing or potential stress problems we will:

Provide a supportive environment in which issues and concerns can be raised and dealt with appropriately

Provide guidance to managers to assist in the sensitive management of employees in likely stressful situations

Identifying appropriate training interventions to help alleviate the stress

Monitor working hours and overtime to ensure that staff are not overworking

Monitor holidays to ensure that staff are taking their full entitlement

Attend training as requested in good management practice and health and safety

Be vigilant and offer additional support to a member of staff who is experiencing stress outside work e.g. bereavement or separation

Providing external confidential assistance for employees through the 'Employee Assistance Programme'. This is run through our partner, Aviva and provides an advice and counselling service covering topics such as personal crisis, retirement planning, managing money, Illness etc. The UK helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

Human Resources will give guidance to managers and provide continuing support to both managers and individuals

Human Resources will also support the return to work process for those who have been absent as a result of stress.

Anti-discrimination Policy

RPS is committed to providing a positive and harmonious working environment and a culture of meritocracy, openness, fairness and transparency free from discrimination. The Company believe that it is crucially important to value and respect all employees where no one feels threatened or intimidated because of age, gender, trans-gender status, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marital status, civil partnership status, pregnancy, race, colour, nationality, national or ethnic origins, disability and other differences that cannot be justified.

RPS is also committed to provide a non discriminatory approach across the employment life cycle from the recruitment and selection process, development, throughout employment and following termination of employment.

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that everyone has a working environment free of discrimination, harassment and bullying to enable the promotion of positive attitudes and community cohesion. It also aims to provide guidance and support where appropriate to resolve any issues should they occur and prevent recurrence.

To ensure that all employees of RPS will not discriminate on the grounds of age, gender, trans-gender status, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marital status, civil partnership status, pregnancy, race, colour, nationality, national or ethnic origins, disability and other differences that cannot be justified.

Who the Policy applies to

This policy is applicable to all UK employees and contractors, whether permanent or temporary. The policy applies to all processes relating to employment and training and to any dealings with customers and clients. This Policy also applies to any information sent or used on behalf of RPS.

Legal and Ethical Framework (as it applies in the UK)

RPS recognises the principles set out in the ACAS Code of Practice and will regularly review the Equality and Diversity Policy.

RPS’ Equality and Diversity Policy is a fundamental part of the Company's diversity strategy and the Company is committed to ensuring:

The policy is communicated and understood

Regular audits take place to ensure compliance with the policy

Benchmarking internally and externally as appropriate

Ensure suitable training and education is in place to support the policy

Regular review of the policy to take account of changes in the law, best practice and/or business requirements

Revision of Policy

RPS reserves the right to amend this policy from time to time for any reason, including without limitation, to take account of changes in the law, best practice and/or business requirements.

Responsibility

RPS is responsible for the adoption, implementation and monitoring of this policy and related policies. The company are committed to this policy and all employees hold a responsibility to ensure that discrimination does not occur. Such discrimination will not occur in any processes involved in respect of recruitment and selection, promotion, training and development, conditions of work, pay and benefits and to every other aspect of employment, including general treatment at work and the processes involved in the termination of employment.

All employees are required to adhere to this policy and are expected to:

Co-operate with any measure introduced

Report any suspected discriminatory acts

Not induce or attempt to induce others to practice unlawful discrimination

Not to victimise anyone as a result of them having reported or provided evidence of any discrimination

Not harass, abuse or intimidate others on account of their race, religion or belief, gender, sexuality, age or disability impairment (physical, sensory or learning), physical appearance, marital or other life status, religious or political belief and other differences

Not canvass job applicants in an attempt to discourage them from applying or taking up a post

Procedure

Any form of discrimination, harassment or bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

RPS will not tolerate unlawful discrimination in any aspects of our recruitment, promotion, opportunities for training, pay and benefits, discipline and selection for redundancy on grounds of age, gender, trans-gender status, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marital status, civil partnership status, pregnancy, race colour, nationality, national or ethnic origins,, disability and other differences that cannot be justified.

RPS is committed to ensuring the workplace is free from discrimination and/or prejudice in line with its policies and values. It will ensure that adequate resources are made available to promote respect and dignity in the workplace and to deal effectively with complaints of harassment. This policy and procedure will be communicated effectively to all staff, and will ensure that all staff are aware of their own responsibilities. Appropriate information will be provided, including training on induction and management courses so that employees can perform their roles sensitively and effectively.

In addition, RPS will seek to provide training in equal opportunities to managers and others likely to be involved in recruitment or other decision making processes, such as grievance procedures, where equal opportunities issues may arise.

RPS will also consider any possible indirect discriminatory effects when employees are not operating standard working practices [secondments etc.] as well as complying with its obligations in relation to statutory requests for contract variations and will also make reasonable adjustments to overcome barriers caused by disability.

RPS will monitor the composition of the existing workforce and of applicants for jobs (including promotion) and introduce positive action if it appears that this policy is not fully effective.

All RPS employees, contractors and agency staff working on RPS behalf, have a responsibility to ensure a working environment in which the dignity of all is respected and therefore they will ensure that their behaviour to colleagues and customers does not cause offence and could not in any way be considered to be harassment.

All employees, contractors and agency staff working for RPS will be expected to discourage any form of harassment by making it clear that they find such behaviour unacceptable and by supporting colleagues who suffer such treatment. They should alert a manager or HR to any incident of harassment to enable RPS to effectively deal with the matter.

Every employee is required to assist RPS in meeting its commitment to provide equal opportunities in employment and avoid any unlawful discrimination.

Acts of discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation against employees or customers are disciplinary offences and will be dealt with in accordance with RPS’ Disciplinary Policy. Discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation may constitute gross misconduct under the terms of the Disciplinary Policy. In addition to this employees, can be held personally liable as well as, or instead of, RPS for any act of unlawful discrimination.

If you consider that you may have been unlawfully discriminated against, you may use the Company's Grievance Procedure to make a complaint.

RPS will take any complaint seriously and will seek to resolve any grievance which it upholds. You will not be penalised for raising a grievance, even if your grievance is not upheld, unless your complaint is both untrue and made in bad faith.

Confidentiality

Where a complaint has been made of discriminatory conduct it is very important to maintain strict confidentiality in order to protect both the complainant and the alleged perpetrator. Witnesses may be asked to give written statements and be prepared to answer questions at the formal hearing, however, it must be stressed that any breach of confidentiality will be treated very seriously and could result in disciplinary action.

Maternity – Pay and Rights (as they apply in the UK)

In order to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) a woman must satisfy the following conditions:

She must have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks up to and including the 15th week before her expected week of confinement (EWC). The 15th week is known as the qualifying week.

She must still be pregnant at the 24th week.

She must have average weekly earnings above the lower earnings limit.

She must notify the relevant Director that she will be absent from work at least 28 days before the absence is due to begin and provide evidence of her EWC (the maternity certificate, MAT B1, given to the employee by her Doctor/midwife confirms when the baby is due). The Notification of Maternity Leave form must also be completed and forwarded to the relevant HR team.

When is SMP Paid?

SMP is payable for up to a period of 39 weeks and is only payable when a woman is not working. It can begin any time after the 11th week before the EWC up to the actual date of birth. However, if you are absent due to a pregnancy related sickness from the 4th week before the EWC, this will trigger the maternity leave period. SMP is calculated on the basis of the number of full weeks per month.

How much is SMP?

There are two rates of SMP, a higher and a lower rate. The higher rate is 90% of the woman’s average weekly earnings and is payable for the first six weeks of the maternity pay period (MPP).

The lower rate is payable for a period of 33 weeks. SMP is subject to deductions for tax and national insurance contributions. The MPP is the period for which SMP is payable. This is a maximum of 39 weeks. If a woman returns to work before the end of the 39-week period payment of SMP will cease.

A woman not entitled to SMP will be eligible to receive a Statutory Maternity Allowance from the Job Centre Plus and should contact her local Job Centre Plus office for advice. SMP is paid through the payroll at the same time pay is normally paid.

Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML)

Ordinary maternity leave refers to the first period of 26 weeks maternity leave. Entitlement to 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave applies to all women and operates as follows:

No qualifying period of employment is required — all female employees are eligible regardless of hours worked.

Employees will be required to notify the Company of her intention to take maternity leave by the 15th week before their EWC (unless this is not reasonably practicable) and produce evidence of the EWC in the form of a MATB1 certificate from a registered medical practitioner or a midwife. The employee will also need to confirm when she wants her maternity leave to commence. She will be able to change her mind about when she wants to start her maternity leave providing she notifies the Company at least 28 days in advance (unless this is not reasonably practicable).

The Company will confirm to the employee within 28 days of receiving notification of their anticipated leave plans the date on which the employee is expected to return to work if they take their full entitlement to maternity leave.

The 26 weeks’ period cannot commence before the 11th week before the EWC (unless childbirth occurs), but can commence at any time after that date up to the actual date of birth. If a woman is absent due to a pregnancy related sickness from the fourth week before the EWC, the maternity leave may be deemed to have begun from the first day of absence during that period.

Proof of the EWC must be provided.

The contract of employment continues during the 26 weeks’ period and all contractual benefits are maintained throughout the period except basic salary. However, most employees on maternity leave will be entitled to SMP (see above).

The woman can decide to return before the end of the 26 weeks but she must give 8 weeks notice. If she fails to give 8 weeks notice, the employer is entitled to postpone her return so that the employer has the benefit of the full 8 weeks notice. However, the employer cannot use this provision to postpone the return beyond the end of the relevant period of maternity leave.

The leave may be extended if there is a health and safety reason prohibiting the employee from returning to work. A pregnant employee may also have to be suspended prior to the start of her maternity leave, on health and safety grounds.

If the employee cannot return after ordinary maternity leave because she is ill, the normal company rules on sick leave will come in to effect and the usual arrangements on notification and sick pay will apply.

An employee who does not wish to return to work after her ordinary maternity leave must give her employer the notice of termination required by her terms and conditions of employment.

Right to Additional Maternity Leave (AML)

Additional maternity leave refers to the second period of 26 weeks’ maternity leave. The following conditions apply to the right to take additional maternity leave. The following conditions apply to the right to take additional maternity leave:

No qualifying period of employment is required — all female employees are eligible regardless of hours worked.

Additional maternity leave commences immediately after ordinary maternity leave.

If the woman decides to return early from additional maternity leave, she must give 8 weeks notice of her intended return date. If she fails to give 8 weeks notice, the employer is entitled to postpone her return so that the employer has the benefit of the full 8 weeks notice. However, the employer cannot use this provision to postpone the return beyond the end of the relevant period of maternity leave.

The Company will confirm to the employee within 28 days of receiving notification of their anticipated or amended leave plans the date on which the employee is expected to return to work.

Part of additional maternity leave is unpaid.

If the employee cannot return after additional leave because she is ill, the normal company rules on sick leave will come in to effect and the usual arrangements on notification and sick pay will apply.

On the employee’s return to work, her employment is regarded as continuous

An employee who does not wish to work after her additional maternity leave must give her employer the notice of termination required by her terms and conditions of employment.

Antenatal Appointments

During your pregnancy you are entitled to reasonable time off with pay to attend antenatal classes and appointments, provided you are able to produce an appointment card requiring your attendance. You should continue to follow the usual absence request procedure providing as much prior notification of your appointment as possible.

Keeping In Touch Days

If agreed with both the relevant Director and the employee, the employee can work up to 10 “keeping in touch” days without the loss of SMP.

Shared Parental Leave (as it applies in the UK)

Shared Parental Leave (ShPL) is available to parents of children due to be born or placed for adoption on or after 05 April 2015. Mothers still have the right to 52 weeks’ maternity leave (and 39 weeks’ pay) with the first two weeks being compulsory leave. However after this point, eligible employees can choose to end their maternity leave early and opt to take ShPL instead, so that the balance of leave can be shared between parents.

The leave can be taken separately or at the same time, subject to the following requirements:

The minimum period of leave must be one week

The leave must be taken in multiples of complete weeks, and

The leave may be taken as one continuous period or discontinuous periods

This means that the mother can return to work after maternity leave and take ShPL at a later date or dates (subject to the notice requirements explained below). Similarly, the father can take ShPL at any time – it does not need to start as soon as the mother has given notice to curtail her entitlement to maternity leave or returned to work. The maximum amount of leave that can be shared between the parents is 50 weeks. The leave can be taken during the 12 months following the birth of the child, but cannot begin earlier than two weeks following the child’s birth. Agreement is necessary if a request for discontinuous leave is submitted as such a request can be declined.

Eligibility

To be eligible to take ShPL both parents must meet the following criteria:

They must have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth or the week in which the adopter is notified of having been matched with a child.

They must remain continuously employed for their company at the start of each period of ShPL.

They already have or expect to have main responsibility for caring for a child.

The mother or adopter is entitled to statutory maternity leave or adoption leave.

The mother has curtailed her entitlement to maternity leave or has returned to work.

They have provided any evidence requested by the company within 14 days of the request, e.g. birth certificate, or declaration confirming the date and place of child’s birth if birth certificate is not yet available, and the name and address of the other parent’s employer.

The other parent must have worked for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the date that the baby is due/placed and must have earned above the Maternity Allowance threshold in 13 of those 66 weeks.

Entitlement to PayUp to 37 weeks of Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) will be available to be shared between the parents. ShPP is paid for 37 weeks at the lower of the statutory prescribed rate (or 90 percent of the relevant parent’s normal weekly earnings (subject to the lower earnings limit)). The remaining 13 weeks of shared parental leave are unpaid.

Notification of Taking Leave

An employee entitled and intending to take ShPL must give their line manager and HR notification of their entitlement and intention to take ShPL, at least eight weeks before they can take any period of ShPL. Part of the eligibility criteria requires the employee to provide the company with correct notification. Notification must be in writing and requires each of the following:

The name of the employee;

The name of the other parent;

The start and end dates of any maternity/adoption leave or pay, or maternity allowance, taken in respect of the child and the total amount of ShPL available;

The date on which the child is expected to be born and the actual date of birth or, in the case of an adopted child, the date on which the employee was notified of having been matched with the child and the date of placement for adoption;

The amount of ShPL the employee and their partner each intend to take

 

The employee must provide the company with a signed declaration stating:

That they meet, or will meet, the eligibility conditions and are entitled to take ShPL;

That the information they have given is accurate;

If they are not the mother/adopter they must confirm that they are either the father of the child or the spouse, civil partner or partner of the mother/adopter;

That should they cease to be eligible they will immediately inform the company.

The employee must provide the company with a signed declaration from their partner confirming:

Their name, address and national insurance number (or a declaration that they do not have a national insurance number);

That they are the mother/adopter of the child or they are the father of the child or are the spouse, civil partner or partner of the mother/adopter;

That they satisfy the ‘employment and earnings test’ and had at the date of the child’s birth or placement for adoption the main responsibility for the child, along with the employee;

That they consent to the amount of ShPL that the employee intends to take;

That they consent to the company processing the information contained in the declaration form; and (in the case whether the partner is the mother/adopter), that they will immediately inform their partner should they cease to satisfy the eligibility conditions.

Continuous Periods of Shared Parental Leave

Periods of continuous ShPL cannot be refused provided that the eligibility criteria is met and the required notice has been provided.

Discontinuous Periods of Shared Parental Leave

Agreement is necessary if a request for discontinuous leave is submitted as this is subject to relevant approval and can be declined. A response would be provided within two weeks of receipt of such a request. If this cannot be agreed, the employee may either withdraw the request or take the total amount of leave requested as one continuous period of leave commencing on a date specified by the employee but with at least eight weeks’ notice to the company.

Withdrawing from Shared Parental Leave

The mother/adopter can withdraw from the decision to take ShPL if both:

the planned end date of SML/SAL has not yet arrived

they have not returned to work

In addition, one of the following must apply:

the employee has discovered during the eight week notice period that neither of the couple is eligible for ShPL or ShPP

the mother confirms that she is withdrawing from ShPL less than six weeks after the birth (this presumes that she gave notice of her intention to take ShPL prior to the birth).

Changing intentions

Notice must be given at least eight weeks before the date to be varied and the new date. Only three periods of leave notices and or requests for variations can be submitted in total.

Shared Parental Leave in Touch (SPLIT) Days

Shared Parental Leave in Touch (SPLIT) days have been introduced for parents taking ShPL. Each parent is permitted up to 20 SPLIT days under ShPL but these are optional and subject to relevant approval.

Returning to Work

An employee returning from a total of 26 weeks or less of ShPL has the right to return to their old job.

An employee returning from a total of more than 26 weeks of ShPL has the right to return to their old job or, if this is not possible, to a similar job if it is not reasonably practicable to return to the same position.

Paternity Leave (as it applies in the UK)

Statutory Paternity Leave (SPL)

Eligible employees will be entitled to one or two weeks’ consecutive statutory paternity leave taken in week blocks. Employees will need to satisfy the following conditions in order to qualify for statutory paternity leave. They must:

Have or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing

Be the biological father of the child or the mother’s husband or partner

Have worked continuously for 26 weeks leading into the 15th week before the baby is due

Produce evidence in the form of a copy of partner/spouse’s MATB1 confirming expected week of confinement.

They can choose to start their leave:

From the date of the child’s birth (whether this is earlier or later than expected)

From a chosen number of days or weeks after the date of the child’s birth (whether this is earlier or later than expected)

From a chosen date.

Leave can start on any day of the week on or following the child’s birth but must be completed:

Within 56 days of the actual date of birth of the child

If the child is born early, within the period from the actual date of birth up to 56 days after the expected week of birth. Only one period of leave will be available to employees irrespective of whether more than one child is born as the result of the same pregnancy.

Notification of Paternity Leave

Employees will be required to inform the Company of their intention to take paternity leave by the 15th week before the baby is expected, unless this is not reasonably practicable. An employee will need to confirm:

Whether they wish to take one or two weeks’ paid leave

When they want their leave to start.

Employees will be able to change their mind about the date on which they want their leave to start providing they give the Company 28 days notice in advance (unless this is not reasonably practicable). Employees will have to complete a Notification of Paternity Leave as evidence of their entitlement to statutory paternity pay, which will contain a declaration that the employee meets the eligibility conditions. In the case of an adoption, notification of the intention to take SPL should be given within seven days of the date on which they have been notified that they have been matched with a child. Different notification rules apply where the child is adopted from overseas.

Statutory Paternity Pay (as it applies in the UK)

The paternity leave period will be paid for a maximum of two weeks at Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP). This is the same as the lower rate of statutory paternity pay. The appropriate Manager/Director can use their discretion in granting up to a maximum of three days paternity leave with full pay to an employee on the birth of his child. The payment of SPP is made through the payroll. It is treated as gross pay and is subject to deduction of PAYE tax and NICs.

Antenatal Appointments

Employees are entitled to unpaid time off to attend two antenatal classes/appointments. Employees should continue to follow the usual absence request procedure providing as much prior notification of the appointment as possible.

Adoption Leave (as it applies in the UK)

An eligible employee can take up to 52 weeks’ adoption leave. This is made up of 26 weeks’ Ordinary Adoption Leave and 26 weeks’ Additional Adoption Leave. To qualify for adoption leave, an employee must be newly matched with a child for adoption by an adoption agency. Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) is paid for up to 39 weeks. There are two rates of SAP, a higher and a lower rate. The higher rate is 90% of the average weekly earnings and is payable for the first six weeks of the adoption pay period (APP).The lower rate is payable for a period of 33 weeks. SAP is subject to deductions for tax and national insurance contributions. Formal notification of adoption, should be given in writing stating the expected date of placement and should be made not later than 7 days after the notification of being matched with a child. Employees will need to complete a Notification of Adoption Leave form. A Matching Certificate is also required as evidence for the purpose of Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay, which can be obtained from the adoption agency. The main adopter will be able to take time off to attend up to 5 adoption appointments, while the secondary adopter will be entitled to take time off for up to two such appointments.

Parental Leave (as it applies in the UK)

Parental leave is available to parents who have completed one year’s qualifying service with the Company by the time they want to take their leave. Both mothers and fathers can take parental leave. Employees can take up to18 weeks in total for each child. This has to be taken by the child’s 18th birthday. In order to qualify for parental leave the following procedure must be followed:

A maximum of 4 weeks parental leave in a year can be taken in respect of any individual child

At least 21 days notice must be given in writing

Leave must be agreed and authorised by the Operational Director.

As the father of the child, if the parental leave is to begin on the date the child is born, he must give at least 21 days notice of the beginning of the expected week of childbirth (EWC) and specify the EWC as well as the duration of the leave. Employees must be prepared to show evidence that you are entitled to take parental leave. This should be in the form of the original birth certificate or adoption order. Employees requesting parental leave must complete the Parental Leave Request Form.

Employers are entitled to postpone the leave for up to six months (unless it is being taken immediately after a child is born or adopted) where the business could not cope or would be harmed by the employee’s absence. Postponement should be confirmed in writing no later than 7 days after the employee’s notice to take leave. The employer’s notice should state the reason for the postponement and set out the new dates of parental leave.

Urgent Family Leave (as it applies in the UK)

The Company will give all employees the right to take a reasonable period of time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. You are entitled to take time off in the following circumstances:

If a dependant falls ill or has been involved in an accident or assaulted, including where the victim is hurt or distressed rather than physically injured

When a partner is having a baby

To make longer term care arrangements for a dependant who is ill or injured

To deal with an unexpected disruption or breakdown in care arrangements for a dependant, e.g., when the childminder or nurse fails to turn up

To deal with an incident involving the employee’s child during school hours, e.g., if the child has been involved in a fight or is being suspended from school.

A dependant is the partner, child or parent of the employee, or someone who lives with the employee as part of their family. For example, this could be an elderly aunt or grandparent who lives in the household.

There is no set time limit to the amount of time which can be taken. In most cases the amount of time will be one or two days at most. The entitlement does not include a statutory right to receive pay.

Employees need to advise the Company as soon as possible about their absence, the reason for it and how long they expect to be away from work.

RPS Group Plc - Modern Slavery and Trafficking Policy Statement

RPS Group Plc and its subsidiary undertakings (the ‘Group’) are fully supportive of the principles and objectives of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the ‘Act’). Whilst given the nature of the Group’s activities and their lack of dependence on any substantive supply chain, the risks of any breaches of the Act occurring are low, the Group will comply with the provisions of the Act and take such measures as are reasonably required to achieve this.