05/09/2011

By Amy Paxton, Senior Employment Consultant, Croner

With less than a year to the London 2012 Olympics, much is being written about the potential impact on employee management, such as an increase in sickness absence and requests for flexible working. But for SMEs looking to qualify and tender for contracts as part of the supply chain process for the Olympics, there is a less discussed HR challenge.

Over the past few months we have had a number of customers telling us about the stringent tender process that they have had to go through to be considered ‘fit to compete’ for Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) procurement opportunities. The three stages of the process are registration, qualifying and then submitting a tender. It is the qualifying stage that puts your employment policies to the test.

In the qualifying stage, the ODA has set out its requirements on financial stability, technical competence, health and safety, equal opportunities, sustainability and company and workforce matters. Companies bidding for contracts will be given a scorecard which has been developed and weighted for the particular contract that they are going for. On top of cost and time which are the primary criteria, the scorecard is broken down into five key themes:

• Safe and secure

• Equalities and inclusion

• Environment

• Quality and functionality

• Legacy

The ODA will expect to see contractors adopting the best employment practices including trade union recognition, commitment to health and safety and sufficient wage levels.

Equality and diversity

The ODA has a strong commitment to promoting equality and any suppliers must comply with all legislation on equality and discrimination. Companies should have reviewed their policies and procedures in line with the introduction of the Equality Act 2010 and therefore will have the right standards in place to meet ODA criteria.

Fair employment

In addition to equality and diversity, there are a number of elements around employment covered within the ODA procurement policy. They include:

• Providing experience, qualifications and training

Suppliers will be required to operate with a competent workforce and will be encouraged to use local and national organisations such as the Construction Industry Board and Business Link to recruit and train the right people for their business and in turn to fulfil an ODA contract. In addition they will be encouraged to form links with Jobcentre Plus and the Learning and Skills Councils so that people have access to jobs and training.

• Excellent labour relations

Businesses will need to demonstrate that they have adequate provision for employee representation through trade union membership or other means so that if any issues arise they can be dealt with quickly and smoothly.

• Fair employment

Employees of contractors and sub-contractors will need to be on fair employment terms and conditions in line with good practice.

• London living wage

If businesses are selected for a contract they will be asked if they are prepared to adopt fair employment measures including the London Living Wage for any work they are doing as part of that contract.

Business profile

All of the equality and employment information will be contained within the business profile. Evidence of compliance with the criteria will include having an equal opportunities policy in place, which should explain the company’s stance on equality and diversity and show how the business intends to achieve a diverse working environment.

There are also a number of other policies, which while not mandatory, will give businesses a better chance when bidding for contracts. Essential policies include:

• Maternity/paternity/adoption

• Working time and time off

• Pay

• Bullying and harassment

• Discipline/dismissal and grievance

• Redundancy

• Whistleblowing/protected disclosures

• Smoking, drugs and alcohol

In addition, it is a good idea to have policies on:

• Rewards, benefits and expenses

• Measures to improve performance or manage change

• Bribery

• Internet, email and social media use

• Training and development

• Confidential information

Insurance

Consultants, suppliers and contractors should also hold appropriate levels and classes of Employers Liability Insurance and they will be required to take out appropriate levels of Professional Indemnity cover and provide evidence that they have the cover.

Ready for Action

For companies that do not have all the relevant policies, procedures and systems in place already, it could seem like a daunting task. But with the right support, it can be relatively straightforward, and it will improve not just your ability to tender for new business, but can also help to manage costs, reduce the risk of employee disputes and ensure you are complying with evolving workplace laws.

Find out how you can get your HR systems into great shape at www.cronersolutions.co.uk

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