This assignment is based around a retail organisation. This organisation is in the fashion sector, primarily selling ladies fashion (although it does have some lines for men and children). The organisation has 34 stores, primarily based in the Midlands and South of the UK. It tends to employ significant number of students during the holiday period (to help cover staff holidays) and it always employs a number of temporary workers in the busy weeks leading up to Christmas.
Answer the following questions (total of 1000 words):
1. Why does this organisation need to keep employee records (identify at least two reasons?)
Two reasons as to why the above mentioned organisation would need to keep employee records are as follows;
1) To satisfy legal requirements – There are numerous legal requirements regarding the recording of employee records. The key legal requirements that this or any organisation or Human Resources (HR) department would need to be aware of are; Storing records for the Inland Revenue, The Working Time Regulations 1998, The National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). This list is not exhaustive.
According to Martin et al ‘there is an extensive body of legislation that regulates and controls the management of personal data and information. HR records have to satisfy a number of legal principles’.
2) To provide information to support the organisation in its decision making – By keeping employee records the above mentioned organisation can support the organisation in its decision making in various ways. For example as this organisation tends to employ a significant number of students during the holiday period they would be able to look at records from previous years and perhaps re-employ students who had a good previous record in attendance and performance etc. On the other hand if they had an employee who caused them problems with areas such as attendance or performance they would know not to re-employ them. This could help to save time and resource when it comes to recruiting for the holiday period.
2. What data relating to employees might this organisation want to collect and how will this support HR or L&D practices? (Give 2 examples of types of data)
Two examples of types of data the above organisation may want to collect to support with HR or L&D practices are as follows;
1) Primary employee records – These records include all employee personal information such as name, address, date of birth, start date of employment, bank details, National Insurance number, and tax information (P45 or P46).
This information will support the HR department in a variety of different ways ranging from simple tasks such as producing letters to more complex tasks such as producing reports. The HR department may need to produce letters for employees relating to anything such as a change in working hours to information about a sickness absence. The employees contact information would be gathered from the primary employee records as mentioned above. The HR department may also need to produce reports; these reports may refer to the age of the workforce, or the length of service within the workforce. Again the HR department would look to these primary employee records to support.
2) Absence – It is vital for any organisation to record absence levels however, ultimately if the information gathered is not used then it is of no real benefit to the organisation.
According to Daniels ‘if absence data is going to be of any use it needs to be:
• Reported monthly
• Reported alongside data that shows at least the past 12 months
• Compared with the rate for the industry
• Broken down by group of employee (e.g. manual and non-manual) or by department.’
Recording absence levels will support the above mentioned organisation within the HR department in numerous ways. One example of this would be if there are any months where absence is particularly high then operationally the organisation may look at the possibility of needing temporary cover. The organisation may also look at yearly trends, therefore if they know that December for example is a month where absence levels are particularly high they can strategically plan and prepare temporary cover in advance.
3. What would you recommend as effective methods for this organisation to store the data, and why? (Give two different options)
My recommendations as effective methods for this organisation to store the data relating to primary employee records and absence are as follows;
1) Primary employee records – As this organisation has a large number of employees spread across 34 different stores in different locations throughout the United Kingdom; my recommendation would be to use a Personnel Database. I believe this would be a key requirement in keeping the data stored efficiently. HR departments may need to access information from different Stores for reporting etc therefore I feel it would be necessary to have a master database for all employees. Common examples of types of data stored on a database would be name, address, start date, date of birth and salary etc. This information can then be used in a variety of different ways ranging from simple tasks such as producing letters to more complex tasks such as creating spreadsheets and reporting.
Martin et al cited that using databases for employee records ‘could be used in its raw, unprocessed form to send out a letter. In addition it could be processed to identify who is due to retire or to calculate salary costs for department.’
2) Absence – My recommendation for this organisation to store their absence rates would be through Computerised Personnel Information Systems (CPIS).
According to Daniels, ‘as well as holding personnel records and data, there are a number of other functions that can be incorporated into CPIS. These may not always come with the standard package, but they might be bought as additional facilities’. Absence management being one of the functions Daniels refers to.
One of benefits in using CPIS in relation to absence would be that all Stores would have access to absence information relating to every Store within the organisation. This would enable decision makers to efficiently and effectively analyse trends relating to all the Stores.
Martin et al refer to the fact that only actions taken by managers and supervisors can bring absence levels down however good records can help them to do this job. A CPIS will produce accurate data therefore making it easier for managers to monitor this.
4. Why is it important for the organisation to effectively input and retrieve information? Answer this with particular reference to payroll and personnel records.
The importance of effectively inputting and retrieving information is key to the successful operation of the above organisation, or in fact any organisation. I will specifically concentrate on the areas of payroll and personnel.
Firstly I will discuss the implications relating to payroll. Paying employees the correct amount of money at the correct time is essential to employee satisfaction, therefore within any business it is vital that all information needed for processing payroll has been input and retrieved accurately.
As this organisation has 34 stores there will be a large number of employees, therefore there will be a large amount of information stored relating to pay. If information has been input or retrieved incorrectly this could result in incorrect payments to staff. For example if an employee left the business however someone forgot to input that they were a leaver, this could result in an incorrect payment, therefore losing the company money. On the other hand if an employee started the company however someone forgot to input the information this would mean that the new employee wasn’t paid as the information would not be in the system. This would instantly give the new employee a bad first impression of the organisation.
Secondly I will discuss the implications relating to personnel records. It is vital that personnel information is input and retrieved effectively for numerous reasons. The first example would be in case of an emergency; when a new employee starts within the business they are always asked to submit a contact who is to be contacted in case of an emergency. Therefore it is very important that this information in input or retrieved in the correct manner. If the telephone number was input incorrectly and the employer came to use the number in the case of an emergency the employer would then not know who to contact especially within a large organisation as mentioned in the case study. If the information is retrieved incorrectly the employer may contact the incorrect person which may lead to unnecessary worry for someone was has been inserted as an emergency contact for another employee.
Another example as to why personnel records need to be input and retrieved correctly would relate to medical information. When an employee is new to the business medical information will be gathered. For example if an employee suffers from a medical condition such as epilepsy and this has not been input into the system because of an error then staff may not understand or be aware if they had an epileptic fit. It could be the same with allergies to nuts etc. If staff are not aware they won’t be able to provide medical information to the ambulance when they arrive to support in cases like the above mentioned. Very often providing this information to the ambulance services can make the difference in life and death situations.
5. Identify three aspects of the storage of data that need to be addressed as a result of the Data Protection Act.
According to government legislation, The National Archives cited that The Data Protection Act is an ‘Act to make new provision for the regulation of the processing of information relating to individuals, including the obtaining, holding, use or disclosure of such information.’
Three aspects I have identified of the storage of data that need to be addressed as a result of the Data Protection Act are as follows;
1) Data that is processed must be done so fairly and lawfully.
The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) cites that ‘in practice, it means that you must: • have legitimate grounds for collecting and using the personal data; • not use the data in ways that have unjustified adverse effects on the individuals concerned; • be transparent about how you intend to use the data, and give individuals appropriate privacy notices when collecting their personal data; • handle people’s personal data only in ways they would reasonably expect; and • make sure you do not do anything unlawful with the data.
2) Data stored must be adequate, relevant, and not excessive – This means that any information gathered must be relevant to the specific job of the employee. You must ensure that you do not hold more information than what is needed for a specific purpose. The organisation should identify the minimum amount of information that is required.
3) Data stored must be accurate and where necessary kept up to date. This principle places a responsibility to take steps to ensure accuracy of information processed and stored. When collecting the information reasonable steps must be taken to ensure the information is correct.
According to Martin et al ‘in employment one way to achieve this is to allow employees to check, and even update, their own records.’
Input this data into an appropriate IT package (e.g. Excel) and then display the data in the most appropriate way.
I have chosen to present my data in a line graph as I feel this is the most appropriate way to show the two variables (absence rate % in the last 12 months and staff turnover % in the last 12 months) in one graph.
Now write a report (no more than 500 words) identifying what this data tells you, and suggesting how this might impact on the decision making in the organisation.
Key findings within this data are as follows;
• Store D has the highest absence rate, that being 7.2% in the last 12 months • Store C has the lowest absence rate, that being 1.8% in the last 12 months • Store C has the highest staff turnover, that being 21% in the last 12 months • Store F has the lowest staff turnover, that being 10% in the last 12 months
As Store D’s absence rate is relatively high decision makers within the organisation and the Human Resource department (HR) should consider focusing on areas such as job motivation, employee engagement, working condition etc so as to try and improve overall absence % rate for the year. Decision makers should also ensure that the absence policy is being managed by line managers and that managers are correctly trained in following the policy. Another key area decision makers should focus on are key trends of absence types. For example sore throats and colds can be an indicator that the air conditioning is set to the wrong level. It is vital that decision makers understand why the absence rate is high so as they can take measures to improve it.
Even though store C’s absence rate is the lowest at 1.8% they still have the highest staff turnover, that being 21%. A low absence rate can indicate that an employee is engaged and they want to be in the work place. One of the reasons for the highest staff turnover could be due to the significant number of students being employed in the holiday period and also the temporary workers in the busy weeks leading up to Christmas.
These figures may lead the decision makers within the organisation to consider a different approach for staff cover over the holiday periods and Christmas if it is going to have a negative effect on the turnover % for that period of 12 months. An example of how they could improve this would be to offer overtime to existing employees rather than hiring temporary workers for the Christmas period. They could also have more part time employees throughout the year, for example they could employ students on a low number of hours throughout the year and then ramp up their hours at the busy periods such as Christmas.
Store F has the lowest staff turnover that being 10%. This may be for numerous reasons such as location or employee engagement. Store F may not employ as many students for the Christmas or holiday period as it is in a smaller community where fewer students live. It may be that the people who are employed in the store are from a smaller community and they have worked here for years and there isn’t the need to ramp up over the Christmas period. Very often people who come from smaller communities tend to stay within the same place of work and don’t look to leave, therefore contributing to low staff turnover.
Another factor could be that staff are engaged and motivated. The decision makers within the business should look to considering why Store F has the lowest staff turnover. They could look at how other Stores manage the Christmas and holiday period ramp up and also if they have any programmes with employee engagement. Then they could look to transferring skills and ideas from Store F to other stores with a high staff turnover.
• Information Commissioner’s Office (2012) ‘Processing personal data fairly and lawfully (Principle 1)’ (online) (cited 6th August 2012). Available from:
• The National Archives (2012) ‘Data Protection Act 1998’ (online) (cited 6th August 2012). Available from:
• Martin, M. Whiting, F. and Jackson, T. (2010) Human Resource Practice, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, London.
• Daniels, K. (2010), Recording, Analysing and Using Human Resource Information, ICS Limited, Glasgow.
 M.Martin et al (2010) Human Resource Practice, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, London, p. 278
 K. Daniels (2010), Recording, Analysing and Using Human Resource Information, ICS Limited, Glasgow, p.17
 Martin et al, Human Resource in Practice, pp. 284
 Daniels, Recording, Analysing and Using Human Resource Information, pp. 29  Martin et al, Human Resource in Practice, pp. 284
 The National Archives (1998)
 Information Commissioner’s Office (2012)
 Martin et al, Human Resource Practice, pp.289
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